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Rock Creek Park
We know why Rusty the red panda broke out of the National Zoo back in June: He wanted to explore his leafy surroundings in Rock Creek Park. The 4.4-square-mile sanctuary gives its neighbors lots of reasons to escape into nature for a jog, a hike or, in Rusty’s case, some tree climbing. The government shutdown curtailed certain park activities — the tennis courts closed, for instance. But cyclists were psyched when Beach Drive, which is usually closed to cars just on weekends, became a de facto bike trail. V.H.
2nd: National Mall;
3rd: Meridian Hill Park;


Wilson Aquatic Center
The District calls Wilson its “premier indoor aquatic center,” and for good reason: It has a 50-meter pool, whirlpool and kids’ pool, and it offers classes for kids, adults and seniors. Wilson is gratis for District residents and just $7 for visitors, and it’s open year-round. Laps are designated by speed, so novices and competitive swimmers alike can practice at their own pace. T.K.
4551 Fort Drive NW; 202-730-0583, (Tenleytown)
2nd: Banneker Pool, 2500 Georgia Ave. NW; 202-673-2121,
3rd: Penthouse Pool and Lounge, 1612 U St. NW; 202-939-2563, (U Street)

Bike Shop

They don’t just sell sweet rides at BicycleSPACE. They also throw one heck of a party. “We try to do everything we can to get people together and make it fun,” co-owner Jordan Mittelman says. That includes costumed Halloween zombie rides, treat-filled “Cupcake Rambles” and excursions under the full moon — all free! As if you needed more motivation to buy one of their marine-blue Linus Roadsters or hot-pink Brompton folding bikes. T.K.
1019 Seventh St. NW; 202-962-0123, (Mt Vernon Sq)
2nd: City Bikes, multiple locations;
3rd: Capitol Hill Bikes, 719 Eighth St. SE; 202-544-4234, (Eastern Market)


After seven years of working out Washington, Vida is still itching to elevate the exercise experience. Known for their lots-of-frills approach to fitness, three Vida locations contain full-service spas, and the swanky rooftop deck at the U Street location, pictured at right, hosted cycling, yoga, Zumba and other classes this summer. Expect more al fresco offerings next year when Vida opens its sixth location, in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. V.H.
Multiple locations;
2nd: Washington Sports Clubs, multiple locations;
3rd: Balance Gym, multiple locations;


Yoga District
Still the most affordable studio in the area, Yoga District upped the price of its drop-in classes a buck, to $11, this year. But it’s hard to complain when the local chain, which launched in 2006, helps fund programs that provide yoga outreach in underserved communities. Hungry after practice? Try District Tea Lodge (beneath the location at 1922 I St. NW), which features kombucha on tap. V.H.
Multiple locations,
2nd: Tranquil Space, 1632 17th St. NW; 202-328-9642 (Dupont Circle) and 3528 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-829-6428 (Virginia Sq);
3rd: Capitol Hill Yoga, 641 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 202-448-9680, (Eastern Market)

Pilates/Barre Studio

The Bar Method
Many fitness operations sucker folks into paying a monthly fee, then hope they never show up. “But we want people to take class as often as possible,” says Kate Arnold, owner of The Bar Method DC and, as of February, The Bar Method Bethesda. With two locations now at their disposal, Bar Method faithful can pulse and plie at more than 100 ballet-inspired sculpting classes a week. You might think that would raise the price tag for an all-inclusive monthly membership, but it actually dropped $5 (to $190). V.H.
750 Ninth St. NW; 202-347-7999, (Gallery Place) and 7710 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-1200, (Bethesda)
2nd: Biker Barre, 738 Seventh St. SE; 202-733-1009, (Eastern Market)
3rd: Studio Body Logic, 2417 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-739-7601 and 4001 Ninth St. N, Arlington; 703-527-9626 (Ballston);

Specialty Gym/Bootcamp

By putting its own spin on cycling — combining pedaling with strength exercises, barre stretches and other unconventional moves — this Clarendon studio has made it to the front of the pack. Revolve continues to evolve: This summer marked the debut of its Cross-Cycle Challenge series, which asked riders to survive a bike workout and a boot camp or yoga class. Revolve’s musically minded instructors have also started posting playlists on Spotify. V.H.
1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington; 703-567-4516, (Clarendon)
2nd: Washington Wellness Physical Therapy and SportsCare, 1100 H St. NW, Suite LL-110; 202-347-2373, (Metro Center)
3rd: Biker Barre, 738 Seventh St. SE; 202-733-1009, (Eastern Market)

CrossFit Box

CrossFit Foggy Bottom
Feeling sweaty? If you’re at CrossFit Foggy Bottom, it might not be because of the workout of the day. You might just be in the sauna. The box is part of the Balance Gym that opened at the Fairmont Hotel this spring. CrossFitters have access to the saltwater pool, towel service and other schmancy perks. The best amenity, however, is director Jim Bathurst, the strength and conditioning expert behind the website and two-time winner of Men’s Health’s “How Fit Are You?” contest. V.H.
2401 M St. NW; 202-457-5070, (Foggy Bottom)
2nd: CrossFit DC, 1722 14th St. NW; 202-450-6432, (U Street)
3rd: Balance Gym, 1111 14th St. NW; 202-730-0003, (McPherson Sq)

Written by Vicky Hallett (Express) and Tracy Krulik (For Express)