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Learn How to Dance—At Home—With the Brooklynettes

Written on September 22, 2014 at 10:57 am , by

Written by Jacklyn Kouefati, editorial intern

If you’re rhythmically challenged like many of us (translation: me), the thought of dancing probably makes you squirm in your seat. I’m much more of an admire-from-afar type of person who prefers to keep a rather large distance from dance floors.

While that’s fine (to each their own), that doesn’t mean you need to fear dance cardio classes. I recently hit up one at Crunch Gym led by the Brooklynettes—the Nets’ dance team—who taught us a workout inspired by an actual hip-hop routine they perform courtside. The dance combines old-school moves with calorie-burning booty shakes—but don’t worry. You learn the dance in two parts before combining everything together.

You can try it too with Crunch Live, a streaming service that lets you follow along with different instructors right from home. Crunch Gym member or not, sign up for a year ($90) or pay per month ($9.99), and you’ll have access to more than 40 workouts (and counting!). But because we’re so excited about the dance we learned, you can try it free for a week. Just sign up on the Crunch Live website, choose a membership, and enter the code FITMAG by September 29th to dance along with “Center Court Choreography with the Brooklynettes.”

And to our fellow can’t-dance gals who are already cringing in their chairs, the routine is a surefire way to get your heart pumping in the privacy of your own home. You don’t have to be a professional dancer to enjoy this workout—pinky promise.

Photo by Mira Steinzor

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Meet the (Very Few) Ladies of the Harlem Globetrotter

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Olympic-Worthy Fashion Advice from Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross

Written on September 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm , by

Written by Anna Seils, fashion intern

While beach volleyball is all about the sand, hot bods and bikinis, the fashion trends spread far beyond the surf. Olympic volleyball athletes and teammates Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross sat down from their hectic lives of volleyball training—and winning like crazy in the AVP tournament—to talk about their trend-worthy style.

They wear what works for them. Although they look super similar (per tournament protocols), the winning ladies have different sponsors, so the gear isn’t identical. Jennings works with Asics for all of her equipment needs, whereas Ross teams up with Mizuno. Thankfully, for some tournaments, the uniform requirements are more flexible. “It’s fun, I can wear a green bottom and she can wear a green top,” says Ross. “But on the World Tour, you have to match exactly. So we wear a lot of black then.”  And keep an eye out for gear designed by the pros—Jennings is developing a shoe and apparel line with Asics that is sure to be full of functional style.

Uniform features matter. After all, you don’t want to start a game and realize there’s no way you’re making it through a set with the top you have on. So Jennings and Ross test, test, test—and keep an eye out for key gear components. “For me, having a bikini that ties behind the neck, it crushes my neck, so I can’t have that,” says Ross. “And if you wear a bikini that ties behind the neck every day, it hurts really badly. So we do the criss-cross straps in the back.” One thing they don’t look for? Skimpy suits. “I think our sport is sexy enough,” explains Jennings.

They buy each other gifts. Many athletes are notorious for good luck charms, and Walsh and Jennings are no exception. For an extra mental push on the courts, “I got each of us a Giving Keys [pendant],” says Jennings. “Mine says, ‘breathe’ and April’s says ‘dream.’ I want to invite breath and pause into my life, and this is just a daily reminder.”

Beauty takes a backseat, but it’s not dismissed. Hair and nails take a pounding thanks to sweating in the elements these Olympians train in (tons of sand = not so great for manicures). To make ‘em last and look good throughout the competition, “You have to do gel on the beach,” explains Ross. “If you get a normal manicure, it’s gone in a day.” As for the hair, both whip it into a cute pony or braid so it stays out of the way while still looking stylish.

Their styles off-court vary. When they’re not kicking a** and taking names, the pair likes to relax (and, well, cover up) in comfy, casual outfits. While Jennings is a fan of the classic jeans and tank combo, Ross opts for feminine, flowy outfits (Free People is a fave brand)—but with an edge. “I like being more girly off court, but I can’t be too girly or I’ll feel weird,” she says. “So I’ll wear sundresses with sneakers or pile on harder jewelry to offset it. I try to find the balance, and my main concern is to feel comfortable.”

To get more of Jennings and Ross, watch them in the championship game of the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour this weekend.

More from FITNESS: 

Why You Should Try to Be More Like Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross

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Win a Free Adventure Trip With REI

Written on September 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm , by

Written by Kristine Thomason, editorial intern

Summer is just about over, but that doesn’t mean vacations have to be. From now until October 3rd, you can win a free vacation with REI Adventures by visiting the website and entering for one of four amazing excursions: Costa Rica Ultimate Adventure, Machu Picchu 10-Day Lodge Trek, Thailand Multi-Sport and Southern Beach Extension, or Tour Du Mont Blanc.

Started just last year, each trip balances active adventuring with peaceful downtime in comfy hotels and lodges—the perfect combo for all of us who need some relaxation after sweaty time (which is all of us). You can read all about each trip’s impressive jam-packed itinerary on REI’s website (hello, whitewater rafting and zip-lining), but you’ve only got until the 3rd to win, so start entering!

Photos courtesy of REI

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What Jennifer Aniston’s Yoga Instructor Wants You to Practice Daily

Written on September 16, 2014 at 10:14 am , by

Written by Jacklyn Kouefati, editorial intern

It’s been over a year since yogis everywhere went crazy over Mandy Ingber’s book, Yogalosophy. After all, she’s the guru celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Kate Beckinsale turn to for fit-and-fierce advice, so naturally, we all wanted the tips she dishes to the stars. Now, Ingber has taken it a step farther and released a fitness app, so we can have access wherever, whenever.

While Yogalosophy isn’t the cheapest app you’ll find on iTunes, the $6.99 investment mirrors the book by providing a 28-day, step-by-step exercise routine, and you can move at your own pace by customizing which aspects of the app you want to use. Whether it’s developing your own workout routines, creating a photographic journal or whipping up the recipe of the day, the app provides tons of fitspo and a timeline to track your progress.

If there’s one tip Ingber wants you to take away, it’s this: While you’re tracking, journaling and posing, weave meditation into your schedule, even if it’s for just five minutes a day. “I think that it’s so important for all of us to remember that it’s just a day-to-day process and to just do our best each day. We don’t have to be perfect,” she says.

So when those imperfect urges do creep up (oh hey, sweet tooth), settle for a healthier version of sweet, like a smoothie, (Ingber loves to use tropical fruit and kale in her blends), or check out some of the other plant-based protein recipes she created with Silk. Happy posing!

Image courtesy of Seal Press

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Hera Sport: A Community for Sports-Loving Fashionistas

Written on September 15, 2014 at 11:14 am , by

Written by Jacklyn Kouefati, editorial intern

We’re all about crushing those double standards. But when it comes to athletics, specifically the NFL, women are losing the fight for dominance, which is why we’re so excited Hera Sport is now a thing.

Launched just a couple of weeks ago, founder Elizabeth Vagianos created the online community specifically for female sports fanatics looking for a place to get their fashion fixes. Because let’s be honest: The whole sports-crazed fashionista thing is pretty badass.

“I grew up watching sports with my mother and my three sisters,” she says. “My father would cook Sunday afternoon lunch for us while we watched football.”

Role reversal for the padres, much? We’re into it. “I saw that I wanted to have this community my mother had built for us in our home,” she says, “I wanted to have that with my peers, but I really couldn’t find anything out there that was a community of women who enjoyed sports but were still feminine and enjoyed fashion and stylish things.”

The website features an array of topics, including fashion and beauty—outfits to wear and fun nail art, aka “fanicures”; food and health; travel; playbook—lots of fantasy football and baseball coverage; and Words of Lizdom, where Vagianos gives her own bits of advice.

“I’m Greek American and I’ve always loved Greek mythology. Hera to me symbolized the ‘it’ girl,” the Patriots fan says. “She was Zeus’s wife and she was powerful. It wasn’t about her beauty, like maybe Aphrodite or other goddesses. It was her strength and her power as a female. I really wanted my brand to be driven by a strong female name.”

Mission accomplished? “A lot of women are telling me that they finally found their home—a place that they can be feminine but be fans in an unintimidating community. It’s been really nice to hear.”

Vagianos envisions Hera partnering with the NFL to bring about an even bigger community of women who can “enjoy sports with style.” We’ll be rooting for her—and Hera—but in the meantime, join us as we make our own fanicures.

“Hands down, the biggest misconception is if you’re feminine and stylish that means that your knowledge base is nil,” Vagianos says. “So basically being a woman means really not knowing about the game, and that’s something I really want to address with this site.”

Photo courtesy of Hera Sport

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Fight Ovarian Cancer This Month With Laura Mercier

Written on September 1, 2014 at 9:12 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

For many of us, September represents the beginning of autumn, chillier temps and backyard bonfires (with s’mores in moderation, of course—yummy indoor recipe here if you so desire). For former gymnast, Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor Shannon Miller, September means raising awareness for ovarian cancer.

Like many women, Miller had a lot on her plate prior to her diagnosis back in 2011. The seven-time Olympic medalist had just given birth to her first son 14 months prior and was busy establishing her career as an advocate for women’s health.

“This came out of nowhere—completely blind-sided me—and it humbled me in a way that I had never been before,” says Miller. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, or how many gold medals you have. Cancer doesn’t care.”

Unfortunately, stories—like Miller’s—where patients show no sign of living with ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of death in American women, are not so uncommon. “The tough thing about ovarian cancer is that most of the time, the point at which you are having a lot of discomfort is typically a later stage of ovarian cancer, which makes it very difficult.”

Claudia Poccia, CEO and co-founder of the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund (LMOCF), is no stranger to the devastating effects of ovarian cancer either—her 39-year-old sister died in 2011 a couple of years after her diagnosis. With a mission to educate women about the disease, support those undergoing treatment, and fund ovarian cancer research, Poccia teamed up with French makeup artist Laura Mercier and co-founded LMOCF in September 2012.

“Laura and I were stunned to learn the terrible truth about ovarian cancer,” says Poccia. “Diagnostic tools are limited, and women lack information on ovarian cancer prevention. We also discovered that treatment options are few and funding for research is inadequate.”

In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, LMOCF is teaming up with Miller to conduct public awareness campaigns to spread the word and educate others about this disease. Support their efforts by donating directly to LMOCF (proceeds go to programs that treat women with ovarian cancer), or by purchasing one of the four products that Laura Mercier developed: 100 percent of the proceeds will go to LMOCF. September 5 is National Wear Teal Day. Join in the movement by dressing in teal and tagging @LauraMercier, #SpeakOutForHope and #LMOCF.

Included in the product line:

1) Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks Crème Colour Palette, $48

2) Lip Glacé Peach Hope, $25

3) Bracelet of Hope, $35

4) Teal clutch, $300

Photo by Renee Parenteau

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Don’t Miss These Ovarian Cancer Symptoms (And Help Raise Awareness with Run for Her)

Written on August 26, 2014 at 9:43 am , by

Written by Mary Kate Schulte, editorial intern

Ovarian cancer: it’s the fifth-leading cause of death by cancer in women, and it’s dangerously easy to miss. We know FITNESS readers are all about their health, and everyday problems like bloating and stomach pain don’t normally cause a red flag. But if these pains are abnormal for you or are increasing, there could be a problem. Beth Y. Karlan, MD, the director of the Women’s Cancer Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, urges women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer because they are easily disguised as run-of-the-mill issues (think frequent urination and bloating). Dr. Karlan, along with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, teamed up with the run/walk fundraising program Run for Her in order to spread awareness and raise money for research.

Run for Her was founded by Kelli Sargent, whose mother Nanci was a patient of Dr. Karlan’s. The event has bloomed into one of the biggest ovarian cancer run/walks in America—there were nearly 6,000 participants in 2013! They began in Los Angeles and are now spread far and wide—even Hong Kong is hosting an event this year. Run for Her will be in New York on September 6th (sign up here), and while preparing for the 5K Run and Friendship Walk, we spoke to Dr. Karlan to get some details on this disease.

Watch For These. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle and easily confused with normal day-to-day discomforts. The symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). See your doctor if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during the course of one month or they are new or unusual for you.

Be Proactive. Be aware of your own body and changes that might indicate the need to see your physician. Know your family history; inherited cancer susceptibility is an important part of your personal health care. See your physician regularly.

Prevention. By using birth control pills for longer than one year, women can reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, research shows. In fact, use of birth control pills for six years or greater reduced ovarian cancer by 60 percent. Another method of prevention: removing the fallopian tubes, as recent data demonstrates that this type of cancer appears to begin in the fallopian tube. But obviously, this is an extreme measure, and should not be done if you intend to get pregnant.

How To Help. Spread the facts about ovarian cancer. If it is diagnosed early, doctors can treat and even cure women. Consider attending a Run for Her event or participate in the Research for Her program, an award-winning research registry used to increase representation of women in research.

Dr. Karlan praises the determination of women like Nanci Sargent, saying, “The thousands of people who make up our Run for Her family help push me to do all that I can to move us toward better treatments and even someday a cure.” On her own health regimen, she works out regularly, eats healthfully and stays passionate about her patients and work. Her advice for the runners in New York?  “Relax and enjoy the morning in Hudson River Park.  I will look forward to running alongside all of you!”

Photo by Angela Davis Haley/adhphotography

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We Tried It: What It Takes to Be A U.S. Open Ball Person

Written on August 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Tennis is an incredible sport, and the athletes are OMG-powerful, but there are some people involved in tournaments—specifically the U.S. Open—who don’t get a big spotlight on their athleticism. But man, they should. I had no idea what I was agreeing to when I accepted an invitation to participate in the U.S. Open ball boy—er, ball girl—tryouts, but I figured I could hack it. Spoiler alert: I can’t.

“How difficult can it be to run over and pick up a tennis ball?” I wondered. Too bad I didn’t think about the fact that a ball person is expected to do his or her job perfectly, while going unnoticed, during intense televised matches that are played by the best players in the world. Oh, right.

My first task during tryouts:  throw the ball across the court to a receiving ball person, without it landing inside the playing court boundaries. Just to clarify, it’s pretty freakin’ far. Like, 128-feet long. While I have decently accurate aim, my upper-body strength just wasn’t cutting it (and I have been working on my push-ups ever since). If by some freak accident I would have been chosen, my ball would have ended up hitting Serena Williams. As a former FITNESS cover girl, I’ve seen how tough she is. So obviously that would not be okay.

Next challenge: testing agility and speed, and doing it without causing a distraction.

At this, I was pretty good. But, knowing that there were about 400 ball-person hopefuls auditioning for just four coveted spots, I was pretty certain that at least half of them would be better at running cross-court to retrieve the balls “with two hands,” following an ended play or missed serve. Either way, the directions for getting the job done were simple: Stand with your hands behind your back, and when the ball hits the net, run, retrieve the ball and sprint to the sidelines. On it.

The tryouts lasted about 15 minutes, and I definitely had a ball (sorry, couldn’t help it). Down to the last second, I had a smile on my face as I worked up a sweat, and enjoyed an experience that I had never before considered. Granted, I didn’t get a callback for round two of tryouts, but as I watch the 2014 U.S. Open from home, which takes place through September 8th, there’s no doubt that I’ll be giving those ball boys and girls a second look to see who’s got the athleticism I’m after.

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Meet the (Very Few) Ladies of the Harlem Globetrotters

Written on August 13, 2014 at 10:24 am , by

Written by Mary Kate Schulte, editorial intern

We can’t help but swoon over any female athlete who fearlessly plays tough with the guys—and actually keeps up with them. So when we heard that three women—Joyce “Sweet J” Ekworomadu, Tammy “T-Time” Brawner and Fatima “TNT” Maddox—dribble, drive and shoot with an otherwise all-male basketball team, we couldn’t wait to get their stay-fit tips.

Members of the Harlem Globetrotters, a basketball team that travels across the globe mixing the game with a little comedy (audience chats, jokes, crazy moves, etc.), these ladies are three of just 12 women to EVER play on the team, and it’s been around since 1927. While we’re more than ready to see that number grow, we gotta admit: what they’re doing is pretty baller.

What are some of your favorite workouts? 

Joyce: When I played for the Nigerian national team, we practiced in a really hot gym—it was like playing in a sauna. It was awful while I was doing it, but I was in the best shape of my life. Now I’ll try to go to a hot room to do an ab workout, or I’ll do cardio outside, because it’s a more challenging atmosphere. That way, playing on the air-conditioned court isn’t as rigorous as the way I trained.  I always tell people to train harder than what your actual game-day situation would be.

Tammy: I like to stay away from weight machines. I really like natural exercises using your body weight or free weights. Every year I switch up my workout method. Last year I tried CrossFit, and it was one of the most insane workouts ever! Technically you’re not supposed to stop between each exercise and I was like, “Where’s my break?” No breaks!  But I saw results almost immediately. This year, I’m boxing to work on my reaction time. I love it. It’s a full-body workout.

Fatima: I’ve always been big on core strength, but being on the road so much is hard. I’ve begun doing exercises I can do in a hotel room.  I really like planks and side planks. I find them effective and easy to do while on the road.

What kind of diet do you follow to keep up with the cals you’re burning?

Joyce: In college, we worked out so much that I didn’t need to watch what I ate. But I noticed my body was not as lean as I wanted it to be—I was gaining bad weight. When I turned to professional basketball, I definitely started watching my diet. Now I’ll start breakfast with oatmeal and wheat toast, lunch is usually a salad or a tuna sandwich, and for dinner I have fish. I really like tilapia and salmon. I also started eating smaller portions, and because I eat every few hours, my metabolism sped up. I try to make good choices.

Tammy: I try my hardest to follow a healthy diet, but I’m also a junk-food junkie! We often get out of games late at night and our food options are limited. If we have to go to a burger place, I’ll get a turkey burger instead of red meat. I also eat a lot of seafood, and I love pasta for some energy when I’m working out twice a day.

Fatima: I try and eat as many fruits as I can. It gives me natural energy. It’s tough to have a daily regimen because we move to a different city every day. Often we get out of games late and you have to work with what’s available.

What keeps you motivated?

Joyce: Being passionate about what I do. Sometimes you don’t feel well or you’re having a bad day, but when you walk out on the court and see the kids start smiling and cheering, you get this energy out of nowhere. We get to have fun out there and crack jokes while playing basketball.  Those are two of my biggest traits: basketball and fun. It’s me.

Tammy: For me, basketball has always been an outlet and an escape. It’s peace of mind. I grew up around a lot of negativity, but when I played basketball it was like I was in a different world. Nothing and no one else mattered except for the basketball and the defender in front of me.

Fatima: I’ve been in sports for so long it’s become a lifestyle for me. I don’t have to drag myself to workouts because it’s embedded in me. I have a certain standard of how I want to feel on the court. I don’t want to feel overly sore or like I’m dragging. So I try to keep at it.

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How Access Hollywood Correspondent Liz Hernandez Stays Fit Off Set

Written on August 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Fit and fabulous? Check. TV personality Liz Hernandez embodies both of these qualities, and her rockin’ bod and flair for fashion are just two of the reasons we love tuning into Access Hollywood. Besides becoming one of the first Latina correspondent on NBC’s entertainment news program in 2014, this California native also sets a great example as a strong woman who knows what she wants and fights for it. After sitting down for a one-on-one chat with Hernandez, we should also probably mention that she’s totally down-to-earth, witty and bubbly. Yes, we know; swoon.

Being on TV and always in the spotlight, how does it affect your mindset about working out and staying fit?

I have never let myself fall into the trap of like, “Oh, I’ve got to look this certain way.” I’ve always been pretty healthy and kept myself in good condition. But, there’s never a worse feeling than when you’ve gone out the night before, you didn’t eat right and you get to set and they have  this little skirt for you. You are like “Oh, God! I don’t want to go out there!” So, I have noticed that on the mornings when I wake up, workout and get to set, it’s like, I have energy, my body feels strong and I am projecting that. It’s just a positive reinforcement.

Are there any exercise routines you’re totally obsessed with?

I try to go to the gym no less than 4 days a week. I used to be like, “Cardio! Cardio! Cardio!” But then I was retrained to just get my heart rate up for 10 minutes on the treadmill. Then I do weight training, where I go grab free weights and I do jumping jacks with the weights, squats, lunges, abs…just so my full body is getting a workout. I try to do as much as I can with free weights because essentially you are burning calories while building your muscles.

What’s your diet like these days?

I am really strict during the week. I am very big on getting 30 grams of protein in the morning just to fill me up. That’s what really works for me and it usually holds me over for 2-3 hours before I have something like a bran muffin with fruit. I’ve also strayed away from all dairy products and red meat.

Any go-to snacks?

I am going to be totally embarrassing, but I have the same breakfast every day. I am a huge fan of thinkThin bars. They have 20 grams of protein in them! I have a white chocolate thinkThin bar every single morning without fail. They are low sugar and high in protein. I also keep my house stocked with fruit. Cantaloupe is my favorite.

Guilty-Pleasure foods?

I loved—loved, as in past tense—ice cream. Now that I’ve given up dairy, I use these little ice cube trays and pour juice into them. I pour white grape juice and add in real fruit. So when I have an after-dinner craving, I’ll have one of those and it cuts the sugar craving.

With your extremely busy schedule, how do you manage to do it all?

You know, it’s all balance. One of the things I really practice is thinking about my mind, body and spirit. It’s totally my mantra. In the mornings, before I even go to the gym or do anything, I have a gratitude journal and I write five things that I am grateful for. It’s a reminder for when my day goes haywire that it could always be worse.

Photo by Emilio Sanchez

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