You picture celebrities shaping up post-baby or before a big role in a fancy personal gym, right? But certain down-to-earth stars (including our January cover girl Brooke Burke) sweat with the masses at popular group fitness classes. One favorite: JAM, or Juicy Athletic Moves, created by choreographer, group fitness instructor and physiologist Neda Soderqvist. JAM combines dance, strength and plyometrics, and is taken by an eclectic mix of individuals, including athletes, stay-at-home moms, Oscar-worthy actresses (Mira Sorvino and Minnie Driver) and music chart-toppers (Pink, who came to class seven months pregnant!).
“The message of the class is to be happy, not just skinny,” Soderqvist says. “You feel like you’re in a music video, and it’s a great workout! Brooke [Burke] came up to me after class and said ‘I won Dancing With the Stars and trained eight hours a day, but after this class, I have to go home and sleep!’”
In town to choreograph a Jamba Juice event—dancing bananas were involved—Sodeqvist took us through a few of the moves her celebrity clients love.
- Begin with weight on left foot and arms at sides. Shift weight to right foot, popping right hip out, while lifting left hand to head and placing right hand on right hip (1A).
- Keeping a quick pace, shift weight back to left foot, popping left hip out and lifting left arm in front of body and right arm behind.
- Repeat hip shifting and arm motions for 30 seconds, switch sides and repeat.
Standing Chest Press
- With knees slightly bent and hips tilted back, lift arms to chest height with elbows pointing away from your body (2).
- Push hips forward while punching both arms in front of your chest, keeping core engaged throughout the move.
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- How Britney Spears Got Her Body Back
- Belly-Dance Away Ab Flab
All right all of you Dancing With the Stars fans—we’re down to the wire! Tonight marks the semi-final routines, and Chelsea Kane, Kirstie Alley, Hines Ward or Ralph Macchio will walk away with the mirrorball trophy (with their professional partner, of course). Our pre-season predictions weren’t too far off!
To get the inside scoop about what it’s really like to be on the show, we recently caught up with pro Karina Smirnoff. Besides displaying fancy footwork with The Karate Kid‘s Ralph Macchio on the show, Karina has her own dance studio, and has just released a workout DVD, shoe line and makeup line (whew!). During her few spare moments, she told us about DWTS training, how she stays well-fueled during her hectic schedule and what it’s like to dance with a movie star.
Has your workout routine changed since you began on DWTS?
Yes. We rehearse everyday for seven or eight hours and take very few short breaks. After that, I usually rush to my dance studio to teach my fitness classes. That leaves very little time to do anything else! But sometimes I can fit in a yoga class.
How do you maintain your perky attitude and energy with that grueling schedule?
I try to eat healthy and keep my energy up with bananas, dark chocolate and protein, like nuts. Nuts are my favorite snack because they’re healthy and filling.
How does Ralph Macchio compare to the other partners you’ve had on the show?
I love Ralph. We clicked right away and I think we make a great team. We’re both workaholics! We laugh a lot, work a lot, but most importantly, we love dancing together. I am truly enjoying being Ralph’s partner.
Who do you see as your biggest competition this season?
This season is very unpredictable. We have a lot of great celebrities and everyone is bringing their “A” game. All we can do is work hard, deliver the best job we can on Mondays, keep entertaining our fans and hope for the best.
DWTS surely keeps you busy. Will you be hands-on at your new studio, Karina Smirnoff Dance?
Absolutely. I’ll be teaching students and training instructors. Everyone who wants to learn how to dance, get in shape, meet new friends and have lots of fun should stop in!
Want to see Karina and Ralph advance to the finals? Visit abc.com or call 1-800-868-3408 to vote. AT&T customers can text until 30 minutes after the show.
Now tell us: Who are you rooting for to take the DWTS trophy this season?
We here at FITNESS have royal wedding fever! And what better way to celebrate than getting insider details about the most fitness-y activity of the day: the dancing.
To gear up for the big event, I spoke with ballet dancer and choreographer Staś Kmieć, who has taught the Royal Wedding Dance Workout at New York Sports Clubs the past few weeks, to learn about how to get in shape for a wedding (the season is upon us!) and how to feel confident on the dance floor. But he had even more to share, since one of his close pals is choreographing THE dance—that’s right, Will and Kate’s first dance at the reception.
What motivated you to develop this workout?
“There is such a fascination with the wedding, and as a choreographer, I wanted to put a dance spin on it. A British choreographer named Arlene Phillips is in the Broadway dancers society with me, and was able to give some insight into the actual royal wedding. We worked these details into the class!”
So can you tell us what you know about the royal reception?
“It’s kept tightly under wraps, but the last time I spoke with Arlene, she hinted that William and Kate would do a waltz to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” for their first dance. So we do that in class as well!
There are actually two receptions: the first is more contemporary and fun, like William and Kate. I hear there is a ’70s and ’80s theme, which will include Kate’s request of Abba. The queen will attend the more traditional second reception, which Prince Charles is throwing.”
Last week, Hershey’s (yes, the chocolate company) launched an initiative called Moderation Nation, which aims to teach Americans about how to find a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Nancy O’Dell is the spokesperson for the cause, and is a perfect example of finding time in life for everything that’s important to her—including staying fit and eating well. She somehow finds time for it all as a wife, mom, author, journalist and entrepreneur. Whew!
We talked to the soon-to-be Entertainment Tonight co-anchor, who is often the one doing the interviewing on red carpets, and asked for her four secrets to health success.
- Allow yourself a treat. “I try to eat very healthy, but extreme diets don’t work for me. I get intense cravings! Vegetables, grilled chicken and vegetable soup made with low-sodium chicken broth are my mainstays, but I always carry around dark chocolate for when I’m craving a treat! It’s all about balance.”
- When all else fails: boogie! “Dancing is one of my favorite ways to stay fit. I feel all of my muscles working—plus it’s so fun. I even dance around with my baby girl! I launched the Batuka dance, which is a Brazilian style, at the Moderation Nation event. It was so appropriate since I just returned from the Fast Five movie premiere in Rio [de Janeiro].”
- Set high goals…You may reach them! “This year has been such a big year for me. I hosted a show on Oprah’s OWN Network, and I’ve always dreamed of working with her. She’s just as amazing as you’d think she is! And for years, I’ve watched the classy and smart Mary Hart on Entertainment Tonight and hoped to someday be on that show. It’s surreal thinking about what I’ve been able to do.”
- Remember how lucky you are. “Sometimes what I do begins to feel normal. But then events pop up and I think, ‘Wow, I’m going to the Oscars!’ I have a wonderful job, and it changes everyday. My family is it. Spending time with them is true happiness for me. I have such a good life. There’s not much to complain about!”
Now tell us: How do you find balance?
You may not know her name (yet) but Toronto-born Tre Armstrong has certainly made her mark on the dancing world. Armstrong, a choreographer and actress, has danced on Saturday Night Live, was the mastermind behind the steps in MTV’s Turn the Beat Around and is a judge on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. She’s shared moves with countless celebrities, including Jessica Alba, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Missy Elliot and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. And now Armstrong’s giving back through her new company, A New D.A.E.I., to help up and coming dancers find their feet in the industry.
We spoke with Armstrong about her Michael Jackson-influenced childhood, what makes a stand out dancer on her competition reality show and how we too, can step up our game (we’ll take any dance tips we can get)!
FITNESS: How did you get involved in the dance industry?
Tre Armstrong: It’s that old cliche, my mom said I was dancing in the womb. When I was five, my mom would play Michael Jackson’s Thriller album over and over again and I’d bounce off the walls. She thought I needed an energy outlet, so she signed me up for dance classes.