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Written on March 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm , by Samantha Shelton
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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Written on February 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm , by Lauren CardarelliSlush and the resulting sloppy conditions were all the buzz in Sochi the past few weeks, but according to alpine skier Julia Mancuso, who snagged a bronze in the ladies’ super combined slalom, it wasn’t as bad as everyone cracked it up to be. In fact, Mancuso told us that she liked the hills in Russia! To put it simply, “it could have been worse.”
The Squaw Valley resident had yet another outstanding Olympic experience competing in three events and attending a handful of others to cheer on Team U.S.A. Adding a fourth medal to her accolades was the bling-a-licious cherry on top. “I was struggling going into this season so being able to get a medal was kind of a bonus,” she confessed. “I was hoping to use that energy into the next events and that didn’t happen. I was a little disappointed but looking back, I achieved something that so many athletes don’t get to do.”
So what’s her success secret? No Beyoncé dancing pre-race ritual here (although we still love you, Queen B). The most decorated woman in U.S. Olympic alpine history swears by one thing: getting her head in the game. “Ski racing is 99 percent mental, so for me it’s about getting to the start and relaxing—getting in the right mindset to go fast!” 81 miles per hour, fast. Talk about mind over matter!
Unlike other Olympians who are just arriving home, Mancuso skipped out on the Closing Ceremonies for a short stint in the States before finishing off her World Cup season. “Three more weeks and then it’s time to start training for next year,” she said a few days before jet-setting off to Switzerland.
And all of that traveling definitely adds up—especially when it comes to diet. “I try to eat healthy but it’s hard to plan ahead,” she said. “It’s one more thing to stress about if you’re not getting the right foods, so I try to control what I can and make good choices of the stuff I can’t control.” Her fuel of choice? ZICO-based smoothies. Check out her fave pre- and post-workout recipe below. Delicious and nutritious, perfect for whatever “podium” you’re looking to achieve.
So what’s Mancuso up to next, once she gets a little down time? She’ll be swapping snow for Hawaiian waters to indulge her surfing and paddleboarding interests, then flying to London to attend her BFF’s wedding. Sounds like a fun year ahead!
Written on February 24, 2014 at 9:10 am , by Samantha Shelton
Finally. After a long season of basically no TV (I mean, the Bachelor was there to hold me over), and a slight delay due to the Olympics, my favorite shows are back from winter break. I’m a total sucker for reality TV – obviously, since I watch the Bachelor - so the show I’m most excited for would be The Voice (OK, OK, I’m also really stoked for Scandal and Nashville). Cheesy as it may be, I love discovering new artists along with the rest of America, and this group of coaches has a ton of on-screen chemistry. And I’m not just talking about Adam Levine and Blake Shelton (though their bromance is pretty epic) – Shakira and Usher are back in the spinning chairs for season six, and now that they’re no longer newbies, these two are coming out of their shells even more (Shakira even claimed Blake’s wife, Miranda Lambert, as her guest coach!). All of their personalities shine in a big way, and watching them bring out the best in young performers is as heart-warming as the steamy mug of caffeine-free tea I’ll be cupping while I snuggle into my couch and watch (yes, I’m aware that I sound like an old lady #judgmentfreezone).
But as a running-addict, the best part of The Voice is, in fact, finding new artists to add to my always-changing playlists. We all know I love country music, so Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers are my jam, but I’ve also totally been digging Cassadee Pope and Will Champlin lately. Not one to keep good music all to myself, here are The Voice alums I’ve been sprinting, interval-ing and hill-climbing to these days. And if the weather is still terrible in your area, just hop on the treadmill Monday and Tuesday nights. The music will keep you entertained, and the coaches will make you laugh enough that you just might forget you’re running…maybe.
In other Voice news, there have been a lot of questions swirling around who will claim the red seats for season seven. The last few seasons have had a lot of back-and-forth, with an unprecedented switch between CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera with Usher and Shakira. Last week though, CeeLo announced on Ellen that he definitely would not be returning to the show. If that’s the case, will Shakira permanently take his place (based on where the replacements sit), and Christina reclaim her chair, making it an even playing field of male and female coaches? Or maybe Usher will return on a permanent basis too, since the two currently come as a pair? Or perhaps producers will use the vacancy as a chance to bring in a revolving chair (yes, pun intended) of coaches, opening the door for even more celeb appearances. It’s up in the air right now – as far as we know – but tell me what you think. Sound off in the comments, or vote in the poll below on your favorite pairing.
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Written on February 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Three-time Olympian Hannah Kearney has come a long way. Although she’s always been a phenomenal mogul skier, she’s faced plenty of adversity – the 2006 Winter Games come to mind pretty quickly, when Kearney placed 22nd out of 30 competitors. But rather than letting that defeat her, the Vermont native learned from her mistakes, and spent the last six years rising to the top of her game. So much so, in fact, that she snatched the gold in the 2010 Games, and was projected to repeat in this year’s Games. Unfortunately, a mistake on the course during the medal round dropped her out of contention for the top spot. But she still came away a winner: with head held high, Kearney stood on the podium claiming bronze for the U.S. After so many setbacks, we caught up with the champion (because winning a bronze is still pretty badass) to find out more about bouncing back, and whether or not retirement is in her near future.
Tell us about your Sochi experience? How do you feel coming away with a bronze medal?
Sochi has exceed my expectations. The mogul course was challenging, yet fun to ski. I knew I was capable of winning a gold medal again – I have made sacrifices, trained hard and made mogul skiing my life for the past four years. Although I am proud to be a two-time Olympic medalist, and grateful I got to compete in the Games for a third time, I am disappointed that I made a large mistake in my final run.
But bronze is still amazing! And you’ve come such a long way since the 2006 Olympics. How did you stay motivated amidst such discouragement?
I viewed every setback – injuries; losses – as an opportunity to become a stronger mental competitor. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so when I was sidelined from training and competitions, I tried to make the most of the break by adopting a dog, putting up a Christmas tree for the first time, and watching more of my brother’s hockey games.
Anything specific you can credit to your rise to success?
There have been many factors. Opportunity, supportive parents, a community that valued winter recreation, and coaches and friends who believed in me when I was very young. And a little bit of luck.
So…will we see you in the next Games potentially? Or are you thinking about retirement?
It’s hard to answer that when I feel as strong as ever and very motivated by the feeling that I can ski better than I demonstrated at Sochi.
What’s next for you, then?
After completing the World Cup season in Japan, Norway and France, I will be finishing my freshman year at Dartmouth in the spring!
OK, time to spill some of your success secrets. What’s on your pump-you-up playlist?
My workout playlist is a mix of contemporary pop and hip-hop, classic rock and some folk music.
A little bit of everything. What about food? Any that really fuel your fire?
I eat Bear Naked granola when I need a quick snack to give me energy! Plus, I love that the granola has ingredients that I can see and recognize on the label. I’ll mix it into a Chobani yogurt for a hearty, balanced, natural snack for pre- and post-workout.When I need to grab-and-go, I’ll use Bear Naked’s single serving packs – I keep them in my workout bag and in my car.
You’re working with Bear Naked on the #OneUpIt challenge. How do you plan to “One Up” your game post-Sochi?
I’m in the process of planning my One Upping strategy. I feel strong and motivated, so I am not ready to retire. I will train this summer to add a more difficult trick to my repertoire.
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Written on February 17, 2014 at 9:47 am , by Samantha Shelton
I love chart-topping artists like Queen B and T-Swift as much as the next girl, but sometimes finding new, independent artists is an easy way to freshen up the ole’ workout playlist. And I bet you agree, whether you realize it or not – Macklemore’s winning streak at the Grammy’s is proof that independent musicians can hold their own, even against the major names we’ve come to fiercely love. So, to help me reboot my earbuds, I turned to TuneCore, a distribution service that many indie artists use to get their songs on the big platforms – you know, Spotify, iTunes and Amazon MP3. They’ve put together this playlist of mega-hot tracks guaranteed to spike my energy. Now if only it automatically transported me to the gym…
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Written on February 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm , by Samantha Shelton
It’s mid-February, and I don’t know about you, but this girl is ready for a new challenge. The New Year’s resolution hype has all but died, winter is burying us East Coasters under piles of snow, and stir-crazy frenzies are settling in. So what’s a girl to do?
Enter New York Road Runners Empire State Building Run-Up. What’s that, you ask? Simple: run into the narrow stairwells of New York’s most iconic building, and get your butt up those 86 floors as fast as humanly possible. Easy enough, right? Heh.
After running 10 half-marathons, I decided to take on the challenge because there’s nothing like climbing stairs to get out of my distance-running comfort zone. After all, I live in New York City and, even though I can run 13.1 miles with relative ease (relative being the key word here), just getting to the top of the subway stairs can rob me of breath from time to time.
While I was fortunate enough to have words of advice from those who have run before me (our fitness editor, Jenna, climbed that stairwell in 2013!), I did my research. If this girl – you know, the one who avoids the stairmaster, lives on the first floor of a building and takes the elevator to the 25th floor of her office – was going to survive, I had to at least have my head in the game. And I’m proud to say that I made it to the top of New York’s most iconic building in just over 23 minutes. While I certainly wasn’t the fastest out there (seriously, some were finishing sub-10 – crazy!), I put my whole effort into it. Here’s what I learned along the way – hopefully it’ll inspire you to step (see what I did there?) outside your comfort zone. Maybe not 1,576 steps worth of discomfort, but if you skip the elevator just once, then I’ll consider my job done.
Chew gum and suck on cough drops. This tip from associate beauty editor, Molly, saved me. Chewing gum prevents your ears from popping as you quickly ascend to the top, thus increasing your elevation. The cough drops keep your mouth moist in an otherwise-dry environment. Remember, you’re in a small, dusty stairwell that doesn’t get a lot of use on the reg, so there isn’t a ton of air flow. Both helped me keep up a fast (for me) pace.
Mix up your movement. When sprinting so many stairs, your body quickly switches from an aerobic state over to an anaerobic state, and lactic acid starts to build in your muscles when you pass your anaerobic threshold. To keep pain at bay (and your legs moving), alternate how you get up those stairs. In the beginning, everyone’s in a mad dash, so a moderate sprint will keep you in the group without tuckering you out too quickly. After about eight flights of that, I switched between running up every single step and every other to ensure I was using different muscles.
Written on February 13, 2014 at 9:13 am , by Samantha Shelton
Let’s be real for a minute, guys: dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day is not fun. The restaurants are going to be jam-packed, and well, you’ve probably seen all the good movies already. Instead, grab your special someone for one of these hot-and-sweaty adventures (you never know where it may lead after you get back home). And we won’t have any qualms with you digging into that box of chocolates post-workout, either. After all, you earned it!
Ride with Your Crush at Cyc
NYC-ers, if you’re already set on plans for the 14th, head to Cyc Fitness for their 7:30pm “Crush Ride” on February 13th. They’ll be playing cupid for you and your crush with a themed playlist, special Valentine’s treats and a sweaty kissing booth in case you two really hit it off while pumping your legs (and heart). But they can’t do all the work – you’ll need to purchase two bikes, and email firstname.lastname@example.org with your crush’s name and address. Cyc takes it from there, shooting your hottie an invite and reserving side-by-side bikes. ($25 per class, cyfitness.com)
Reach New Heights at Brooklyn Boulders
Climb to new heights – in the gym and in your relationship – with BKB’s “It Takes Two” bouldering competition. Two teammates are required to enter the February 15th competition, and you’ll each work together to master routes of all levels. So gear up and see how well you two really work together ($20 per person, brooklynboulders.com). But if you’re not quite ready for a competition, sign up for the “Learn the Ropes” course for a special price, and score some sweet gifts both of you can enjoy. ($99, brooklynboulders.com)
Smile While you Sweat with SoulCycle
At all Soul locations, ride on February 14th with your SOULmate for a major party-on-a-bike calorie burn, and document the memory with the SOUL kiss cam. Can’t make it to class that day? For the entire month of February, bring a date to select classes – free! These classes don’t come cheap, giving you reason enough to drag your partner along or muster the guts to finally ask that cutie you’ve been eyeing on a date. (price and schedule varies; soul-cycle.com)
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Written on February 10, 2014 at 9:32 am , by Samantha Shelton
It’s hard to believe, but 50 years ago the Beatles made their first appearance in the United States. The iconic band has made an impact on our society in a way like no other, and fortunately for us, we can relive their music in more ways than one (we all remember Across the Universe, and I highly recommend seeing Cirque De Soleil’s Love). But rather than sitting through a performance that takes you back in time, try sweating instead. This 50-minute playlist from our friends at Run Rock ‘n’ Roll honors the monumental anniversary of the guys jumping across the pond, so take it for a whirl during your next workout. Better yet? Consider signing up for the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon and Half-Marathon, and make sure to bring these tunes along for the ride. Nothing like a little John Lennon to get you through a tough training run, especially when you’re going to his homeland.
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Written on January 31, 2014 at 3:06 pm , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
From fit men in spandex to flashy halftime shows and the best commercials of the year, we all sport different reasons for tuning in on Super Bowl Sunday (we obviously can’t wait for Bruno Mars and RHCP). But there’s one thing we can all agree on: game-day snack fest is a surefire way to destroy our diets. “Even a relatively modest consumption of Super Bowl fare—including pizza, potato chips, beef nachos and sodas—adds up to more than 2,000 calories and 81 grams of fat on game day,” says the Calorie Control Council, a non-profit organization that represents the low-calorie and sugar-free food industry. And those estimates don’t even include the meals before kickoff!
Now, we’re not saying you have to be the drag of the party and nibble on lettuce while everyone else chows down on burgers. We love everything in moderation. But to help you keep the best Super Bowl flavor without the excessive calories and fat, we nabbed a few slimmed-down recipes—that taste just like the originals—from , Haylie Pomroy, celebrity nutritionist and best-selling author of The Fast Metabolism Diet. With clients like Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez and several NFL athletes in her rotation, we know these football-ready recipes will have us cheering for our fave teams – and keeping our waistlines in tact.
Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Nuggets
“This nugget makeover uses an unexpected ingredient — sprouted-grain pretzels — for crunch,” says Pomroy. “They’re great for dinner with the family, or as a healthy party snack.” They also use egg whites instead of whole eggs to get more protein without adding fat. Try dipping in mustard for an extra flavor boost.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
- 3/4 cup arrowroot powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup finely crushed sprouted-grain pretzels (Unique 100% Sprouted Pretzels work well)
- 1 teaspoon seasoning of your choice (such as smoked paprika, chipotle powder, garlic powder or Italian seasoning)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces
Written on January 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm , by Samantha Shelton
It’s almost game time, guys! You know I’m talking about the Super Bowl – or should I say Puppy Bowl? – and while I love watching men battle it out in tight pants, my beloved Patriots are not in the game, so I’m not nearly as interested as I should be. And let’s be honest, whether we’re big football fans or not, the half-time show is one of the best parts of the game (along with the commercials, obvi). Add on the fact that Bruno Mars will be performing (after securing a big Grammy win for Best Pop Vocal Album, no less) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are making an appearance, and well, you basically won’t be able to tear my eyes from the TV screen.
So whether you’re planning a big party for the game, or just want to take a trip down memory lane, I recommend plugging into this playlist. We’ve gathered hit songs that were performed during the iconic halftime show in the past – including the always-infamous “Rock Your Body” by J.T. and J.J. – and sprinkled in a few tunes we hope Bruno and the Peppers (New band name? Maybe? OK, no…) grace us with on Sunday.
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