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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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A Get-Zen Getaway: The Sanctuary at Two Rivers

Written on May 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm , by

A yogi's dream treehouse. (Photo courtesy of The Sancutary at Two Rivers)

While doing some research for our fit honeymoon destination guide, two thoughts crossed my mind. First, I need more vacation time. Second, do I really have to wait to get hitched to go check these places out? (And to answer that, no you don’t! All of our picks can be enjoyed solo or with someone.) So when I came across The Sanctuary at Two Rivers, the latest natural wellness and yoga retreat in Costa Rica I had to know about the exclusive spot coined the “Jungle Gym.” Founded by former Entourage star Perrey Reeves, who played Mrs. Ari Gold on the show was even more incentive, have you seen her physique? Read below to see why she started the retreat and her own diet and fitness rules.

What made you decide to open The Sanctuary at Two Rivers?

Spending most of my life outdoors, nature has always been really important to me. To be blessed and able to maintain that in my life as an adult as well as share it with others is very rewarding. As a working actress I need to retreat occasionally in order to cultivate calmness and gather energy. This is the perfect place to do just that.

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5 Reasons to Plan a Get-Fit Vacay Like Brad and Angelina!

Written on April 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm , by

Waves provide the music for yoga in this amazing beachside studio.

I’m sure you saw the big news today—Brad and Angelina are engaged! We were able to spend a few days in their lives during a visit to the posh resort Caneel Bay on the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Brangelina have spent weeks enjoying the property’s seven beaches while they rented expansive “Cottage 7.” Who knows…maybe they’ll make a return visit for more of the unique cuisine and unbeatable views for their honeymoon? Read on for five reasons we loved the resort and why you might want to check it out too (besides the possibility of a star sighting).

Rent a kayak, paddleboard or snorkel gear for a break from your hammock.

  1. Yoga overlooking the ocean. See photo above—enough said!
  2. Nearly private beaches for guests. No wonder Mr. and Mrs. Pitt loved Caneel Bay. The secluded nature of the property on St. John means that you’ll be able to unplug and detach from the outside world, if you like, and recharge your batteries with a book in a hammock or while building sandcastles with the kids.
  3. Active adventures are available for all interests. We opted for a tapas-style vacation, with bites of everything from kayaking and sailing to snorkeling, hiking and of course, yoga. But you can learn to paddleboard, windsurf and more if that’s more your speed! All gear is ready and waiting for you to rent and experts are on-hand for lessons.
  4. Indulgence in culinary and calorie-free delights. Fresh fare like gazpacho and seasonal fruit are in large supply and have rarely tasted better. (Maybe they were even more decadent when Brad and Angie had the best chefs from around the island cook for them privately in their cottage!) The real treat can be found in the massage cabanas, which are filled with flowers and also overlook the beach. When you have views like these, why not?
  5. Wake up with sand in your toes and fall asleep with waves in your ears. Coming from the mainland, the island scenery and tempo are a definite change of pace. Bonus: No paparazzi!

Now tell us: If you didn’t need to worry about a budget, where would your ideal vacation or honeymoon location be?

Take a Breather With This Puerto Rican Yoga Retreat Deal

Written on April 11, 2012 at 11:07 am , by

Imagine relaxing here between classes! (Photo courtesy of St. Regis)

You drive up to the gas pump and feel like you’re charging your paycheck away—we get it! Money is tight, but with summer coming up, a feel-good getaway may be just what you need. Luckily, we found an amazing deal on a restorative yoga retreat that will leave your brain, body and bank account in fantastic shape.

The Bespoke Yoga Retreat, in partnership with Yada Yada Yoga, will be held June 15 to June 18 at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. Those who attend will be treated to delicious meals, morning and evening yoga classes overlooking the ocean and beach activities from kayaking to paddle boarding (and of course lounging).

For double occupancy, a stay at this luxury resort in a Garden View room during the retreat—with all of the extras above included—is only $357 per person per night. Score!

To book your space (a two night minimum is required), contact Angelica Lenox at (954) 624-1784 or at angelica.lenox@stregis.com.

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Fun, Fit Getaway: W Retreat and Spa, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico (As Seen on The Bachelor!)

Written on January 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm , by

The amazing beach at the W Retreat & Spa - Vieques where bachelor Ben and Courtney enjoyed their date. (Photo courtesy of W Hotels)

Tonight on The Bachelor, Ben and his eligible bachelorettes take their love show on the road, jetting to gorgeous Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, where they stay at the W Retreat & Spa. Apparently the romantic, tropical locale has contestant and former FITNESS cover girl Courtney feeling frisky: She leads Ben to the W Beach for a late-night swim (skinny dip, perhaps?), the show’s promo teases.

We can’t wait to watch—to catch all the drama and the beautiful Vieques backdrop.

FITNESS was recently invited to stay at the laid-back luxe retreat (alas, not while Ben was there) and explore Vieques. We found a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation—an ideal destination for a fun, fit couples trip or an active girlfriend getaway. If you go, check out these top hits on our Fit List:

  • Morning yoga: Start each day with a 90-minute traditional morning yoga class on the outdoor deck behind the W’s SWEAT fitness center. (The class sometimes takes place on the beach when weather allows.) Non-yogis: Work out on the brand new cardio machines and weights in the fitness center or hit some balls at the nearby SWING tennis courts.
  • Hiking and kayaking adventure: Black Beard Sports, located next to SWEAT, offers several custom guided tours of the island. We hiked to a nearby breathtaking vista and then kayaked to Red Beach for a gourmet picnic. See if Mark is available to be your guide.
  • Biking: You can also rent a bike at Black Beard. For a scenic and moderately challenging four-mile spin*, take a right on the road (Route 200) from the retreat and head past the airport to Starfish Beach, where you may spy bright red starfishes on the sand. On your way back, hang a left to ride out to the end of the mile-long Mosquito Pier for a stunning look back at the island. You’ll pass dozens of the island’s free roaming horses along your route. (*The folks at Black Beard can provide detailed directions.)
  • Bioluminescent bay tour: Don’t leave Vieques without taking a nighttime kayak tour on the magical bio bay, which is filled with microscopic organisms that release a chemical whenever there’s movement in the water, making it glow. Every paddle stroke creates a trail of light. The W can arrange your outing with a company such as Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio Bay Tours. Request a tour with Abe himself, if he’s available. He’s a total trip and excuse enough to visit Vieques.

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