Written on October 18, 2013 at 11:26 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
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.”
Written on July 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm , by FITNESS Intern
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?
Written on May 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm , by Samantha Shelton
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.
Written on November 27, 2012 at 11:58 am , by Samantha Shelton
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.
Written on November 1, 2012 at 10:01 am , by Samantha Shelton
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!
More from FITNESS:
- Queen of the Court: Tamika Catchings
- Upgrade Your Workout: The Best Extreme Sports to Try
- 6 Gym Alternatives and Local Co-Rec Sports Leagues
Written on March 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm , by Kristen Diederich
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- How getting organized can help you lose weight — Fitbie
- Dr. Oz shares the warning signs of heart disease for women — AOL
- Going vegan for Lent? Here are 5 recipes to try — NYT Well
- Family fitness: 5 basketball games you can play with your kids! — Diets in Review
- 3 reasons March Madness is good for your health (and 2 reasons it’s not) — Everyday Health