Written on May 21, 2014 at 11:29 am , by Guest Blogger
Paige Claassen is a professional rock climber and the creator of the Lead Now program. Over the last year, we’ve followed her amazing journey to South Africa, Russia, Italy, Japan, China, India, Turkey, Ecuador and Chile. Her global climbing tour has raised money and awareness for non-profit organizations around the world. And it’s inspired the heck out of us! Now that she’s home, she shares her reflections on her trip. (You can also watch her amazing highlight video, too.)
Just over one month has passed since I returned home from my trip around the world to climb and raise money for global non profit organizations. Lead Now was the journey of a lifetime, a series of experiences I won’t soon forget, yet can’t seem to put into words. Each memory, distinct in colors, smells, and the smiles of new friends, has melded into a grand collage, one I might mistake for a dream were it not for the photographical evidence.
Start: Colorado. A tremendous lightening storm lit up the sky on our last night in the United States last June.
Stop #1: South Africa. Children from a rural elementary school supported by Room to Read perform a traditional dance during our visit to their school library. 50 percent of these students are orphans of HIV/AIDS, and the only meals they eat are on weekdays at school.
Stop #2: Russia. The road to our farmhouse, deep in the forest of western Russia, where we stayed with a family who spoke only Russian. We learned to communicate with smiles and laughter, picking mushrooms and berries in the forest, and adapting to life without running water or electricity.
Stop #3: Italy. A view of Lake Como, which sits just below the Alps, where we spent a month climbing on granite cliffs amidst fog, cowbells, and endless pastries.
Stop #4: Japan. Sushi breakfast outside of Tsukiji Fish Market. The largest wholesale seafood market in the world handles over 400 types of seafood each day. We found fresh fish to be more affordable than fresh fruits and vegetables in Japan!
Stop #5: China. On Thanksgiving Day, our local friends taught us how to make dumplings from scratch. The process was harder than I imagined, but made for a delicious meal!
Stop #6: India. A young girl twirls for the camera outside her home in Badami, India. While most women in smaller villages avoid eye contact, this girl’s mother waved me up to her backyard to spend a few minutes chatting in broken English.
Stop #7: Turkey. Ruins of the great city of Aspendos tower over modern villages down below. As the setting sun peaked in and out of cracks and holes in the dilapidated stonework, I tried to imagine life 3,000 years ago under the same setting sun.
Stop #8: Ecuador. A local indigenous farmer from Heifer International shows off one of the many guinea pigs she raises on her farm. Guinea pig is a delicacy in some parts of South America, and we spent the afternoon roasting them over a fire. The meat is extremely rich and salty, albeit a bit foreign.
Stop #9: Chile. Just a few hours from the city of Santiago, a quiet stream snakes among the jagged hills and volcanoes of Cajon del Maipo.
End: Colorado. Trail runs through my backyard in Estes Park remind me that no matter where we live, we need only look to discover the details that make life beautiful. (Photo by Paige Claassen.)
Now that I’m back in the US, once more surrounded by friends and family and the responsibilities of day to day life, I’ve taken on a new appreciation for the beauty of home. What once felt familiar and almost dull now seems vibrant and full of opportunities for new adventures and discoveries. I thought Africa and the Amazon held all the beautiful birds in the world, with their pink and purple patterns and sophisticated calls, yet a trail run through my backyard reminded me of the vibrant blue and yellow wings that grace the skies of Colorado.
Traveling allows us to explore our curiosity and learn about the people, languages, cultures, and sites that make up our world. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to absorb so many of those special details, from the smooth chocolate flavor of Ecuadorian coffee to the bright eyes of a young Indian girl walking to school. But for the moment, home feels pretty good.
All photos by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com), except where noted.
Written on May 15, 2014 at 10:39 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
What it is: A full-body, dance-inspired workout developed by Mahri Relin, formerly of the Tracy Anderson Method and FlyBarre at Flywheel Sports.
Good for: Anyone looking to tone long, lean muscles. This workout targets your arms, abs, thighs and bum with a combination of explosive movements and smaller, focused isolations.
Where you go: Stepping Out Studios (37 W 26th Street, 9th Floor)
How it works: Body Conceptions offers open classes five days a week, private training sessions for groups (four to seven people), pre- and post-natal training and special events (sweaty bachelorette or birthday parties, anyone?). Check out their classes and schedule here.
What you need: Sneakers and comfortable, form-fitting clothing. You’ll be doing a lot of jumping and dance-like movements, so you’ll want something that’s easy to move in but not too baggy.
What it costs: Each classes is $32—just $20 for first-timers. (Insider tip: Once you buy your first class, you’ll get a special promo code for a great deal on two more classes!) Two, five and ten-class packages are also available. Sign up for the 2014 Spring Challenge, a six-week program for $600! Summer, here you come.
What we think: This workout is killer! Think barre, Zumba and aerobics mashed together in one sweatastic hour. Warning: the isolations are tough…in a good way. Mahri had our class do tiny pulses mid-crunch (you know the place where all of your muscle are engaged and you’re not quite sure you can hold it? Yeah, right there). My abs hurt just thinking about it. But her energy was infectious and made the class seem like more fun than work. Always a win!
Photo courtesy of Body Conceptions
Want us to test another workout? Post a comment to let us know and you may see it in a future We Tried It!
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Written on May 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
Dust off those handlebars and get ready to put your pedals to the metal, err road, to celebrate National Bike to Work Day tomorrow. We’re super stoked to get our wheels spinning—biking is great for the environment and your bod. (You blast about 540 calories per hour commuting on two wheels!) To get you in gear, we’ve got some great rides, deals and steals. Saddle up!
Ride In Style Look sleek and chic as you ride through town on Electra’s Amsterdam Forget Me Not 3i ($959, select retailers). This brightly colored stunner is made of lightweight aluminum and comes with both front and rear lights. Plus there’s a matching bell–ding, ding!
Lighten Your Load Dreaming of biking to work but lug too much back and forth? Novara’s Barrow Bike ($749.00, rei.com) was made for you. With its built-in basket and rear-rack you’ll have plenty of places to stash your stuff! And better yet, the basket is attached with Novara’s exclusive “N-dock” system, which keeps the basket aligned and steady–even through turns. So there’s no need to worry about an epically embarrassing spill (phew!).
Go Retro Perfect for a casual cruise down the beach or city streets, The Langdon ($399-$499, purecitycycles.com) has a retro-inspired frame that will have you racking up the compliments. The single-speed or three-speed models are offered in two sizes. Customizable for a great ride!
Get The Perks EveryMove, a free online and mobile app, rewards users for healthy activities like working out, gardening and, yes, biking, by linking to your favorite fitness trackers. In honor of National Bike Month, they are teaming up with Spinlister, Kaidel Sportswear and Orange Mud to help you cash in on your healthy habits and earn some great deals! Learn more here.
Win Your Own Don’t have a bike? Join our #MakeFitHappen Contest on Pinterest and you could score a Willow 3 beach cruiser from Brooklyn Bicycle Co! Entering is super easy – get the low down here. You have until Sunday, May 25th at 11:59pm to join in.
Photos courtesy of Electra, Novara and Pure City Cycles
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Categories: Fitness, Motivation, The Fit Stop | Tags: #MakeFitHappen, Bike, Brooklyn Bicycle Co, cycle, Electra, EveryMove, Make Fit Happen, National Bike to Work Day, Novara, Pure Fix Cycles, Ride
Written on May 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
“USA, USA, USA!” It was these patriotic chants echoing through the streets of Massachusetts’ capital last month that carried Meb Keflezighi to the end of the Boston Marathon…first. Winning the epic race “was the missing link” and career “exclamation mark” Keflezighi had been working toward for years, not to mention a fairytale finish driving home that Boston Strong spirit.
“I really [ran] with three goals in mind: win, top three or at least personal best,” Keflezighi told us during a cookie break at our office (he’s a fan of Wichcraft’s Peanut Butter Cream’wiches!). “I did all three and to run in 2:08:37 on this tough, difficult course, to become the first American in 31 years to win it…is beyond belief.”
Like many runners, Keflezighi, who left last year’s race five minutes before the bombings, trained for 365 days to turn tragedy into a positive moment. “We were running for something greater than just a race. It was an attribution to the people that had been affected,” he said. “As runners, we were resilient. We didn’t give up!”
Insert chills here.
So, how can you succeed like this speedster? Persistence is key, he said, both in running and life. “It’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame. It’s about doing what you were created to do on this Earth,” the ElliptiGO Project athlete said. “That’s what drives me every day, no matter what. Can I tap that potential?”
If you’re looking to PR this summer, listen up! Keflezighi will be pacing the 1:30 half-marathon group at the Suja Run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon on June 1st. “San Diego is where I grew up and where I’ve won two titles in Rock ‘n’ Roll…I’m excited!” he said. Talk about runspiration! Register now, and get amped before race day with the play-by-play of his big win below.
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Written on May 6, 2014 at 11:16 am , by FITNESS Editors
In our April issue, runner Marissa Hill gave readers a first-person account of what it felt like to be in the Boston Marathon at the time of last year’s bombing. Hill, running for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, returned to complete the marathon this year. Here’s her story:
It would be hard to pick a day in my life in which I had experienced more positive energy, more love and hope and community support, than on that special Monday last week when I ran the Boston Marathon. As I headed into my corral I was surrounded by other charity runners, yet no one was really talking about last year. Everyone seemed positive–focused on the race ahead and how he or she was going to do that day. I popped my headphones in my ears without the sound for the start – I wanted to be able to hear the cheering crowd as I crossed the starting line.
It was hard to believe I was there. While training for and running the 2013 Boston Marathon, I had no interest in ever running a marathon again. And then everything changed. With the terror attacks at the finish line, I felt at a loss. What could I do to help, to make this better? I quickly vowed to run again—to finish the race. Of course, this was easier said than done.
Training after the tragedy was difficult, and I found myself avoiding thinking about it and not running at all. When I did begin running again, I focused solely on mileage and the training plans; I put the bombings to the side. It was only in the last few weeks up until this year’s marathon that I realized I was still grieving. I knew that after months of training hard and pushing myself physically, I needed to focus on the mental aspect. Really, with any exercise, it is less about physically doing it, and more about mentally willing yourself. During my long training runs in the snow I focused on positivity—how else can you run in freezing temperatures for 20-plus miles? You tell yourself you can.
So that is what I did—that last week before the marathon, I told myself, “Yes, you can.” It was my new mantra. I focused on the anniversary of the bombings, and gave myself permission to feel upset, to feel sadness, loss and heartache. And then I reminded myself that my way of coping, my way of doing something about last year’s tragedy, was to run, to show up again and finish this thing.
I have heard people say there is nothing quite like running Boston, and it is true—the Boston Marathon is special. The people cheering you on, the historic course, the memories from last year—they all came together and pushed me forward. I kept looking for the spot where I was stopped last year, near Heartbreak Hill. I obviously passed it, but didn’t recognize the exact spot. I knew I was close and kept waiting for terrible hills, and then all of a sudden I saw signs saying “You made it past Heartbreak Hill.” Thanks to training and the willpower to keep going this past year, I didn’t even realize I was on the hill!
Written on April 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
As the title of Joan Benoit-Samuelson’s documentary so perfectly states, “There Is No Finish Line” for the inaugural Olympic Women’s Marathon winner. The soon-to-be 57-year-old still trains her heart out (Nordic skiing is her go-to winter cross training) and crushes races (NBD, she just finished the Boston Marathon first in her age division!)—all the while serving as an inspiration for the sport.
And there’s no slowing down the legend. Just six days after finishing the 26.2 course she won twice, Joanie headed to Washington D.C. this past weekend to join more than 15,000 women (myself included!) in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Whoa, my legs hurt just thinking about that. So how does she do it? What’s her secret—besides boosting muscle recovery with lots of “carbos” and lean protein? “As long as there’s a story to tell, inspiration follows,” Joanie said 48 hours before tackling Capitol Hill. “That’s how I continue to push myself.”
Last year, it was all about running within 30 minutes of her Boston course record she set three decades ago. To mark the 30th anniversary of her L.A. win this year, Joanie had her mind set to finishing Boston under three hours, which she accomplished with seven minutes and 50 seconds to spare. Ambitious? No wonder she’s known for breaking barriers, single-handedly defining women’s running and oh, you know, just making history. All in a day’s work.
“I think if anyone is going to have success in their life, they have to go to the beat of their own drum and do what they think is right,” she said. “When it comes down to the true meaning of success, it’s going out and believing in yourself and running your own race.” Talk about the best pep talk ever. No wonder I PR’d this weekend! And ahem, running behind her with my speedy gal pal for a solid half of a mile: highlight to my running “career.” She truly is the definition of brilliance.
Photo courtesy of Nike
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Written on April 24, 2014 at 9:14 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
Planning your summer but strapped for cash? Wanderlust’s Yoga in the City (YITC) series is back and we couldn’t be more excited! Like previous years, the fast-growing evolutionary brand is offering free, all-day events with renowned yoga instructors and live music from local DJs. Plus you can snag some goodies from Kashi, LUVO, Spiritual Gangster and more. See? Being a free spirit really pays off.
“While our festivals are incomparable getaways, Yoga in the City celebrates what is local,” says Wanderlust co-founder Jeff Krasno. “It brings together the best local teachers, musicians and craft vendors in some of our nation’s most beautiful city parks. The events pull together the local yoga and mindful community around a great day of fun and practice.” So what are you waiting for? Grab your mat and get ready to find your zen. Here’s when and where you can join the movement:
For more information and to sign up, check out Wanderlust’s site to learn more.
Photo courtesy of Vincent Tran
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Written on April 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm , by Guest Blogger
Paige is climbing in Chile to support VE Global, which fosters the development of children at social risk in Santiago by empowering volunteers to serve as positive role models, educators and advocates of social justice. Learn more and help Lead Now support VE at www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourchile
By Paige Claassen
I awoke abruptly to horns, chatter, and clanging. I was in the city. Nothing unusual for most, except that I’d spent the last nine months far away from noise and traffic – deep in forests, barren Indian deserts, or vacant winter shores. For most of Marmot’s Lead Now Tour, my climbing objectives were peacefully removed from civilization. But my final month of travel brought me to Santiago, Chile. I felt culture shocked.
For such a large, sprawling city, Santiago boasts many nearby outdoor climbing cliffs. Mountains surround the entire city, but the tall snowy peaks are rarely visible beneath the brown haze of pollution. My throat ached each morning, not yet accustomed to breathing the clouded air. Yet Santiago offered the change of pace I yearned for over the past months. I could practice my Spanish while navigating the city and find fresh fruits and vegetables at each corner.
I spent most days attempting hard climbs outside the city, completing a few routes that no women had climbed before. But the end of the month brought the final challenge of Lead Now – the largest climbing competition in South America. The pressure of performing well in front of a large audience and the challenge of attempting a route I’ve never before seen excited me as a teenager. But over time, I transitioned my focus to climbing outside. I hadn’t competed in three years, nor had I climbed in a gym in nine months. Climbing in a gym and climbing outside are practically two different sports. Each requires very different skill sets.
I wasn’t prepared for this competition, but I knew it would be a fun reintroduction to a facet of climbing I hadn’t recently explored. On the first day, I performed well, completing all 5 routes in the qualifying round and placing second. The following day, I placed third in semi finals after timing out on my last route. In finals that evening, my body felt exhausted. I opted for a brief warmup in hopes of conserving the little energy I had.
In climbing, competitors must remain behind the climbing wall before the competition, so as not to see the routes they will climb. As I walked out to the wall, I scanned the crowd and spotted four of the little girls supported by our Chilean non profit partner, VE Global. Their smiles calmed me. I didn’t feel intimidated. Instead, I felt my old competitive edge creep back in, fed by the loud music and cheers of the audience.
I didn’t do my best in finals. I couldn’t shake the fatigue built up in the previous rounds. My body was accustomed to climbing one very hard route outside each day, but I lacked the endurance needed for a multi-round competition. But unlike my early days of competition, I wasn’t disappointed. I had fun. I left Chile after nine months of travel with a smile on my face, reminiscing about all the new friends I had met around the world and the beautiful places I climbed. The journey has been rich with memories, but it feels good to be home!
To get involved and donate online to help, visit Crowdrise.
Check back next month for a final video about Paige’s adventures and stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Chile!
Written on April 14, 2014 at 6:26 pm , by Samantha Shelton
After I ran my first half-marathon in 2011, I decided right then and there that I was going to run at least one half in every state. So far, I’ve crossed 10 off my list and love the combination of traveling and racing. It might be cliche, but it’s true: you discover so many fun, interesting things about a city when you’re running the streets rather than speeding by in a car or on public transit. Unfortunately, I haven’t crossed international running adventures off my bucket list quite yet—blame it on the lack of excess money hanging out in my wallet—but thanks to Paofit and the Virgin Money London Marathon, I can get one step closer (pun intended) without breaking the bank, or even leaving my treadmill.
Now, if you read the word “treadmill” and immediately felt your eyes start to glaze over, stick with me. As much as we all love to complain about logging infamous dreadmill miles, it turns out more of us are doing it than not. According to Paofit, 53 million U.S. runners spend time on the machine compared to 49 million who run outdoors. Say what?! While I’m no stranger to using the treadmill to get me through my weekly Scandal fix, that stat still shocks me. But now, if you want to use your treadmill time for something a little more useful than watching Olivia Pope get hot ‘n heavy with President Fitz, you can. Like, by running a virtual course of the London Marathon, one of the most iconic races in the world. Here’s how:
- Download the Paofit app for free, along with the Digital Virgin Money London Marathon Showcase.
- If you have a Life Fitness treadmill, plug in your iPad (iPhone and Android versions are coming later this year) to the Track+ or Discover Tablet Console. Once you do, your speed will be accurately recorded and the treadmill will automatically adjust its incline to reflect the course terrain. You’ll also get to see fellow runners on the course in real-time, so you still get that sense of competition many of us use to keep calm and power on.
Don’t have a Life Fitness machine? No sweat. Still download the Paofit app and Showcase, and set it on your console. The vibration generated by running on the treadmill will cause the course ahead of you to speed up or slow down to properly reflect your cadence. And if you want even more of a pace guarantee, you can calibrate Paofit to match your stride. Seriously, this may be the coolest treadmill technology I’ve ever heard of. Not to mention it totally helps familiarize you with the course (hello, Tower Bridge!), in case you ever do decide to leap over the pond in run the race IRL.
Oh, and if the idea of running the London Marathon course doesn’t quite sway you, I have two things to say:
1. We need to chat this out, because I don’t understand how this doesn’t sound awesome.
2. The Paofit app has eight sample running locales around the world, so you can experiment with other places and purchase locations starting at $1.99.
Now, I’m off to go get my own miles in. Let me know in the comments what famous course you’d love to run and maybe we’ll meet up to tackle it together.
Photo courtesy of Paofit
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Written on April 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
What it is: A body-rocking trampoline fitness class.
Good for: Anyone, from beginners to professional athletes. The trampolines offer a low impact workout that uses the resistance and rebound motion from the trampoline to help tone and tighten your body.
Where you go: Tribeca, New York City
How it works: JumpLife offers four different trampoline-based classes: JumpDANCE, JumpGYM, JumpFUSION and for the youngins, JumpKIDZ. You can check the schedule and sign up for classes online. Once you’re there, hop on your own personal trampoline and get ready to sweat to the beat of some rocking tunes.
What you need: Form-fitting clothing, cross-training kicks and plenty of water. Avoid wearing anything too baggy or long pants—we love capris for this workout—so you don’t trip on a hem or um, flash anyone mid-jump.
What it costs: First-timers score a deal at $18; after that a session costs $28. If you decide to make it a go-to, consider opting for one of their packages, available in 5, 10, 20, 30 and 50-class packs. Check out more details here.
What we think: This class was a blast from the past—seriously my inner child was out in all her glory! Before hopping (pun intended) into sweat-mode, I popped SKEnergy’s Berry-flavored energy shot—which is made from green tea and green coffee beans with all natural flavors—to get the kick I needed for this early morning workout. After that, it was all smiles, even as I began to feel the burn. But before you start thinking just how high those little trampolines will get you, let me stop you. This class isn’t like bounding on a massive, springy backyard trampoline; it’s all about staying grounded and using your core and legs to jump down into the rebound of the trampoline verses up into the air. It’s killer on your glutes and thighs and when our trainer, Terrell Pruitt, had us add in some light weights, it was a great upper body workout too.
Want us to get the scoop on another workout? Post a comment and let us know and you may see it in a future We Tried It!
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