Written on March 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Attention, Zumba lovers: there’s a new program in town. Zumba Step is now offered nationwide in 24 Hour Fitness studios, and let me tell you, this program is a breath of fresh air. As someone who fully admits to her lack of dance skills, I’ve always shied away from the original Zumba program. Not because I didn’t have a good time whenever I did it—actually, I always had a blast—but I rarely gave myself the opportunity to let go and just dance. You know, that crazy moment when you really stop caring what everyone else thinks and you just shake it. It’s a pretty freeing moment, but alas, one that was regularly out of my reach.
Step programs, on the other hand, were right up my alley. More often than not, these classes incorporate the more traditional exercises I’ve come to know and love (lunges and squats, thank you very much), and add just a little bit of flair to satisfy those craving a bit of creativity in a cardio routine. So when I heard Zumba was adding the old-school step to their program, my curiosity was officially peaked.
Turns out, the one woman who has serious moves showed up, too. On her birthday. Yep, that’d be Kelly Rowland. As if watching her kill the warm-up in high heels while I grooved in my very-flat sneakers (yep, that really happened) wasn’t enough, she also confessed that the main reason she loves the program is exactly why the rest of us do it—because more often than not, you’re moving with your girlfriends. “I just really love to be around family…so I can still hang out with them and work out,” she said. “It’s all these people in the room that are excited about working out, excited about taking care of their bodies,excited about having a healthy lifestyle. So it’s fun.”
But alas, Zumba Step isn’t the only way Rowland gets that drool-worthy physique (seriously, have you seen her abs?). She works regularly with one of FITNESS’ fave trainers, Jeanette Jenkins, and when I asked about her all-time exercise, she listed my arch enemy: burpees. “I love to hate burpees,” she said. “I see what they do to my body and it’s like it just snaps your body into place so quickly.” #truthtalk
So now I’m going to get my burpee back on, in between Zumba Step classes. To keep myself motivated, I’ve added these tunes to my playlist. Consider ‘em yourself, and keep your ears open for more from Rowland: she said she’s headed back to the studio, and I’m more than ready to hear what comes out of those powerhouse vocal cords, stat.
Photo by Matt Peyton/Invision for Zumba Fitness/AP Images
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Written on March 10, 2014 at 6:15 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Despite our high hopes for Juan Pablo and his sexy accent for season 18, it’s been quite a controversial ride for the latest Bachelor. Between his reportedly-accidental slur against gay couples being on TV and the verbal throw down between Pablo and final-three Andi, it’s a general consensus in the FITNESS office that this guy isn’t quite as dreamy as we once thought. That said, we’re still going to watch the heck out of tonight’s finale (you’re welcome, ABC). After all, we have to know which blonde babe he’s going to choose! But two hours is a long time to sit on our butts while we see which one gets their “happily-ever-after” (Come on, it’s The Bachelor. We had to put it in air quotes). Instead, we’ll be playing this little workout game. Join in the fun, and tag us in your own tweets and photos using #BachelorWorkout.
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Written on March 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Whether I’m running my first, 10th or 50th half-marathon (someday!), commemorating it in a special way is always at the top of my wish list. So when one of FITNESS’ favorite jewelery-designers, Erica Sara of Erica Sara Designs, agreed to create the official race jewelry of the MORE/FITNESS Women’s Half-Marathon, I jumped (and possibly squealed) a little in excitement. Erica’s line is gorgeous, and wearing a necklace or bracelet every day is more feasible than sporting that medal around your neck. Well, unless it’s the week after your race. Then all bets are off…
As the official race jeweler, Erica has created a custom necklace and bangle bracelet for all racing the MORE/FITNESS Women’s Half-Marathon on April 13th. First things first, though: if you’re not registered yet, do it now! As the largest women’s-only half-marathon in the country, there’s nothing quite like this race. There’s so much encouragement, girl power and positive energy pulsating through every footstep of those 13.1 miles through Central Park. I remember the first time I raced it (my first half ever!) – I could NOT keep a smile off my face.
Once you’re registered, head over to Erica’s website and check out the bling. You can get the necklace for $78 and the bangle bracelet for $118 – both are amazing deals – and personalize the back of the logo charm with race details (Central Park, NYC/April 13, 2014/finishing time). Want to score an even bigger deal? Purchase your new bling by April 20th and enter the code FITNESSHALF on the website to score 20% off the entire race collection.
And while you’re at the expo to pick up your race bib and other goodies, be sure to stop by Erica Sara’s booth. She’s offering a 20% discount on all race-specific pieces, and 10% off the rest of the collection shown. Who knows what else you’ll fall in love with! Personally, I want one of everything.
Photos courtesy of Erica Sara Designs
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Written on March 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Last July, Nickolay Lamm, a 25-year-old artist and researcher, created a digital rendering of what Barbie would look like if she were modeled after an average 19-year-old woman, based on measurements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The result: a shorter, shapelier-looking doll image that went viral. We fell in love with the new version as quickly as you did, which highlighted that average is, in fact, beautiful. “I simply wanted to show that a doll like Barbie can look good with typical body proportions,” says Lamm.
FITNESS fans had mixed reviews – some of you loved the idea of creating a more realistic-looking doll, while others thought the whole concept silly. “I did play with Barbie growing up, but I didn’t strive to become her,” said one reader. “I saw her as more of a friend, not a sexual image that I need to become.”
Regardless of whether or not you thought the idea to be the next genius step in doll production or a silly farce, very few believed the creation of this new toy to be bad, and many said they would even purchase and use it to help teach their children about healthy body image. “I got a lot of emails saying, ‘Hey, where can we buy a doll like this,’” explains Lamm. “I think that the popularity of the images themselves kind of validated the design of the body.” That said, Lamm is ready to take his vision to the next level.
Today Lamm launched a crowdfunding campaign on his website, Lammily.com, with the hopes of raising the $95,000 he needs to support the creation of 5,000 dolls. He’s offered an exclusive first edition Lammily to every person who decides to back his project with a minimum $17 donation. As of press time, 237 backers had raised $5,375, and the numbers are rapidly growing.
With the help and guidance of former Vice President of Manufacturing at Mattel, Roger Rambeau, Lamm took his digital design and turned it into the Lammily doll. “Lammily is designed off the same body I used in the original project,[which was based on the classic Barbie]” he says. “But I changed her face, her hair, her articulation—even her skin tone a little—so that it’s my original design.”
Interestingly enough, this all comes on the heels of Mattel launching an “unapologetic” campaign for the original Barbie doll, which included featuring her in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Of course, the Lammily doll would also be in competition with market-dominating, overly-sexualized Bratz dolls. And with a petition floating around for a Disney plus-sized princess, it’s clear there’s a demand for more diversity in the toy market.
Lamm says that his Lammily doll is about promoting a healthy, fit lifestyle, along with realistic beauty standards. He describes her as fun, fit and strong (just like our readers!). She’ll come dressed in a simple blue-white ombre blouse, jean shorts and white sneakers, with minimal makeup.
If this crowdfunding endeavor is successful, Lamm hopes to create more dolls with different ethnicities and body shapes. But we want to hear from you. Sound off in the comments and tell us whether you would buy a Lammily doll over the classic Barbie. Why or why not?
Additional reporting by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern. Photos courtesy of Lammily.com
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Written on February 24, 2014 at 9:10 am , by Samantha Shelton
Finally. After a long season of basically no TV (I mean, the Bachelor was there to hold me over), and a slight delay due to the Olympics, my favorite shows are back from winter break. I’m a total sucker for reality TV – obviously, since I watch the Bachelor - so the show I’m most excited for would be The Voice (OK, OK, I’m also really stoked for Scandal and Nashville). Cheesy as it may be, I love discovering new artists along with the rest of America, and this group of coaches has a ton of on-screen chemistry. And I’m not just talking about Adam Levine and Blake Shelton (though their bromance is pretty epic) – Shakira and Usher are back in the spinning chairs for season six, and now that they’re no longer newbies, these two are coming out of their shells even more (Shakira even claimed Blake’s wife, Miranda Lambert, as her guest coach!). All of their personalities shine in a big way, and watching them bring out the best in young performers is as heart-warming as the steamy mug of caffeine-free tea I’ll be cupping while I snuggle into my couch and watch (yes, I’m aware that I sound like an old lady #judgmentfreezone).
But as a running-addict, the best part of The Voice is, in fact, finding new artists to add to my always-changing playlists. We all know I love country music, so Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers are my jam, but I’ve also totally been digging Cassadee Pope and Will Champlin lately. Not one to keep good music all to myself, here are The Voice alums I’ve been sprinting, interval-ing and hill-climbing to these days. And if the weather is still terrible in your area, just hop on the treadmill Monday and Tuesday nights. The music will keep you entertained, and the coaches will make you laugh enough that you just might forget you’re running…maybe.
In other Voice news, there have been a lot of questions swirling around who will claim the red seats for season seven. The last few seasons have had a lot of back-and-forth, with an unprecedented switch between CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera with Usher and Shakira. Last week though, CeeLo announced on Ellen that he definitely would not be returning to the show. If that’s the case, will Shakira permanently take his place (based on where the replacements sit), and Christina reclaim her chair, making it an even playing field of male and female coaches? Or maybe Usher will return on a permanent basis too, since the two currently come as a pair? Or perhaps producers will use the vacancy as a chance to bring in a revolving chair (yes, pun intended) of coaches, opening the door for even more celeb appearances. It’s up in the air right now – as far as we know – but tell me what you think. Sound off in the comments, or vote in the poll below on your favorite pairing.
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Written on February 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Three-time Olympian Hannah Kearney has come a long way. Although she’s always been a phenomenal mogul skier, she’s faced plenty of adversity – the 2006 Winter Games come to mind pretty quickly, when Kearney placed 22nd out of 30 competitors. But rather than letting that defeat her, the Vermont native learned from her mistakes, and spent the last six years rising to the top of her game. So much so, in fact, that she snatched the gold in the 2010 Games, and was projected to repeat in this year’s Games. Unfortunately, a mistake on the course during the medal round dropped her out of contention for the top spot. But she still came away a winner: with head held high, Kearney stood on the podium claiming bronze for the U.S. After so many setbacks, we caught up with the champion (because winning a bronze is still pretty badass) to find out more about bouncing back, and whether or not retirement is in her near future.
Tell us about your Sochi experience? How do you feel coming away with a bronze medal?
Sochi has exceed my expectations. The mogul course was challenging, yet fun to ski. I knew I was capable of winning a gold medal again – I have made sacrifices, trained hard and made mogul skiing my life for the past four years. Although I am proud to be a two-time Olympic medalist, and grateful I got to compete in the Games for a third time, I am disappointed that I made a large mistake in my final run.
But bronze is still amazing! And you’ve come such a long way since the 2006 Olympics. How did you stay motivated amidst such discouragement?
I viewed every setback – injuries; losses – as an opportunity to become a stronger mental competitor. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so when I was sidelined from training and competitions, I tried to make the most of the break by adopting a dog, putting up a Christmas tree for the first time, and watching more of my brother’s hockey games.
Anything specific you can credit to your rise to success?
There have been many factors. Opportunity, supportive parents, a community that valued winter recreation, and coaches and friends who believed in me when I was very young. And a little bit of luck.
So…will we see you in the next Games potentially? Or are you thinking about retirement?
It’s hard to answer that when I feel as strong as ever and very motivated by the feeling that I can ski better than I demonstrated at Sochi.
What’s next for you, then?
After completing the World Cup season in Japan, Norway and France, I will be finishing my freshman year at Dartmouth in the spring!
OK, time to spill some of your success secrets. What’s on your pump-you-up playlist?
My workout playlist is a mix of contemporary pop and hip-hop, classic rock and some folk music.
A little bit of everything. What about food? Any that really fuel your fire?
I eat Bear Naked granola when I need a quick snack to give me energy! Plus, I love that the granola has ingredients that I can see and recognize on the label. I’ll mix it into a Chobani yogurt for a hearty, balanced, natural snack for pre- and post-workout.When I need to grab-and-go, I’ll use Bear Naked’s single serving packs – I keep them in my workout bag and in my car.
You’re working with Bear Naked on the #OneUpIt challenge. How do you plan to “One Up” your game post-Sochi?
I’m in the process of planning my One Upping strategy. I feel strong and motivated, so I am not ready to retire. I will train this summer to add a more difficult trick to my repertoire.
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Written on February 17, 2014 at 9:47 am , by Samantha Shelton
I love chart-topping artists like Queen B and T-Swift as much as the next girl, but sometimes finding new, independent artists is an easy way to freshen up the ole’ workout playlist. And I bet you agree, whether you realize it or not – Macklemore’s winning streak at the Grammy’s is proof that independent musicians can hold their own, even against the major names we’ve come to fiercely love. So, to help me reboot my earbuds, I turned to TuneCore, a distribution service that many indie artists use to get their songs on the big platforms – you know, Spotify, iTunes and Amazon MP3. They’ve put together this playlist of mega-hot tracks guaranteed to spike my energy. Now if only it automatically transported me to the gym…
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Written on February 14, 2014 at 9:06 pm , by Samantha Shelton
All day on Instagram, we’ve been sharing partner exercises you and your loved one – whether that’s romantic or bestie status – can do together to break a sweat. After all, those who sweat together stay together, and saying, “See ya, I’m off to the gym” is no way to spend your Valentine’s Day. Head there together (the obvious solution) and bust out these exercises from some of our favorite trainers. Then be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the fun, fit updates your heart could ever desire!
Lovers Lunges and Passion Push-Ups: Extreme Weight Loss’ Chris and Heidi Powell
Follow them on Instagram: @realchrispowell, @realheidipowell
The married trainers challenge you to get physical with your partner. With a running clock, do as many rounds of 14 lunges, followed by 14 push-ups, as you can in 9 minutes. A kiss at the bottom of those push-ups is optional, but totally recommended.
Lovers Lunges: Stand facing each other with right hands clasped together. Step back with left leg into a lunge, keeping hands clasped. Drive through your front leg to return to starting position, then switch to clasp left hands and lunge back with right leg.
Passion Push-Ups: The stronger partner (1) should lay on the ground facing up with feet together. The other partner (2) will straddle partner 1′s legs and clasp hands. Partner 2 performs a push-up as partner 1 lowers and presses partner 2 back to starting position.
Couple Planks: 20-Minute Body Trainer Brett Hoebel and FlyBarre Instructor Shay Kostabi
Follow them on Instagram: @bretthoebel, @shaykostabi
Partner 1 starts in plank position, the other on hands and knees perpendicular to first partner. Partner 2 brings one leg up to tailbone area (avoid lower back!), then the other leg, until both are up and extended straight. Hold for 1 minute. For an extra sizzle, partner 2 lifts one leg up (shown).
Ain’t No Mountain (Climbers) High Enough: Barry’s Bootcamp Besties Rebecca Kennedy and Patrick Frost
Follow them on Instagram: @barrysbootcamp, @rksolidnyc, @patrickfrost2
Partner 1 lays on bench with soles of feet on bench, hands behind head, chin neutral. Do a sit-up, reaching hands forward. At the same time, partner 2 holds top of partner 1′s feet and does incline mountain climbers. Repeat for one minute; switch positions. And don’t forget a sweaty smooch at the top of your sit-up!
Written on February 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm , by Samantha Shelton
It’s mid-February, and I don’t know about you, but this girl is ready for a new challenge. The New Year’s resolution hype has all but died, winter is burying us East Coasters under piles of snow, and stir-crazy frenzies are settling in. So what’s a girl to do?
Enter New York Road Runners Empire State Building Run-Up. What’s that, you ask? Simple: run into the narrow stairwells of New York’s most iconic building, and get your butt up those 86 floors as fast as humanly possible. Easy enough, right? Heh.
After running 10 half-marathons, I decided to take on the challenge because there’s nothing like climbing stairs to get out of my distance-running comfort zone. After all, I live in New York City and, even though I can run 13.1 miles with relative ease (relative being the key word here), just getting to the top of the subway stairs can rob me of breath from time to time.
While I was fortunate enough to have words of advice from those who have run before me (our fitness editor, Jenna, climbed that stairwell in 2013!), I did my research. If this girl – you know, the one who avoids the stairmaster, lives on the first floor of a building and takes the elevator to the 25th floor of her office – was going to survive, I had to at least have my head in the game. And I’m proud to say that I made it to the top of New York’s most iconic building in just over 23 minutes. While I certainly wasn’t the fastest out there (seriously, some were finishing sub-10 – crazy!), I put my whole effort into it. Here’s what I learned along the way – hopefully it’ll inspire you to step (see what I did there?) outside your comfort zone. Maybe not 1,576 steps worth of discomfort, but if you skip the elevator just once, then I’ll consider my job done.
Chew gum and suck on cough drops. This tip from associate beauty editor, Molly, saved me. Chewing gum prevents your ears from popping as you quickly ascend to the top, thus increasing your elevation. The cough drops keep your mouth moist in an otherwise-dry environment. Remember, you’re in a small, dusty stairwell that doesn’t get a lot of use on the reg, so there isn’t a ton of air flow. Both helped me keep up a fast (for me) pace.
Mix up your movement. When sprinting so many stairs, your body quickly switches from an aerobic state over to an anaerobic state, and lactic acid starts to build in your muscles when you pass your anaerobic threshold. To keep pain at bay (and your legs moving), alternate how you get up those stairs. In the beginning, everyone’s in a mad dash, so a moderate sprint will keep you in the group without tuckering you out too quickly. After about eight flights of that, I switched between running up every single step and every other to ensure I was using different muscles.
Written on February 13, 2014 at 9:13 am , by Samantha Shelton
Let’s be real for a minute, guys: dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day is not fun. The restaurants are going to be jam-packed, and well, you’ve probably seen all the good movies already. Instead, grab your special someone for one of these hot-and-sweaty adventures (you never know where it may lead after you get back home). And we won’t have any qualms with you digging into that box of chocolates post-workout, either. After all, you earned it!
Ride with Your Crush at Cyc
NYC-ers, if you’re already set on plans for the 14th, head to Cyc Fitness for their 7:30pm “Crush Ride” on February 13th. They’ll be playing cupid for you and your crush with a themed playlist, special Valentine’s treats and a sweaty kissing booth in case you two really hit it off while pumping your legs (and heart). But they can’t do all the work – you’ll need to purchase two bikes, and email firstname.lastname@example.org with your crush’s name and address. Cyc takes it from there, shooting your hottie an invite and reserving side-by-side bikes. ($25 per class, cyfitness.com)
Reach New Heights at Brooklyn Boulders
Climb to new heights – in the gym and in your relationship – with BKB’s “It Takes Two” bouldering competition. Two teammates are required to enter the February 15th competition, and you’ll each work together to master routes of all levels. So gear up and see how well you two really work together ($20 per person, brooklynboulders.com). But if you’re not quite ready for a competition, sign up for the “Learn the Ropes” course for a special price, and score some sweet gifts both of you can enjoy. ($99, brooklynboulders.com)
Smile While you Sweat with SoulCycle
At all Soul locations, ride on February 14th with your SOULmate for a major party-on-a-bike calorie burn, and document the memory with the SOUL kiss cam. Can’t make it to class that day? For the entire month of February, bring a date to select classes – free! These classes don’t come cheap, giving you reason enough to drag your partner along or muster the guts to finally ask that cutie you’ve been eyeing on a date. (price and schedule varies; soul-cycle.com)
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