Exercise in Washington, DC
Sometimes it seems impossible to start dancing as an adult. Didn't master the perfect pirouette, shuffle-ball-change or jazz hands while still in grade school? Sorry, too late! Joy of Motion, on the other hand, believes "Dance is for Everyone." They welcome new dancers through introductory classes in styles ranging from ballet, jazz, and ballroom to flamenco, hip-hop and belly dance. If you can't commit to a class series, try one of their many drop-in sessions at levels from beginner to advanced. And if you are already an expert, don't worry -- Joy of Motion also offers master classes, choreography workshops and resident dance companies. There are three locations in Bethesda, Friendship Heights and H Street NE.
Want to combine exercise, socializing and scenic Anacostia River views? You don't have to be an elite rower to join the non-profit, volunteer-run Capital Rowing Club. The club is committed to bringing rowing opportunities to everyone, regardless of experience or physical ability. Amateurs can sign up for five-week Learn to Row courses that introduce the finer points of equipment and technique, while more experienced rowers can join programs for competition or merely for exercise. Even teens can get involved, thanks to the club's high school program. The Capital Rowing Club operates from the Anacostia Community Boathouse, located just east of the Navy Yard in Southeast.
Itching to explore DC's many waterways but don't know where to start? Potomac Paddlesports is the place for beginning paddlers in the DC area. Potomac Paddlesports offers group and private instruction in whitewater, flatwater and sea kayaking as well as stand-up paddling. Unique beginner's packages allow students to learn at their own pace, with five courses that can be taken at any time in a two-year period, free equipment rentals, and weekly practice sessions where students can meet one another and hone their skills. Instructors also lead raft and kayak trips around the Metro area, which range from a gentle paddle past monuments along the Potomac to a heart-stopping run through the Class II/III rapids of Great Falls' Mather Gorge.
Capital Bikeshare is the nation's largest bikesharing program. Its distinctive red bicycles can be spotted everywhere in town, ridden by commuters, tourists exploring the city, and anyone who wants an excursion or night out without having to worry about parking. Participants pay a membership fee (from $7 for a day to $75 for an entire year) and a small rental charge. The first thirty minutes of each trip are free. You can pick up a bike at over one hundred stations in the District and Arlington, then return the bike to any other station when you're done. Stations sometimes run out of bikes during peak hours, but you can check inventory in advance via web or smartphone. Alexandria and Montgomery Country plan to join the program in 2012.
In an era where every gym, dance studio and church basement offers yoga classes, Unity Woods stands above the pack. Unity Woods was founded in 1979, and its Bethesda location was the DC area's first dedicated yoga studio. It is still the largest studio in the area, with four locations (Bethesda, Woodley Park, Tenleytown and Arlington) welcoming an estimated 3,000 students every week. All classes are in the Iyengar style, which emphasizes proper form and breathing. Classes are offered at several levels of difficulty, with frequent seminars and specialized classes including Gentle Yoga, Yoga and Meditation, Back Care, and classes especially for seniors and for teens. Sessions run for twelve weeks and drop-ins are available.