Marlen Esparza was only 11 when she first stepped into a boxing gym, and it took her days to convince trainer Rudy Silva to allow her to participate in his group workouts. After watching her throw some sloppy but passionate punches at a bag and seeing what Rudy describes as a “spark,” he allowed her to join his sessions with advanced boys.
But that spark doesn’t mean Rudy welcomed her with open arms. “I tried to push her really, really hard,” recalled Rudy during a recent interview at Nike’s campus in Oregon. “I would push the groups really hard, mainly because I wanted her to just quit. After a while, some of my guys started quitting. She just kept showing me every day that she was there to stay and this is what she wanted to do.” Eleven years later, Rudy is still her trainer and Marlen’s tenacity paid off. Not only has she won six national titles, winning her first at age 16, but she was also the first woman to qualify for the US Olympic boxing team.
This honor is not lost on Marlen. In a quick interview in Houston she told us, “To be the first woman to qualify for the Olympics is everything to me. People say to me, ‘Boxing is not who you are; it’s what you do.’ But to me, it’s who I am. I’ve never felt this good in my entire life, ever.”
The road to qualifying wasn’t straightforward, though. The announcement that women’s boxing would be included in the London games also included the news that four weight classes would be combined. Rudy explained, “At the time that they announced the 112 flyweight class, the weight classes that were going to merge into 112 were 106, 110, 114, and 119. Those four weight classes had to compete at 112.” Until the International Olympic announcement, Marlen had fought in the 106-pound weight class. “I had to gain weight,” Marlen told us. “In 2010 I started competing at the 112 Olympic weight class and figuring out who was gonna make it to the games. I was fighting girls down from weighing 119. It was intense. Luckily, I beat them all.”
Keep reading to learn details of how the young boxer eats and trains.
More From FitSugar:
Last night’s Smash finale had viewers on the edge of their seats waiting to see who would finally be crowned Marilyn. Don’t worry if it’s still on your DVR, we’re not giving any spoilers! While we were anxious to see how the performance would play out, Katharine McPhee is already focusing on her next performance in the Big Apple with her partnership with Tide to kick off the Olympic Games. We caught up with the star to hear about the campaign and snag a few fitness tips of hers.
Tell us about the partnership you’re doing with Tide for the Olympics!
To gear up for the Games, Tide is launching a project called My Story. Our Flag. We are asking people to go to the Tide Facebook page to share their personal stories of what the flag means to them. On July 3 I’ll be performing in Bryant Park to unveil a huge artistic rendition of the American flag. The stories that people have shared will be printed on swatches of fabric that will be sewn together to make the flag.
Like the Olympic hopefuls, the road to landing your dream career came with a lot of hard work. What’s one piece of advice you would tell someone with huge goals to help them stay motivated?
I have always loved the Olympics, and I was actually a competitive swimmer in middle school and high school. I remember how grueling the training was then, which is nothing compared to how these athletes train. Being an actress and a singer I understand how important it is to take care of your body. My advice would be to practice persistence and lots of discipline, much like these athletes do.
If you’re ever wanted to work out with a celebrity trainer, now is your chance! Trainer to the stars, Gunnar Peterson, whose hot bodies he’s helped whip into shape include Vanessa Lachey, Jennifer Lopez and Sophia Vergara (just to name a few), is offering a FREE teaser workout tomorrow on his new website, gunnarchallenge.com. The workout is sure to be no joke, even from the comfort of your home, Gunnar will push you to new limits. If you like what you see—more importantly how you feel after a session with this pro—sign up for his exclusive 8-week program that he promises will get you ready to hit the beach with confidence. What a special treat! Give Gunnar eight weeks of your time and devotion and you can look and feel like one of his A-listers too? Sign me up please!
If you sign up for the Gunnar Challenge, which runs from May 21 to July 14, you’ll be working out in real time with online buddies doing the same thing—the group workout experience, minus the group…plus the benefits of exercising with other people. In the challenge you can chat with other members, watch demo videos of Gunnar’s daily workouts and get nutrition advice too. Find out if you’re meeting your daily caloric intake by logging your meals (if you indulged in a bag of potato chips, your program will tell you how long it will take you to burn it off—I love this part!), check out nutritional info of all your favorite foods (the app will keep you on track when you’re not at your desk) and get healthy cooking ideas for more than 1,000 recipes (the program even suggests things to cook for dinner that night..takes the thinking out of the endless “what’s for dinner?” battle). In addition to Gunnar’s daily workouts, a “surprise” session will pop into your inbox Saturday morning—since you won’t know what to expect, the suspense of doing something new and unknown at the start of your weekend will be a motivational treat. Workouts can be printed out and taken to the gym, done outdoors on a hot sunny day or inside in your living room with your music blasting. All the tricks for losing weight are thought out and planned for you—you just have to follow along and you’ll reach the weight-loss goals you want to hit.
The Gunnar Challenge is your chance to have that personal trainer on hand whenever you need him. It makes working out and eating right a no-brainer. Plus, weekly motivational videos from Gunnar himself will keep you pumped up along the way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a celebrity trainer give so much of his recipe for success for so little cost (the 8-week program costs only $99).
If you’re thinking this program is for you, try Gunnar’s kickoff workout tomorrow from 10 to 11 a.m. EST. Then get ready to get moving with Gunnar on May 21 when you sign up!
Share your results with us after July 14th and we’ll post your before and after pictures on this blog!
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
When I met LA/NYC celebrity trainer, Becky Tinney, a few months ago I instantly liked her spirit, and her personal story. I’m always intrigued by trainers or people who have lived the walk and can train and preach from the heart. As a young girl Becky struggled with body image issues, anorexia and obsessive working out. And upon moving to New York City after college she was faced with the delicious and decadent bevy of restaurants this place has to offer (we face this battle every day!) and she packed on too many pounds. Finally getting in shape the right way Becky realized the secrets to a fit body and a healthy, manageable diet.
Creating her own routine from scratch, she found that women at the gym started mimicking her moves, asking her questions about fitness and showing up when she worked out. Becky saw that she was on to something and The Balance Method was organically created. When Becky moved to Los Angeles she started working in the entertainment industry training actors and industry executives on movie and television sets (what a cool job!). That’s why I love the moves that we give you in the April 2012 issue—they’re tried and true and will get you results. Plus, with summer time literally around the corner, tank top arms are a must-have! Get moving with Becky’s “Strong Armed” workout on page 50, but first check out a little behind-the-scenes action with this inspiring trainer!
If your story was the plot for a movie, tell me how it goes.
It would probably be The Hunger Games because I’m always training and I’m always hungry. Just kidding! Well I’m a girl from a small town who moved to NYC, fell in love, moved across country to LA and started a dream career. I feel like we’ve seen movies like that before but I hope the biggest part of my movie is still to come!
Why do you like working with actors on set? Is it exciting being a “silent” part of a movie?
It’s a fun time to work with actors because it’s essentially “game time.” We usually have a short period of time to achieve a specific goal so the determination and commitment is in full effect. It’s fun to be a part of creating a whole new image for someone and to give them that added confidence to perform their best work. Having a body that matches the role is a huge boost in confidence!
When you see Madonna on a talk show this week promoting her new album MDNA (out today!) or during one of the stops on her world tour, which kicks off on May 29, you’ll be checking out moves choreographed by former Broadway dancer Nicole Winhoffer. She appeared in shows like Wicked and 42nd Street, among others, before joining the Material Girl for her Sticky and Sweet Tour in 2009. Winhoffer, who is also a personal trainer, now works in the gym with Madonna six days a week to ensure that she’s ready for her grueling performances.
We caught up with Winhoffer to take a peek behind the scenes and to learn more about how everyone can train just like the amazing 53-year-old pop star!
If our readers could steal one trick from your work with Madonna, what would that be?
Body awareness. One must engage their mind while performing their exercises. Time and time again, I see people reading papers or watching TV while they work out. This might bring about injury and if the mind is not connected to the body, you can’t exert the proper amounts of energy needed to gain the desired results.
You were in Indianapolis to help Madonna prepare for the Super Bowl and are now gearing up to go on tour with her. How do you prepare for each performance?
Right before the show, we warm-up in her dressing room. We complete active hamstring stretch sequences as well as other stretches, ensure joint mobility by performing jumps on the ground and on trampolines and do ab work. As a result, her body is connected, warm and ready for the performance.
For everyone who spent this weekend running around in the springy weather, you probably now have a pile of dirty clothes to show for it. And while doing laundry may not be on your top ten favorite things to do in life, Kelly Ripa and World Cup Champ Brandi Chastain made it look fun hosting a soccer clinic on behalf of Electrolux’s Kicking and Cleaning campaign at Chelsea Piers in NYC last week. We got the chance to sit down with both of the busy moms to steal some of their time-saving tips, fitness routines and healthy eating tricks.
Read below to become a professional multitasker like these two and then do something good today! When you share your kids’ proudest moments on the Electrolux Facebook page, Electrolux will donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
Tell us about Electrolux’s Kicking and Cleaning initiative. Why is this program so important?
Brandi Chastain: The clinic is about getting kids active and involved, both boys and girls. When you have a boy you assume he will play sports, but it’s just as important for girls to get started in sports at a young age too. And with the Electrolux partnership it is a perfect fit. Helping keep kids clean and confident is an important part of being a mom. I can relate even as an athlete. As a player walking onto a field with a white U.S. jersey, you take pride in representing your country and it just looks better if it isn’t dingy and dirty!
Here at FITNESS, we start bubbling with Olympic excitement a little earlier than the average fan. With only three months to go we’ve hit the point where it is perfectly acceptable to start decorating our cubes in red, white and blue. And we’re sure we aren’t the only ones that feel this way. Athletes are competing now to swim, run and vault their way into the London Games come June as they compete for a chance to represent their country. To get a glimpse into the schedule of a hard working Olympian, we got U.S. swimmer and three-time Olympic medalist Rebecca Soni to break down an average day for us on behalf of Kellogg’s. Warning: Just reading her hectic schedule may cause exhaustion!
5:30 a.m. – I wake up, walk my dog and eat a bowl of cereal. I’ll usually have Raisin Bran or mix some of my favorite Kellogg’s cereals together with some fruit. I can’t get through a workout unless I eat breakfast first. It wakes me up and fuels me for my first practice.
7:30 a.m. – It’s time to hit the water for a two-hour pool workout. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ll start a little earlier to lead a spinning class with the USC college team.
9:30 a.m. – Hop out of the pool and use my break to run errands, rest and refuel!
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Time for a supplemental workout, which is either a session with my trainer doing body weight exercises, TRX suspension exercises, plyometrics or an additional pool workout. My third workout also happens in this time block. For this one, I like to incorporate Pilates and yoga into my routine at least three times a week. Pilates is great for toning smaller muscles I don’t get a chance to work on regularly and yoga is my time to work on breathing, strengthening my muscles, stretching and relaxing my mind. I also take my dog for a walk every day when I get home. Some people may not consider this exercise, but I think it’s a great way to recover from all the workouts I’ve done earlier in the day.
6:30 p.m. – I cook a healthy dinner and wind down so I can get to sleep by 10 p.m. Then it’s back at it for another day of workouts!
Read more to get Soni’s spinning playlist!
They have access to the cream-of-the-crop trainers, nutritionists and gyms, and we want to know their secrets! Celebrities take fitness pretty seriously; after all looking good is basically one of their job requirements. And while we may not get to snag one as our fitness buddy, we can always dream! This week we asked you which celebrity you’d want to sweat with. The results surprised us, especially since not one person said Jennifer Aniston!
@JdorothygailW: Dolvett Quince. Celeb and trainer, right? (She’s not the only one! Dolvett was one of the most popular celebs our tweeters want to work out with.)
@Carter_Aubrey: Bob Harper, Tommy Europe, Tosca Reno, Dolvett, Jillian Michaels, Gina Carano, Gabrielle Reece, I could go on and on!
@JesicaLeaRD: Debra Messing and Lauren Graham.
@ChristieGriffin: Michael Jordan!
Actors and musicians don’t take a winter hiatus from their workout routines—in fact they often amp up the intensity since awards show season basically spans the first two months of the year. You too can sculpt a red carpet-ready shape with these tips from celebrity trainer Nathan Mellalieu! He has worked out with film casts (X-Men, The A Team, Get Smart and more) and has several high-profile clients, including Anne Hathaway, Olivia Wilde, Ashley Greene, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck.
Tone your total body by kicking and punching. “Kickboxing helped Ashley Greene get in vampire shape for Twilight,” Mellalieu says. He recommends an hour of kickboxing three times a week and suggest including jabs and jab-cross combinations for the core and upper body as well as front and roundhouse kicks for the core and lower body. Click here to learn how to do these moves and more!
Challenge yourself with body weight. Knocking out one pull-up is a great goal for women, Mellalieu says, but by starting with this variation, he helped Olivia Wilde work up to completing five unassisted pull-ups by the end of training for Tron: Legacy.
- Loop a sturdy resistance band over a secured bar and lean back so your body is at a 45 degree angle, with arms extended and palms facing chest.
- Slowly pull yourself up until hands are parallel with chest, then relax all the way down.
- Keep adding reps until your muscles feel fully fatigued.
Try multitasking moves. “You can maximize the efficiency of your workouts by working multiple muscle groups at the same time, which keeps your heart rate up. Anne Hathaway did moves like these to tone her body for Get Smart,” Mellalieu says.
- Modified Thruster
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells at face height with palms facing in.
- Keep spine straight and most of weight in heels and bend knees to complete a squat.
- As you return to standing position, press arms overhead with palms facing in.
- Reverse Lunge with Lateral Raise
- With hands at sides, palms facing in, step back into a reverse lunge until front knee is at about a 90-degree angle.
- While lowering, lift arms out to sides until they’re parallel with shoulders.
- Curl and Press
- Hold dumbbells with arms at sides, palms facing forward.
- Keep a slight bend in knees, curl weights to chest, then press arms overhead.
Anne Hathaway photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Now tell us: Which red carpet star would you like to train with?
Looking at Jenni Pulos’ resume would make any busy bee go cross-eyed. She’s starred in five seasons of Flipping Out with boss and interior design guru Jeff Lewis, she’s a rapper, an actress, planning a wedding, and is now embarking on a new show with Lewis called Interior Therapy, airing on Bravo in March. It goes without saying that a woman with a hectic schedule like hers needs a good deodorant! That’s why she’s partnered up with Secret Outlast in their latest campaign to protect women against odor and give them peace of mind (in a recent survey from Secret, women said forgetting deodorant would affect their day more than forgetting to put on makeup!) We chatted with Pulos on how she tackles her steep to-do list while getting in shape for her upcoming wedding.
We love the new ad! Tell us about the shoot and your partnership with Secret.
This shoot was so fun, but it was 15 hours! I used the deodorant before we started and was expecting to be sweating by 3 p.m. (what we refer to as the “hour of ick”) but I was dry as a bone. I can appreciate a product like this because of my lifestyle. I’m in the car all day with Jeff and he is not only OCD, but also very sensitive to smell, so this really saves any awkward car rides that might ensue. I don’t get a chance to look in the mirror that often at work since we are always on the go, and this gives me one less thing to think about.
What are some of your best time-saving tips you’ve picked up with your job?
For work and in my personal life, physically writing down a to-do list is helpful. It’s good to jot everything down and then start chopping away one thing at a time. It sounds silly, but small things like putting your keys in the same spot and making sure you put your credit cards away are the biggest time savers. Little things like that will help you keep it all together. If not, you’re spending ten minutes digging through your purse to find everything.
We learned from filming Interior Therapy that organization is key. After that I went home and cleaned out my closets and reorganized my entire house. It was time consuming but I knew that getting rid of the clutter would save me time in the long run. Also, don’t think too much about it! When you’re deciding what clothes to donate, just do it. The more you think the more you’ll start to second guess and then that shirt will end up right back in your closet.