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fitmob: Community Fitness For Less

Written on March 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

What if there were a studio that cost less the more you exercise? That would be crazy, right? I mean, talk about motivation! Enter fitmob, a new group workout startup taking root in the San Francisco area on a mission to change the face of fitness and “re-invent” the gym. “The existing system doesn’t really work,” says co-founder and CEO Raj Kapoor. “There is $75 billion being spent globally every year on gym memberships and over 60 percent of people don’t even use it that [much to] pay for it.” With the help of P90X’s Tony Horton, Kapoor and co-founder/CTO Paul Twohey developed fitmob to help people get fit, stay motivated and have fun without breaking the bank. Five thousand San Fran residents have registered so far!

So what’s the skinny on this budget-friendly startup? We got the lowdown:

Sweat for Less: “The more you work out, the less you pay,” explains Kapoor. Each class starts off at $15. If you go two times in one week, it drops to $10 per workout. But if you go three or more times per week, it’s only $5 each. You can’t beat that! Plus it’s as flexible as you need it to be. “There’s no up-fronts, no monthly commitment, no long contracts,” says Kapoor. “You just use it when you use it.”
The Workouts: Aside from the price deals, they offer various strength, cardio and yoga-fusion classes with some pretty enthusiastic names, too. Their most popular workout, “Weapon’s of Ass Reduction,” is an hour-long group strength class that focuses on your core and lower body strength (including your booty, of course!). Come on, who wouldn’t want to attend a class with a name like that? Some other winners: “Sweat Soiree” and “Guru Gone Wild.” Check them all out here.
Get Connected: “Gyms have traditionally been about expensive real estate and fancy equipment,” says Kapoor. But for him, it’s the social element and group dynamic that keeps people moving. “We’re bringing people back into fitness!” Sign up for classes, check out instructor reviews and see who else plans to attend the class all through their site and mobile app.
Location, Location, Location: Sick of the sterile gym? fitmob’s sweat sessions take place in various venues—both indoors and outdoors. “Part of the fun is that it’s in a different place all the time,” Kapoor shares, adding that they’ve held classes in parks and nightclubs (sweet!) with 10 to 25 people in attendance.
What’s Up Next: Currently, fitmob offers classes in four San Francisco neighborhoods—SOMA, The Mission, The Marina and The Presidio—but they’re looking to expand. “One of the hardest things in fitness is that everyone will try things but they won’t continue on,” explains Kapoor. “We think we’ve constructed an experience that’s going to have better retention than most. Once we are convinced of that, then we can expand.” Want fitmob to come to a neighborhood near you? Reach out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #nextmob and a photo of where you want them to come next.

Photo courtesy of fitmob

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For Love of Art and Yoga: Join the Global Lolë WHITE Tour

Written on March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Are you a yogi with a love of fine art and an urge to travel to some of the world’s most beautiful museums? Ever have an itch to break out your mat and drop into a warrior pose in front the most powerful or inspiring statue? OK, so that notion might not be exactlywhat’s gone through your head during your last gallery visit, but if the notion sounds pretty cool, then the 2014 Lolë WHITE Tour is right up your alley. Taking place in five major museums in five major cities around the world, the series will bring together yogis—beginner, advanced and everyone in between—all dressed in white to experience a session dedicated to peace and set to the soothing sounds of a local symphony orchestra.

If this sounds like your keep-calm-and-om-on moment as much as it does to us, all you have to do is grab your mat, choose your date and sign up. These are the cities the tour will stop at:

  • April 12: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
  • May 8: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
  • May 22: The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York City
  • June 12: Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
  • July 2014: Specific date and location TBD, Edmonton, Canada

Last year’s tour brought more than 10,000 yogis together and this year promises to be just as grand. “The five prestigious museums—each one selected for its unparalleled space and atmosphere—will be transformed to provide the serenity of a yoga studio while accommodating between 500 and 1000 guests, for a yoga experience unlike anything else,” says Nathalie Binda, Lolë ’s vice president of marketing.

Ready to sign up? Tickets are $25 each and include a signature Lolë  yoga mat (score!). But hurry! Space and mats are limited, so click here to secure your spot. And if you don’t have the required all-white attire, check out the new WHITE BY Lolë  collection—100 percent of the proceeds go to support wellness programs that promote an active lifestyle in the communities visited by the tour.

Photo courtesy of Lolë 

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Get a Hot Bod Like the Divergent Cast!

Written on March 19, 2014 at 5:28 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

When I scrolled through my Twitter feed last night, I noticed one common theme: Divergent. With the L.A. premiere in full swing, movie-goers were choosing their factions (take the aptitude test – I’m Candor), and I must admit, there was a serious case of #twitterenvy happening. But not to fret—the sure-to-be-a-hit film smashes into theaters tomorrow, and I’ve already got my tickets in hand. But before nestling into a cozy seat to stare at Shailene Woodley’s rock-hard bod (Don’t believe me? Watch the trailer), I had to know how she got it. So I caught up with the dystopian’s fight coordinator, J.J. Perry, to hear all about how he whipped the cast into shape.

One thing’s for sure: Perry certainly didn’t hold anything back as he put these actors through a rigorous pre-training boot camp to assess how fight-ready they were. Theo James, who plays Four, came the most prepared. “When he showed up in Chicago, he was the kid in great shape,” said Perry. “He was ready to rock.” When they got down to business, Perry put each cast member through the paces—we’re talking tons of cardio, some light stretching and then instructional time on proper striking, explains Perry. If you haven’t read the books, let me clue you in: there’s a lot of physicality, and plenty of fighting, so there’s no way faking it would be an option. “We didn’t have a lot of time to teach them everything, so we were very specific about how we trained them—a combination of hammer-fist striking, punch striking, elbow striking, knee work and low kicks, along with some work on throws and falls.” Phew.

As for Shailene Woodley, she got a little extra pre-training in before the four-week boot camp. “I had her come to 87 Eleven Action Design, it’s a facility in Inglewood, [California]” said Perry. “I put some focus mitts on her—a type of boxing glove—and had her go through some basic [fight moves to see what she could do. She was extremely flexible, but she wasn’t really an athlete.”

How to fix that? Homework, of course. Perry had Woodley work on her upper body strength, practicing basic exercises like sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups; and tossing in core- and leg-work for good measure. “I told her to just train everything,” said Perry. By the time boot camp rolled around, she was ready for action. “Shailene’s biggest attribute was her willingness to work and her willingness to embrace the process.” Clearly, it paid off.

Just in case you’re inspired to hit the gym after the flick (I already know I will be), we stole some moves from Perry so you can score your own action-ready, totally Dauntless physique.

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Low-Cal Cocktails for a Slim and Spirited St. Patty’s Day

Written on March 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Going green never tasted so good.                 (Photo courtesy of UV Vodka)

Green, calorie-packed drinks are simply part of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition, right? Think again. Celebrate your Irish heritage this weekend with one of these three guilt-free recipes—all under 200 calories. So go ahead, throw on your best shamrock-covered ensemble and drink up!

Delightfully Delicious

  • 1 oz. Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut
  • 1  oz. Blue Curacao
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice

Combine ingredients in glass over ice. Stir and enjoy.

Calories: 172
Recipe courtesy of Smirnoff

Herradura Green Agave

  • 1 1/2 oz. Herradura Silver
  • 1 oz. melon liqueur
  • Squeezed fresh lime juice

Shake tequila, melon liqueur and lime juice with ice for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a Shamrock carved lime. Shake and pour into martini glass

Calories: 186
Recipe courtesy of Tequila Herradura

The ShamROCK

  • 1.5 oz of UV Apple
  • 1 part Diet Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with 1 apple wedge

Shake and serve over ice.

Calories: 130
Recipe courtesy of UV Vodka

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Bethany Hamilton to Star in New EPIX Documentary, ‘The Current’

Written on March 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Life-altering events can happen quite unexpectedly, this we all know. Sometimes they’re amazingly good occurrences (like nailing that CrossFit move you’ve been working on forever), and other times, there are tragic things that happen, often begging the question, ‘why me?’ For elite athletes and thrill seekers, tragedy can be exceptionally devastating; ripping away the things you’ve spent your life aspiring to. But to overcome adversity is a show of true strength. Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton knows just what I’m talking about. In 2003 she lost her left arm in a tiger shark attack, but  didn’t let that stop her. A mere month later, Hamilton returned to the water and went on to realize her dream of becoming a professional surfer. She shared her story with the world in her 2004 autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. And then of course came the 2011 film based on the book, which caused the nation to fall even more in love with the blonde beach babe.

Now, Hamilton is back in an EPIX original documentary, The Current, premiering tonight at 8 p.m. EST. She’ll share her story along with five other athletes with disabilities who explore the deep wonders of the ocean and the healing freedoms it can supply.

We caught up with Bethany to talk about her workouts, surfing career and what it was like to be a part of The Current.

The Current is mainly based on the idea of using the healing powers of water and the ocean as a way to rediscover the freedom of movement. Can you tell us about that? What is about the ocean or water that has helped you?

I believe God’s given us the ocean and the outdoors as a place of healing. I remember when I first started surfing [again] after losing my arm, everyone was like, ‘Aren’t you scared of sharks?’ But for me, I was more scared of not surfing and not being able to spend time where I love to be most: in the ocean. So that was kind of just the start of my whole recovery. And even to this day, when things are getting stressful it’s nice to be able to get in the ocean. I don’t know, everything can kind of just melt away and you can just get out there and enjoy creation.

Did you get the chance to meet any of the other athletes? What was it like to hear their stories?

I got to spend time with Grant Korgan [the first adaptive athlete to ski 80 miles in the South Pole]. He was in a snowmobiling accident and just got annihilated, and broke his spine. He’s been told he’s never going to walk again, but he’s slowly getting feeling back [in his legs] and he’s just working endlessly to recover his body. It’s been pretty incredible to get to know him and his wife and their story, their perseverance. We went scuba diving and got to experience some of the most beautiful places in the underwater world. It was pretty incredible.

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Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir Talk Paralympics, Sochi and Their Favorite Workouts

Written on March 11, 2014 at 10:22 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Fresh off their stint at the Oscars as fashion correspondents for Access Hollywood, former Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are hilarious, fun and, as usual, dishing on all of their fave athletes. We caught up with them during a NYC screening of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, and got them to spill on how they spent their time in Sochi, their favorite workouts and which athletes their cheering for in this next round of competition.

But before we get to that, let’s talk about the Paralympic Games. Featuring nearly 700 athletes with a physical disability or visual impairment from 45 countries competing in six sports, there’s a total of 72 medal events. The Opening Ceremony was a glorious display of colorful fanfare as Russia welcomed the teams, and we couldn’t have been more stoked to support our Olympic family…no matter how far away we may be.

“Being an Olympian, you become part of a larger family — especially in the United States where we take the Olympics and our Olympians very seriously — everyone’s connected,” said Johnny. “It was important to us to lend our support to our family.” Tara added, “As Olympians we know what it’s like to pursue your dream and to get there and see those Olympic rings and really what it takes — the sacrifices — they are elite athletes.  So for them to be recognized like this is how it should be.”

We couldn’t help up but ask who it is they’re each rooting for. While Tara is all  for Rico Roman, a retired Army Staff Sergeant and Purple Heart recipient who’s competing on the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey team, Johnny gushed over snowboarder Amy Purdy. “I’m so rooting for the amazing Ms. Amy Purdy,” said Johnny. “[She’s] going on Dancing with the Stars right after.”  Aside from her involvement with the inaugural inclusion of snowboarding as an event in this year’s Games, Purdy will be the first double amputee to compete on Dancing with the Stars, with the season premiere starting March 17.

Just two weeks out from their own trip to Sochi, neither Johnny nor Tara had a bad word to say about their time in Russia. Painting a slightly different picture than most, Johnny confessed, “Sochi was incredible. I mean it was very secure, everything was very clean and beautiful, the food was great.” “We didn’t have any horror stories,” added Tara.

With all their traveling and hectic schedules, it can be tough to stay fit but Tara says it’s all about barre class, Spin and (of course) skating. “Skating for me is really the best form of exercise,” said Tara. “It just keeps my body in shape and you don’t actually feel like you’re working out.” What can be better? Johnny’s go-to is a mix of skating and Pilates. “I skate as much as possible, because I still perform in shows and I’m still touring and everything, but I also love Pilates.”

As for the future, the pair can’t quite reveal what’s up next, but Tara assures us that they’ll “keep it real.” “It’s been a whirlwind since we’ve been home, so I think whatever we do we still want to be Tara and Johnny.”

More from FITNESS:

Dress Like a Champion: Olympic Looks for Less

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We Tried It: Doonya Fitness Party

Written on March 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

If you think Zumba is fun, you’ve got to try Doonya. This Bollywood-inspired dance workout made me sweat – and smile – a crazy amount (smiling has to burn a certain number of cals, right?).  And when you feel like it’s one big party, like I did last week when I attended their first-ever fitness dance party, the culturally-inspired moves will have you grooving like it’s your job.

Co-founded by Priya Pandya and Kajal Desai in 2011, Doonya (which means “world” in Hindi/Urdu) is a cardio and strength-building fitness class matched to the beats of the latest Bollywood-inspired music. It’s totally taking the fitness world by storm, and got its first big push into the spotlight back in 2008 thanks to the hit song “Jai Ho” in Slumdog Millionaire. My class was two hours long – definitely plenty of time to get a hefty burn in – but I consider that a consolation prize (not a bad one, mind you) because it was So. Much. Fun.

On my way into class, admittedly, I was a little nervous. I grew up taking dance classes, so I knew I was coordinated enough. I’d also taken my fair share of Zumba classes, meaning I’m pretty familiar with dancing for fitness, rather than style and grace. But I had never taken on something quite like this. It wasn’t a genre I was at all familiar with. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to catch on quick enough or if I was about to make a complete fool of myself.

But as I joined about 40 other Doonya-goers at DANY Studios in downtown New York City for an all-out dance-a-thon, I realized it was just about having fun and getting fit. We started off with a quick warm-up to get our heart rates going and then the dancing began. Bollywood dance features a lot of high-energy movements. It’s not just leg lifts and shoulder twists, but hand gestures and arm movements too. You’re working your core, arms and quads, all at the same time. It’s a great way to get a full body workout and have some fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love hitting the gym as much as the next fitness fanatic, but sometimes it can get old. It’s nice to switch it up with a fitness class like Zumba, and now Doonya, too!

Interested in trying it out yourself? They have classes in New York, Washington D.C. and Houston. They’ve also held events in Los Angeles and hope to head over to India in the near future. Keep your eye out!

Photo courtesy of Al Chan.

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Pucker Up: Reap the Health Benefits of Kissing on Valentine’s Day

Written on February 10, 2014 at 9:02 am , by

She’s thinking about how healthy she’s getting right now.

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

We’re sure you know by now that the biggest date night of the year is swiftly approaching. While some are thrilled to be spending a romantic evening with their beaus and others are boycotting the holiday altogether, we’re concerned about something else entirely: our health. Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day coincides with the peak of cold and flu season, making us wonder if we’ll regret cozying up to that special someone when we wake up the next day with a fever, runny nose, cough or worse – all of the above.

To calm our over-anxious hearts, we reached out to kissing experts William Cane, author of The Art of Kissing, and Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips are Telling Us, to find out if a flirty make-out sesh is worth the risk. Luckily, there’s good news:

It’s safer than shaking hands. “You’re a lot more likely to get sick from shaking hands with people during the day than from the people that you kiss,” says Kirshenbaum. “You’re touching a lot more stuff with your hands than you are with your lips.” So now we have one more reason to stress about work, but at least our love lives are in the clear.

It helps us chill out… and possibly eat less. Kissing makes us less likely to feel stressed by reducing the cortisol levels in the body, says Kirshenbaum. “That’s the bad stress hormone, which is also associated with overeating.” Being in an emotionally healthy relationship plays a key role in maintaining your physical health—and maybe even your waistline if you tend to handle stress with excessive snacking.

It puts us on cloud nine. Both Cane and Kirshenbaum noted how kissing increases our endorphin and serotonin levels, explaining that head rush you feel after a deep kiss or being intimate with someone you love. Cane calls it the afterglow, Kirshenbaum calls it the giddy, walking on air feeling—either way, its presence is undeniable after a really good smooch. These chemicals don’t necessarily boost our immune system, but they make us feel good and less depressed, therefore making us less susceptible to getting sick.

It helps us live longer. Kissing sends another powerful hormone circulating through the body that actually helps keep us alive and well. “Oxytocin is associated with bonding, connection and that sense of attachment you feel in a relationship,” says Kirshenbaum. “These kinds of bonds keep us healthier and less likely to die by any given cause.” Additionally, Cane noted a study that connected greater oxytocin levels with lower blood pressure. Sweet!

It helps us find that deeper connection. It’s not surprising that kissing makes us feel more connected to the people that we love. But according to Kirshenbaum, “it’s the most powerful, intimate way to show someone how you feel, beyond even sex.” Women use kissing subconsciously to identify compatible life partners, she notes. “It’s the ultimate way to get close—I would absolutely be promoting it all times of the year, but especially now.”

Alright, someone hand us the cutest gloss they can find. We’re ready to score some health benefits this holiday.

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Eat Like an Olympian: Healthy, Travel-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

Written on February 6, 2014 at 6:25 pm , by

Bake scones at the beginning of the week for an easy grab-and-go week-day breakfast! (Photo courtesy of Grain Foods Foundation)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Establishing healthy eating habits can be simple enough at home, especially when it comes to squeezing breakfast into a morning routine. We all know how much it helps us to fuel our minds and bodies through long days, tough workouts and stressful periods of life. But when you throw traveling into the mix, making smart food decisions suddenly becomes a struggle. Even Team USA is having a rough time getting their Greek yogurt fix over in Sochi!

And as we know all too well, available fast food options rarely measure up to the munchies we choose at home on a daily basis. Luckily, Grain Foods Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D. has some tried-and-true recommendations up his sleeve for those mornings when eating off of a plate just isn’t in the cards. Trust us—prepping homemade breakfast items before a big trip can make a world of difference when you’re standing in that ticket line.

“Eating on the run doesn’t have to be a chore,” says Gaesser. “With just a little planning, travel-friendly options can help you start the day right. Just as Olympians fuel up to perform their best, your breakfast should contain a mix of carbs to give you energy, and protein to keep you satisfied till lunch.” So whether you’re about to log long hours in your car, trek to work via train or face the TSA’s air travel security line, be sure to bring one of these portable breakfasts for easy, instant energy.

Bake these raisin scones the day before heading out of town for a quick dose of whole-grain oats and fiber-rich dried fruit that carries well in your bag.

Prep a super-simple snack mix and pre-portion it into plastic bags for an easy breakfast or afternoon snack. We like this one.

Make healthy breakfast cookies out of your favorite cereal toppings for an easy alternative to your usual routine. The more fruit and nuts, the better!

Trade a bowl of oatmeal for baked oatmeal cups! Perfectly portioned, easily transported and oh-so-delish. Get your recipe here.

Pack a whole-grain pita pocket with peanut butter and banana or apple slices with a dash of cinnamon for an on-the-go breakfast sandwich full of fiber and the good kind of fats.

Want more healthy, travel-ready ideas? Check out this cool “Grains on the Go” infographic.

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Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Disney Make a Plus-Sized Princess?

Written on February 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm , by

Should there be a new Disney princess? (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Take a moment and think back to when you were a little girl watching your favorite Disney princess movie. You idolized everything about Cinderella,Belle or Snow White – from the color of her hair down to the sound of her melodic voice, we bet we weren’t the only ones who wanted to embody the princess in every way possible. But what if you were that child who couldn’t quite find her perfect princess role model? One who didn’t quite look like any of the childhood heroines? Walt Disney Pictures moved to solve this problem in 2009 when it unveiled Tiana, its first African-American princess character in The Princess and the Frog fairytale, and again in 2012 with red-headed tomboy Merida in Brave. But that wasn’t enough. Now, 17-year-old Jewel Moore is asking for a princess of her own size.

A high school junior from Farmville, Virginia, Moore posted a petition on Change.org on January 24 requesting that Walt Disney Animation Studios create a plus-size princess. “I made this petition because I’m a plus-size young woman, and I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence,” says Moore. “Disney films are highly influential, and they impact the lives of many children, especially girls. It would be revolutionary for Disney to show support to a group of girls who are otherwise bullied by the media. It would make many young girls feel confident and worthy to see a strong character that looks like them.”

Her petition has received more than 18,000 signatures in its first week, and it’s inspired others to create similar campaigns. For others, though, it ignited a backlash of petitions for Disney to not feature plus-sized princesses in its future animated films. Why? Perhaps it’s too close to promoting childhood obesity, or it feeds into the idea of complacency regarding obesity in America. Regardless, this young woman’s goal of helping other girls realize that every body is beautiful and giving them a figure to look up for a boost of self-confidence is nothing shy of empowering. Strength is beautiful because it can take on so many different forms. Moore’s courage makes her strong on the inside, but her actions make it clearly visible for the rest of us to see.

But what do you think? Should Disney start working on their next princess debut? Or do you think that would be the first step down the wrong road? Sound off in the comments below.

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