Let the flakes fly! Temperatures are dropping with the East Coast’s first glimpse of winter this week and ski resorts have followed suit, revving up their snowmaking machines for the 2012-2013 season. Are you stoked to hit the slopes? Proper equipment is key to enjoy the ride, but navigating the snow gear marketplace can be a doozy. We want you to start off on the right edge so tackled the dos and don’ts of gear with Skis.com’s owner and company founder, Steve Kopitz. Here’s a quick breakdown for boarders, both bunny hill enthusiasts and terrain park thrill-seekers, alike!
1. Embrace the scale: “One of the most common misconceptions when sizing a snowboard is that it’s based on height,” said Steve. “Your board doesn’t know how tall you are, but rather how much you weigh.” After hopping on the scale, use a size chart to determine the range you fall in. Big feet? Not to worry. Companies make wider boards for you!
2. Board in style: The main types of snowboards include all-mountain, freestyle and all-mountain freestyle. “The all-mountain freestyle boards are now the most common seen on the hill,” said Steve. “They truly encompass the entire mountain, including groomed runs, powder days and the terrain park. They will have features that aid in both carving, as well as freestyle skills.” To find your riding style and perfect match, check out Skis.com Buyer’s Guide.
3. Flex it out: “The flex of a board directly tells you how responsive the board will be. The stiffer the board, the more responsive it is.” As a general rule of thumb, entry-level riders should opt for a forgiving board while stiff boards provide advanced boarders with the quick response and edgehold they need. Read more
A year ago, Molly Pritz was the top American female runner to cross the ING New York City Marathon’s Central Park finish line, making a remarkable marathon debut with a time of 2:31:52. Molly, an ASICS elite, will be back this Sunday hoping to repeat her success in the Big Apple after battling an injury and moving across the country for better health and fitness resources. We talked with Molly about her training (she logs around 110 miles a week!) and found out the 24-year-old’s future running plans. Here’s what she had to say:
What went through your head last year as you crossed the finish line?
My blood sugar was so low for the final few miles, I honestly could not figure out how many miles I had left at mile 24. This left me unsure if I had even crossed the finish line when I did! Luckily, a nice volunteer informed me that I crossed the finish line and my immediate reaction was pure euphoria. The adrenaline and “runner’s high” going through my body after that was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I knew, immediately, that I was going to do everything I could to run the ING NYC Marathon again the following year.
What have you been doing to prepare and improve, compared to the past?
I went into last year’s marathon segment coming off of a stress fracture that left me with a short eight weeks to build back my mileage and regain my strength. Consistency with training is the key to increased fitness, so this time around I vowed to do everything I could to stay healthy. I moved from Michigan to Boulder, Colorado in order to have better resources for therapy to keep me healthy. I have also ensured that I am hitting hard workouts, but never making any week so hard that it puts my body over the edge. My training is very similar to last year, with a few longer tempos, but the paces are much faster even though I’m at altitude rather than sea level. For me, it is very exciting to track and compare my fitness level and workouts to other segments so I can see my hard work pay off. Keeping a training log has worked wonders for my motivation.
Besides running, what else does your training include?
I vowed to do strength and flexibility training three times a week to keep my body healthy and able to handle the high mileage and intensity needed to run a solid marathon. Full body strength training, not just core work, is essential to keeping me healthy and my stride powerful through those long tempos. Vinyasa yoga has also facilitated my recovery from hard sessions by bringing my body back in balance. Read more
500,000 worldwide participants. 12 miles. 22 death-defying obstacles designed by British Special Forces to test your physical strength, stamina and mental toughness. Fun or just darn crazy? After tackling my biggest fears in this year’s Tri-Sate Tough Mudder, I would have to say a little of both. I’m claustrophobic, afraid of heights and, like most people, don’t do well in the cold but I pledged to overcome these anxieties with my three fellow AeroShot teammates so I did—10,000 volts of electricity, mud, ice water and all.
I’m officially a proud survivor and even considering signing up for another adventure race—preferably during a summer in the future—now that I’ve scrubbed off all traces of mud. It’s funny how your perception can change for the better after a hot shower and rest! Is a Tough Mudder a fit feat you have had your eye on? Save up for the hefty entrance fee (it’s worth it!), sign that waiver and vow to conquer your fears in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. Here are a few tips to completing the course so you, too, will be on your way to earning that orange headband and beer at the finish line.
1. Endurance-Ready. Team Aero was fortunate enough to have recruited former champion boxer and fitness expert, Michael Olajide, Jr., as their trainer. In between his toning sessions with some of our favorite Victoria’s Secret models, Michael had us sparring, jump roping and overall strengthening our way to Tough Mudder-status. Check out his at-home training regimen here or give the Tough Mudder Boot Camp Training a try. Thanks to AeroShot Energy, we were also outfitted with the new air-based caffeine supplements, which gave us the boost we needed during our training and event. New to adventure races? Take your training to the trails and incorporate hill work into your cardio routine.
2. Rally a team. Although fellow participants are more than willing to lend a hand, banding together a hardcore team that has your back helps. Plus, boosting your besties over 12-foot walls makes things all the more fun! Our small group of four was ideal, in terms of sticking together and facing the grueling challenges head on. Camaraderie plays an integral part in the race so be sure to bring your positive, “give it your best shot” attitude and strive to be a team player.
3. It’s not a “race.” Yes, you read that right—time doesn’t matter. As the event’s official website says, “We sincerely believe that worrying too much about your time takes away from some of the most important parts of Tough Mudder. Namely, camaraderie and teamwork.” Since time is on your side, be sure to stay fueled and hydrated along the course, taking advantage of the water/First Aid stations. It’s an arduous three hours of non-stop action so tucking an energy pick-me-up like GU in a pocket is a great idea. Also, there’s no shame in skipping an obstacle you don’t feel comfortable with. Your personal safety is the number one priority! The point is to feel accomplished at the end and if that means walking around the terrifying “Trench Warfare,” like I did, so be it.
4. Don’t dress to impress. Weather conditions may vary but one thing is for sure, comfort can make or break you wading through water and trekking through muck. In other words, save showing off that 6-pack for another time, unless you want to go home with a scraped up belly. As I learned the hard way with my heavy hoodie, less is more. If chilly temps are in the forecast, layer tight-fitted cold gear that will dry and wick away sweat quickly. Long sleeves, sweatbands (to pull over your elbows), weight-training gloves and leggings will prevent injuries while crawling, climbing, etc. You will most likely toss your shoes after crossing the finish line so sport a pair of older sneaks that sill have tread for grip and tie them extra tight or the mud will swallow them up! To avoid losing any diamonds in the roughage, leave your valuables at home.
5. Mudder Must-Haves: All races have a bag drop so be sure to pack post-race essentials alongside your adventure gear, photo ID and confirmation email for registration. Combat the elements event day with Chapstick and moisturizer with SPF. Extra water, nutrition, towel, a change of clothing/shoes and a hat—to hide muddy, tangled hair—are all highly recommended, too. Soothe any stinging wounds with Band Aids, Neosporin and retail therapy (after-party food, drinks and swag).
Now tell us: Have you competed in a Tough Mudder or other obstacle event? What tips do you have to share?
In less than two weeks, spectators will line the Big Apple’s streets across all five boroughs to watch professional athletes and running enthusiasts, alike, pound the ING New York City Marathon pavement. Among this year’s ASICS elite lineup is U.S. Track & Field member Julie Culley, who placed first in the 2012 5,000m Olympic Trials. Julie has switched gears since returning from London, preparing to make her marathon debut by racking up around 95 miles a week. We discussed the upcoming race with the speedy 31-year-old, who shared running tips, her go-to grub and more. Here’s what Julie had to say:
What does your typical marathon training week look like?
A typical training week includes 90 to 95 miles in six days with either a rest day or a cross-training day on the seventh. I typically do two harder effort workouts either on grass, roads, track or dirt trail depending on the day’s assignment. I have a strength coach and hit the gym at least twice a week and also have a number of corrective exercises I do at least five days a week. I do a full dynamic warm-up of drills and openers at least two to three times a week and try to rest as much as possible between each session. Naps are a necessity, as well as weekly chiropractic treatment and massage!
Do you have any race day rituals to get you in the zone?
I usually start the morning with a shake-out run along with a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, cereal or a gluten-free bread of sorts along with some juice, lots of water and usually two cups of coffee. If I can get my hands on some espresso, that is a plus! I typically braid or twist my hair with a number of pins and always top it off with a headband to match my uniform. My race day playlist is pretty specific. There are a few songs that get me in the right frame of mind ranging from U2 to Jay-Z.
Do you carbo-load the night before a race?
I’m not normally fixated on carbo-loading as much as having a well-balanced meal including meat and lots of vegetables. I usually always have a glass of wine the night before a race to help me relax, unwind and sleep. My favorite pre-race meal is gluten-free pizza!
Do you have any tips for runners looking to increase their mileage?
Take it slow! I’ve only increased my mileage by 15 miles a week from the 5K to the marathon. More importantly is getting the quality workouts and quality long runs in the books. Doing too much too quickly can lead to injury. You have to get to the starting line healthy!
Favorite running apparel item?
Accessories! I love accessorizing my running outfits with headbands, hats, colorful socks, cute bags, etc. ASICS has some great accessory items out to match some of the beautiful fall and winter colored apparel items on the shelves!
For more information on the New York Road Runners’ premiere event, check out their website and be sure to check in and cheer on Julie as she crosses her first marathon off the bucket list!
Eighty percent of those affected with osteoporosis, often called “the Silent Thief,” are women—with many of us losing bone mass in our 20s and 30s. Celebrate World Osteoporosis Day tomorrow by loading up on calcium-rich foods and breaking a sweat! Like most diseases, playing a little defense is key. We talked to health expert Sherry Torkos, B.Sc., Phm., on the best bone building nutrition and exercise. Here are three ways to stay strong and prevent bone loss in the future:
- Got Milk? “If your diet is lacking calcium, your body can pull calcium from your bones, causing your bones to weaken and thin,” said Torkos. Avoid this by loading up on calcium-rich foods. Low-fat dairy, canned fish with bones (i.e. sardines and salmon) and dark green veggies are all great sources. Magnesium is also essential for building strong bones, which can be found in nuts, seeds, soy and figs. Hello, homemade trailmix! Watch your sodium and protein consumption, though. Too much can be bad to the bone!
- Say No to Soda, Spirits and Cigs. “Surprisingly, soft drinks in high amounts also contribute to bone loss by changing the acid balance in the blood,” said Torkos. “Limit alcohol intake to less than two drinks per day; higher amounts increase the risk of osteoporosis. Quit smoking; it increases bone loss and the risk of osteoporosis.”
- Exercise. “Weight-bearing activities, which place stress on the bone, help strengthen bones and improve bone density,” said Torkos. Try lifting weights, tennis or dance, for example. Exercise also, of course, increases muscle strength, balance and coordination, all in which help preserve both mobility and independence, reducing the risk of injury.
Now Tell Us: What do you do to keep your bones strong? How will you celebrate World Osteoporosis Day?
As the 80s hit goes, “everybody’s working for the weekend” and now, thanks to a recent Hampton Hotels survey, we know why. The survey, which examined how Americans feel and spend their time during their two-day respite, found that happiness tends to peak on the weekend—no surprise there!
What’s startling, however, is that one in three of the surveyors reported that they feel as though they have a completely different personality on Saturday and Sunday—one that is more engaged, creative, agreeable and spontaneous. “We clearly need our weekends,” said author of Raising Happiness, Christine Carter, Ph.D., who worked with Hampton on the poll. Interested in bringing the “Weekend State of Mind” to your workweek? Here are Dr. Carter’s tips for a healthier, happier you:
Recharge and Refuel: Fifteen percent of the surveyors said that they missed having a structured schedule on Saturday and Sunday. “We really are creatures of habit and routine,” said Dr. Carter. “When you take that structure of a routine out, you’re having to consciously make decisions around it.” Retain your productive workweek structure by creating a fit plan of healthy eating and exercise for your weekend, making sure to use your rest days to do just that—sleep!
Habits Make Perfect: “I’m a huge proponent of consolidating decision-making so that you’re not making decisions about food and exercise always in the moment when you’re less likely to make the right decision for your health or your happiness,” said Dr. Carter. Create prompts for your fit routine during the week and anchor them to healthy choices you already make so that eventually, you won’t even think about it! Try putting your workout clothes on immediately after waking up, for example, so you hit the gym before work or make the exercise commitment the night before by leaving your sneaks by the door. Blocking off time in your calendar for exercise and keeping the order of your day relatively the same also helps. Read more
You’ve probably seen this guy before, kicking major butt in infomercials and on daytime talk shows (he’s Dr. Oz-approved!)—or maybe you’ve cleared your living room furniture out of the way to workout with the fitness legend, himself. Regardless, one thing is for sure: Shaun T is insane. In an amazing, fat-blasting way.
We felt the Insanity burn first-hand, thanks to Shaun T’s Max Interval Training techniques, at a recent POWERADE ZERO Excuses event. Power Jumps, sprints and a glimpse of Shaun T’s glistening 6-pack had us echoing the lyrics of one of the Rihanna workout tracks, “Where have you been all my life?” After toweling off our sweat, we sat down with Shaun T to talk about fitness fuel, recovery and his gym bag essentials. Here’s what we learned from the personal trainer/choreographer:
It’s all about the finish. Any Insanity or Asylum fan will tell you that Shaun T’s Beachbody workouts are tough. Instead of giving in to those aching muscles, focus on ending your workout on a high note. “How you finish your workout is how you’ll start the next one,” Shaun T reminded us throughout the class. “All you have to say is I can do this.” Fight through that last set for future fab results!
Work out when it works for you. “For me, I always find it better to work out when I’m most motivated,” said Shaun T. “Working out in the morning feels great because it starts me off on the right track.” Find your best performance time, schedule exercise accordingly and stick with it! After completing his 60-day challenge, Shaun T suggests taking about two weeks of recovery for ultimate toning.
Boost your energy. To give yourself the most fit advantage, Shaun T suggests fueling up with five meals a day, especially when increasing your training. The more fit you are, the more energy your body needs! Shaun T enjoys granola and peanut butter or cinnamon oatmeal in the morning, 30-45 minutes before exercising. Read more
As Christopher McDougall said in his book, Born to Run, “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other…but to be with each other.” Thanks to advances in medical technology, 25 long-distance runners who have struggled with chronic illnesses will be competing side-by-side in the upcoming Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and 10 Mile races. These individuals, named 2012’s “Medtronic Global Heroes,” will celebrate their perseverance, accomplishments and passions for running on October 7.
We caught up with two of the female heroes, 10 mile contestant, Ellie Wilhelm and marathon participant, Rhonda Foulds (a Get-Healthy Success Story). Being diagnosed with a congenital heart condition and Parkinson’s disease, respectively, has not held these two fighters back from pursuing their dreams. Here’s a look at their inspiring stories.
Ellie, 28, was 4-years-old when she was diagnosed with Atrial-Ventricular Septal Defect. She underwent open-heart surgery and had an active childhood until fainting spells in the 6th grade raised alarm. “I needed a pacemaker. I realized that I was not invincible and this is when my anxiety related to exercised developed,” Ellie said. Ellie struggled emotionally through high school and college athletics, often giving up in fear of pushing herself too hard. “A light bulb went off after college that told me that the only thing holding me back was ME.”
Ellie started small, working her way up to her first half-marathon with regular 5k races and completed her first 26.2 this past Memorial Day weekend. “Sometimes all I need is a run to keep me from making a poor food choice and relieve stress. The pacemaker should NOT be a limitation.” With more energy and her fitness fear behind her, Ellie has gotten involved in her community through running, joining the Ironheart Racing Team, a national organization that raises money and awareness for congenital heart defects (CHD), as well as Girls on the Run, an after-school program that teaches young girls about self-esteem, character, team building and healthy living. Read more
Step aside kayaks and canoes! There is a new aquatic sheriff in town: the stand up paddleboard (known as “SUP” for short). Fit Hollywood starlets like Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson are all fans of the low-impact, cross-training sport and thanks to a recent excursion through Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), we are, too!
REI was founded on a mission to inspire, educate and equip outdoorsy types for adventuring and stewardship. Besides selling quality gear to fitness enthusiasts like ourselves, the company provides instruction and skills to tens of thousands of participants a year with its education program, the REI Outdoor School. Small classes, with courses ranging from an hour to two days, introduce skills in navigation, cycling, wilderness first aid and more!
We learned all about SUPing on our Liberty State Park trip, which included breathtaking views of the city skyline and Lady Liberty, herself. Rough day at the office, we know. Here are five tips we gathered from our awesome instructors:
- SUPing safety: Wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is a must when on the water. Not only will it keep you afloat, it also helps with visibility and carrying small items, like an emergency whistle. Make sure to store any personal gear in waterproof baggies or cases. Unfortunately one fellow paddler dropped and lost her iPhone while on our excursion!
- Keep it on a tight leash: To avoid having to chase—or stroke—down your board if you fall, attach a leash to your ankle. Don’t worry, you’ll forget it’s even there. If you do take a plunge, aim yourself back flop-style, to either side of the board.
- Defense paddling: Be aware of your surroundings, hazards and the elements to avoid injury—especially in areas with boating channels or fisherman. Wear proper clothing for the conditions and footwear (we wore these) to protect your little piggies from anything dangerous on land or hidden in the murky waters below. Also, don’t forget to lather up with SPF!
- Stance and stroke: In an athletic position with bent knees, keep your feet parallel about hip-width apart and toes pointed forward. Center yourself between the board’s edges. If paddling on the right, your right hand should be lower on the paddle shaft while your left grips the top. Reverse hand positions when you switch sides. Both arms should remain straight, allowing your torso to twist as you paddle. Talk about core strengthening and a total body workout! Phew!
- Turning 101: The easiest turning method is known as a “sidestroke.” Simply paddle on the left to turn right and visa versa. You can also reverse direction by dragging the paddle backwards on either side, referred to as a “backpaddle.”
REI offers in-store and field Outdoor School programs in 13 metropolitan markets, as well as programming, stewardship projects and recreational events in all 123 stores. For more information, check out their website at rei.com/outdoorschool.
The race of the year is in our midst—the Presidential Election, that is—where two of our nation’s toughest competitors will finally face off. Are you ready? Registration nudge: today is National Voter Registration Day!
We weighed in to see if we were “Fit for Office” at The New York Sports Club with Master Trainer Prince Brathwaite. The class tested our mental, physical and political grit with a full-body circuit that even Paul Ryan would approve of. You, too, can pledge allegiance to this sweat sesh (for free!) starting this week at select Sports Clubs in Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C. and Boston.
So what’s on the workout ballot? After warming up with a “Primary” routine, prepare for a trip down the “Campaign Trail” with ten 50-second stations including kettlebell “Swing States,” “Donkey Kicks,” “Balance the Budget” bosu ball squats and “Michelle Obama Arm” pushups. Three “Running Mate” moves are next, where you and a partner “Band Together” for bicep presses, back-to-back weighted medicine ball passes and “Cross Party Lines” pushups. Both circuits are repeated before “Stretching the Truth,” a quick cool-down that solidifies the previous 50 minutes of intensity.
Of course, the election-year parody inspired a patriotic playlist, too, that had approval ratings as high as our heart rates. Here are the tunes that had us moving forward, while believing in America.
For more information, check out My Sports Clubs online.