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Meet the (Very Few) Ladies of the Harlem Globetrotters

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

Written by Mary Kate Schulte, editorial intern

We can’t help but swoon over any female athlete who fearlessly plays tough with the guys—and actually keeps up with them. So when we heard that three women—Joyce “Sweet J” Ekworomadu, Tammy “T-Time” Brawner and Fatima “TNT” Maddox—dribble, drive and shoot with an otherwise all-male basketball team, we couldn’t wait to get their stay-fit tips.

Members of the Harlem Globetrotters, a basketball team that travels across the globe mixing the game with a little comedy (audience chats, jokes, crazy moves, etc.), these ladies are three of just 12 women to EVER play on the team, and it’s been around since 1927. While we’re more than ready to see that number grow, we gotta admit: what they’re doing is pretty baller.

What are some of your favorite workouts? 

Joyce: When I played for the Nigerian national team, we practiced in a really hot gym—it was like playing in a sauna. It was awful while I was doing it, but I was in the best shape of my life. Now I’ll try to go to a hot room to do an ab workout, or I’ll do cardio outside, because it’s a more challenging atmosphere. That way, playing on the air-conditioned court isn’t as rigorous as the way I trained.  I always tell people to train harder than what your actual game-day situation would be.

Tammy: I like to stay away from weight machines. I really like natural exercises using your body weight or free weights. Every year I switch up my workout method. Last year I tried CrossFit, and it was one of the most insane workouts ever! Technically you’re not supposed to stop between each exercise and I was like, “Where’s my break?” No breaks!  But I saw results almost immediately. This year, I’m boxing to work on my reaction time. I love it. It’s a full-body workout.

Fatima: I’ve always been big on core strength, but being on the road so much is hard. I’ve begun doing exercises I can do in a hotel room.  I really like planks and side planks. I find them effective and easy to do while on the road.

What kind of diet do you follow to keep up with the cals you’re burning?

Joyce: In college, we worked out so much that I didn’t need to watch what I ate. But I noticed my body was not as lean as I wanted it to be—I was gaining bad weight. When I turned to professional basketball, I definitely started watching my diet. Now I’ll start breakfast with oatmeal and wheat toast, lunch is usually a salad or a tuna sandwich, and for dinner I have fish. I really like tilapia and salmon. I also started eating smaller portions, and because I eat every few hours, my metabolism sped up. I try to make good choices.

Tammy: I try my hardest to follow a healthy diet, but I’m also a junk-food junkie! We often get out of games late at night and our food options are limited. If we have to go to a burger place, I’ll get a turkey burger instead of red meat. I also eat a lot of seafood, and I love pasta for some energy when I’m working out twice a day.

Fatima: I try and eat as many fruits as I can. It gives me natural energy. It’s tough to have a daily regimen because we move to a different city every day. Often we get out of games late and you have to work with what’s available.

What keeps you motivated?

Joyce: Being passionate about what I do. Sometimes you don’t feel well or you’re having a bad day, but when you walk out on the court and see the kids start smiling and cheering, you get this energy out of nowhere. We get to have fun out there and crack jokes while playing basketball.  Those are two of my biggest traits: basketball and fun. It’s me.

Tammy: For me, basketball has always been an outlet and an escape. It’s peace of mind. I grew up around a lot of negativity, but when I played basketball it was like I was in a different world. Nothing and no one else mattered except for the basketball and the defender in front of me.

Fatima: I’ve been in sports for so long it’s become a lifestyle for me. I don’t have to drag myself to workouts because it’s embedded in me. I have a certain standard of how I want to feel on the court. I don’t want to feel overly sore or like I’m dragging. So I try to keep at it.

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FitFIT Makes Workout Classes More Accessible Than Ever

Written on August 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm , by

Calling all workaholics, mothers with screaming babies, insomniacs and general money savers: your excuses for slacking in the fitness department are officially inexcusable. (See: “I don’t have time” (yes you do), “I’m too tired” (eat cleaner), or “The gym is too far” (you don’t need one).) We get it. By the time you get home from a long day of work and meetings and spilled coffee fiascos and computer crashes and happy hours and crazy commutes, your pillow practically begs you to face-plant.

But that’s why you’ll need to check out FitFIT, a cloud-based service that will provide live-streaming access to gym classes across the country. The service is currently in four different California gyms, but CEO Michael Blake says they hope to expand to 10 to 12 other big-city gyms within the next year, like New York City and Miami. So if there’s a Yogalates class you’ve been dying to try but you can’t find a sitter (or you can’t find a studio that offers it), unroll your yoga mat and “om” at home using your iPad. If your friends are over and you feel like going to that cardio class like you feel like getting an unneeded surgery, whip out your smartphone and do a fun dance class together.

The classes never repeat, so you won’t get bored, and if you aren’t anywhere with Internet access to stream a class, you can watch it later on demand. Oh, and it’s only $10 a month. Pretty. Much. Genius.

While the FitFIT team is currently in the beta phase (they’re raising money through a Kickstarter), they hope to officially launch it this December (perfect timing for those cold gym commutes we love to hate). They’re aiming to offer access to more than 20 different gym classes (from TRX to barre to body-sculpting), and plan to release an iOS and Android app a few months after launch.

Stay up to date on the team’s progress by visiting the Kickstarter and following them on Twitter, but don’t wait to end the failed-exercise excuses. You’re overdue to toss those by the wayside.

Images courtesy of FitFIT

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Marathon Musings: 5 Strength-Training Myths for Runners, Debunked

Written on August 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm , by

When you commit to running a marathon, it’s pretty obvious that you’ll be doing one thing a lot: running. But what about all the other facets of fitness? I knew going into this that I’d be regularly cross-training (spinning, Barry’s Bootcamp and yin-style yoga are my faves), tons of foam rolling and squeezing in strength training. But I wanted to make sure that injury wasn’t waiting for me down the road, so I hit up my coach—Clif Bar pro athlete Stephanie Howe—for advice once more. Turns out there are a lot of myths out there, and she was there to bust ‘em all.

Myth: You gotta give all or nothing.
I used to regularly freak out that I wasn’t using weights enough, and became paranoid that injury was right around the corner when my work schedule only allowed me to hit the weights once or twice a week. Full disclosure: I’m a worry wart. When you’re training for a big race (um, I’d like to say this marathon is big), 1-3 times per week is OK. As a pro athlete who trains for 50-milers and beyond, Howe determines her gym schedule based on where she’s at in the season. “In the off-season, I try to get there 2-3 times per week, but when I’m training, it’s usually only once.” Once you find what fits for you, though, stick to it, she warns. “Consistency is key. I go to a strength training for runners class every week, and meeting a friend keeps me motivated and accountable.” Anyone want to join me? Tweet me @FITNESSsamantha.

Myth: Running does the same thing to muscles that strength training does.
When you’re sore, you’re sore. Doesn’t matter how you got there, right? Wrong. Not only will strength training help balance your body and prevent injury, but it will also give your body a break from the wear and tear it gets from pounding so much pavement. “Running is a catabolic activity, meaning it breaks down the body for energy,” explains Howe. “Strength training is an anabolic activity that stimulates the muscles to build up.” So in order to reach marathon-running perfection, I need to have a balance of both.

Myth: Abs are the only focus during strength training.
Yes, your abs are really important, especially when training for such a long distance (it’s where a lot of your energy comes from). But it’s not the only area that should be ready for action. “If you just focus on the core, you miss many other large muscle groups, like your arms and legs,” says Howe. Fun fact: the leg alone has 13 muscles in it, and well, they’re used quite a lot in running. So giving equal attention to other body parts not only covers your bases, but it helps prevent muscle imbalances. When you do that, you prevent injury.

Myth: It’s OK to lift weights on back-to-back days.
There’s one big thing I’ve noticed in my training schedule week-to-week: I’m rarely doing a “hard” workout two days in a row. So if I hit up bootcamp on Monday, I can count on an easy run being on deck for Tuesday. What gives? “You need to give your body time to recover and build back up between sessions,” explains Howe. “All the changes happen when you are are resting. If you don’t give your body that time, then you are breaking it down even further.” And nobody wants that.

Myth: You should avoid heavy weights.
It may seem counterintuitive—why grab heavy dumbbells when I want to be light and speedy?—but lifting heavier is pretty important, says Howe. ”It sparks neuromuscular changes that will make your body more efficient,” explains Howe. “These changes happen independently, meaning the benefits are found without changes in muscle size.” Translation: lifting heavy weights for a lower amount of reps, paired with running, will not result in Schwarzenegger arms, but rather a stronger bod and faster finish times. Noted.

And just for good measure, I wanted to know: what are the best strengthening exercises for runners? Howe recommends a lot of basics that focus on your foundation muscles (abs, back, glutes, lats, traps), arms and legs. “I grab heavy weights and regularly do bench presses, lat pull downs, squats and lunges,” she says. Make sure to focus on any imbalances, too. “I have weak hips, so I try to include a hip exercise each time I lift. And always take time to stretch.” Girl just won Western States (that’s 100 miles), so her plan must be a solid one.

Photo by James Farrell

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How Access Hollywood Correspondent Liz Hernandez Stays Fit Off Set

Written on August 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Fit and fabulous? Check. TV personality Liz Hernandez embodies both of these qualities, and her rockin’ bod and flair for fashion are just two of the reasons we love tuning into Access Hollywood. Besides becoming one of the first Latina correspondent on NBC’s entertainment news program in 2014, this California native also sets a great example as a strong woman who knows what she wants and fights for it. After sitting down for a one-on-one chat with Hernandez, we should also probably mention that she’s totally down-to-earth, witty and bubbly. Yes, we know; swoon.

Being on TV and always in the spotlight, how does it affect your mindset about working out and staying fit?

I have never let myself fall into the trap of like, “Oh, I’ve got to look this certain way.” I’ve always been pretty healthy and kept myself in good condition. But, there’s never a worse feeling than when you’ve gone out the night before, you didn’t eat right and you get to set and they have  this little skirt for you. You are like “Oh, God! I don’t want to go out there!” So, I have noticed that on the mornings when I wake up, workout and get to set, it’s like, I have energy, my body feels strong and I am projecting that. It’s just a positive reinforcement.

Are there any exercise routines you’re totally obsessed with?

I try to go to the gym no less than 4 days a week. I used to be like, “Cardio! Cardio! Cardio!” But then I was retrained to just get my heart rate up for 10 minutes on the treadmill. Then I do weight training, where I go grab free weights and I do jumping jacks with the weights, squats, lunges, abs…just so my full body is getting a workout. I try to do as much as I can with free weights because essentially you are burning calories while building your muscles.

What’s your diet like these days?

I am really strict during the week. I am very big on getting 30 grams of protein in the morning just to fill me up. That’s what really works for me and it usually holds me over for 2-3 hours before I have something like a bran muffin with fruit. I’ve also strayed away from all dairy products and red meat.

Any go-to snacks?

I am going to be totally embarrassing, but I have the same breakfast every day. I am a huge fan of thinkThin bars. They have 20 grams of protein in them! I have a white chocolate thinkThin bar every single morning without fail. They are low sugar and high in protein. I also keep my house stocked with fruit. Cantaloupe is my favorite.

Guilty-Pleasure foods?

I loved—loved, as in past tense—ice cream. Now that I’ve given up dairy, I use these little ice cube trays and pour juice into them. I pour white grape juice and add in real fruit. So when I have an after-dinner craving, I’ll have one of those and it cuts the sugar craving.

With your extremely busy schedule, how do you manage to do it all?

You know, it’s all balance. One of the things I really practice is thinking about my mind, body and spirit. It’s totally my mantra. In the mornings, before I even go to the gym or do anything, I have a gratitude journal and I write five things that I am grateful for. It’s a reminder for when my day goes haywire that it could always be worse.

Photo by Emilio Sanchez

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Fashionably Fit: Celebrate the Running Skirt’s 10-Year Anniversary

Written on August 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

What’s more fun than looking super cute while training like a beast? Answer: nothing. Which is why we totally love a good running skirt. This fall, the brand behind the original, Skirt Sports, celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a “Virtual 10 on 10 Run” on September 13th. As you probably guessed, we’re joining the fun and are pretty pumped to sport this season’s trendiest styles.

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of what exactly a “Virtual 10 on 10 Run” entails, we must talk about just how crazy it is that the running skirt has officially been around for an entire decade. News like this can make a girl feel pretty old. I mean, we’re talking 2004 here, back when Usher’s “Burn” was the top pop single and movies like Mean Girls and The Notebook were rockin’ the big screen (We still love you, RyGos and Rachel).

It was also the year that professional triathlete Nicole DeBoom debuted the running skirt—while winning Ironman Wisconsin, no less—and used her prize money to start Skirt Sports, a brand that’s dedicated the last decade to making women look and feel great while running. Talk about major girl power.

So, what exactly is this virtual run, and how can you participate? From September 13-15, Skirt Sports invites women from around the world to run either a 10K or 10 miles (if you happen to live in Boulder, CO you can run with the Skirt Sports team!). Sign up here, and share your training and race-day adventures on social media—just remember to tag @SkirtSports. Every participant that registers will receive a gift certificate to Skirt Sports, a Lucky #10 race bib and a finisher’s gift post-race.

Still new to the world of running skirts? Check out some of our fave picks below. From the most fashionable styles to the best options for optimal performance, you’ll love the freedom that comes with wearing skirts while running your fastest. What are you waiting for? Time to suit up, sign up and pound some pavement. Happy training!

From Left to Right:

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Girl Power: Becky Hammon and the San Antonio Spurs Makes History for the NBA

Written on August 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm , by

She’s 5′ 6″, 37, and is carving some serious pathways down the basketball court—and with more than just her skillful plays as a pro b-baller.

Becky Hammon, the WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars point guard, will serve as the San Antonio Spurs’ new assistant coach when she retires to the sidelines this month, making her the first paid, full-time female assistant in the NBA. Yeah. Kind of a big deal.

She recently announced that her role won’t be any different than the other assistants’ roles, and she’ll work directly with Coach Gregg Popovich to guide the team that just won the 2014 NBA Finals—amazing, much? And even though Popovich says she was hired for what any coach SHOULD be hired for—skills—we hope this means more just-as-qualified women will start popping up in male-dominated fields.

But basketball fan or not, your eyes better be averting to the sidelines this fall. ‘Cause this girl is shattering all sorts of glass ceilings. Watch Hammon’s full press conference here.

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5 Things I Learned from Doing the New York City Triathlon

Written on August 6, 2014 at 11:13 am , by

Last year, my colleague Samantha and I participated in the New York City Triathlon relay-style. (You can read about our experience here.) But getting just a little taste of the inspiring event wasn’t enough for me. After that day, I made a promise to myself to do all three legs the following year and immediately marked my calendar to solidify the goal. This past Sunday, I competed in this iconic New York race—swimming in the Hudson river, biking along the Henry Hudson Parkway and running through Central Park—and got so much more out of it than just a super cool medal. Here are my top takeaways from race day:

1. Make Friends.
I have always trained for and competed in triathlons by myself, and quite frankly, it gets lonely. In the past, I’ve been too reserved and nervous to get chummy with other people, but this time I was feeling unusually calm and ended up meeting a bunch of awesome triathletes. Chatting with them kept me feeling relaxed and made my race experience much more enjoyable. So don’t be shy—even though it’s an individual sport, you’re really all in it together.

2. Stay Calm. 
As mentioned above, I was surprisingly chill on race morning. I can only attribute this to a ton of pre-race visualization and feeling properly prepared. I put in all the hard work in the weeks leading up to the big day and if you train right, there’s really nothing to worry about except having fun! The worst thing you can do is spike your heart rate before you jump in the water, so even if there are a few worries in the back of your mind, push them out and repeat positive thoughts to stay relaxed. It actually works and makes a huge difference.

3. The Bike Matters. 
Personally, my strongest leg is on the bike, but even if it’s not yours, it’s still important to care about what wheels you’re on. This year, I rode my Specialized Alias (prices vary, specialized.com). It’s like the Jekyll and Hyde of bikes: two personalities—a road bike for training and a tri bike for racing—all wrapped into one slick, aerodynamic package. The geometry is designed specifically to allow you to swap between road position and triathlon position with ease. This explains it in more detail, but it was the perfect bike for my training. I just popped off the clip-on aerobars for the long group rides I incorporated into my schedule and then snapped them back on for when I was practicing race pace on solo jaunts. On the Alias, I was able to shave five minutes off my previous year’s time despite slick road conditions. True story: I actually saw a girl riding a rent-a-bike from Central Park complete with pannier on the course (!). Needless to say, her struggle was real and I smoked her. So seriously, it’s worth it to invest in a solid set of wheels.

4. Pace Yourself.
I tend to be a zero to 60, all or nothing, give it 100 percent type of person, especially when it comes to working out. And hey, that’s not always a bad thing. But in triathlon, you’ve got to get through three events before you can taste the sweetness of that finish line. The smartest thing I did was start every leg slow and steady. If I had extra gas in the tank, then I kicked it into high gear near the end. With this strategy, I had the smoothest race and strongest finish yet.

5. Remember to Smile! 
I get laser focused during races and unfortunately suffer from “resting b*tchface, so this one is important for me. If you want some cool in-action race photos, you better cheese when you spot a camera lens. Plus, anytime I fake smiled I mean, real smiled at the crowd, they went nuts and their enthusiasm gave me the shot of energy I needed, which in turn made it really fun and led to lots of genuine grins. Yay!

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5 Things You Need to Know About the Ebola Outbreak

Written on August 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm , by

As Ebola cases in Central and West Africa continue to climb, so do the fatalities. There are now two infected Americans in the U.S.—the second arrived in Atlanta today—and they’re receiving potential treatment: a serum that hasn’t even been approved for human use yet. But it sounds promising. So far, the patients’ conditions have improved, and we can only hope the serum becomes an effective (and approved) treatment in battling the disease. In the meantime, here are some things you should know about Ebola:

1. It is deadly. There’s currently no vaccine or treatment for Ebola, and fatality rates can reach 90 percent, according to World Health Organization. As of yesterday, there are 1,603 (suspected and confirmed) Ebola cases, and there have been 887 deaths as of Friday.

2. It only spreads through direct contact with infected bodily fluids (or contact with objects, like needles, that have touched infected fluids), meaning that the chance of the virus spreading throughout the U.S. is very slim.

3. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain and rashes.

4. Planning on traveling to West Africa anytime soon? Don’t. The CDC issued a warning for Americans on Thursday to steer clear of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the virus is currently most prevalent (check out this map). There are currently several CDC staffers in West Africa working to stifle the outbreak, and the organization plans to send an additional 50 workers within the next month.

5. For you New York City folks: That man who came back from West Africa and was tested for Ebola at Mount Sinai Hospital Sunday? Doctors say he’s most likely uninfected. However, a woman in Columbus, Ohio is also being tested for the virus, as she recently traveled to West Africa. Fingers crossed that those suspected to have the disease are just false alarms, and that doctors soon find a treatment that will banish the nearly 2,000 Ebola cases we’ve seen so far.

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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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