June 29, 2012 at 12:15 am EDT | by Kevin M. Norris
Balance Gym offers sense of community

The founders of Balance Gym offer customers a wide range of activities from CrossFit classes to yoga and more.

I sat down with Mark Crick, co-owner of Balance Gym for an engaging and insightful interview about his fitness philosophy and what makes the gym unique. Isn’t Balance just another “gym” and how can it compete with the plush higher-end fitness facilities that offer everything under one roof? They can and they do. What separates Balance is its inherent community that inevitably becomes a part of your membership package. And doesn’t everyone want to be part of a community and have fun?

Just how does a little engine, like Balance Gym get voted “Best Gym in DC” for 2011 by City Paper outshining those big guys?  Let me tell you their story.

My introduction to Balance and co-owners Mark Crick and Graham King happened back in 2007, when I was living down the street from Balance. After hearing some buzz about these “two hot straight guys” operating a gym nearby, I went in looking for a place to hang my hat as a personal trainer. At first, I thought, OK where is the steam room and all the amenities that generally come with a gym membership?  Nope, not at Balance. Back then you received complimentary towels and Balance water bottles (for the water fountain, no less), but what else comes in your membership package? Today’s Balance Gym membership gives you several additional membership benefits, including spa and personal training discounts. There was a spark at Balance that I could not quite put my finger on, but I knew that the Balance community would grow.

They have indeed grown to three locations, including Glover Park, Thomas Circle and the original in Kalorama. In addition, there are two CrossFit locations; Thomas Circle and Kalorama. But what has not been lost is the original formula: community, fun and a comprehensive and innovative approach to fitness.  Notice I did not say exercise, because at Balance you get fit and you are encouraged to train like an athlete. There is no going through the motions here and you get this when you read the Balance tag line, “Train for Sport, Train for Life.”

Mark and Graham met back in 2004 when Mark was a professional rugby player working at a venture capital firm and Graham was a personal trainer at Washington Sports Club teaching his own boot camp in Kalorama Triangle Park. Graham was looking for another instructor that had the same passion for fitness and Mark was likely looking to get rid of his suit and tie. They quickly realized that not only did they share similar fitness values and philosophies, but they had the business acumen to put their belief system into action. Hence, Balance Gym, Kalorama was born and still exists as their flagship location today.

City Paper calls Balance Gym D.C.’s most unique and energetic gym, providing a truly comprehensive and innovative approach to fitness. But don’t put Mark, Graham or the Balance community into a one-size-fits-all box. The Balance World is much broader than that and they realize that we all have different preferences and Balance offers a wide variety of classes and exercise options.

Balance was one of the first gyms in D.C. to embrace and offer CrossFit, which is a strength and conditioning methodology that is now popping up everywhere. They also offer the ever-popular Zumba, yoga, boxing and the best pole dancing class in the city. And they have in-house physical therapy that most gyms do not.

They also have a team of highly competent, certified personal trainers who know fitness and know how to motivate their clients.

Still yearning for that spa-like atmosphere?  Balance offers that in its Glover Park location, which was formerly Soma-Fit and is now SomaSpa, which offers that lap of health, fitness and wellness luxury in an intimate boutique like setting. (And they do have a steam room.)

The Balance community extends beyond the confines of any of their locations. From tubing, hiking and pool parties, to charity dodge-ball tournaments, CrossFit competitions, Cupid Undie Run for the Children Tumor Foundation, Bike to The Beach for Autism and the list goes on. You will have fun at Balance and you can’t help but get fit along the way.

But just how gay-friendly are Mark and Graham and what have they done for the LGBT community? Well, a lot. For several years they supported “gay volleyball” in Kalorama and currently support the Capital Tennis Association, the gay-friendly Washington Renegades Rugby team and the DC Furies. And we can’t forget that in 2009 all the shirtless trainers at Balance harnessed, roped and pulled two classic Volkswagens in the Annual Pride Parade.

“When you look forward to coming to the gym and fitness becomes fun, the results you desire come easy.” Add a fun community to the mix and you inevitably have a fitness formula for success.

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