Best of C-VILLE 2016: Health & Fitness

From the summit, hikers get 360-degree views as far as the eye can see. (See Best Hike.) Photo: Matteus Frankovich/Skycladap From the summit, hikers get 360-degree views as far as the eye can see. (See Best Hike.) Photo: Matteus Frankovich/Skycladap

Shape up or ship out, we say. And readers agree, having voted for the best in everything from martial arts school to personal trainer. And, when the going gets a little too tough, you weighed in on the best docs in town to keep you limber and living well.



The MADness (MADabolic)

Runner-up: C’ville Burn (CrossFit Charlottesville)

Honorable mention: Hot Yoga (Hot Yoga Charlottesville)

“MAD” could describe a few things: lack of sanity (e.g. “I’ve gone mad”), the way you feel after you get your ass kicked in a workout or it might stand for Momentum, Anaerobic, Durability. In the case of The MADness, it’s the latter. Each class begins with an explanation of the exercises you’re about to begin, then you do what the instructor calls “a climb”—the whole routine for one minute per exercise, then two minutes, then finally three minutes per exercise. It sounds rough—but, since it earned top honors this year, you’re clearly not mad about it.

Illustration: Jason Crosby
Illustration: Jason Crosby

BIKE SHOP Bike Factory of Charlottesville

Pedal to the metal

Bike Factory of Charlottesville might not be the oldest cycle shop in town, but owner Mark Gordon says celebrating its 20th year at its Zan Road location does make it the oldest to stay in one spot.

“There’s something to be said for that,” Gordon says, adding that his family-owned shop’s quick turnaround on repairs are likely why you’ve voted it the best bike shop in town.

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. What’s Gordon’s recommendation for the best city ride?

“Observatory Hill. It’s not the longest in the world, but you can definitely get some good riding in there. It’s very challenging.”

O Hill is home to some of the most steep, rocky and aggressive mountain biking trails in the city. It connects to the Rivanna Trail, which Gordon says gives bikers a good avenue to extend their ride.

Runner-up: Blue Ridge Cyclery

Honorable mention: Blue Wheel Bicycles



Brett Strieter

Runner-up: Brian Keena

Honorable mention: Emma Rowe

Head, shoulders, knees and toes —it’s all connected, which is why Brett Strieter’s work at Infinity Massage focuses on releasing restrictions to the body’s fascial connective tissue. Through massage, he breaks up the tissue surrounding the muscle fiber, which helps the body move more freely. And he should know—Strieter’s work as an amateur bodybuilder and powerlifter gives him unique insight into the body’s abilities. In the runner-up spot, Brian Keena specializes in five kinds of massage therapy, including craniosacral and neuromuscular.   

Illustration: Jason Crosby
Illustration: Jason Crosby

DENTIST Jeffery Hodges

You’re probably doing it wrong

“One tooth at a time…You scrub that tooth, then you go to the next one.” That’s the advice that dentist Jeffery Hodges gives the Charlottesville community on the best way to go at their daily cleaning. This year’s winner says while there’s no specific pattern for teeth-brushing, it’s important to focus on each tooth individually, and continue brushing for no less than two and a half minutes—anything below that, he says, is just not sufficient enough. Another piece of advice? Loosen the death grip on your brush. Being too aggressive could leave you down in the mouth.

Runner-up: Aaron Stump

Honorable mention: D.J. Bickers



Old Trail Golf Club

Runner-up: Birdwood Golf Course

Honorable mention: Full Cry at Keswick Golf Club

A championship golf course in Crozet’s Old Trail community, Old Trail Golf Club boasts a full 18 holes of bent grass greens and zoysia fairways. We’re not of the golfing sort (though the club offers lessons to players of all skill levels through its Kandi Comer Golf Academy), but we can get behind one thing most people rave about when it comes to Old Trail: the views. Situated at the base of the Blue Ridge, golfers can get in some serious mountain-gazing from hole to hole.

HIKE Humpback Rock

Rock out

It takes hikers a little under an hour to traverse the 740 feet to the summit of Humpback Rock, but how did that rock even get there? Suffice it to say it took awhile. Here’s your history lesson.

About 1.2 billion years ago, the collision of several continents formed supercontinent Rodinia and caused a mountain-forming event known as the Grenville orogeny. (When two continents collide, instead of sinking, they shove over each other, creating mountains.) Then, roughly 400 million years later, as Rodinia began to break apart, molten magma beneath it started to heat up and spill onto the surface in the form of lava flows. Over time, those lava flows metamorphosed into basalt, an extrusive igneous rock. That igneous rock is the main element of the Catoctin Formation, a geological unit that stretches from Pennsylvania to Virginia and includes this year’s best hike winner at 3,080 feet above sea level.

Runner-up: Old Rag

Honorable mention: Saunders-Monticello Trail



Dar Malecki

Runner-up: Justin Tooley

Honorable mention: Vanessa Schnable

No surprise here: The CEO of MADabolic (this year’s best fitness class and best niche fitness studio) takes the top prize again this year. Malecki was living in Charlotte, North Carolina, working as a commodities trader when she signed up for a trial class with MADabolic. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Charlottesville to open the company’s first franchise location. Her high-intensity workouts keep clients coming back stronger than ever. In the runner-up spot, Justin Tooley gets recognition for squats, deadlifts and bench presses at his McIntire Plaza spot, The Gym.



Runner-up: FlyDog Yoga

Honorable mention: CrossFit Charlottesville

If you’re headed to a fitness studio, you want to see results. Happily, that’s the goal at MADabolic, too. An athletic conditioning program that emphasizes interval training from its studio near the IX Art Park, MADabolic’s intervals switch daily to produce a unique workout that clients won’t get tired of—and will give them long- lasting results. In second place, FlyDog Yoga offers a variety of yoga classes from its studio in the Millmont Shops.

Gordon Emery. Photo: Keith Alan Sprouse
Gordon Emery. Photo: Keith Alan Sprouse

MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Don’t panic

Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s lesson in self defense

At Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, owner Gordon Emery and his fellow instructors teach 24 classes to about 200 students each week, in the martial arts styles of jiu-jitsu—which is most popular—as well as Muay Thai and Krav Maga. But martial arts aren’t just for people who want a black belt. The skills it teaches can help save your life.

We asked Emery to demonstrate how to defend yourself if an attacker were to push you up against a wall and attempt to strangle you. However you react, the first step, says Emery, is, “Don’t panic.”

Step 2: Reach upward to the attacker’s fingers with both of your hands. Locate the easiest finger and grab it with one hand.

Step 3: With your other hand, secure the attacker’s wrist by grabbing onto it.

Step 4: Bend the attacker’s finger back to his forearm and straight down.

Step 5: Remove yourself from the situation and get help.

Runner-up: Laughing Dragon Kung Fu

Honorable mention: 7 Tigers Taekwondo and Hapkido



Walnut Creek Park

Runner-up: Rivanna Trail

Honorable mention: Observatory Hill

Get out your good legs and a tuned-up ride. Cyclists beyond beginner level will be aptly challenged on a trail system that leaves you pumped out and breathless by serving up a jostle of roots and ruts with multiple ways to connect throughout Walnut Creek Park. While designed for hiking, runner-up Rivanna Trail is a combination of smooth paveways and well-worn paths that fill up quickly on the weekends with dog walkers, tikes on training wheels, joggers and dodgers on mountain bikes.

Photo: Matteus Frankovich/Skycladap
Photo: Matteus Frankovich/Skycladap


Free for all

No idea is off limits at IX Art Park

If you’ve never been to IX before, here’s what you need to know to enjoy it: nothing. It’s an art park, and what is art if not open for interpretation? That’s what makes it a great place for kids both big and small. The space ignites imagination. But, in case you’re more of a realist, we asked the park’s executive director, Brian Wimer, to tell us what each exhibit is all about.

“Blastoff” by Eric Cross and Chicho Lorenzo

A true creative collaboration. Chicho took Eric’s suggestion seriously to stick a space shuttle on a tree trunk. It helps to have welder Brady Pisha working nearby in the IX art studios…and Oliver Kuttner’s cherry picker.

“Head of Zeus” by Christian Breeden

Originally featured in the film Pyrometheus. Christian was one of the first instigators in the Art Park, bringing the Burning Man ethos of participation and play to Charlottesville (not shown).

“Hands Together” mural by Ross McDermott and Avery Lawrence

This mural by the Charlottesville Mural Project predates the Art Park, but helped put IX on the map for ambitious, large-scale public art (not shown).

“Piano Stairs” by Katherine Sigman and Susan Krischel

Play is a key Art Park principle. With some creativity and a couple cans of black and white paint, a disused staircase became one of the park’s first and most used attractions (not shown).

“Dream Big” mural by Chicho Lorenzo

Dream big” is the park’s motto, an invitation to indulge possibility. This 15,000-square-foot mural replaced the park’s original “Art Invasion” graffiti mural.

“Labyrinth” by Chicho Lorenzo and Brian Wimer

Bernie McCabe’s original “Dream Big” maze was all but walked-off. The new labyrinth is the center of what will become a wall-to-wall mandala, filling the entire courtyard with color for contemplation.

“Music Pipes” by John Rubino

Perhaps the most participatory piece in the park. Each pipe is tuned to a note so anyone can bang out a tune, satisfying the park’s promise to stimulate the senses, including sound.

“Nest” by Katarzyna Borek

Katarzyna makes nests—this is perhaps her biggest. The geodesic dome underneath the nest was on the playa at Burning Man, at the Polish sausage party where Kuttner and I first discussed the possibility of the park.

“Zen Lifeguard” by Brian Wimer

One of the many ways to sit at the park. A lifeguard chair in a sandbox…and an open invitation to David Hasselhoff.

“Unicorn Bikeboat” by Chicho Lorenzo

What’s to say? It’s Chicho being Chicho. Magic happens when you have an artist in residence.

“Before I Die” wall by Candy Chang

An invitation to indulge your life’s dreams. Cleaned every week, this interactive chalkboard quickly fills with wishes, wants and bucket lists.

“Express Yourself” Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

This mobile monument travels occasionally. Another 3-D opportunity for free-spirited speech, like the chalk monument on the Downtown Mall.

“Byron’s Telescope” by Joseph Schepps

Experiential art. This steampunk sideshow piece is actually a time portal. You climb in, bells ring and then you see God (if you are so inclined).

“Second Stream” by Brian Wimer

Placemaking is about perception. What if a street becomes a stream? A dozen community members helped make this possibility a reality.

“Love Butt” by Kurt Braunohler

Braunohler was hauling ass across country with Comedy Central. He asked for a place to park his butt. Charlottesville gave him such a great reception he decided to bring back the butt after the tour (not shown).

“Circle Swing” by Brian Wimer (swings made by Cloud Cabin Arts)

Shade, seating and the context for conversation—this is how you build community. One swing at a time.

“Pollocks Path and Meadow” by Devin Floyd

Floyd, from the Center for Urban Habitats, devised this walkable wonderland of native flora and fauna—what would have grown and thrived 500 years ago on the banks of the stream is now buried in a pipeline under IX.

Runner-up: Pen Park

Honorable mention: Greenleaf Park



Blue Hole

Runner-up: Walnut Creek Park

Honorable mention: Chris Greene Lake

Once a clandestine place to skinny dip, the climb to Blue Hole (just up from the Sugar Hollow Reservoir) is now populated with families, canines and athletes. No longer a destination for swingers after the legendary rope swing was cut down, the natural swimming pool is still our hottest place to cool down. The trucked-in sand, shallow entry point and shady shelters make Walnut Creek Park another favorite spot for a group picnic or family staycation.


Katharine DeGeorge

Runner-up: Annika Abrahamson

Honorable mention: Greg Gelburd

There was a time when a doctor visit meant he was coming by to check on you and it was best if you had a pot of tea or a spot of sherry on hand. These days it’s hard to romanticize the waiting room and health care system tango, but getting a hold of your health with Dr. Katharine DeGeorge makes it all seem easy. Annika Abrahamson’s nurturing bedside manner and expertise make her a repeat favorite as the one to call when you’re feeling poorly.


Anna Magee

Runner-up: Deborah Elder

Honorable mention: Bridget Bryer

The porcelain skin, the Irish lilt—it’s easy to see why readers voted for Anna Magee this year. When it comes to skin care and keeping our community looking fabulous, she leads by example at Charlottesville Dermatology. Deborah Elder, at the same practice, solves all your skin squabbles, from acne to varicose veins.


Cox Chiropractic Clinic

Runner-up: Sam Spillman

Honorable mention: Tate Huffman

The love for an effective chiropractor cannot be underestimated. With nearly 40 years of thorough examination and attentive treatment under its belt, repeat winner Cox Chiropractic Clinic bends over backward, while assisting you to do the same through regular adjustments, acupunture, physical therapy and more. Runner-up Sam Spillman uses research, therapeutics and modifications to keep you in balance from his Preston Avenue office.

Photo: Cramer Photo
Photo: Cramer Photo

PEDIATRICIAN Paige Perriello

Baby talk

Paige Perriello says one size doesn’t fit all

It’s no secret that your child is amazing. And pediatrician Paige Perriello is among the first to confirm that fact. She also knows that, as a parent, you have questions. Lots of them. Which makes sense, seeing as you’re responsible for a human being and all. According to Perriello, the best thing you can do to keep from getting overwhelmed by the enormous 24/7 job you’ll have for the next, uh, forever, is to choose a pediatrician you trust to help you along the journey.

Pediatricians are “trained in the comprehensive care of children from birth until age 18—or 19, 20, 21, 22…usually through the college years,” she says. And during every one of those years, you’ll have dozens of questions: How can I get my baby to sleep through the night? What’s the best way to discipline my toddler? How do I know that my child is getting a healthy diet? How much screen time is too much screen time?

When we posed these questions to Perriello, who works at Pediatric Associates (the practice her father, Vito, founded), she told us “every newborn, child and family is different, therefore the answers to those questions differ slightly for each family.” She says she likes to “take what I know about a family’s background and experiences and align that with the best and most current evidence-based pediatric knowledge to work together with them to make a plan that suits them.”

Sleep, for example, is something that comes up frequently in the first two years—and sometimes even in later years. “The so-called ‘cry it out’ method, popularized by sleep expert Dr. Richard Ferber, works if done correctly, but it is not the method that is most comfortable for everyone,” Perriello says. So she adheres to “core principles with each family: having a routine, knowing the goal amount of sleep for their infant or child, getting parents or extended family on the same page, making a plan and then sticking to it.” If, however, the plan’s not working, schedule a visit with Perriello. And while you’re there, you’ll probably have a few more questions.

Runner-up: Alaina Brown

Honorable mention: Carol Boersma and Greg Gelburd (tie)



Blue Ridge Ophthalmology

Runner-up: Primary Eyecare

Honorable mention: Drs. Record & Record

Plus two, minus four, OD, OU—what’s it all mean? Spectacles are a nice fashion accessory (especially if you’re going for the sexy librarian look), but if you require them for daily function, you need to get your numbers straight. The experts at Blue Ridge Ophthalmology will look you in the eyes and make it all crystal clear with routine exams and assistance in everything from cataracts to diabetic retinopathy. In the No. 2 spot, Primary Eyecare sees you through the prescription process and offers an on-site optical boutique that’s handy for setting you up with a second set of eyes.


David and Rebecca Swett

Headed to the dentist? No frowns here! Normally, we wouldn’t feel envious. But a trip to see David and Rebecca Swett isn’t your typical visit to the tooth doctor. In fact, some patients have likened the atmosphere to that of a day spa. The Swetts are not only committed to your dental health—from root canals to halitosis—but they’re also interested in promoting a healthy view of dentistry in general, so they keep their office environment calming and their procedures as pain-free as possible. The result? We’re all smiles.


When Phil Wendel opened Atlantic Coast Athletic Club in 1984 (in a former Safeway grocery store on the corner of Hydraulic Road and Route 29), he had two goals: Keep it clean and keep it open. Once he had both of those down, the mission morphed. Health and wellness should be available to everyone—not just bodybuilders and bikini models. More than 30 years later, ACAC members total around 60,000 across its locations in Charlottesville, Richmond and West Chester, Pennsylvania, with more than 20,000 of those in our city alone. Safe to say it’s sticking around.

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