For members looking to strike a balance between their work, personal and gym lives, Balance Gym in Washington, D.C., offers the answer. “Here at our gym, it is our goal to offer a space that allows you to find that balance by providing fun and conducive programs that encourage healthier, happier people,” said Devin Maier, the managing director for Balance Gym.
Voted the “Best Gym in D.C.” in 2011 by the Washington City Paper, Balance Gym was founded in the U.S. capitol in 2002 by Mark Crick and Graham King, two local trainers who “believed something was missing from the average chain gyms that dominated the market,” Maier said. “With a vision that should be fun and an emphasis on programs that focus on movements, not muscles, Balance Gym has grown into a market leader for personal training, innovative group fitness programs and unique facilities.”
The first Balance Gym began in the gymnasium of an old church. Today, there are three locations in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The emphasis on fun is most apparent at Balance Gym’s Thomas Circle location, which boasts a colorful, graffiti-painted exterior. The mural “dates back to the 80’s when it used to be another gym,” Maier explained. “It’s an older building with a ton of character, so we chose to keep the facade as is.”
The name “Balance Gym” reflects the club’s mission to help its members find balance in their lives. “People are constantly looking to find balance in their life, whether it be balancing work and home life, or finding time for personal reflection and exercise in an otherwise chaotic schedule,” Maier said.
Balance Gym offers a variety of fitness options and programs to aid their effort, including strength options, cardiovascular machines, and a variety of unique programming, such as CrossFit Balance, yoga and Olympic weightlifting. “Our aim is to make training at Balance Gym the best part of your day,” said Maier. “Let Balance Gym help you change the way you look at fitness and we think you’ll never want to go to another gym again.”
In its beginning, Balance Gym had a vision to offer its members the option to train with similar routines as collegiate or professional athletes. “It was tough getting people off of the standard exercise machines and moving functionally,” explained Maier.
The gym also didn’t have access to a lot of gym equipment at first, forcing the trainers to become creative and “ask our members to use their bodies more as a tool and move with function,” Maier said. “Luckily for us, the industry has changed and this kind of practice is much more of a standard.”
While Balance Gym does cater to those who want to work out on the gym’s equipment on their own, “our ideal clientele lives and breathes Balance,” Maier said. These members often join group classes, as well as other programs outside of fitness, including rooftop happy hours at the Thomas Circle location and other local events. “We are more than just a gym filled with shiny machines — we are a place to grow,” he said.
Though the facility is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., Balance Gym works hard to build community within the club. “While many of our programs in the gym foster their own smaller communities, such as Balance Pole Method and CrossFit Balance, we still strive to bring them all under one roof so people can be exposed to a ton of different cultures under one larger community,” said Maier.
Balance Gym also sponsors outdoor activities in the local community, many of which club members are currently training for, including “Bike to the Beach” and “Cupid’s Undie Run,” as well as “GORUCK Nasty,” a six mile mountain challenge, featuring over 20 obstacles designed by U.S. Special Forces. “Not everything happens under our physical roof,” Maier said. “We love putting the ‘fun’ in functional fitness. If it involves interacting with others, learning something new and challenging ourselves, we will probably be offering it at some point if we aren’t already doing so.”
Maier said the biggest key to Balance Gym’s success “is having a fervent membership base that utilizes our strong personal training program. We have some amazing trainers here, and we would not be nearly as successful if it weren’t for a world-class training department.”
By Sam Rogers