Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern
Care to step into the ring with 22-year-old amateur boxer Mikaela Mayer? Chances are this former model will knock you out—figuratively and literally. In 2012, she secured the title of U.S. National Champion and brought home bronze and gold medals from the World Championships and Continental Games, respectively. The Los Angeles native was an alternate in the London Games (the first year women could compete), and has her sights set on gold in Rio. We talked training and being bikini-body ready for summer (have you seen her abs?), plus her genius secret for keeping that sweet tooth in check.
How did you discover boxing?
I signed up for Muay Thai at a gym near my house, and was practicing to keep myself busy. A few months in, I suffered a slight back injury that prevented me from kicking, so my trainer made me take boxing fights to develop my hands. Once I tried it, fell in love and never went back! I remember telling myself only two or three months in that I was going to be the best female fighter in the world.
Clearly that’s working out! How often do you train?
When I’m in camp for a tournament, it’s six days a week, two to three times a day for six weeks. It’s nothing but eat, sleep, train, repeat! The workouts will vary week to week, but it’s a mix of interval running, swimming, strength training, boxing and sparring three to four times a week.
Well, that must keep you bikini-body ready year-round, right?
Even when I don’t have major competitions coming up, working out is still a part of my everyday routine. Partly because I enjoy getting stronger and more skillful and partly because getting back in shape after you have let yourself go is too hard! So I always try to maintain. Staying in tip-top shape requires working out consistently. You can’t make excuses for skipping the gym. It needs to be a priority.
Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern
Blessed with beauty, brains and athletic ability, undefeated boxer Laila Ali is a woman who knows how to stay fit and inspire others. She makes the most of her gifts by giving back to others – this summer, she’s taking part in Stars Earn Stripes, a reality show series that helps raise money for military charities. She also heads up the Women’s Sports Foundation, which helps girls and women from all backgrounds get involved in sports.
With her undefeated boxing record behind her since 2007, Ali was ready to face her next challenge, so she teamed up with Aquaphor to participate in the Aquaphor NYC Triathlon (in between a busy filming schedule!) and finished in 3:06! After all of the swimming, biking and running, Ali sat down with FITNESS to share her training secrets and what surprised her most about the race.
Why did you decide to do the triathlon?
Aquaphor asked me to be an ambassador for the brand and participate in the race, and I’m always looking for a challenge so I had to say yes!
How did you fit training into your schedule?
I’m always looking for new ways to stay fit, but it’s harder and harder with two kids and a busy schedule. With boxing, I had to stay fit because it was my job, but now I have to make the choice to take the time to do it. Usually, exercise is the first thing to go when life gets in the way, but with the triathlon, it became a priority again, as boxing used to be. And I’m doing it publicly, too, so I couldn’t just go out there and do it any old kind of way. As an athlete, I pushed through the pain, kept going, and always had that inner coach telling me to keep working hard.
What surprised you most about training?
I learned a lot more about myself. Before, I was kind of ignorant about triathlons and wondered why anyone would do them. But then I realized, “Wow, this is fun.” Just biking in my neighborhood, finding new roads that I never knew were there, or riding past a new restaurant I’d never seen before. It feels good to just get out there on the bike, relax and get away from the cell phone.
Did you swim beforehand?
No. I knew how to swim but I wasn’t a swimmer. I didn’t realize how much of a swimmer I wasn’t until I had to go do laps. I knew how not to drown, that’s what I knew about swimming! I had to learn all the techniques. It was encouraging to see how my endurance increased day to day, and it happened quickly.
Consider these experts your Spanish-speaking Bob, Jillian and company! The creator of The Biggest Loser have launched Dale Con Ganas (Give It Your All), which premieres on Univision on January 11.
We asked the show’s nutritionist and three trainers to pass along their top 10 tips to help their contestants—and you!—lose weight in 2012.
Your dream team:
- Monica Montes, nutritionist
- Marcelo Crudele, trainer
- Maria Simon, trainer
- Oscar Luna, trainer
1. Take notes. “The most important first diet step is to write everything down,” Montes says. Each time you eat, track the time, food groups included, portion sizes and calories. “Contestants used food journals to adjust their meal schedules and food choices and learned how to measure proper portions throughout the show,” she adds.
2. Go easy on the joints. Sure, jumping moves like plyometrics burn major calories, but they aren’t the best choice for fitness newbies. “Try interval drills on the elliptical or in the pool, alternating challenging bursts and recovery periods to allow for increased heart rate with minimal impact on the joints,” Simon says.
3. Eat like a pro. “We enjoy meals and snacks more when they are colorful and full of flavor,” Montes says. Try this sample meal plan that contestants prepare on the show.
- Breakfast: Six egg white veggie omelet (spinach, tomato, onion, zucchini, red bell pepper, mushrooms), fresh salsa, high-fiber whole grain tortilla, orange
- Snack: Greek yogurt with blueberries
- Lunch: Grilled salmon with black pepper and lemon, black bean soup and salad (made with spinach, basil, radish, broccoli, bell peppers, green onions with lemon, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt)
- Snack: Hummus with carrots and celery
- Dinner: Chicken soup (including chicken, corn, zucchini, onion, tomato, cilantro) with one or two corn tortillas
- Snack: Jicama, mango and cucumber salad
4. Focus. One motto that the contestants live by: “Train your mind to train your body.” The mental work comes first, then the physical, which is why the trainers love getting in the ring. “Boxing is a sport that requires full concentration,” says trainer Crudele, who is also a licensed boxing and kickboxing instructor. “It’s fun and improves both your mental and physical conditioning.”
5. Fit it in your life. Unlike on Loser, show participants “remain in their real life environments, including keeping their jobs and family responsibilities—as well as all the stress and temptations that come with these dynamics,” Simon says. Don’t radically overhaul your routine when trying to lose weight because this will likely be unsustainable. Find ways to revamp your current lifestyle to make it more wellness-focused (for example, switching to low-fat milk in your coffee rather than cream).
For five more pointers from the reality show’s experts, keep reading.
I consider myself a pretty fit person and given that working out is part of my job requirement, it’s no surprise for me to have seen it all and done it all. However, last week I was literally gasping for air during a boxing class with Delon Nelson of D&I Fitness here in New York City. It’s not that I couldn’t keep up (I actually have 10 years of experience with marital arts and fighting—what can I say, I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid!), but Delon’s warm up—yes his warm up—was intense! I felt like an NFL player preparing for a big game when going through drill after drill. We did jump rope for what seemed like 15-minutes straight (most likely it was just 5-minutes!), tire flips, sprints, pushup crawls, jumping jack sprints, squat jumps, training ropes…are you getting the picture?
Basically everything we did was a pylometric move to make my heart race and keep me moving the entire time. These moves weren’t just done in place either. I had to continually move from one end of the gym to the other along an imaginary line—and of course there were multiple reps. At the end of the warm up, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we put our boxing gloves on. Needless to say, the old fighter in me resurfaced and I think I kicked some good butt. Delon say’s I’ve got a nice kick!
I’m constantly doing different workouts and mixing things up, so it was a pleasant surprise to have a really tough one thrown in there. I know I’ll definitely be back to Delon because I kind of enjoyed the torture—it was that much more satisfying in the end when our session was over. So I wanted to know what other editors considered to be their toughest workout.
Here’s what my co-workers said: Read more
February’s Top Workout DVD: Aerobarre
Why it’s a star: This knockout of a workout will tone you up from head to toe with a routine that fuses ballet and boxing. Each “round,” 11 in total, will keep your heart pumping with moves like punches with light dumbbells and graceful ballet jumps. Plus, having the DVD split into so many short bits makes time fly! It takes a try or two to keep up with the quick-moving choreography, but once you nail it, the workout only gets more fun.
Where to get it: aerospacenyc.com, $20
More from FITNESS: Our testers chose this as one of the Top 10 Workout DVDs of 2011! Pick up a copy of our March issue—on newsstands today!—to see what else made our list and enter here for a chance to win all 10 of our favorites!