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Cyclists, Rejoice! A Low-Cost Bike for A High-Quality Ride

Written on July 23, 2014 at 9:50 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Too many times I’ve been in a rush to get to work with cyclists zooming by as I power walk at a fraction of the pace. Other times you’ll catch me jogging alongside cyclists in Prospect Park, wishing I, too, could ride around the entire city in just a matter of hours.

But I’ve always held off on buying a bike for one major reason: They’re either affordable and don’t last, or extremely pricey and for more serious riders. There’s no middle ground for a casual rider like myself. So when I heard about a new company, Priority Bicycles, and the fact that they’ve created a lightweight, low-cost, “maintenance-free” bike, I practically jumped in the saddle right then and there.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the first thought that popped in your head was, “Can there really be a maintenance-free bike?” After all, most any bike is bound to show some wear and tear eventually. But after talking with David Weiner, the founder of Priority Bicycles, I’m convinced this ride is as good as it sounds.

“Our most exclusive feature is our belt drive,” explains Weiner. “Most bikes have chains that rust, require lubrication and are susceptible to weather. Belt drives are more durable. We also use the rear hub to contain the gears and brakes, which isolates features that traditionally require maintenance on other bikes.”

On top of all that, the bike has puncture-resistant tires and the seat is held together with bolts, not quick release levers, in order to deter theft. And when purchasing the bike, Priority Bicycles sends a tire pump, assembly tools and a water bottle cage right along with it (usually those all come at an extra cost). Oh, and the bike looks good, giving you three different color options and a sleek, classic design.

When it comes to the low price—ahem, $399—Weiner explains that most everyone in the bicycle industry has “two markups,” meaning the bike company buys it from a factory, then bumps up the price to sell it to the retailer. That retailer turns around and does the same thing, marking it up a second time to the price you see in stores.

Thankfully, Priority Bicycles skips all that. “Our model is to sell consumer-direct only. We buy from the factory using our unique design and send it directly to the consumer. That effectively means you’re getting an $800 bike for $400,” says Weiner. Cha-ching!

Weiner came up with the idea a few years ago, after constantly doling out advice to friends about what bike to buy for their experience level. When he couldn’t find a company that offered high-quality equipment at an affordable price, he hopped onto Kickstarter and created a campaign.  Weiner had a modest goal of raising $30k, but clearly everyone wants a bike like this—the company is over $250k, and there are still 27 days left.  Once the campaign closes on August 14, the bikes will be sold directly from Priority’s website for the standard $399. But if you jump on to Kickstarter, you’ll score a special price of $374 and free shipping.

So hop to it because if you order now, the bike will be made and delivered before the holidays. Christmas gift, anyone?

Photo courtesy of Priority Bicycles

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American Ninja Warrior Contestant Kacy Catanzaro Has Guts—And Is Going for Glory

Written on July 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

By now, it’s likely you’ve caught wind of 24-year-old Kacy Catanzaro, the first-ever female to qualify for the finals of NBC and Esquire Network’s sports competition show, American Ninja Warrior. After completing a nine-part obstacle course during the Dallas qualifying round (and making it look like a walk in the park), the former gymnast proves she packs a real punch as an athlete and competitor. And after speaking with her, we’re convinced that this girl really is a ninja—all 5 feet and 100 pounds of her.

Congrats on your awesome run for “ANW!” How did it feel?

It is definitely a lot of pressure stepping out there. There are a lot of lights, cameras, and you know the whole world is going to see it on TV eventually. Before I run, you can see that I’m kind of bouncing around and a little bit anxious. It’s funny: Once they count down and they say, “3,2,1, go,” it’s like a wave of relief washes over me. Then I just kind of take it one thing at a time. After I finish one obstacle, I just calmly take a few deep breaths and get ready to attack the next one.

How has your gymnastics career prepared you for ANW?

I started gymnastics when I was 5 years old and then I got a scholarship to a Division I school—Townsen University in Maryland—and I competed all four years there. So from the time I was 5 until the time I was 22, it was my whole life. Gymnastics really mentally prepared me for the course: being able to take that kind of pressure and not let it affect me in a bad way, but actually use it as fire to get excited and to get out there. And if things don’t go my way, it doesn’t mean it’s over. I just have to overcome them by making adjustments in order to make it happen.

How do you stay in such amazing shape?

I try and strength-train anywhere from four to six times a week, based on where life is taking me or what is coming up. Brent Steffensen—my boyfriend, coach and an ANW veteran—and I train together and do strength-training and bodyweight-circuit training on a regular basis. We do lots of bodyweight exercises in a row—pushups, pull-ups, lunges, squats, lots of abs—to really build strength and endurance. For the obstacle courses, we want to be as light and lean as possible, and doing exercises with your bodyweight is the most efficient way to get there.

What’s your diet like?

I just try to eat as clean as possible—greens, veggies, fruits, nuts and things like that. For my protein, I like fish a lot because it is lighter and cleaner. Definitely stay away from anything that is processed and avoid eating too much sugar. So if I can’t read an ingredient listed in an ingredient label, I try to stay away from it. It’s so important to be aware of what you are putting into your body and what good or harm it will do.

What motivates you to stay fit?

I’ve always had a competitive nature—I love getting out there and competing—but one thing people don’t realize about fitness is that people don’t just work out out to look good. Obviously it’s very nice to look good and to have that body you dream of, but the most important thing about fitness and living healthy is being able to get the maximum out of your life. If you are as fit as you can be, you can do more and you aren’t held back by your weight. I think that staying fit, not being held back and being able to go out and try to accomplish whatever it is that I want is the best part of it.

In case you missed it, check out Kacy’s crazy performance below, and be sure to watch the St. Louis finals tonight at 9 on NBC.

 

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How Dancing With The Stars’ Peta Murgatroyd’s Stays Fit Outside of the Ballroom

Written on July 1, 2014 at 10:54 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Imagine having 23 years of dancing under your belt, Broadway acting experience, a fitness wardrobe to die for, and a killer bod. That’s why we’re completely obsessing over Peta Murgatroyd, the 27-year-old Dancing with the Stars veteran competitor.

“I truly believe that dancing is the best form of fitness and exercise,” Murgatroyd recently told us during a visit to the FITNESS offices. “Dancing makes you feel good. It makes you feel happy, especially if you can do it with a loved one.”

That being said, it’s no surprise that she highly recommends fitness dance classes—for both men and women—as a fun way to stay in shape.

“Even for a guy to be able to lead a girl and to be able to go out and feel comfortable, like in a club situation, and not be dorky—I think that’s really hot and sexy if he can do that. If I ever have a son, I’m going to be putting him into dance.”

Although Murgatroyd credits her toned physique to long hours of dancing, another season of DWTS has come and gone (um, who else thinks this was the best season yet?) and she admits she can easily pack on an extra five pounds during her time away from the show. To keep weight gain at bay, she hits the gym six days a week, cycles, hikes, and does hot yoga to elongate her muscles. “My body needs cardio,” she says. “Treadmill, stepper, running outside—I love running for my body. I love running super fast because I feel better about myself. Rather than jogging, I like full-on sprinting.”

And when she’s ready to crank up the toning, you’ll find a TheraBand in heavy rotation.“I take them everywhere with me,” she says. “You can tie them anywhere, do all of your reps, and there is no weight.”

Always active, Murgatroyd loves fusing fitness with fashion. Her favorite sporty ensembles are usually from Nike, Lululemon, Reebok and FunKey’s pants. She says she would love to start her own fitness apparel line, but don’t worry, friends. Her mesmerizing dance performances won’t be coming to a halt anytime soon.

“People want something that’s going to look good as well, like a cute open back or cute sleeves. Something like that is what I’d want to develop,” she says. “I definitely want to stay in dancing because I love it, but I want to go back to Broadway. I would love to be in a different type of musical, maybe Chicago or something heavily dance-based.”

We’re so excited to see what Murgatroyd will end up doing next, but for now, we’ll continue drooling over her amazing dancing skills on DWTS.

Photo courtesy of Glenn Nutley

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Music Monday: Flo Rida Can’t Sweat Without This Music

Written on June 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm , by

Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern

Whenever I work out, I need to be listening to music—not want, but need. Whether it’s Katy Perry’s new hit or a classic from the King of Pop himself, there has to be an up-tempo, catchy sound reverberating in my ears. Studies even show that music can push us through that final mile, that extra set of squats.

So it’s no surprise then that rapper Flo Rida, a self-proclaimed fitness lover, is a man who lives and breathes that connection. A workout fiend since his football days in high school, the musician is constantly on the muscle-building grind both in the studio and on stage. In fact, he considers himself lucky that his profession allows—actually, kind of forces—him to incorporate music with exercise and vice versa. “You get a two-for-one with what I do.”

He’s not kidding: Flo constantly runs back and forth on stage, spewing out his lyrics at an incredibly fast rate. This not-much-time-for-breathing rapping style requires him to hit the pavement regularly. “I love doing a lot of cardio,” he says. “My records are up-tempo, so I have to make sure that I can go for over an hour.”

But just as any well-rounded fitness aficionado knows, cardio isn’t the end-all, be-all. The artist loves to regularly lift weights, and occasionally steps into the boxing ring for a few punches (and sips on Celsius when he needs a boost).  And despite a hectic schedule, Flo manages to get in two-a-day routines. Guess that explains why his shows are so fun to watch.

While I prefer to put in miles to tunes by the rapper (“Wild Ones” is a fave), we always wonder: do artists listen to their own tunes? We found out LL Cool J does now and then, and it turns out Flo is no different. Along with David Guetta and Pitbull, you’ll find his own tracks sprinkled through a playlist. “I love listening to my music because it definitely has all the attributes to enhance a great workout in the gym.”

So while we wait for his latest album, The Perfect 10, to drop later this year, we made sure to get Flo Rida’s current sweat-it-out playlist. Plug in, shape up, and try not to groove on that treadmill. On second thought, go ahead. We won’t tell.

Photo courtesy of Celsius

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Fitness Trackers Unite! The New Fitt App Creates a Battle of the Bands

Written on June 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

“Oh this? It’s just this thing I wear that tracks my sleep … and my steps … and calories burned.” A furrowed brow, accompanied by a silent, slow nod is the usual reaction I’ve received, following my Fitbit Flex fitness tracker spiel. But, for the many fitness fanatics who’ve embraced the tracker world, they’ll be excited to know that Fitt has just launched a new app that will seriously challenge Jawbone UP, Moves and Fitbit lovers to hit new goals.

The app (available now in the iTunes app store!) creates a fitness community for tracker users to join in on group challenges and motivate each other. Even better, getting started couldn’t be easier. All users have to do is download the app and sync it to their fitness tracker app. Instantly, you’ll be connected with friends, no matter what kind of fitness tracker they are using.

After you’re synced up, go ahead and add friends, scope out user profiles and most importantly–join group challenges. The day I signed up, the app showed that there were two challenges in progress. The first was a Fitbit-Jawbone UP face-off, challenging each team to take the most average daily steps for a month. The second challenge is the “June 18K a Day” challenge where all participants aim to take 18,000 steps a day in June. Yes, you heard that right: 18K per day. Cardio anyone?

Naturally, I jumped on the bandwagon for both. (… Go Fitbit!)

With Fitt there is nothing to lose (except the occasional pound  or two). And let’s be honest, most of us could use an extra reminder to get active every now and again, right?

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Get Fit for Girl’s Education

Written on June 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Ready to raise your endorphins and flex your feel-good muscles? From now until June 21, NYC fitness fanatics can participate in the first-ever NYC Fit Week, signing up for donation-based workout classes, that help fund She’s the First, an internationally recognized organization that sponsors women from around the world to become the first from their families to graduate.

In partnership with EMpowered personal training, She’s the First has teamed up with 14 NYC fitness instructors from some of NYC’s hottest fitness studios (oh hey, Barry’s Bootcamp and Flywheel). In an effort to raise gender equality awareness in the educational arena, 100 percent of the proceeds from this week’s events will fund educational scholarships for young women in low-income countries. Girl power for the win!

If you happen to be super swamped this week—or aren’t in NYC—don’t freak. NYC Fit Week is just a small part of She’s the First’s year-round national campaign, Run the World. Through this, supporters align their own fundraising goals with a fitness endeavor, like running a marathon, and start a fundraising page where friends, fam and and everyone in between can send in a donation. She’s the First’s annual goal is to raise $75K by the NYC Marathon on November 2, and they’ve already made it a quarter of the way!

But if you aren’t quite ready to make your own fundraising page, you can still get involved (seriously, there’s really no excuses here). Simply download the Charity Miles app, and select She’s the First as your charity partner. Check into the app whenever you head out for a run or hop on a bike, and 10 to 25 cents (depending on your activity) will be donated.

Clearly, girls’ education is a very important cause, and we couldn’t be more excited to join in and help. Visit RunTheWorld.ShesTheFirst.org to see the schedule and sign up for a class.

Photo courtesy of Kate Lord

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The New Stylish, Sporty Sunglasses from Oakley and the Tone It Up Girls

Written on June 18, 2014 at 9:53 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Equal parts fun and fit is how we’d describe the dynamic duo that is the Tone It Up Girls, Katrina Hodgson and Karena Dawn. They developed their own fitness following through YouTube workout videos, fitness products, a Bravo reality TV show and a bikini line. Now Karena and Katrina have teamed up with Oakley, creating a fashionably fit sunglasses line. Available at BeachBabe.com, the “Oakley Sunnies” range in price from $170 for the “Katrina” aviators, and $190 for the “Karena” activewear frame. While many activewear sunglasses traditionally have a sportier look, these styles still function as activewear shades, yet they are ultra stylish for everyday wear as well. Finally, the best of both worlds!

We met up with the California cuties at the launch party in New York City last week to chat about their new sunglasses line and get the inside scoop on their bikini body secrets.

What inspired you to collaborate with Oakley to make a sunglasses line?

Karena: We were like, “Let’s do it!” Oakley is actually the only brand of active sunglasses I’ve ever worn. I have been wearing them for like 8 years—way back when I first started competing in triathlons.

Katrina: We love all of their sunglasses. They are lightweight—so, you don’t get headaches.

Karena: Kat and I do painting and drawing and we love design—so it seemed like the perfect match to design sunglasses. We incorporated some of our artwork. The blue and green colors from my painting of the wave, which hangs in my house, and they are on the inside of the “Karena” frame. And, the colors in Kat’s painting of the mermaid inspired the color of the “Katrina” aviators.

What are some features women should look for when buying a pair of active wear sunglasses?

Katrina: I think it’s good to have someone fit you so you can get a good pair for your face. If the lenses are resting on your cheeks, then maybe you need a smaller frame, or they just need to tighten up the nose pad—there are so many things that I didn’t even know about sunglasses until I started working with Oakley, [so getting that fit right is important].

Read more

Free Workouts in NYC You’ve Gotta Try This Summer

Written on June 17, 2014 at 10:23 am , by

Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern

After such a long winter, there’s one thing we know for sure: it’s going to be really difficult to get us to choose an indoor workout over an outdoor one. Even in humidity-high NYC, we want to feel the sunshine while we sweat. 

Lucky for us, a bunch of top-of-the-line active brands understand where we’re coming from. And they get that our wallets are feeling pretty tight these days. Thankfully, our workouts won’t suffer from that unfortunate fact, because all summer long Lole, Discover Outdoors, and South Street Seaport are offering up fun, FREE (yes, we said free) sweat sessions. Here’s your breakdown: 

Hudson River Park Pier 25 in Tribeca: Lole, a global active-wear brand for women, is offering complimentary weekly wellness classes called “meet-ups.” From full-body workouts to yoga and dancing, add these meet-ups to your Google Calendar every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Going until August 19th, each workout will be led by popular fitness experts, including NBC’s The Biggest Loser trainer Brett Hoebel and Sadie Kurzban. Personally, you may see me trying to bust a move to some 305 Fitness on the July 1st. Sign up here to join

In Every Borough: Discover Outdoors will invade New York City with its annual Outdoor Rise adventure week. From June 21st through June 27th, they will sponsor more than 50 outdoor events across the boroughs, including kayaking trips, rock climbing ventures, hiking expeditions, and bike rides. While this one isn’t completely free, each workout is $5 or less, and the proceeds go to the Discover Outdoors Foundation, a nonprofit organization that benefits underprivileged inner-city youth through outdoor activities and education. We’re totally willing to sacrifice one day of Starbucks to help out a good cause and get our sweat on. Sign up here if you are, too. 

South Street Seaport: As part of their new SEE/CHANGE 2014 campaign, The South Street Seaport is offering a variety of activities that will keep you moving, including yoga and throwback aerobics, or “retro-robics” (super-neon spandex, anyone?). Classes will take place every weekday from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. until August 29th; just check the schedule to find your fit. And yes, this one is completely free, too. 

See, we’ve got your back. Now tweet us @FitnessMagazine and tell us what your favorite #summerworkout is!

Photo courtesy of Discover Outdoors

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Find Your Calm in the Middle of Times Square

Written on June 16, 2014 at 10:01 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Honking cars, a sea of people, lit-up billboards and a naked cowboy serenading tourists. It sounds like a place of chaos (and trust us, it is most days), rather than a serene place to practice yoga. This Saturday and Sunday, however, the Athleta “Mind Over Madness” two-day yoga event is back again, taking over the heart of Times Square and challenging NYC-based yogis to restore the body, mind and spirit in the midst of city life.

So why would you want to submit yourself to a crowd of half-naked people getting bendy, when you can do it in the comfort of your own home (or just a clean studio)? Besides the fact that it’s a crazy fun and challenging way to celebrate the summer solstice, the money raised by MINDBODY Connect will benefit Bent on Learning, a nonprofit organization committed to teaching yoga to NYC public school children, and Urban Zen, an integrative therapy program.

And just in case you forgot what the summer solstice is (hey, we’ve all been there), it’s the one day of the year, usually around June 21st, that signals the official start of summer. In addition to it commencing the blissful time of year for flip flops, days at the beach and all things warm and wonderful, it is also the one day when the sun reaches its greatest height, shines longer and sets later, meaning more time for all sorts of outdoor fun (and calorie burning, obvs).  

Although day one is already sold out, day two on Sunday, June 22, is still open for registration, with the first class starting at 8 a.m. and the final class beginning at 2:30 p.m. Classes run for 1.5 hours, cost $20 and are taught by master instructors, including renowned yoga teacher Rodney Yee and meditation guru Alan Finger.

So go on and register for an altogether unique experience to find peace of mind amidst a crazy-busy schedule. And don’t forget to tag us (@FitnessMagazine) and use #SolsticeTsq in the swoon-worthy Instagram shots we know you’ll take—after all, you’ll get to tell all your friends (thus making them jealous) that you did yoga in Times freaking Square. How cool is that?!

Photo courtesy of Derek Goodwin

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Fast Food Gone Healthy: Panera Ditches All Artificial Ingredients

Written on June 9, 2014 at 10:18 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Dining out, while following a balanced diet, is hardly ever as simple as it seems—especially when the seemingly “healthy” restaurants have packed their meals with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. So we couldn’t help but give three major cheers when Panera Bread announced that it will swear off all artificial ingredients and preservatives by 2016.

Founded on the belief that “quick food could also be quality food,” Panera plans to further its mission by retiring artificial ingredients, such as MSG and artificial trans fats. Instead, the company has built a comprehensive plan that will have all locations using clean ingredients, along with a transparent menu. Translation: customers are gaining more control over what they eat, even when they’re not cooking it themselves. Everybody now: big sigh of relief!

So what specific changes can you expect when you visit a Panera? First, all of those delish dressings and sauces can be served guilt-free, because there won’t be any artificial preservatives. And the bakery items (mmm…bear claws)—actually, everything on the menu—will no longer contain high-fructose corn syrup, and natural alternatives will replace artificial coloring in icing.  Panera is even looking into different options for traditional deli meats, since those often have nitrites and artificial preservatives hanging around.

The problem with all of these artificial ingredients lies in what Panera is calling “a broken food system.” Even though many of us are health-conscious, the status quo over the past few decades has been to include artificial additives in pretty much everything—from snacks to fast foods and pantry ingredients. While choosing foods wisely can be somewhat of a chore, efforts like this will become a restaurant trend, improving the dining-out experience for those of us who are constantly on the go. Fingers crossed!

Photo courtesy of Panera

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