WHEN THE NEWLY crowned Miss D.C. International works out, she has to answer to two trainers: Walter Lewis of Awesome Physique and a certain 19-foot-tall rendering of Abraham Lincoln.
The presidential statue has been watching over 23-year-old MBA student Titi Williams-Davies for the past two months as she’s been hitting the Mall with Lewis, who specializes in outdoor exercise. Instead of a gym, he favors the mile-long stretch along the Reflecting Pool from the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial — and his favorite warm-up involves climbing to greet Honest Abe.
“When I see this,” he says, gesturing to the iconic elevated temple, “I see stairs and I think a person can run up them, lunge up them, squat up them.”
Others might not even notice a black handrail next to the Reflecting Pool, but Lewis turns it into a pull-up bar. (He has Williams-Davies use an underhand grip, stick her legs in front of her and start lifting.) Benches? They’re perfect for single leg step-ups, or he can make Williams-Davies turn around, place her hands at the edge of the seat and do triceps dips.
“And the trees are reference points, so I don’t need cones,” he says of the seemingly endless row spaced about 15 feet apart.
In a Lewis workout, intervals are measured in trees — in the form of “Do walking lunges for five trees” and, “Now, jumping jacks for two trees.”
In terms of equipment, he lugs around just a mat (for abs exercises) and a pair of gloves.
“We want to protect her pretty fingers from debris and poo,” Lewis says, before instructing Williams-Davies to do a push-up, walk her hands and feet over three steps and then repeat (for two trees).
If it sounds tricky to do all of this in D.C. summer weather and still look like a pageant queen, that’s because it is. An exhausted Williams-Davies seems unable to respond with more than one-word answers after a set of sumo squats (a side squat combined with a leg lift).
“Did you eat breakfast this morning?” Lewis inquires. Her response: “[Grunt.] Oatmeal.”
But as miserable as she may be during that last set of bicycle crunches, Williams-Davies rebounds quickly after the cooldown to gush about her new routine.
“I lose interest easily at the gym. But this always presents something new,” she says.
And she doesn’t just mean Lewis’ laundry list of exercises. There’s also the tourist factor — they stare, take photos and ask questions. She credits those experiences for helping her overcome some self-consciousness she needs to lose before the Miss International Pageant in Chicago later this month.
“A lot of people do run here, but not a lot of people do bear crawls between trees,” Williams-Davies says. And even fewer have a large man chasing after them saying, “We need to bring the booty down some to hit that core.”
Boosting muscle tone along with confidence certainly will help for the Miss International finals, too. There’s no swimsuit competition like in the Miss America Pageant, but the contestants are judged on their “fitness” while wearing their choice of athletic wear.
“The most obvious indication of fitness is if you have definition,” Williams-Davies explains. “This has done a lot for that.”
And there’s a guy named Lincoln who can vouch for her hard work.
Photo by Lawrence Luk
Posted By Vicky Hallett at 12:01 AM on July 1, 2008