Written on August 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm , by Christie Griffin
When you’re traveling or in-between gym memberships, what do you do? Sign up for the free three-day membership? Pay $30 for a single barre class? If you’re like me, probably not. Which is why I just about jumped out of my chair in glee when I read this article about an Australian app that’s going to go global, sooner rather than later.
The FitUsIn app, founded by Vanessa Picker, will allow users to book gym visits at the last minute—without having to meet with a gym representative, sign a contract, etc. I’ve always been a big fan of Lifebooker, the site/app that lets me make discounted beauty appointments, usually at the last minute. So, I have high hopes for FitUsIn.
And Vanessa isn’t just a fitness fanatic who wants to work out wherever she goes—she co-founded Play Forward, which help bring organized sports to children in need. She’s even a fellow for The Resolution Project, a nonprofit that empowers young entrepreneurs.
(Related: Want to run the 4-Mile NYRR race in NYC on Sept. 7? You can be a part of the Resolution Runs team, which means your involvement will go directly to supporting the fellows, including Vanessa. Get details here on Facebook, at @ResolutionProj on Twitter, or send a note to info [at] resolutionproject [dot] org.)
You heard it here first, FITNESS friends. Vanessa, we’re waiting!
Written on August 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm , by Marla Horenbein
It’s no surprise that the editors at FITNESS are race junkies. We’ve tackled marathons, gotten our Color Run on, and killed a few triathlons. One thing we hadn’t mastered though – until last month, that is – was mud runs. They’re a bit daunting, totally hardcore and um, hello, dirty! But since we’re not ones to shy away from a challenge, or a little mud, we decided to dive head first into a pit of muddy water (seriously, though), and take on a Rugged Manic course.
Even though we’re still scrubbing mud off of our bodies, trust us when we tell you it was a blast. We scaled nine-foot walls, crawled under barbed wire and hurdled some serious flames. And if that doesn’t sound like enough of a challenge for you, there were 17 other obstacles that totally tested our limits. If we thought we were finishing that race unscathed, we were wrong (we had a few minor cuts, bumps and bruises). But we did come out faster, stronger and just a tad muddier.
Throwing away your clothes and sneaks after a race like that is pretty much a given, so when planning our race day attire, we kind of panicked. Can you blame us for being attached to our spandex?!
Our solution? Buy super cheap pieces that we’d be okay tossing after the finish line. We turned to our trusty pals at Forever21 (C9 by Champion for Target is another great, affordable option!) and picked out pieces that would make us look fierce on the course: a white tank so we could see how muddy we got (take before and after pics!); a camouflage bra to channel our inner tough girls; and some black booty shorts because if you’ve got it, why not flaunt it?
As for your treasured sneaks? Leave the good pair at home and wear old ones. Some race organizations (Rugged Maniac is one of them!) will even clean up and donate the sneakers that people get rid of, which we think is totally awesome!
Now that we’ve tested the (muddy) waters, we’re completely hooked on getting our dirty-girl on. With mud runs taking the country by storm, there are tons to choose from, and we’ve already got one in the line-up for the fall. Call us crazy, but mud can totally be sexy.
If you’re as mud run-crazed as we are, tell us about your favorite courses. We’d love to check them out!
Written on August 14, 2013 at 10:48 am , by Samantha Shelton
You know her as a U.S. Olympic softball player, but in the last few years, Jennie Finch has proven to be quite the well-rounded athlete. After hanging up her glove and settling into motherhood, Finch has taken the fitness world by storm, tackling major events like the New York City Marathon. This summer, she did it again and dominated a completely new-to-her sport: the triathlon. After swimming, biking and running in the New York City Triathlon – finishing in 2:51:15 – we caught up with the supermom to find out how she felt on race day, and whether we’ll see her back in the Hudson River any time soon.
You conquered the New York City Marathon in 2011, and now the triathlon. What made you want to do it?
Actually, my coach and a girl who ran the marathon with me are both triathletes and they wanted me to do it. And then Aquaphor wanted to know if I was interested, and it’s a brand that’s been in my house since my [softball] playing days. Now that I’m a mom, I use it on my kiddos. It looked like a fun challenge, so I figured why not?
Did you have any kind of experience in swimming and biking before signing on?
Other than riding my beach cruiser in high school and playing marco polo in the pool, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know how to breathe properly or even freestyle properly in the swim. It was all so new and I was just tapping into a new community. It’s been fun to get in and figure it out.
Which part of the tri was your favorite?
I thought running would be my favorite leg, but running after swimming and biking is a whole different ball game. I’ve grown to love swimming, which I was most nervous about. It’s less stress on your body. Biking just took a long time to get the training miles in, but swimming was never more than an hour, which was refreshing and a nice change-up.
Written on August 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm , by Marla Horenbein
True story: I was out for a run last week when a friend of mine saw me run by his apartment. He sent a text saying, “Stop! Turn around! Come hang out!” Cue the girly-girl rant in my head, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe he just saw me running. I’m a sweaty mess. This is so embarrassing. I can’t go over there!” But since I suffer from a small case of FOMO (c’mon ladies, admit it, you do too!), I couldn’t resist the invite. So after finishing my loop, I ran back to his pad, sweaty mess and all. As I walked in, my friend said, “You look super official. Like a sponsored athlete or something. What should I be wearing so can I look as cool as you when I run?”
At first I thought he was being facetious, being that I was decked out in neon shorts, neon sneaks and a tank that had neon lettering (A little obnoxious? Maybe), but he was serious. And I gladly took the compliment.
Now to the point of my story: I get asked about running gear a lot; specifically sneakers. My job as the Fashion Assistant here at FITNESS lends me the title of “sneaker expert” amongst my friends. I know which shoes are the best for marathon training (see my pick below!), which brands have the best minimalist styles, and which sneakers are the coolest each season.
All tech-talk aside, if the shoes aren’t cute, we’re not buying them. Right? So from a fashionable stance, these are my fave running sneakers for logging miles this summer:
Saucony Kinvara 4: These shoes are my obsession. Seriously, they’re that good. I’ve trained for countless half-marathons in Kinvaras, and I’ve turned lots of runners into Kinvara fans (Saucony, you can thank me later). I love the explosion of hot pink and neon yellow on my newest pair, and feel pretty awesome running down the streets of my hood. You might need sunglasses to protect your eyes from the brightness. #justsayin
Nike Air Pegasus 30+: So we’ve seen the Free and become fans of the Fly Knit, but this Nike style should totally be on your radar, too. I’m a sucker for a good throwback, and these kicks have a serious old school vibe. And when you’re done running, you can rock them with a cool pair of boyfriend jeans and a tee for a laid back look on the weekend.
New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez: Space age shoes? Sure, why not? These awesome weightless sneaks have a futuristic feel that will be sure to make people look twice as you run by, and not in a bad way. Plus, you get the minimalist feel, without going totally barefoot. It’s a win-win situation, people!
Now you tell us: What’s your sneaker of choice?
Written on July 30, 2013 at 9:54 am , by Jenna Autuori
Running sometimes feels like the bread and butter to getting fit. Oftentimes, people put one foot in front of the other to start their weight-loss journey. Others use running as a way to de-stress or bond with friends. And sometimes, people accomplish crazy running feats to test their strength. For instance, Robin Azron, a corporate lawyer turned ultra-marathoner, freelance writer and running coach, ran five marathons in five days for MS Run The US for her mom, who battles the disease every day. Or there’s Zoe Romano, 26, who just ran the entire Tour de France course—yes, I said ran—over nine weeks, averaging 30 miles every. single. day. (For those of you counting, or know the TDF, that’s a total of 2,000 miles.) She did this to raise money for the World Pediatric Project, which provides medical care to children in Central America and the Caribbean, aiming for a $150,000 goal. Running is not only the basis of so many of our workouts, it’s what motivates people, like Robin and Zoe, to get out there every day and accomplish BIG things.
However, if you’re just taking baby steps, and maybe like me, dreaming of a 100-mile race stays at that just that…that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to get into the sport or even spice up your daily runs with fun events like The Color Run or the Electric Run and even the Mudderella 10K.
Before picking up training again for my second marathon this Fall, I finally checked off the Happiest 5k on the Planet (The Color Run, as it’s otherwise known) on my bucket list and headed out to Brooklyn to have some fun. I really didn’t know what to expect as I entered the party zone (really, this race is one big party). But lining up for the race, which over two days 10,000 people came out to run, was surely the ideal way to kick-off what is going to become a long summer of logging miles. Here’s what I learned at my first Color Run:
1) It’s a family affair. Running really has become a way for families to bond. I saw so many parents with their small kids dressed up in white and ready to get blasted with paint. Some kiddies enjoyed the fun from their mom’s running stroller, and I constantly nudged my husband to remind him that when our time comes, we’d be taking our little ones along, too.
2) Paint is your friend. If you want to cross the finish line a different shade of color than the clean canvas you started with, tell your paint buddies at each mile marker to color you up! I really embraced the yellow, red, green and blue color stations—and secretly wished for a pink one. (Hint, hint.) I think I accomplished my goal of getting as messy as possible.
3) Every age, size, height and weight are welcome. This was really a race for all. I was inspired by all the people who came out to have a little fun and work up a sweat, too. Some runners may have taken the race a bit seriously and sprinted it out, while others had a good time jogging with their friends or even walking the entire way. Regardless, everyone there logged 3.1 miles with a big smile on their face.
Written on July 25, 2013 at 11:12 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Emily Mitamura, editorial intern
The price tag of staying fit got you down? You’re not alone. We all know that you have to get a little creative with your workout repertoire if you want to save some cash. That being said, Merrell and Life Time Fitness have decided to make things a little easier…on our schedules and cute summer clutches.
For the very reasonable price of $0.00 (translation: free), these fitness giants are rewarding you for your commitment to staying healthy and happy outside the gym. Classes are offered at over 100 Life Time locations across the country through the end of August, with workouts focusing on using your body to get the physique you’ve always wanted. Led by Life Time Fitness’ certified personal trainers thrice-weekly, you and your friends can kick your summer exercise routines back into high gear without paying a dime (have we mentioned that already?). To find participating locations near you and register for a class, visit their website. It’s time to lace up your sneaks, dab on some sunscreen and have sweaty fun in the sun.
More from FITNESS:
Written on July 23, 2013 at 9:30 am , by Samantha Shelton
In our July/August issue (on newsstands now!), we explored the best sporty activities in the top 10 most visited cities across the country. But that doesn’t mean others don’t have something fun to offer! After visiting North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, it’s safe to say there are plenty of fit activities to take advantage of if you’re looking for more than a “lay on the beach and drink all of the margaritas” type of getaway. Here, some of our personal faves:
Surfing. Hang ten in these waters and you can definitely call yourself a surfer. The waves vary from two- to three-feet high—perfect for beginners—and can get all the way up to 19-feet during a tropical storm (obviously better for those well-versed on the board). We loved our lessons from Mike over at Hot Wax Surf Shop, but if the adrenaline rush isn’t quite your style, they also offer more low-key stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).
Beach Running. Rent a house from Emerald Isle Realty and you’ll only have to take a few steps before you’re at the beach. Perfect for lounging and getting in a quality workout! We were hosted by the company in one of their beachfront homes, and had a personal walkway leading straight onto the beach—no crazy maneuvering required! Waking up to the sound of the ocean each morning had us leaping out of bed and lacing up the sneaks for a quiet, peaceful jog along the water before diving into the day. If your feet are ready for it, head closer to the water and forgo shoes for some barefoot running so you can really feel the sand beneath you (and burn up to 60 percent more calories!). Watch the sun fully rise post-run and indulge in a little seaside yoga for a true feeling of bliss.
Lighthouse Climbing. If you want to see the Southern Outer Banks from a higher perspective, head over to Cape Lookout National Seashore over on Harkers Island. Accessible by ferry, we suggest packing a picnic to enjoy by the water, then climbing the 207 steps to the top of the lighthouse! The breathtaking 360 views allow you to take in miles of uninhabited territory, except for the wild Spanish mustangs over on Shackleford Banks. The park is a sea turtle nesting area, too, so keep an eye out for hatching nests. Once you’re finished, ask the ferry driver to slowly bring you over to the Banks, where you can get a closer view of the elegant horses. If you’re extra lucky (like we were!), you may just get a little show from the wild dolphins while you zip back to land.
Sightseeing in Beaufort. A short drive away, this quaint little town is not only voted America’s Coolest Small Town, it’s also the famous location of Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember (and we know you’ve seen that movie!). Stroll the waterfront docks while the sailboats and yachts come in and out, spot the wild mustangs from across the water, or tour the historic area of town. Definitely a walkable town for those who love window shopping, this is a fun way to take in a cool movie location, soak in a little American history and log those 10,000 steps!
Now you tell us: What’s your favorite way to explore a new place while on vacation?
Written on July 22, 2013 at 9:08 am , by FITNESS Editors
Now that summer is officially in full swing (and bringing the heat!), we really want your playlists to pop. And don’t worry, we get it – your tastes vary. Heck, they’re ridiculously diverse amongst our staff! To keep everyone’s earbuds happy, we’re plugging you in to the songs that make us sweat. Every Monday will reveal a new editor’s playlist – pick one who lines up with your preferred beats, download their top tunes and get back to enjoying your workouts.
Juno DeMelo, Nutrition Editor
On long, slow runs, I listen to the “This American Life” podcasts, but for tempo runs, I need the musical equivalent of caffeine. I need the kind of songs that, even if I’d just eaten a burrito bowl and was in the middle of a “Teen Mom” marathon, make me get up off the couch and dance. If it makes me feel like dancing, it makes me feel like running. Like a good meal, a good playlist is all about balance: Some bubblegum pop my teenage sister is probably too old for, some rap I like to think she’s too young to be listening to, and a little indie-darling stuff I hope she thinks I’m cool for liking.
Follow Juno on Twitter for more of her faves!
More FITNESS Editor Playlists:
Written on July 16, 2013 at 9:50 am , by Samantha Shelton
Surfing. It’s on everyone’s bucket list. And when you imagine yourself crossing that particular item off the to-do list, I’m sure you envision white sandy beaches, lots of palm trees and, well, hot surfer dudes in Hawaii. At least, that’s how I pictured it.
When I actually crossed it off my list earlier this year, though, it happened somewhere I never would’ve expected: North Carolina! More specifically, North Carolina’s Crystal Coast at Emerald Isle Beach. I met up with Mike Crews, owner of Hot Wax Surf Shop, who’s been surfing since he was five years old, and instructing for the last 15 years. After getting zipped up in an oh-so-sexy wetsuit (insert sarcasm here), I hit the beach – not the water – for lessons on how to power through the waves, nail my timing, paddle like I’m about to die, and pop up to catch and ride that glorious wave.
One lesson Crews stressed that I wasn’t expecting: yoga is a critical component to successfully surfing. Wait, what? I knew you needed balance, core and upper body strength. I felt I had a decent amount of all three, but hadn’t been “om-ing” regularly. Would I be able to hang ten?
Not only does Crews instruct surfing, he’s also been teaching yoga for the last 15 years. So it made sense to get the low-down on both sports from him. Read on to find out what the big deal is, and why you should pop up on the Crystal Coast this summer (August kicks off their season). Spoiler: While I definitely got knocked around a bit, I rode a wave by the end of the day. Success!
Why are yoga and surfing so closely related?
Yoga is something most people have at least dabbled with, so if I make the connection between the activities, it’s often easier for them to relate the two. They understand that when they’ve popped up on the board and are riding, they’re basically in a Warrior II pose. Downward-facing dog is another similar pose because it’s how you shift from lying on the board to popping up to that Warrior II pose – if you can jump between those two poses quickly, then that simulates jumping up to the position you need to catch a wave. The only major difference is you’re on a surfboard instead of a yoga mat.
What are some top poses you recommend for surfers outside of the water?
I would always recommend that you do a few sun salutations before you go out. They’re going to stretch your entire body every way, and it gets your breath going. Yoga is so great for surfing because it helps with flexibility and expanding your breath, which are both critical components to being a successful surfer.
Why is the breathing part so important?
A lot of different yoga programs teach retention of the breath, which helps you inhale quickly, hold the breath and then release it slowly. If you’re about to hit the water, you need that quick inhale. As you swim to the top, you’re not necessarily holding your breath, but slowly releasing it. By the time you run out, you should be at the surface. So the practice of letting it go slowly and deliberately can really help you out. Yoga and breath retention helps you learn to keep calm during stressful situations, too, which is big if and when a scary situation pops up.
Um, scary situation?
A lot of people forget how strong the ocean is. If you get stuck under water, it can be like God holding his thumb down on you. You have to be able to maintain that sense of calm while having a lot of lung expansion. You don’t want to panic and fight – that only makes it worse.
How often would you recommend a beginner surfer practice yoga?
If you asked that in a yoga class, the instructor would likely say, “Do whatever you feel comfortable with.” While that’s true, I would say that you should really become proficient at yoga and go around three times a week if you want to surf.
Written on July 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Swim, bike, run…they’re all amazing workouts when you do them alone. But putting them all together? Now that’s a good time. If you’re a triathlete, you know that already. But if you’re not, putting all three sports together for one epic day of racing can be quite intimidating. Add in over 3,000 athletes, the Hudson River and a bunch of mileage—one mile of swimming, 25 miles of biking and 6.2 miles of running—and you’ve got the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon, which looks downright terrifying.
Luckily, Aquaphor allowed me to dip my toes into the world of triathlon without diving in head first. Instead of tackling all three sports myself, I rounded up two more FITNESS friends—both with more swimming and biking experience than I—and signed up to tri, relay-style!
Despite an obnoxiously-early wakeup call (hello, 3:00am), Emily, Molly and I had the time of our lives out on the course. For Emily, she was courageous enough to swim in the scary waters of the Hudson River. The girl sliced through the water with ease, and before we knew it, she was handing off the timing chip to Molly, our hard-core biker! Here’s what she has to say about riding on the West Side Highway:
After a few anxious hours of waiting for the race to start, the excited buzz in transition was contagious! I grabbed my bike and started jogging toward the exit with a million worries on my mind (Will I get a flat? Do I have enough hydration? What if I crash? Will I make all the hairpin turns?). But as soon as I crossed the mounting line and clipped in, every thought disappeared. It was just me and my bike, like any other day, and I was ready to race! The course was bumpier than I expected—Despite tight cages, I lost my first water bottle at mile 4 and the second at mile 19—and the hills were tough, so I took my time climbing. Since my legs were fresh and I didn’t have to save up energy for the run, I tried to cheer on others along the course. Prepping my tush and upper thighs with Aquaphor seriously saved me from painful saddle sores post-race. Before I knew it, I was already making the last turn back into transition to pass the chip (and my biker’s-high encouragement) to Samantha for the last leg.