Written on October 7, 2013 at 9:46 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by editorial intern Gabriella Rello
Danni Allen proves it’s not so bad to be a loser. The season 14 winner of NBC’s The Biggest Loser shed an incredible 121 pounds during her 12-week stay on the show and gained something much greater in the process: a bright future. “It was about winning a life that I never knew I could possibly have,” Allen says. A new life that includes half-marathons, triathlons and daily 10Ks. What’s next for the Loser-alum? Running her first 26.2 before her 26th birthday! We caught up with the speedy long-distance runner and chatted training. Here’s what she had to say:
What was your biggest motivation to lose weight?
The biggest thing for me was when my dad got sick in February of last year. He was actually rushed to the hospital and I get the call that no daughter wants to hear that says, “Bring the whole family in.” In my head, I was like, “If I keep following in his footsteps, that is going to be me at 50.” A miracle happened and he’s okay, but that was my “Aha” moment that I needed to change.
You’re running in the Chicago Marathon on October 13–was this always a long-term goal of yours?
Goodness, no! Before The Biggest Loser I thought running was stupid. I was like, “Who would do this? My knees hurt, my legs hurt; I can’t breathe!” When I got on the show, I knew I needed a goal beyond the finale. I told myself, “If you find something you love, then continue with it.” Running was one of the first things I found I loved, so I really wanted to follow through. In past seasons they’ve always run marathons. Our season didn’t get to because we were so short. I felt short-changed! I’m running with St. Jude now. It was really fun to start doing that.
How are you training for the race?
I’ve had to be pretty strict with it. It’s all about getting your miles in. If you talk to anyone who’s training for a marathon, they have one long run a week. My trainer wanted me to learn how to run on dead legs, so whatever my long run is, I’m running half of it the day before. On Sunday I ran 20 miles, so on Saturday I ran 10. I have an awesome running partner, too, and we turn our long runs into our gossip time. We won’t talk all week and then we’ll get it all out on the road. She’s turning 40 next year and her goal was to run a marathon before her birthday. Mine was to run my 26 at 26.
How do you get yourself excited for races?
I have two pump up songs: “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys and “My Songs Knows What You Did In The Dark” by Fall Out Boy. I just get into it and my head starts banging.
Written on September 26, 2013 at 10:37 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Most days Jill Kintner prefers two tire treads over her own two feet. She fell in love with the family hobby of BMX biking at age 10, and won the National Bicycle League’s National Title only a decade later. She then steered into four-cross mountain biking, leading her to a career in downhill racing where she continues to compete across the globe today. We caught up with this badass biker to hear all about her extreme biking, professional training and race-day preparation.
Congratulations on taking 4th place in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships earlier this month! How did you train?
Thanks! Yeah, this was a good course for me. I tend to gain time on most of the other girls when there is pedaling, just from having efficiency and power from my BMX days. I also raced in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa last year, so I knew what to expect as far as the speeds to push for and how hard the sprint in the middle was going to be. Even still, downhill has so many variables that we have to train to be balanced, powerful, focused and fit to attack a 4-5 minute race in changing conditions. Red Bull helps get me dialed in by improving my reaction speed and increasing endurance. These benefits plus specific training programs and intervals really help me prep for all of downhill’s variables. Training for this particular race was focused on intervals and timed recovery from a max effort. I have a section of road near my house marked by two mailboxes 20 seconds apart that caused me a lot of pain.
What are your favorite parts about the training process?
Riding, or trying to figure out how to get better and seeing it work. My least favorite: taking vitamins.
What do you find to be the most challenging when prepping for a competition?
Physically, I enjoy challenges so the harder the workout, the more entertained I am. I find monotony to be the most difficult part of anything. Being outside and riding makes me the happiest, but I’ll do whatever I have to do to get better.
How do you calm your nerves before a big race?
I like to sit somewhere and remember the days that were hard that got me to where I am. When practicing at home, I pretend that I am at a World Cup with all the best people, and when I’m at a World Cup, I picture being at home by myself pushing as hard as I could have, so it’s all the same.
What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve come across thus far, and how did you face it?
When my dad passed away, that was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in life. He was a key player in my success and my biggest supporter. I was lost and went through a lot of emotions trying to fill the void. It doesn’t really get filled, but I have dedicated a lot of what I have done for him and what he taught me.
Do you have any pre-race or workout songs that help you get in the zone?
Usually I just listen to a couple of Pandora stations. Snowboarding music is really quite good for working out—sort of an indie dance station or hip-hop. My favorite artists: Ratatat, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Muse, Macklemore, Kid Cudi and Kanye West.
What are you looking forward to most now that your competition in South Africa has come to an end?
I still have two more world cup rounds to go: Norway and Austria. But after that, I am getting married, so we are gonna party it up and have a month off!
Now You Tell Us: If you could try a new extreme sport, what would it be?
Written on September 25, 2013 at 10:42 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
When watching your favorite workout DVD, do you ever look at the fit crew sweating it out behind the trainer and think, “I could totally be one of them?” Well Beachbody, the fitness company behind popular at-home workout programs like P90X, Insanity, Brazil Butt Lift and Hip Hop Abs, thinks you can, too.
The company has announced a nationwide casting call for the 2014 Beachbody Talent Team, aka the group of sculpted athletes you see sweating it out in the workout DVDs, infomercials and professional P90X and Insanity certification programs. They are inviting everyone (seriously, everyone) to audition for a spot on the team, and what better way is there to show off that summer beach body – and keep in tip-top shape for fall – than motivating others to get just as fit? Plus, you get to work out with the top trainers in-person and show them what you’re made of.
All applicants must be certified in a Beachbody program including P90X, Insanity, Turbo Kick, PiYo Strength or Hip Hop Hustle, and be a member of Beachbody’s VIP or Pro Team. For more information about the casting call, check out their website. Do you think you’ve got what it takes?
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Written on September 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Jillian Michaels is at it again. The health and fitness expert, who’s known for her tough coaching on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, her toned body in her workout DVDs and inspiring outlook on life in her books, is taking on a new challenge. Tomorrow, Michaels’ first DietBet game launches, motivating participants all over the world to lose weight with the support of social media.
The Jillian Michaels DietBet will host a motivating community for anyone looking to improve their health. Each participant begins by placing $30 in the pot and submits a photo of themselves on their scales to DietBet’s referees (don’t worry, the pic is totally confidential). On Tuesday, September 24, the four-week countdown begins for each participant to lose 4 percent of their body weight. Everyone who completes the goal splits the pot evenly, pocketing some hard-earned cash. With 5,472+ players currently signed up, and the pot up to $164160, the game ought to be a fun one.
Using social media as a weight loss tool helps users compete with one another, and support and encourage one another’s goals simultaneously. Plus, each participant will receive nutrition advice, workout information and motivational tips from Michaels herself throughout the four weeks to help them succeed. “It’s the first of its kind, so not only is it one of a kind, it’s revolutionary,” says Michaels. “The concept makes weight loss fun, motivating and challenging! What could be cooler?” The financial incentive doesn’t hurt either.
Like with many of her other fitness projects, Michaels approaches this new challenge with loads of enthusiasm and little fear. “I just love being a part of something new. I don’t really have concerns,” says Michaels.” People bet $30 on themselves to succeed. If they lose 4 percent in 4 weeks, they get it all back and way more. The worst-case scenario is you spend 30 bucks to have me coach you to lose weight for a month. The best case is you lose the weight and make money doing it.”
Today is the last day to sign up for the Jillian Michaels’ DietBet. What are you waiting for?
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Written on September 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm , by Samantha Shelton
In our transition into fall, we tend to work out a little less and eat a little more. Why? It’s simple, really: we’re not spending every weekend at the beach, when the idea of flashing a bikini often motivates us to be on top of our sweat schedules. But if heading into a humid gym to log miles on the treadmill or elliptical sounds less than appealing, celeb trainer Harley Pasternak has one word for you: Don’t. When he trains clients like Julianne Hough, Rihanna and Katy Perry, he gives them all one piece of equipment, and has an easy trick to staying out of the gym. Watch the video to steal his no-gym secrets, and watch yourself shimmy right back into those skinny jeans.
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Written on September 16, 2013 at 11:14 am , by Samantha Shelton
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.
Written on September 13, 2013 at 10:15 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Gabriella Rello, editorial intern
With football season finally here, we can’t help but be pumped for tailgates. Can you blame us? Although we love to cheer on cute guys in tight pants, pre-game fun with our pals is what makes football season worth waiting for. Throw in some good food and drinks and we’re counting down the days until the next kickoff! As we gear up for fan festivities, it’s clear game day prep isn’t just for our favorite teams. While the stands aren’t quite as dangerous as the field, common activities like loading up coolers and sprinting to seats leave fans with fears of being sidelined. Gold’s Gym and celebrity trainer Mike Ryan teamed up, giving us four moves to tackle pre-game injuries.
Prevent Pre-Game Back Strain: Standing Arm and Preacher Curls
Cooler-carrying duties can take a toll on your back, so pump up your arm routine to relieve some of that pressure. Add three sets of seated dumbbell tricep extensions, suggests Ryan, for 12 reps. After each set, jump into a superset of 15-18 reps or seated dumbbell curls, using a weight that’s lighter than your extensions, but still challenging.
Tackle Forearm Flipping Fatigue: Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curls
Grilling seems like an easy tailgate task until the forearm ache sets in. Prep your wrists for endless burger and hot dog flipping with dumbbell reverse wrist curls. With an overhand grip on the dumbbell, lean forward resting your forearm at a 90-degree angle on a bench. Then lower the weight down and bring it back up, flexing your wrist throughout the process. At least three sets of 12-15 reps on each side will keep you in chef shape, says Ryan.
Avoid Second Hamstring Pulls: Lying Leg Curls
Top-notch football tickets are hard to come by. Do your wallet and legs a favor by opting for the nosebleed section. While climbing endless stairs may leave your muscles in need of a “Hail Mary,” pre-game hammy strengtheners like lying leg curls will make it a possible feat. Adding four sets of 12 reps will build muscles ready to scale the stadium.
Skip Stadium Sprint Splints: Straight Knee Calf Wall Stretch
Whether you’re late for kick-off or trying to beat the post-game parking lot rush, running at full speed can lead to painful shin splints. To avoid an embarrassing injury, Ryan suggests setting aside 5-10 minutes a few times a week to stretch out your calves with straight knee calf wall stretch. Aim for three or four sets, holding for 15-30 seconds per side.
More from FITNESS:
- The FITNESS Guide to Healthy Tailgating
- Star Chef Aaron Sanchez Amps Up Your Football Snacks
- Waistline-Approved Super Bowl Recipes
Written on September 12, 2013 at 10:46 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Kristen Haney, editorial intern
It only takes six seconds before a bobsled pilot is singlehandedly in charge of steering a 400-pound sled as it plummets down an icy one-mile track, whipping around a labyrinth of turns at upwards of 75 mph. No pressure, right? Not for Jazmine Fenlator, who’s used to steering herself and others through tough situations.
The USA bobsled driver and Olympic hopeful has triumphed over her fair share of struggles both on and off the track. Despite serious family health problems, personal injury and the loss of her home to Hurricane Irene, the New Jersey native has kept her sights focused on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, finishing right behind the reigning Olympic gold medalist at the 2012 Lake Placid World Cup with new partner Lolo Jones. Oh, did we mention she also juggles her training with studying for grad school? We caught up with the resilient athlete, ranked second in the U.S. and eighth in the world, to discover her pre-race rituals, hidden childhood passions and how she continues to bounce back from personal setbacks.
We’d love to know what you’re training for right now. It sounds like the Olympics, hopefully soon?
I’m hoping to vie for a medal in Sochi, so that’s less than six months away. It’s pretty exciting. Right now I’ve just been going back and forth between Calgary, Canada and the U.S. Calgary has an indoor ice facility and the U.S. doesn’t, so to simulate our sport as much as possible, we’ll go up there in the off season. We also do a lot of dry land training in the off-season, when we’re off-ice, running, lifting, sprinting. All that good stuff.
You come from a track and field background. How did you get into bobsled?
I was a track and field athlete in college at Rider University, and was looking to train for London. Some good friends of my coach, who were also coaching our rivals, kind of mentioned that they did bobsled after their careers, and asked what I wanted to do. And he was looking at them like, “Bobsled? What are you talking about? She wants to do track, but I’ll mention it to her.” At that time I was qualifying for NCAA’s and I was pretty focused on one goal at a time, so he submitted my athletic resume for me. They ended up contacting me and asking me to try out, so I tried out in the fall of 2007 and haven’t left. I fell in love with the sport and pursued that path instead.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
What’s pretty awesome is Lolo Jones came out for our team last year, as well as Tianna Madison, and now we have Lauryn Williams. I’ve been a huge fan of Lolo and for her to be my direct teammate and friend throughout this past year has been super awesome and not anything I ever expected. I’ve learned a lot from her. She’s extremely humble in our sport and just soaks up information. She has a lot of experience she brings to the table as well. Last year was my second season on the World Cup. Lolo’s my brakeman and she was only in the sport for two and half weeks when we came away with a silver medal.
How do you prepare for a really big race or event?
At a competition I have to have music. It’s something that just helps fuel me. I always have to rock out to Bob [Marley]. It’s in my roots. My dad’s Jamaican. Some rituals: I like to wear all black under my suit. For me, black is like a warrior—in the zone, ready for battle. But I also like some subtle swag, so I’m an accessories kind of chick. I have a lime green watch and I paint my nails gold and lime green—gold for victory, lime green for my bobsled color.
What was it like with Lolo being so new?
You get to choose who you race with: brakemen have driver choice and drivers have brakemen choice, so it’s kind of like a prom. You’re like, “Hey, do you possibly want to race with me?” Brakemen have that first six seconds, and usually it’s less than that, at the top of the hill to show what they’ve got athletically, and then it’s up to the pilot to maintain it. When I raced with Lolo in team trials, I was super impressed. I’ve seen her compete in hurdles and be super resilient—she’s been knocked down, suffered from injury, and gets back up. At the line, we had that bond right away.
Written on September 10, 2013 at 10:12 am , by Colleen Moody
Maybe it’s the slew of emails and pitches editors get a day, but lately it seems like everyone is an expert at something. That’s far from the case, says Paul Juris, ED. D., executive director of the Cybex Research Institute. Even if the person is certified, there are some critical checkpoints you should look out for when choosing a trainer for your own fitness goals. See what he has to say below.
Oh, and did we mention that Juris used to be the strength coach for the Dallas Mavericks? If there is anyone who knows a thing or two about using personal training to reach your goals, it’s him!
More from FITNESS: What’s Your Fitness Motivation?
Written on September 9, 2013 at 9:05 am , by Guest Blogger
Rock climber Paige Claassen recaps her second stop on the Marmot Lead Now Tour, a global tour to inspire people through rock climbing and raise $120,000 for charity organizations.
By Paige Claassen
When I arrived in Russia, stereotypes plagued my expectations, planting images in my mind of tanks driving down the highway and peasants standing in line for bread rations. But the Russia I encountered was very different from the Russia in my mind. People smiled. Beautiful moss carpeted forests of pines and lakes marked the land. Signs in an alphabet I didn’t understand led me down dirt roads, further into the isolated forest that held my home for the next three weeks, a farmhouse with no running water or electricity.
Meanwhile, I also had a fear that — due to different food and an interrupted workout schedule — I would loose the fitness I had worked so hard to build in South Africa.
These fitness concerns waxed and waned over the following days. My new farm family spoke no English, but I took comfort in their openness to share the country life. We picked berries and mushrooms in the forest and plucked potatoes and carrots from the garden.
“This will work!” coaxed my mind, assured that these familiar, homegrown health foods would keep my muscles strong and lean, the necessary combination for me to climb at my limit. However, Babushka (the Russian grandmother of the house) cooked and recooked everything I ate for the next three weeks in lard. My heart sank as I politely consumed her oily meals, feeling my fitness wash away.
Wandering through the forest one day, I stumbled upon a short climbing route that was protected from the torrential rains. The characters inked into the bottom of the cliff told me this route, named Catharsis, was more difficult than any I had tried before. With nothing to loose, I gave it a try anyway. Over the next three weeks, I sorted out the moves that had thwarted the efforts of countless men. In ten years, only one climber had completed Catharsis. My goal was to be the second.
In the end, I came heart-breakingly close to finishing Catharsis, but I ran out of time before I could link through the final move without falling. I felt physically and mentally exhausted. While I didn’t achieve my goal, I found myself stronger and fitter than when I arrived in Russia. I realized that although the my diet and training are crucial to my performance, the true determining factor is motivation. If I push past my own boundaries and try my absolute hardest, I will improve as an athlete. Despite the short-term letdown of leaving Catharsis behind as an unconquered pest, I’m confident that I gave the route everything I had. In this, I am triumphant.
To get involved and donate online to Paige’s cause in Russia, visit http://www.crowdrise.com/Leadnowtourrussia
Check back next month for a video and update about Location #3. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Russia. FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .