By: Mekita Rivas, VIDA editor and member
Although he’s now a mainstay at The Yards location, Matthew Felling says that when he first joined VIDA back in 2013, it was a decision he was reluctant to make.
“I joined — kicking and screaming — at my wife’s suggestion when we moved into the Navy Yard neighborhood,” Matthew says. “As usual, she was right. I’ve grown to fully appreciate the gym’s benefits over time, going from being mostly a treadmill chugger originally to diving into five or six classes a week.”
With the new year approaching and resolutions sprouting, Matthew emphasizes the importance of doing activities and trying workouts that push you beyond your personal threshold.
“I’m a 40-plus guy with a heart condition and torn ligament in my foot, and I’m keeping up with the younger, fitter members,” he says. “The hardest part about getting to the gym is just getting to the gym. Once you’re there, everything gets easier — particularly at VIDA.”
I sat down with Matthew to chat about his workouts, what he enjoys most about VIDA, and his advice for gym newcomers.
Describe your fitness journey up to this point.
The journey is always uphill, but it’s always worth it. Trite sports radio hosts always say, “Father Time is undefeated against athletes,” but getting to the gym is my way of giving Father Time a fight and also keeping my heart strong. I had open-heart surgery when I was 25 because of a congenital thing, and staying active keeps any additional problems at bay.
When you joined VIDA, what were your initial goals?
My initial goal was simple: Stay at it, and keep plugging away on the treadmill. But then I suffered through a humiliating Boot Camp class in Lewes, Delaware, and I realized that running is only a fraction of what the body needs. So I came back and spelunked into Enrique’s intense Friday morning class, and it took off from there. I still wear the Delaware gym T-shirts to VIDA to keep myself focused.
How has VIDA helped you achieve your goals?
The goal has always been about feeling better and getting the most out of myself every day. I realized when I lived in Alaska that getting an intense workout in every morning kicks you into high gear and gives you a boost that caffeine alone can’t beat. VIDA allows me to stay committed to that, but also keeps the challenges diversified.
Describe your typical workout routine. How often do you work out and which workouts are you drawn to?
I’ve been working out despite a torn ligament in my foot, so my options have narrowed. I can’t do heavy impact things that require too much weight on the ball of my foot. So I’ve been spending quality time with Jourdan, Amanda, Joel, and Leslie in the spin classes, and dabbling in the HIIT classes when I can modify around my foot. You can find me walking in around 6 a.m. most mornings and around 8:30 a.m. on the weekends.
What do you most enjoy about being a VIDA member?
The vibe when you walk in. It starts at the front desk when the team welcomes you, and the staff and instructors add to it when they are supportive or helpful — or when they give you the kick in the butt you need to power through. The clusters of community that cross over from class to class give you support as well.
What advice do you have for someone who’s on the fence about joining VIDA?
Give it a go! They have a little bit of everything, including some things you wouldn’t usually try. The cliché is correct: You get out of it what you put into it, but there are more ways to push yourself at VIDA than at other places. Also, you’re a member, so try every class once like a sampler platter. Go with what works, and rule out things you weren’t crazy about.
Outside of the gym, how do you spend your time?
My go-to answer to “What do you do in your free time?” is VIDA, so the free time remaining is limited. I write a weekly political column for U.S. News, read, sleep, kayak at the Ballpark Boathouse during the in-season, and go to the movies and Nats games.