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 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
I’ve been obsessed (like major #girlcrush) with singer Kellie Pickler ever since she was on American Idol—and I know that I’m not alone. Her bubbly I-won’t-let-fame-change-me charm and sheer talent has won the hearts of country lovers and loathers alike. So naturally, when Kellie was named one of the Dancing With The Stars contestants last year, she shined. And so did her abs. Each time Kellie made her way one step closer toward that coveted Mirror Ball trophy (providing me with more opportunities to drool over her dreamboat of a partner Derek Hough), I couldn’t help but wonder about her svelte secrets. Like, hey—can I get me some of that long and lean action, stat?
Well, last week I got the skinny from the Season 16 winner herself. “The trickiest thing for me is finding a workout that gives me somewhat of the same result I got from Dancing With The Stars,” Kellie says. “I started doing [Shaun T’s Focus] T25 not long ago and it’s been great for when I’m on the go, in a hotel room or on my tour bus. My husband and I love to do that together!” Noted. Starting the day on the right “and positive foot” sans shortcuts—Kellie always chooses stairs over escalators—is also key. “It sets the tone for your day,” she says, which she enjoys filling with hikes and kayaking trips when she has some downtime.
The vegetarian starlet also attributes her fit bod to maintaining a clean diet. “I love raw almonds and apples with peanut butter on them…[and] I do a lot of juicing,” Kellie dished. Her one indulgence: dark chocolate, a craving she often curbs with protein-packed Rockin’ Refuel drinks.
In honor of finally cracking the bombshell’s workout/diet code, not to mention the release of her new single “Closer to Nowhere,” we Picklered a playlist perfect for the gym, commute or workday. Enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Shamrock Farms Rockin’ Refuel
Written on April 4, 2014 at 10:01 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
“Ride it forward” is 45-year-old Janeen Parave’s new motto. That’s because the two-time cancer survivor is on a mission to spread awareness and raise funds by training for her second Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) this summer. Last year, Janeen participated in the 190-mile bike-a-thon within a matter of eight months of completing breast and ovarian cancer treatments. And now she’s back—stronger than ever—ready to tackle the Massachusetts mileage this August with a $4,500 goal. Um, can we give her a big virtual high five and “You go, girl!”?
“PMC taught me the value of setting goals and that I can accomplish anything physically and mentally beyond my cancer experiences,” says Janeen. “I learned how resilient the human body can be after being sick. When I crossed that finish line, not only did I know I did something great for others, but I did something extraordinary for myself.”
Help Janeen and other cycling weekend warriors reach their goals in the upcoming months by making a donation—or what the sweat, sign up yourself! Can’t commit to 190 New England miles but still want to make a difference? Get involved with a local event like Soul for Survival or a “Virtual Ride” like Tour de Pink, which allows you to pick the location, when you ride and how much mileage you want to cover for breast cancer research. For you pavement pounders, lace up for an American Cancer Society event near you or stride for another cause you’d like to support, like assistant web editor Sam, who’s training for the New York City Marathon with Team Stop the Clot! Working your tush off never felt so good.
Photo courtesy of Janeen Parave
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Written on March 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
What if there were a studio that cost less the more you exercise? That would be crazy, right? I mean, talk about motivation! Enter fitmob, a new group workout startup taking root in the San Francisco area on a mission to change the face of fitness and “re-invent” the gym. “The existing system doesn’t really work,” says co-founder and CEO Raj Kapoor. “There is $75 billion being spent globally every year on gym memberships and over 60 percent of people don’t even use it that [much to] pay for it.” With the help of P90X’s Tony Horton, Kapoor and co-founder/CTO Paul Twohey developed fitmob to help people get fit, stay motivated and have fun without breaking the bank. Five thousand San Fran residents have registered so far!
So what’s the skinny on this budget-friendly startup? We got the lowdown:
Sweat for Less: “The more you work out, the less you pay,” explains Kapoor. Each class starts off at $15. If you go two times in one week, it drops to $10 per workout. But if you go three or more times per week, it’s only $5 each. You can’t beat that! Plus it’s as flexible as you need it to be. “There’s no up-fronts, no monthly commitment, no long contracts,” says Kapoor. “You just use it when you use it.”
The Workouts: Aside from the price deals, they offer various strength, cardio and yoga-fusion classes with some pretty enthusiastic names, too. Their most popular workout, “Weapon’s of Ass Reduction,” is an hour-long group strength class that focuses on your core and lower body strength (including your booty, of course!). Come on, who wouldn’t want to attend a class with a name like that? Some other winners: “Sweat Soiree” and “Guru Gone Wild.” Check them all out here.
Get Connected: “Gyms have traditionally been about expensive real estate and fancy equipment,” says Kapoor. But for him, it’s the social element and group dynamic that keeps people moving. “We’re bringing people back into fitness!” Sign up for classes, check out instructor reviews and see who else plans to attend the class all through their site and mobile app.
Location, Location, Location: Sick of the sterile gym? fitmob’s sweat sessions take place in various venues—both indoors and outdoors. “Part of the fun is that it’s in a different place all the time,” Kapoor shares, adding that they’ve held classes in parks and nightclubs (sweet!) with 10 to 25 people in attendance.
What’s Up Next: Currently, fitmob offers classes in four San Francisco neighborhoods—SOMA, The Mission, The Marina and The Presidio—but they’re looking to expand. “One of the hardest things in fitness is that everyone will try things but they won’t continue on,” explains Kapoor. “We think we’ve constructed an experience that’s going to have better retention than most. Once we are convinced of that, then we can expand.” Want fitmob to come to a neighborhood near you? Reach out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #nextmob and a photo of where you want them to come next.
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Written on March 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm , by Samantha Shelton
As someone who’s raced 10 half-marathons, some for PRs and others just because I could, I can tell you one thing for sure: dressing up for races is FUN. Now, I haven’t gone all out in a head-to-toe costume quite yet, but even just tossing on a Sparkle Athletic skirt with matching Sparkly Soul headbands is enough to add a little pizazz to my racing adventure.
I’m not the only one inspired to costume it up, either. Just a quick search of “race costumes” on Pinterest brought up thousands of pins and hundreds of boards, all with creative, quirky and sometimes totally insane ideas of how to dress up for a running adventure. So, now that I know this trend is completely awesome to more than just me, I went to the experts. And it turns out, my friends, that if dressing up is what gets you from start to finish with a smile on your face, then you could totally have the best race of your life. Here’s why:
Written on March 25, 2014 at 7:18 pm , by Samantha Shelton
She’s the highest all-time goal scorer in women’s professional soccer, and one of the toughest players to hit the field. Teammates like Mia Hamm and Christie Rampone have declared her a warrior; someone they love working with. She was a part of the winning 1999 World Cup team, and plans on bringing home another title in in 2015. I’m talking about superstar athlete Abby Wambach, who took a few minutes to chat about the new documentary series she’s a part of and how she mentally pushes through crazy-intense workouts day after day. Take it away, Abby!
What can viewers expect if they tune in to the new documentary series Rise As One?
It’s a six-part series that showcases different stories in and around the world that relate not only to sport, but how the human heart can actually push forward a nation or team to be bigger or better than they ever thought possible.
Your episode airs tonight—why did you want to work on it?
My episode is called Power of Unity and it’s about the Japanese team and what they went through in the 2011 World Cup [four months after a tsunami hit their country]. That was a time in my life where what I experienced and what the Japanese team experienced was, I thought, very different. I think it’s really important [for people to watch] because it’s easy to get stuck inside your own bubble. To realize there are bigger and more important things going on in the world than a game is important, but then to also be able to take comfort and you know, grieve, in the game is also a really big positive. I think the country needed that.
Your teammates always speak very highly of you. Anyone in particular that you really look up to?
I feel honored that they feel that way about me because I feel the exact same way about all of them. As time goes on, your body ages and you have to let the younger kids run a bit more. I’m honored that I’ve gotten to play as long as I have. And Mia [Hamm] was one of those players, at that time of my career, that really shaped how I looked at the game and how I played it.
Your workouts must be insane to play strong for such long periods of time. How do you mentally prepare for a game, or an intense workout?
It’s hard to consistently put your body through torture, in some ways. You’re pushing your body to the limit almost every single day. And that can get tiring. Not feeling that you can ever have an easy day becomes a state of mind; being tired and being exhausted becomes a state of being. You have to prepare to be in pain for a 90-minute game.
Is there anything in particular you do, then, when it seems to become unbearable – the physical pain?
It really is mind over matter. My teammates and I, I’m proud of the fact that we can push through exceptional amounts of stress. If you learn to accept the pain and the fact that it’s this constant that will be there throughout the workout, that will really help you push through and do what you need to do.
Tune in to see Rise As One tonight, March 25th at 8pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
Photo courtesy of AbbyWambach.com
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Written on March 24, 2014 at 10:13 am , by Samantha Shelton
Daylight savings time has given us longer days (seriously, it’s so nice to leave the office and still have some sunshine) and a few days of warmer weather. Even though it still seems like Mother Nature can’t quite make up her mind about sending us into the next season, I’m ready to officially declare it Spring. And with that comes a myriad of refreshing—new clothes, cleaner diet (just say no to all the comfort food of winter) and fresh beats. I’m adding fun, poppy tunes to my workout playlist, inspiring me to push the pace just a bit more these days. Go ahead and steal ‘em yourself—I won’t tell.
In other music news, the song “#Selfie” has gone viral. While it’s not my cup of tea, I’d say it’s pretty perfect for those of you who love heavy techno beats during a hardcore sweat session. Or maybe I’m wrong, and it should be heard in dance clubs only? Give it a listen, and sound off in the comments below: workout do or don’t?
Written on March 18, 2014 at 10:22 am , by Guest Blogger
Paige is climbing in Ecuador to raise money for Heifer International, a global non profit that applies the “teach a man to fish” philosophy by helping bring sustainable agriculture to impoverished communities. To join Lead Now in supporting Heifer, donate online at www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourecuador. Donate $27 or more and you’ll be entered into a monthly raffle to win a Marmot tent!
By Paige Claassen
It wasn’t until I arrived in Ecuador that I connected the dots: ‘ecuador’ means ‘equator’ in Spanish. This small country, roughly the size of my home state of Colorado, is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Pristine beaches, snow covered 20,000 foot peaks, and the Amazon jungle are each accessible within an eight hour drive.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism is making the country’s many outdoor sports available to locals and tourists alike. Roads, bike lanes, and access to National Parks seemed even more progressive than in the United States. With four weeks to explore the country, I set out to visit as many unique areas as possible, each holding it’s own special views, cuisine, and activities.
My tour began amidst the historic architecture and abundant cathedrals of Quito. As I drove south into the countryside, the Quilotoa crater presented the opportunity for a breathtaking two hour hike at 12,800 feet around the 7.5 mile crater rim.
A bit further into my journey, I reached Tungurahua, an active volcano spewing steam and black puffs of smoke along with its thunderous explosions that shook the town and farmland beneath. I missed Tungurahua’s eruption of lava by just a few days.
But my true objective waited in Cajas National Park, just outside the quaint city of Cuenca – an unclimbed route on a 30 meter cliff spattered with orange lichen awaited a first ascent.
After spending a few days cleaning the route of loose rock and volcanic ash, I was ready to attempt my goal. Yet Ecuador wasn’t yet willing to hand over this beautiful piece of rock to a foreigner, and instead struck me down with food poisoning.
I came back three days later light and ready to attack, and completed the route. I named it Middle Earth for the fairytale setting – rolling hills with Dr. Seuss like tufts of grass, horses whinnying and llamas humming below the cliff, and menacing wisps of fog rolling quickly in and out of the valley.
To top off my trip, I visited two of Lead Now non profit partner Heifer International’s local projects in Ecuador. Heifer helps impoverished communities establish a secure income and future by developing sustainable agriculture practices through livestock, seeds, and training. During the first project, I learned from alpaca farmers about their animals and how the alpaca fiber, or fur, is spun into yarn and sold at markets. As part of the second project, local produce farmers invited me to roast cuy, or guinea pig (a local delicacy), over a fire and then share a meal together. These interactions with the local people are experiences I will always keep close to my heart.
My preconceptions of Ecuador misled me. I expected a third world country similar to that I experienced in Peru – beautiful but dirty and seemingly a bit unsecure. Instead, I found a country rich not only in traditional South American culture, but filled with diverse settings, impeccably clean streets, and the friendly faces of parents and children playing. I’m so glad I seized the opportunity to explore this often underappreciated country. Thank you for the beautiful memories Ecuador!
To get involved and donate online to help, visit Crowdrise.
Check back next month for a video and update about Paige’s next location. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Ecuador! FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .
Written on March 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
Life-altering events can happen quite unexpectedly, this we all know. Sometimes they’re amazingly good occurrences (like nailing that CrossFit move you’ve been working on forever), and other times, there are tragic things that happen, often begging the question, ‘why me?’ For elite athletes and thrill seekers, tragedy can be exceptionally devastating; ripping away the things you’ve spent your life aspiring to. But to overcome adversity is a show of true strength. Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton knows just what I’m talking about. In 2003 she lost her left arm in a tiger shark attack, but didn’t let that stop her. A mere month later, Hamilton returned to the water and went on to realize her dream of becoming a professional surfer. She shared her story with the world in her 2004 autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. And then of course came the 2011 film based on the book, which caused the nation to fall even more in love with the blonde beach babe.
Now, Hamilton is back in an EPIX original documentary, The Current, premiering tonight at 8 p.m. EST. She’ll share her story along with five other athletes with disabilities who explore the deep wonders of the ocean and the healing freedoms it can supply.
We caught up with Bethany to talk about her workouts, surfing career and what it was like to be a part of The Current.
The Current is mainly based on the idea of using the healing powers of water and the ocean as a way to rediscover the freedom of movement. Can you tell us about that? What is about the ocean or water that has helped you?
I believe God’s given us the ocean and the outdoors as a place of healing. I remember when I first started surfing [again] after losing my arm, everyone was like, ‘Aren’t you scared of sharks?’ But for me, I was more scared of not surfing and not being able to spend time where I love to be most: in the ocean. So that was kind of just the start of my whole recovery. And even to this day, when things are getting stressful it’s nice to be able to get in the ocean. I don’t know, everything can kind of just melt away and you can just get out there and enjoy creation.
Did you get the chance to meet any of the other athletes? What was it like to hear their stories?
I got to spend time with Grant Korgan [the first adaptive athlete to ski 80 miles in the South Pole]. He was in a snowmobiling accident and just got annihilated, and broke his spine. He’s been told he’s never going to walk again, but he’s slowly getting feeling back [in his legs] and he’s just working endlessly to recover his body. It’s been pretty incredible to get to know him and his wife and their story, their perseverance. We went scuba diving and got to experience some of the most beautiful places in the underwater world. It was pretty incredible.