's newest personal trainer Alex Smith will lead a running club for new and experienced runners starting next month.
Smith, 23, graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in exercise science. He moved to Arlington in June and has been working as a certified personal trainer at Mount Vernon Athletic Club while saving for grad school. He is considering a doctorate in exercise physiology or physical therapy.
Smith grew up in a Navy family and moved seven times before settling in Southern Maryland for high school. He attended Patuxent High School in Calvert County, where he played soccer and ran cross-country and track. Patch caught up with Smith recently to learn about the running club and talk about his background.
How did you get started with running?
"My dad got me started in ’95, so it’s been a while. I ran track, all four years indoors and outdoor, and cross-country in high school.
In cross-country, I went to states, regionals, and counties, the two years I did it. I played soccer before that. For track, I went to states junior and senior years in the 4x800 meter relay, and I went to regionals for the mile and half-mile races."
What are some of your other favorite activities?
"In college, I took up gymnastics and parkour. (Parkour, a non-competitive outdoor sport, has its roots in running obstacle courses for military training.) I’ve been doing parkour for six years, and teaching for about four. I’m working on starting classes up here. I don’t know if it’s going to be out of the gym or something on the side by myself, but I really like teaching it. I taught it mainly at school; I was in charge of the club."
What do you enjoy about parkour?
"The adrenaline rush. Doing something you never thought you could, working hard to reach a certain point after looking at it for a little while."
What made you want to lead a running club at Mount Vernon Athletic Club?
"My folks moved up to a city just outside of Boston. There’s a running store up there where they do gait analysis similar to and I worked there five, six years on and off when I came home for the summer. They had running clubs out of the store and it was great. Everyone was awesome, so when I came here I thought it’d be a great idea to start one up as well. I just personally need to get into it. I’ve sort of fallen off the wagon with running, and starting a running club will help me get back to where I used to be."
What are you looking forward to most about leading the running club?
"Meeting new people. In my experience, runners are always some of the best people to hang out with, because you have to have a certain mindset to enjoy running. I’ve never met a runner I didn’t like."
Have you run any races here?
"Around here, no. I’d love to train for the Marine Corps marathon. I don't know if I would actually do it, I just want to train for it. I’ve done a few 5Ks in Blacksburg."
What was your favorite race in Blacksburg?
"It’ll have to be the 3.2 for the 32, it’s the race for the [Virginia Tech] shootings. It just takes you all over campus and around Blacksburg and everyone’s always really supportive of everyone that day. You get to run through the football field as a part of the run, which is awesome."
What type of music do you like to listen to when you run?
"Really anything that gets my adrenaline going and blood boiling, so something a little angrier than most people are used to. A lot of heavy metal."
Classes are open to both members and non-members; they begin August 13 and will be held Mondays at 6:30 a.m., Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., and Fridays at 6:30 a.m.
Fee is $150 a month, $450 for 3 months, or $15 per class on a drop-in basis. All levels of runners are welcome!
Please register by August 6 at Mount Vernon Athletic Club. To register, drop in or call 703-360-7300.