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Fun, Fit Getaway: The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club

Written on August 5, 2014 at 11:12 am , by

Looking for your next active vacation? Check out The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which opened in December 2013. FITNESS recently visited the gorgeous oceanfront retreat for a long weekend. Here are the highlights from our fit trip:

In-Room Workout Gear Delivery*

Go on, pack all those extra bikini and sandal options—you can leave your workout gear at home. We’re not telling you to ditch your regular exercise routine—instead, reserve a pair of New Balance running shoes, socks, shorts and a shirt (all in your size) to be delivered to your room to use during your stay. Not going to lie, we thought wearing borrowed shoes would be weird. But our pair of Barringer 890s, a neutral cushioning shoe, arrived nearly brand new, yet broken-in enough that we didn’t get blisters when we laced up for several 3-mile runs. Plus, the new socks eliminated the ick factor. (WestinWORKOUT Gear Lending Program with New Balance, $5.)

A Personal Running Coach

We were lucky to run with Chris Heuisler, the RunWESTIN Concierge (best job ever?). Unfortunately, he’s not based at the resort. But you can go for a warm-up run with him and get his pre-race advice if you book the Westin VIP Marathon Package to stay at the hotel when you run any Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Other perks include: speedy bib pickup, race day grab-and-go breakfast for two and in-room ice delivery post-race. (Deets and booking at runwestin.com. Follow Chris @RunWestin)

Ready-to-Go Running Routes*

Westin provides a pocket-sized map with 3- and 5-mile loops (created by employee runners) from the hotel, making it easy to get out and go without worrying about getting lost. The course took us through the surrounding tony resort community—where we did some serious real estate window shopping—and it was easy to veer off for a run on the beach.

Ocean Paddleboarding and Lagoon Swimming

SUP, people! The Paddle Surf Eco Tour, which begins on the beach right next to the Westin, is the perfect fit-vacation excursion. You hop on a stand-up paddleboard and cruise in the ocean along the coast of the resort, stop at a private white sand beach for fresh coconut water (super fresh: your guide cracks open a coconut with a machete), then hike through a rainforest to take a dip in an amazing lagoon.

Spa Time

Speaking of fresh coconut: They use made-daily coconut oil in the Punta Cana Signature full-body massage at the nearby Six Senses Spa. Book it for a relaxing end to a sporty day.

Healthy, Delicious Eats*

It’s refreshing to have plenty of healthy options when traveling and Westin includes SuperFoodsRx options—nutrient-packed, low-calorie dishes designed by doctors and nutritionists—on their menus at restaurants Anani and the beachside Brassa Grill & Bar. Try the crab cakes, cilantro lime shrimp salad and the Puntacana salad, made with arugula and other organic veggies grown at the resort’s ecological foundation. We also loved the berry yogurt parfait for a quick in-room pre-workout breakfast. Check out other great nearby restaurants, all waterfront: The Grill (our favorite for lunch), La Yola and Playa Blanca.

Other Activities

Not that into paddleboarding? There are plenty of other ways to play: kite boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, horseback riding, tennis, golf and Segway tours. Of course, there’s ample opportunity for beach/pool lounging and umbrella drinks.

(*Available at all Westin hotels.)

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Converse and Missoni Team Up Again

Written on August 4, 2014 at 9:33 am , by

Just when we thought our Chuck Taylors couldn’t get any cooler, Converse announces its All Star Missoni Collection, featuring Missoni’s signature zigzag designs on the classic Converse silhouette. In their eighth sneaker collaboration together (why change something that works, right?), the brands’ Fall 2014 line features black and white, black and teal, and purple and beige patterns available in both men and women’s sizes. The new kicks debut today at Nordstrom (almost a month before you can find it at retail stores and Converse.com) and includes a style exclusive to Nordstrom, so get them while you can and get ready to show off more than just your skills on the court!

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Missoni (Exclusive to Nordstrom, $85)

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Missoni ($85 – $100)

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Fancy ($95 – $100)

Images courtesty of Converse Inc.

Which pattern and style are your faves? 

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5 Greens You Can Eat to Your Heart’s Content (Kale Not Included)

Written on August 1, 2014 at 10:27 am , by

Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern

Brace yourselves, FITNESS readers: A global kale shortage may be coming.

Are you still breathing?

Apparently kale is a lot more popular now than it was in 2012 (310 percent more popular, according to recent research from GrubHub), meaning our favorite leafy green may not be as readily available in the near future.

But don’t worry. We’re taking the necessary precautions to help our fellow green freaks cope. We’ve even placed “Kale missing; Reward: happiness and health” signs all over Manhattan (just kidding—though we would if it would help).

We also turned to nutrition expert Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., FITNESS advisory board member, to give us the scoop on some alternative green superfoods that provide similar benefits to kale. All are packed with Vitamin K, which promotes bone health; zeaxanthin and lutein, which are vital for eye health; and iron, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body. And because they’re so good for you (and so low-cal), Bonci suggests eating a cup of these raw veggies each day (or 1/3 cup cooked). Get ready to fill that crisper!

Collard greens: Sauté some onions, toss in a little curry, add a few golden raisins, and you’ve got your next mouth-watering way to gnaw on these babies. “It provides a sweetness that counteracts the natural bitterness of this green,” explains Bonci.

Mustard greens: Into eggs? Try some mustard green frittatas. “I usually take a bunch of different vegetables and egg to hold it together, and then spread about 1/3-cup of  store-bought bruschetta sauce over the top,” she says.

Turnip greens: ”You can take on a Middle Eastern dish, like Sleek (a dish typically full of kale, bulgar wheat and black-eyed peas), but instead of making it with kale, add turnip greens,” she says. “You can sauté it in olive oil, then add in the traditional ingredients. It’s wonderful.”

Spinach: Sprinkle on some lemon olive oil or orange olive oil to bring out the flavor, recommends Bonci. “Doing this won’t bring back those images that people have of slimy spinach in the cafeteria, which is why most people don’t eat it,” she says. Yep, we remember.

Swiss chard: Throw some in a skillet and add a little lemon zest to amp up the “yum” factor, explains Bonci. Then you can use it to build your favorite lunch salad. Easy peasy.

If you do manage to get your hands on some kale and need an extra crunch, learn how to make some scrumptious kale chips. No need for greasy potato chips here.

Photo by Lisa Shin

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The Best Sunscreen News We’ve Heard All Year

Written on July 31, 2014 at 11:35 am , by

The United States might finally be catching up with the rest of the world in skincare and sun protection.

The House passed a bill Monday that would expedite the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process for new sunscreen ingredients—many of which are old news to Europe, Asia and Australia.

The FDA hasn’t approved a new ingredient in 15 years (seriously!), and some applications have been pending approval for more than 10. The reason? Many claim it’s a simple overflow of approval work and a lack of information. Because sunscreen is viewed as a cosmetic product in the EU, there isn’t much hard data available on whether or not these ingredients are completely safe, thus stalling the process.

Now the bill is headed to the Senate, and if it passes, The Sunscreen Innovation Act would slap 18-month deadlines on the FDA for approving new applications, but would only apply to ingredients that have been sold outside of the U.S. for at least five years. Many of those ingredients make sunscreen easier to apply and prolong its effect, meaning more protection for us without the goopy, sticky mess.

Fingers crossed for better ingredients and healthier skin!

 

Photo by Laura Doss

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Stacy Keibler is Reportedly Going to Eat Her Placenta…Should You?

Written on July 30, 2014 at 9:54 am , by

Yet another celebrity is taking a seat with January Jones and Tamera Mowry on the eat-your-own-placenta bandwagon: Stacy Keibler. And because she’s had one of the healthiest pregnancies out of all our fave celeb mamas, it’s difficult to question the former pro wrestler’s decision to have her placenta encapsulated, no matter how, um, disgusting it sounds.

We’ve already heard about this arguably gag-worthy trend that’s gaining more popularity (placenta recipes are a thing), but even though many new moms swear they’re healthier and happier—many claim it keeps postpartum depression at bay—and more energized because of it, there aren’t any studies that prove there is actually a benefit to eating your own placenta post-childbirth.

“There’s a lot of folklore surrounding the practice, but there is not a lot of hard medical or scientific data in favor of or against it,” says Jennifer Ashton, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member. ”There are a lot of misconceptions about what its value is nutritionally. The placenta is the conduit for supplying oxygen, blood and nutrients to the fetus. But I think what most people don’t realize is that it doesn’t do that all by itself. It does that because it extracts those nutrients from the mother.”

So why is this still trending? Some of it is cultural, but a lot of it is anecdotal, says Lauren Streicher, M.D. “Someone will say, ‘After my first pregnancy I had terrible postpartum depression and then the second time I ate placenta pills and I had none.’ But statistically we know that first pregnancies are far more likely to have postpartum depression than second pregnancies,” she says. “Was it the placenta pills or was it just your second pregnancy? Who knows? The only way to know is to test that in 10,000 people and see if there’s a real difference.”

But just because there isn’t yet research behind it doesn’t mean the benefits—and risks—don’t exist. ”It’s a trend just like anything else, and some of those trends turn out out be based to something good and some don’t,” says Ashton. “I think that people need to realize that there’s risk verses benefit to everything.”

We want to hear from you: Would you (or have you) eat your own placenta knowing that no research has yet been done on its risks or benefits? Or are you more of a “wait and see” kind of gal?

Photo by Diane Bondareff

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New Workout Song Alert! We’re Dying Over This New Female Collaboration

Written on July 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm , by

Your new workout song just dropped today, and it’s sung by basically the best power trio ever: Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. The strong vocals are through-the-roof good (think modern “Lady Marmalade”), and the beat is the perfect pace: steady enough to take you through a 10k on repeat, yet fast enough to pump you up for a killer kickboxing session.

Give it a listen and go sweat.

 

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The Foam Roller You’ll Want to Use Tonight

Written on July 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm , by

Ah, lactic acid. There’s nothing quite like being so sore that just walking to yoga class is its own challenge (let alone actually working through the class). But if there happen to be foam rollers lying around the studio—or any gym, for that matter—that’s a big score for your bod. You can use ‘em to roll out your tight spots post-workout (learn more about how to roll each muscle group here), and these days you can toss ‘em in your suitcase so you’re set for even the busiest of travel days. They’re not the most comfortable tool to use, but we’re firm believers of the “hurt so good” motto when it comes to this device.

To help us fit gals up our performance and prevent injury, a company called Hyperice created a new roller that will take muscle recovery to the next level. The Vyper vibrates at three different speeds while in use to help you dig deeper where you need it, and comes with rechargeable batteries—basically, it’s a spa session for your muscles. And because some really incredible pro athletes are driving the Kickstarter campaign to get this thing in stores—Blake Griffin, Adrian Peterson, Lindsey Vonn and Troy Polamalu—we know it’s going to be good.

All you have to do is contribute $199 to the Kickstarter to get your hands on one of these bad boys in early November. Otherwise, wait until later that month when they roll out online and in Dick’s Sporting Goods stores, among other to-be-determined retailers. If you don’t want one for yourself (but come on, we know you do), we highly recommend scoping one out as a holiday gift for your favorite runner friends.

Image courtesy of Hyperice

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We Tried It: Trek’s Silque Bike

Written on July 28, 2014 at 10:39 am , by

I recently got the chance to hit the road with Trek Bikes and Trek Travel to tour miles of Vermont countryside on two wheels. (Check out some of their luxury cycling vacations here.) I’ve been road biking for a few years now but never really had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the sport—until now. For our adventure, we hopped on the Trek Silque (prices vary, trekbikes.com), one of the women’s-specific road bikes nicknamed the “Smooth Operator” for its unique ability to smooth out even the roughest of roads. After riding nearly 90 miles (including one killer climb to Smuggler’s Notch in Stowe) on the bike, I got a good sense of everything this whip has to offer. Some of the highlights include:

  • The “IsoSpeed decoupler,” which isolates the movement of the seat tube from the rest of the frame, so the seat tube is free to absorb more forces from the road. Basically, your bike soaks up road shock so your body doesn’t have to. (Take it from me, you can immediately tell the difference compared to other bikes out there.)
  • A women’s–specific design (WSD) geometry that’s made for your body and is tuned at every size, regardless of frame size, to fit a female rider to the best possible level. This will put you in a position of power for a faster, more stable ride.
  • An electronic gear-shifting system, which offers elite shifting performance so you don’t have to be a pro to adjust to the terrain. (It’s very user-friendly, perfect for beginners.)
  • The trendy colors and designs—As soon as I saw this bike, I was swooning over the white, lime and aloe green color combo and chevron accents. I mean, just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I want to ride a pink bike. And wear pink everything (just saying). But if you’re into pink, that’s cool too. They’ve got tons of options. In fact, you can even customize your own bike design here. Trek’s graphic designer hits up Fashion Week in Berlin every year to be one of the first on the scene of the hottest color and design trends. So no matter what you pick, you’re always going to get something that’s stylish and cool.

All in all, the Silque was an incredible ride and it really struck me how important it is to saddle up and try out some bikes before you buy one. If you want to test-ride one yourself, click here to find a demo coming to a location near you or check in with your local Trek retailer to see if you can take one for a spin.

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How to Dress Like a CrossFit Pro

Written on July 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm , by

Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern

With so many athletes gearing up for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games this weekend, we’re already feeling super motivated to run to our nearest box (code for gym, for all you newbies) and sign up for a few classes. Better yet, we’ll just hop on the MindBody Connect app and register there. But signing up and actually working out is only half the battle. You have to look the part, too. And not to fit in – so that you can continue to burpee and box jump like it’s no one’s business.

Samantha Briggs, a CrossFit athlete who just so happens to be the fittest woman on earth, gave us some sweet tips on what to wear—and what not to wear—when you’re on your way to deadlift, snatch, and clean and jerk. And considering she trains seven days a week—four of those are two-a-days—we think she might know her way around the rings.

Compression gear is a must. “Loose-fitting clothes may get trapped in the bars,” Briggs warns. Makes sense – no one wants an unexpected wardrobe malfunction because there shirt got in the way of the equipment.

Just say no to pockets. “If you do muscle-ups, you don’t want pockets because your thumb can get trapped in them.” Even doing exercises on the rings can become a risk. “I’ve tried to do them with big pockets on my shorts and nearly got my thumb cut off,” she says. Noted.

Tall socks are in style. You see all the diehards wearing them, and they do it for a reason. The extra padding protects your shins from the bar when lots of lifting is involved, and a pair of gloves or gymnastic grips will protect your hands (strict gymnastics is one of the hottest trends in the CrossFit world right now, so expect to learn some bendy moves if you haven’t yet). “If you choose to spend a lot of time on the bar, you can get ripped hands,” notes Briggs.  ”You don’t want to rip your hands because you won’t be able to train after,” she says. And nobody wants that.

Get the right shoes. Running sneakers don’t belong here. Briggs suggests the Reebok Nano 4.0 or Inov-8s, which are built for the pounding and sharp movements you do in each WOD (workout of the day).

Be sure to tune in to ESPN tonight and ESPN2 on Saturday and Sunday to watch the CrossFit pros burn and firm (more info on times and streaming here). Then hit up a box near you to try the trend. Just be prepared to sweat. A lot.

Photo courtesy of CrossFit Games

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A New Fitness Band That’ll Shock You…Literally

Written on July 24, 2014 at 9:53 am , by

With more and more specialized gyms popping up around the country, and weight-loss guides sprawling across the shelves in just about every bookstore, trimming down is no longer a secret, and giving up is no longer a solution. Yet even with an abundance of tools and information, more than 25 percent of Americans still don’t exercise willingly, according to the CDC’s State Indicator Report on Physical Activity. Two words: Mind. Boggling.

While we won’t try to understand the laziness phenomenon that refuses to leave our country, we can guess that it’s why a new do-it-all fitness band is about to be released. And it’s so on top of making sure you achieve your goals, it’ll shock you—literally.

Set to release in 2015, Pavlok rewards you when you accomplish a goal and punishes you when you don’t (enter: shock factor). As of now, you can use the Pavlok app to choose from three goals: wake up earlier with the EarlyRiser alarm clock that shocks you when you hit snooze; increase productivity with Pavlok Focus, which will buzz, beep and eventually shock if you have too many tabs open on your computer (studies show too much multitasking doesn’t do you any good in the long run); or increase your gym time with Pavlok Fit, which tracks your sleep and activity levels.

“We’re not just trying to track data,” says Pavlok co-founder and CEO Maneesh Sethi. “What we’re trying to do is take data that other people are tracking and use that information in order to help close the loop and change the behavior.”

Sethi says he and the team will eventually create a wider selection of goals for users to choose from. They’re also working to create a money pot where users can win money when they go to the gym, for example, and lose money when they don’t, much like a few other apps we love. But to take it a step further, if you fail to hit the gym, you might get a nice little post on your Facebook wall that tells all your friends you didn’t go. Ouch.

The Pavlok app will initially be available on iOS, and the team hopes to have it working on Android devices by the end of the year. You can order a prototype now for $50, or wait for the final bands to be released, which will range between $149 and $229.

Image courtesy of Pavlok

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