Monday, December 19, 2016

Want a full-body workout? The machine you need has been in your gym all along.

Shoulders down, back straight, abs tight, Fola Awosika instructed during a Foundations class at RowVigor in Arlington, the area’s first pop-up rowing studio. Then: “You want your legs to do the bulk of the work.”

Wait, what? “Your legs are the strongest part,” he explained, despite the commonly held belief that rowing is all about the upper body. In fact, rowing engages 86 percent of muscles, an English Institute of Sport study found.

Big history in little Clifton, Va.

Virginia was a Confederate stronghold during the Civil War, but an area in the northern part of the state became a place for the Union Army to rest and refuel. Later, in 1902, that area became the town of Clifton.

Today Clifton is a popular destination for foodies, history buffs and nature lovers. You can cover a day’s meals and years of history during a stroll along the quarter-square-mile town’s Main Street.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Apps can help you increase the impact of your workouts with HIIT

The workout du jour is high-intensity interval training, and this is one format that might be here to stay. It requires only a few minutes of (really) hard work to cover all the major muscle groups.

HIIT, as it’s called, alternates short periods of all-out activity with even briefer breaks. Just how short is short? Typically 20 to 30 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of recovery — spiking metabolism and tricking your body into thinking it rested.

Parents invent a social network app for children

Ah, parenthood. It’s an umbrella term for so many jobs: scheduler, social secretary, chauffeur. ... But in the digital age, can some of those tasks be outsourced to an app? That was the original idea behind KidMix, an app Lisa and Clay Goldberg of Maryland launched in May). The couple started developing a way to let youngsters plan play dates, which evolved into creating a social network for children.

Hotels Partner with Big-Name Chefs to Elevate Both Their Brands

It used to be that hotel restaurants served food that was underwhelming and overpriced. But in recent years, renowned chefs have been attaching themselves to the dining choices at similarly renowned hotels. Now, hotels new and old are cooking up ways to get a known name in the galley.

Mark My Gourd: 18 Local Pumpkin Patches and Festivals to Pick-Your-Own

‘Tis the season for ghosts, ghouls, goblins and, of course pumpkins. It seems the latter is everywhere, pervading coffees, pies, even cereal. (Have you been to Trader Joe’s lately?!) Perennial pumpkin fun abounds around the D.C. region. Farms transform into playgrounds full of fall frills, such as hayrides, giant slides and pick-your-own future jack-o-lantern. Whether you’re looking for straight pumpkin pickin’ off the vine or something with activities to kill a day with, there’s a farm or festival to meet all tastes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Can an app replace a personal trainer?

Fitness apps designed to serve as surrogate personal trainers are a dime a dozen — except, of course, for those that cost $29.99 per year. That price is steep in the app world but is much better than a trainer’s hourly rate of $50 or more.

Such cost savings are a big reason people are turning to apps that show videos, pictures and diagrams of weightlifting moves, yoga poses, running techniques and cycling routines. Another is time. With an app, there’s no worrying about scheduling appointments; the trainer is right there in your pocket, ready whenever you are. Another benefit is that apps can be less intimidating than human trainers.

“If it does anything to get you off the couch or get you motivated and get you moving in some way, shape or form, then I think that’s a pro to an app,” said Isiah Munoz, personal training manager at Vida Fitness.

D.C. Aims High with Rise of Hotel Rooftops

In D.C., the places to be are movin’ on up. For too long, D.C.’s streets have had all the fun. Now it’s the rooftops’ turn. Until recently, most hotels didn’t make use of the space above the top floor, but that’s changing now — and rapidly.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How ID can move out of the wallet and onto the smartphone

Now that we’re all comfortable with smartphones (read: can’t live without them), companies are making it easy for us to pay for items with a device already in our hands. It’s no surprise, then, that the next item to move out of the wallet and onto the smartphone might be a digital ID.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

With meditation and massage, shared workspaces get into the wellness game

At 12:15 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, about 20 people settled into reclined positions on their yoga mats, leaning against bolsters. With their knees open, the soles of their feet pressed together and their hands resting on their stomachs, the group took some deep breaths before moving into poses such as cat-cow and downward-facing dog. The movements were designed to counter the tightness in their necks, shoulders, hips and backs from hunching over a desk.

Forty-five minutes later, they went back to work — most of them upstairs in a yoga studio turned shared workspace.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Groups call for Privacy Shield to go 'back to drafting table'

Several groups are speaking out against a proposed agreement between the Commerce Department and European Commission that would let companies transfer Europeans' data to the United States.

In a March 16 letter (pdf) to European Union data protection authorities, the EU Parliament and the Dutch Presidency of the EU, 27 organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called for reform of U.S. law and limits on what data can be collected before the agreement, called the Privacy Shield, is enacted.

Open data gets meaningful through new MIT project

A new project aims to make it easier to find interesting and useful data among all the information that federal, state and local government open to the public.

The MIT Media Lab is working on Data USA, a free visualization of U.S. public data, according to a New York Times article. Fitting with the theme of openness, the project's software code is open source.

Hotels Step Up Their Game to Attract Embassy Business

When King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has a birthday, everyone gets to party. The country marks the day — April 27 — with several large events in the Washington, D.C., area that double as National Day celebrations.

Bevy of International Products Expands Our Notions of Beauty

A stroll through the makeup section of a department store can feel like a mini trip around the world. It’s obvious that products with foreign-sounding names take up plenty of counter and shelf space. There’s France’s Chanel, Israel’s Ahava, England’s Burberry, Italy’s Dolce & Gabbana — you get the idea — all enticingly packaged with promises of transformation. And maybe transportation, too.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Montgomery MIX: Alabama bets on high-speed exchange

On Jan. 6, Troy Cable saw latency in its transmissions go from 64 milliseconds to 2 milliseconds when it became the first cable and Internet provider to connect to the new Montgomery Internet Exchange.

The need for speed is a driving force behind the exchange, known as MIX, which went live Jan. 20. MIX is the result of a partnership between the city, county, state, Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base and the Air Force’s Air University. It lets residents, government and businesses in Montgomery, Ala., experience faster Internet connections by enabling them to connect via local servers rather than through a data hub hundreds of miles away.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Blair House Plays Host To American History

Washington is home to many buildings that are both iconic and secretive at the same time. Blair House, known more casually as the president’s guest house, is no different.

Built in 1824, Blair House consists of four interconnected townhouses located on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the White House. The federal-style complex has hosted a variety of heads of state and visiting delegations, but it was originally home to Dr. Joseph Lovell, the first surgeon general of the U.S. Army. It got its name, however, shortly after a circuit court clerk-turned-newspaperman took up residence there in 1837, seven years after Francis Preston Blair first moved to D.C. at the invitation of President Andrew Jackson. Blair’s editorials in a local Frankfort, Ky., newspaper appealed to Jackson, who asked Blair and his wife Eliza to turn a faltering D.C. paper called the Globe into a pro-Jackson administration publication.

The tech that locks down ID cards

Across federal and state governments alike, secure identity cards are getting securer. Whether the card allows for access into a government building or travel to another country, new technologies are making it easier for officials to verify identities.

Take the new Permanent Resident Card, or green card, which lets holders live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently began issuing redesigned cards, the front of which features ink that shifts from gold to green, embedded radio frequency identity (RFID) technology, tactile laser personalization, a laser-engraved fingerprint and a unique background design.

Friday, February 19, 2016

How Govinfo keeps pace with users

Ric Davis has seen his share of government documents. As CTO at the Government Publishing Office, he’s been an integral part of creating search engines to help the public find files from the executive, legislative and judicial branches. But on Feb. 10, a document Davis never expected found him.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Videoconferencing helps local gov deliver citizen services

Amid calls for more digital government services that let constituents find answers without human interaction, there is still something to say for, well, human interaction. Agencies are finding that tools that let them leverage technology to provide face-to-face assistance offer a new way to get the job done.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Open Source - The Future of Government Technology

The terms “open” and “government” traditionally have been mutually exclusive. But that’s started to change. Today public officials at the federal, state and local levels recognize that to truly be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, they can’t operate in a closed, siloed environment. 

As officials search for ways to increase capabilities, transparency and citizen engagement while decreasing spending, one solution is continuously bubbling to the top: open source technology.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

‘Swim at Your Own Risk’ suits encourage women to dive right in

Supporting the Special Olympics by taking the icy Polar Bear Plunge at Catholic University this weekend? Or shopping for your spring break beachgetaway? Two local women want to help you suit up.

Karla Colletto, a Vienna-based designer who has specialized in swimwear since 1987, partnered with Pum Lefebure, chief creative officer at D.C.’sDesign Army, to develop the Swim at Your Own Risk Collection.

The Problem With The ‘Dad Bod’

What is this whole “dad bod” phenomenon? Have you heard about it? It’s been making the rounds of cable and network news shows, even “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” had a (brilliant) segment about it. Timemagazine broke down the economic case for the dad bod, explaining that some women would rather have guys with imperfect physiques but large bank accounts.

Use these ballroom dance steps to class up your New Year’s bash

Getting carried away at a party is a holiday tradition. But if photos of you twerking wind up on Facebook, you might kick off 2015 with regret.

To ring in the new year in style, opt for time-tested ballroom dance moves, suggests Garry Gekhman, co-owner of the Chevy Chase Ballroom and an organizer of the Yuletide Ball ( — a series of amateur and professional competitions and a cancer fundraiser — Jan. 8-11 at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner.

An American Icon, Kennedy Center Thrives on International Exchange

The Kennedy Center may be as American as apple pie, but its programming has a decidedly international flavor.

That's no accident. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a quasi-federal agency with a board appointed by the U.S. president and a congressional mandate stating that it should put on its stages the best in arts and culture and be reflective of the people of this country.

Iconic American Furniture Maker Reflects on International Influences

Furniture maker Tom Moser prides himself on creating unornamented pieces derivative of 19th-century American primitive forms using hardy American wood, mainly cherry and walnut. But in talking with the 80-year-old designer — who recently reopened Thos. Moser Handmade American Furniture in Georgetown — a foreign influence becomes apparent. We sat down with him while he was in town for the reopening of his 5,500-square-foot showroom off M Street to find out where he finds inspiration after 43 years in the business, including about 35 years with a store in Washington.

At the new Flywheel studio, cyclists compete against each other

When the lights go down and the music goes up, it’s on. Riders on the 63 stationary bikes in a Flywheel class aren’t just trying to break a sweat. They’re trying to best themselves and their cycle classmates.

For Boston Police, social media experience pays off after bombing

After two men set off bombs during the 2013 Boston Marathon, the city’s police department pulled out all the technology stops to help keep order and identify and capture the suspects. But one of the best performing tech tools wasn’t a high-end system available only to law enforcement officials.

The Boston Police Department’s (BPD) use of universally available social media after the deadly event has been lauded as exemplary.

Texas converts 254 county courts to e-filing

It may be hard to imagine any process still being paper-based these days, but that’s how the legal system worked in Texas until recently.

“Before we had e-filing in the state, everything was very much paper-based,” said David Slayton, executive director of the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA). "And that meant basically attorneys and litigants who represent themselves having to deliver documents to the court in paper form."

Legal parties had to mail or hire someone to courier documents to the courthouse, and clerks then had to process the paper and get copies to judges. Ensuing orders were also routed via paper.

There was also the issue of storing all that paper. “Of course any document that was filed with the court was filed and stuck in some file room or warehouses for older files,” Slayton said.

13 Signs You’re a Fairfax Parent

Fairfax County. It’s not as nighttime cool as its pseudo-urban neighbor Arlington County and lacks the Redskins players population of nearby Loudon County, but it is the most populous county in the state. So there’s that. But none of that matters to kids who just know it as chock full of playgrounds, splashpads and a real, live space shuttle (inside the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center). Here are 13 signs that you’ve got a little Fairfaxian on your hands.

10 Underground Hideaways Kids Love

“The DaVinci Code” taught us to look twice at Washington’s infrastructure, and indeed there is more than meets the eye. Plenty of secret and not-so-private meetings happen underground in tunnels and passageways connecting some of D.C.’s best-known buildings, and in recent years, the Obama administration has made more of the subterranean District less restricted. Then there are the better-advertised subterrestrial sites: caverns, public transportation access and even a shopping mall. Whether you’re looking to rub shoulders with members of Congress, admire centuries-old rock formations or just grab a bite to eat, here are nine — almost 10 — ways to see the region below street level.

Monday, January 18, 2016

How to pick a better running shoe

Whether it’s jogging around the block or racing in the 40th annual Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 25, running is a high-impact activity. Nearly 70 percent of runners will experience injury from running, according to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. One preventive measure is using an appropriate shoe.