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My 67-Mile Bike Race: FITNESS Advisor Dr. Jennifer Ashton Recaps Her Epic Ride

Written on June 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm , by

Written by Jennifer Ashton, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and “The Doctors” co-host

Today I completed a 67-mile bike ride. It was, hands-down, the most difficult physical thing I have ever done in my life. It was also the most amazing, fun, emotional, inspiring, frightening and exhilarating feat I have ever accomplished. I had the privilege of riding along with an incredible 17-year-old girl named Lauren Sepanske. Lauren was born with clubfeet and had so many problems with her right foot, that one year ago, she made the decision to have her leg amputated below the knee. Soon after that decision, she appeared on “The Doctors” TV show, where I am a co-host, to share her story. During her segment, she announced on national television that she had planned to ride 100 miles in the Elephant Rock Ride in Castle Rock, Colorado in June! I vowed to do it with her (even though the farthest I had ever ridden was just 21 miles).

When the time came to confirm our race registration, I had just 6 weeks to really train for this ride. I was really only trained to one hour of strenuous cardio at this time, so I decided to sign-up for the 62 mile race part of Elephant Rock. For 6 weeks, I worked with my amazing triathlon coach, Andres Herrera, doing a combo of interval rides, endurance rides and threshold rides. Oh, did I mention that I was doing all of this training INDOORS ON MY SPIN BIKE??? I knew this wasn’t wise, but my schedule and fear of being hit by a car on my road bike told me that it would have to suffice. As the race date drew closer, I was feeling confident, but also was clearly in a state of denial. This ride was in Colorado, at an altitude of 7,500 feet! It was in a very hilly area south of Denver, I was using clips on my pedals for only the second time, and it was forecasted to be a very sunny day, with temps in the low 80’s. When I contemplated all of these separate challenges, I actually wondered if I would even finish the race. In fact, I was so nervous about the physical challenges that I asked my husband, who is also a doctor, to ride with me, because I thought there was a significant chance that I would need medical attention during or after the race!

We got to Colorado 40 hours before the race in an attempt to adjust to the altitude. I pre-hydrated and carb-loaded for 3 to 4 days in advance, like it was my job! For the maximum benefit of increasing glycogen stores, increased carbs need to be consumed for 3 to 4 days prior to an athletic event. When the race started, I took one look at Lauren, with her prosthetic leg, and thought, ‘If she can do it, maybe I can too!’  Early on in the race, I decided to stay with Lauren on the 100-mile course, and just try to make it as far as possible before I had to leave to catch my flight back to NYC and return to sea-level! The race was incredibly challenging on all levels: there were very strong headwinds, steep up-hill climbs, high altitude, hot weather and glaring sun. I managed to keep up with the priority of nutrition and hydration while on the bike, but I also managed a low-speed fall on a turn while forgetting how to use my pedal clips (rookie mistake). The spill left me bruised, scraped and embarrassed, but also left my bike gears badly bent. They were so damaged that I only had use of TWO gears (and sadly not the lowest ones) for the remaining 25 miles of the race. When I had reached the time in the race when I knew I had to leave for the airport, we had made it to mile 67! It had taken us 7 hours, including 3, 15-minute breaks at rest stations to use the porta potties, refill our water bottles, and grab some bagels, bananas and more sunscreen.

According to the heart rate monitor, my HR ranged from 130 to 175 during the race, with an average around 150. I knew that this ride was a massive stress test for my heart, my kidneys, my muscles and my lungs. But it was also a test of my spirit. There were hills that were so steep, I doubted if I would make it to the top. I thought of my children, and of Lauren, and their spirit and strength. At one point, as I reached the top of a 45- minute climb, I started to tear-up thinking of what I had just accomplished.  And now, as I sit on the plane, sore as hell, I realize what an amazing machine the human body is, but also how powerful the human will is. I did something that was WAY out of my comfort zone, and I will never forget it. I am a total beginner rider but I didn’t let that stop me. I took the appropriate medical and athletic precautions, and then pushed my body to a place it had never been. I think I can hear it whimpering, ‘Thank you!’

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We Tried It: Body Conceptions

Written on May 15, 2014 at 10:39 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

What it is: A full-body, dance-inspired workout developed by Mahri Relin, formerly of the Tracy Anderson Method and FlyBarre at Flywheel Sports.

Good for: Anyone looking to tone long, lean muscles. This workout targets your arms, abs, thighs and bum with a combination of explosive movements and smaller, focused isolations.

Where you go: Stepping Out Studios (37 W 26th Street, 9th Floor)

How it works: Body Conceptions offers open classes five days a week, private training sessions for groups (four to seven people), pre- and post-natal training and special events (sweaty bachelorette or birthday parties, anyone?). Check out their classes and schedule here.

What you need: Sneakers and comfortable, form-fitting clothing. You’ll be doing a lot of jumping and dance-like movements, so you’ll want something that’s easy to move in but not too baggy.

What it costs: Each classes is $32—just $20 for first-timers. (Insider tip: Once you buy your first class, you’ll get a special promo code for a great deal on two more classes!) Two, five and ten-class packages are also available. Sign up for the 2014 Spring Challenge, a six-week program for $600! Summer, here you come.

What we think: This workout is killer! Think barre, Zumba and aerobics mashed together in one sweatastic hour. Warning: the isolations are tough…in a good way. Mahri had our class do tiny pulses mid-crunch (you know the place where all of your muscle are engaged and you’re not quite sure you can hold it? Yeah, right there). My abs hurt just thinking about it. But her energy was infectious and made the class seem like more fun than work. Always a win!

Photo courtesy of Body Conceptions

Want us to test another workout? Post a comment to let us know and you may see it in a future We Tried It!

More Workouts We’ve Tried:

JumpLife Gym

DailyBurn’s Inferno HR

Doonya Fitness Party

 

Kelly Osbourne Dishes On Her Stay-Slim Secrets

Written on May 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Famous for her colorful hair, unique style and true-to-herself attitude, the fashion-forward Kelly Osbourne has been focused on getting and, more importantly, staying healthy. (Since kicking off her weight loss journey back in 2009, Osbourne has shed and kept off an impressive 70 pounds!) To help celebrate the launch of Wheat Thins Popped, we got the skinny on Osbourne’s fit physique.

“I’ve been through a huge transformation in my life,” Osbourne told FITNESS Associate Beauty Editor Molly Ritterbeck. “It’s not just about health, it’s about maintenance. It’s finding the way you want to be and working on yourself and finding things that work for you.” So, how does she do it? Simple swaps and go-to snacks are her top tricks. “I’ve started to take my own snacks with me on set,” said the Fashion Police starlet, adding that Wheat Thin’s new poppable product is actually one of her favorites.

“I tasted-tested every single one before I said ‘yes’ to doing this [campaign] because I can’t lie,” she said. And boy, do we appreciate her honesty! But sometimes a little mental fibbing is just what you need when it comes to swapping out those not-so-good-for-you treats. “If you want sour cream, have fat-free Greek yogurt instead and add some lime and a little pinch of salt and your mind thinks it’s the same thing,” explained Osbourne.

And when it comes to her workouts, Osbourne likes to mix it up. “I love a good sweat and a run and I do circuit training,” she said. “But I also love my hula hooping and…fun stuff like the trampoline workouts and there’s a jazzercise class that I want to start doing in LA.” She even tried out salsa but says she can’t keep it up “because I get too competitive and by the time I leave, I can’t walk.” Looks like her Dancing with the Stars days aren’t quite behind her yet!

Photo courtesy of Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Wheat Thins

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Free Yoga! Wanderlust Yoga in the City Summer Series Is Back

Written on April 24, 2014 at 9:14 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Planning your summer but strapped for cash? Wanderlust’s Yoga in the City (YITC) series is back and we couldn’t be more excited! Like previous years, the fast-growing evolutionary brand is offering free, all-day events with renowned yoga instructors and live music from local DJs. Plus you can snag some goodies from Kashi, LUVO, Spiritual Gangster and more. See? Being a free spirit really pays off.

“While our festivals are incomparable getaways, Yoga in the City celebrates what is local,” says Wanderlust co-founder Jeff Krasno. “It brings together the best local teachers, musicians and craft vendors in some of our nation’s most beautiful city parks. The events pull together the local yoga and mindful community around a great day of fun and practice.” So what are you waiting for? Grab your mat and get ready to find your zen. Here’s when and where you can join the movement:

May 10: Los Angeles, CA – Santa Monica Pier
May 17: San Francisco, CA – Marina Green
May 31: Chicago, IL – Butler Field in Grant Park
June 7: Philadelphia, PA – The Piazza at Schmidt’s

For more information and to sign up, check out Wanderlust’s site to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Vincent Tran

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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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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

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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

We Tried It: JumpLife Gym

Written on April 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

What it is: A body-rocking trampoline fitness class.

Good for: Anyone, from beginners to professional athletes. The trampolines offer a low impact workout that uses the resistance and rebound motion from the trampoline to help tone and tighten your body.

Where you go: Tribeca, New York City

How it works: JumpLife offers four different trampoline-based classes: JumpDANCE, JumpGYM, JumpFUSION and for the youngins, JumpKIDZ. You can check the schedule and sign up for classes online.  Once you’re there, hop on your own personal trampoline and get ready to sweat to the beat of some rocking tunes.

What you need: Form-fitting clothing, cross-training kicks and plenty of water. Avoid wearing anything too baggy or long pants—we love capris for this workout—so you don’t trip on a hem or um, flash anyone mid-jump.

What it costs: First-timers score a deal at $18; after that a session costs $28. If you decide to make it a go-to, consider opting for one of their packages, available in 5, 10, 20, 30 and 50-class packs. Check out more details here.

What we think: This class was a blast from the past—seriously my inner child was out in all her glory! Before hopping (pun intended) into sweat-mode, I popped SKEnergy’s Berry-flavored energy shot—which is made from green tea and green coffee beans with all natural flavors—to get the kick I needed for this early morning workout. After that, it was all smiles, even as I began to feel the burn. But before you start thinking just how high those little trampolines will get you, let me stop you. This class isn’t like bounding on a massive, springy backyard trampoline; it’s all about staying grounded and using your core and legs to jump down into the rebound of the trampoline verses up into the air. It’s killer on your glutes and thighs and when our trainer, Terrell Pruitt, had us add in some light weights, it was a great upper body workout too.

Want us to get the scoop on another workout? Post a comment and let us know and you may see it in a future We Tried It!

More Workouts We’ve Tried:

DailyBurn’s Inferno HR 

Doonya Fitness Party 

NYRR’s Empire State Building Run-Up 

We Tried It: DailyBurn’s Inferno HR

Written on April 9, 2014 at 9:36 am , by

What it is: The first interval heart rate zone workout series released by the online streaming video service, DailyBurn.

Good for: All levels. The trainer, Anja Garcia, did a great job of providing modifications for beginner and more advanced athletes.

Where you go: Anywhere your heart desires. Download the service and stream onto your phone, TV or iPad. So, it’s obviously great for those who travel a lot or tend to avoid gym settings.

How it works: Simply sync your iOS device with a heart rate monitor, cue up DailyBurn and follow the Inferno HR workout program. As you sweat, DailyBurn streams your heart rate info onto the screen so you get a better understanding of heart rate zones and how to burn the most calories in a short amount of time. Want a basic rundown of working with a heart rate monitor? Check out this article first.

What you need: It depends on the workout you select within the Inferno HR program, but I recommend having a set of dumbbells and a yoga mat handy. You’ll also need a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor (try this one), your sneakers and the urge to sweat.

What it costs: $10 per month for access to all of DailyBurn’s workout programs, available 24/7. With NYC classes averaging $25-$35 a class, this is a total steal.

What we think: For the price, I’m totally on board with this program. Anja’s energy is infectious and she pushed me to my max, helping me focus on staying within the proper heart rate zones when I wanted to go balls to the wall and sky rocket out of ‘em (fun fact: that’s not really the most effective way to train). I enjoyed the variety of exercises—we did everything from jumping lunges to Turkish getups—and after a mere 25 minutes, I had a healthy puddle of sweat beneath me. I’d call it a success.

What to watch out for: Make sure you have the heart rate monitor on correctly. When I first got hooked up, my data displayed me in zone 3—picture heavy breathing and lots of intense movement—when in fact I had only walked about five paces to say hi to a friend. To get set up properly, spritz the sensors on the back of the chest strap with water and make sure the monitor is in direct contact with your skin (translation, ladies: make sure it’s not over your sports bra band). Position it snugly around your ribcage and you should be good to go. To extend the battery life, be sure to detach the sensor and lightly rinse after each use.

Curious about a workout? Let us know in the comments and we may put it to the test for a future We Tried It!

More Workouts We’ve Tried: 

Doonya Fitness Party

NYRR’s Empire State Building Run-Up

SUMMIT at Exceed Physical Culture

 

fitmob: Community Fitness For Less

Written on March 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm , by

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.

Photo courtesy of fitmob

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For Love of Art and Yoga: Join the Global Lolë WHITE Tour

Written on March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Are you a yogi with a love of fine art and an urge to travel to some of the world’s most beautiful museums? Ever have an itch to break out your mat and drop into a warrior pose in front the most powerful or inspiring statue? OK, so that notion might not be exactlywhat’s gone through your head during your last gallery visit, but if the notion sounds pretty cool, then the 2014 Lolë WHITE Tour is right up your alley. Taking place in five major museums in five major cities around the world, the series will bring together yogis—beginner, advanced and everyone in between—all dressed in white to experience a session dedicated to peace and set to the soothing sounds of a local symphony orchestra.

If this sounds like your keep-calm-and-om-on moment as much as it does to us, all you have to do is grab your mat, choose your date and sign up. These are the cities the tour will stop at:

  • April 12: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
  • May 8: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
  • May 22: The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York City
  • June 12: Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
  • July 2014: Specific date and location TBD, Edmonton, Canada

Last year’s tour brought more than 10,000 yogis together and this year promises to be just as grand. “The five prestigious museums—each one selected for its unparalleled space and atmosphere—will be transformed to provide the serenity of a yoga studio while accommodating between 500 and 1000 guests, for a yoga experience unlike anything else,” says Nathalie Binda, Lolë ’s vice president of marketing.

Ready to sign up? Tickets are $25 each and include a signature Lolë  yoga mat (score!). But hurry! Space and mats are limited, so click here to secure your spot. And if you don’t have the required all-white attire, check out the new WHITE BY Lolë  collection—100 percent of the proceeds go to support wellness programs that promote an active lifestyle in the communities visited by the tour.

Photo courtesy of Lolë 

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Yoga Your Own Way
Which Yoga Pose Are You?
Soul-Soothing Yoga Playlist