From Boot Camp to Brunch

Gym & Tonic, A Luxury Athleisure Boutique, Brings Miami Cool to the DMV

Article by Lauri Gross

Photography by Monica Vidal and Jack Hartzman

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

Think athleisure fashions are a passing trend? Think again.

“It’s here to stay for a long time,” says Wendy Abelman, who co-owns the popular Potomac athleisure store Gym & Tonic with Amy Block. “Everyone likes comfort,” Wendy adds, “And they’re into health and fitness. Everyone is looking to take care of themselves.”

Amy agrees.

“This is not a trend that’s leaving anytime soon.”

Wendy is originally from Miami and New York, although she has lived in the DMV for more than 20 years. When Amy moved to the DMV from Miami about two years ago, she was frustrated by a lack of athleisure choices. Soon, Amy and Wendy, both retail veterans, met through mutual friends who owned a clothing store in Florida. Those friends suggested Amy and Wendy pool their retail talents and open a store to fill the void for women seeking quality athleisure clothing.

A few months later, that off-the-cuff suggestion became reality, and the pair opened Gym & Tonic in Park Potomac. The store offers luxury athleisure apparel for women ages 18 to 80.

The clever name Gym & Tonic is a nod to the promise that the store’s clothing can take customers from boot camp to brunch (or from the gym to a tonic).

With an ever-changing inventory of tops, bottoms, sneakers, jackets, workout wear, casual nighttime wear, hip dresses, Lycra pantsuits, baseball caps, knapsacks and pouches and more, Gym & Tonic keeps customers returning again and again.

“They love that they finally found a store like this in the area. They feel like they are in New York or California or Miami or any other trendy city,” Wendy says. “There’s never been a store like this here.”

Wendy and Amy attend major clothing shows, always looking for the best fashion from New York, Miami and elsewhere for their store. Wendy says that, outside of department stores, Gym & Tonic is the exclusive retailer in the D.C. area for the majority of the brands they carry, including Norma Kamali, L’Agence, Pam and Gela and Lauren Moshi.

“We get in new things daily,” Amy says.  

The beautiful shop features crisp black-and-white decor with warm, welcoming touches of color, such as the large jar of candy that sits on a countertop and of course the clothing itself, which ranges from form-fitting Lycra and nylon workout wear to denim, cotton and leather streetwear. Mixing and matching pieces are the keys to creating flexibility for outfits that transition throughout the day.  

“Norma Kamali is definitely one brand that you can dress up and wear to a wedding,” Amy says, referring to a strapless jumpsuit as an example. “Just put on a scarf on or other accessory.” 

“You could add a blazer and throw on a baseball cap, and you’re good to go for brunch,” Wendy says. “Or add a hoodie or a jean jacket.”

The store, of course, carries all these options. Gym & Tonic counts celebrities among their clientele, though Wendy and Amy declined to name names.

“Everyone here is great. We have the best staff ever," Amy says. "Everyone is all about customer service, whether a customer wants help with an outfit or wants us to let them have space and just wander the store without our help. Either way, we are here to accommodate.”

“What do our best to accommodate everyone in what we carry," Wendy says. "We will always try to special order something for somebody, and we constantly get new things all the time.”  

As the store’s inventory transitions for fall, customers will find “beautiful leather leggings and beautiful sweaters,” Wendy says.

“We’ll also have amazing things from a line called Cotton Citizen,” she adds.

Cotton Citizen includes fleece sweatpants, trouser sweatpants and other active pants.

Gym & Tonic’s community involvement includes work with the Tikkun Olam Women's Foundation and Keen, a group that empowers youth with disabilities to enjoy free, non-competitive exercise and fitness activities. Gym & Tonic also sponsors holiday events and an annual wine and cheese event, which of course also includes gin and tonic.

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