Lifestyle & Culture

Glenstone: The Less Visited Museum

A view from the west of the architecturally grand Glenstone. /

A view from the west of the architecturally grand Glenstone. /

ONE FINE FRIDAY morning this summer, my husband and I had a rare couple of hours to spare, with the kids out and about and work that could be put on hold. We wanted go to the Mall to see an art exhibit but didn’t have enough time or energy to deal with the traffic and parking hassles of a weekday outing in the District. With a window this small, we decided to check out Glenstone in Potomac, and we were delighted to discover this hidden gem just a few minutes away from home.

Glenstone holds the private collection of Mitchell Rales and his wife, Emily, who opened their 150-plus acre estate and museum to the public about eight years ago. As we made our way along the shady tree-lined driveway, we were enthralled by the grounds filled with fields of wildflowers and grasses designed by Peter Walker and Partners. Even more impressive were the enormous outdoor sculptures by artists, including Jeff Koons,  Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly.

The contemporary building housing the museum, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, is a work of art in itself, made of clean lines and angles, vast open spaces and plenty of huge windows to draw in light and to permit expansive views of the lovely grounds and ponds beyond its walls. The museum is now showing the works of contemporary Swiss artists Peter Fischli and the late David Weiss, two lifelong colleagues who shared studio space as well as a quirky and eclectic artistic sense that raised keen observations on the themes of everyday life.  Four friendly and knowledgeable docents led us and eight other visitors through clay and rubber sculptures, a replica of the artists’ shared workspace all made of polyurethane and a massive slide table exposing their world travels that took us far, far away, but were bound together by colors, themes and overlapping images. This exhibit runs until Dec. 20; the art of Fred Sandback opens the following day.

Admission is free; advance reservations for tours, which run from 60 to 90 minutes, are required and can be made online. A limited number of visitors are permitted every hour Wednesday through Saturday. Tours of the outdoor sculptures may be offered again in September.

I recommend you take your tour soon. Work has already begun on a second 150,000-square-foot building, which will be one of world’s largest privately owned galleries open to the public.  Once it’s completed in 2016, Glenstone will be much grander and less intimate. We’re already making plans to take our parents this fall and consider Glenstone a must for our next out-of-town guests.

— Anne Kisslinger
Anne Kisslinger is the social media director of MyLittleBird. 

SoulCycle Rolls Into the District

Photo by Anne KisslingerPhoto by Anne KisslingerYOU MAY HAVE HEARD about the SoulCycle craze that has been sweeping NYC for the past couple of years. Lady Gaga, Kelly Ripa, Katie Holmes and other A-listers are regulars. Now that it has landed in D.C, I finally got the chance to see what the hype was all about.

SoulCycle claims “fitness can be joyful” with their inspiring instructors, candlelit rooms and rocking music. It promises to be much more than an indoor cycling class because it’s a total body workout using hand weights.

Right at the entrance I concluded that SoulCycle was hip. It features its own clothing line proudly displayed in the foyer. The young women at the front desk were friendly and efficient. The instructors were motivating and enthusiastic, and as expected, the 58-bike room was candlelit and the music was loud (earplugs are available at the front desk).

Natalia, our instructor, is a Venezuelan native bursting with energy even though she had been transplanted from NYC just four days earlier. After making sure all of the cyclists were properly seated on their bikes, she took center stage on her own bike, and immediately pumped up the crowd by shouting, “I just moved to D.C. and I LOVE IT!” and with that we were off on our 45-minute journey.

For the first part of the class we pedaled to the music adding resistance along the way. Once comfortable with the pedaling, Natalie directed us to do chest and shoulder presses that worked our core and shoulders. Just past the halfway point we used light hand weights, conveniently located right behind the saddle of each bike, for several sets of bicep curls, punches and jabs.

Near the end of class we did a nice long hill climb and ended with a cooldown peppered with inspiring messages from Natalia such as, “You can go out and do anything you set your mind to today!” The class ended with a touch of yoga as we brought our hands together in a Namaste gesture.

SoulCycle definitely gave me that full-body workout, more than my usual spin class. I loved the darkness, music and energy in the room. Natalia made fitness fun and the smooth and silent bikes were terrific. Best of all, the journey went by way too quickly!

On my way out of the studio I talked to fellow cycler, Felice, 52, of Bethesda who also wanted to see what the SoulCycle fuss was all about. She has been to similar classes and liked that SoulCycle was clean and bright, and loved the vibe and loud music. The only downside that she expressed was the cost. Your first class will run $20 and after that a single class is $30. Multiple class packages are available at slightly reduced rates. Felice still wants to stick with her gym membership and thinks it would be hard to justify the SoulCycle expense, but adds, “Well, it is cheaper than therapy.”

The Georgetown studio is located at 23rd & M streets ; a downtown Bethesda opening is due this fall.  Seven to eight classes are offered daily, and online sign up is a breeze. You can even select your seat. The D.C. location is already a hit — several classes over the next few days have a waitlist.

Not sure SoulCycle is for you but want to try a class?  MyLittleBird is giving away two free passes to a lucky winner. All you have to do is tell us why you’d like to try it in the comments section of this post. We’ll select a winner Sept. 4.

— Anne Kissslinger