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Music Monday: 15 Songs That Put Some Spring in Your Step

Written on March 24, 2014 at 10:13 am , by

Daylight savings time has given us longer days (seriously, it’s so nice to leave the office and still have some sunshine) and a few days of warmer weather. Even though it still seems like Mother Nature can’t quite make up her mind about sending us into the next season, I’m ready to officially declare it Spring. And with that comes a myriad of refreshing—new clothes, cleaner diet (just say no to all the comfort food of winter) and fresh beats. I’m adding fun, poppy tunes to my workout playlist, inspiring me to push the pace just a bit more these days. Go ahead and steal ‘em yourself—I won’t tell.

In other music news, the song “#Selfie” has gone viral. While it’s not my cup of tea, I’d say it’s pretty perfect for those of you who love heavy techno beats during a hardcore sweat session. Or maybe I’m wrong, and it should be heard in dance clubs only? Give it a listen, and sound off in the comments below: workout do or don’t?


Muck It Up: Win a Mudderella Ticket for You and Your BFF!

Written on March 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm , by

Spring has sprung—finally!—so it’s time to shed some layers and get down and dirty with your training. Need some fun-spiration? Get your rear in gear with a mud run, like a Mudderella. (Hey, grunge is always in style) Each location’s 5- to 7-mile long obstacle course—the race will host seven U.S. and two U.K. venues this year—strives to empower its female participants to take pride in their strength by putting their daily gym routine to work. Girl power!

“It’s a very social event,” CEO Cristina Devito told us this week. “It’s team-based and not timed. We like to think of it as the new girlfriend getaway!” Check out “Play Dirty!” in our April issue for a training plan, goo-approved gear and more. In need of some mud 101? FITNESS editor Bethany Gumper has the must-know tips and tricks for first-timers. So what are you waiting for? Take the plunge! Win a chance for you and a friend to race in an upcoming Mudderella (plus an Essentials Bundle for each of y’all to sport) by ENTERING HERE.

Photo courtesy of Mudderella.

Official Rules 

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Get a Hot Bod Like the Divergent Cast!

Written on March 19, 2014 at 5:28 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

When I scrolled through my Twitter feed last night, I noticed one common theme: Divergent. With the L.A. premiere in full swing, movie-goers were choosing their factions (take the aptitude test – I’m Candor), and I must admit, there was a serious case of #twitterenvy happening. But not to fret—the sure-to-be-a-hit film smashes into theaters tomorrow, and I’ve already got my tickets in hand. But before nestling into a cozy seat to stare at Shailene Woodley’s rock-hard bod (Don’t believe me? Watch the trailer), I had to know how she got it. So I caught up with the dystopian’s fight coordinator, J.J. Perry, to hear all about how he whipped the cast into shape.

One thing’s for sure: Perry certainly didn’t hold anything back as he put these actors through a rigorous pre-training boot camp to assess how fight-ready they were. Theo James, who plays Four, came the most prepared. “When he showed up in Chicago, he was the kid in great shape,” said Perry. “He was ready to rock.” When they got down to business, Perry put each cast member through the paces—we’re talking tons of cardio, some light stretching and then instructional time on proper striking, explains Perry. If you haven’t read the books, let me clue you in: there’s a lot of physicality, and plenty of fighting, so there’s no way faking it would be an option. “We didn’t have a lot of time to teach them everything, so we were very specific about how we trained them—a combination of hammer-fist striking, punch striking, elbow striking, knee work and low kicks, along with some work on throws and falls.” Phew.

As for Shailene Woodley, she got a little extra pre-training in before the four-week boot camp. “I had her come to 87 Eleven Action Design, it’s a facility in Inglewood, [California]” said Perry. “I put some focus mitts on her—a type of boxing glove—and had her go through some basic [fight moves to see what she could do. She was extremely flexible, but she wasn’t really an athlete.”

How to fix that? Homework, of course. Perry had Woodley work on her upper body strength, practicing basic exercises like sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups; and tossing in core- and leg-work for good measure. “I told her to just train everything,” said Perry. By the time boot camp rolled around, she was ready for action. “Shailene’s biggest attribute was her willingness to work and her willingness to embrace the process.” Clearly, it paid off.

Just in case you’re inspired to hit the gym after the flick (I already know I will be), we stole some moves from Perry so you can score your own action-ready, totally Dauntless physique.

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Location #8: Ecuador

Written on March 18, 2014 at 10:22 am , by

Paige is climbing in Ecuador to raise money for Heifer International, a global non profit that applies the “teach a man to fish” philosophy by helping bring sustainable agriculture to impoverished communities. To join Lead Now in supporting Heifer, donate online at www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourecuador. Donate $27 or more and you’ll be entered into a monthly raffle to win a Marmot tent!

—–

By Paige Claassen

It wasn’t until I arrived in Ecuador that I connected the dots: ‘ecuador’ means ‘equator’ in Spanish. This small country, roughly the size of my home state of Colorado, is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Pristine beaches, snow covered 20,000 foot peaks, and the Amazon jungle are each accessible within an eight hour drive.

Paige Claassen and local Ecuadorian climber Christian Medina take in the site of the Tungurahua volcano. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com).

ecuador rock climbing middle earth

Paige became the first person to climb the new route Middle Earth, graded 5.13d at 13,000 feet. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com).

Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism is making the country’s many outdoor sports available to locals and tourists alike. Roads, bike lanes, and access to National Parks seemed even more progressive than in the United States. With four weeks to explore the country, I set out to visit as many unique areas as possible, each holding it’s own special views, cuisine, and activities.
My tour began amidst the historic architecture and abundant cathedrals of Quito. As I drove south into the countryside, the Quilotoa crater presented the opportunity for a breathtaking two hour hike at 12,800 feet around the 7.5 mile crater rim.

A bit further into my journey, I reached Tungurahua, an active volcano spewing steam and black puffs of smoke along with its thunderous explosions that shook the town and farmland beneath. I missed Tungurahua’s eruption of lava by just a few days.

But my true objective waited in Cajas National Park, just outside the quaint city of Cuenca – an unclimbed route on a 30 meter cliff spattered with orange lichen awaited a first ascent.

After spending a few days cleaning the route of loose rock and volcanic ash, I was ready to attempt my goal. Yet Ecuador wasn’t yet willing to hand over this beautiful piece of rock to a foreigner, and instead struck me down with food poisoning.

I came back three days later light and ready to attack, and completed the route. I named it Middle Earth for the fairytale setting – rolling hills with Dr. Seuss like tufts of grass, horses whinnying and llamas humming below the cliff, and menacing wisps of fog rolling quickly in and out of the valley.

alpaca fiber spinning in ecuador

A local farmer supported by Heifer International spins alpaca fiber by hand. Alpaca fiber is much softer than sheep’s wool! Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com).

To top off my trip, I visited two of Lead Now non profit partner Heifer International’s local projects in Ecuador. Heifer helps impoverished communities establish a secure income and future by developing sustainable agriculture practices through livestock, seeds, and training. During the first project, I learned from alpaca farmers about their animals and how the alpaca fiber, or fur,  is spun into yarn and sold at markets. As part of the second project, local produce farmers invited me to roast cuy, or guinea pig (a local delicacy), over a fire and then share a meal together. These interactions with the local people are experiences I will always keep close to my heart.

My preconceptions of Ecuador misled me. I expected a third world country similar to that I experienced in Peru – beautiful but dirty and seemingly a bit unsecure. Instead, I found a country rich not only in traditional South American culture, but filled with diverse settings, impeccably clean streets, and the friendly faces of parents and children playing. I’m so glad I seized the opportunity to explore this often underappreciated country. Thank you for the beautiful memories Ecuador!

To get involved and donate online to help, 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 Ecuador! FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .


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

More from FITNESS: 

I Tried It: Aqua Zumba

The Best Workout DVDs and Games of 2014

We Tried It: Doonya Fitness Party

 


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

Olympian Mogul Skier Hannah Kearney on Bouncing Back From a Setback


‘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.

More from FITNESS:

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