New Year’s Shape Up

by Dara Klatt
 It’s easy to subscribe to Victoria Brown’s work out philosophy of becoming a stronger version of who you are already. Followers of the global Under Armour athlete, senior SoulCycle instructor and founder of @VeryBestSelf are mighty (literally), including famous actors, a former first lady, pop sensations, reality stars and the lucky few who vigorously spin to 70 percent of a target heart rate in her sold-out classes. But her approach is deeper than you think.

Photo by Edgar Artiga, Artiga Photo

“Everything comes from the inside out. If you’re having a hard time getting motivated to work out, then the easiest thing is to think about something that you’re fighting for in your life outside of fitness. Then bring that into the workout,” Brown says.
We took Brown’s philosophy and applied it to our own fitness strategy to kick off the new year…

In Shape You Can Do Anything

WL editor Dara Klatt at the St. James’ indoor rock climbing wall.

Myron Flowers, a former pro-athlete and director of strength and conditioning at The St. James (TSJ) tells me, “in shape, you can do anything.” I’m in decent shape, but I’ve found myself doing sprints, box jumps and blasts, weighted sled knee lifts, pull-ups, leg curls and more alongside undrafted Alabama-Birmingham safety Mar’sean Diggs, former Wisconsin running back Rachid Ibrahim, and former James Madison University wide receiver Quintin Reynolds. Let’s just say I’m trying to keep up. But that’s exactly the motivation at the heart of this  Springfield, Va. 450,000-square-foot indoor fitness mecca: the ability for beginners and pros alike to be pushed to their max in a sports utopia, right beside each other.
Side by Side With Pros

The athlete mindset is to be The Best. Flowers theorizes that “there’s an athlete in all of us; some just have to work harder than others.”That’s me. I’m armed with a 30 pound barbell to start, and it’s “Game On.” I suppress excessive pained facial expressions as Ibrahim and Diggs power lift three feet away with hell-bent focus. Again, I’m reminded that the difference between “great” and “good” is being uncomfortable. If that’s the benchmark, I’m on my way to greatness …
Why Not Be the Best?

Photo courtesy the St. James

An hour later, after seesawing between silent swearing and self pep-talks, I am still very much alive (albeit painfully for a few days). I stayed with it, next to some standout athletes. With a pumped up ego, I return to TSJ, climb the rock wall, take a yoga class (next to a New York Knicks player) and slurp a “Myron’s Green Machine” smoothie. I stop in at the spa for a message, manicure and pedicure; and window shop at Striver’s, TSJ’s hip athleisure shop, for $305 zoom fly pink sneakers. Because I’m in shape and I can do anything. Yeah, it’s going to be a good year.
Katie Ledecky’s Exercise Tips

“Find things you enjoy doing for exercise, find ways to improve at those things and … set some specific goals and work towards them,” says Katie Ledecky, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer who prepared for the U.S. winter Nationals at the St. James with everything at her fingertips. Her advice for for non-athletes is simply to exercise regularly.  For non-swimmers out there, Ledecky notes: “The St. James has an incredible weight room and gym … and chocolate milk for post training recovery … a hockey rink, exercise classes, a soccer field, basketball courts, daycare and a spa.”

Getting The Whole Family Active
Craig Dixon, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at The St. James, wants people to understand that don’t have to be a member to enjoy the facility.  “There is a tremendous amount we have to offer for non-members, including all of our sports and lifestyle experiences (golf, climbing, developmental classes, team tryouts, tournaments or events, Courted, Super Awesome Amazing, Strivers) — it’s  open to the entire community.” Adds Kendrick Ashton, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, the St. James, “There’s been a total change in the way our customers are engaging in their passion. The active family is spending three, four, five hours together [at the St. James] doing a really diverse array of things together.” 
Check out and follow Victoria Brown for 2020 fitness inspiration.

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