VIDA Specialty Squad: Rafael Garcia
By Mekita Rivas, VIDA editor and member
VIDA is home to dozens of the District’s best personal trainers. But did you know that many of our trainers also have specialized certifications and expertise? Each month, we’ll be introducing you to one of these superstars in our brand new blog series: The VIDA Specialty Squad!
Meet March’s squad member: Rafael Garcia! Rafael is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at VIDA Fitness Logan Circle who specializes in killer kickboxing, boxing, and bootcamp classes. Thinking about trying something new? Rafael’s high-intensity and high-energy classes may be just what you need. Read on to learn more about his own fitness journey and training style.
How did you get your start as a personal trainer?
Every weekend I would work out at a park with massive hills, monkey bars, a turf field, and running trails. Slowly, one by one, my friends would join me. After a couple months, I had a group of 5-10 people training with me and doing my workouts. I would always push them to finish the circuits and help correct their form if it was improper.
My sister would train with me as well, and one day she said, “You should be a trainer.” I have always pushed myself, but there was something special about helping my friends train and pushing them to their limits. After realizing I could make a career out of it, I quit the job I had at the time and became a personal trainer.
Describe your typical workout routine.
I usually train every other day because of my work schedule. I mainly spar with my MMA training partners for two hours. We do one hour of boxing and one hour of Jiu-Jitsu. It’s so much fun, and by the time I’m done, I can barely stand. I love it! Those two sports are like a human chess game with cardio, strength, and — most importantly — technique. I also like to lift weights, swim, and do tons of body weight and ab exercises, because abs are one of the main muscle groups I need to keep strong for the sports I practice.
What are your classes like?
My outdoor bootcamp classes are for all levels. It consists of full body workouts, circuit training, partner drills, running hills, and individual training days. Since we train three times a week, I make sure to hit all the muscle groups in the body, along with cardiovascular training. We are usually working out at the Stead Parks turf field, two blocks down from VIDA Fitness Logan Circle, or at Meridian Hill park running hills or stairs.
My kickboxing/boxing class is by far the most intense class I teach. I first go over all the basics of punching and kicking. Once everybody has their technique down, we start hitting combos on the punching bags. In between rounds we either do abs, upper, or lower body exercises, and end the class with rigorous full body stations. The great thing about my kickboxing and bootcamp crew is that they know and expect it to be hard. They are paying for the push, so I have to always make sure I deliver!
How would you describe your personal training and teaching style?
My style is tough but with love. I push my clients to their max, but I also know when to let them relax so they can recuperate and finish the entire workout session. Making them realize that they are more than what they think they are is a great process to see unfold over time — especially when they achieve their fitness goals.
What would you say to someone who’s hesitant to try out your classes?
I usually tell them to try it out once to see if it’s for them. Most importantly, I let them know it’s going to be hard, but that I will be right there, easing them into it so they can finish the class. Everybody has to start somewhere.
Outside of the gym, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not training clients, I love to make house music and DJ at clubs in the D.C. area. I also love grappling, sparring, and meditating. The best thing in life right now is my daughter Aivery. I love playing with her and making her laugh. It’s the best sound in the world to me!