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Triathlon Training: 9 Things Triathletes Can Learn From Cyclists

Written on September 11, 2014 at 11:00 am , by

You don’t need to be a pro cyclist to do well in the second leg of your triathlon. That being said, you do need to know the basics and feel comfortable on your bike. Zoot Sports sponsored athlete Jennifer Vogel and I didn’t get into triathlon from a biking background, but before long, cycling quickly became our favorite sport. We teamed up to offer you the tips we wish we knew when we got started on two wheels.

When Buying A Bike…

Know what your max budget is. It’s best to get the most out of the bike that your money can buy because it’s going to have better components, so don’t be afraid to splurge a little up front. You can always upgrade your components later, but buying a good bike to begin with will be a better deal than buying better pieces down the road.

Decide what kind of cyclist you want to be. It’s important to know what you want to do with your bike. You can do a basic noncompetitive triathlon on a road bike, but if you want to be a competitive age grouper, you definitely need a professional triathlon bike. If you want to ride with cyclists on a group or club ride, you cannot use a triathlon bike in a pace line—it’s very dangerous. If you’re not sure where you stand, opt for a road bike, which is much more practical and likely to fulfill a variety of your needs.

Find a good bike shop and make it yours. If you can get a recommendation from a friend, that’ll help a lot. You want a place that will really take a look at your size, the length of your arms and legs, and how flexible you are. Make sure the bike fits you, and not just your budget. It doesn’t matter how cheap or expensive it is, if it doesn’t fit you, you’re going to end up having serious alignment problems, which can lead to injury. Then build a relationship with the staff at the shop. You’ll make plenty of visits for repairs, tune-ups, supplies and gear, and you’ll have a better experience if you’re cool with the people there.

If You Have a Bike…

Graduate to clipping in. This is always the scariest part for beginners, but it’s incredibly important for efficiency and power. If you’ve taken spin classes with clip-in shoes, then you have an idea of what it’s like. Only it’s totally different because the bike is not stationary. For the most part, everyone falls on their first try, so don’t feel bad if it happens to you. To ease yourself in, think about getting an indoor trainer—it’s great for at-home workouts, and you can practice clipping in, grabbing your water bottle and getting in and out of aero position if you have aerobars while the bike is stationary.

Learn how to change a flat. Check in with your local bike shop to see if they offer basic bike maintenance classes. Many have them for free or charge a small fee. This will give you an opportunity for hands-on experience without the panic of sitting on the side of the road with a flat. If that’s not an option, YouTube has a wealth of information. Check out this video on how to fix a flat by Trek Bicycle.

Work on your core. Core strength is incredibly important in cycling and triathlons overall. When you’re in aero position there are no brakes, so you need to be able to get in and out of them quickly without losing control. Walking planks or clapping push ups are great exercises that simulate the same type of movement.

When You’re on the Bike…

Make sure your seat is comfortable. Let’s face it: when riding a bike, your bum is bound to get sore. Of course there’s an initial adjustment period when your sit bones adapt to the saddle, but after that you should never be in pain. Most of the pressure should be on those bones since they can handle it, not on the delicate soft tissues down the center of your lady parts. If you are experiencing pain, the solution could be as simple as adjusting the angle of your saddle or swapping it out for a different option. I personally have a cut-away saddle and find it to be extremely comfortable.

Remember to fuel. Vogel suggests taking in 50-75 calories, in the form of liquids or gel, every 15 minutes during a race. She also finds it easier to have an aero bottle in between your aerobars so it’s right in front of your face and easier to remember to drink. But whether its race day or another training ride, you want to make sure you’re eating and drinking at regular intervals and not waiting until it’s too late. You can do a sprint without taking in anything for a bit, but as you go longer, you don’t want to go an hour without eating anything.

Don’t forget to relax. On race day, it’s easy to feel pressure and get uptight. But one of the best pieces of advice a more experienced cyclist gave me was to just relax.Trust the bike and trust yourself on the bike. When you do, you’re awesome!

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Vogel 

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5 Things You Need to Know About the Apple Watch

Written on September 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm , by

Clearly, wearable tech is having a major moment. So much so that tech giant Apple is throwing their hat in the game, and we’re pretty stoked to get our hands on their latest product.

The Apple Watch, set to release early next year, will include three collections—the regular Watch collection, the Edition collection (sleeker, sexier and fancier), and what we’re most excited about—the Sport collection. (We’re already designating this as a late holiday gift to ourselves. No shame.)

Here’s what you need to know about the Apple Watch Sport:

It’s a phone and health tracker in one. Each watch starts at a hefty $349, but it provides an extra fitness punch than your average phone or independent tracker. So in addition to monitoring your activity levels, you can still send and receive texts, answer calls, use Siri, stay on top of events, access boarding passes, etc. It syncs with your iPhone, too, so you can start a message on your watch and finish it later on your phone.

It’s durable and light. Because it’s made out of a really flexible material, you won’t have to worry about it feeling chunky or clunky while you’re exercising. It shouldn’t feel any different than having a Garmin or Timex strapped onto your wrist.

It adjusts easily. You pick the fit!

There will be some really cool new apps. Specifically, there’s the Activity app, which tracks your daily activity. It shows you how many calories you’ve burned, how many minutes of exercise you’ve done, and how often you’ve stood throughout the day. The Workout app motivates you to rev your sweat with mid-workout reminders that you’re almost done and gives you summaries of each specific sweat session. The watch even uses the Fitness app on your iPhone to help you set goals based on your workout history. Oh, and with the new WatchKit program, developers can create new apps that adapt with the watch. No word yet on existing apps, but we’re hoping to see some of our favorites (we’re looking at you, RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal) on our wrists.

Match it to your outfit. Fashion is officially an important component for designers to think about when developing new gear—which is why we’re seeing new lines like this one pop up on the reg. The Apple Watch Sport will have two different sizes and five different colors: blue, pink, green, white and black, so you can coordinate to your fave shade.

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Playtime: The FITNESS Gear Guide

Data Crunch: The Best Fitness Trackers

Fitness Trackers Unite! The New Fitt App Creates a Battle of the Bands

Take Free Spin Classes at Revolve!

Written on September 9, 2014 at 9:24 am , by

New to New York City and trying to get fit on a budget? We’ve been there, girl (slash we’re still there…sigh). Gym membership costs are sky-high, and if you’re anything like us (which we know you are!), you’re probably dying to try every new fitness craze that’s out there.

Now the good news: Our spinning pals at Revolve Fitness are helping us out with an awesome program. You can volunteer to work a shift at the gym for an hour and 45 minutes, and they’ll pay you with a free class. You can expect to greet riders at the door, give tours, adjust bikes, do laundry and restock amenities. Whether you’re a student or a working professional, this sounds like a seriously sweet exchange.

The shifts the Revolve team needs help with are early weekday mornings, evenings and weekends, but you can email unionsquare@revolvefitness.com to see what time slots they’re looking to fill.

Happy (free) spinning!

Photo courtesy of Revolve Fitness

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The Ultimate Spin/Cardio Playlist

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Bike Exercise & Workout Routines – Bicycle & Spinning Workouts – FITNESS Magazine

 

Fitness Kicks Off NYFW with Athleta’s Crush Of Adrenaline

Written on September 4, 2014 at 2:11 pm , by

Activewear as a fashion trend is not a new fad; for years, women have been spending increasingly more time and money on their workout wardrobes as fitness apparel becomes a norm for everyday attire. But Athleta has taken it to the next level with their adrenaline-pumping performance-turned-runway show, which acted as the unofficial start to NYFW—especially for us here at FITNESS.

Not your average runway show in the slightest, Athleta combined the athletic efforts of trampolines, jogging, yoga, breakdancing and more to showcase the wide range of sports and movement that can be done in the clothing. The show certainly lived up to the name “Crush of Adrenaline” and removed any traces of doubt that activewear can’t be a fashionable option.

The most important element to Athleta, as explained to us by senior design director Nancy Taylor, is that they create clothes that are fashionable and practical. “So it’s not extreme, overt athletic wear, but it combines both facets demonstrated honestly—not by traditional runway models—but true athletes performing in it in front of your eyes.”

“We’re seeing activewear and fitness emerge as a huge trend within fashion because women want to be healthy and active every day but not have to change a million times a day,” Taylor said backstage before yesterday’s show. One perfect example: the jogger pant, which, as Taylor described, would transition well through evening if paired with the right top.

We’re all about bridging the gap between chic outfits and heart-pumping workouts, so here’s to hoping there are more fitness-inspired shows at NYFW!

Photos courtesy of Athleta

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Triathlon Training: Mastering the Swim at Any Level

Written on September 4, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

If you’re lucky enough to come into triathlon from a swimming background, congratulations—you’re already one step ahead of most people! But if you’re just getting into it, don’t stress. You just have to brush up on the basics and dive right in. In fact, whether you’re a newbie Nemo or a seasoned shark, there are plenty of ways to improve your swimming skills and ace the first leg of your race. Jennifer Vogel, a triathlon coach and Zoot Sports sponsored athlete gearing up for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, shares some of her best tips for upping your underwater game at any level.

If you’re a beginner….

Remember to breathe.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but even the most fit people might not be able to swim the length of the pool at first. It’s not because they’re not fit enough, but it’s usually because they aren’t breathing properly. Practice bilateral breathing—turning your head to both the right and left sides—from the start to avoid forming bad habits.

Take it slow. It’s a natural instinct to hit the water at turbo speed because you don’t want to drown. But you’ll get winded and exhausted in no time, so start out slow and steady and build from there.

If you’re intermediate….

Meet with a coach. If you really want to take your sport to the next level, having someone analyze your stroke is important. It might set you back $60-$80 for a one-hour session, but that’s money well spent because you’ll get an expert eye and opinion. Ideally, they will take a video of you underwater, as well as above, so you can actually see what you’re doing wrong, rather than them just telling you. Swimming is mostly about technique, rather than strength, so nailing proper form will make you faster, require less energy and keep injury at bay.

Invest in a wetsuit. Depending on which races you sign up for and the water temperatures, a wet suit isn’t essential in the beginning. But once you know you want to continue competing in triathlons, it’s a smart investment. Not only will it make you more hydrodynamic (translation: traveling easily through water), it increases buoyancy and keeps you warm in colder water temps. Vogel uses a full sleeve option, but I opt for this sleeveless version so my arms and shoulders wouldn’t feel restricted. Check out more selections here.

Gain more open water experience. Training in the pool is easy and effective, but unless you’re racing in one, it’s best to get as much open water experience as possible. Pools don’t have a ton of waves, murky water and, well, potential fishies and seaweed lurking around. The more comfortable you are in that setting, the less pre-race anxiety you’ll have and the more energy you can put into kicking butt and taking names.

If you’re experienced…

Join a masters group. These are adult swim groups for ages 18 and over, typically comprised of triathletes or former swimmers. A masters team will provide structured workouts and drills, as well as a group setting to help  hold you accountable. It’s sometimes mentally easier when you can swim in a group setting like this as opposed to repeating laps in a pool on your own.

For everyone…

Focus on posture and core work on dry land. Swimming engages your entire core and that’s where most of your power comes from, so you need to hold it tight while keeping your extremities very fluid. It’s about maintaining this balance between effort and ease. Planks are one of the best ways to strengthen your core outside of the pool—we recommend busting out a 30- to 60-second forearm version daily or try this workout.

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Marathon Musings: Why You Should Run a Race for Charity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of the National Blood Clot Alliance

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Eat Like CrossFit Champ Camille Leblanc-Bazinet

Written on August 29, 2014 at 9:38 am , by

When the fittest woman on earth tells you not to weigh yourself, you should probably listen.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, 25, nabbed the title last month after her killer performance during the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games. She’s 125 pounds of pure muscle and believes—just like us—that strength is what’s sexy. Yeah. We’re already obsessed with her.

“For me, beauty is confidence, achieving your goal and becoming a better person,” she says. “I had a dark moment where I fell into being anorexic, and in my head, beauty was being as skinny as you could be. Now I see women who are successful because they work hard and they dedicate themselves to things that they believe in. In my eyes, those types of people are the most beautiful ones by far.”

But moving out of the “thin” mindset required a total diet transformation. Now, the Canadian beauty eats clean, simple, protein-packed foods that keep her fueled through the grueling CrossFit workouts she does five days a week. Her seven go-to superfoods: kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries, papayas, spinach, organic meat and avocados.

“Our body is like a little machine and I want to know exactly how to fuel it,” she says. For breakfast, she usually has three eggs with kale, strawberries and almond butter, and lunch and dinner are typically a combination of her fave superfoods with the occasional plate of salmon. Sometimes she’ll swap her blueberries for bananas, but you’ll generally find the same grub on her plate. “I like making salads with kale, blueberry, and chicken with some avocado slices.”

Feeling intimidated by her ridiculously clean diet yet? Don’t. The CrossFitter recommends making one small change to your meal plan each day, as going from a high-fat, high-sugar diet to nothing but lean, green plates overnight isn’t realistic. And cheat meals aren’t off limits. Even she allows herself a treat once a week—hello, ice cream!

“I think what people need to understand is I didn’t start as the fittest woman on earth,” she explains. “When I started CrossFit, I started like anyone else. I had to learn how to eat better and change my life habits. I think it’s really just taking one step at a time. So if it’s incorporating more greens into your meal, that’s one step. And then once that happens, you can go to the next one, but it’s a long process. If you can make one better decision every day, that’s already a winning situation.”

Images courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.

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Triathlon Training: Beauty Essentials

Written on August 28, 2014 at 10:18 am , by

Being a beauty editor at FITNESS magazine is, in my humble opinion, the best job in the world because I get to combine two of my greatest passions: beauty and fitness. Not surprisingly, these two worlds collide quite often, but it goes to a whole other level when I’m training for a triathlon. I recently spent weeks preparing for and completing the New York City Triathlon and take it from me: training across three different disciplines does wonders for your body, but it can wreak havoc on your hair and skin. As one of the more equipment-heavy sports out there (think: goggles, swim cap, bike, cycling shoes, helmet, sunglasses, running sneakers, etc.), it only seems fitting that triathlon would also require a bundle of beauty products that are essential to prepping for race day. Here are my tried-and-true training must-haves:

Lady Anti Monkey Butt Powder ($6, drugstore.com)
Despite the cheeky name and packaging, this powder protects your bum and thighs from chafing on the bike and during the run by absorbing moisture.

Blistex Medicated Lip Balm SPF 15 ($2, dugstore.com)
My favorite balm is a lip-saver during long training rides, stashes easily in my jersey pocket and offers sun protection, too.

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Gels ($30, skyniceland.com)
I’ve been obsessed with these hydrating, soothing pads for years. They’re my secret weapons for fading goggle marks around my eye area after countless laps in the pool.

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with CRT SPF 30 ($19, supergoop.com)
Even when I’m dripping with sweat (which is always), the super lightweight and water-resistant formula of this sunscreen protects my face without stinging my eyes.

Coola Unscented Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 ($32, coolasuncare.com)
The spray-on application is quick and easy before rides and runs and won’t leave behind a greasy residue.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($6, drugstore.com)
Use this on your chamois to prevent saddle sores or apply it to the back of your heels to ward off blisters. Since it’s oil-based, you don’t want to use this with your wetsuit because the heavy oils will start to degrade the neoprene. Instead, I use a water-based product like Body Glide for Her ($8, drugstore.com) to prevent chafing.

Swim Spray ($15, swimspray.com)
As mentioned here, this 100% natural, vitamin C spray neutralizes the odor of chlorine on your skin, hair and suit so you don’t have to walk around all day smelling like a walking pool.

Venus Embrace Sensitive Razor ($13, drugstore.com)
A fresh shave is key for both swimming (so you don’t have any embarrassing stubble and your wet suit slides on and off easily) and biking (some think silky smooth skin makes you more aerodynamic which is why even many male cyclists shave their legs). This keeps my skin soft and stubble-free without any irritation.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Crème Intense Hydration ($27, kiehls.com) and Avène After-Sun Care Lotion ($21, dermstore.com)
Needless to say, pool time and multiple showers dry out your skin. These two moisturizers (Kiehl’s for face; Avène for body) help relieve that tight, dehydrated feeling instantly.

Pantene Pro-V Damage Detox Weekly Rehab Crème ($7, pantene.com)
Even with a swim cap, the chlorine still manages to dry out your hair. This once-a-week treatment saves my strands from feeling like straw.

First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy ($36, sephora.com)
I use this eye treatment to de-puff and brighten my under eye area after early morning training sessions.

More from FITNESS: 

Triathlon Training: 4 Tips for Transitioning into the Sport

Triathlon Training: Meet Zoot Sports Athlete Jennifer Vogel 

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We Tried It: What It Takes to Be A U.S. Open Ball Person

Written on August 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Tennis is an incredible sport, and the athletes are OMG-powerful, but there are some people involved in tournaments—specifically the U.S. Open—who don’t get a big spotlight on their athleticism. But man, they should. I had no idea what I was agreeing to when I accepted an invitation to participate in the U.S. Open ball boy—er, ball girl—tryouts, but I figured I could hack it. Spoiler alert: I can’t.

“How difficult can it be to run over and pick up a tennis ball?” I wondered. Too bad I didn’t think about the fact that a ball person is expected to do his or her job perfectly, while going unnoticed, during intense televised matches that are played by the best players in the world. Oh, right.

My first task during tryouts:  throw the ball across the court to a receiving ball person, without it landing inside the playing court boundaries. Just to clarify, it’s pretty freakin’ far. Like, 128-feet long. While I have decently accurate aim, my upper-body strength just wasn’t cutting it (and I have been working on my push-ups ever since). If by some freak accident I would have been chosen, my ball would have ended up hitting Serena Williams. As a former FITNESS cover girl, I’ve seen how tough she is. So obviously that would not be okay.

Next challenge: testing agility and speed, and doing it without causing a distraction.

At this, I was pretty good. But, knowing that there were about 400 ball-person hopefuls auditioning for just four coveted spots, I was pretty certain that at least half of them would be better at running cross-court to retrieve the balls “with two hands,” following an ended play or missed serve. Either way, the directions for getting the job done were simple: Stand with your hands behind your back, and when the ball hits the net, run, retrieve the ball and sprint to the sidelines. On it.

The tryouts lasted about 15 minutes, and I definitely had a ball (sorry, couldn’t help it). Down to the last second, I had a smile on my face as I worked up a sweat, and enjoyed an experience that I had never before considered. Granted, I didn’t get a callback for round two of tryouts, but as I watch the 2014 U.S. Open from home, which takes place through September 8th, there’s no doubt that I’ll be giving those ball boys and girls a second look to see who’s got the athleticism I’m after.

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Little and Mighty: Lauren Davis Heads to U.S. Open

Written on August 25, 2014 at 9:38 am , by

When pro tennis player Lauren Davis is in the middle of a losing match, she takes one deep breath to get her head back in the game.

It’s clearly working, because the 20-year-old, 5’2″ Ohio-native is currently ranked among the top 50 players in the world and is competing in the US Open for the third time this week.

“I know a lot of people would die to be where I am, so I try to make the most of it and enjoy it,” she says. “It’s really just a great experience—traveling the world and meeting new people and seeing all of these different places and cultures and doing what I love every single day—it’s pretty incredible.”

During training, Davis runs twice a week and lifts weights three days a week. “I’m smaller than a lot of the other girls so I have to be in really great shape,” she says. She stays away from gluten (her father is a cardiologist and believes wheat contributes to numerous health issues), packs in protein (fish, steak and chicken), and when she’s not feeding her Chipotle obsession, eats lots of small meals throughout the day (usually fruit, yogurt, veggies and Kind bars).

Even though you won’t find many tennis stars as young as Davis snagging a spot on the big court, she still appreciates her normal-girl downtime, typically  filled with reading, journaling and spending time with her friends and her grandfather—the guy she looks up to most.

“He’s had a tough life and yet he remains so optimistic,” she explains. “He always puts things in perspective. One time I lost and he texted me right after and he goes, ‘Let’s just go play golf.’ That’s just something I’ve always remembered. He’s one of my favorite people.”

Be sure to watch Davis on the court—and her grandfather on the sidelines—tonight at 1 p.m. on ESPN. And if you’re feeling as inspired as we are, check out Lacoste’s new free app for New Yorkers, Lacoste City Tennis, which tells you the best places to try your hand at the game and potential players around you to practice with.

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