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Marathon Musings: Why You Should Run a Race for Charity

Written on August 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by

People run marathons for a lot of reasons: to accomplish a new goal, take their running to the next level, prove something to themselves, etc. Some even do it because they like to travel. Yes, it makes sense—all ten of my half-marathons have been in a different state, and I firmly believe exploring a new place by foot is one of the coolest things to do. But the main reason I’m tackling my first marathon is about more than just me: it’s about helping a cause raise funds and awareness.

Sure, it takes extra work, but fundraising for the National Blood Clot Alliance and running as part of Team Stop the Clot has been more satisfying than any other race I’ve trained for. Here’s why:

You relate to the cause. When people find out I have a blood disorder, blank stares usually follow. That, coupled with the fact that nearly a quarter million women are affected by blood clots—and 100,000 people a year die from Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism in the U.S. (read more on that here)—makes me passionate about informing the general public in any way I can.

It pushes you to train. When you’ve had a really long week and all you want to do is sleep in and eat bagels on Saturday, knowing an entire team—and organization—are counting on you is enough to get out and run that 15-miler (or whatever distance). Best part? You still get to eat that bagel, and it’s totally guilt-free.

Fundraising is fun. Sure, $2,500 is more money than I’ve ever raised for a single cause, but seeing friends, family and complete strangers come out of the woodwork and contribute to a cause you care about is heart-warming. And throwing a few fundraisers—think a party, 50/50 raffle, and workout at a local fitness studio—is a great excuse to bring together friends that you haven’t seen in a while because you’re busy pounding pavement.

It guarantees entry. This isn’t the most important benefit, but let’s be honest—it’s a definite perk. Opting to fundraise for a charity is a lot of work, but it means I’m definitely able to run one of the most iconic marathons exactly when I want to. Being mentally ready for training is just as important as being physically ready, and this was the year I wanted to be singing “New York, New York” on the Verrazano bridge. Being a part of Team Stop the Clot has allowed that to happen.

You’re a part of a team. Sometimes I miss the good ole’ days of high school and collegiate sports, when I regularly had a team of athletes to lean on when the going got tough. We all had a common goal in mind, which helped boost morale. Now that I’m a part of Team Stop the Clot, I’ve met new people—in real life and on social media—and when I need a reminder about why I’m doing this, I just go to our fundraising page and read all of the inspiring stories from my teammates. And if I get lackadaisical about fundraising, I’m only one quick click away from seeing how the rest of the runners are doing. When their numbers go up, it only fuels the fire to make sure mine do, too.  

For more information on how to become a member of Team Stop the Clot, go to the application page. If you’d like to make a donation, visit my fundraising page.

Photo courtesy of the National Blood Clot Alliance

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Don’t Miss These Ovarian Cancer Symptoms (And Help Raise Awareness with Run for Her)

Written on August 26, 2014 at 9:43 am , by

Written by Mary Kate Schulte, editorial intern

Ovarian cancer: it’s the fifth-leading cause of death by cancer in women, and it’s dangerously easy to miss. We know FITNESS readers are all about their health, and everyday problems like bloating and stomach pain don’t normally cause a red flag. But if these pains are abnormal for you or are increasing, there could be a problem. Beth Y. Karlan, MD, the director of the Women’s Cancer Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, urges women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer because they are easily disguised as run-of-the-mill issues (think frequent urination and bloating). Dr. Karlan, along with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, teamed up with the run/walk fundraising program Run for Her in order to spread awareness and raise money for research.

Run for Her was founded by Kelli Sargent, whose mother Nanci was a patient of Dr. Karlan’s. The event has bloomed into one of the biggest ovarian cancer run/walks in America—there were nearly 6,000 participants in 2013! They began in Los Angeles and are now spread far and wide—even Hong Kong is hosting an event this year. Run for Her will be in New York on September 6th (sign up here), and while preparing for the 5K Run and Friendship Walk, we spoke to Dr. Karlan to get some details on this disease.

Watch For These. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle and easily confused with normal day-to-day discomforts. The symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). See your doctor if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during the course of one month or they are new or unusual for you.

Be Proactive. Be aware of your own body and changes that might indicate the need to see your physician. Know your family history; inherited cancer susceptibility is an important part of your personal health care. See your physician regularly.

Prevention. By using birth control pills for longer than one year, women can reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, research shows. In fact, use of birth control pills for six years or greater reduced ovarian cancer by 60 percent. Another method of prevention: removing the fallopian tubes, as recent data demonstrates that this type of cancer appears to begin in the fallopian tube. But obviously, this is an extreme measure, and should not be done if you intend to get pregnant.

How To Help. Spread the facts about ovarian cancer. If it is diagnosed early, doctors can treat and even cure women. Consider attending a Run for Her event or participate in the Research for Her program, an award-winning research registry used to increase representation of women in research.

Dr. Karlan praises the determination of women like Nanci Sargent, saying, “The thousands of people who make up our Run for Her family help push me to do all that I can to move us toward better treatments and even someday a cure.” On her own health regimen, she works out regularly, eats healthfully and stays passionate about her patients and work. Her advice for the runners in New York?  “Relax and enjoy the morning in Hudson River Park.  I will look forward to running alongside all of you!”

Photo by Angela Davis Haley/adhphotography

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Get Fit for Girl’s Education

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

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Kate Lord

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Find Your Calm in the Middle of Times Square

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

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Derek Goodwin

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How One Granola Bar Brand Is Saving Lives—Literally!

Written on June 10, 2014 at 10:46 am , by

Severe acute malnutrition claims the lives of 2.6 million children each year (that’s one child every 12 seconds), but what if you could put a stop to that…by simply munching on your own afternoon snack? Now you can. This Bar Saves Lives has taken a bite out of Toms, Warby Parker and the like’s humanitarian business models to turn grub proceeds into good.

“The solution exists,” co-founder Ravi Patel told us during a recent FITNESS office pow-wow. “There’s just not enough of the life-saving food, Plumpy’Nut®, to go around.” So after returning from a trip to Africa where they witnessed childhood hunger first-hand, founders (and actors) Patel, Ryan Devlin and Todd Grinnell pledged to put an end to childhood hunger and started a movement with tasty treats of their own. And they started out by taste testing in their own kitchens. Don’t you just love that!?

For each purchased bar, This Bar Saves Lives’ non-profit partner makes one portion of Plumpy’Nut®, which is then sent to areas in the world where it’s needed most (primarily Africa, India and Haiti). And not only are you giving others the nutrition they need, you’re also receiving quality energy with natural, locally-sourced and non-GMO ingredients. Double-whammy! The clover honey in my fave Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey comes from Wisconsin, for example. And the roasted pistachios in the Wild Blueberry Pistachio? Californian, born and raised. Everything from the ingredients to the packaging (the pattern on the wrappers are from African textiles, which also have a feel-good, giving-back tie) is mission-based, something we at FITNESS truly stand by.

So what are you waiting for? Fuel up to put an end to childhood hunger. Place your order on their site and be sure to keep an eye out for new varieties in select stores and boutique gyms nationwide (another reason to hit up Whole Foods? See you never, paycheck). They’ll also be offering some pretty cool initiatives in 2015, so follow their social media platforms ASAP for the skinny!

Photo courtesy of This Bar Saves Lives

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Adriana Lima Is a Knockout (in More Ways Than One!)

Written on June 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm , by

On most any day in downtown New York City, you might spot a celeb or two ducking into hip Aerospace gym for a kick-butt boxing session. But last Thursday morning, supermodel Adriana Lima took over the studio—with a film crew and card-carrying Vegas showgirls in tow—to fight for a great cause. (She has the mean left hook to do it.)

Credit: Gary He for Insider Images

Lima led a sweaty 45-minute workout with longtime trainer Michael Olajide, Jr., to raise funds for the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti. “I’ve been supporting the St. Luke Foundation since I visited Haiti when I was pregnant,” says Lima, the mother of two little girls. “I had the chance to meet the inspirational people that volunteer there. As an organization, they provide education and medical outreach to more than 150,000 people a year.”

The Victoria’s Secret model had raffled off a spot in Thursday’s class to benefit St. Luke’s. Minus the rolling cameras—the event was being taped to promote the charity—the cardio-boxing session reflects Lima’s typical lean routine. “I have worked with Michael Olajide, Jr. for more than 10 years,” she says—and it shows, not just in her physique but her footwork. Part of the plyo-tastic session involved speed jump-roping with criss-cross maneuvers that would make your usual rope drill look like playground stuff. Lima didn’t miss a beat doing high knees, alternating one-legged landings and jacks. “My first few months of training, I tripped over my rope,” she admits. “The best part of boxing is that, after working out at least three times a week for 10 years, it’s still a challenge, whether with an opponent or with myself.”

Training with Olajide in fact helped Lima bounce back in record time for the Victoria’s Secret show in 2012 when she had only a month and a half to get lingerie-ready after having her second daughter.

Another go-to for Lima is coconut water. “It’s my pre- and post-workout drink,” says Lima. “I grew up in Bahia, Brazil where everyone of every age drinks coconut water—it’s healthy, delicious and of course reminds me of home.”

You can check out Lima’s real-deal punches and rope skills at http://www.aerospacehpc.com.

 

 

Trade Miles for Money—and Help Beat Homelessness—with Mizuno

Written on May 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern 

Did you know that over the span of one month last year there were 610,042 people homeless on any given night? According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 35 percent were living in unsheltered locations. Instead of feeling like you can’t help out, just use your fitness to give back. From now until August19th, Mizuno will donate $1 to Back on My Feet—a national for-purpose organization dedicated to helping homeless people find jobs and get housing—for every mile run, up to 100,000 miles. A nice incentive to get moving, right?  

You can make your workouts go the extra mile without breaking any extra sweat. Just head to Mizuno’s “If Everybody Ran” website and download Mizuno’s free mobile Baton app (available on iTunes and Google Play). Next, simply pick a week to log as many miles as you can and hit the pavement! The app tracks your runs, and when your week is up you’ll “pass the baton” to other runners through social media. They even have a leaderboard that keeps track of their top donators—great for us super competitive runners who want to be at the top.

As of press time, y’all have helped raise nearly $10,500, and the top runner logged 151.5 miles in one week—wowzer! Think you can beat ‘em? Go ahead, then tell us on social (@FitnessMagazine) how your running is going.

Photo courtesy of Mizuno

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Marmot Lead Now Tour Highlights

Written on May 21, 2014 at 11:29 am , by

Paige Claassen is a professional rock climber and the creator of the Lead Now program. Over the last year, we’ve followed her amazing journey to South Africa, Russia, Italy, Japan, China, India, Turkey, Ecuador and Chile. Her global climbing tour has raised money and awareness for non-profit organizations around the world. And it’s inspired the heck out of us! Now that she’s home, she shares her reflections on her trip. (You can also watch her amazing highlight video, too.)

Just over one month has passed since I returned home from my trip around the world to climb and raise money for global non profit organizations. Lead Now was the journey of a lifetime, a series of experiences I won’t soon forget, yet can’t seem to put into words. Each memory, distinct in colors, smells, and the smiles of new friends, has melded into a grand collage, one I might mistake for a dream were it not for the photographical evidence.

Start: Colorado. A tremendous lightening storm lit up the sky on our last night in the United States last June.

Stop #1: South Africa. Children from a rural elementary school supported by Room to Read perform a traditional dance during our visit to their school library. 50 percent of these students are orphans of HIV/AIDS, and the only meals they eat are on weekdays at school.

Stop #2: Russia. The road to our farmhouse, deep in the forest of western Russia, where we stayed with a family who spoke only Russian. We learned to communicate with smiles and laughter, picking mushrooms and berries in the forest, and adapting to life without running water or electricity.

Stop #3: Italy. A view of Lake Como, which sits just below the Alps, where we spent a month climbing on granite cliffs amidst fog, cowbells, and endless pastries.

Stop #4: Japan. Sushi breakfast outside of Tsukiji Fish Market. The largest wholesale seafood market in the world handles over 400 types of seafood each day. We found fresh fish to be more affordable than fresh fruits and vegetables in Japan!

Stop #5: China. On Thanksgiving Day, our local friends taught us how to make dumplings from scratch. The process was harder than I imagined, but made for a delicious meal!

Stop #6: India. A young girl twirls for the camera outside her home in Badami, India. While most women in smaller villages avoid eye contact, this girl’s mother waved me up to her backyard to spend a few minutes chatting in broken English.

Stop #7: Turkey. Ruins of the great city of Aspendos tower over modern villages down below. As the setting sun peaked in and out of cracks and holes in the dilapidated stonework, I tried to imagine life 3,000 years ago under the same setting sun.

Stop #8: Ecuador. A local indigenous farmer from Heifer International shows off one of the many guinea pigs she raises on her farm. Guinea pig is a delicacy in some parts of South America, and we spent the afternoon roasting them over a fire. The meat is extremely rich and salty, albeit a bit foreign.

Stop #9: Chile. Just a few hours from the city of Santiago, a quiet stream snakes among the jagged hills and volcanoes of Cajon del Maipo.

End: Colorado. Trail runs through my backyard in Estes Park remind me that no matter where we live, we need only look to discover the details that make life beautiful. (Photo by Paige Claassen.)

Now that I’m back in the US, once more surrounded by friends and family and the responsibilities of day to day life, I’ve taken on a new appreciation for the beauty of home. What once felt familiar and almost dull now seems vibrant and full of opportunities for new adventures and discoveries. I thought Africa and the Amazon held all the beautiful birds in the world, with their pink and purple patterns and sophisticated calls, yet a trail run through my backyard reminded me of the vibrant blue and yellow wings that grace the skies of Colorado.

Traveling allows us to explore our curiosity and learn about the people, languages, cultures, and sites that make up our world. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to absorb so many of those special details, from the smooth chocolate flavor of Ecuadorian coffee to the bright eyes of a young Indian girl walking to school. But for the moment, home feels pretty good.

All photos by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com), except where noted.

Five Ways to Go Green—And Get It—For Earth Day

Written on April 22, 2014 at 9:44 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Let’s face it, green is the way to go. Conserving natural resources and living an eco-friendly lifestyle is something we can all get behind. I’m not saying you have to commit to composting or using biodegradable underwear (unless that’s totally your thing!) It could be just a few simple changes. Since the earth is getting a little extra love this month, here are just a few ways for you to go the extra mile:

Swap those water filters: Soma’s uber-chic, shatter-resistant glass carafe is made from entirely biodegradable materials and operates on an all-the-rage subscription-based service, so new filters get delivered right to your door every two months. Translation: you’ve basically run out of excuses for forgetting to change the filter. Not to mention you’ll feel awesome every time you do, because a portion of the sale of every filter goes to Charity:Water and brings clean drinking water to people around the world.  With one purchase you win in three ways: go green, give back, and stay stylish (because plastic water filters aren’t exactly the prettiest at a dinner party).

Recycle old electronics: ecoATM is an automated electronic recycling kiosk where you can drop off your old phone, tablet or MP3 player and get cash back (return ranges from $1 to $300). There are 900 kiosks nationwide, so check here to find one near you, dig out the old iPhone 4 hanging out in your closet and not only will you go green, you’ll get some in return. Sweet!  

Change a light blub: How many eco-minded individuals does it take? Just one.  Something as simple as swapping out one standard 60W incandescent light blub for an LED bulb can save you about $6 a year on electricity bills and is 75-85% more efficient. It might not seem like much, but according to Batteries Plus Bulbs, a specialty nationwide light bulb and battery retailer, the average home has approximately 60 light fixtures. Do the math, and yep, you could save up to $6,500 by the time a newborn turned 18. Hello, my-kids-are-off-to-college vacation!

Get socially savvy: Did you know that your morning glass of soy/almond/coconut milk does more than taste great in your morning smoothie or bowl of cereal? It saves 500 gallons of water per half gallon over conventional dairy milk! And better yet, Silk is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to donate $20,000 with your help. Simply get your social media on: visit silk.com/yaywater and for every video share, they’ll donate $1 (up to $20,000).

Stay committed: Make a pledge to do an “act of green” at earthday.org and become part of Earth Day Network’s “A Billion Acts of Green” movement.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo by Ericka McConnell

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Location #9: Chile

Written on April 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm , by

Rock climbing near santiago

Paige climbs at a desert cliff near Santiago, Chile. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com)

Paige is climbing in Chile to support VE Global, which fosters the development of children at social risk in Santiago by empowering volunteers to serve as positive role models, educators and advocates of social justice. Learn more and help Lead Now support VE at www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourchile

—–

By Paige Claassen

I awoke abruptly to horns, chatter, and clanging. I was in the city. Nothing unusual for most, except that I’d spent the last nine months far away from noise and traffic – deep in forests, barren Indian deserts, or vacant winter shores.  For most of Marmot’s Lead Now Tour, my climbing objectives were peacefully removed from civilization. But my final month of travel brought me to Santiago, Chile. I felt culture shocked.

For such a large, sprawling city, Santiago boasts many nearby outdoor climbing cliffs. Mountains surround the entire city, but the tall snowy peaks are rarely visible beneath the brown haze of pollution. My throat ached each morning, not yet accustomed to breathing the clouded air. Yet Santiago offered the change of pace I yearned for over the past months. I could practice my Spanish while navigating the city and find fresh fruits and vegetables at each corner.

I spent most days attempting hard climbs outside the city, completing a few routes that no women had climbed before. But the end of the month brought the final challenge of Lead Now – the largest climbing competition in South America. The pressure of performing well in front of a large audience and the challenge of attempting a route I’ve never before seen excited me as a teenager. But over time, I transitioned my focus to climbing outside. I hadn’t competed in three years, nor had I climbed in a gym in nine months. Climbing in a gym and climbing outside are practically two different sports. Each requires very different skill sets.

south american rock climbing competition

Paige places 4th at the largest climbing competition in South America. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com)

I wasn’t prepared for this competition, but I knew it would be a fun reintroduction to a facet of climbing I hadn’t recently explored. On the first day, I performed well, completing all 5 routes in the qualifying round and placing second. The following day, I placed third in semi finals after timing out on my last route. In finals that evening, my body felt exhausted. I opted for a brief warmup in hopes of conserving the little energy I had.

ve global

Young girls from a VE Global supported residential home in Santiago cheer for Paige at South America’s biggest climbing competition.

In climbing, competitors must remain behind the climbing wall before the competition, so as not to see the routes they will climb. As I walked out to the wall, I scanned the crowd and spotted four of the little girls supported by our Chilean non profit partner, VE Global. Their smiles calmed me. I didn’t feel intimidated. Instead, I felt my old competitive edge creep back in, fed by the loud music and cheers of the audience.

I didn’t do my best in finals. I couldn’t shake the fatigue built up in the previous rounds. My body was accustomed to climbing one very hard route outside each day, but I lacked the endurance needed for a multi-round competition. But unlike my early days of competition, I wasn’t disappointed. I had fun. I left Chile after nine months of travel with a smile on my face, reminiscing about all the new friends I had met around the world and the beautiful places I climbed. The journey has been rich with memories, but it feels good to be home!

To get involved and donate online to help, visit Crowdrise.

Check back next month for a final video about Paige’s adventures and stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Chile!