Written on November 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm , by Christie Griffin
Paige used the month of October in Japan to raise money for the Colorado flood relief efforts of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross responded immediately to the September flash floods that claimed over 17,000 homes along the Front Range with rescue, food, shelter, care, and comfort for those who suffered severe damage. Help Paige raise $10,000 for the American Red Cross at http://www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourcolorado. Donate $27 or more and you’ll be entered into a monthly raffle to win a Marmot tent!
By Paige Claassen
Imagine you’re unable to distinguish between a restaurant and a bank when walking down the street. Going to the grocery store is a three hour event. A busy city street full of people is completely silent. This is Japan, one of the most unique and fascinating countries I’ve ever visited.
‘Organized chaos’ is the only way to truly describe Japan. From the outside, Japan seems cluttered, frantic, and hectic. But focus in and you’ll find perfect order and tidiness. At first, I found Japan intimidating in it’s lack of familiarity. But after a bit of acquaintance, I fell in love with this country, aptly known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Everything is sunny in Japan, except the weather.
I visited Japan in October and encountered an unusually late typhoon season. While my objective was to rock climb, I was forced out of the mountains by torrential rains, a small earthquake, and the threat of tsunamis.
Perhaps this interruption in my plans was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to dive into the Japanese culture. Here’s what I discovered:
- My new favorite foods: Okonomiyaki (the Japanese pancake, which is nothing like a pancake) and sashimi fresh off the boat, which melts in your mouth like butter. Japan also grows amazing fruits. My favorites were Fuji apples and Asian pears.
- Bowing: To thank one another, or even to greet or bid farewell, the Japanese people bow. As a foreigner, I found this incredibly convenient, because even when I couldn’t express my gratitude in words, I could smile and bow.
- Cleanliness: Feeling under the weather? The Japanese wear face masks when feeling ill to prevent the spread of germs out of respect for those around them. Hand rails in public areas are sterilized throughout the day. As a result of this respect for health, I found I could eat nearly anything in Japan. Unrecognizable seafood, street food, and nearly raw eggs served on top of most meals – no problem.
- Prices: I had always heard Japan was incredibly expensive. In general, I found prices comparable with the US. The few things that will empty your wallet are toll roads, gasoline, and fruit (expect to pay $50 for a cantaloupe and $3 for one apple). On the other hand, I regularly paid $5-$10 for a full meal of sushi at the popular conveyor belt restaurants.
- 7-Eleven convenience stores: 14,000 7-Eleven stores throughout Japan are open 24 hours a day and provide cheap meals on the go, prepared daily. For a quick, inexpensive, and tasty lunch, this is your stop.
I hope these tips help you navigate Japan. While overwhelming at first, I think Japan might actually be a more comfortable and convenient vacation option than Europe. Try it out for yourself!
To get involved and donate online to help the Colorado Flood Recovery efforts, visit leadnowtourcoloradoflood.
Check back next month for a video and update about Location #5. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Japan! FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .
Related: Lead Now Tour Main Page
Written on November 13, 2013 at 9:42 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
As Thanksgiving swiftly approaches, it’s difficult for us to contain our enthusiasm. From the gathering of family and friends to football face-offs, we’ve all got quite a bit to be thankful for. So why not celebrate a few days early this year by giving back to those who could use the support?
On Saturday, Nov. 23, 75 cities across the country will host the St. Jude Give thanks. Walk, a noncompetitive 5K that helps raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event has raised more than $11 million to date and hopes to increase that number with the help of you and your loved ones.
If you’re ready to take your Thanksgiving spirit to the next level, join the walk as a team to help with the fundraising process. All money raised helps St. Jude families forego the cost of treatment for their children, and supports the hospital’s research efforts. As if that isn’t enough of an incentive, all participants who receive 10 online donations before November 22 will be entered into a drawing for a trip for two to New York City! While in the Big Apple, the lucky couple will attend a live taping of LIVE! with Kelly and Michael and take a photo with affable co-host Michael Strahan.
Visit the St. Jude website to find a walk near you. (Most are free to register!) Can you think of a better way to celebrate the Saturday before Thanksgiving? We definitely can’t.
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Written on November 4, 2013 at 10:41 am , by Karla Walsh
Did you catch FITNESS reader Cassandra in the I Did It! section on page 20 of our September issue? (In case you missed it or need a reminder, she raised $5,420 for the Boot Campaign which helps military veterans and their families.) Now through Veteran’s Day, November 11, you too can make an impact and support our nation’s heroes. No sweat: You don’t have to drop and give us 20—although that’s never a bad thing to do!
The Believe in Heroes campaign, now in its fourth year, gathers funds to help wounded soldiers get back to their favorite activities (through programs like adaptive sports and rehab). Contributing can be as easy as visiting your local supermarket.
How to help:
- Donate at your grocery store. Thousands of supermarkets across the U.S. accept donations as you check out.
- Download free coupons. Coupons for some of your favorite food and drink brands will be available for free through December 2 at wwpbelieve.org. A contribution will be made to the Wounded Warrior Project for each coupon redeemed.
- Click over to Facebook. Learn about participating stores and learn more about Wounded Warriors’ personal stories at www.facebook.com/wwpinc.fans.
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Written on October 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm , by Samantha Shelton
You’ve heard it before: when you want to run faster, it helps to hit the pavement with faster friends. Not only will you be motivated to pump up the pace, but you can gab about which pro runner you want to see break the finisher’s tape first.
But what if you had the chance to do more than talk about that runner, but actually feel what it’s like to run at their level – you know, without taking any crazy speed-boosting drugs? Consider it done, thanks to Asics and their latest challenge to New Yorkers. With the ING New York City Marathon set for its big return this Sunday, after being canceled last year due to Superstorm Sandy, the big sneaker brand wants runners to “Better Their Best” with the opportunity to step into top marathoner Ryan Hall’s sneaks – well, sort of. Instead of actually wearing his shoes (um, gross – there are some things we don’t like to share), you’ll hop on a one-of-a kind treadmill that’s set to one speed, and one speed only: 12.6. That’s the equivalent of Hall’s 4:46-mile pace, and we think you can keep up. But don’t worry – you’re strapped to a harness, juuust in case.
The best part of this “Run with Ryan” experiment? The treadmill is on a truck, meaning it’s traveling throughout the city. So if you haven’t seen it in your hood yet, keep those eyes peeled and sneakers laced. Still need incentive to hop on? For every minute logged on the treadmill between now and November 2nd, Asics will donate $5 (up to $26,200) to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in support of public programs focused on youth development.
Now that we’ve got you feeling the need for speed, check out the times and locations below to find the closest area the treadmill will be traveling to. We recommend running there as your pre-sprint warm-up:
- October 31 (until 9pm): Time Warner Center, S/S 60th St. and Broadway
- November 1: Asics Bryant Park Store, 5th and 42nd St.
- November 2: Central Park, N/S 58th St. and 7th Ave
For an extra boost of confidence, watch this video to see how other New Yorkers fared in the challenge.
Now you tell us: How long do you think you could keep up with Ryan?
Written on October 31, 2013 at 12:06 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Dedication. That’s the name of the game for Grammy-winning rapper, entrepreneur and actor L.L. Cool J. Whether he’s memorizing lines for his Navy SEAL turned NCIS operative character (Sam Hanna) on NCIS: Los Angeles or hitting the gym, L.L. is committed to giving it his all—and then some.
Finding the time for a healthy balance is his secret. “You just have to be willing to get [to the gym] when you can fit it,” says Cool J. With long-time trainer Dave “Scooter” Honig, one of Hollywood’s fittest musician sticks to a rigorous routine bursting with burpees, sprints, pushups, hanging abs, running mans and more. Hello, tank top-ready guns! And according to the multi-talented artist, there’s no excuse for skipping a sweat sesh. “It could be late at night when I get home around midnight, or early in the morning, like 3 or 4 a.m. I just try to figure it out,” he explains, adding that he couldn’t live without protein shakes, oatmeal, tuna and chicken breasts when it comes to refueling.
It certainly helps that fitness is a family affair. “Everyone loves getting to the gym and understands the importance of it, without a doubt,” the father of four shares. “[My kids] grew up seeing me work out like a maniac!” But many children aren’t nearly as lucky to have such a fit and fabulous role model, which is why Cool J teamed up with After-School All-Stars (ASAS).
The organization, which provides youth the tools they need for success through skill development programs coupled with athletic and academic competitions, struck a chord. “It’s great because when I think about how I grew up and where I come from, you know, after-school programs are super duper important,” he explains, hinting at his personal childhood struggles. “ACE Brand Sports Medicine Products just launched the ‘A’ Game Challenge. They’re paying it forward.”
In celebration of youth athletics, the trio created this video entry contest to inspire youngsters to showcase their outstanding athletic skills for a $10,000 scholarship. Learn more about the initiative with ASAS here and if you know any interested participants, be sure to submit their all-star moment by November 15.
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Written on October 24, 2013 at 10:30 am , by Marla Horenbein
We love when fashion and fitness join forces, so we were especially excited to get sweaty at the Pink Pony Ride hosted by our friends at Ralph Lauren and SoulCycle. Ralph Lauren generously donated the cost of each attendee’s ride to the Pink Pony Fund of the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation, which benefits cancer care and prevention, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Two of our favorite things coming together in one place for a good cause= one super inspiring night!
Pink Pony’s mission is to reduce disparities in cancer care in medically underserved communities, and ensure that treatment is available at an earlier, more curable stage. The Pink Pony Fund is internationally recognized (currently in 20 countries!) and by donating 25 percent of the purchase price from each Pink Pony product sold in the U.S. (shop the collection here…we’re totally loving these sweatpants!), the initiative has been able to support programs for screening, early diagnosis, treatment, research and patient navigation.
And the best part, Mr. Lauren (as in the Ralph Lauren), is totally hands on with this project.
“Over 20 years ago, I lost a good friend to cancer, and I promised that I would do my best to fight the disease that took her life. Watching the incredible progress we have made—to not only raise money to fight cancer but also to educate and support people, particularly those in underserved communities, navigate the sometimes isolating experience of patient treatment—is the greatest gift I could ever receive.”
For more information on how you can donate to the Pink Pony Fund, click here.
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Written on October 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm , by Guest Blogger
Rock climber Paige Claassen recaps her second stop on the Marmot Lead Now Tour, a global tour to inspire people through rock climbing and raise $120,000 for charity organizations.
By Paige Claassen
We’re all beginners at some point or another. Whether we’re going to a zumba class for the first time or running our first marathon, initially we feel slightly unsure of ourselves. While in Italy on the third stop of the Marmot Lead Now tour, I found myself far from my comfort zone, standing below an intimidating 2,000-foot tall cliff in the Italian Alps. In order to explain my experience, I need to provide a few technical details about rock climbing…
Typically, I sport climb, which means I use a rope and secure myself to pre-existing pieces of equipment on the wall…so no matter where or how often I fall, I’m completely safe. On this particular day in the Alps, I was about to attempt an entirely different objective. This route was 60 times taller than anything I’d ever climbed before, and there were very few pieces of pre existing equipment on the wall. In some places, the route would require me to place my own “temporary” equipment, a concept with which I had little experience, despite my thirteen years of rock climbing.
Falling was not an option, or at least not a preferable option, on this route. If I fell, my equipment would prevent death, but I would likely face serious injuries. On the bright side, this route was far easier in physical difficulty than the routes I’m accustomed to climbing, so I felt confident in my strength. While from the description this may sound like an unwise method of climbing, “multi pitch” climbing as it is called is actually a very popular approach, as it’s the only way to ascend walls taller than 100 or so feet.
I set off towards the summit with an experienced partner whom I trusted, and who was willing to mentor me through new strategies. I learned how to move quickly and efficiently, how to place and trust temporary equipment, and how to ignore the pain in my feet from wearing climbing shoes all day long. After about six hours of climbing, my partner and I reached the final stretch of climbing for the day. I felt accomplished in an entirely new way.
I stood on top of the summit’s spire, gazing at the beautiful scenery 2,000 feet below me and took a deep breath of that mountain air. I had overcome my fears, and the reward was great. While I prefer to attempt climbs that challenge my physical limits, this climb presented a mental challenge. At the end of the day, I believe this is why we try new things. Attempting a feat we’ve never tried before stimulates not only our muscles but also our minds, allowing us to grow in strength, in confidence, and in aptitude.
What new challenge do you want to try?
To get involved and donate online to Paige’s cause in Italy, Save the Children, visit http://www.crowdrise.com/LeadnowtourItaly.
Check back next month for a video and update about Location #4. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Italy. FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .
Related: Lead Now Tour Main Page
Written on October 14, 2013 at 9:50 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Gauging the speed, distance and spin of an opponent’s 60+ mph serve is crucial in the game of volleyball — especially when you’re three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor. That’s why she never messed around with her astigmatism and far sightedness. “Growing up, I always got an annual eye exam,” she told us as she kicked off VSP Vision Care’s five day-long free screenings in Atlanta, GA last week in honor of yesterday’s World Sight Day. “It’s important for people to maintain their eye health. Many people don’t have vision insurance for their eye care needs.” And by many people, around 210,000 Atlanta residents are currently without coverage.
Giving back by hosting the largest free eye care event in the U.S. during the controversy surrounding Obamacare and the current government is just one of the projects Misty has up her sleeve now that she’s retired from international competition. “This is one way that I can lend my voice to help others in the community,” she says. “I’m also coaching and trying to start a family.” So what about playing the game? Of course she can’t keep herself off the court! “I still play for fun,” she says, spilling that her fit routine is focused more now on low-impact exercises with lighter weight training than she endured pre-Olympics. And don’t think that just because she’s not sporting those skimpy (but awesome) uni’s she has given up on staying strong with that killer muscle tone. Her current goal? “To burn as many calories as I can so that I can eat whatever I want at Thanksgiving,” she jokes.
With Sochi right around the corner, Misty looks forward to cheering on the good ol’ U.S. of A. “A lot of the winter sports are foreign to me,” she admits. “I didn’t grow up a skier or ever go to a luge competition, but they’re just as exciting to watch.” Her favorite to watch? Figure skating, although bobsled and hockey are close seconds. Don’t expect this decorated Olympian (she keeps her medals safe in their boxes in a “secret place”) to get sentimental, though. “I’ve gone through four Olympics and it’s nice to take a break from competition and be able to focus on other aspects of my life, which I think makes you a more well-rounded person,” Misty says.
For more information on the importance of annual eye exams, check out VSP Vision Care’s website. Be sure to talk to your local optometrist about early detection for vision problems and other potential chronic diseases linked to eye health, too.
Written on October 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Bring on the pink! National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is finally here, flaunting more proud ribbons, charitable events and philanthropic products than ever before (don’t forget to check out our fave product picks!). If you’re struggling to decide how you’d like to give back this month, pick a program that aligns with your passions, too. Here are three ways to get your sweat on and support thousands of women as they brave the breast cancer battle. Now that’s a win, win.
- Xtend Barre is hosting Plié for Pink on October 19 and 20 at its participating studios. Donate $30 to take this 75-minute barre bootcamp that really works your legs, glutes and core. Proceeds go to Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization that focuses on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
- Real Pilates NYC challenges you to a Mat-a-Thon with pro instructor Regina Arras at its Tribeca studio on October 23. This 75-minute Pilates mat class puts your endurance to the test with 20 rounds of hardcore sculpting moves. Sign up with a $50 donation and see how long you can last. If you make it to the end, your donation is capped at $50. If you tap out early, your donation amount will increase depending on how many rounds you completed. All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Game on!
- If Pilates isn’t for you, get your groove on at your local Zumba studio. The third-annual Party in Pink Zumbathons are held worldwide throughout the month with 75 percent of the event ticket fees going directly toward preventative research, a grant managed by Susan G. Komen.
For an added bonus, wear the FitBit Pink Flex Wristband ($99) during these workouts to track your crazy calorie burn. Throughout the month, FitBit will contribute $10 from every Pink Flex wristband sold to the American Cancer Society. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and sport your pink power!
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Written on October 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm , by Samantha Shelton
You watched him heat up the small screen as Dr. Sam Bennett on Private Practice, and now you can catch him in his latest romantic comedy, Baggage Claim, as part of a star-studded cast (you’ll see the likes of Paula Patton, aka wife to one-half of the VMA twerking fiasco, Tia Mowry and Adam Brody). But what really fires up Taye Diggs happens behind-the scenes, in a place much closer to home – the school systems. Fun fact: Diggs is also the children’s book author of “Chocolate Me,”and he’s teamed up with Kellogg’s and Scholastic to get more reading material in kids’ hands.
With a four-year-old of his own, it seems like just the right time for Diggs to get involved. “I grew up reading a ridiculous amount when I was a kid, and now I read to my kid three or four times a day,” he told us during a visit to the FITNESS offices. “Childhood literacy is very important. Two-thirds of every family in poverty doesn’t have books, so we’re just trying to get everybody involved and put an end to that.”
How, exactly, can we help then? In one of two ways:
- Buy any Kellogg’s product, and visit kelloggsfreebook.com to enter the Great Starts, Great Stories codes you’ll find on the inside flap of the box. For each code entered, Kellogg’s will send you a free book that you can keep or donate. Up to 200,000 books will go to schools, homes and communities.
- Participate in the Frosted Mini Wheats Mini Missions program, and earn free scholastic books and the chance to win a sweepstakes for books and grants for your community.
We’ve all heard of Kellogg’s, and the company does a lot to give back, clearly. But when it comes right down to it, we wanted to know: out of all the cereal brands, why partner with this one? “It was what we grew up on,” Diggs says. “For my family, it was like a weekend delicacy. My father would mix up the different cereals – a lot of the time it would be Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes because it had a little less sugar.” And as far as eating as a family goes, there’s zero negotiation for the actor. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact a simple meal could have until I had Walker,” he says. “But now that’s a time, either as a family or just daddy-son time, that you don’t get during any other time of the day. For us, we talk about dreams or nightmares he had the night before, or what we’re going to do for the rest of the day. We can check in with each other. Not to mention, that’s when he’s the most cute. When he wakes up.” Cue a round of aww’s, please!
But reading and eating a morning meal together aren’t the only things the star does with his son. They get their sweat on together, too (which begins to explain that, um, enviable physique). “I’m trying to gently massage the importance of staying healthy and in shape. He likes looking at big muscles, so I use that as a bribe. I’ll say, ‘If you want those, you have to eat your protein, eat your vegetables, do a couple push-ups and stretch out.’” When he’s not, er, bribing the boy, they’re doing fun activities together, like running and soccer. And on top of that, Diggs manages to fit in his own workouts – think basketball, tennis and weight lifting – to stay in tip-top shape for his acting gigs. Maybe we’ll see him as an athlete in his next role? “Someone asked my son what I did for a living, and he said, ‘He changes into shorts and he plays basketball!’ Because I always go from the gym to work, so he rarely hears me say I’m going to work. It was pretty funny.”
Sounds like Diggs is a pro at leading by example. For more of his tips on getting active with your own kiddos, watch this:
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