29 Aug Traveling Rings in Washington D.C.
I recently saw a video posted on the Ringflyers Discussion group on facebook by Frank Chapman of an indoor ring set in Washington D.C. When I soon thereafter found myself lucky enough to spend 10 days in D.C. this July for business, I decided to go and try the rings in person. I took along my cousin Maya who is in middle school and an avid rock climber.
The rings in question are at a Gold’s Gym in Largo, MD, on the edge of D.C., at 931A Capital Centre Boulevard. The Gym is part of an outdoor mall complex, and within a 10 minute walk from the Metro Town Center stop on the blue line (the last stop actually).
Upon arriving at the center I bought a day pass and was greeted by Kris Wilson, a super friendly rings enthusiast who spoke of Frank in reverent tones and showed me to the rings, where he did a few runs himself – he was quite good. I was there at an odd hour, in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, so it was hard to gauge local interest, but the flipside was that we had the rings mostly to ourselves. Kris’s enthusiasm for the rings extended beyond just having a rig built in his gym – there were also huge glossy posters of the Santa Monica ring set and ring swingers all over the gym.
The rig itself was actually quite impressive. I went in expecting something rickety or flimsy but it was quite sturdy. It was very short of course, being indoors, with just 5 rings total, but the swing was exceptionally smooth. The chains were not quite as long as Santa Monica and the supporting beams were not set as far apart, but everything felt stable and strong. I found that being inside was a bit disorienting, and I had to swing more cautiously without the wide expanse of soft sand below that I am used to. However the mat underneath the rings was quite thick and bouncy, and the big upside of an indoor set was no rust or sand getting in the swivels, so the spin was quite smooth. They also hung a huge American flag from the top of the crossbar, which is fun to gently tap with your hand as you gain air on your takeoff. I was able to teach Maya very quickly on the rings and she loved trying them out, and planned to visit them again soon.
Overall the Gold’s Gym DC set far exceeded my expectations. While indoor sets have their drawbacks of a less natural environment and space constrictions (that reduce the number of rings), the quality of the set and the smoothness of the swing more than made up for that. With the recent length reduction on the chains in New York, I might even rank the DC set second in quality to Santa Monica.
If you’re interested in visiting the Gold’s Gym DC set, the address as mentioned above is:
Gold’s Gym Largo, MD
931A Capital Centre Blvd
Largo, MD 20774
Kris is their in-house Rings guy, and he can be reached at KWilson@goldsgym.net, or 301-333-GOLD.