It’s 5:33am and 13 inches of snow have shut down the District. I roll over to turn off my alarm only to see a text message: Pick you up in 10? “Why would anyone think to be awake this early on a snowy Thursday morning?” I say to myself. Nonetheless, I drag myself out of bed to enter the blizzard, all for the prize of working out before sunrise.

As editor-in-chief of The Southwester, I want to highlight new and hidden locations and businesses in the neighborhood that many residents do not yet know. As such, we aim to inform with our newest column KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

On my first day of the group “Foundations” class, our coach, Teresa, said, “We’re not here to make you huge, we’re here to re-teach your body how it should work. Even if you work out one hour a day, seven days a week, you’re still only exercising 4% of your life.” Given CrossFit’s almost cult-like following, I was skeptical, but still entered my month-long class with an open mind. Desperate to find a workout to strengthen my knees after four knee surgeries or to soothe my bad back, I was willing to try anything.

Over the first week I learned back-to-the-basics moves such as throwing heavy balls against the wall, lifting heavier kettle bells “Russian style,” and deadlifting even heavier barbells, but weight was not the key – style and form were. Coaches would correct my form repeatedly, almost to a fault, but each time the pain subsided and my body felt better.

As I slowly learned the basics of CrossFit, I began to see groups of friends more than groups of classes. Most members rarely entered by themselves, yet few had known anyone before joining. Over time I started to peel away my preconceived notions that CrossFit is a bunch of self-centered, fanatical jocks and realize that it is a just place to hang out with friends while getting in shape.

In the beginning it felt as though I was being disruptive by changing my workout partners’ routines or weights, but each time they insisted as they, too, remember their first few weeks. “It’s a competition against yourself,” one member told me, and to many that is just the case. More times than not members can be seen jotting in their notepads after each workout – “A measurable success!” they would say. Over my short month I, too, saw measurable gains. At work I would catch myself hunched over in my seat, when picking up groceries I would lift with my legs, when walking I would “tighten my core.” Overall I would say the month was a success for myself, and now for the neighborhood. As I told neighbors and friends, I noticed less than one in ten knew there was even a CrossFit gym in our neighborhood, much less the largest in the DC metro area (over 10,000 sqft).

With members ranging in age from 18 to over 50, it’s a small microcosm of our neighborhood – young, old, black, white, overweight, fit – but each has come to this former warehouse at 1525 Half St SW to make the most out of their life, even if it’s only 4%.

By: Shannon Vaughn

More information on District CrossFit can be found at or by calling (202) 507-8255. The gym offers an informational complimentary class Saturdays at 1:00pm. Classes for members include the Workout of the Day group class, weightlifting class, and even yoga and a kids class.

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