Written on July 28, 2014 at 10:39 am , by Molly Ritterbeck
I recently got the chance to hit the road with Trek Bikes and Trek Travel to tour miles of Vermont countryside on two wheels. (Check out some of their luxury cycling vacations here.) I’ve been road biking for a few years now but never really had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the sport—until now. For our adventure, we hopped on the Trek Silque (prices vary, trekbikes.com), one of the women’s-specific road bikes nicknamed the “Smooth Operator” for its unique ability to smooth out even the roughest of roads. After riding nearly 90 miles (including one killer climb to Smuggler’s Notch in Stowe) on the bike, I got a good sense of everything this whip has to offer. Some of the highlights include:
- The “IsoSpeed decoupler,” which isolates the movement of the seat tube from the rest of the frame, so the seat tube is free to absorb more forces from the road. Basically, your bike soaks up road shock so your body doesn’t have to. (Take it from me, you can immediately tell the difference compared to other bikes out there.)
- A women’s–specific design (WSD) geometry that’s made for your body and is tuned at every size, regardless of frame size, to fit a female rider to the best possible level. This will put you in a position of power for a faster, more stable ride.
- An electronic gear-shifting system, which offers elite shifting performance so you don’t have to be a pro to adjust to the terrain. (It’s very user-friendly, perfect for beginners.)
- The trendy colors and designs—As soon as I saw this bike, I was swooning over the white, lime and aloe green color combo and chevron accents. I mean, just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I want to ride a pink bike. And wear pink everything (just saying). But if you’re into pink, that’s cool too. They’ve got tons of options. In fact, you can even customize your own bike design here. Trek’s graphic designer hits up Fashion Week in Berlin every year to be one of the first on the scene of the hottest color and design trends. So no matter what you pick, you’re always going to get something that’s stylish and cool.
All in all, the Silque was an incredible ride and it really struck me how important it is to saddle up and try out some bikes before you buy one. If you want to test-ride one yourself, click here to find a demo coming to a location near you or check in with your local Trek retailer to see if you can take one for a spin.
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Written on July 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern
With so many athletes gearing up for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games this weekend, we’re already feeling super motivated to run to our nearest box (code for gym, for all you newbies) and sign up for a few classes. Better yet, we’ll just hop on the MindBody Connect app and register there. But signing up and actually working out is only half the battle. You have to look the part, too. And not to fit in – so that you can continue to burpee and box jump like it’s no one’s business.
Samantha Briggs, a CrossFit athlete who just so happens to be the fittest woman on earth, gave us some sweet tips on what to wear—and what not to wear—when you’re on your way to deadlift, snatch, and clean and jerk. And considering she trains seven days a week—four of those are two-a-days—we think she might know her way around the rings.
Compression gear is a must. “Loose-fitting clothes may get trapped in the bars,” Briggs warns. Makes sense – no one wants an unexpected wardrobe malfunction because there shirt got in the way of the equipment.
Just say no to pockets. “If you do muscle-ups, you don’t want pockets because your thumb can get trapped in them.” Even doing exercises on the rings can become a risk. “I’ve tried to do them with big pockets on my shorts and nearly got my thumb cut off,” she says. Noted.
Tall socks are in style. You see all the diehards wearing them, and they do it for a reason. The extra padding protects your shins from the bar when lots of lifting is involved, and a pair of gloves or gymnastic grips will protect your hands (strict gymnastics is one of the hottest trends in the CrossFit world right now, so expect to learn some bendy moves if you haven’t yet). “If you choose to spend a lot of time on the bar, you can get ripped hands,” notes Briggs. ”You don’t want to rip your hands because you won’t be able to train after,” she says. And nobody wants that.
Get the right shoes. Running sneakers don’t belong here. Briggs suggests the Reebok Nano Inov-8‘s, which are built for the pounding and sharp movements you do in each WOD (workout of the day).
Be sure to tune in to ESPN tonight and ESPN2 on Saturday and Sunday to watch the CrossFit pros burn and firm (more info on times and streaming here). Then hit up a box near you to try the trend. Just be prepared to sweat. A lot.
Photo courtesy of CrossFit Games
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Written on July 24, 2014 at 9:53 am , by Bethany Cianciolo
With more and more specialized gyms popping up around the country, and weight-loss guides sprawling across the shelves in just about every bookstore, trimming down is no longer a secret, and giving up is no longer a solution. Yet even with an abundance of tools and information, more than 25 percent of Americans still don’t exercise willingly, according to the CDC’s State Indicator Report on Physical Activity. Two words: Mind. Boggling.
While we won’t try to understand the laziness phenomenon that refuses to leave our country, we can guess that it’s why a new do-it-all fitness band is about to be released. And it’s so on top of making sure you achieve your goals, it’ll shock you—literally.
Set to release in 2015, Pavlok rewards you when you accomplish a goal and punishes you when you don’t (enter: shock factor). As of now, you can use the Pavlok app to choose from three goals: wake up earlier with the EarlyRiser alarm clock that shocks you when you hit snooze; increase productivity with Pavlok Focus, which will buzz, beep and eventually shock if you have too many tabs open on your computer (studies show too much multitasking doesn’t do you any good in the long run); or increase your gym time with Pavlok Fit, which tracks your sleep and activity levels.
“We’re not just trying to track data,” says Pavlok co-founder and CEO Maneesh Sethi. “What we’re trying to do is take data that other people are tracking and use that information in order to help close the loop and change the behavior.”
Sethi says he and the team will eventually create a wider selection of goals for users to choose from. They’re also working to create a money pot where users can win money when they go to the gym, for example, and lose money when they don’t, much like a few other apps we love. But to take it a step further, if you fail to hit the gym, you might get a nice little post on your Facebook wall that tells all your friends you didn’t go. Ouch.
The Pavlok app will initially be available on iOS, and the team hopes to have it working on Android devices by the end of the year. You can order a prototype now for $50, or wait for the final bands to be released, which will range between $149 and $229.
Image courtesy of Pavlok
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Written on July 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern
When you’re an athlete, there’s nothing more golden than getting tips directly from the pros before the big day. As an aspiring runner, I’ve always admired Meb Keflezighi, not just for his incredible win at the 2014 Boston Marathon a few months ago (he was the first American to win it since 1983), but for the power, drive and passion he brings with him to every competition. And as a silver medalist of the 2004 Olympic Games (and countless other marathon wins), we’ve got the feeling he probably has some valuable training advice.
So we were pretty stoked when Competitor Group Inc.—a company that sponsors some really awesome sporting events like Run Rock ‘N’ Roll—announced Meb as the new vice president of running (side note: Can I have that title? It’s gotta be an awesome resume booster). Meb will use his passion and advice to help us mere mortal runners by developing training plans for us to follow to a T, popping up on social media with extra tips, and, of course, participating in a bunch of events—he’s already rocked (and rolled) at RNR San Diego, and you’ll find him lacing up for the Strip at Night, too. Basically, you can train like Meb and run with him, too. Umm, amazing!
So whether you’re nervous about competing in your first-ever marathon (like assistant web editor Samantha) or just eager to go out there and eat up the miles, Keflezighi has your back. Stay tuned for details on which races he’ll be at, and don’t forget to check out CGI’s website for updates.
Image courtesy of Competitor Group Inc.
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Written on July 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm , by FITNESS Intern
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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Written on July 21, 2014 at 9:18 am , by Samantha Shelton
After three years of regularly running and 10 half-marathons under my belt (along with tons of fit-spo from the FITNESS staff), I’m going after the illustrious 26.2-mile race that every runner dreams about: the New York City Marathon. The best part, for me? Running for Team Stop the Clot, a charity running team branched off the National Blood Clot Alliance. With so many important charities to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one, but as someone who’s been personally affected by blood clots (along with nearly a quarter million other women), it was the best fit. Want to know more about my story? Check it out here.
Now that training has kicked off for me and many others lacing up for a fall race, I’ve teamed up with Clif Bar athlete and coach Stephanie Howe to take me through the ups and downs of doubling my usual distance. And before I get into what I can do right, it was very important to find out what I could do wrong—and make sure not to, ya know, do it. Take warning, friends, as these are the five mistakes tons of first-time marathoners make.
Not fueling while running. While you can get away with it on shorter runs, there’s no skimping when mileage increases. “Hitting the wall” only happens when energy stores start to run out. Your bod needs a quick hit of sugar when racing, so “take in fuel, in the forms of gels or blocks, on any run longer than 90 minutes,” recommends Howe. And be sure to try tons of different varieties to find your perfect fit, as what works for your running bestie may not for you. I love Clif Bar’s Black Cherry Shot Bloks, but avoid all gels like the plague. Everybody’s different.
Taking in fuel too late. Now that you know the 90-minute rule, you want to nail the timing. If 90 minutes pass before you dig in, you’re already too late and won’t avoid the zonk. Instead, eat one gel (about 100 calories) every 20-30 minutes. A quick trick Howe gave me, since I regularly zone out and forget about time? “Set your watch alarm to beep every 20-30 minutes, so you get that regular reminder without having to think about it.” Done and done.
Waiting to eat post-run. Are you sensing a theme here? Clearly, nutrition is a major key to success in marathon training. To nix that “oh-my-god I can’t move my legs” feeling the day after your run (or even the day after that, courtesy of delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS), make sure you eat within 30 minutes of wrapping up the pavement-pounding. “Any fuel consumed in that window will be used immediately to start the recovery process because it goes directly to your muscles, rather than the entire body,” says Howe. If you, like me, hate thinking about food immediately following a run, don’t fret: a buffet of food isn’t necessary. “A Clif or Luna bar, 8 ounces of a Clif Shot recovery drink or chocolate milk are all good options,” suggests Howe.
Running easy runs too fast. This one is key, and a mistake I’ve definitely committed more than once. ‘Cause when you’re feeling good and everything is clicking, it’s tempting to push at a slightly faster pace. Don’t do it, Howe warns. Think of it as a pacing spectrum, with “very slow” on one end, and “very fast” on the other. If you spend a ton of time in the middle, you’ll short-change your progress. “Spending time at each end will improve your fitness, teach you how to adjust to different levels of difficulty, and prevent overtraining,” explains Howe. So when coach says “easy,” she really means it.
Skimping on rest. No rest for the weary, right? Wrong, so wrong. “The goal of training is to place stress on the body that will improve your overall fitness,” explains Howe. “These adaptations happen when the body is resting, so if you skip it, you’re opening yourself up to overtraining, injury and illness.” Obviously I don’t want any of those, so coach has me resting at least one day per week. And when she says rest, that is not code for “go take a yoga class or walk all over the city with friends.” Instead, it means binge-watch Orange is the New Black or go get a massage, which Howe also highly recommends (the massage, not necessarily OITNB). Girl, you don’t have to tell me twice.
Photo courtesy of Clif Bar
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Written on July 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm , by Bethany Cianciolo
When groggy mornings and frantic coffee runs become staples in your daily routine, followed by nights of constant wake-up calls to change diapers or give feedings, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your sleep patterns. Or just say hello to motherhood with a newborn. While we know not sleeping well negatively affects your mood (there’s a reason these signs exist) and brain’s ability to function, what’s more alarming is that a new study found that several nights of interrupted sleep might be just as harmful as not getting any.
Before you panic, moms, keep reading. We spoke with clinical psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., who says that although disrupted sleep definitely has an effect on you the next day, it’s not going to ruin your life in the long run.
“Some sleep is still better than no sleep, but you don’t want to keep it up on a regular basis,” he says. “If you get woken up one, two, three times a night, well, that’s actually fairly normal. If you get woken up six or eight times a night, are you going to wake up feeling refreshed? Probably not.”
So what’s a parent to do? Breus recommends alternating on-call days with your partner. Designate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to waking up when baby does, but let hubby take the reigns on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Or if you wake up with the sunrise and he’s awake well past sunset, compromise that way. “I’m more of an early bird and my wife is more of a night owl, so even on the nights when it might’ve been my turn to be on call, she’ll tend to the baby so I can go to bed early.” Creating a schedule that plays on each others’ more wakeful hours will provide you both with happier mornings, so try a few options to figure out what works best for everyone.
Regardless of your parent status (non-existent or otherwise), Breus says maximizing sleep begins with daily exercise. If you find that exercise really revs your engine, make sure your workout is done at least four hours before bedtime. Otherwise, two hours prior is your cutoff. But if you’re still lacking serious mojo in the daylight, make sure sleepiness isn’t being confused with muscle fatigue. “Sleepiness is, ‘I can’t keep my eyes open.’ Fatigue is, ‘Ugh, I just want to lie down because everything hurts,’” explains Breus. If fatigue is what you’re feeling, take a rest day so you can jump back in with a full bout of energy.
And last but not least, try adding banana tea to your nightly routine. “Bananas themselves have a large amount of magnesium in them,” explains Breus. Chop the top and bottom off of a banana and toss it (peel included – there’s about 3x more magnesium in there) into 2.5 cups of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. “You can put a little honey or cinnamon in it,” he says. “It’s quite delicious and it’s literally like taking a sleeping pill.” We know what we’re drinking tonight!
Photo by Sara Forrest
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Written on July 17, 2014 at 11:19 am , by Bethany Cianciolo
Oral birth control? So two years ago.
That’s what Bill Gates thinks, anyway.
The do-it-all man has been planning to fund the development of a remote-controlled birth control ($4.6 million-worth of funding, to be exact!), and now a Massachusetts startup company called MicroCHIPS is bringing the concept to life using technology invented by MIT engineer Robert Langer in the ‘90s.
Placed under the skin of the upper arm, butt or abdomen, the microchip releases levonorgestrel—a birth-control hormone currently in many contraceptives—but only when you want it to. You can turn the device on and off with the flip of a switch. When on, an electrical current melts a part of the chip and 30 micrograms of the hormone is released each day. The chip supposedly lasts up to 16 years, and the MicroCHIPS team wants it on the market by 2018.
“Thirty micrograms sounds low and sounds like it might not interfere with ovulation but might interfere with implantation,” says Sarah Berga, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and associate dean of women’s health research at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “The question I would have is what does it do to your estrogen levels across time and would they be too low?”
A contraceptive that only interferes with implantation might not be as effective, but it would be safer, says Berg. “You would be interfering less with ovarian function and potentially less with estrogen levels, therefore promoting better bone health, better mood, and the kinds of things that we think estrogens are good for,” she says.
Carolyn Westhoff, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and obstetrics and gynecology professor at Columbia University, says the microchip is an “interesting idea with lots of potential,” but that more work still needs to be done to evaluate the chip’s safety and effectiveness. Pre-clinical testing is scheduled to begin next year, but the chips will need to be encrypted to secure wireless data before MicroCHIPS sends an application to the FDA.
What do you think? Would you use remote controlled birth control over the more traditional varieties?
Photo courtesy of MicroCHIPS
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Written on July 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm , by Samantha Shelton
It’s been more than a year since Cheryl Strayed released her gripping memoir, Wild, about her solo 1,100-mile trek across the Pacific Crest Trail. The book is a New York Times bestseller for a reason, so if you haven’t read it yet, do it now. Strayed’s tale is gripping, and the honest look at herself as a person throughout her painful hike (literally painful—the speed at which she loses toenails makes me cringe) is refreshing. So when I found out Reese Witherspoon, one of my favorite actresses, would star in the film adaptation, I may have shrieked with joy.
The movie doesn’t hit theaters until December 5, but the official trailer has just been released. Watch:
Now, everyone knows the film version is rarely as good as the book, but I honestly think those working in film are stepping up their game. And while Witherspoon has a lot to live up to, I think she can handle it. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) fortunately doesn’t make us sit through two straight hours of a girl lugging a 50-pound pack through the woods, but rather bounces back to the story of why the heck this woman decided to go it alone. And believe me, that’s a twisted story you want to know about. I’ve only seen the trailer and I already see a myriad of awards in Reese’s future.
But more importantly, go see Wild because in a world of men in hardcore, badass lead roles (I’m looking at you, Captain Phillips), there’s now a strong (albeit unlikable) female in the mix doing something physically—not to mention mentally and emotionally—trying. For me, it serves as a little reminder that I don’t have to follow the crowd, and I can conquer a crazy-hard trail, and all that that comes with, just as well as any man.
But you tell me: have you read the book? Did you love it or hate it? And either way, will you see the movie?
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Written on July 16, 2014 at 12:42 pm , by FITNESS Editors
Written by Mary Christ Anderson, deputy editor
Being an editor at FITNESS, I’m always looking for scoop on what’s now and next for the sporty lifestyle. One blog I make a must is StyleofSport.com. I think I’ve settled on a cute beach tote when —poof—my new favorite pops up in the Style of Sport newsletter. SOS’s founder Claudia Lebenthal always nails the haute and cool mix of picks because she has an eye for design. “There’s a definite intersection of sport with fashion, art, news and culture and I see it everywhere: in magazines and movies, on ski slopes, at the gym or a photo gallery—you name it,” says Lebenthal. (She was a visuals director at both Women’s Sports & Fitness and Self—I know because we worked at both together!—before she set her sights on, well, sites.)
“At first, I wanted to have a store that sold the sporty chic clothes I loved and worked out in,” she says. “That sparked me to bring together my collection of what I was craving online instead.”
Much like planning the spreads in magazines, Lebenthal scouts the season out and plucks the best gets for SOS. And you can tell she’s the real deal from her exploits—paddle boarding, flyfishing, kite surfing, back country skiing—all of which she shares, along with other profiles and tidbits. (You’ve got to read the essay she penned for FITNESS to be inspired. Readers wrote to us that they had co-opted her you-can-do-this mantra in that essay: It’s your level now.
“My goal,” says Lebenthal, “is to appeal to both the athlete and fashionista. Performance is the bottom line but style is what makes it fun!”
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