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The Fit Stop

Music Monday: What’s New with ‘The Voice,’ and the Alums We’re Totally Jamming Out To

Written on February 24, 2014 at 9:10 am , by

Finally. After a long season of basically no TV (I mean, the Bachelor was there to hold me over), and a slight delay due to the Olympics, my favorite shows are back from winter break. I’m a total sucker for reality TV – obviously, since I watch the Bachelor - so the show I’m most excited for would be The Voice (OK, OK, I’m also really stoked for Scandal and Nashville). Cheesy as it may be, I love discovering new artists along with the rest of America, and this group of coaches has a ton of on-screen chemistry. And I’m not just talking about Adam Levine and Blake Shelton (though their bromance is pretty epic) – Shakira and Usher are back in the spinning chairs for season six, and now that they’re no longer newbies, these two are coming out of their shells even more (Shakira even claimed Blake’s wife, Miranda Lambert, as her guest coach!). All of their personalities shine in a big way, and watching them bring out the best in young performers is as heart-warming as the steamy mug of caffeine-free tea I’ll be cupping while I snuggle into my couch and watch (yes, I’m aware that I sound like an old lady #judgmentfreezone).

But as a running-addict, the best part of The Voice is, in fact, finding new artists to add to my always-changing playlists. We all know I love country music, so Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers are my jam, but I’ve also totally been digging Cassadee Pope and Will Champlin lately. Not one to keep good music all to myself, here are The Voice alums I’ve been sprinting, interval-ing and hill-climbing to these days. And if the weather is still terrible in your area, just hop on the treadmill Monday and Tuesday nights. The music will keep you entertained, and the coaches will make you laugh enough that you just might forget you’re running…maybe.

In other Voice news, there have been a lot of questions swirling around who will claim the red seats for season seven. The last few seasons have had a lot of back-and-forth, with an unprecedented switch between CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera with Usher and Shakira. Last week though, CeeLo announced on Ellen that he definitely would not be returning to the show. If that’s the case, will Shakira permanently take his place (based on where the replacements sit), and Christina reclaim her chair, making it an even playing field of male and female coaches? Or maybe Usher will return on a permanent basis too, since the two currently come as a pair? Or perhaps producers will use the vacancy as a chance to bring in a revolving chair (yes, pun intended) of coaches, opening the door for even more celeb appearances. It’s up in the air right now – as far as we know – but tell me what you think. Sound off in the comments, or vote in the poll below on your favorite pairing.

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More on ‘The Biggest Loser’ Controvery: Season 11 Winner Olivia Ward Speaks Out

Written on February 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm , by

Ward posed with sister (and season 11 runner-up), Hannah Curlee, after her win in 2011.

Written by Olivia Ward

Sitting in the audience during NBC’s live The Biggest Loser finale is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life…and I’ve done it four times. Not to mention I’ve actually had the awesome experience of being on stage and winning season 11. So  to say, “It’s not my first rodeo” is probably an understatement. Having been involved with the show for many years, I feel like I’ve seen it all…until recently. Of course, you know I’m talking about the live Season 15 finale, where 24-year-old Rachel Frederickson was crowned the winner at 105 pounds.

I will admit that when she walked out for the first time that night, there was a huge collective gasp from the audience. It was as if all of the oxygen had been sucked out of the room in a single moment, and it wasn’t because everyone loved her dress (although it was stunning). I think, more than anything, nobody thought it was possible to see a contestant get that small. Having been an avid Loser viewer for years, I always expect people to have huge transformations, but this was very different.

My first thought: What happened? Having been through the same experience, I knew Rachel would be small in the end. We both started the show weighing around 260 pounds, and we both left the ranch – as a part of the final four – around 150 pounds. I ended my journey on The Biggest Loser at 132 pounds, which at five-foot-ten, was really, really small. But I was fully aware of that, and I’ll be the first to admit that I never expected to stay at such a low weight for long. Instead, I viewed it as my “prize fighting” weight. Why? I was training (and eating) for 8 to 10 hours a day, every day, for the seven weeks that led to my finale. I was essentially treating the finale like my job, and I was a professional athlete. It wasn’t meant to be sustained for the rest of my life. It was a conscious adult choice I made because I was in a game, and I wanted to win.

Now, back to Rachel. First of all, I personally have never spoken to her (although I can’t wait to meet her one day), but I do have a level of understanding that most don’t. I’ve stood on that scale and I’ve worn the weigh-in tank top. I know what kind of outside pressure you feel at the end to win, along with the self-induced pressure of wanting to win so badly yourself. To train day in and day out like an athlete, you have to have tunnel vision and be extremely focused – clearly, those are things Rachel is extremely familiar with. So if you want my opinion, I think that when it came down to making a choice to really widen the gap between her and the other competitors, she did. By 10 percent. And therein lies the rub. The gap never had to be that big. Now, I’m not shunning her – or defending her – but as someone who’s faced the same situation, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t (and didn’t) make the same decision Rachel did.

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Olympian Mogul Skier Hannah Kearney on Bouncing Back From a Setback

Written on February 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm , by

Kearney knows how to “trick” her way to the top. (Photo by Garth Hagar)

Three-time Olympian Hannah Kearney has come a long way. Although she’s always been a phenomenal mogul skier, she’s faced plenty of adversity – the 2006 Winter Games come to mind pretty quickly, when Kearney placed 22nd out of 30 competitors. But rather than letting that defeat her, the Vermont native learned from her mistakes, and spent the last six years rising to the top of her game. So much so, in fact, that she snatched the gold in the 2010 Games, and was projected to repeat in this year’s Games. Unfortunately, a mistake on the course during the medal round dropped her out of contention for the top spot. But she still came away a winner: with head held high, Kearney stood on the podium claiming bronze for the U.S. After so many setbacks, we caught up with the champion (because winning a bronze is still pretty badass) to find out more about bouncing back, and whether or not retirement is in her near future.
Tell us about your Sochi experience? How do you feel coming away with a bronze medal?

Sochi has exceed my expectations. The mogul course was challenging, yet fun to ski. I knew I was capable of winning a gold medal again – I have made sacrifices, trained hard and made mogul skiing my life for the past four years. Although I am proud to be a two-time Olympic medalist, and grateful I got to compete in the Games for a third time, I am disappointed that I made a large mistake in my final run.

But bronze is still amazing! And you’ve come such a long way since the 2006 Olympics. How did you stay motivated amidst such discouragement?

I viewed every setback – injuries; losses – as an opportunity to become a stronger mental competitor. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so when I was sidelined from training and competitions, I tried to make the most of the break by adopting a dog, putting up a Christmas tree for the first time, and watching more of my brother’s hockey games.

Anything specific you can credit to your rise to success?

There have been many factors. Opportunity, supportive parents, a community that valued winter recreation, and coaches and friends who believed in me when I was very young. And a little bit of luck.

So…will we see you in the next Games potentially? Or are you thinking about retirement?

It’s hard to answer that when I feel as strong as ever and very motivated by the feeling that I can ski better than I demonstrated at Sochi.

What’s next for you, then?

After completing the World Cup season in Japan, Norway and France, I will be finishing my freshman year at Dartmouth in the spring!

OK, time to spill some of your success secrets. What’s on your pump-you-up playlist?

My workout playlist is a mix of contemporary pop and hip-hop, classic rock and some folk music.

A little bit of everything. What about food? Any that really fuel your fire?

I eat Bear Naked granola when I need a quick snack to give me energy! Plus, I love that the granola has ingredients that I can see and recognize on the label. I’ll mix it into a Chobani yogurt for a hearty, balanced, natural snack for pre- and post-workout.When I need to grab-and-go, I’ll use Bear Naked’s single serving packs – I keep them in my workout bag and in my car.

You’re working with Bear Naked on the #OneUpIt challenge. How do you plan to “One Up” your game post-Sochi?

I’m in the process of planning my One Upping strategy. I feel strong and motivated, so I am not ready to retire. I will train this summer to add a more difficult trick to my repertoire.

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Music Monday: Go Indie!

Written on February 17, 2014 at 9:47 am , by

I love chart-topping artists like Queen B and T-Swift as much as the next girl, but sometimes finding new, independent artists is an easy way to freshen up the ole’ workout playlist. And I bet you agree, whether you realize it or not – Macklemore’s winning streak at the Grammy’s is proof that independent musicians can hold their own, even against the major names we’ve come to fiercely love. So, to help me reboot my earbuds, I turned to TuneCore, a distribution service that many indie artists use to get their songs on the big platforms – you know, Spotify, iTunes and Amazon MP3. They’ve put together this playlist of mega-hot tracks guaranteed to spike my energy. Now if only it automatically transported me to the gym…

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Get #FitForLove this Valentine’s Day: Workouts with Your “Sweatie”

Written on February 14, 2014 at 9:06 pm , by

All day on Instagram, we’ve been sharing partner exercises you and your loved one – whether that’s romantic or bestie status – can do together to break a sweat. After all, those who sweat together stay together, and saying, “See ya, I’m off to the gym” is no way to spend your Valentine’s Day. Head there together (the obvious solution) and bust out these exercises from some of our favorite trainers. Then be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the fun, fit updates your heart could ever desire!

Lovers Lunges and Passion Push-Ups: Extreme Weight Loss’ Chris and Heidi Powell

Follow them on Instagram: @realchrispowell, @realheidipowell

The married trainers challenge you to get physical with your partner. With a running clock, do as many rounds of 14 lunges, followed by 14 push-ups, as you can in 9 minutes. A kiss at the bottom of those push-ups is optional, but totally recommended.

Lovers Lunges: Stand facing each other with right hands clasped together. Step back with left leg into a lunge, keeping hands clasped. Drive through your front leg to return to starting position, then switch to clasp left hands and lunge back with right leg.

Passion Push-Ups: The stronger partner (1) should lay on the ground facing up with feet together. The other partner (2) will straddle partner 1′s legs and clasp hands. Partner 2 performs a push-up as partner 1 lowers and presses partner 2 back to starting position.

Couple Planks: 20-Minute Body Trainer Brett Hoebel and FlyBarre Instructor Shay Kostabi

Follow them on Instagram: @bretthoebel, @shaykostabi

Partner 1 starts in plank position, the other on hands and knees perpendicular to first partner. Partner 2 brings one leg up to tailbone area (avoid lower back!), then the other leg, until both are up and extended straight. Hold for 1 minute. For an extra sizzle, partner 2 lifts one leg up (shown).

Ain’t No Mountain (Climbers) High Enough: Barry’s Bootcamp Besties Rebecca Kennedy and Patrick Frost

Follow them on Instagram: @barrysbootcamp, @rksolidnyc, @patrickfrost2

Partner 1 lays on bench with soles of feet on bench, hands behind head, chin neutral. Do a sit-up, reaching hands forward. At the same time, partner 2 holds top of partner 1′s feet and does incline mountain climbers. Repeat for one minute; switch positions. And don’t forget a sweaty smooch at the top of your sit-up!

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Love (and Jewelry) is All You Need on Valentine’s Day

Written on February 14, 2014 at 9:32 am , by

This Valentine’s Day  will be the first one that I’ve spent solo in almost nine years (insert Beyonce’s Single Ladies dance here). Because I have a love-hate relationship with February 14th, I’m not totally bummed about not having plans (a night of rom-coms? Okay by me!), and knowing that there will be no pressure to find the perfect dress to be wined and dined in is a huge sigh of relief. But like most single gals, the thought of not receiving an embarrassingly large bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolate from a crush does sting a little. So instead of waiting for Mr. Right to suddenly appear and shower me with gifts, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. Here’s how I’ll be spoiling myself this V-Day, with a little love from some of my favorite jewelry designers. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, ladies!

From top left: CatBird NYC ‘X&O’ rings, Ariel Gordon Jewelry ‘Mini Heart’ studs, Jennifer Zeuner ‘Loved’ necklace, Scosha ‘Arrow’ bracelet, Carrie Hoffman Jewelry ‘Mini Pave T-Bar’ necklace

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We Tried It: NYRR’s Empire State Building Run-Up

Written on February 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm , by

It’s mid-February, and I don’t know about you, but this girl is ready for a new challenge. The New Year’s resolution hype has all but died, winter is burying us East Coasters under piles of snow, and stir-crazy frenzies are settling in. So what’s a girl to do?

Enter New York Road Runners Empire State Building Run-Up. What’s that, you ask? Simple: run into the narrow stairwells of New York’s most iconic building, and get your butt up those 86 floors as fast as humanly possible. Easy enough, right? Heh.

After running 10 half-marathons, I decided to take on the challenge because there’s nothing like climbing stairs to get out of my distance-running comfort zone. After all, I live in New York City and, even though I can run 13.1 miles with relative ease (relative being the key word here), just getting to the top of the subway stairs can rob me of breath from time to time.

While I was fortunate enough to have words of advice from those who have run before me (our fitness editor, Jenna, climbed that stairwell in 2013!), I did my research. If this girl – you know, the one who avoids the stairmaster, lives on the first floor of a building and takes the elevator to the 25th floor of her office – was going to survive, I had to at least have my head in the game. And I’m proud to say that I made it to the top of New York’s most iconic building in just over 23 minutes. While I certainly wasn’t the fastest out there (seriously, some were finishing sub-10 – crazy!), I put my whole effort into it. Here’s what I learned along the way – hopefully it’ll inspire you to step (see what I did there?) outside your comfort zone. Maybe not 1,576 steps worth of discomfort, but if you skip the elevator just once, then I’ll consider my job done.

Chew gum and suck on cough drops. This tip from associate beauty editor, Molly, saved me. Chewing gum prevents your ears from popping as you quickly ascend to the top, thus increasing your elevation. The cough drops keep your mouth moist in an otherwise-dry environment. Remember, you’re in a small, dusty stairwell that doesn’t get a lot of use on the reg, so there isn’t a ton of air flow. Both helped me keep up a fast (for me) pace.

Mix up your movement. When sprinting so many stairs, your body quickly switches from an aerobic state over to an anaerobic state, and lactic acid starts to build in your muscles when you pass your anaerobic threshold. To keep pain at bay (and your legs moving), alternate how you get up those stairs. In the beginning, everyone’s in a mad dash, so a moderate sprint will keep you in the group without tuckering you out too quickly. After about eight flights of that, I switched between running up every single step and every other to ensure I was using different muscles.

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Sweat with Your Sweetie for Valentine’s Day

Written on February 13, 2014 at 9:13 am , by

Reach new heights together this V-Day (photo by Jocelyn Voo).

Let’s be real for a minute, guys: dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day is not fun. The restaurants are going to be jam-packed, and well, you’ve probably seen all the good movies already. Instead, grab your special someone for one of these hot-and-sweaty adventures (you never know where it may lead after you get back home). And we won’t have any qualms with you digging into that box of chocolates post-workout, either. After all, you earned it!

Ride with Your Crush at Cyc

NYC-ers, if you’re already set on plans for the 14th, head to Cyc Fitness for their 7:30pm “Crush Ride” on February 13th. They’ll be playing cupid for you and your crush with a themed playlist, special Valentine’s treats and a sweaty kissing booth in case you two really hit it off while pumping your legs (and heart). But they can’t do all the work – you’ll need to purchase two bikes, and email rsvpnyc@cycfitness.com with your crush’s name and address. Cyc takes it from there, shooting your hottie an invite and reserving side-by-side bikes. ($25 per class, cyfitness.com)

Reach New Heights at Brooklyn Boulders

Climb to new heights – in the gym and in your relationship – with BKB’s “It Takes Two” bouldering competition. Two teammates are required to enter the February 15th competition, and you’ll each work together to master routes of all levels. So gear up and see how well you two really work together ($20 per person, brooklynboulders.com). But if you’re not quite ready for a competition, sign up for the “Learn the Ropes” course for a special price, and score some sweet gifts both of you can enjoy. ($99, brooklynboulders.com)

Smile While you Sweat with SoulCycle

At all Soul locations, ride on February 14th with your SOULmate for a major party-on-a-bike calorie burn, and document the memory with the SOUL kiss cam. Can’t make it to class that day? For the entire month of February, bring a date to select classes – free! These classes don’t come cheap, giving you reason enough to drag your partner along or muster the guts to finally ask that cutie you’ve been eyeing on a date. (price and schedule varies; soul-cycle.com)

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Everything You Need to Know About The Biggest Loser Controversy – Including ‘Extreme Weight Loss’ Trainer Chris Powell’s Opinion

Written on February 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm , by

Frederickson’s before and after photos (courtesy of NBC).

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’re aware of all the controversy that’s been swirling around The Biggest Loser season 15 finale and its winner, Rachel Frederickson. But if you’re not clued in to all the dirty details, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what’s been happening:

After competing on the show and being monitored closely for seven-and-a-half months, Frederickson went home (unmonitored and without trainers) for the final stretch before the finale, working to get down to her lowest weight and hopefully claim the $250,000 prize and title of the Biggest Loser. She shocked viewers; the audience; trainers Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and Dolvett Quince; and host Alison Sweeney when she strutted a 0-2 sized figure and clocked in at a startling 105 pounds. At the start of the show, Frederickson weighed in at 260 pounds. With a 5’4″ frame, let’s do the math: this girl shed 155 pounds fast, and she brought her BMI (body mass index) down to 18, which places her in the underweight category – a first in the show’s history.

Now, we know by now that BMI is not the end-all, be-all for telling whether or not a person is healthy. There are many other factors at play, like muscle mass. Had she gone too far? Despite the media storm, NBC stands behind their latest champion, and when People magazine asked Frederickson point blank whether or not she had an eating disorder, she told them, “I am very, very healthy.”

That being said, when you’re training for six hours a day and only eating 1,600 calories per day like this contestant was, the cause for concern seems warranted (however, that does not justify mean, negative comments). After all, it was widely reported that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps chowed down a staggering 12,000 calories a day when training for the Beijing Olympics, and we all heard about how track-star-turned-bobsledder Lolo Jones consumes 9,000 daily calories to beef up for bobsledding. Even Olympic cyclists take in more than 3,300 calories, on average. Granted, Olympians aren’t trying to drop weight the way Frederickson was, but it’s the closest comparison we get when athletes are logging so many hours of exercise.

But before we all point fingers at the 24-year-old athlete (which she is, no question), let’s face the facts: The Biggest Loser is a competitive reality show, and Frederickson did exactly what she signed on to do: win a weight-loss show and bring home a life-changing amount of money. Whether she stays at the same weight or gains 20 pounds before the end of the week doesn’t matter – and with the amount of challenges she won throughout the season (4 out of 5 once they moved to singles, including the first-ever Loser sprint triathlon), we bet that played a strategic role. After all, we’ve heard time and time again how she’s always been an athlete and Loser helped her find that in herself again.  She knew that as long as she trained hard and got down low enough, she was bringing home the goods. Also, let’s not forget that her 105-pound weight isn’t set in stone – the show’s winners generally gain back a good amount of weight post-finale to settle into their natural healthy weight.

Click through to find out what Extreme Weight Loss trainer Chris Powell has to say!

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Music Monday: Bring It Back with the Beatles

Written on February 10, 2014 at 9:32 am , by

It’s hard to believe, but 50 years ago the Beatles made their first appearance in the United States. The iconic band has made an impact on our society in a way like no other, and fortunately for us, we can relive their music in more ways than one (we all remember Across the Universe, and I highly recommend seeing Cirque De Soleil’s Love). But rather than sitting through a performance that takes you back in time, try sweating instead. This 50-minute playlist from our friends at Run Rock ‘n’ Roll honors the monumental anniversary of the guys jumping across the pond, so take it for a whirl during your next workout. Better yet? Consider signing up for the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon and Half-Marathon, and make sure to bring these tunes along for the ride. Nothing like a little John Lennon to get you through a tough training run, especially when you’re going to his homeland.

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