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L.L. Cool J Brings His “A” Game to New Passion Project

Written on October 31, 2013 at 12:06 pm , by

The Hip-Hop Station on Pandora is L.L.’s go-to when it comes to workouts beats. So is it strange when one of his own songs come on mid-sweatfest? “Only when I hear things I should have done better.” (Photo courtesy of Marion Curtis/StarPix)

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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When Fashion Meets Fitness for a Cause

Written on October 24, 2013 at 10:30 am , by

Fashion Assistant, Marla Horenbein, sweats it out at SoulCycle for the Pink Pony Ride hosted by Ralph Lauren, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.

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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Location #3: ITALY

Written on October 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm , by

Paige Claassen's third stop on her global rock climbing tour? The Italian Alps! Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige Claassen’s third stop on her global rock climbing tour? The Italian Alps! Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

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.

Paige making her way 2,000 feet up to the spire with a multi pitch climbing technique. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige making her way 2,000 feet up to the spire with a multi pitch climbing technique. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

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?

Paige celebrates after reaching her objective at the top of the spire. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige celebrates after reaching her objective at the top of the spire. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

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

Misty May-Treanor Keeps Her Eye On The Prize With New Partner

Written on October 14, 2013 at 9:50 am , by

Oh, you know. Misty kickin’ glass, per usual! (Photo courtesy of VSP Vision Care)

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.

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Feel-Good Fitness: Workout and Give Back During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Written on October 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm , by

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. You—yes, you—can make a difference. (Photo credit: Denise Crew)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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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Actor Taye Diggs Dishes on His New Children’s Book, Staying Fit as a Family and ‘Baggage Claim’

Written on October 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm , by

Taye Diggs not only pens children’s books, he helps kiddos get their hands on them, too! (Photo courtesy of Kellogg’s)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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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McDreamy Gets Dreamier (Believe It!) for Cancer Hope and Healing

Written on October 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm , by

Run/ride like Patrick Dempsey is waiting at the finish line. Oh wait, he is! (Photo credit: Patrick McCarthy)

Known for making scrubs look sexy with ease is none other than McDreamy, and now Patrick Dempsey has fit gals like us weak in the knees by getting his sweat on in bike shorts. Why? Not that we really need a reason, but it’s for a good cause. So yes, he’s good-looking, talented, in incredible shape and philanthropic. (Insert extra swoon here.)

Clearly, biking has become more than just a joy ride for this star. It’s become a passion and family affair with his wife and three kids, plus a way to raise funds for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing. “I’m not a big fan of running—I really love cycling and the sense that you can go somewhere,” he recently dished, while reminiscing about pedaling around as a kid, the only way for him to get from point A to B at a young age. “Growing up in the country, it was a form of escape and freedom.”

On October 12 and 13, runners, walkers and riders—including Dempsey—will come together for the fifth-annual Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston, Maine to support his center. Founded in 2008 after the actor’s mother battled three bouts of ovarian cancer, the safe haven provides free support, education and integrative medicine services for those impacted by cancer. “The last four years, we’ve raised over a million dollars in the event. It’s incredible,” Dempsey says. “It’s amazing the amount of support and commitment people have to the challenge. We’re going to have fun things around, like food trucks and entertainment, to celebrate. Plus, everyone gets lobster and beer at the end!”

Between his time on the big screen, a little show called Grey’s Anatomy and now the race track—he clearly has a need for speed—finding time to get his sweat on can be tough, the Clif Bar lover admits. (His fave flavors? Crunchy Peanut Butter and Blueberry Crisp.) “I try to balance it between going to the gym and getting a good core workout in. And then getting out on the bike for at least an hour, hour and half if I can, three or four times a week.” Hikes in the mountains surrounding Santa Monica and barefoot runs along the beach are also a part of his training. “I find that to be low impact on my body,” he says. “The sand helps stabilize your core!” Uh huh, drink in that image…

To learn more about this year’s challenge and their incredible partnerships—Dempsey raved about Positive Tracks, a New Hampshire-based non-profit that encourages the youth to get active and give back through charitable athletic efforts—be sure to head over to their website, ‘like’ their Facebook page and follow the event on Twitter.

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Kara DioGuardi Takes Charge of Her Health—For the Long Run

Written on September 20, 2013 at 11:09 am , by

“Being proactive can be lifesaving,” Kara said, urging women to consult with their doctors about being tested. (Photo courtesy of Stephen J. Finfer)

Songwriter, producer and Warner Brothers exec Kara DioGuardi was living in Manhattan playing Roxie Hart in the Broadway musical Chicago when she saw a life-changing (and arguably life-saving) news report. It was WABC-TV New York’s Stacy Sager’s story that struck a familiar chord with Kara, as the journalist discussed her breast and ovarian cancer family history and the proactive test that determines carriers of the hereditary gene mutation. (The same exam Angelina Jolie made headlines with back in Maywhich positive results led to her preventative double mastectomy.)

“I tested positive for BRCA2which meant I had up to an 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer, and a 40 percent chance of ovarian cancerand subsequently underwent a complete laporoscopic hysterectomy last December [2012] to reduce my likelihood of breast and/or ovarian cancer by fifty percent,” Kara recently told us. In January, the former American Idol judge plans to further lower her risk by having a prophylactic mastectomy.

“I feel great,” she says. “I had a great doctor and support system who mentally and physically prepared me for the surgery. I urge anyone with breast or ovarian cancer in their families (mother or father’s side) to get tested. As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power.”

Now a healthy mom of eight-month-old Greyson (she and husband Mike McCuddy turned to surrogacy following five years of fertility issues), Kara is back in the swing of things teaching for a second year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, running her publishing company, Arthouse, and finding new talent for her Warner Brothers affiliated record label.

Her best sweat secret to finding fit time between all of the juggling? “I recently started P90X and if I hadn’t, I am not sure I would be able to lift my big boy as easily,” she reveals. “I love it because it has taught me exercises I can do anywhere at anytimeeven getting 20 minutes in a day is enough!”

Check out that pretty start line full of supporters! (Photo courtesy of Angela Daves)

Besides following Tony Horton’s regimen (and her upper body workout of a son), Kara is now gearing up for the inaugural Run for Her New York Walk on October 27 in support of ovarian cancer research. Lucky for us East Coasters, the popular Los Angeles walk’s growth sparked the organization of this year’s New York City event to continue raising funds for advancing medical discoveries and treatments, alongside awareness of the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

“This event is very important to me as it brings the ongoing battle of ovarian cancer to the forefront,” Kara says. “I will run in honor of my mother, Carol DioGuardi, who died of ovarian cancer at 58. She was not given the option of genetic testing. It may have saved her life. Although running has never been my strong suit, I plan on completing the 5K for all those women out there who have been affected by this insidious disease.”

Sign up now (early registration costs only $35!) to join Kara at the Hudson River Park and support the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. West Coast gals, be sure to get moving for the cause in L.A. November 10.

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Location #2: RUSSIA

Written on September 9, 2013 at 9:05 am , by

Washing in the lake is the closest thing to showering at the end of the day. Photo by Jon Glassberg/LT11.

Washing in the lake is the closest thing to showering at the end of the day. Photo by Jon Glassberg/LT11.

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

When I arrived in Russia, stereotypes plagued my expectations, planting images in my mind of tanks driving down the highway and peasants standing in line for bread rations. But the Russia I encountered was very different from the Russia in my mind. People smiled. Beautiful moss carpeted forests of pines and lakes marked the land. Signs in an alphabet I didn’t understand led me down dirt roads, further into the isolated forest that held my home for the next three weeks, a farmhouse with no running water or electricity.

Meanwhile, I also had a fear that — due to different food and an interrupted workout schedule — I would loose the fitness I had worked so hard to build in South Africa.

These fitness concerns waxed and waned over the following days. My new farm family spoke no English, but I took comfort in their openness to share the country life. We picked berries and mushrooms in the forest and plucked potatoes and carrots from the garden.

Picking berries in the forest just behind the farmhouse. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Picking berries in the forest just behind the farmhouse. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

The Russian family out for a day of spectating while Paige climbs. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

The Russian family out for a day of spectating while Paige climbs. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

“This will work!” coaxed my mind, assured that these familiar, homegrown health foods would keep my muscles strong and lean, the necessary combination for me to climb at my limit. However, Babushka (the Russian grandmother of the house) cooked and recooked everything I ate for the next three weeks in lard. My heart sank as I politely consumed her oily meals, feeling my fitness wash away.

Wandering through the forest one day, I stumbled upon a short climbing route that was protected from the torrential rains. The characters inked into the bottom of the cliff told me this route, named Catharsis, was more difficult than any I had tried before.  With nothing to loose, I gave it a try anyway. Over the next three weeks, I sorted out the moves that had thwarted the efforts of countless men. In ten years, only one climber had completed Catharsis. My goal was to be the second.

Paige attempts Catharsis, the most difficult route at Triangular Lake. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige attempts Catharsis, the most difficult route at Triangular Lake. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

In the end, I came heart-breakingly close to finishing Catharsis, but I ran out of time before I could link through the final move without falling. I felt physically and mentally exhausted. While I didn’t achieve my goal, I found myself stronger and fitter than when I arrived in Russia. I realized that although the my diet and training are crucial to my performance, the true determining factor is motivation. If I push past my own boundaries and try my absolute hardest, I will improve as an athlete. Despite the short-term letdown of leaving Catharsis behind as an unconquered pest, I’m confident that I gave the route everything I had. In this, I am triumphant.

To get involved and donate online to Paige’s cause in Russia, visit http://www.crowdrise.com/Leadnowtourrussia

Check back next month for a video and update about Location #3. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Russia. FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video . 

The App We Can’t Wait For

Written on August 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm , by

Fitting in a workout, wherever you go? Yes, please. Photo by Jennifer Koplin.

Fitting in a workout, wherever you go? Yes, please. Photo by Jennifer Koplin.

When you’re traveling or in-between gym memberships, what do you do? Sign up for the free three-day membership? Pay $30 for a single barre class? If you’re like me, probably not. Which is why I just about jumped out of my chair in glee when I read this article about an Australian app that’s going to go global, sooner rather than later.

The FitUsIn app, founded by Vanessa Picker, will allow users to book gym visits at the last minute—without having to meet with a gym representative, sign a contract, etc. I’ve always been a big fan of Lifebooker, the site/app that lets me make discounted beauty appointments, usually at the last minute. So, I have high hopes for FitUsIn.

And Vanessa isn’t just a fitness fanatic who wants to work out wherever she goes—she co-founded Play Forward, which help bring organized sports to children in need. She’s even a fellow for The Resolution Project, a nonprofit that empowers young entrepreneurs.

(Related: Want to run the 4-Mile NYRR race in NYC on Sept. 7? You can be a part of the Resolution Runs team, which means your involvement will go directly to supporting the fellows, including Vanessa. Get details here on Facebook, at @ResolutionProj on Twitter, or send a note to info [at] resolutionproject [dot] org.)

You heard it here first, FITNESS friends. Vanessa, we’re waiting!