Ask A Local Trainer: The Best Ways To Get Fit In Washington DC

January 12, 2013 8:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Don’t let cold temps and winter weather keep you from reaching your fitness goals. Contrary to what you may think, it is possible to get and stay fit in the wintertime. Learn new tricks and stay motivated with these tips from D.C.-area certified personal trainers. Certified personal trainer and nutritionist Mada Abdelhamid knows a thing or two when it comes to the benefits of weight training. At one point in his life, he weighed more than 300 pounds. Through determination and a lot of hard work, he now maintains a body fat average of 5.5 percent. Today, he dedicates himself to helping others achieve their health and fitness goals and dreams.

Mada Abdelhamid

Maryam Hamid
(703) 600-9780

Vida Fitness
1612 U St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 939-2577

Incorporate weight training into your workout routine. You already understand the importance of a good cardio session. Not only does it keep your ticker in shape and help ward off serious health conditions, like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, it also boosts your energy and improves your mood. Still, cardio should not be the only tool in your weight loss arsenal. Abdelhamid explains how important it is to pay a visit to the free weights section of the gym.

“Weight training is the best way to lose fat and tone muscle,” he said. Not only do you burn calories each time you perform a bicep curls, you continue to burn calories hours after you put the weights down as well. To incorporate weight training in your workout routine, start at a weight limit you are comfortable to perform a full set of reps. Once the reps become easy to perform, increase your weight limit. If bulky muscles aren’t your thing, consider using kettle bells or resistance bands.

Great Country Farms
18780 Foggy Bottom Road
Bluemont, VA 20135
(540) 554-2073

Watch what you eat. Not only is it important to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily diet, it’s just as important to eliminate foods and drinks that pack on the pounds.

“The basic tip that I believe in is that food plays a larger role than we want to believe,” says Maryam Hamid, NASM Women’s Fitness Specialist, Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer. “I eliminated bread and high-calorie, sugary drinks and have seen a huge difference in just a month.”

Mada Abdelhamid, a trainer who went from 300 pounds and 28 percent body fat to 5.5 percent, agrees. “Cutting out processed foods and focusing more on natural foods is a great way to lose unwanted fat but is also amazing for your health. Processed foods build up toxins and inflammations in your body so, by keeping them to a minimum, you are doing your body a huge favor.”

Keep an eye out on food portions and be wary of the “I worked hard so I earned it” syndrome where you may think it’s OK to indulge in your favorite mega-calorie coffee drink or greasy meal. The average fast food meal contains more calories, fat and sodium than your average daily allowance.

One way to ensure the food that you eat is healthy and fresh is to shop at your local farmers’ market. Plenty of local cities and towns, like Vienna and Alexandria, host farmers’ markets at nearby community centers, parks, schools and courthouse parking lots. Or, get your food straight from the source. Consider visiting a local farm, like the Great Country Farms in Bluemont or Butler’s Orchard in Germantown.

Related: Best CrossFit Studios In The DC Area

YMCA of Metropolitan Washington
1112 16th St. NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC  20036
(202) 232-6700

Sign up for group exercise. Group exercise programs, like Zumba, Pilates and yoga, are not only super popular but also help you lose weight and feel great, keeping you motivated about maintaining a regular workout routine.

“Being a part of a team is a great tool to help motivate you to get in the gym and also strive to achieve your goals,” says Abdelhamid.

Just about every D.C.-area gym, fitness studio or community center offers some form of group exercise. If the idea of exercising in a room full of people has you hiding under the bed, ask your partner, a neighbor, friend or family member to be your gym buddy instead. When procrastination strikes, you can motivate each other to do something more productive than just hang out on the couch.

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink
4th and Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC 20565
(202) 737-4215

Switch up your routine. To keep you from getting bored, as well as help prevent a weight loss plateau, add a little variety to your workout routine. Sign up for a D.C. volleyball, hockey or racquetball league, try new equipment or, better yet, get your butt out of the gym. The D.C. metro area is chock full of parks, bicycle and hiking trails. Or, think outside of the box and go ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink, jump on gigantic trampolines at Rebounderz, dance up a storm at Barcode or climb a rock wall at the Sportrock Climbing Center. Anything that gets your heart pumping is considered exercise.

Related: Best Places To Go Ice Skating In The DC Area

Georgetown Running Company
3401 M St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 337-8626

Use technology to your advantage. Not only are there a wide variety of state-of-the-art fitness machines to choose from, there are just as many mp3 programs and apps to help get you in shape. Keep track of what you eat with a food journal app, download helpful tools like a pedometer or fitness tracker or put together an upbeat playlist to keep your motivation in high gear. Look up “fitness” in your iPhone or Android app market, and you’re bound to find hundreds of fitness-related apps, many of which are free to download and use. Or, keep track of your progress on your home computer or laptop.

Stop by the Georgetown Running Company and check out its collection of running watches with built-in heart-rate monitors, bicycle speed sensors or the interactive fitness-tracker armbands. Or, visit the Potomac River Running Company in Ashburn, and upgrade your sneakers, running accessories and other sports gear.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at

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