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Triathlon Training: Meet Zoot Sports Athlete Jennifer Vogel

Written on August 14, 2014 at 10:36 am , by

After hitting a brick wall of boredom with my fitness routine a while back, I decided to dive head first into the world of triathlon. Two years and four races later, I’m still a tri-newbie, but I’m learning more with each finish line I cross and gaining ground on becoming a triple-threat athlete. I’ve spent countless hours swimming, biking and running, but even more time surfing the web for expert insight, tips and advice on acing every race. Luckily for me (and all triathletes-in-training), we’ve teamed up with Zoot Sports to tap their sponsored athlete, Jennifer Vogel, an Ironman World Championship qualifier, for straight-from-the-source info on triathlon training.

Vogel is not your typical Ironwoman. She didn’t do sports growing up; she didn’t even start running until she was 21. The self-described “procrastinator” signed up for her first marathon in an attempt to “pull her shit together.” A few years later when her husband decided to do a triathlon with a friend, she didn’t want to be left out. So she signed up, too. “I pretty much knew right away I wanted to do an Ironman,” she says. About a year later, she did just that. Now at 33, Vogel has over 12 years of experience in endurance sports and personal training. Thanks to her first sub-10 hour finish at Ironman Florida, she is headed straight to the IWC for the second time.

For the next ten weeks, as we countdown the days to Kona, this blog series will be your one-stop-shop for everything triathlon-related. So whether you’ve just signed up for your first sprint or you’re as experienced as Vogel, there’s something in it for everyone—from the physical aspects to the mental challenges. Because it’s not really about a medal, your time or even a PR, it’s about who you become while training across three different disciplines. As Jenn says, “The subtle changes that occur from the day in and day out relentless pursuit of a goal that nobody understands but you. That is where the magic lies”—if you dare to tri.

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American Ninja Warrior Contestant Kacy Catanzaro Has Guts—And Is Going for Glory

Written on July 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

By now, it’s likely you’ve caught wind of 24-year-old Kacy Catanzaro, the first-ever female to qualify for the finals of NBC and Esquire Network’s sports competition show, American Ninja Warrior. After completing a nine-part obstacle course during the Dallas qualifying round (and making it look like a walk in the park), the former gymnast proves she packs a real punch as an athlete and competitor. And after speaking with her, we’re convinced that this girl really is a ninja—all 5 feet and 100 pounds of her.

Congrats on your awesome run for “ANW!” How did it feel?

It is definitely a lot of pressure stepping out there. There are a lot of lights, cameras, and you know the whole world is going to see it on TV eventually. Before I run, you can see that I’m kind of bouncing around and a little bit anxious. It’s funny: Once they count down and they say, “3,2,1, go,” it’s like a wave of relief washes over me. Then I just kind of take it one thing at a time. After I finish one obstacle, I just calmly take a few deep breaths and get ready to attack the next one.

How has your gymnastics career prepared you for ANW?

I started gymnastics when I was 5 years old and then I got a scholarship to a Division I school—Townsen University in Maryland—and I competed all four years there. So from the time I was 5 until the time I was 22, it was my whole life. Gymnastics really mentally prepared me for the course: being able to take that kind of pressure and not let it affect me in a bad way, but actually use it as fire to get excited and to get out there. And if things don’t go my way, it doesn’t mean it’s over. I just have to overcome them by making adjustments in order to make it happen.

How do you stay in such amazing shape?

I try and strength-train anywhere from four to six times a week, based on where life is taking me or what is coming up. Brent Steffensen—my boyfriend, coach and an ANW veteran—and I train together and do strength-training and bodyweight-circuit training on a regular basis. We do lots of bodyweight exercises in a row—pushups, pull-ups, lunges, squats, lots of abs—to really build strength and endurance. For the obstacle courses, we want to be as light and lean as possible, and doing exercises with your bodyweight is the most efficient way to get there.

What’s your diet like?

I just try to eat as clean as possible—greens, veggies, fruits, nuts and things like that. For my protein, I like fish a lot because it is lighter and cleaner. Definitely stay away from anything that is processed and avoid eating too much sugar. So if I can’t read an ingredient listed in an ingredient label, I try to stay away from it. It’s so important to be aware of what you are putting into your body and what good or harm it will do.

What motivates you to stay fit?

I’ve always had a competitive nature—I love getting out there and competing—but one thing people don’t realize about fitness is that people don’t just work out out to look good. Obviously it’s very nice to look good and to have that body you dream of, but the most important thing about fitness and living healthy is being able to get the maximum out of your life. If you are as fit as you can be, you can do more and you aren’t held back by your weight. I think that staying fit, not being held back and being able to go out and try to accomplish whatever it is that I want is the best part of it.

In case you missed it, check out Kacy’s crazy performance below, and be sure to watch the St. Louis finals tonight at 9 on NBC.

 

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Fitbit and Tory Burch Launch a Fit Fashion Collection We Love

Written on July 15, 2014 at 11:52 am , by

I love my Fitbit Flex as much as the next girl, and I swear, it really does make me walk more throughout the day (I’m seriously addicted to getting those little lights to flash on my wrist). But let’s be honest: the bands leave a little to be desired in the looks department. Of course, there’s been improvement over the last few years, and my current pink band blends with most of my outfits, but there’s no way you’ll catch me wearing it to the fancier events on my schedule (hello, wedding season).

Fitbit heard my cries for a fashion upgrade and are answering with total chicness. Enter their new collaboration with Tory Burch, which just launched an accessories line designed exclusively for the Flex. Your options: one of two silicone bands, both of which have the iconic Tory Burch pattern and retail for $38 apiece, or a piece of jewelry—specifically, a gold-tone pendant or bangle. The latter options are a little pricier, checking out at $175 or $195, respectively.

While the costs might seem high upfront, think about how often you’ll wear the band (um, every day) and how quickly you’ll make your money’s worth. After all, Fitbit users take 43 percent more steps when wearing their trackers compared to those who don’t measure any movement. So not only will you have a new, Insta-worthy fashion accessory, but you’ll be bettering your health every time you see that flashy little reminder on your wrist to go grab an afternoon coffee.

Oh, and don’t worry if you have yet to jump on the activity tracker trend. Tory Burch is selling the actual Fitbit Flex as well, so you can pick one up along with your new band. Happy stepping!

Photo courtesy of Fitbit

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Music Monday: Making Music with The Roots

Written on July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm , by

You watch ‘em rock the stage regularly on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but The Roots are known for a particular type of instrumentation that I’m, well, obsessed with. And that’s using quirky, unorthodox instruments to create awesome, YouTube-breaking music. Two of my faves: singing “Your Body” with X-tina and this Brady Bunch styling of “We Can’t Stop.” So it was no surprise when they teamed up with Kellogg’s at their Recharge Bar in Times Square and performed rockin’ tunes using tons of breakfast equipment—I’m talking bowls, spoons, the works. Now if only I could be that musical with my cereal bowl in the morning…

Of course, The Roots do play on regular instruments once in a while, which they’re using to create their new album. What can we expect when it drops? “It’s another concept album, and we’re showing the life of the common man,” says Questlove. “Hip-hop often celebrates the plight of the winner, those who are living the good life. But sometimes that’s misleading, and 99 percent of the people out here are living regular lives. This is their story.”

That said, I can only imagine how many will end up on my workout playlist (um, all of them). But until I can get my hands on those tracks, I’ll have to substitute this playlist. It’s what The Roots are jamming out to this summer themselves, while they squeeze in workouts on their European tour. I’ll just imagine that I’m in the same awesome locales they are.

Photo courtesy of Edelman

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Music Monday: Flo Rida Can’t Sweat Without This Music

Written on June 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm , by

Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern

Whenever I work out, I need to be listening to music—not want, but need. Whether it’s Katy Perry’s new hit or a classic from the King of Pop himself, there has to be an up-tempo, catchy sound reverberating in my ears. Studies even show that music can push us through that final mile, that extra set of squats.

So it’s no surprise then that rapper Flo Rida, a self-proclaimed fitness lover, is a man who lives and breathes that connection. A workout fiend since his football days in high school, the musician is constantly on the muscle-building grind both in the studio and on stage. In fact, he considers himself lucky that his profession allows—actually, kind of forces—him to incorporate music with exercise and vice versa. “You get a two-for-one with what I do.”

He’s not kidding: Flo constantly runs back and forth on stage, spewing out his lyrics at an incredibly fast rate. This not-much-time-for-breathing rapping style requires him to hit the pavement regularly. “I love doing a lot of cardio,” he says. “My records are up-tempo, so I have to make sure that I can go for over an hour.”

But just as any well-rounded fitness aficionado knows, cardio isn’t the end-all, be-all. The artist loves to regularly lift weights, and occasionally steps into the boxing ring for a few punches (and sips on Celsius when he needs a boost).  And despite a hectic schedule, Flo manages to get in two-a-day routines. Guess that explains why his shows are so fun to watch.

While I prefer to put in miles to tunes by the rapper (“Wild Ones” is a fave), we always wonder: do artists listen to their own tunes? We found out LL Cool J does now and then, and it turns out Flo is no different. Along with David Guetta and Pitbull, you’ll find his own tracks sprinkled through a playlist. “I love listening to my music because it definitely has all the attributes to enhance a great workout in the gym.”

So while we wait for his latest album, The Perfect 10, to drop later this year, we made sure to get Flo Rida’s current sweat-it-out playlist. Plug in, shape up, and try not to groove on that treadmill. On second thought, go ahead. We won’t tell.

Photo courtesy of Celsius

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Tara Stiles Wants To Bring Your Yoga Game to Bali

Written on June 23, 2014 at 10:44 am , by

I know it’s a busy day, but you’re already checking this out, so do me a favor: close your eyes.

Did you do it?

OK, do it again, but this time take a deep breath and imagine you’re standing on a quiet beach at sunrise, feeling the cool sand between your toes and hearing the gentle lapping of the waves nearby. You’re wearing the cutest workout gear (obviously) and ready to take your yoga practice to the next level. Oh, and here comes Tara Stiles, world-renowned yoga instructor (and super cute to boot), ready to help you conquer that one pose you’ve been struggling with all year.

Sounds pretty marvelous, right? Now, I’m not the type to give you all these good ideas without also providing a chance for you to make all of it a reality. Enter Stiles’ partnership with W Hotels, and their #PoseWhenever contest.

With little to no time to ourselves these days, it feels like a miracle if we squeeze in a workout at all, especially when traveling and feeling all sorts of jet-lagged—and “rebel” yogi Stiles gets that. She even has a pose for that, actually. So she teamed up with W Hotels—where she often stays when globe-trotting herself—to create FIT with Tara Stiles, an in-room program with a video and tip cards that you can practice whenever, wherever. And when I say wherever, I mean it—girl has ideas for getting bendy in the bathtub! Basically, making your health a priority, even if only for a few minutes, is easier than ever.

Now, back to this yoga on the beach scenario. You want in, don’t you? All you have to do is log onto Instagram and start showing off. Simply upload your best poses and use the #posewhenever hashtag and you’re automatically entered to win a trip for two to Bali, where you’ll stay at the W Retreat and Spa for 3 nights, and flow through a session with Stiles. But hurry, you only have until July 2nd to impress Stiles and those W Hotels judges. As a yogi-in-the-making, I’ll be checking out the hashtag for some serious fitspo, and I may even enter a few ‘grams myself.

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

Written on June 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

“Oh this? It’s just this thing I wear that tracks my sleep … and my steps … and calories burned.” A furrowed brow, accompanied by a silent, slow nod is the usual reaction I’ve received, following my Fitbit Flex fitness tracker spiel. But, for the many fitness fanatics who’ve embraced the tracker world, they’ll be excited to know that Fitt has just launched a new app that will seriously challenge Jawbone UP, Moves and Fitbit lovers to hit new goals.

The app (available now in the iTunes app store!) creates a fitness community for tracker users to join in on group challenges and motivate each other. Even better, getting started couldn’t be easier. All users have to do is download the app and sync it to their fitness tracker app. Instantly, you’ll be connected with friends, no matter what kind of fitness tracker they are using.

After you’re synced up, go ahead and add friends, scope out user profiles and most importantly–join group challenges. The day I signed up, the app showed that there were two challenges in progress. The first was a Fitbit-Jawbone UP face-off, challenging each team to take the most average daily steps for a month. The second challenge is the “June 18K a Day” challenge where all participants aim to take 18,000 steps a day in June. Yes, you heard that right: 18K per day. Cardio anyone?

Naturally, I jumped on the bandwagon for both. (… Go Fitbit!)

With Fitt there is nothing to lose (except the occasional pound  or two). And let’s be honest, most of us could use an extra reminder to get active every now and again, right?

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Get Fit for Girl’s Education

Written on June 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Ready to raise your endorphins and flex your feel-good muscles? From now until June 21, NYC fitness fanatics can participate in the first-ever NYC Fit Week, signing up for donation-based workout classes, that help fund She’s the First, an internationally recognized organization that sponsors women from around the world to become the first from their families to graduate.

In partnership with EMpowered personal training, She’s the First has teamed up with 14 NYC fitness instructors from some of NYC’s hottest fitness studios (oh hey, Barry’s Bootcamp and Flywheel). In an effort to raise gender equality awareness in the educational arena, 100 percent of the proceeds from this week’s events will fund educational scholarships for young women in low-income countries. Girl power for the win!

If you happen to be super swamped this week—or aren’t in NYC—don’t freak. NYC Fit Week is just a small part of She’s the First’s year-round national campaign, Run the World. Through this, supporters align their own fundraising goals with a fitness endeavor, like running a marathon, and start a fundraising page where friends, fam and and everyone in between can send in a donation. She’s the First’s annual goal is to raise $75K by the NYC Marathon on November 2, and they’ve already made it a quarter of the way!

But if you aren’t quite ready to make your own fundraising page, you can still get involved (seriously, there’s really no excuses here). Simply download the Charity Miles app, and select She’s the First as your charity partner. Check into the app whenever you head out for a run or hop on a bike, and 10 to 25 cents (depending on your activity) will be donated.

Clearly, girls’ education is a very important cause, and we couldn’t be more excited to join in and help. Visit RunTheWorld.ShesTheFirst.org to see the schedule and sign up for a class.

Photo courtesy of Kate Lord

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The Fitness Gear You Don’t Have (But Really Need)

Written on June 16, 2014 at 6:43 pm , by

When we think of Bluetooth chips, we usually don’t think of them in relation to water bottles. And when we think of yoga mats, we usually don’t think sensors and LED lights will be involved. But with personal trainers continually developing new ways to crank our calorie burn, and nutritionists creating new recipes that are easier, tastier and healthier, it’s no wonder the products meant to streamline our journey to a healthy lifestyle are nearly lapping the experts in innovation. These soon-to-be available high-tech gadgets are meeting—and potentially exceeding—our expectations, and you better believe they’re on our wish lists! Check ‘em out:

Dehydration affects nearly half of us, which is how the creators of BluFit came up with its concept. It’s a glass water bottle that syncs with your phone to keep track of how much water you need (based on weight, age, humidity levels, etc.) and how much water you drink. When it’s time to grab another sip, BluFit alerts you via sound and light to drink up. Not near your water bottle? It’ll alert your phone, too. The rechargeable battery lasts for about six days, so you’ll be good to make this little guy your running buddy or your staple between gym sessions.

A yoga class in the comfort of your own home? Sign us up! That’s basically what the Tera mat provides. Also a wool carpet, the mat uses sensors to identify where you are on the mat and guide you where to go next based on each workout you do. You can even tailor the workouts to help you reach your personal fitness goals. The mat syncs with the Tera app to record and analyze your movements, while the app itself provides step-by-step guides for completing each movement correctly. You can also use the mat for Zumba, Pilates or Thai Bo. Versatile, convenient and stylish? Talk about every fit girl’s dream!

Photos courtesy of BluFit and Tera Mat

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Google To Give Health Another Try, This Time With App

Written on June 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm , by

After an unsuccessful attempt at popularizing two different health services for users (Google Health and Google PowerMeter: more info about that here), Google is planning to try again, this time with Google Fit, Forbes reports.

The service—reportedly launching later this month during the Google I/O conference—will provide users with an easy way to track and collect health data from different health-related apps they’re already using. Forbes reports that the service will even be offered through a wearable device that will measure steps, heart rate, and will sync with Google’s cloud-based services. Google might sync the app with Android Wear’s smart-watches, too, so that anyone wearing multiple Android devices can use Google Fit to store all of the information in one place.

Interestingly, the news comes soon after Apple’s  release of Health (and its partner HealthKit), which similarly aggregates information from different health-based apps—basically creating a file cabinet that privately stores personal information like sleeping patterns and blood pressure, so you can easily access it whenever you may need to touch base with a doc.

We’re excited to see what the Internet giant rolls out later this month and how it will—or won’t—compare with Apple’s Health. Similar or not, we know one thing’s for sure: everyone’s excuses for not exercising and eating right are quickly shrinking. It’s about time!

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