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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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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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How to Eat Like an Athlete

Snooze Better So You Can Work Harder With SHEEX

Written on October 18, 2013 at 11:26 am , by

“Many people look at working out as a chore. I look at it as a blessing,” says Michelle Marciniak (left) with Co-CEO Susan Walvius. (Photo courtesy of SHEEX)

I have always considered myself a “light sleeper.” The tiniest noise or change in room temperature has the ability to mess with my REM cycle, throwing me completely off course for days. Turns out I’m not alone, either. Forty-seven million adults in the United States alone suffer from sleep deprivation, so clearly we can all benefit from a few extra zzz’s, especially us athletes. We need it. That’s why when I met with the co-CEO of SHEEX, Michelle Marciniak, I was intrigued with the company’s devotion to improving sleep performance. From bedding like pillows, mattress toppers, comforters and duvet covers to now first-of-its-kind sleepwear (I’m obsessed with their nightie!), SHEEX brings the benefits of performance technology 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for enhanced comfort and an overall better shut-eye experience. I mean, their motto is “Sleep Better. Play Better.” That’s something we can get behind.

As I’m sure many of you know from experience, traditional cotton sheets and sleepwear trap heat. I mean, hello tossing and turning! “SHEEX changes this by allowing the right amount of body heat to easily and effectively radiate away from the body, while also wicking moisture to provide additional comfort and evaporative cooling effect,” Michelle explained. Translation? Silky-smooth body enveloping that transfers body heat two times more effectively than cotton, which allows the body to cool itself for faster, deeper sleep onset. Oh, and 50 percent better temperature fluctuation reduction. That’s why so many professional and amateur athletes (as well as The National Sleep Foundation) endorse SHEEX!

As a former University of Tennessee All-American collegiate (ahem, my UConn Huskies big rival), professional basketball player and former University of South Carolina coach, Michelle knows about fitness and moreover how quality sleep translates to giving it your all on the court. In 2007, she and Susan Walvius were coaching together and after a long day of teaching camp, were sitting in the gym, exhausted. “Being a former elite level athlete and fitness fanatic, I was wearing my favorite performance fabric athletic gear, which I frequently trained in for triathlons,” Michelle told us. “Susan was also wearing the same gear but made a different connection on that summer day.” While Michelle loved the fabric for its quick-dry, moisture-wicking features, Susan loved “the drape and feel of the fabric against her skin.” That’s when Susan said, “I would love to have bed sheets made out of this stuff.” Without blinking an eye, Michelle was in and SHEEX was born.

So how did the dynamic duo use their basketball knowledge in their entrepreneurial venture? “The key to being a successful entrepreneur is surrounding yourself with people who have the experience and expertise from the industry you are entering,” Michelle explained. Although they had witnessed firsthand the evolution of athletic wear fabric throughout their careers, they were not very familiar with the textile industry. “What Susan and I knew is to wake up every day and get better. You are never satisfied with your performance as an athlete or coach. The day you become satisfied is the day that you will get crushed by your competition,” she said.

There are characteristics that athletes have innately, according to Michelle. “Commitment to excellence and passion that you tend to tap into naturally when dealing with a life after your athletic career,” she said. “You learn to use your sports culture to pivot into a career outside of your comfort zone just by tapping into what you have already known your whole life: Accomplishing goals through a tenacious work ethic and drive.” Life as an entrepreneur is no different. Every day, they set out to be better – setting risks and committing themselves wholeheartedly no matter what challenge arises. “The days rise and fall on your shoulders. If you are not out selling your vision, no one else is.” Whoa, talk about tenacity…discipline…and sacrifice.

So what’s the most important thing you need to make it when starting your own company in this dog-eat-dog world? Guts. “Thick skin, as we said in our athletic worlds,” she confessed. “You have to be willing to listen and learn, yet have the uncanny ability to adjust on the fly, making critical, strategic decisions with the utmost confidence and humility.”

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“Age of Champions” Documentary Proves You’re Never Too Old to Be Fit

Written on July 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm , by

Prepare yourself for a major dose of inspiration. (Photo courtesy of Documentary Foundation)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

If you’ve ever felt that you’re too out of shape for a certain sport, too frail, too uncoordinated, or too any-other-excuse-you-can-think-of, it’s time to meet Roger Gentilhomme. Not only is Gentilhomme an avid athlete and tennis champion, he’s also—get ready for it—100-years-old. “I’m now 100 years old, I have no medication, and I look forward to the next match,” he boasts proudly (heck, we would too!). Gentilhomme’s inspirational story appears in Age of Champions, the new PBS documentary that follows five competitors as they swim, sprint, and dribble their way to the National Senior Olympics.

Among the athletes is an 86-year-old pole vaulter, 88 and 90-year-old swimmers (and brothers!), and a five-time gold medalist basketball team of grandmothers. Yes, we’re in awe, too. Each of them is driven and focused in only ways a true athlete could be, persevering through the loss of a spouse and the diagnosis of cancer, all to go for the gold. The stories are incredibly inspirational, making this film a must-see for anyone who has ever uttered the phrase, “I can’t do it.”

Check your local listings to see when Age of Champions airs in your area on PBS, and be motivated to move just in time for the 2013 Senior Olympics on July 19th to August 1st. For a sneak peek, watch the trailer below; let us know what you think!

Now Tell Us: How has your age empowered you?

New York Liberty Basketball Star Essence Carson Opens Up About Her Sport and Passion for Music

Written on May 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm , by

Carson dominates on the WNBA court. (Photo courtesy of Jason McDonald)

WNBA player Essence Carson knows what it’s like to put in hard work. The young basketball star has been playing since she was six, honing her skill until she was eventually drafted in 2008. But don’t think that’s the only thing the 26-year-old is great at: Carson also indulges her second passion by producing and performing music. After a tough day of training, we chatted with the multitalented athlete to find out what a day in the life is like when a new season is kicking into gear.

First, how did you get involved in basketball? What made you want to pursue a career in it?

It was just something a lot of the kids in the neighborhood played when I was younger. My dad was into basketball and it was just a common interest for all of us. And then my dad really loved basketball. I played in the neighborhood maybe when I was like 6 or 7. But I didn’t start playing organized until I was 11. I just had a love for the game and wanted to be the best at it. When I got drafted I was like, “Wow, this is really happening.”

You have a lot of accolades attached to your name. Any standout moments or favorite memories for you?

When I was in college, making it to the national championship game was a standout moment. Getting drafted was major for me, obviously, as well as making the all-star team in 2011.

I read that you also have a big passion for music. What are some songs we can find on your playlist?

You’ll find some Jay Z and Miguel. I love Miguel. You’ll find of my own music, too. I listen to a lot of different stuff.

If you weren’t a basketball player, would you be doing music?

Yes. I’ve been playing music since I was nine years old, and my first performance is something I’ll never forget. I play the piano, the sax, the electric bass and a little bit of drums here and there. Right now, I produce and perform when I’m not playing basketball, so I’ve gotten good at managing my time. But yeah, if I wasn’t a basketball player, I would pursue music full-time.

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Hot Topic Tuesday: Would You Take An At-Home HIV Test?

Written on November 27, 2012 at 11:58 am , by

Johnson proves life can still be magical, despite having HIV.

Throughout the years, there has been a stigma in the U.S. about HIV – it’s one of those diseases that most people hesitate to discuss, even though 1.2 million Americans have been diagnosed, and 50,000 new infections arise each year. That all changed in the 90s, when basketball star Magic Johnson publicly announced that he had contracted the life-threatening virus. For a while, people began publicly discussing the subject and learning about safe sex and prevention methods.

Unfortunately, 20 years later, many people still don’t get tested for fear of judgment in a public setting. But Johnson wouldn’t be, well, magical, if he didn’t step into the spotlight and fight for more awareness and alternate early detection methods. “If there’s a rally or someone needs my help in the fight against HIV and AIDS, I’m going to be there,” Johnson said at a recent press event. And that’s exactly what he did. Now on the market nationwide from OraSure Technologies is OraQuick, the first in-home HIV test. In the comfort of your own home, you can use an oral swab and know in 20 minutes whether or not strands of HIV-1 and -2 are detected.

“The reason I’m standing here, 21 years after I found out I have HIV, is because of early detection,” says Johnson. “A lot of people don’t want to go to their doctors or an HIV/AIDS clinic. Now we’ve taken that excuse away from them. I think it’s going to help drive more people to know their status and ultimately, that’s what we want.”

While we think this could definitely impact the number of people who are getting tested in a positive way, we have to wonder what happens if the test comes back positive? Without a doctor sitting next to them, will they have the comfort and education they need when hit with life-altering news?

Fortunately, an information packet and 24/7 hotline number is included in every test kit, which includes what next steps people should take if they found out they’re positive.

Johnson also notes that consistently taking his medication and having a stable fitness routine is his “secret sauce” for living out a long, healthy life despite his diagnosis. And since we’re big basketball fans over at FITNESS, we grabbed a few minutes of his time to find out more about his daily routine.

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Shaq Raises $25,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Spills Shooting Secrets

Written on November 1, 2012 at 10:01 am , by

Shaq filled us in on how to sink our next shot!

What would you do if two minutes from now, you raised $25,000 for your favorite charity? We’d be pretty impressed! And that’s exactly how we felt earlier this month when former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal did just that for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Shaq teamed up with Tupperware’s CEO Rick Goings and the two sparred in a “kitchen faceoff” to find out who could nail a better shot. But Shaq wasn’t the one shooting hoops! A self-claimed “expert at making cereal and turkey sandwiches,” the super tall basketball star was in the kitchen using  Tupperware’s latest cooking gadgets to expand his skills and whip up fresh-fruit smoothies, while Goings shot free throws. At the end of two minutes, their numbers were tallied (smoothies and baskets made), three zeroes were tacked on and a check was written to Boys & Girls Club, a charity that Shaq was a part of himself while growing up in a rough area of New Jersey.

Before Goings started draining free throws though, Shaq gave him a few lessons on how to shoot that perfect shot (despite Shaq’s own troubles at the line, we’d say he’s got more insider knowledge than us!). Here’s the tips we nabbed so you can be a superstar next time you hit the courts, too:

  • Toe the line. Step up to the free throw line and place your lead foot directly in line with the center of the rim, which will make it easier to nail a straight shot.
  • Hand position is key. If you’re a righty, place your left hand on the side of the ball, and center your right directly in the middle. Keep your palms flat and wrists relaxed.
  • Bend your knees. As you prep to let the ball fly, make sure there’s a good bend in your knee and keep your body centered toward the hoop. Tuck your elbow in so that it’s directly above your knee.
  • Put a spin on it. Every shot needs some backspin to help it accurately get over to the net and through the hoop. When you shoot, let the ball roll off your hand all the way through your fingertips. As it’s leaving the fingertips, snap your wrist forward (toward the hoop) to give it that much-needed push.

And a bonus tip from us: visualize the ball. Before you let go, imagine that ball floating smoothly through the air and effortlessly sinking into the net. Positive thinking never hurts, and you never know what could happen! Happy shooting!

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Fit Links: Spring Clean Your Way Slim

Written on March 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm , by

Image via Veer

Image via Veer

This week’s fit links from around the web: