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Jenna Autuori

Why The Color Run Really is the Happiest 5K on the Planet

Written on July 30, 2013 at 9:54 am , by

Bright and early and ready to do this.

Running sometimes feels like the bread and butter to getting fit. Oftentimes, people put one foot in front of the other to start their weight-loss journey. Others use running as a way to de-stress or bond with friends. And sometimes, people accomplish crazy running feats to test their strength. For instance, Robin Azron, a corporate lawyer turned ultra-marathoner, freelance writer and running coach, ran five marathons in five days for MS Run The US for her mom, who battles the disease every day. Or there’s Zoe Romano, 26, who just ran the entire Tour de France course—yes, I said ran—over nine weeks, averaging 30 miles every. single. day. (For those of you counting, or know the TDF, that’s a total of 2,000 miles.) She did this to raise money for the World Pediatric Project, which provides medical care to children in Central America and the Caribbean, aiming for a $150,000 goal. Running is not only the basis of so many of our workouts, it’s what motivates people, like Robin and Zoe, to get out there every day and accomplish BIG things.

However, if you’re just taking baby steps, and maybe like me, dreaming of a 100-mile race stays at that just that…that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to get into the sport or even spice up your daily runs with fun events like The Color Run or the Electric Run and even the Mudderella 10K.

Before picking up training again for my second marathon this Fall, I finally checked off the Happiest 5k on the Planet (The Color Run, as it’s otherwise known) on my bucket list and headed out to Brooklyn to have some fun. I really didn’t know what to expect as I entered the party zone (really, this race is one big party). But lining up for the race, which over two days 10,000 people came out to run, was surely the ideal way to kick-off what is going to become a long summer of logging miles. Here’s what I learned at my first Color Run:

My best friend Emily couldn’t resist a morning of painting by my side.

1) It’s a family affair. Running really has become a way for families to bond. I saw so many parents with their small kids dressed up in white and ready to get blasted with paint. Some kiddies enjoyed the fun from their mom’s running stroller, and I constantly nudged my husband to remind him that when our time comes, we’d be taking our little ones along, too.

2) Paint is your friend. If you want to cross the finish line a different shade of color than the clean canvas you started with, tell your paint buddies at each mile marker to color you up! I really embraced the yellow, red, green and blue color stations—and secretly wished for a pink one. (Hint, hint.) I think I accomplished my goal of getting as messy as possible.

3) Every age, size, height and weight are welcome. This was really a race for all. I was inspired by all the people who came out to have a little fun and work up a sweat, too. Some runners may have taken the race a bit seriously and sprinted it out, while others had a good time jogging with their friends or even walking the entire way. Regardless, everyone there logged 3.1 miles with a big smile on their face.

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SoulCycle on the High Line to Benefit Friends of the High Line!

Written on April 8, 2013 at 10:09 am , by

Spring has sprung! New York City is finally seeing some sunlight and warm temps this week—and what better way to celebrate than with SoulCycle and Friends of the High Line on Thursday night. If you’ve ever visited Manhattan, you know that one of the must-see stops on the tourist to-do list is checking out the new and improved High Line. Quick history lesson: Back in the mid-1800′s the High Line was a railway that ran on the lower west side of the city delivering meat, produce and raw goods throughout the Meatpacking District. But over time as trucking became the more widely used mode of transportation for manufacturers the High Line stopped running as frequently and was overcome by grass, weeds, shrubs and trees. During Manhattan’s reformative years of the 1990′s, many lobbied for the High Line to be demolished as it was becoming an overgrown sight for sore eyes. Thankfully, Friends of the High Line saw this 1-mile stretch as an opportunity for an unique urban project that could one day become a linear park—a walking greenway for locals to enjoy and hopefully add to the many charms of New York City.

SoulCycle on the High Line! (Photo courtesy of SoulCycle)

Friends of the High Line advocated for preservation of the land and in June 2011 the 1-mile redesign of the High Line as we know it today was complete. This Thursday, April 11, Soul Cycle and Friends of the High Line have teamed up for a once-in-a-lifetime event to honor this rare beauty in our bustling city. Tickets start at a hefty $500 but all proceeds will be donated back to the Friends of the High Line to help keep the park clean, plants beautiful, and continue the widespread free activities that go on throughout the year. The 6:30 PM class is taught by master instructors Laurie Cole and Stacey Griffith, so you’re in for a double treat.

I can’t remember what it was like before the High Line, when on nice days my husband and I would read the paper and drink coffee on the many lounge chairs Friends of the High Line have provided us. Or when I have visitors in town and the High Line isn’t the first stop on our must-see trip—it always is. Spots like the beautiful High Line in New York City are hidden gems and bring so much happiness to anyone who has an opportunity to visit.

For more info and to register for a bike, visit SoulCycle on the High Line to Benefit Friends of the High Line! See you there!

Meet the Trainer: Erin Jacques

Written on February 12, 2013 at 9:46 am , by

Erin shreds your typical yoga sesh to pieces. (Photo courtesy of SLT)

What do you get when you blend Vinyasa with a cardio jam sesh? Erin Jacques’ hardcore workout mash-up: SLT Yoga, featured in our Pumped Up Poses Express Workout. Get ready to chaturanga your way to a stronger, leaner bod by incorporating strength training and ploymetric elements into your typical flow!

Fitness has fueled the modern yogi’s career for over fifteen years. After college, Erin landed a job with HBO/Time Warner, spearheading their corporate fitness program. She then moved on to working with Exhale Spa, leading the Core Fusion teacher training and becoming their National Yoga Director. Now, Erin is the cofounder of Manhattan’s first music-focused yoga studio, SLT Yoga (Strengthen, Lengthen and Tunes,) where she created the kick-ass Shred class. Holy sweat! The passionate self-acclaimed part DJ, part marathoner is known for her expertise and dynamic, athletic twist to a spiritual experience. We asked Erin about the best yoga moves for runners, the number one yogi mistake and her motivation secrets. Here’s what the Scrabble-lover had to say…and more!

How did you fall in love with yoga?
I was a competitive runner in college and soon got addicted to marathons. So initially I really needed something to help me stretch, unwind and not be so competitive. I remember I couldn’t even touch my toes.

When did you know that you not only wanted to practice yoga, but teach it as well?
Since I have been in the fitness industry for over 15 years, I always knew yoga would be something I could incorporate into my classes and trainings. So I went ahead and completed the certifications to have that under my belt. As I got deeper into my yoga practice, I wanted to broaden my “knowledge” of the practice. I was living in Birmingham, Michigan and studied under Jonny Kest. I actually resisted teaching “yoga” for a while because I selfishly didn’t want it to interfere with my practice.  [NOTE: Jonny is the founder of Michigan-based Center for Yoga known for a compassionate, disciplined teaching style.]

Why should we be combining yoga moves with fast-paced cardio routines or bursts?
I have been teaching classes since when STEP aerobics was HOT. I have always been fascinated by how the body moves and realizing it doesn’t take much to get the heart rate up…using ones body as resistance, incorporating an emphasis on breath and creating certain sequences (choreographing) is essentially what yoga is. So why can’t we use yoga poses and moves to build up a nice cardio pace using breath to heat up the body and weights as added resistance to boost the intensity of a class? We can! Read more

The Empire State Building Run-Up: Race to the Top of 86 Floors

Written on February 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm , by

The start of my 86 floor climb! (Photo courtesy of NYRR)

We’re all ashamed to say that when faced with the stairs versus elevator scenario, we probably take the easy way out (or up!) and slip into the elevator at the last second. My first apartment in NYC was a five-floor walk-up (aka an old building with no elevators) with a very narrow staircase. Of course, I didn’t think twice because I was just happy to be around the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Even if a 10-floor walk-up was all I had to pick from, you can bet I wouldn’t have been scared away from the stair climbing that would become my everyday life. But it’s true, no matter how much we know about those sneaky ways to get moving more in our everyday lifestyle, when given the option, most of us won’t take the stairs.

So it’s crazy to think that I willingly decided to join the media heat of the famous Empire State Building Run-Up. While my decision to join the team meant I was helping an awesome charity, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), and running alongside my favorite TV host, Kelly Ripa, it also meant I was signing myself up to run 86 floors to the top of the observation deck of the world’s most iconic building.

Before the race I was all smiles.

Leading up to the race I prepared by running up my 40+ floor apartment building a few nights a week. I understood that very, very quickly my body would go into an anaerobic state and tire me out, so I had to start off easy to not lose steam. I even came up with all kinds of stair-running strategies—sprint every five floors, rest for 30-seconds, do it again; or take large exaggerated steps, which might displace my body weight and make it less taxing—but as the gun shot off and my 30 or so companions hit the stairs running, everything I thought I’d do went out the window. As you can imagine, the stairway of the Empire State Building is narrow and the stairs just seem to go on forever. I listened to my head and started off slow, but I was surprised how hard it was to actually run all the way. Throughout 86 floors, I did a combo of run, walk, then hoist myself up, then run some more, then hoisting, then running. After a while, it felt like my legs literally could not go faster. Read more

Meet the Trainer: Brynn Jinnett

Written on January 29, 2013 at 9:18 am , by

Train smart, train hard. Brynn’s highly sought-after Refine Method is a total-body workout with custom equipment to help you sculpt muscles you didn’t know you had! (Photo courtesy of Lululemon Athletica)

There’s a reason why The Refine Method is known to be “New York’s Smartest Workout.” The intense circuit-style technique, Metabolic Resistance Training, was created by former New York City Ballet dancer Brynn Jinnett to exercise not only your body, but your mind to think differently about the overall approach to fitness and heath. Instead of a fad-based approach, Refine is founded on principles of facts and a constantly evolving education to help take clients to a whole new, metabolism-boosting level.

In our February Express Workout, Brynn tossed dumbbells for resistance bands in an arm workout fit for the red carpet. Firm and sculpted in six moves? Count us in! Read on to find out Brynn’s best strengthening moves, her favorite workout tunes and the one person Brynn believes could outdo her in a push-up competition.

Most of us are NYC transplants, so tell me how you made your way and landed in the Big Apple?
I am actually a native New Yorker! It’s a little embarrassing, but I still live about 10 blocks from where I was born and raised in! I love the city.

How did you fall in love with ballet and know that you wanted to pursue it professionally? Tell me about your ballet career?
I used to dance around in my diapers, so my Mom put me in ballet class at age 3! I enjoyed my dance classes, so I entered the School of American Ballet (the pre-professional division of New York City Ballet) at age 7. At 16, I was then fortunate to be offered a position with New York City Ballet, where I danced until heading off to Harvard for college. I continued to dance while at school and then returned to dancing professionally after college for another 3 years before retiring. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have performed on some of the world’s greatest stages in the most beautiful ballets and also for ballet giving me the discipline and drive that have helped me in all aspects of my life.

How did you transition from ballet to running your fitness method?
I taught fitness throughout my career part-time and only began to consider it as a full-time profession when I decided to retire. I foolishly thought that as a professional dancer I must know a lot about how the body works, but so many of my clients were working so hard and not seeing significant results which left me questioning things I held as “fact.” I realized that many of the smartest thinkers in fitness worked with professional athletes, so I spent over a year traveling the country learning from professors, athletic trainers and successful business owners. Refine is a product of that journey. I continue to spend a significant amount of my time learning, reading journal articles, attending conferences and speaking with other athletic professionals. We will always adapt our methods to fit the information we know today. Read more

Meet The Trainer: Nedra Lopez

Written on December 28, 2012 at 11:40 am , by

Check out those sleek arms! Sculpt your shoulders like Nedra with her seesaw move in October’s Express. (Photo courtesy of Remorca Fitness)

Less than a decade ago, Nedra Lopez moved to the Big Apple to work at the UN by day and wait tables at night. Things have drastically changed since then and our fit bods are thankful for it! After being recruited by Equinox, Nedra became one of their top trainers. Now, as the co-owner of The Studio at Remorca Fitness, Nedra implements a variety of disciplines in her unique class design. It’s no surprise there’s been a lot of client buzz raving about her holistic approach. “I am the type of person who loves what I do for a living because I love to help people and love to help them find balance,” she told us.

Nedra helped target all-over trouble zones (yes, more than just your core!) with the stability ball in October’s issue. Between butt burners and dolphins, Nedra revealed her workout trend do’s and don’ts, the celeb she’d love to shape up and even shared her fave, must-do move. Read on to learn more about Nedra.

Most of us are New York City transplants, so tell me how you made your way and landed in the Big Apple?
My Mom is originally from New York so I spent a lot of time growing up visiting New York and fell in love. I always said I would live here some day so after college I made it happen!

Did you always want to be a personal trainer? How long have you been a fitness instructor?
Fitness has been a part of my life for 15 years. My Dad was an avid workout-fanatic. He had a no-nonsense approach to health and fitness: “You either start young and make it a part of your life or wait until you are older and struggle to find balance.” I started taking fitness classes and certifications in college at the University of Colorado in an attempt to always stay active. I never thought anyone would ever take me seriously as a fitness expert since I spent my time in the gym surrounded by men in the weight room and moms in classes. Teaching fitness was something I did on the side for fun and I loved every second of it! I was told to be a “professional” like a lawyer or doctor. A “personal trainer” was not something my family would ever accept…so I thought! Once I moved to NYC, I worked at the UN during the day and at night at a restaurant waiting tables. NYC is so much more expensive than CO so I did what was needed to survive! Though given my hectic work schedule, I still found time to hit the gym and apparently people noticed! I was recruited by Equinox to become a trainer and still remember breaking the news to my boss at the UN, who said I was making a big mistake. I never looked back and never worked so hard in my life! I became one of the top trainers at Equinox in only three months and maintained that status all three years I was there! I have been an instructor and trainer going on six years now. Read more

Visit Vegas to Run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Written on November 6, 2012 at 11:15 am , by

Before 2012 comes to an end, I’m squeezing in just one more thing. I’m heading out to Las Vegas—my first trip there!—to run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Strip At Night Half-Marathon taking place on December 2. I’ll fit in all my sight-seeing needs as I run 13.1 miles along the infamous strip! It’ll be my first race that doesn’t have me waking up at the crack of dawn to line up, and an added bonus for me: My husband is coming too and he’s running his first half-marathon! (Proud wife over here!)

This race attracts over 20,000 runners and it’s after the sun sets—so Vegas style! (Photo courtesy of Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series)

As a runner and triathlete, I’m always squeezing new races into my calendar, but as you can see this one leaves me with only 5 weeks to train! And let’s just say I haven’t pounded the pavement nearly as much as usual these past few months. That’s why I was in desperate need of a quick, but manageable half-marathon training plan that fits my needs. Luckily, two-time U.S. Olympian, Alan Culpepper, and Operations Director for the Rock ‘N Roll series, whipped me up an amazing plan that I began last week.

I’m always amazed at what the body is capable of if you teach it what to do. Every day last week, I did my miles, adding on a few minutes each day, and by this weekend my body remembered all those miles it used to log and running began to feel natural again. Believe me, starting something is always the hardest step to take. Try this tip: Hop on your treadmill for 20 minutes (or two miles) and every day add on five minutes (or half a mile). You’ll be able to see how easy it is to progress when you break it down like this—and the miles won’t seem as intimidating too. (Read on for more training tips) Read more

NYC Marathon Canceled: How Runners Inspire & Move Post Hurricane Sandy

Written on November 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm , by

New York Runners in Support of Staten Island

New York Runners in Support of Staten Island meeting at the ferry!

As a runner and part of the tight-knit New York City running community, I was conflicted that the famous ING NYC Marathon would still be on after Hurricane Sandy made her way through our state roaring her ugly head. I ran my first marathon, in the city I love only last year and the long, early morning training runs are still very fresh in my head. I’ll forever be a NYC marathoner. Training for a marathon is a monumental feat, one that requires more than one knows he or she can handle. So I can only imagine the frustration, anxiety and wave of emotions that a possible never-before cancellation of the race might have had on me if I were running in this year’s event. The New York City Marathon, the largest marathon in the world and undoubtedly the most famous 26.2 miles you’ll ever run, is the New York Road Runner’s premiere event and rakes in on average $340 million every year. The large paycheck takes care of the event’s ever-growing costs to put it together, as well helping produce the NYRR other signature races and charity organizations that go on throughout the four seasons. A cancellation of this event would be a huge blow to the future of the NYRR, as well as business’ all over the city. With more than 20,000 out-of-towners making the trek to the Big Apple for the race, a cancellation during our city’s biggest disaster, outside of 9/11, could very well be an economically poor decision.

However, news on Wednesday that the race would indeed go on, despite Hurricane Sandy relief efforts needed in so many neighborhoods, hurt so many more people than the NYRR had hoped it would help in the wake of the superstorm. New Yorkers were outraged that holding the race and using resources like volunteers, generators, and simple things like bottles of water, would benefit runners and not those affected by the devastation. There were areas in Staten Island that had yet to even receive assistance, and with the marathon’s starting line on Staten Island’s border, New York runners were unsure about stepping foot over the bridge and leaving briskly without lending a helping out. Runners with a golden ticket to Sunday’s race were offering to defer their spot until 2013, realizing that this year’s race was surely not going to be the same. So when the marathon was eventually cancelled at the eleventh hour, the community of New York City runners, led by sports medicine doctor Jordan Metzl, decided to put their energy—and miles logged—to good use. They would run their way through Staten Island, carrying necessities and goods that families were in need of, and deliver door to door to those areas most affected by the wrath of Sandy.

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Meet The Trainer: Alexandra White from Jumping Frog Pilates

Written on October 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm , by

Alexandra’s Lululemon Ambassador ad! Taken in the beautiful Palisades Interstate Park. (Photo courtesy of Lululemon)

During the summer, I got really into Pilates (still am!) and I began to realize why women are so addicted to it. The long, lean look and perfectly toned muscles you’ll get from a class like this and even the slight soreness I don’t expect to have the day after, but do, gets me super pumped whenever I have a Pilates date on my weekly workout schedule.

I started searching around for a Pilates studio that kicks butt—and stumbled upon Jumping Frog Pilates in Tenafly, New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. Jumping Frog Pilates is one of the most successful Pilates studios in the state and one of the instructors, Alexandra White, a Lululemon Ambassador, is truly a FITNESS magazine role model. Mom to two young boys, Alexandra is also a successful runner who holds training camps for adults and kids, teaches girl’s lacrosse, competes (and oftentimes places) in local half-marathons, 5Ks and obstacle course races like Spartan Race, and is an avid skier. She knows firsthand why Pilates is the perfect complement to all the running  she does, so I scouted some moves. What you got was the very awesome Absolute Power workout in our September 2012 issue. Read on to find out a little more about our trainer of the month:

Everyone I talk to seems to have a pre-trainer life. What’s your story?
I went to Parsons School of Design for a degree in graphic design and I was an Art Director for an advertising agency in New York City for 15 years until I switched gears and decided to make my workout hobby my job. I still do freelance print and web design on the side, because I still really love it.

What’s the hardest part about following your dreams?
Giving up knowing what is coming. When you work for an agency, you have predictable hours and rates. Working for yourself is much more unpredictable. I had to get used to having a very flexible schedule and income from week to week. But I’m so much happier now!

During those 15 years, how did you fit fitness into your busy schedule?
Fitness is part of my day no matter what. I work out like I eat my meals. I feel like I have to do it at some point during the day. I often worked out at 9-10pm just to get it in. I still do that now sometimes when my kids are asleep- just get on the treadmill late at night to fit it in. I put my workout first always–and if that means I have to come an hour later to a happy hour gathering, I do.

You’re an avid runner—okay I’ve read your race times border on elite status. Tell me how you got so good?
I wouldn’t say I’m elite by any stretch, but thank you! I usually place in the top 10 of a big race and I’m lucky to get a podium finish if it’s a smaller one. But I have just been doing it a long time—and maybe it’s some talent too! I’ve played sports my entire life that included a lot of running. And I’m too competitive to be mediocre, so I train hard and try to get better each time. You definitely have to put the time in to get the results you want. And yes I’ve won a few races!

Of the races you’ve done, what’s your favorite?
I did a really fun Super Spartan obstacle race with my younger brother. It was fun to break up the running with obstacles and mud!

How did you go from running to being a Pilates pro?
I hurt my back a few years ago and had to do some physical therapy to get it better. I tried Pilates to help strengthen my back and core and since I don’t like lifting weights, I found this was a great way to get my whole body strong without spending hours and hours lifting dumbbells.

Why does a Pilates workout complement a regular running routine?
When you run, your power comes from your core. As soon as you get fatigued, you start to lose form. A strong core helps keep a good body position, which allows for the best running economy. Read more

Meet Jillian Michaels and Other Fitness Pros at Sweat AC!

Written on September 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm , by

Next weekend I’ll be in workout bliss at Sweat AC, a three-day festival on September 21 to 23 focusing on what’s hot in fitness, nutrition and health at Caesar’s Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. What I love even more about this event, besides the celebrity trainers, wellness coaches and all-day workouts is that I’ll be able to mingle with men, women and teens who are passionate about getting in shape and being healthy. Some of my best ideas happen when I’m, what I like to call, “out on the field” interacting with readers and seeing what people are raving about. If you want in on what’s going to be an awesome event, check out www.sweatac.com to register. Workouts include Jillian Michaels’ newest bootcamp class, BodyShred, which debuts this month at Crunch clubs nationwide, a Zumba dance party, a Brazilian Butt Lift session with the pro Leandro Carvalho, Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga with Sadie Nardini, a Warrior Workout with P90X star Tony Horton and a spinning class on the boardwalk with Full Throttle Cycling, among SO much more!

For some this may be your fitness trip of a lifetime, or the perfect way to kickstart that new healthy lifestyle you’ve always talked about, and this may even be your chance to test the waters and try the workouts you see on TV and read about in magazines. Class prices and healthy-living workshops range from $40 to $100, but it’s sure to do a body (and mind) good so I hope to see you there!

Who hasn't missed her? Jillian Michaels is back! (Photo courtesy of Sweat AC)

I got to chat with uber-popular, and forever-our-favorite The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels who will be at Sweat AC before she’s off to whip a handful of new contestants into shape for season 14!

What was it about this type of event that made you want to get involved?
The concept is fresh, the people involved are the top of their game, and the location is a blast!

The world got the official news last week—you’re “officially” back on next seasons The Biggest Loser premiering in January. Just for the record, I’m beyond thrilled. The show was not the same without you! What sparked your decision to return to BL?
We’ve been talking on and off since I left, but I was very focused on taking a year off to be with my family.  Then the producers came to me and said look it’s been a year, we are planning taking on the issue of childhood obesity and we’d love to have you on board.   Now being a mother of two and having been an overweight teen myself it’s an issue that is especially close to my heart.  I’ve been working to fight childhood obesity in my work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, NFL play  60, and the Clinton Global Initiative, but doing it with a platform like The Biggest Loser was extremely tempting.

Will you incorporate a lot of what you learned about being a new mom and ‘juggling it all’ into how you train and interact with your new contestants? (Congratulations on your beautiful kids by the way!)
I absolutely will. I’ll teach parents how to lead by example and fit it all in and with the kids I’ll be an empowering friend and coach. Read more