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.
“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.
Barre first appealed to Brodsky after she developed osteoarthritis and experienced years of tennis wear-and-tear on her knees. She said she did not have the patience for yoga, and Pilates did not do enough. Barre fit the bill. She decided to open Red Bow once she realized that fitness was her passion, though she still considers politics an interest.
Fouts found a similar salvation through cycling. She says she was always an overweight child — “I don’t hold back when there is macaroni and cheese around” — and could not develop a passion for fitness. “I was afraid to sweat because it makes you look ugly,” she said. “I was afraid to go to the gym and be the person failing. When I found indoor cycling, that was for me one of the key triggers that helped me to change everything else.”
A former advertising professional, she moved to D.C. from New York after some years in her seemingly perfect job. “At some point I realized that I was completely miserable,” she said with a big laugh.
She began thinking about opening a cycling studio on Capitol Hill and wanted to meet Brodsky, another woman who successfully operated a fitness studio.
Both are University of Michigan graduates, though they did not know each other at the time. Not long after their first meeting, they both said, they knew the meshed business plans would resonant among the Capitol Hill community, which is home to a small number of yoga studios and membership-based gyms. They wanted Biker Barre to offer strength and cardio classes a la carte.
A Neighborhood Feel
That was about eight months ago. Since then, they have closed Red Bow, opened Biker Barre, and on a personal note, Brodsky is expecting a baby later this summer. A whirlwind, both attest.
“We love Capitol Hill for the fact that people know each other, people are invested in the neighborhood, folks walk around and say hi to each other on the street,” Fouts said.
“While it’s urban, it’s also completely and totally a place where people are going to interact.”
The studio’s lounge is painted black, white and red and has an industrial feel. As in any row house, sounds can be heard throughout the studio and the cycling music blasts into the lobby.
Both men and women have been taking classes, though women tend to dominate. Prices range from $22 for a single class to $250 for a month’s pass. Classes are full of both experienced cyclers and barre enthusiasts and those who have not tried either before.
Doug Murphy is a personal trainer in Washington and owns DSM Fitness. He liked what he read about Biker Barre and was encouraged with the focus on “core strength,” or abdominal and back muscles.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.