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Music Monday: Kelly Rowland Rocks Zumba Step—In Killer Heels!

Written on March 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm , by

Attention, Zumba lovers: there’s a new program in town. Zumba Step is now offered nationwide in 24 Hour Fitness studios, and let me tell you, this program is a breath of fresh air. As someone who fully admits to her lack of dance skills, I’ve always shied away from the original Zumba program. Not because I didn’t have a good time whenever I did it—actually, I always had a blast—but I rarely gave myself the opportunity to let go and just dance. You know, that crazy moment when you really stop caring what everyone else thinks and you just shake it. It’s a pretty freeing moment, but alas, one that was regularly out of my reach.

Step programs, on the other hand, were right up my alley. More often than not, these classes incorporate the more traditional exercises I’ve come to know and love (lunges and squats, thank you very much), and add just a little bit of flair to satisfy those craving a bit of creativity in a cardio routine. So when I heard Zumba was adding the old-school step to their program, my curiosity was officially peaked.

Turns out, the one woman who has serious moves showed up, too. On her birthday. Yep, that’d be Kelly Rowland. As if watching her kill the warm-up in high heels while I grooved in my very-flat sneakers (yep, that really happened) wasn’t enough, she also confessed that the main reason she loves the program is exactly why the rest of us do it—because more often than not, you’re moving with your girlfriends. “I just really love to be around family…so I can still hang out with them and work out,” she said. “It’s all these people in the room that are excited about working out, excited about taking care of their bodies,excited about having a healthy lifestyle. So it’s fun.”

But alas, Zumba Step isn’t the only way Rowland gets that drool-worthy physique (seriously, have you seen her abs?). She works regularly with one of FITNESS’ fave trainers, Jeanette Jenkins, and when I asked about her all-time exercise, she listed my arch enemy: burpees. “I love to hate burpees,” she said. “I see what they do to my body and it’s like it just snaps your body into place so quickly.” #truthtalk

So now I’m going to get my burpee back on, in between Zumba Step classes. To keep myself motivated, I’ve added these tunes to my playlist. Consider ‘em yourself, and keep your ears open for more from Rowland: she said she’s headed back to the studio, and I’m more than ready to hear what comes out of those powerhouse vocal cords, stat.

Photo by Matt Peyton/Invision for Zumba Fitness/AP Images

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I Tried It: Aqua Zumba

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Low-Cal Cocktails for a Slim and Spirited St. Patty’s Day

Written on March 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Going green never tasted so good.                 (Photo courtesy of UV Vodka)

Green, calorie-packed drinks are simply part of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition, right? Think again. Celebrate your Irish heritage this weekend with one of these three guilt-free recipes—all under 200 calories. So go ahead, throw on your best shamrock-covered ensemble and drink up!

Delightfully Delicious

  • 1 oz. Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut
  • 1  oz. Blue Curacao
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice

Combine ingredients in glass over ice. Stir and enjoy.

Calories: 172
Recipe courtesy of Smirnoff

Herradura Green Agave

  • 1 1/2 oz. Herradura Silver
  • 1 oz. melon liqueur
  • Squeezed fresh lime juice

Shake tequila, melon liqueur and lime juice with ice for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a Shamrock carved lime. Shake and pour into martini glass

Calories: 186
Recipe courtesy of Tequila Herradura

The ShamROCK

  • 1.5 oz of UV Apple
  • 1 part Diet Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with 1 apple wedge

Shake and serve over ice.

Calories: 130
Recipe courtesy of UV Vodka

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Telluride, Colorado: The Vacation Spot Perfect for Snow Bunnies

Written on March 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm , by

I felt like I was home the second I touched down in Colorado’s tiny Montrose Airport two weeks ago. The sun tickled my pasty skin as I  bounded off of my puddle jumper plane with a list of to-dos a mile long—pee, claim baggage, find my shuttle, etc.—yet all of those thoughts and former stresses seemed to disappear in thin air (literally, hello altitude) when I laid eyes on the snowcapped mountain skyline. Holy snowplow. I could get used to this.

As a self-proclaimed “summer girl” who finds winter’s only redeeming quality to be powder-packed slopes, it has been a dream of mine for far too long to experience trails (both “groomies” and glades) out West. So when I was invited on a trip to Telluride, I felt like a kid in Toys-R-Us the week before Christmas—wide-eyed, jaw ajar the entire five days I spent gallivanting about. But is the skiing really that much better than the Northeast? Like, worth the extra travel and lugging of clunky equipment? Abso-freaking-lutely. The conditions rocked the socks off my go-to stomping grounds (while lacking that bone-gnawing bitter cold us Northerners are all accustomed to), and the town itself had the local charm a city dweller craves…without sacrificing cell service. From backcountry hikes and wildlife tours to snowmobiling and gaga-worthy dining views, the destination is a fit gal’s heaven. And the food? I can’t even begin to explain the flavor explosion my taste buds experienced. It had the high-end Manhattan quality, touting a local farm-to-table flair. Insert your choice of an expletive adjective to describe the melt-in-your mouth pork belly.

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Bethany Hamilton to Star in New EPIX Documentary, ‘The Current’

Written on March 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Life-altering events can happen quite unexpectedly, this we all know. Sometimes they’re amazingly good occurrences (like nailing that CrossFit move you’ve been working on forever), and other times, there are tragic things that happen, often begging the question, ‘why me?’ For elite athletes and thrill seekers, tragedy can be exceptionally devastating; ripping away the things you’ve spent your life aspiring to. But to overcome adversity is a show of true strength. Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton knows just what I’m talking about. In 2003 she lost her left arm in a tiger shark attack, but  didn’t let that stop her. A mere month later, Hamilton returned to the water and went on to realize her dream of becoming a professional surfer. She shared her story with the world in her 2004 autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. And then of course came the 2011 film based on the book, which caused the nation to fall even more in love with the blonde beach babe.

Now, Hamilton is back in an EPIX original documentary, The Current, premiering tonight at 8 p.m. EST. She’ll share her story along with five other athletes with disabilities who explore the deep wonders of the ocean and the healing freedoms it can supply.

We caught up with Bethany to talk about her workouts, surfing career and what it was like to be a part of The Current.

The Current is mainly based on the idea of using the healing powers of water and the ocean as a way to rediscover the freedom of movement. Can you tell us about that? What is about the ocean or water that has helped you?

I believe God’s given us the ocean and the outdoors as a place of healing. I remember when I first started surfing [again] after losing my arm, everyone was like, ‘Aren’t you scared of sharks?’ But for me, I was more scared of not surfing and not being able to spend time where I love to be most: in the ocean. So that was kind of just the start of my whole recovery. And even to this day, when things are getting stressful it’s nice to be able to get in the ocean. I don’t know, everything can kind of just melt away and you can just get out there and enjoy creation.

Did you get the chance to meet any of the other athletes? What was it like to hear their stories?

I got to spend time with Grant Korgan [the first adaptive athlete to ski 80 miles in the South Pole]. He was in a snowmobiling accident and just got annihilated, and broke his spine. He’s been told he’s never going to walk again, but he’s slowly getting feeling back [in his legs] and he’s just working endlessly to recover his body. It’s been pretty incredible to get to know him and his wife and their story, their perseverance. We went scuba diving and got to experience some of the most beautiful places in the underwater world. It was pretty incredible.

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Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir Talk Paralympics, Sochi and Their Favorite Workouts

Written on March 11, 2014 at 10:22 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Fresh off their stint at the Oscars as fashion correspondents for Access Hollywood, former Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are hilarious, fun and, as usual, dishing on all of their fave athletes. We caught up with them during a NYC screening of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, and got them to spill on how they spent their time in Sochi, their favorite workouts and which athletes their cheering for in this next round of competition.

But before we get to that, let’s talk about the Paralympic Games. Featuring nearly 700 athletes with a physical disability or visual impairment from 45 countries competing in six sports, there’s a total of 72 medal events. The Opening Ceremony was a glorious display of colorful fanfare as Russia welcomed the teams, and we couldn’t have been more stoked to support our Olympic family…no matter how far away we may be.

“Being an Olympian, you become part of a larger family — especially in the United States where we take the Olympics and our Olympians very seriously — everyone’s connected,” said Johnny. “It was important to us to lend our support to our family.” Tara added, “As Olympians we know what it’s like to pursue your dream and to get there and see those Olympic rings and really what it takes — the sacrifices — they are elite athletes.  So for them to be recognized like this is how it should be.”

We couldn’t help up but ask who it is they’re each rooting for. While Tara is all  for Rico Roman, a retired Army Staff Sergeant and Purple Heart recipient who’s competing on the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey team, Johnny gushed over snowboarder Amy Purdy. “I’m so rooting for the amazing Ms. Amy Purdy,” said Johnny. “[She’s] going on Dancing with the Stars right after.”  Aside from her involvement with the inaugural inclusion of snowboarding as an event in this year’s Games, Purdy will be the first double amputee to compete on Dancing with the Stars, with the season premiere starting March 17.

Just two weeks out from their own trip to Sochi, neither Johnny nor Tara had a bad word to say about their time in Russia. Painting a slightly different picture than most, Johnny confessed, “Sochi was incredible. I mean it was very secure, everything was very clean and beautiful, the food was great.” “We didn’t have any horror stories,” added Tara.

With all their traveling and hectic schedules, it can be tough to stay fit but Tara says it’s all about barre class, Spin and (of course) skating. “Skating for me is really the best form of exercise,” said Tara. “It just keeps my body in shape and you don’t actually feel like you’re working out.” What can be better? Johnny’s go-to is a mix of skating and Pilates. “I skate as much as possible, because I still perform in shows and I’m still touring and everything, but I also love Pilates.”

As for the future, the pair can’t quite reveal what’s up next, but Tara assures us that they’ll “keep it real.” “It’s been a whirlwind since we’ve been home, so I think whatever we do we still want to be Tara and Johnny.”

More from FITNESS:

Dress Like a Champion: Olympic Looks for Less

Eat Like an Olympian: Healthy, Travel-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

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‘The Bachelor’ Workout: Can Juan Pablo Make You Sweat?

Written on March 10, 2014 at 6:15 pm , by

Despite our high hopes for Juan Pablo and his sexy accent for season 18, it’s been quite a controversial ride for the latest Bachelor. Between his reportedly-accidental slur against gay couples being on TV and the verbal throw down between Pablo and final-three Andi, it’s a general consensus in the FITNESS office that this guy isn’t quite as dreamy as we once thought. That said, we’re still going to watch the heck out of tonight’s finale (you’re welcome, ABC). After all, we have to know which blonde babe he’s going to choose! But two hours is a long time to sit on our butts while we see which one gets their “happily-ever-after” (Come on, it’s The Bachelor. We had to put it in air quotes). Instead, we’ll be playing this little workout game. Join in the fun, and tag us in your own tweets and photos using #BachelorWorkout.

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Sean Lowe’s Post-Bachelor Fitness Challenge

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MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon Runners: Score A Discount on the Official Race Jewelry!

Written on March 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm , by

Whether I’m running my first, 10th or 50th half-marathon (someday!), commemorating it in a special way is always at the top of my wish list. So when one of FITNESS’ favorite jewelery-designers, Erica Sara of Erica Sara Designs, agreed to create the official race jewelry of the MORE/FITNESS Women’s Half-Marathon, I jumped (and possibly squealed) a little in excitement. Erica’s line is gorgeous, and wearing a necklace or bracelet every day is more feasible than sporting that medal around your neck. Well, unless it’s the week after your race. Then all bets are off…

As the official race jeweler, Erica has created a custom necklace and bangle bracelet for all racing the MORE/FITNESS Women’s Half-Marathon on April 13th. First things first, though: if you’re not registered yet, do it now! As the largest women’s-only half-marathon in the country, there’s nothing quite like this race. There’s so much encouragement, girl power and positive energy pulsating through every footstep of those 13.1 miles through Central Park. I remember the first time I raced it (my first half ever!) – I could NOT keep a smile off my face.

Once you’re registered, head over to Erica’s website and check out the bling. You can get the necklace for $78 and  the bangle bracelet for $118 – both are amazing deals – and personalize the back of the logo charm with race details (Central Park, NYC/April 13, 2014/finishing time). Want to score an even bigger deal? Purchase your new bling by April 20th and enter the code FITNESSHALF on the website to score 20% off the entire race collection.

And while you’re at the expo to pick up your race bib and other goodies, be sure to stop by Erica Sara’s booth. She’s offering a 20% discount on all race-specific pieces, and 10% off the rest of the collection shown. Who knows what else you’ll fall in love with! Personally, I want one of everything.

Photos courtesy of Erica Sara Designs

More from FITNESS:

Sign Up for the 2014 MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon!

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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.

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Meet the ‘Real-Girl’ Barbie That’s Ready to Hit the Toy Market

Written on March 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm , by

Last July, Nickolay Lamm, a 25-year-old artist and researcher, created a digital rendering of what Barbie would look like if she were modeled after an average 19-year-old woman, based on measurements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The result: a shorter, shapelier-looking doll image that went viral. We fell in love with the new version as quickly as you did, which highlighted that average is, in fact, beautiful. “I simply wanted to show that a doll like Barbie can look good with typical body proportions,” says Lamm.

FITNESS fans had mixed reviews – some of you loved the idea of creating a more realistic-looking doll, while others thought the whole concept silly. “I did play with Barbie growing up, but I didn’t strive to become her,” said one reader. “I saw her as more of a friend, not a sexual image that I need to become.”

Regardless of whether or not you thought the idea to be the next genius step in doll production or a silly farce, very few believed the creation of this new toy to be bad, and many said they would even purchase and use it to help teach their children about healthy body image. “I got a lot of emails saying, ‘Hey, where can we buy a doll like this,’” explains Lamm. “I think that the popularity of the images themselves kind of validated the design of the body.” That said, Lamm is ready to take his vision to the next level.

Today Lamm launched a crowdfunding campaign on his website, Lammily.com, with the hopes of raising the $95,000 he needs to support the creation of 5,000 dolls. He’s offered an exclusive first edition Lammily to every person who decides to back his project with a minimum $17 donation. As of press time, 237 backers had raised $5,375, and the numbers are rapidly growing.

With the help and guidance of former Vice President of Manufacturing at Mattel, Roger Rambeau, Lamm took his digital design and turned it into the Lammily doll. “Lammily is designed off the same body I used in the original project,[which was based on the classic Barbie]” he says. “But I changed her face, her hair, her articulation—even her skin tone a little—so that it’s my original design.”

Interestingly enough, this all comes on the heels of Mattel launching an “unapologetic” campaign for the original Barbie doll, which included featuring her in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Of course, the Lammily doll would also be in competition with market-dominating, overly-sexualized Bratz dolls. And with a petition floating around for a Disney plus-sized princess, it’s clear there’s a demand for more diversity in the toy market.

Lamm says that his Lammily doll is about promoting a healthy, fit lifestyle, along with realistic beauty standards. He describes her as fun, fit and strong (just like our readers!). She’ll come dressed in a simple blue-white ombre blouse, jean shorts and white sneakers, with minimal makeup.

If this crowdfunding endeavor is successful, Lamm hopes to create more dolls with different ethnicities and body shapes. But we want to hear from you. Sound off in the comments and tell us whether you would buy a Lammily doll over the classic Barbie. Why or why not?

Additional reporting by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern. Photos courtesy of Lammily.com

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Should Disney Make a Plus-Sized Princess?

How America Should Move Forward in a Nation of Obesity

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Surfer Lakey Peterson Talks Hardcore Leg Workouts, Half-Marathon Advice and Sporty Swimsuits

Written on March 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm , by

Peterson knows how to catch waves in style. (Photo by Willie Kessel for Hurley)

Imagine waking up at the crack of dawn every day to paddle out into the ocean to catch waves and watch the sun rise. A dream, right? For one of the world’s leading female surfers, Lakey Peterson, this dream is a reality. The blonde bombshell has taken over the surf world, proving at a young age that she can hang with the big leagues. She’s known for her sick aerial moves and is the first female to ever perform an aerial maneuver in competition. At 19, she’s a true force to be reckoned with, and we talked with her about living the surf life, her favorite bikini, and rubbing elbows with marathoner Joan Benoit.

It seems like surfing requires you to have crazy strong legs. What are your favorite exercises to keep your legs beach ready?

Surfing is quite the leg burner! When I am training in the gym I do a lot of front and back squats, side lunges, box jumps and lots of explosive, quick sprints. Those are a few of my primary legs workouts to stay fit and looking good![Editor's note: For fit legs like Lakey, check out this Nike Training Club (NTC) workout.]

Those exercises must have been helpful when you were training for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, back in October. Since it was your first half-marathon, what would you say was your biggest challenge?

That was such an amazing race and I felt so honored to have been a part of it! My biggest challenge was staying on a strict training schedule. When I was training for it, I was literally right in the middle of my surf season so it was hard to balance surfing, gym training, and then the half-marathon training. But I did it and had so much fun! It pushed me to do something that I wasn’t sure I could do, but I got to prove myself wrong. I loved seeing all of the other women cross that finish line and achieve such a huge goal.

Any advice for first time half-marathoners? 

A marathon is a big commitment for anyone. There will probably be times when you are training, or even when you are racing, that will make you want to quit. However, I can promise you that you can do it, and when you cross the finish line there is no better feeling. Make sure to enjoy it and be proud of yourself! 

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