Community Palette

Routeam Helps People Live Healthier, More Well-Balanced Lives

March 4, 2014

A new online company designed to help you get fit, eat healthier, and in general live a more well-balanced life has emerged in the D.C. Metro area. It is called Routeam and is the brainchild of two young healthy-lifestyle fanatics and entrepreneurs Dustin Canter and Andrew Conklin. I chatted with them and learned they began exploring the idea in 2011 and its taken time to get it up and running. They experimented with different options to make it easier for clients to connect with opportunities to make their lives better.

They now have the formula for success. Routeam works with both individuals and businesses and the goal is the same; helping people live healthier, happier lives. The genesis of Routeam was understanding that many people in D.C. don’t have the connections or a plan to achieve that healthier life. They may not have a circle of friends who work out at a gym or a partner to go to yoga classes with. Routeam can connect you with people who share your goals and their coaches will help you achieve them.

It’s easy to join Routeam as an individual and at no cost answer a number of questions about yourself and what you think your fitness and life goals are. If you are simply looking for a fitness program or instructor then can connect you. Dustin explained they can help “Those who want a heavy duty workout that causes them to sweat and others who maybe just want to glisten”. Routeam understands that often people who want to live better and healthier lives need that little bit of help and encouragement and their coaches are there to do that.

Currently over 500 individuals have set goals on Routeam and there are numerous trainers, yoga instructors, gyms, and other facilities and individuals who are part of Routeam ready to help them achieve those goals. Richard Blumenreich, a principal with KPMG said, “I love Routeam. I have lofty health and fitness goals, but not the drive to get there by myself.  After wasting money on many unused gym memberships, I turned to Routeam and finally I am attaining my goals. Routeam is the best health and fitness organization I have ever belonged to.  I plan to continue my relationship with them for a long time.”

Routeam also works with businesses to help their employees’ live healthier lives which in turn make them more productive employees. A real win-win situation.  They develop classes for employees at lunch or other convenient times and then encourage those employees to use their website to find additional classes and activities outside of the office.  One employer that found Routeam productive for them and their employees is the Kaiser Medical Center on Capitol Hill. Marta K. Cookson, the Manager of Regional Wellness Programs in the regional office of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc. said,"Routeam positively impacted our Capitol Hill Medical Center staff to become healthier employees and I have now decided to share with our other Mid-Atlantic worksites this workplace health program.”

This could be a great opportunity for the many businesses in the District. Law firms or other stress inducing businesses could join with Routeam to provide something positive for their employees at really minimum cost. They can track the increased productivity and satisfaction of their employees. Routeam is all about making people’s quality of life better.

Their approach isn’t to build another brick and mortar place but to connect people with the facilities that already exist in every neighborhood. They help make the connections you want and need to achieve the level of fitness you want that will ultimately help you reach your goals in life. Joining a gym is great for many people and we have some of the best in the nation including options like VIDA and the LA Connection. But those gyms aren’t the place for everyone and Routeam wants to help each person to develop the fitness routine and healthy lifestyle that suits them best. That could be anything from a morning dance or yoga class near work to a personal trainer on weekends. They can help you find a group to go hiking or swimming and do it at times convenient to you. To find out more about Routeam you can go to their website or email

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Patti LuPone at the Harman Theatre

February 18, 2014

On Monday evening Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre, did one of his famous interviews. This time it was with Diva Patti LuPone. It was a fun evening in the theatre.

Very few people do this kind of a one-on-one interview better than Kahn. He has a great way of bringing out the best in people and getting them to talk. But in LuPone’s case it was easy. Michael didn’t even get to finish his question before she was off and running with an answer and her answers were frank and often funny.

Alan Paul and Michael Kahn (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Alan Paul and Michael Kahn

LuPone was a student of Kahn’s at Julliard in 1968. She is a graduate of the first class of the Drama Division at the school and went on to become a founding member of John Houseman’s The Acting Company. She likes to remind people that she is a classically trained actor and suggested that we need more of them today and less focus on the Kim Kardashians of the world. We clearly know what she doesn’t like and that includes what Michael Bloomberg has done to Times Square. She riffed on her inability to get out of the theatre last New Year’s Eve because the streets were blocked off for the mass New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. She even complained that police in New York no longer give deference to actors.  She was asked what role she ever took that she regretted and she said none. I expected her to say the lead in Sunset Boulevard from which she was let go early in the London production. She did tell us she took much of her wardrobe with her from that show when she left.

In reality ever since I saw her in Evita on Broadway back in the 1970s I think of Patti LuPone as a star. She jokingly admitted to being in many flops but the successes have been incredible. She was an amazing Mama Rose in Gypsy and has received numerous Tony nominations including for Anything Goes and Sweeny Todd, and the Tony award for her role as Evita. She has won a number of Drama Desk Awards and many forget she was Fantine in the original production of Les Miserables for which she won an Olivier award.

There was a reception for her after the interview but she didn’t stay too long and was picture shy. She is in D.C. for An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin at the Kennedy Center now through February 23rd. She and Patinkin first met when co-starring in Evita.

One of the interesting people at the reception was Director Alan Paul who just won his first Helen Hayes award nomination for his direction of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Shakespeare Theatre. He will be directing Man of LaMancha next season.

A night at the Shakespeare Theatre is always worthwhile.

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Why I Am Voting Vincent C. Gray for Mayor

January 31, 2014

On April 1, 2014 I will cast my ballot for Vincent C. Gray for Mayor. It was an easy decision for me but may not be for many other voters. The open investigation surrounding his 2010 campaign is entering into many people’s decision. I am convinced that the majority will come to the same conclusion and believe the Mayor when he says he has done nothing illegal. I choose to accept his apology. One look at his life, not just the politician, you must conclude it is not in his DNA to lie or cheat. Gray’s life has been spent working for those who couldn’t fight for themselves and he dedicated himself to the non-profit field eschewing the money track. Many in government, including current councilmembers, have made millions being paid for their influence in office. Gray’s time in politics and government, only 13 years out of a long career, was fulltime and didn’t include looking for sources of outside income. 

By every measurable indicator his administration has been successful. So for those who will consider voting against the Mayor based on supposition and innuendo, which is all there is regarding his personal role in his 2010 campaign, it would be my hope they take a second look before casting their ballot. They might just reconsider voting for him in the primary and ensuing election based on the health of the city. The District is moving in the right direction in every area including public safety; education reform; and fiscal stability. Moreover his administration is doing everything possible to improve the lives of the residents of every Ward.

The continued success of a city means giving credit to those who came before.  Mayor Gray, along with starting new initiatives in the areas of employment and economic development; upping the level of service delivery; education reform and strengthening the safety net; has built on the positive initiatives begun under former Mayor Anthony Williams. That progress continued under former Mayor Adrian Fenty, elected overwhelmingly in 2006. He continued the reforms that Williams began and added his signature accomplishment, wresting control of the education system and placing it in the Mayor’s office. He did that with the help of then Council Chair Vincent Gray. His chosen Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, made great strides in reforming the system but after three years was under fire for how she worked, or didn’t work, with the community and her desire for personal publicity. While the Fenty administration made continued improvements in delivering city services it also spent down the city’s reserve fund by $600 million leaving the District at serious risk for lower bond ratings.

Vince Gray became Mayor at the time the nation was coming out of a recession and had the opportunity to make great strides in a fairly short time. He used all those opportunities. He continued education reform with Kaya Henderson as Chancellor and in 2013, based on national tests, the children of the District improved more than children in any other urban district. Vincent Gray authored and introduced the bill for universal pre-k education when he was Council Chair and that has resulted in some of the great strides our children are making.

Vincent Gray inherited an underfunded reserve and worked to rebuild the District’s fiscal solvency. He has been wildly successful while at the same time improving the delivery of city services. Because Gray rebuilt that reserve to $1.6 billion he was able to keep the D.C. government open during the federal shutdown. Then working with delegate Norton he ensured that the District is now exempt from federal shutdowns through 2015. Gray is the first Mayor to not only stand up to the federal government but along with some members of the Council and brave citizens sit down for their beliefs. His led that act of civil disobedience and again showed what he is made of as a person. Another indication of the man is that Vince Gray has been the most openly supportive elected official the LGBT community ever had. He has lost friends because of his principled stands but never hesitated to speak openly about his support for the community.

The Gray administration has been very successful in attracting new business to the District. During the first three years of the Gray administration the District has earned high marks from those who rate cities and their achievements. In 2013 Forbes Magazine rated the District the #1 New Tech Hot Spot; Politicom rated us the #1 strongest economy in the United States; and the American College of Sports Medicine rated us the #2 fittest city in the nation. The Mayor created the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Nutrition and pushed fitness in the schools and continues to build new bike lanes. In 2012 we were rated #1 for LEED-certified Projects by the U.S. Green Building Council and the Mayor initiated the strongest plan for turning a city green in the nation. To continue reading this column please click on Washington Blade where it was first published.

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