Richard Simmons. Just hearing that name instantly conjures an image of candy-striped shorts, sequin-studded tank tops and neon-colored sweatbands. And that’s exactly what we got when we met the fitness icon himself last week while testing Old Navy’s new activewear collection. As girls who frequently popped in Sweatin’ to the Oldies VHS tapes with our moms, this evening was a dream come true; full of smiles, laughter and aerobic dancing. Talk about fitting in a workout without realizing it.
Not one to shy away from the camera, we chatted with Simmons post-workout to find out what’s kept him in the game for 38 years, with hopes he’d randomly burst into song. Spoiler: he definitely did, and we caught it on tape.
First of all, that was so fun! You definitely know how to keep a crowd smiling and laughing through a workout. What makes you love teaching so much?
It’s all about the people. I call about 50 overweight and house-bound people a day and I’ll make them laugh and give them hope. Because with hope you can cope, and without hope you’re in despair and go nowhere.
You’ve been in this industry for 38 years. Any special memories?
So many! Sometimes I’ll call somebody every day for 10 years and one day they finally get it and say, “Richard, I lost five pounds in the last two weeks. I get it now. I threw everything out of my house that doesn’t belong in my body and I’m moving.” I love those moments.
Why did you partner with Old Navy for their activewear collection?
Editor’s note: we’re letting Simmons answer this question via video, so you can witness his fun personality first-hand.
That was fabulous! What advice would you give someone who’s trying to become more active?
I think getting up in the morning with a positive attitude is key. Don’t just wake up and go, “Oh, woe is me. Oh, I’m unhappy. Pain, pain.” Instead, say, “Hey, God, I’m alive! Thanks for another day! I’ll be kind to people in every way!” And that’s what I do, whether I’m saying hello to someone on the street, taking pictures with someone who approached me, or teaching in my studio. Anything you can do to be positive and help others.
Now you tell us: Do you love Richard Simmons? Have you ever sweat to the oldies?
There’s a reason why The Refine Method is known to be “New York’s Smartest Workout.” The intense circuit-style technique, Metabolic Resistance Training, was created by former New York City Ballet dancer Brynn Jinnett to exercise not only your body, but your mind to think differently about the overall approach to fitness and heath. Instead of a fad-based approach, Refine is founded on principles of facts and a constantly evolving education to help take clients to a whole new, metabolism-boosting level.
In our February Express Workout, Brynn tossed dumbbells for resistance bands in an arm workout fit for the red carpet. Firm and sculpted in six moves? Count us in! Read on to find out Brynn’s best strengthening moves, her favorite workout tunes and the one person Brynn believes could outdo her in a push-up competition.
Most of us are NYC transplants, so tell me how you made your way and landed in the Big Apple?
I am actually a native New Yorker! It’s a little embarrassing, but I still live about 10 blocks from where I was born and raised in! I love the city.
How did you fall in love with ballet and know that you wanted to pursue it professionally? Tell me about your ballet career?
I used to dance around in my diapers, so my Mom put me in ballet class at age 3! I enjoyed my dance classes, so I entered the School of American Ballet (the pre-professional division of New York City Ballet) at age 7. At 16, I was then fortunate to be offered a position with New York City Ballet, where I danced until heading off to Harvard for college. I continued to dance while at school and then returned to dancing professionally after college for another 3 years before retiring. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have performed on some of the world’s greatest stages in the most beautiful ballets and also for ballet giving me the discipline and drive that have helped me in all aspects of my life.
How did you transition from ballet to running your fitness method?
I taught fitness throughout my career part-time and only began to consider it as a full-time profession when I decided to retire. I foolishly thought that as a professional dancer I must know a lot about how the body works, but so many of my clients were working so hard and not seeing significant results which left me questioning things I held as “fact.” I realized that many of the smartest thinkers in fitness worked with professional athletes, so I spent over a year traveling the country learning from professors, athletic trainers and successful business owners. Refine is a product of that journey. I continue to spend a significant amount of my time learning, reading journal articles, attending conferences and speaking with other athletic professionals. We will always adapt our methods to fit the information we know today. Read more
Red carpet season is in full swing, so it’s pretty perfect that the Fitness Gala 2013 is this weekend. Come in your best fitness-ready red carpet outfit (our kind of red carpet!) and work up with sweat with a Kettlebell Kickboxing master class, taught by the creator of the program Dasha Libin. After class, treat yourself to cocktails, brunch and a silent auction, with all proceeds, including ticket sales, benefitting Mariska Hargitay’s charity, the Joyful Hearts Foundation. The foundation raises awareness for sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse in addition to helping survivors reclaim their lives.
Aside from supporting a good cause, all attendees will be entered to win a VIP gift bag that includes a 1-year Kettlebell Kickboxing gym membership, at-home training sessions and tons more. Smash star Megan Hilty will be there as well, snapping pics in the photo booth for anyone who loves a camera opp.
Fitness Gala 2013 will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at Studio 450 (450 W. 31st St. NY, NY 10001). General admission is $125. To RSVP or make a donation in your absence, click here.
Sometimes, heading out for a typical run can be, well, boring. When you’re doing the same thing day in and day out, a punch of excitement helps spice things up. And we say there’s no better way to heat up a race than to strip down to your skivvies!
Bear with us, we swear it’s a good idea. If streaking 1.5 miles down the street in your underwear sounds a smidge too extreme for you, maybe the fact that this run helps fight tumors will convince you. Cupid’s Undie Run, the world’s largest organized underwear run, takes place every year to raise funds for The Children’s Tumor Foundation and Neurofibromatosis.
Never heard of neurofibromatosis? It’s a genetic disorder that disrupts cell growth in the nervous system and can lead to deafness, blindness, learning disabilities and chronic pain, according to Mayo Clinic. Most who have the disorder are diagnosed at a young age, but unfortunately there’s still no cure.
If that still isn’t enough to persuade you, maybe the starry-eyed love theme will push you to click “register” on that computer screen. After all, it isn’t called Cupid’s Undie Run for no reason – celebrate Valentine’s Day a few days early, and bring a loved one in on the fun. Single but ready to mingle? We think this could be the perfect fun run - you never know what tumor-fighting hunk you might find there!
Ready to sign up (we are!)? Find a location near you here. And if there isn’t one near you and you still want to strip down and run, we recommend checking out the Santa Speedo Run or Undie Dash later this year!
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A good bee-bopping song tossed into our workout mix every now and then is a great pick-me-up; something catchy that will undoubtedly end up stuck in our heads for the rest of the day, if not the entire week. T-Swift is one young artist who fills this playlist gap quite well – we have to admit, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is great for holding a 9-minute mile. And since Swift is sitting pretty at the top of the iTunes chart with her grungier hit, “I Knew You Were Trouble” (check out the video), it’s time to highlight some of our favorite hits from the star. She may be constantly switching beaus, but it makes for great music. Pop those headphones in and get ready to head bob your way to the gym. Go ahead and sing a little, too – we won’t tell.
Written by editorial intern, Jennifer Fiorentino
For some of us, we watch Dancing with the Stars and think “I would need serious professional help to be able to dance that.” DWTS pro Louis van Amstel has developed a dance fitness program, LaBlast, that lets even complete newbies learn the steps to the Cha Cha, Quickstep, the Merengue and more routines while working up a sweat. Dancing queen wannabes can find a class near them taught by instructors trained in van Amstel’s program, or get stepping in their own living rooms with the LaBlast DVD series. We caught up with the pro to learn more about his program and his fitness motivation.
You are a three-time world dance champion, Emmy-nominated choreographer and spent seven seasons on DWTS. Did you ever dream of such success?
It’s funny, after fulfilling my dream of becoming a world champion the first time, I realized that dreams are more like goals. If you work hard you can really achieve anything you want. Repeating the world champion title two more times only confirmed that sheer hard work can make dreams come true. After moving to the United States from Europe I felt I was in the right country to make even bigger dreams come true. Dancing with the Stars, my dance fitness program LaBlast, My active wear clothing line LVA are all dreams that became reality, because of dedication, goal setting, and a lot of intuition. Dreams can come true if you follow your gut! I can’t believe I’m on dream number five. DREAM, PEOPLE! Set a goal and follow your heart!
What does dancing mean to you?
Dance has meant so many different things to me in the course of my career. At first all dance meant to me was nothing, because my (grand)parents wanted me to dance. It wasn’t my choice. After doing my first competition a while later it light up a fire in me which made me see dance as a sport. It became about winning. Because of my growing up with alcohol abuse from my parents and their unhappy marriage, I used dance as therapy. I could express my feelings through dance, but didn’t have to share my personal feelings with anyone. Thank god for dance. If it weren’t for dance I probably would have ended up becoming an addict myself. Instead I chose dance to excel in, so you can imagine what dance has meant to me and always will!
Why did you decide to turn your LaBlast workout into a DVD series?
Being part of Dancing With The Stars from the beginning I realized that the celebrities get hooked on dancing. Dance becomes a lifestyle, because it makes you feel so good on many levels. It’s addicting! The feeling of achieving the steps, the different cultures and characters of each dance make it such a thrill. Also, it makes women feel feminine and contributes to confidence and inner sexuality. Not to mention LaBlast gets people in the best shape of their lives, because dance uses the entire body, physically, mentally, and emotionally. After my season with Kelly Osbourne I decided it was time to create the LaBlast DVDs, so people at home can experience what all the celebs on DWTS go through each season. Anyone can dance and should experience the joy of dance. The benefits are endless!
How many calories can we expect to burn in one 30-minute session?
Depending on how involved you get people can burn between 300 and 600 calories. The more you get involved emotionally into LaBlast, the more calories you’ll burn. Dance is all about getting into the meat and potatoes, haha, not just doing the steps correctly. Don’t be afraid to go crazy and goof off, because it’ll burn you more calories. Read more
One smart strategy FITNESS editors rely on to stay on track with fitness goals: signing up for future active events! (Like the MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon coming up in April. Have you registered?) Doing so inspires us to train to stay in shape, plus the actual race/fundraiser/conference is a fun way to test your limits and maybe even meet some like-minded new friends.
Interested in trying this approach yourself? We found a great option for those who aren’t big on competition: the Merrithew Mindful Movement World Tour. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Merrithew Health & Fitness (founders of Stott Pilates), they are hosting three-day gatherings in New York, California and other locations worldwide. While certified Pilates instructors will be on-hand to learn new techniques, those who have never tried the core-focused fitness method are invited to try something new with master instructors leading the way.
Click here to learn more about the classes and events offered, and register by February 15 to receive an early bird discount.
Now tell us: What get-moving get-togethers are on your to-do list?
One of the perks of working at FITNESS is getting the opportunity to workout with celebrity trainers. So when we heard Jackie Warner had partnered with Wisk and wanted to personally hand us a sweat-dripping, butt-kicking workout, we just couldn’t say no. After 30 minutes of nonstop circuits that left our thighs burning and core shaking, we took a breather to get the inside scoop from the star.
First of all, what a great workout! And we didn’t use any weights. If you only had 10 minutes and no equipment, what would be your quick routine?
I love to do a yard workout, something outside. I would tell you to sprint 50 paces, jump down and do sprawls. Here’s how you do it:
- Start in a standing position. Lower your hands to the ground and quickly jump back into push-up position.
- Shift your hips to the ground, then return to pushup position.
- Jump back to standing position.
So that’s a sprawl; it’s the name of my training technique. Do 15 of those in a row, then sprint 50 paces and repeat. Complete four sets – you could likely do that in about five minutes, and it’s really intense. So if you want to go for 10 minutes, do eight sets.
Why would you say that’s such an intense workout?
The sprinting is getting your legs in place and the sprawls are getting your upper body and core in place. Your whole body is being worked in a short amount of time.
For those who are just starting to workout, what tips do you have to help ease themselves into the gym?
You shouldn’t ease yourself into the gym if it isn’t something you like. Don’t force a type of training on yourself that you do not like because you will fail long-term. Go to Google and find something you’ve always secretly wanted to do. There’s a wealth of information and classes out there, as well as trainers, that will find that one thing you like to do, whether it be mat Pilates, bootcamp, Spinning, or Muay Thai. There’s so much out there. So find the thing you secretly want to do and do that.
What advice do you have for those who struggle with morning workouts?
I prefer morning workouts, but we all have an internal strength clock. It’s a biological thing; we’re all built with it and it’s a unique clock that allows us to be stronger through time periods throughout the day. Some of us are stronger first thing in the morning, some mid-morning and others in the afternoon or evening. You need to experiment with it to find out what’s best for you and try to workout within that time. For me, my strength clock is between 9am and noon.
So don’t feel bad if you’re not working out first thing in the morning?
No, absolutely not. The good thing about working out in the morning is that you’re burning all throughout the day, which is fantastic. And you release a lot of hormones in the brain, which can give you more of a balance throughout the day. But if it’s not for you, then it’s not for you.
Keep reading to find out which celebs she’s loved working with, and who she would love to train in the future!
Categories: Celebrity, Fitness, Motivation, The Fit Stop, Weight Loss, Workouts | Tags: Alanis Morisette, awards show, Celebrities, celebrity trainer, Jackie Warner, Julia Roberts, rihanna, workout
This week the FITNESS crew took a little midday field trip. In lieu of a lunch break, we headed over to Reebok on 5th Ave to hit up their CrossFit box!
By now, many of you know about CrossFit and how it works – or you’ve at least heard about it. And like you, many of the staffers had learned about the craze that has taken the world by storm, but hadn’t tried it for themselves. Since that just isn’t acceptable, we banded together to get down and dirty with those who know the sport like the back of their hand.
After a refresher crash course on how to properly perform an air squat, box jump, burpee and ring row, it was time to move! Our trainers, Megan and Bobby, split our crew of 15 into five teams of three and asked us to create names. The winners?
- Blue-Eyed B*tches
- Team ACK
- Fit Wits
- Brunette Bruisers
- Blonde Ambition
Before we knew it, the clock was running and as a team we all worked to complete 1 minute each of:
- Box Jumps
- Ring Rows & Planks (one teammate rows for 20 seconds while the other two plank, then switch!)
- Sit-ups (high-five your teammates at the top!)
- Burpees & Ball Slams (one teammate performs a ball slam while the other two burpee, then switch!)
- Air Squats
Repeat 3 times for a total of 15 minutes, squeezing in as many reps as you possibly can while maintaining proper form. Talk about a speedy workout! Each team kept track of their reps throughout the circuit, and then added the scores after three rounds for the grand total to determine the winner. With 613 reps, Blue-Eyed B*tches came out on top!
Keep reading to find out what the staffers learned about their hardcore quickie workout!
Obstacle races are hot to trot for lately, and among one of the most popular is the Spartan Race, which will have you rolling, crawling and climbing your way to the finish line. Now, one of the trendiest races has teamed up with Reebok, one of the trendiest brands, announcing a multi-year partnership with Spartan Race yesterday in NYC.
The partnership will start with the January 26 Spartan Race at Vail Lake Resort in Temecula, CA. Reebok will be the official footwear, apparel and accessories supplier for the race series, including a line of products specifically for Spartan Race athletes to help them train better, faster and stronger.
To kick off the partnership, Reebok hosted the Reebok Spartan Race Times Square Challenge, a traffic-stopping race. Celebs like model Brooklyn Decker, former Giants football player Tiki Barber and 2012 winner of the obstacle course of the Reebok CrossFit Games Spencer Hendel climbed a 7 foot wall, mud crawled under barb wire and carried 75 pound sandbags through the heart of NYC to put their fitness limits to the test.
Look out for the obstacle race to be featured in Reebok’s next campaign, and set a date for your 2013 Spartan Race at www.spartanrace.com.
Now tell us: Have you ever done a Spartan Race?