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We Tried It: Doonya Fitness Party

Written on March 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

If you think Zumba is fun, you’ve got to try Doonya. This Bollywood-inspired dance workout made me sweat – and smile – a crazy amount (smiling has to burn a certain number of cals, right?).  And when you feel like it’s one big party, like I did last week when I attended their first-ever fitness dance party, the culturally-inspired moves will have you grooving like it’s your job.

Co-founded by Priya Pandya and Kajal Desai in 2011, Doonya (which means “world” in Hindi/Urdu) is a cardio and strength-building fitness class matched to the beats of the latest Bollywood-inspired music. It’s totally taking the fitness world by storm, and got its first big push into the spotlight back in 2008 thanks to the hit song “Jai Ho” in Slumdog Millionaire. My class was two hours long – definitely plenty of time to get a hefty burn in – but I consider that a consolation prize (not a bad one, mind you) because it was So. Much. Fun.

On my way into class, admittedly, I was a little nervous. I grew up taking dance classes, so I knew I was coordinated enough. I’d also taken my fair share of Zumba classes, meaning I’m pretty familiar with dancing for fitness, rather than style and grace. But I had never taken on something quite like this. It wasn’t a genre I was at all familiar with. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to catch on quick enough or if I was about to make a complete fool of myself.

But as I joined about 40 other Doonya-goers at DANY Studios in downtown New York City for an all-out dance-a-thon, I realized it was just about having fun and getting fit. We started off with a quick warm-up to get our heart rates going and then the dancing began. Bollywood dance features a lot of high-energy movements. It’s not just leg lifts and shoulder twists, but hand gestures and arm movements too. You’re working your core, arms and quads, all at the same time. It’s a great way to get a full body workout and have some fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love hitting the gym as much as the next fitness fanatic, but sometimes it can get old. It’s nice to switch it up with a fitness class like Zumba, and now Doonya, too!

Interested in trying it out yourself? They have classes in New York, Washington D.C. and Houston. They’ve also held events in Los Angeles and hope to head over to India in the near future. Keep your eye out!

Photo courtesy of Al Chan.

More from FITNESS:

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

We Tried It: Equinox’s Flow Play

We Tried It: Reaching the SUMMIT at Exceed Physical Culture

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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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)

More from FITNESS: 

7 Secrets of Super Sexy Couples

10 Foods that Boost Your Libido (and 3 That Kill It)

Pair Up and Slim Down: The Couple Workout

Natalie Uhling’s NUFit Workout Takes the NYC Fitness Scene by Storm

Written on January 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm , by

Courtesy of natalieuhlingfitness.com

Courtesy of natalieuhlingfitness.com

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

You may remember Natalie Uhling from her days as an enthusiastic trainer at Barry’s Boot Camp or even recognize her from those strong and sexy ads for Under Armour Women. She has sweated her way through New York City’s fitness scene throughout the last decade, and at the age of 29, we think it’s safe to say that she’s officially made it to the top.

Last fall this fitness instructor decided to channel her entrepreneurial spirit and endless drive into designing a killer workout program of her own. The result, called NUFit, combines dance cardio, kickboxing and toning in one high-intensity, music-blasting class for a workout that makes you feel nothing shy of empowered. Embodying Uhling’s fit philosophy, “a strong core makes you lethal,” NUFit will push you to new heights you never imagined possible. Not to mention her contagious energy will keep you motivated and moving down the last second!

KiwiSweat, a fitness company dedicated to discovering the newest and most exciting ways to work out, named Uhling’s NUFit workout the winner of their “Coolest, Most Awesomest Workout Ever” contest Wednesday. Judged by FITNESS’ very own fitness editor Jenna Autuori-Dedic, Well+Good editorial director Melisse Gelula, MizzFit founder Bianca Jade and celebrity trainer Lacey Stone, the contest sorted through dozens of kickass entries from the industry’s top trainers in search of the hottest new class in town.

Dare to give NUFit a try? Join Uhling and her Under Armour teammates this weekend at Grand Central Terminal for the biggest fitness party the Super Bowl has ever seen! Check out the sweat-filled schedule for details on when NUFit classes will be held.  You can also find Uhling teaching NUFit at Pearl Studios at various times throughout the week.

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The Hybrid Workout We Can’t Stop Talking About: Snowga

Written on January 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm , by

Photo courtesy of Anne Anderson.

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Growing up in the south, I can safely say that I’ve hopped onto a pair of skis a mere three times in my life. I can also say that those three times started with a fair amount of trembling, anxiety and general fear that I would lose control and go flying off the mountainside. But if I had met Anne Anderson back then, I’m sure my skiing experiences would have turned out a little differently.

A yoga and snow sports enthusiast, Anderson began teaching yoga classes and ski lessons in 2000, and by 2008, she discovered the organic connection between the two practices. “It was magical; it worked beautifully,” she says. “The breath is the greatest tool we have to calm the mind and body.” Since coining the term “snowga” and successfully launching the hybrid class at Connecticut’s Mohawk Mountain in 2012, Anderson has watched the mindful practice help transform the way newcomers and veterans alike experience snow sports.

Each class is structured similarly to Kripalu yoga. “The mountain becomes the yoga studio; the slope becomes the yoga mat,” says Anderson. Beginning in a circle at the base of the mountain (no skis strapped on at this point), she begins class with a relaxation breath and centering mediation lesson to calm the minds of her students. After setting a positive intention for the day, the group warms up and moves through asanas to relieve tension and stretch the body (in other words, make sure you bring gloves). The actual ski lesson follows, incorporating a few yoga postures while clipped in, like Mountain, Eagle and Chair pose, which creates an experience similar to Vinyasa flow. “Everyone loves to ski with this natural rhythm,” says Anderson. “It’s like dancing on the snow and lots of fun!” The class ends off the skis with her teaching the importance of deep-relaxation pose Savasana, or the always-popular corpse pose. It may not be conventional, but we wouldn’t be opposed to tossing in a few snow angels at the end. After all, you are already in position.

The one question on our minds: why hasn’t someone thought of this before? “Students told me that practicing snowga helped them break through to a new level of skiing, and they experienced a new sense of serenity and connection… they could relax and enjoy skiing,” she says. So basically, we’re sold.

Although classes aren’t offered across the nation yet, there’s no reason you can’t give it a go on your own. “Take time to warm-up and get centered before heading off to the chair lift. Notice the surroundings; get in touch with your breath, your body and all of the senses,” she says. “While on the mountain, think flow instead of force. Keep calm through conscious breathing,” and if you need to take a few minutes for yourself, go for it.

More from FITNESS:

Yoga Your Own Way

Postcard from the Edge: How Skiing Taught Me to Take More Risks

Winter Workout: Strengthening Moves for Skiing, Snowboarding, and Ice Skating

Who’s Up for Some Skypercise?

Written on January 22, 2014 at 9:32 am , by

Pair up to slim down! Photo by iStockphoto.

Whether it’s with a bud or a personal trainer, we recommend pairing up to slim down! Photo by iStockphoto.

ICYMI: Our week 2 #GetFitParty Instagram challenge was to show us your pics of working out with a buddy. Studies have shown that working out with a partner improves weight-loss results, which could be because you push yourself harder, have more fun, and have the all-important accountability factor influencing you.

But if scheduling a workout sesh with a bud or even just getting to the gym creates a problem, we’ve got a stellar recommendation for you: Skypercise. Whether you’re partnering up with a pal to workout over the world wide web or enlisting a professional trainer to help you out virtually, it’s an excellent way to ditch the excuses so that you can stick to your resolutions.

Which is why we’re thrilled to offer a lucky reader a fabulous Skype prize package, courtesy of Skype!

One lucky FITNESS reader will score a $100 Skype gift card and two one-on-one sessions with Marc D. Thompson, a fitness trainer, personal coach, owner of Virtufit.net, and Skypercise pro. All you have to do is enter here by January 31, 2014. [Official Rules]

Good luck! Now get to work, #GetFitParty crowd!

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Music Monday: Are the 10 Most Popular Workout Songs on Your Playlist?

Written on January 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm , by

Ever wonder if you’ve got the same taste in music as the girl on the treadmill next to you? If she’s busting a move to Katy Perry’s “Roar” or rapping in her head to Eminem’s “‘TIll I Collapse?” Turns out both of those songs are likely beating through your gym pal’s ear buds as often as they stream through yours – despite being released more than 10 years apart, both are on the latest list of top workout songs. Spotify decided to satisfy your curiosity about other songs, too: below are the top 10 songs people across the U.S. are sweating to. Might we suggest adding them to your #GetFitParty playlist?

Want more music? Check out our list of Top 100 Workout Songs or use any of our editor-selected playlists.

Location #6: India

Written on January 13, 2014 at 9:55 am , by

Local indian girls share a laugh and bright smiles with Paige's team. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Local indian girls share a laugh and bright smiles with Paige’s team. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige climbed in India to support Apne Aap Women Worldwide, which works to combat sexual exploitation of women and girls. Help Paige raise $10,000 for Apne Aap on her Crowdrise page and don’t miss this bonus video from Louder Than 11 about the three million women currently trapped in prostitution

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By Paige Claassen

In our society, we strive towards a similar ideal. Whether that comes in the form of a high ranking, high paying job, a slender waist, or elegant clothes, the model women of magazines all look much the same. We’re praised for creating our own paths and for defining ourselves as individuals; but if we step too far outside the box, our motives might be questioned. I, for example, am currently traveling around the world to rock climb. I’m not earning a salary, I haven’t worn makeup or fixed my hair in months, and I don’t have a permanent home. The path I’m taking is not straight, it’s not predictable, and I don’t know what’s around the next bend.

I spent the month of December in India, and my goal was to climb the hardest route in India, called Ganesh and graded 5.14a. Unfortunately, the hot Indian sun beat down on Ganesh all day, making it nearly impossible to climb. I woke up at 5 a.m. each day to put in my attempts before the sun rose at 7 a.m. My day ended at 9 a.m., when I walked away from the cliff, dripping in sweat, hair disheveled, and frustrated with my efforts. This route lent itself better to a male’s strengths. The moves were long and powerful and I would need to channel all my strength and motivation to complete this climb.

A beautiful sunset and a monkey. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

A beautiful sunset and a monkey. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Meanwhile, India offered a few additional obstacles of its own. The small, dusty town I visited had a reputation for inflicting the dreaded traveller’s diarrhea on visiting foreigners (which I did not avoid). A high risk of malaria in the region also had me taking preventative medication, rumored to have a variety of unpleasant side effects. Oily food, few fresh fruits and vegetables, and no opportunities to run or cross train provided further fitness challenges.

But I had traveled all this way for one route, which was one of the best in the world. I knew I was capable. So with that determination, the matter was settled. I punched through the long moves that a girl isn’t supposed to be capable of doing. I finished the route, and I finished it before the boys. A little extra icing on the cake!

It's one big move after another, says Paige about Ganesh. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige Claassen becomes the first female to ever ascend Ganesh, the most difficult sport climb in India. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

I realized that my path, with all its turns and unknowns and new challenges each month, is a path of choices. Sure, India wasn’t the most comfortable month of travel, but it was a month I’ll never forget. The sites I saw, the people, and the colors each left their own special imprint in my mind and opened my eyes to a new world.

Paige got to know a few local Indian women while on her trip. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige got to know a few local Indian women while on her trip. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Part of that world is beautiful, but deep scars lay behind the beauty. Lead Now’s non-profit partner in India, Apne Aap, offered a glimpse into the struggles many women in India face.  Apne Aap says that “every year, nearly two million people are trafficked for sexual exploitation; of these, the vast majority are female, and half are aged 12-16.”  This is a statistic I can’t even begin to grasp, but I want to do what I can in reducing that figure so that other women can have the choices that I enjoy day to day. Join me by donating online at http://www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourindia

To get involved and donate online to help combat sexual exploitation, visit Crowdrise.

Check back next month for a video and update about Paige’s next location. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in India! FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .

10 Awesome Music Videos to Work Out To

Written on January 10, 2014 at 9:37 am , by

vevo playlist with fitness magazine

Check out FitnessMagazine’s #GetFitParty playlist on Vevo.com!

It’s a #GetFitParty all month long for our FITNESS followers and we’ve got the perfect motivation for your workouts this weekend: Hot music videos that are fun to sweat to!

Our Instagram challenge this week has been for you to show us your “workout view,” i.e. what you see while you exercise…and we noticed quite a lot of you are working out at home. We teamed up with Vevo, the world’s leading music video platform, to create this playlist of FITNESS editor-selected videos to watch while you’re planking, squatting, or just going nuts on the treadmill. Enjoy!

Watch the full playlist here: FITNESS Magazine on Vevo

Or cherry pick which one(s) you’d like to watch: