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Telluride, Colorado: The Vacation Spot Perfect for Snow Bunnies

Written on March 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm , by

I felt like I was home the second I touched down in Colorado’s tiny Montrose Airport two weeks ago. The sun tickled my pasty skin as I  bounded off of my puddle jumper plane with a list of to-dos a mile long—pee, claim baggage, find my shuttle, etc.—yet all of those thoughts and former stresses seemed to disappear in thin air (literally, hello altitude) when I laid eyes on the snowcapped mountain skyline. Holy snowplow. I could get used to this.

As a self-proclaimed “summer girl” who finds winter’s only redeeming quality to be powder-packed slopes, it has been a dream of mine for far too long to experience trails (both “groomies” and glades) out West. So when I was invited on a trip to Telluride, I felt like a kid in Toys-R-Us the week before Christmas—wide-eyed, jaw ajar the entire five days I spent gallivanting about. But is the skiing really that much better than the Northeast? Like, worth the extra travel and lugging of clunky equipment? Abso-freaking-lutely. The conditions rocked the socks off my go-to stomping grounds (while lacking that bone-gnawing bitter cold us Northerners are all accustomed to), and the town itself had the local charm a city dweller craves…without sacrificing cell service. From backcountry hikes and wildlife tours to snowmobiling and gaga-worthy dining views, the destination is a fit gal’s heaven. And the food? I can’t even begin to explain the flavor explosion my taste buds experienced. It had the high-end Manhattan quality, touting a local farm-to-table flair. Insert your choice of an expletive adjective to describe the melt-in-your mouth pork belly.

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Have You Joined #GetFitParty? You Could Win a Trip to Aruba!

Written on January 20, 2014 at 9:51 am , by

In the beginning of 2014, there are a lot of hopes and dreams. Not only about goals you want to accomplish (and will!), but about trips you want to take, places you’re eager to explore and adventures you’re excited to experience. If you’ve joined the #GetFitParty, you’re already well on your way to crushing those goals (one reader has already dropped 5 pounds!). If you haven’t joined, well, what are you waiting for?! Between the four-week workout plan that sheds unnecessary pounds off your figure, the “I refuse to starve or eat tasteless food” meals that energize your bod, and the digital support that’s waiting for you around every social media corner (with weekly prizes happening on Insta), there’s no reason to miss the fun. But if that’s still not enough, we have one more thing to entice you.

A four-night getaway – on us! – to Aruba, where you’ll stay at the swanky Hotel RIU Palace Aruba. Guys, I’ve seen this place up close and personal, and I can tell you one thing: it’s gorgeous. But that’s not all, of course. The winner of this trip gets to bring a date, and both of you will head off on a snorkel-and-sail excursion (I saw ship wrecks on mine!) and be treated to a blissful spa massage. Because every fit girl deserves a little down time to unwind and boost muscle recovery. And if that’s not enough for your adventurous selves, there’s plenty more to do – you can see our top recommendations here, but I love the idea of taking a jeep ride through the rugged Arikok National Park, swimming in Conchi, the Natural Pool or kayaking in the crystal-clear ocean waters.

After all that, we know you’re ready to get in on the action. So sign up for the Better Body plan here, which enters you to win this fabulous trip (or you could score a StairMaster!). And don’t forget to follow – and use – the #getfitparty hashtag online to keep you motivated on the journey of your “fit in ’14″ goals.

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Panama: Where You Can Play Hard, Day and Night

Written on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 am , by

 

That’s me ziplining in the Anton Valley!

Written by Kathy Green, managing editor

It’s January and most of the U.S. is in a deep freeze.  What better time to plan a trip to somewhere warm!  How about Panama?  I was there recently as a guest of the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  The temperature was perfect (it’s always around 80 degrees) and their eco-tourism is growing.  There are lots of daily flights, which makes it an easy, sunny destination for a break from the cold.

Before this trip, my only association with Panama was the canal, but I discovered there is a lot to do there. My travel buddies and I drove for about 2 hours outside of Panama City to the Anton Valley—a rich rainforest that is a volcano crater.  We hiked into this beautiful park and then zip-lined over a tremendous waterfall called Charro el Macho.  I had never tried ziplining before, and soaring through the lush canopy was truly a special experience.

After ziplining, it unfortunately started to pour, but that didn’t stop us from ATVing around the hillsides of the valley.  Even in the rain, we had a great time.

We also discovered the Soberania National Park, just 20 minutes outside of Panama City. A rainforest this rich with wildlife so close to civilization is a true find.  When we entered the park, the guide told us we’d possibly see monkeys, kinkajous and an abundance of birds and plant-life. Soberania delivered on beauty and rainforest magic­­­­—just as we started off on our three-hour hike, we found a sloth high up in a tree relaxing in the sun.

My friend Jennifer and I ATVing in the rain!

An added perk from Soberania? Driving right by the Panama Canal to get there and back from Panama City.  So even though we didn’t have time to take a tour, we did stop and take pictures of ships going through the locks.

So if you like to party as much as you like to hike, the perfect place to stay in Panama City is the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  It’s located right near the harbor and attached to a large shopping mall filled with stores such as Diesel and Nike (shopping and partying—what’s not to like?!). I stayed in a beautiful suite with a great view of the skyline and ships lined up to go through the canal. With no time for a pedicure before leaving New York City, hitting up the spa (at a reasonable price) was the perfect prep for the Hard Rock night scene.

The hotel is full of incredible rock n’ roll memorabilia and it has the greatest room service offer—you can get a Fender electric guitar or personal DJ box delivered so you can be a rock legend in your very own room. It is a party-hardy place with great restaurants (we ate in two of them–Soy and Tauro and the food was first-rate), bars (the roof bar has awesome views of the city) and a happening club called BLING—THE place to be seen in Panama City (Justin Bieber was hanging out there a couple of nights with his entourage). The DJ was exceptional, and my friends and I had a blast dancing into the wee hours of the morning. Calorie burning, right?

BLING, the trendiest club in Panama City

 

But if hiking isn’t your thing, and you’re not quite into the party scene, there are plenty of other things to satisfy your thirst for adventure in Panama. Try a visit to the Old City, bike along the Amador causeway or go to one of the great beaches on either the Caribbean or Pacific coasts.  Plus one essential perk: a Panama vacation can be reasonably priced. And we know that’s the real reason to start booking your next vacation.

Photos courtesy of Jim Raycroft

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Here’s Where to Go Warm Up

Written on December 9, 2013 at 9:32 am , by

Winter is my favorite time to get out of New York City. I can handle the scorching heat in the summer when every trip down into the subway feels like you might melt right there on the platform, but once the Starbucks Christmas cups come out (which oddly gets earlier and earlier every year) that’s my cue to book a vacation somewhere bright and sunny. If you feel similar, I’ve got just the place– The BodyHoliday LeSport in St. Lucia. Here’s why:

A bird’s-eye view of the resort.

It takes all-inclusive to a different level. I’ve been to my fair share of all-inclusive resorts, but The BodyHoliday LeSport really ups the ante. Staying at the resort gives you access not only to the gorgeous beach, restaurants and fruity cocktails galore, but you’ll also have free reign over exercise classes, water sports, guided hikes, bike tours, group runs and tons more on any given day. Upon check-in, you are actually given an activities booklet that lists everything going on day and night during your visit. Oh, and also included in the all-inclusive is a spa treatment of your choice. Every. Single. Day.

The Tree House, where cycling and group classes are held.

You can pick your own adventure.The BodyHoliday LeSport has an island motto. “Give us your body for a week, we’ll give you your mind.” Seems simple enough, right? This is the type of place where you can have a healthy getaway – from 6 a.m. yoga classes to afternoon paddleboarding – or not. You can snooze on the beach from sunrise to sunset and no intimidating boot camp instructor is going to come rip your towel up from under you to make you get to class. You can even tailor your vacation based on one of the resort’s specialty programs. I visited in October, during Octoba Yoga – so the activity roster was beefed up with different yoga and stretching classes. If yoga’s not your thing, though, check out the resort’s other monthly offerings, like a month focused on dancing and even a singles month – where single travelers are invited to stay for a lower rate to meet, mingle and melt!

The Zen Deck, where you can downward dog with the sunrise.

It’s OK to travel solo any time you want. While the resort does have a special promotional month for single travelers, you don’t have to wait until then to hop on a flight. As a single traveler myself, I found all of the activities totally fine for one person to do alone (without getting weird, sad stares) and at night a communal dining table was provided to eat with the fitness instructors (appropriately called Bodyguards) and resort staff so you wouldn’t have to dine solo. Plus, when you are surrounded by sun, sand and blue sparkly water, everyone always seems to be in a good mood.

There’s so much more the resort and the island has to offer (not surprisingly, it also made our list of Honeymoon Destinations for a Fit Vacation), so to start your own mind and body getaway check out www.thebodyholiday.com.

The Fit Girl’s Guide to Exploring Aruba

Written on September 16, 2013 at 11:14 am , by

This could be the view from your Aruban room.

Is it just me, or does it feel like now that summer is over, it’s time for another tropical vacation? If you’re in the market for a getaway, I have a great suggestion: Aruba. While I love lounging on the beach as much as the next girl, there comes a point in my trip when I feel the urge to get up and go. So, if you’re like me and need a healthy mix of active adventure sprinkled with total relaxation, then the One Happy Island is perfect for you to explore. Allow me to explain:

Beaches. Aruba’s got ‘em and they’re beautiful. The crystal-clear water is extremely inviting, and the temperature is perfect for swimming, snorkeling or a good ole’ splash fight with friends. The sand is pure white, and with more than 10 locations, there’s plenty to choose from if one spot is a bit too crowded for your liking. One warning, though: It’s windy in Aruba (making the high temps super comfortable). So if you’re a girl who prefers sun-bathing to water-splashing, I’d recommend lounging by the pool.

Water sports. This is the place to try it all and really test your limits. If you’re a beginner, try snorkeling or stand up paddleboarding. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, give wind- or kite-surfing a whirl. I hopped on a catamaran tour with friends, where we explored three different locations, including a ship wreck! And you have to be sure to try a unique water activity I had never heard of before: Snuba. A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, this is for those who don’t have their scuba certification but still want to explore the depths of the ocean. The difference: instead of strapping a tank to your back, it stays above water so you can swim freely. Perfect compromise, right?

Guy-friendly adventures. If you’re bringing a special man along, most of the time they do a good job of relaxing on the beach beside you while sipping ice-cold beverages (I recommend tasting an Aruba Ariba, the island’s famous tropical cocktail). But if they’re being honest, most would rather explore in a more, er, rugged way. Enter ATV riding. The landscape in Aruba has turquoise waters colliding against desert-like terrain, giving you those Instagram-worthy views (#nofilterneeded) and him an adrenaline rush as you cruise over sand dunes, past cacti and through the rocky cliffs of Arikok National Park. And if that’s not quite your speed, you can hike or hop on a horse – you’ll still slowly walk along the beach for more of a romantic vibe, but there are plenty of trails that take you through the same rugged terrain as an ATV. Join a tour of more experienced riders and you won’t soon forget the feeling of moving along at a full gallop with ocean views to your left and rocky mountains to your right.

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Adventuring in North Carolina’s Crystal Coast

Written on July 23, 2013 at 9:30 am , by

Climbing to the top of Cape Lookout is roughly the equivalent of climbing to the top of a 12-story building!

In our July/August issue (on newsstands now!), we explored the best sporty activities in the top 10 most visited cities across the country. But that doesn’t mean others don’t have something fun to offer! After visiting North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, it’s safe to say there are plenty of fit activities to take advantage of if you’re looking for more than a “lay on the beach and drink all of the margaritas” type of getaway. Here, some of our personal faves:

Surfing. Hang ten in these waters and you can definitely call yourself a surfer. The waves vary from two- to three-feet high—perfect for beginners—and can get all the way up to 19-feet during a tropical storm (obviously better for those well-versed on the board). We loved our lessons from Mike over at Hot Wax Surf Shop, but if the adrenaline rush isn’t quite your style, they also offer more low-key stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).

Beach Running. Rent a house from Emerald Isle Realty and you’ll only have to take a few steps before you’re at the beach. Perfect for lounging and getting in a quality workout! We were hosted by the company in one of their beachfront homes, and had a personal walkway leading straight onto the beach—no crazy maneuvering required! Waking up to the sound of the ocean each morning had us leaping out of bed and lacing up the sneaks for a quiet, peaceful jog along the water before diving into the day. If your feet are ready for it, head closer to the water and forgo shoes for some barefoot running so you can really feel the sand beneath you (and burn up to 60 percent more calories!). Watch the sun fully rise post-run and indulge in a little seaside yoga for a true feeling of bliss.

Lighthouse Climbing. If you want to see the Southern Outer Banks from a higher perspective, head over to Cape Lookout National Seashore over on Harkers Island. Accessible by ferry, we suggest packing a picnic to enjoy by the water, then climbing the 207 steps to the top of the lighthouse! The breathtaking 360 views allow you to take in miles of uninhabited territory, except for the wild Spanish mustangs over on Shackleford Banks. The park is a sea turtle nesting area, too, so keep an eye out for hatching nests. Once you’re finished, ask the ferry driver to slowly bring you over to the Banks, where you can get a closer view of the elegant horses. If you’re extra lucky (like we were!), you may just get a little show from the wild dolphins while you zip back to land.

Sightseeing in Beaufort. A short drive away, this quaint little town is not only voted America’s Coolest Small Town, it’s also the famous location of Nicholas Sparks’  A Walk to Remember (and we know you’ve seen that movie!). Stroll the waterfront docks while the sailboats and yachts come in and out, spot the wild mustangs from across the water, or tour the historic area of town. Definitely a walkable town for those who love window shopping, this is a fun way to take in a cool movie location, soak in a little American history and log those 10,000 steps!

Now you tell us: What’s your favorite way to explore a new place while on vacation?

Hot Beach Body Secrets from Volleyball Players (Including the Pregnant Kerri Walsh Jennings!)

Written on December 1, 2012 at 11:22 am , by

April Ross and Xi Zhang play in the Hilton HHonors Beach Volleyball Challenge (Photo courtesy of Lucy Pemoni/AP Images for Hilton HHonors)

FITNESS recently caught up with our July issue cover girl three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, along with fellow USA Volleyball players April Ross and Jennifer Kessy at the Hilton HHonors Beach Volleyball Challenge. You can catch Kessy and Ross, who nabbed silver at the London Olympics against Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, take on Team China, Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, at 3 p.m. today on the NBC Sports Network. Walsh Jennings commentates during the match, which was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu.

Kerri Walsh Jennings Talks About Being Pregnant during the London Olympics

FITNESS: Was it scary playing so hard in the London Olympics knowing you were probably pregnant

Kerri: No, not at all. I was maybe a week and a half late max by the end of the Olympics. At that point, most people don’t even realize they miss a period. I knew we tried and I was just on it. But I would have never put myself in that situation if I thought the potential baby in my body was going to be at risk—and I know that’s not the case. I played volleyball until the time I was 9 months pregnant with Sundance [her second son, now 2] and felt like I was doing right by him and the same thing with this baby. Being physical is what I do and it makes me feel good and it benefits the baby inside me.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Lisa Haney at the Hilton HHonors Beach Volleyball Challenge (Photo courtesy of Lucy Pemoni/AP Images for Hilton HHonors)

Did it change your mindset at all during the Games?

Kerri: It wasn’t stressful, it was nothing negative—it was just more inspiring. I didn’t take a test until I got home to confirm it, but you know. It was just like, What if? I remember telling Casey [Jennings, her husband] that I’m late and he’s like, That’s so great. That’s how we do it. And I thought, You’re right. We’re here at the final stage of one journey that we’ve been working so hard for and we’ve always really wanted to start this other adventure of adding to our family right away. So it just feels like the timing was so blessed and we’re just really grateful.

You wear a bikini for your job. Do you feel self-conscious about your body when you’re pregnant?

Kerri: I do. The hardest part for me is right now [mid October]—I’m 15 and a half weeks pregnant and you know you can’t really tell that I’m that pregnant but you can. My muscle turned to mush right away with this pregnancy and I actually am very self conscious, and so I wear a lot more leggings and cover up a lot more. And I live in California and it’s hot all the time and it drives me crazy.

I generally don’t have an issue with that. Not that I really love my body or anything, just that I appreciate my body and that kind of helps me overlook what I’m doing. So once I turn the corner and get a little bigger than I am right now I think I’ll appreciate my body again because I know what it’s doing and I’m grateful. But it’s hard—it’s hard to see the cellulite, it’s hard to go from one place where you’re walking around in a bikini top to you can’t even imagine being in a bikini.

I heard you think the baby is a girl.

Kerri: Yeah. The pregnancy is so different so far. My skin is so different—I have way more acne than I’ve ever had­—and I’ve been sick way more. With my two pregnancies with my boys [Joseph, 3, and Sundance, 2] I had maybe two days total where I didn’t feel great and this has been the majority of the days I don’t feel great. Chinese calendar says we’re having a girl. My money’s on a girl. We’re going to open a present on Christmas morning to see what we’re having and then we’ll celebrate either way. I love my boys—I would not trade my boys in for the world. But I would love for my husband to have a daddy’s little girl.

Read on for Jennifer Kessy’s and April Ross’ Beach Body Secrets Read more

A Week of Roaming the Grand Tetons

Written on October 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm , by

A few weeks ago I got the chance to stash my Brooks running sneakers for some hiking shoes as I headed West to the Jenny Lake Lodge nestled in the Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming. As a self-professed cardio queen, I was excited to tackle mountains instead of asphalt for four days of trekking. And trek we did! With tons of hiking trails ranging from 2 miles to 19 I definitely got a glimpse into what life in the mountains is really like.

After arriving in the afternoon, I got a chance to meet with some of the super friendly staffers that work for the Grand Teton Lodging Company. We took a short hike (though as my first hike ever, it felt like it lasted days!) around String Lake, with sights that looked like they fell right off a postcard. I was a bit panicked starting out, as one of my hiking materials was an actual can of bear spray (!) but within minutes I was too busy checking out the view to worry about anything else. This may explain why the above-mentioned staffers are so friendly. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re looking at this every day:

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Sportscaster Angela Sun Shares Her Fitness Favorites

Written on June 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm , by

Sun loves to hit the waves with her surfboard for a mental and physical workout - double win! (Photo courtesy of Angela Sun).

Written by Andie Surget, editorial intern

As host of the Yahoo! Sports Minute, co-host of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and an anchor for the Tennis Channel, Angela Sun has one full plate. Her fearless and adventurous attitude toward life motivates her to explore and travel all around the globe in exotic locations such as China, the Philippines, Australia and Guatemala, just to name a few. In fact, when we caught up with her, she had just returned from Fiji! Angela loves fitness and it’s clear that it’s about more than working out – it’s a way of life.

Keep reading for Sun’s essential workout gear picks and the fitness moves that keep her in shape for her on-the-go lifestyle!

When did your love for sports and fitness begin? How did you get involved in the entertainment industry?

Growing up I had always loved sports and fitness. It was a way of life. I always went to the beach and to the park. I loved playing volleyball, basketball and softball as a kid, and skateboarding and surfing in high school. I was surrounded by sports all my life.

I knew I always wanted to do something in the media. As an Asian American female, I did not have many female role models to look up to. So I decided that I wanted to see somebody who looked like me succeed in this industry. I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was 12. I always loved being in front of the camera. I love home videos on family vacation!

You’re currently producing a documentary. Can you tell us about it?

My documentary is a seven-year journey. The documentary is called “Plastic Paradise.” Through my love of the oceans (I surf, scuba dive, and snorkel), it is very important to me to keep the waters clean, and that’s what this is about. The plastic that we throw away, I had to know more about it so I can prevent it and inform people about the harmful effects it has on our environment. It will be released this year. To learn more, you can visit plasticparadisemovie.com

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Explore the National Parks for Free on Saturday!

Written on June 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm , by

Take a break to soak up the amazing views! (Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon NPS)

Here’s advice you don’t often hear from us at FITNESS: skip the gym. That’s right, we’re giving you permission to erase your name from the treadmill list or take a day off from your exercise class because this Saturday is National Get Outdoors Day!

As part of Let’s Move Outside, included in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health intiative, Saturday, June 9 has been designated as a day to promote healthy activities in the great outdoors. One of our favorite nature-filled ways to stay fit? Hiking! Not only will the average 140-pound woman burn 384 calories on the trails, but she’ll also tone her lower body and will be able to take in some breathtaking views and fresh air.

For Get Outdoors Day, you can try hiking out yourself and explore your national parks for free this Saturday (learn more about fee-free day here). Before you go, download the Happy Trails guide—which is also free—to find 25 can’t-miss hikes across the country. Maybe you can check one off your list this weekend!

If you enjoy yourself and want to support these beautiful parks, click here to find out how to do so. And for more about hiking, don’t miss our July/August issue, which hits newsstands on June 26!

Now tell us: What are your favorite ways to exercise outside?

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