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We Tried It: Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation

Written on October 29, 2013 at 10:09 am , by

All smiles during a sweatfest? That’s Michelle Bridges for you! (Photo courtesy of Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Michelle Bridges means business. In addition to appearing on television and authoring eight health and fitness books, The Biggest Loser: Australia star trainer has helped people across the globe lose a collective 1.6 million pounds with her online weight loss program 12 Week Body Transformation. With the program’s United States launch approaching in January 2014, we just had to try this Aussie’s at-home workout. The FITNESS verdict? Two thumbs up.

We met up with Bridges during her recent visit to New York City for a fat-blasting, 30-minute interval-training session, and man did we break a sweat! Her one-step-at-a-time weight loss strategy resonated in her workout design, which broke the routine down into 5-minute intervals. Within each interval, we pushed through 10 different exercises for 30 seconds at a time, earning one minute of much-needed rest before starting again.

Incorporating cardio and total body strength-training moves, the workout utilized pure bodyweight training to target every single muscle. The intervals also alternated the dominant muscle groups every 30 seconds to keep the body strong and balanced. Bridges combined old-school moves in inventive ways, like plank jack pushups and reverse lunge front snap kicks. And as if burpees weren’t already challenging enough, she had us lift and hold alternating arms and legs during the plank portion. Oh yeah, we felt the burn.

Tough moves aside, the format of the workout made time fly by. With only a few repeating moves, the routine required constant focus and kept the body guessing. And as the body fatigued, it felt far easier to dedicate 100 percent effort to an exercise when we knew it was only for half a minute. The mini goal design not only feels more doable, but also achieves a more effective workout. As far as at-home workouts go, Michelle Bridges knows how to help you make the most of little time and persevere through the pain.

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When Fashion Meets Fitness for a Cause

Written on October 24, 2013 at 10:30 am , by

Fashion Assistant, Marla Horenbein, sweats it out at SoulCycle for the Pink Pony Ride hosted by Ralph Lauren, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.

We love when fashion and fitness join forces, so we were especially excited to get sweaty at the  Pink Pony Ride hosted by our friends at Ralph Lauren and SoulCycle. Ralph Lauren generously donated the cost of each attendee’s ride to the Pink Pony Fund of the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation, which benefits cancer care and prevention, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Two of our favorite things coming together in one place for a good cause= one super inspiring night!

Pink Pony’s mission is to reduce disparities in cancer care in medically underserved communities, and ensure that treatment is available at an earlier, more curable stage. The Pink Pony Fund is internationally recognized (currently in 20 countries!) and by donating 25 percent of the purchase price from each Pink Pony product sold in the U.S. (shop the collection here…we’re totally loving these sweatpants!), the initiative has been able to support programs for screening, early diagnosis, treatment, research and patient navigation.

And the best part, Mr. Lauren (as in the Ralph Lauren), is totally hands on with this project.

“Over 20 years ago, I lost a good friend to cancer, and I promised that I would do my best to fight the disease that took her life. Watching the incredible progress we have made—to not only raise money to fight cancer but also to educate and support people, particularly those in underserved communities, navigate the sometimes isolating experience of patient treatment—is the greatest gift I could ever receive.”

For more information on how you can donate to the Pink Pony Fund, click here.

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We Tried It: Equinox’s Flow Play

Written on October 23, 2013 at 10:24 am , by

Flow Play capitalizes on the power of music and sound for an overall enhanced practice. Namaste to that.

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

I’m quite the traditionalist when it comes to practicing yoga—all I need is my mat, my body and a soft-speaking instructor guiding me through postures in an otherwise quiet room. However, Flow Play, a new yoga class from Equinox that matches each yoga posture with musical soundtracks from around the world, helped me experience the mind-body connection of yoga in an entirely new way.

Co-created by Equinox instructor Derek Beres and three-time Grammy nominated musician Philip Steir, Flow Play is designed for yogis of all levels—especially those looking for a new style of practice. The class takes recent psychological research about the deep connection between listening to music and the body’s physical movement and brings it to life. Each song selected for particular postures helps students focus more purposefully on their pose and elicit a certain physiological response. Indian sitar music, for example, is proven to lower cortisol levels and inspire a state of relaxation, so the DJ plays these tunes during shavasana and other restful poses. Heavy beats, on the other hand, increase the heart rate and inhibit the body’s pain receptors, helping you push through the more difficult components of a workout (think sprinting to the finish line or lifting your maximum weight). So the DJ matches these more intense sounds with more challenging poses like the Vinyasa flow series or warrior postures.

No two classes are the same, because each instructor creates original series of postures and the DJs adjust their playlists accordingly. Flow Play debuted in select clubs in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas earlier this month, and Equinox will continue expanding the class schedules through early 2014. They offer a Vinyasa class focused on energetic and athletic movements as well as a therapeutic Restore class that opens the joints with deep stretching and full breathing techniques. Are you ready to give this musically inspired yoga class a try?

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SoulCycle First-Timers: Reserve Your Spot in New Series…STAT!

Written on October 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm , by

Get your butt in gear and find your soul! (Photo courtesy of SoulCycle)

So you still haven’t tried SoulCycle. We get it—the heart-pumping, fat-blasting cardio sesh can be intimidating (like, what the heck does “Tap it back” mean?) but trust us, once you clip into those pedals you’ll be hooked. I mean, we sure are alongside celeb die-hards like Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham, Kelly Ripa and Bradley Cooper (drool).

That’s why the studio introduced the new program SoulCycle 101. The three 60-minute class package gives newbies the scoop on bike setup, form, lingo and more so you’re not the mortified rider who needs help lowering their seat or catching the beat to a Katy Perry remix. (Ok, even some of us regulars still require a little assistance on both of those…) The best part? With two or three instructors in each tutorial/workout, students get the extra attention they need to unleash their inner-rockstar.

The first series launches November 9 at the East 83rd Street and Soho studios for just $85. Sign up by sending an email to soul101@soul-cycle.com. Stop resisting! There’s no longer an excuse.

Feel-Good Fitness: Workout and Give Back During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Written on October 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm , by

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. You—yes, you—can make a difference. (Photo credit: Denise Crew)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern 

Bring on the pink! National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is finally here, flaunting more proud ribbons, charitable events and philanthropic products than ever before (don’t forget to check out our fave product picks!). If you’re struggling to decide how you’d like to give back this month, pick a program that aligns with your passions, too. Here are three ways to get your sweat on and support thousands of women as they brave the breast cancer battle. Now that’s a win, win.

  1. Xtend Barre is hosting Plié for Pink on October 19 and 20 at its participating studios. Donate $30 to take this 75-minute barre bootcamp that really works your legs, glutes and core. Proceeds go to Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization that focuses on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
  2. Real Pilates NYC challenges you to a Mat-a-Thon with pro instructor Regina Arras at its Tribeca studio on October 23. This 75-minute Pilates mat class puts your endurance to the test with 20 rounds of hardcore sculpting moves. Sign up with a $50 donation and see how long you can last. If you make it to the end, your donation is capped at $50. If you tap out early, your donation amount will increase depending on how many rounds you completed. All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Game on!
  3. If Pilates isn’t for you, get your groove on at your local Zumba studio. The third-annual Party in Pink Zumbathons are held worldwide throughout the month with 75 percent of the event ticket fees going directly toward preventative research, a grant managed by Susan G. Komen.

For an added bonus, wear the FitBit Pink Flex Wristband ($99) during these workouts to track your crazy calorie burn. Throughout the month, FitBit will contribute $10 from every Pink Flex wristband sold to the American Cancer Society. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and sport your pink power!

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Get Tailgate Ready with Celeb Trainer Mike Ryan

Written on September 13, 2013 at 10:15 am , by

Don’t be sidelined with tailgate aches and pains. Mike Ryan’s four strengtheners will have you cheering like a healthy champ. (Photo courtesy of Karen Pearson)

Written by Gabriella Rello, editorial intern

With football season finally here, we can’t help but be pumped for tailgates. Can you blame us? Although we love to cheer on cute guys in tight pants, pre-game fun with our pals is what makes football season worth waiting for. Throw in some good food and drinks and we’re counting down the days until the next kickoff! As we gear up for fan festivities, it’s clear game day prep isn’t just for our favorite teams. While the stands aren’t quite as dangerous as the field, common activities like loading up coolers and sprinting to seats leave fans with fears of being sidelined. Gold’s Gym and celebrity trainer Mike Ryan teamed up, giving us four moves to tackle pre-game injuries.

Prevent Pre-Game Back Strain: Standing Arm and Preacher Curls

Cooler-carrying duties can take a toll on your back, so pump up your arm routine to relieve some of that pressure. Add three sets of seated dumbbell tricep extensions, suggests Ryan, for 12 reps. After each set, jump into a superset of 15-18 reps or seated dumbbell curls, using a weight that’s lighter than your extensions, but still challenging.

Tackle Forearm Flipping Fatigue: Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curls

Grilling seems like an easy tailgate task until the forearm ache sets in. Prep your wrists for endless burger and hot dog flipping with dumbbell reverse wrist curls. With an overhand grip on the dumbbell, lean forward resting your forearm at a 90-degree angle on a bench. Then lower the weight down and bring it back up, flexing your wrist throughout the process. At least three sets of 12-15 reps on each side will keep you in chef shape, says Ryan.

Avoid Second Hamstring Pulls: Lying Leg Curls

Top-notch football tickets are hard to come by. Do your wallet and legs a favor by opting for the nosebleed section. While climbing endless stairs may leave your muscles in need of a “Hail Mary,” pre-game hammy strengtheners like lying leg curls will make it a possible feat. Adding four sets of 12 reps will build muscles ready to scale the stadium.

Skip Stadium Sprint Splints: Straight Knee Calf Wall Stretch

Whether you’re late for kick-off or trying to beat the post-game parking lot rush, running at full speed can lead to painful shin splints. To avoid an embarrassing injury, Ryan suggests setting aside 5-10 minutes a few times a week to stretch out your calves with straight knee calf wall stretch. Aim for three or four sets, holding for 15-30 seconds per side.

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Find Your Center: Celebrate Yoga All Month Long

Written on September 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm , by

Stretch and lengthen your thighs, groin, chest and shoulders with one of our favorites, tree pose. (Photo courtesy of Chris Fanning)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

With summer coming to an end and a post-vacation workload piling up on your desk, National Yoga Month could not have arrived at a better time! In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated the month of September to raising awareness of yoga’s benefits—improving strength, flexibility, posture, breathing and stress management—so what better way to celebrate than hitting the mat? Studios, teachers and brands nationwide filled these 30 days with a variety of events to help newcomers and experienced yogis alike strike a pose in fun, budget-friendly ways. Take advantage of these special classes, programs and even an app to balance both your mind and body.

  • New York City’s Pure Yoga studios are offering a selection of free yoga classes between Monday, September 9 and Friday, September 13 for first-time visitors and longstanding members. Be sure to sign up for these zen sessions soon – spots will go fast!
  • Athleta and YogaGlo teamed up to create a series of free online yoga classes available throughout September. The videos are separated into three practice levels to meet every yogi’s needs. If group fitness is more your style, Athleta storefronts are also hosting special events all month long. Visit their website to find one near you.
  • For the yogis with limited free time, DailyBurn.com is offering a free, 30-day trial of their online yoga program YogaFlow. This video progression caters to practitioners of all levels by integrating different styles such as mobility, meditation and strength recovery yoga.
  • Internationally acclaimed yoga expert and teacher Christine Martitz developed Dive Into Yoga, a mobile app for iPhone and Andriod that helps you take your practice virtually anywhere! The 26 professional videos demonstrate each posture with far more detail than other apps that rely on still images alone.

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Flowchart: Should You Work Out Today?

Written on August 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm , by

Should You Work Out Today Flowchart

The App We Can’t Wait For

Written on August 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm , by

Fitting in a workout, wherever you go? Yes, please. Photo by Jennifer Koplin.

Fitting in a workout, wherever you go? Yes, please. Photo by Jennifer Koplin.

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!

Why We’re Totally Hooked on Mud Runs (And You Should Be, Too)

Written on August 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm , by

Fashion Assistant Marla Horenbein and Editorial Assistant,Lauren Cardarelli ran the Rugged Maniac in New Jersey with a few friends!

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?!

Fashion Assistant, Marla Horenbein, hurdling fire!

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!