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Music Monday: Christina Aguilera Knows How to Work It (Not to Be Confused with Twerk It)

Written on November 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm , by

After watching season 3 of The Voice, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hop on the Christina Aguilera bandwagon. Her actions and clothes were a bit too provocative for my taste; she seemed to be grasping for attention. But after taking a step back from the show in season 4 with fellow coach Cee Lo Green, and reportedly spending more time with her family, the megastar is back for season 5 with a vengeance and I could not be more in love. Her look is more classic, the advice she doles out is top notch and she seems to really care about the contestants. Although we got a glimpse of Xtina’s season 3 behavior in last week’s performance of “How I Feel” with Flo Rida (girl wants to show she’s still got sass!), she reeled me back in with her performance of “Say Something” with A Great Big World the following night.

While I could go on and on about my reignited love for the singer (I mean, I did grow up working it to “Genie in a Bottle”), it’s her svelte figure that I’m going gaga over. And it turns out you are, too – you told us one thing you’re most curious about is how she slimmed down. Ask, and you shall receive! Reports say she’s worked with trainer Tee Sorge to peel off the pounds, citing yoga and hiking as two of the fat-blasters that worked for her. We personally recommend this yoga routine, where you’ll burn 500+ cals in a speedy 45 minutes.

We’re not sure if she jams to her own tunes (after all, sometimes LL Cool J catches his own hits), but I certainly will. Download these old and new hits to your next rise-and-grind playlist. There’s something about “Fighter” that’s guaranteed to bring out your inner badass.

Fit Links: A Heart-Pumping Playlist and Moments to Add to Your Bucket List

Written on November 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm , by

Should you stick with your trainer? (Photo by Marianne Rafter)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

  • You pay a lot of money for your personal trainer, but are they worth it? Here’s 10 signs you should ditch ‘em for good. -Daily Burn
  • So you want to do an Ironman? This is your race-day breakdown of what to expect (with an extra dose of inspiration). -Meals and Miles
  • Research shows that electro-pop music makes you move the fastest. Pump up your pace with this heart-throbbing playlist. -Songza
  • This woman has run 100 marathons, so we take her word from it when she says these are the products for getting through 26.2 miles. -50 by 25
  • Bucket list items are all the rage today. Make sure these six are on yours. -Thought Catalog

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Shop to Help Keep Veterans Active

Written on November 4, 2013 at 10:41 am , by

(Photo courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Project)

Did you catch FITNESS reader Cassandra in the I Did It! section on page 20 of our September issue? (In case you missed it or need a reminder, she raised $5,420 for the Boot Campaign which helps military veterans and their families.) Now through Veteran’s Day, November 11, you too can make an impact and support our nation’s heroes. No sweat: You don’t have to drop and give us 20—although that’s never a bad thing to do!

The Believe in Heroes campaign, now in its fourth year, gathers funds to help wounded soldiers get back to their favorite activities (through programs like adaptive sports and rehab). Contributing can be as easy as visiting your local supermarket.

How to help:

  1. Donate at your grocery store. Thousands of supermarkets across the U.S. accept donations as you check out.
  2. Download free coupons. Coupons for some of your favorite food and drink brands will be available for free through December 2 at wwpbelieve.org. A contribution will be made to the Wounded Warrior Project for each coupon redeemed.
  3. Click over to Facebook. Learn about participating stores and learn more about Wounded Warriors’ personal stories at www.facebook.com/wwpinc.fans.

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Music Monday: Nelly’s In-Shape “M.O.”

Written on October 28, 2013 at 10:59 am , by

Nelly’s latest album? Perfect for long runs. (Photo courtesy of Universal Records)

Nelly was one of the first rappers I listened to. Although I consider myself more of a country girl (um, his collab with Florida Georgia Line in this summer’s smash hit “Cruise (Remix)” was the soundtrack to my windows-down car rides…), back in my early teens my friends and I would “Ride Wit” him en route to field hockey games, sporting Band-Aids on our cheeks and all—just like he did. Yes, it was a trend that lasted a few weeks in my preppy shoreline town. Don’t ask.

I’ve followed Nelly’s career ever since, and when his seventh album, M.O., was released last month, I couldn’t pop it into my running playlist fast enough. “There’s a bunch of good workout songs on it,” Nelly told me when we recently chatted. “From top to bottom, I think you’ll find there’s a lot of great music on there to do your thing.” He called me “sweetheart” at the end of our conversation, I might add, but I digress.

Featuring Nicki Minaj, Pharrell, Nelly Fertado, T.I. and others, Nelly’s newest pace-pushing beats are sure to get your rear in gear as you take your runs indoors. And if you’re anything like Nelly, maybe that athlete mentality will translate into your career. “The competitiveness, the will not to quit and basically being in attack mode definitely helped me,” he says, explaining that the new album’s title not only stands for his home state of Missouri, but also “Method of Operation.”

So what is the workaholic’s method of staying in shape? I mean, don’t mess with those biceps! “The majority of the men in my family are super duper skinny, so the hardest part is putting the weight on,” he admits. “If I’m working, I probably get to the gym three times a week. I’m not going as heavy, just trying to maintain.” And when it comes to cardio, you won’t find the singer on the treadmill, but on the court. “I think basketball is the best cardio in the world, especially with all of the movements—the stops, jumps, the agility part of it and just the constant running.”

When I asked the former vegetarian about his diet, Nelly couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of watching what you eat. To keep his pumped-up physique, the artist tries to take in a lot of protein and loves turkey burgers. “When I started filming The Longest Yard—they wanted me to play a running back—I started eating chicken and turkey again because I only had two months to get as big as possible.” Another staple in Nelly’s daily eats? Oatmeal. “I eat a whole lot of oatmeal with cinnamon. I’ll chop up some bananas and put some raisins in it.” Whoa, Nelly! We’re impressed!

In honor of his new album, here’s a Nelly-fied playlist (a nice mix of old and new) to “Shake Ya Tailfeather” to. Sporting a Band-Aid? Optional, but strongly encouraged.

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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HGTV’s Property Brothers Face-Off In a FITNESS Competition: Who’s the Better Brother?

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

If you’re anything like me, then you agree that there’s not much better than cozying up on the couch after a tough workout, flipping to the HGTV channel and watching two cute twins help people find a diamond-in-the-rough house, fix ‘er up and present a dream home – all within a budget that the new homeowners decide on. Of course, I’m talking about one of HGTV’s most popular shows, Property Brothers, featuring Jonathan and Drew Scott. The guys have been in the business since they were 18 (making a $50K profit on their first home), but they’ve had plenty of other things on their plate over the years. Fun fact: Drew – the real estate expert – was a personal trainer and has a degree in Kinesiology!

“Both Jonathan and I coached karate, basketball and volleyball in high school,” explains Drew. “So I studied kinesiology, fully planning on becoming a PE teacher, which ended up turning into me being a personal trainer instead.”

Watch the videos below to find out why the Property Brothers are wearing those ridiculous outfits, and who’s more skilled with a hula hoop.

While he’s the gym junkie of the duo, Jonathan does his fair share of heavy lifting for work – after all, he is tearing down walls and putting them back up. And you might just catch him jamming to Hilary Duff while hammering away (no, we’re not kidding). Most embarrassing song on his playlist? “A remake of  ‘Reach Out,’” he says. “It’s a really great song!” As for what’s pulsing through Drew’s earbuds, it’s a healthy mix of Miley Cyrus (now we know where Jonathan gets his wrecking ball and twerking inspiration from), Muse and…Tony Robbins’ motivational clips.

“I played Drew’s playlist once and he’s got good music playing,” says Jonathan. “There’s a country song here, pop there and all of a sudden it goes to, ‘You are a great person. And people like you.’”

Drew quickly interjects, explaining those are Robbins’ tracks. “It’s not like I have myself on my recorder saying, ‘Drew, you’re amazing. People love you. I accept you.’ I get made fun of all the time because I’m a motivated individual.”

That motivation is a big part of the brothers’ success. Tune in to HGTV a few nights a week because you’ll find them more than once. There’s the aforementioned Property Brothers, then they have Buying and Selling and their latest competition show, Brother vs. Brother. So why three shows? “Every one’s a little bit different,” explains Jonathan. “I like that they’re all the perfect compliment to the others. On Property Brothers, I get to do the biggest designs, and they’re my designs, so I love that aspect of it. Whereas on Brother vs. Brother, we’re more just mentoring these contestants, and it’s completely up to them to make the decisions and mistakes, and of course, there a lot of mistakes.”

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Music Monday: The Latest Miley-Obsessed Trend We’re On Board With

Written on October 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm , by

Ever since that notorious VMAs performance, people cannot stop talking about Miley Cyrus. And I’m no exception: every time I see a link about her latest antics pop up in my newsfeed, you know I’m clicking through to see what’s up. While I’m shaking my head most of the time, and I may not agree with all of her – eh hem – visual antics, the girl’s got me hooked. Which, of course, is the point. She’s even got me jamming to her music on my late-night runs, and no matter how ridiculous I find the music videos to be (I really want Michael Jordan to weigh in on “23″), I will admit to being mildly obsessed with “Wrecking Ball.”

But the latest Miley trend? Combining forces with other musicians, whether she knows about it beforehand or not. We’re talking mash-ups, collaborations, spoofs and covers. In case you’ve missed out on the good, the bad, and the absolutely hilarious, I’ve rounded up my faves. Get watching, and then maybe mix a few tracks from Bangerz into your playlist. Girl may be cray-cray, but her voice is motivating.

Miley and Mumford & Sons mash-up to create “Little Wrecking Ball.” Now this is a video I can actually get behind. And adding Miley’s power-ballad vocals on top of Mumford’s fast-strumming, bluegrass beats was brilliant.

Jimmy Fallon, Miley and The Roots sing an acoustic version of “We Can’t Stop,” and it’s set up Brady-bunch style. Genius.

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Join Jillian Michaels’ First-Ever DietBet Weight Loss Challenge

Written on September 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm , by

Only $30 to get coached by this top trainer? Yes, please! (Photo by Justin Stephens)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Jillian Michaels is at it again. The health and fitness expert, who’s known for her tough coaching on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, her toned body in her workout DVDs and inspiring outlook on life in her books, is taking on a new challenge. Tomorrow, Michaels’ first DietBet game launches, motivating participants all over the world to lose weight with the support of social media.

The Jillian Michaels DietBet will host a motivating community for anyone looking to improve their health. Each participant begins by placing $30 in the pot and submits a photo of themselves on their scales to DietBet’s referees (don’t worry, the pic is totally confidential). On Tuesday, September 24, the four-week countdown begins for each participant to lose 4 percent of their body weight. Everyone who completes the goal splits the pot evenly, pocketing some hard-earned cash. With 5,472+ players currently signed up, and the pot up to $164160, the game ought to be a fun one.

Using social media as a weight loss tool helps users compete with one another, and support and encourage one another’s goals simultaneously. Plus, each participant will receive nutrition advice, workout information and motivational tips from Michaels herself throughout the four weeks to help them succeed. “It’s the first of its kind, so not only is it one of a kind, it’s revolutionary,” says Michaels. “The concept makes weight loss fun, motivating and challenging! What could be cooler?” The financial incentive doesn’t hurt either.

Like with many of her other fitness projects, Michaels approaches this new challenge with loads of enthusiasm and little fear. “I just love being a part of something new. I don’t really have concerns,” says Michaels.” People bet $30 on themselves to succeed. If they lose 4 percent in 4 weeks, they get it all back and way more. The worst-case scenario is you spend 30 bucks to have me coach you to lose weight for a month. The best case is you lose the weight and make money doing it.”

Today is the last day to sign up for the Jillian Michaels’ DietBet. What are you waiting for?

More of Jillian:

Jillian Michaels’ Bodyshred Circuit Workout

Jillian Michaels’ Get-Pumped Workout Playlist

Jillian Michaels’ Top 5 Snack Picks

Music Monday: Bruno Mars is Going to the Super Bowl & J-Lo is Working with T-Swift!

Written on September 9, 2013 at 11:19 am , by

It was a magical weekend in the world of music. The return of football (are you nailgating this season?) brought the news that this year’s Super Bowl XLVIII half-time show may just be better than the last. While we love Beyonce as much as the next girl, our hearts started pitter pattering with the announcement that Bruno Mars will take the stage during the championship game. Um, yes, we would like to watch him swagger on stage with his bandmates, reminding us of Michael Jackson’s smooth moves, especially after his VMA’s performance. And letting him charm us half-way through watching cute guys play football? Thank you, NFL. Thank you.

But that’s not all that’s got us on a music-high this Monday. USWeekly also tipped us off about a certain collaboration between two of our fave pop artists. We kind of figured something could be in the works after the Twitter lovefest that occurred between J-Lo and T-Swift after their performance on Taylor’s Red Tour. But it looks like the two will have a song on Jenny’s eighth album, set to release in early 2014. Anyone else think this is going to be a match made in heart-thumping, run-your-heart-out heaven?

To tide you over until these big events actually come to fruition, we compiled our top tunes from these three stellar artists. And if you need to remember just how great all of ‘em are at performing, check out these vids first:

Now you tell us: Which performance are you most excited about?

Broadway Beats to Boost Your Mood and Workout

Written on September 5, 2013 at 11:23 am , by

Ever wish your life were a musical? Like, who wouldn’t want to break out into song after defying gravity in your weight training and every other daily razzle dazzle (maybe a little ditty about food, glorious food? I know that comes to mind every time I dig into a big bowl of gruel—er, oatmeal). OK, maybe it’s just me…

It’s no surprise, though, that research has found music to evoke nostalgia and induce happiness. What better a happy place than Broadway and the memories that go along with it? Just think about last time you cozied into the plush seats, the excitement that builds when the orchestra’s overture starts and the curtain begins to rise. Don’t even get me started on the costumes and intricate set designs. (Squeal!) For all of you theater buffs, a show tunes soundtrack can bring you back to those moments—not to mention power you through a grueling sweat sesh. Toe-tappin’ beats with lyrics weaving together themes of strength, passion and individuality will bring a smile to your face and put a pep in your step—I mean, who wouldn’t want to get moving after reminiscing the incredible choreography from “Newsies,” “Footloose” and the like. That’s why we put together a playbill playlist of some of our favorites in honor of Broadway Week. So go ahead, pop in those earbuds and in the great words of “Funny Girl,” no one can “bring around a cloud to rain on [your] parade.”

Now you tell us: What’s your favorite Broadway musical?