Written on November 25, 2013 at 10:19 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Freefalling from 18,000 feet above the Earth isn’t for everyone, especially those afraid of heights—or flying for that matter. But for Amy Chmelecki, the 170 mph ride is just a day on the adrenaline-pumping job; a passion turned dream-come-true.
As the only female member of the Red Bull Air Force, an exclusive 13-person team of the world’s most elite professional human flyers, Amy specializes in wind tunnels, skydiving and wing suit flying. This upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, Amy will be teaming up with 79 women in attempt to break the Women’s Vertical World Record in Eloy, Arizona of 41. Talk about girl power!
So what does this undertaking entail exactly? “The challenge is getting all the flyers to the ‘base’ [formation] in an orderly manner,” she explains. “The organizing team has to carefully plan when people exit the aircraft. If the exit order is planned correctly, flyers can approach it traffic free.” Once each flyer gets into their assigned slot and makes the connection to the base, the team has to continue to fly strong, staying engaged in the mission. “We are all counting on each other, with our lives, to do our jobs and do them well.”
At an altitude of 7,000 feet, the group ‘breaks off’ and flies to an open area to safely open their parachutes. Talk about a precise process! “Things can get dangerous quick,” Amy admits, adding that this is especially hard in larger formations.
The final challenge: landing. “Modern parachutes are very easy to steer,” says Amy. “A good pilot can land their wing where they want. The girls involved in this event will be very experienced. Nonetheless, it is a lot of people in the air at one time.”
So how exactly does one train for a jump of this magnitude? “My exercise routine involves an even split between cardio, weight training and yoga,” Amy says. “It’s more physical than people think. We pull on each other, fly very fast in a very close space, jump all day even when it’s freezing out (gear weighs about 30 pounds) and sometimes our parachutes open hard in a way that creates a whip lash effect.” Plus, since thinner individuals fall slower, keeping a healthy weight is key for this Bikram-loving Superwoman’s success, so both a well-rounded diet and workout regimen are a must.
As daring as it all sounds, like anything else, practice makes perfect when it comes to skydiving. “The most important part of my training is practicing the sport over and over again,” Amy explains. “Sometimes I practice a move for days before I nail it.” Oh, and never get too comfortable. You are falling from an airplane after all.
Now tell us: Do you have the guts to go skydiving?
Written on November 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm , by Christie Griffin
Paige used the month of October in Japan to raise money for the Colorado flood relief efforts of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross responded immediately to the September flash floods that claimed over 17,000 homes along the Front Range with rescue, food, shelter, care, and comfort for those who suffered severe damage. Help Paige raise $10,000 for the American Red Cross at http://www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourcolorado. Donate $27 or more and you’ll be entered into a monthly raffle to win a Marmot tent!
By Paige Claassen
Imagine you’re unable to distinguish between a restaurant and a bank when walking down the street. Going to the grocery store is a three hour event. A busy city street full of people is completely silent. This is Japan, one of the most unique and fascinating countries I’ve ever visited.
‘Organized chaos’ is the only way to truly describe Japan. From the outside, Japan seems cluttered, frantic, and hectic. But focus in and you’ll find perfect order and tidiness. At first, I found Japan intimidating in it’s lack of familiarity. But after a bit of acquaintance, I fell in love with this country, aptly known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Everything is sunny in Japan, except the weather.
I visited Japan in October and encountered an unusually late typhoon season. While my objective was to rock climb, I was forced out of the mountains by torrential rains, a small earthquake, and the threat of tsunamis.
Perhaps this interruption in my plans was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to dive into the Japanese culture. Here’s what I discovered:
- My new favorite foods: Okonomiyaki (the Japanese pancake, which is nothing like a pancake) and sashimi fresh off the boat, which melts in your mouth like butter. Japan also grows amazing fruits. My favorites were Fuji apples and Asian pears.
- Bowing: To thank one another, or even to greet or bid farewell, the Japanese people bow. As a foreigner, I found this incredibly convenient, because even when I couldn’t express my gratitude in words, I could smile and bow.
- Cleanliness: Feeling under the weather? The Japanese wear face masks when feeling ill to prevent the spread of germs out of respect for those around them. Hand rails in public areas are sterilized throughout the day. As a result of this respect for health, I found I could eat nearly anything in Japan. Unrecognizable seafood, street food, and nearly raw eggs served on top of most meals – no problem.
- Prices: I had always heard Japan was incredibly expensive. In general, I found prices comparable with the US. The few things that will empty your wallet are toll roads, gasoline, and fruit (expect to pay $50 for a cantaloupe and $3 for one apple). On the other hand, I regularly paid $5-$10 for a full meal of sushi at the popular conveyor belt restaurants.
- 7-Eleven convenience stores: 14,000 7-Eleven stores throughout Japan are open 24 hours a day and provide cheap meals on the go, prepared daily. For a quick, inexpensive, and tasty lunch, this is your stop.
I hope these tips help you navigate Japan. While overwhelming at first, I think Japan might actually be a more comfortable and convenient vacation option than Europe. Try it out for yourself!
To get involved and donate online to help the Colorado Flood Recovery efforts, visit leadnowtourcoloradoflood.
Check back next month for a video and update about Location #5. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Japan! FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .
Related: Lead Now Tour Main Page
Written on November 22, 2013 at 10:26 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Kristin Cavallari has a lot to be thankful for this year—a talented hubby (Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler), 15-month-old Camden, thriving jewelry and shoe lines and now another baby on the way! So what does the former reality TV star have up her sleeve for the holidays? Like most of us, a whole lot of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing…her faves.
“We’re very traditional,” she told us a few days ago, shortly after putting her order in for an organic bird from Whole Foods. “This year, I’m actually hosting the meal at my house. It’s my first year making anything for a large group so I’m a little nervous!”
The fit mommy, who admits to giving into a few cravings lately (sweets and carbs!), won’t be digging into preservative-laden treats anytime soon, though. “With both of my pregnancies, the first trimester I’ve been really tired and I kind of eat like crap,” she confesses. “Once I get some energy back, I kick it into health mode.” One thing you’ll never see Kristin doing is counting calories. “I only read what’s in it and if there are chemicals and a bunch of crap in it, then I’m probably not going to be putting it in my mouth.” She and her growing family try to eat as organic as possible with lots of fish, veggies, fruit and whole grains, including Ezekiel Sprouted Bread, brown rice or quinoa pastas.
Kristin’s strict exercise regimen has also been dialed back a bit with baby on board. “I’m not as hard on myself about going four to five times a week and when I do workout, I don’t work out as hard as I typically do,” she says. Lately she’s been taking Pilates twice a week, followed by 15 minutes on the Stairmaster and a half-hour of light weight training. “The bigger I get, I’ll probably start yoga again,” Kristin says, adding that she enjoyed hitting the mat when she was pregnant with Camden. Another fun way she gets the family moving: Ubisoft’s hit video game Just Dance 2014. “It’s such a fun, silly way to fit in exercise,” she exclaims. “We’re big fans of ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk.” Talk about a fun way to burn off that slice of apple crisp!
Cutting down on gym time has surely freed up some time for her other passions. For one, she’s been having fun cheering on the Bears—even though a few years back she wasn’t much of a football fan at all. “I didn’t even know who Jay was when I met him!” she told us. “I’ve learned a lot in the last few years.” (And on that note, we’re sending speedy recovery vibes Jay’s way, who’s been sidelined battling an ankle injury.)
She’s also been killing it in the fashion industry with her own jewelry collection and Chinese Laundry shoe line. “Shoes for me were always my obsession, so to have my own line was really a dream come true,” explains Cavallari. “The jewelry came next—accessories are just so fun and there’s a ton you can do.” Her one piece of advice for those interested in becoming your own boss? “You’re going to get a lot of ‘no’s’ but you can’t let that discourage you. You have to keep going and if you really believe in something and love it, then stick with it.” We couldn’t agree more.
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Written on November 21, 2013 at 11:44 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Hot dogs, nachos and burgers are tailgate staples but can lead to healthy practice turnovers. Topping them off with calorie-dense condiments and cocktails? Game over. Cheer on your favorite team (and your own self-control) with these three guilt-free swaps from Top Chef contestant and Stefan’s at L.A. Farm Chef/owner Stefan Richter. Winning never tasted so good.
Add Flavor, Not Fat. “Everyone loves Sloppy Joes!” Richter says. Use lean ground turkey meat instead of beef and add in your favorite veggies like onion, green pepper and metabolism-boosting habanero. “The spicier, the better.” Spoon onto a toasted whole-grain bun from your local bakery and you’re ready for kickoff!
Re-Think Your Drink. What kind of six-pack do you really want? Forget the heavy brews and try Richter’s crowd pleaser: Mulled Cider. “Mix together two quarts apple cider, two allspice berries, a tablespoon of brown sugar and a sliced apple and orange,” he suggests. Lightly simmer on the grill then serve, spiking with a rum or bourbon of your choice for a hot toddy.
On the Light Side. German coleslaw is a must for this Finland native who spent the majority of his childhood in Germany. “We don’t use a mayonnaise base,” he explains. Start by combining a bag of shredded cabbage with chopped onion and green pepper. “For the sauce, boil a cup of brown sugar, a cup of white vinegar, a sprinkle of celery seeds and a half a cup of oil.” Pour over the veggie mix and chill for a refreshing, better version of the unhealthy stuff.
Want to add a festive flair to your football foods? ‘Tis the season to sport your spirit by serving and eating from plates of your team’s colors and logo. “Tailgating is paper plates and Solo cups,” the chef explains. “Why make a mess out of something that’s quick, fun and easy?” Now that deserves a touchdown dance. Hut, hut, hike!
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Written on November 20, 2013 at 9:06 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Upper East Side boutique fitness studio Exceed Physical Culture has received a lot of buzz for its butt-kicking abilities this year, so I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to see what all the hype was about. And after taking the studio’s signature SUMMIT class, I have to admit—I totally get it.
You know how they say a performer really works the stage? Well James, our trainer for the morning, really worked us around the studio. From jumping rope and swinging kettlebells to cycling through high-intensity workout stations, I never quite figured out where to stash my water bottle! The room kept moving, the music kept playing and we kept working.
The clean, industrial feel of the space helped us all focus that much more on the burn we wanted to feel. We aimed to complete as many reps of each exercise as possible—sometimes for 30 seconds, other times until James decided to have us try another move. Integrating medicine balls, BOSU balls and bodyweight strength training, this strength-cardio combo workout offered true variety. And with James, there was no lack of encouraging words and reminders of how strong we all are.
Most classes max out at 20 people, creating a motivating and competitive environment that pushes each athlete to really go all in. Our class, which was about a third of that size, felt more like a small-group training session full of intensity and drive to squeeze in every last rep. We worked hard and non-stop for 50 minutes and as exhausted as my body felt when it was all over, I couldn’t believe that much time had gone by. I guess it just goes to show what can happen when you constantly focus on a task that never stops changing.
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Written on November 19, 2013 at 10:10 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
With so many weight loss programs on the market today, it doesn’t take much get started. Keeping up with it and achieving long-term results, on the other hand, often times feels like a losing battle. National fitness expert and bestselling author John Rowley recognizes this struggle, attributing it to a lack of mental and emotional connection with physical goals. And he’s ready to do something about it.
Rowley recently launched his 52 Million Pound Challenge to help North America shrink its obesity rate from the inside out. In partnering with HabitForge, the program helps each participant pinpoint a healthy habit they want to develop and hold them accountable for 21 days, inspiring behavior change that can last a lifetime. Rather than having to remember to log data each day, the program emails you a habit reminder with a simple “yes” or “no” response to track your results. After successfully maintaining a habit for three weeks, users can tackle a new one. The challenge website is also stocked with a variety of informative posts from health, fitness and lifestyle experts to keep users actively engaged with the goals they are working to accomplish.
To track North America’s progress toward health and fitness, Rowley integrated interactive maps of the United States and Canada with state and province-specific obesity statistics in the challenge website. Clicking on each location also shares how many residents are signed up for the challenge and the area’s rank regarding its weight loss success.
To jump start the program, Rowley is hosting a 12-week challenge beginning the day after Thanksgiving, and anyone ages 18 and up who signs up before November 29 can compete!
The game is simple: Each participant submits before and after photos (or a certified note of body fat lost from a personal trainer or doctor if you’re uncomfortable with sharing photos), along with a 350-word essay or 3-minute video sharing his or her inspiring story via the challenge’s Facebook page. At the end of 12 weeks, the Facebook community will select the top 25 men and women, then the official judging panel will narrow it down to 10 men and women before Facebook users select the two grand champions. Each winner receives a trip for two to St. Thomas, along with other goodies—talk about motivation to give the whole weight loss thing another go!
Will you be helping Rowley help North America lose 52 million pounds?
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Written on November 18, 2013 at 10:11 am , by Colleen Moody
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are a few mere months away and if you couldn’t tell already we can’t wait. This is around the time we start getting super nosy when it comes to the athletes preparing for the game. What are they wearing? What’s their training like? What are they eating? How are they getting pumped up to make the team? To answer the last one, three-time Olympian of the women’s ice hockey team Julie Chu has a simple answer: Music! Below, check out her playlist she listens to for everything from strength and conditioning training to bringing it on the ice. Her other workout secret weapon? Team up, obviously. “Being a team sport athlete, I have learned the value of working out with others,” Chu says. “Have someone that will push you and keep you accountable. If you don’t have someone specific to workout with, then join a local gym and take part in different classes. It’s amazing how we can feed off of other people’s energy around us.”
For those days when you’re sweating solo, plug in to these tunes and just imagine Chu crunching on the mat next to you.
Written on November 15, 2013 at 9:14 am , by Colleen Moody
It seems the sport of bobsledding has a way of tempting track stars to come over to the icy side. Lolo Jones recently made the switch to try to qualify for the 2014 Olympics, but she wasn’t the first track star to trade in her sneakers for snow. Jazmine Fenlator, who is currently ranked eighth in the world after winning two silvers and a bronze during last year’s World Cup circuit, was a former track athlete from Rider University who made the switch to bobsledding after her coach mentioned that she should give it a shot. Below, she talks about her experiences with the sport so far, and what she’s looking forward to in 2014 on behalf of Team Liberty Mutual.
What was something that surprised you about bobsledding when you first got started in the sport?
Definitely how hard it is to push a 400lb. sled! I’m used to the shot put or throwing around a max of 25lb. weights or lifting in the weight room. But learning how to be explosive and fast while not letting go (because I then have to hop into the sled) was a real challenge.
Lolo Jones has been making some press about her big change in diet – do you have any crazy eating habits you have to keep up for the sport?
I am a lot heavier than Lolo, so contrary to her diet I am on a pretty strict plan. I’m gluten, dairy and sugar-free. I eat very clean and timely and have certain eating strategies for each training day, so sadly our diets are not the same!
Many people are familiar with the Night Train, the U.S. men’s team from the 2010 Olympics. If you qualify – will you name your bobsled? Is this a tradition for your sport?
Yes – it’s actually a tradition to name your bobsled! The women name their bobsleds and if it won a medal the name stays with it. The sled I was driving at the last Games won a bronze medal, so that name will stick with it. I’m looking into names right now for my new BMW sled and looking for an inspirational and meaningful English term that I can translate into Russian. I have a list of ten that I’m going to narrow down to three and have my fans help me decide.
Fenlator also spoke to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation about Hurricane Irene, where her family lost their home due to flooding days before she competed in the World Cup. Watch below to see how she was able to compete during tragedy.
Written on November 14, 2013 at 11:42 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
While many of my peers growing up were glued to Power Rangers and Nickelodeon Guts, I was completely and utterly consumed with the Disney classics. I strived for Ariel’s sense of adventure, Mulan’s fearlessness and desperately wanted to be Jasmine because, come on, her outfit rocks and she has a pet tiger.
So when I was invited to join Team New Balance—the official shoe of runDisney and Disney Resorts—for last weekend’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon, naturally my inner-kiddo was jumping for joy. Three spectacle-filled parks with a nightcap waiting at the finish line? Count me in. My princess idols would totally approve.
But like any other race, I had a few reservations, mainly concerning timing. Despite being a night race veteran, this go-round was especially late for an early bird workout gal like myself: 10:00 p.m. (past my bedtime) with a two-minute wave start. Gulp! What do I do all day to prep? Heck, what do I eat?
Like Ben Greenfield recently told us, I stuck with what works when it came to fueling. (Lots of fresh Florida oranges and Larabars!) And as far as being tired, the positive energy coming from more than 12,100 runners is contagious and kicks the sleepies to the curb. The fireworks that erupt for each corral certainly fire you up with a bang, too. Would you expect anything less from “The Happiest Place On Earth?”
All in all, this was the most fun fit venture I have done. Ever. From jogging Minnies (timeless!) and fairies to Cruella de Vils—a few of her dalmatians included—innovative ensembles are a must and add to the fun in true Disney fashion (special thanks to Sparkle Athletic for my polka dot threads!). All the more magical: the character photo opps along the course. Guessing who will pop up next is a mind wandering game that helps the miles fly by. My personal fave was running into Rafiki during our Animal Kingdom loop.Want to get your selfies on? Be sure to sign up (and train for) a speedy corral so you can beat the long lines. Our group averaged 8:30-minute miles and never had more than two people waiting in front of us. Talk about pace-pushing inspiration.
To get the 13.1 distance in, there are a few boring stretches between all the pomp and circumstance, but nothing friendly runners can’t get you through. I actually loved seeing the behind-the-scenes hubbub, like a disco-themed costume warehouse in Hollywood Studios. It really made you appreciate how the magic is made day in and day out! Oh, and the cast members (Disney employees) along the route that worked after hours to cheer us all on? The best.
Written on November 13, 2013 at 9:42 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
As Thanksgiving swiftly approaches, it’s difficult for us to contain our enthusiasm. From the gathering of family and friends to football face-offs, we’ve all got quite a bit to be thankful for. So why not celebrate a few days early this year by giving back to those who could use the support?
On Saturday, Nov. 23, 75 cities across the country will host the St. Jude Give thanks. Walk, a noncompetitive 5K that helps raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event has raised more than $11 million to date and hopes to increase that number with the help of you and your loved ones.
If you’re ready to take your Thanksgiving spirit to the next level, join the walk as a team to help with the fundraising process. All money raised helps St. Jude families forego the cost of treatment for their children, and supports the hospital’s research efforts. As if that isn’t enough of an incentive, all participants who receive 10 online donations before November 22 will be entered into a drawing for a trip for two to New York City! While in the Big Apple, the lucky couple will attend a live taping of LIVE! with Kelly and Michael and take a photo with affable co-host Michael Strahan.
Visit the St. Jude website to find a walk near you. (Most are free to register!) Can you think of a better way to celebrate the Saturday before Thanksgiving? We definitely can’t.
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