Jessica Baker works out during a barre class at Biker Barre, a new fitness center in Capitol Hill. The gym, which opened last month, is owned by two women, one with an interest in spinning and the other with a passion for barre workouts, which combine elements of yoga, Pilates and ballet.
Unlike most gyms or studios, the rooms at Biker Barre, the new fitness mashup on Capitol Hill, don’t have any mirrors. In the studio for indoor cycling, participants sweat and spin in almost total darkness. Upstairs, customers attempt ballet-inspired moves in the barre classes in natural sunlight from windows facing a street of row houses.
There’s no self-examination or self-consciousness — just sweat and soreness.
It’s an intentional design choice, explained co-owners Jane Brodsky and Katie Fouts. Customers stick with a workout if they are comfortable and are not concerned about how they look or compare to their fellow classmates.
“We believe in a healthy lifestyle; we don’t believe in being crazy,” Fouts said after teaching a 7 a.m. indoor cycling class. Fouts and Brodsky are both residents of Capitol Hill and are a lively, constant presence in the lounge area of their new facility. The two women’s backgrounds are the reason for the studio’s two-pronged approach: Fouts brings the cycling experience, Brodsky the barre.
Barre blends strength training, Pilates and ballet-focused workouts, and it aims to lengthen and strengthen muscles, from arms to core, to legs and the behind. Brodsky describes it as roughly “yoga for jocks.”
Indoor cycling is just that: Participants are seated on stationary bikes and spin at varying intensity levels, climbing imaginary hills and sprinting.
Biker Barre takes these two different, though complementary, workouts and houses them under one roof.
The studio opened in May and sits just beyond the main stretch of Eighth Street Southeast near Barracks Row. Afternoon and evening classes are the busiest, but the 6 a.m. cycling class is quickly becoming a favorite. Classes are offered in a mix of experience levels and are intended to let the more dedicated take them back-to-back.
‘Afraid to Sweat’
Brodsky is the former owner of Red Bow studio, the precursor to Biker Barre. Housed in a skinny row house near Union Station, Red Bow opened in 2010 and only offered barre classes. A relaxed and serene atmosphere, Red Bow sought to foster a sense of community on Capitol Hill, Brodsky said. As a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer, she said she realized that in Washington, D.C., the only social outlet is often a bar or a restaurant.
“In a city where you kind of end up being segmented by what you do — lawyers hang out with lawyers, politics hang out with politics, Democrats with Democrats, Republicans with Republicans — it’s awesome to go somewhere where you might not know where somebody works until later,” she said.
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