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Marmot Lead Now Tour Highlights

Written on May 21, 2014 at 11:29 am , by

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.

Ride It Out! Celebrate National Bike to Work Day in Style

Written on May 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by

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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What’s Next for Boston Marathon Winner Meb Keflezighi

Written on May 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm , by

“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.

More from FITNESS:

One Year Later: The Boston Marathon

Written on May 6, 2014 at 11:16 am , by

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:

Hill getting ready to head to the start line. (Photo courtesy Marissa Hill)

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!

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Gold Medalist and Two-Time Boston Marathon Winner Joan Benoit-Samuelson’s Secret to Success

Written on April 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm , by

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

More from FITNESS:

Some Swag for Your Running Stride
Meet Carolina Herrera (and Get Inspired to Go Log Some Miles!)
Ready to Run: Fuel for the Boston Marathon with Nutritionist Heather Bauer

It’s Time to #MakeFitHappen! Everything You Need to Join the Fun (And Score Prizes!)

Written on April 23, 2014 at 10:05 am , by

Sexy abs, butt and legs—get ‘em while it’s hot! Our May issue (on newsstands now!) has the four-week plan full of moves, foods and swimsuits that will make you look lighter and tighter by Memorial Day. But you know by now that that’s not enough—you need to brag about your hard work, too! Let us show you how:

First things first: sign up for the Slim by Summer Sweepstakes. Not only will you get the Better Body Plan details we talked about above delivered straight to your inbox, but you’ll also be entered to win:

  • A getaway for two to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The trip includes airfare vouchers, meals, activities like snorkeling and paddleboarding, and a spa treatment (a $2,000 value). Just start imagining the pure bliss now.
  • A shiny, new Smooth Fitness & Health 9.65LC treadmill (a $1,999 value) with a shock-absorption tread, a heart rate display with a wireless chest strap, and 28 programmed workout.

Now that we’ve got your engines revved, simply click here to sign up.

Official Rules

But that’s not all (obviously). More fun is coming your way:

MONDAY, APRIL 28 – TWITTER PARTY

Follow @FitnessMagazine and the #makefithappen hashtag on Twitter from 2-4pm EST to score fresh ideas on healthy food and fitness so you can rock that swimsuit like a superstar this season. As if that doesn’t sound fun enough, we’ll also be giving 15 lucky partiers two Sparkly Soul headbands (these things are not only cute, but they stay put while you sweat). See you there!

Official Rules

APRIL 28 – MAY 26: FACEBOOK

Check out our Facebook page every Monday for weekly burn-and-firm video tips from your trainer, Tiffany Rothe. Hint: there’s a few extra-fun challenges mixed in there, and she’ll be checking in on your progress!

APRIL 28 – MAY 25: PINTEREST 

Gear up for Memorial Day weekend by joining our Make Fit Happen Contest on Pinterest. You’ll be able to find and share healthy recipes, low-cal cocktails and fun workout wear. Bonus: you could score a beach cruiser from Brooklyn Bicycle Co., perfect for making this summer the best one yet. Want deets on how to join? See here.

Official Rules

MAY 1 – MAY 31: INSTAGRAM 

Surely by now you’re following us, right? If not, hop to it because our prize-a-day photo challenge starts at the beginning of the month, and there is some serious swag to be had. Tune in for your theme of the day and, using #makefithappen, show us your best pics. We’ll regram our faves!

Official Rules 

Want even more so you can really #makefithappen? We’ve got it all right here.

Music Monday: Dancing with the Stars Erin Andrews’ All-Day-Energy Tricks + Finale Predictions

Written on April 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm , by

With a busy work schedule, the start of marathon training and, you know, having a social life, I thought I was a busy girl. That was until I chatted with Erin Andrews, an NFL sportscaster and co-host of Dancing with the Stars. She starts her week at 8am and goes nonstop until 7:30pm shooting DWTS. Add in nonstop travel for NFL interviews, covering the game and flying back on Sunday to land in the DWTS studio all over again, and I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Such a crazed schedule calls for tons (and I mean tons) of good-for-you energy. I’m not talking about eating whatever food your fingers land on, but rather reaching for smart choices that won’t send you on a sugar high, only to crash and burn an hour later. “The biggest thing for me is staying in shape and trying to make sure I get enough rest,” says Andrews. “Michael Strahan told me to start sleeping now because it’s our off-season, and he has an even crazier schedule than I do.” We hear you on that one, Erin—now that he’s co-hosting Live with Kelly and Michael AND Good Morning America, we can only imagine the pillow face plant he does at the end of each week.

Back to those energizing eats. “Making sure to keep nutrient-rich foods—like trail mix, yogurt and granola bars—and beverages on hand is key, which is why me teaming up with Florida Orange Juice was a no-brainer,” says Andrews. “When you talk about healthy beverages, 100 percent orange juice is huge because I can grab it on the go. I can get it anywhere, at whatever hotel I’m in. It has a ton of vitamin C and gives me natural energy without added sugars, so I don’t need to worry about staying in shape.” We couldn’t have said it better.

But OJ can’t be the only thing the snappy co-host sips on—or eats—throughout the day. How in the world do you stay slim when you’re always wining and dining? Especially when you’re entertaining big football guys who LOVE to eat? “They like to order a lot of food and they like to eat a lot of food. I do too,” she explains. “So to rationalize what I’m going to have for dinner and lunch, I get my butt in the workout room.”

Girl, I get it. Exercise is awesome, and I would definitely be doing the same to burn off the calories from heavy dinners. But when I’m constantly on the go and have a crazy work schedule, it’s really tough to squeeze in sweat time when all I want to do is sleep. So, I asked her to spill her secrets. Where does the motivation come from? “When I first started out in the industry, I was working for a hockey team and the head coach told me ‘when you get into the hotel, don’t lay around first. Go straight to the gym because if you lay around you’re not going to get up for the rest of the day.’ So that’s what I try to do.” Noted.  

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Location #9: Chile

Written on April 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm , by

Rock climbing near santiago

Paige climbs at a desert cliff near Santiago, Chile. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com)

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.

south american rock climbing competition

Paige places 4th at the largest climbing competition in South America. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com)

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.

ve global

Young girls from a VE Global supported residential home in Santiago cheer for Paige at South America’s biggest climbing competition.

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!

Run the World’s First Digital Marathon—Hello, London!

Written on April 14, 2014 at 6:26 pm , by

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

More from FITNESS: 

fitmob: The More You Workout, the Less You Pay 

3 Reasons You Should Dress Up for a Race

Get Your Sweat On with the New and Improved Nike+ Training Club App

Music Monday: Kellie Pickler’s Post-DWTS Workout Secrets!

Written on April 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm , by

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