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Dancing With the Stars

Shawn Johnson Talks Balance & Raising The Fitness Bar Post-DWTS

Written on February 19, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

Johnson challenged us to sweat-test the new XBox360 Nike+ Kinect Training with her. Let’s just say she kicked our butt! (Photo courtesy of Lauren Cardarelli)

Shawn Johnson has had us on the edge of our seats long before Dancing With The Stars. Like most of America, we were glued to our TVs during the 2008 Beijing Olympics when she took home a gold and three silver medals. A ski injury shortly after, though, forced the bubbly gymnast into announcing an her early retirement. Johnson may have been sidelined from defending her title last summer in London, but this optimist has yet to lose that infectious grin or love for fitness.

Two seasons of DWTS as a Season 8 winner and All-Stars runner-up introduced the Olympian to a new type of exercise, sparking an interest in other athletic ventures and a healthy lifestyle revamp. Now, at 21-years old, Johnson is stronger than ever. We talked to her about transitioning into the new gymnastics-less phase of her life, going Paleo and body love. Here’s what we landed:

What is the hardest part about being an Olympic athlete?

For me, the hardest part changes all the time, looking back on it. I feel the hardest part of being an Olympic athlete is just the discipline, especially in gymnastics—we’re so young. We start training when we’re three years old. We start living in the gym 40 hours a week when we’re eight. Just kind of taking that whole normal childhood experience away and being an Olympic athlete—I mean it takes a lot of mental and physical power and being able to be 16 and stand on the Olympic podium and have the mental strength to handle that pressure. I don’t honestly even know how I did it back then because I feel like now I’m like, ‘I could never do that!’ 

Favorite Olympic moment—spill!

I would say outside of the competition, my favorite moment was in the Olympic Village. Everybody was lining up to walk through opening ceremonies—the gymnasts aren’t really allowed because we compete the next day—I saw towering over everybody was Yao Ming. I was starstruck, no joke. I ran from my team, who was headed back to their dorms. I wanted a picture so bad and I remember I literally was tapping on his thigh like looking up at him and he never paid attention. He probably thought I was a fly on him or something!

How has your workout changed since the Olympics and DWTS?

My workouts have changed drastically. I’m no longer in the gymnastics gym. Honestly, it’s kind of a big goal and new learning experience for me. I feel like as soon as gymnastics was over, I made it a point to not go back into the gym so I could learn how to do workouts and train and stay healthy outside of it. It’s kind of a therapeutic thing almost. It’s closure almost. But I work with one of the best trainers ever—she’s like my best friend—Jeanette Jenkins. 

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Louis Van Amstel’s LaBlast Workout DVD

Written on January 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm , by

Louis Van Amstel’s LaBlast DVDs

Written by editorial intern, Jennifer Fiorentino

For some of us, we watch Dancing with the Stars and think “I would need serious professional help to be able to dance that.” DWTS pro Louis van Amstel has developed a dance fitness program, LaBlast, that lets even complete newbies learn the steps to the Cha Cha, Quickstep, the Merengue and more routines while working up a sweat. Dancing queen wannabes can find a class near them taught by instructors trained in van Amstel’s program, or get stepping in their own living rooms with the LaBlast DVD series. We caught up with the pro to learn more about his program and his fitness motivation.

You are a three-time world dance champion, Emmy-nominated choreographer and spent seven seasons on DWTS. Did you ever dream of such success?

It’s funny, after fulfilling my dream of becoming a world champion the first time, I realized that dreams are more like goals. If you work hard you can really achieve anything you want. Repeating the world champion title two more times only confirmed that sheer hard work can make dreams come true. After moving to the United States from Europe I felt I was in the right country to make even bigger dreams come true. Dancing with the Stars, my dance fitness program LaBlast, My active wear clothing line LVA are all dreams that became reality, because of dedication, goal setting, and a lot of intuition. Dreams can come true if you follow your gut! I can’t believe I’m on dream number five. DREAM, PEOPLE! Set a goal and follow your heart!

What does dancing mean to you?

Dance has meant so many different things to me in the course of my career. At first all dance meant to me was nothing, because my (grand)parents wanted me to dance. It wasn’t my choice. After doing my first competition a while later it light up a fire in me which made me see dance as a sport. It became about winning. Because of my growing up with alcohol abuse from my parents and their unhappy marriage, I used dance as therapy. I could express my feelings through dance, but didn’t have to share my personal feelings with anyone. Thank god for dance. If it weren’t for dance I probably would have ended up becoming an addict myself. Instead I chose dance to excel in, so you can imagine what dance has meant to me and always will!

Why did you decide to turn your LaBlast workout into a DVD series?

Being part of Dancing With The Stars from the beginning I realized that the celebrities get hooked on dancing. Dance becomes a lifestyle, because it makes you feel so good on many levels. It’s addicting! The feeling of achieving the steps, the different cultures and characters of each dance make it such a thrill. Also, it makes women feel feminine and contributes to confidence and inner sexuality. Not to mention LaBlast gets people in the best shape of their lives, because dance uses the entire body, physically, mentally, and emotionally. After my season with Kelly Osbourne I decided it was time to create the LaBlast DVDs, so people at home can experience what all the celebs on DWTS go through each season. Anyone can dance and should experience the joy of dance. The benefits are endless!

How many calories can we expect to burn in one 30-minute session?

Depending on how involved you get people can burn between 300 and 600 calories. The more you get involved emotionally into LaBlast, the more calories you’ll burn. Dance is all about getting into the meat and potatoes, haha, not just doing the steps correctly. Don’t be afraid to go crazy and goof off, because it’ll burn you more calories. Read more

Melissa Rycroft Talks Healthy Swaps and Her Fit Mommyhood Routine

Written on January 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm , by

With limited me-time, Melissa incorporates her daughter into her workouts and is embracing a new carefree motto for 2013, “Whatever happens happens!” (Photo courtesy of Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Extra Gum)

Written by Rachel Torgerson, editorial intern

Life in post-resolution January can be rough, unless you simplify your goals. That’s exactly why former Bachelor contestant Melissa Rycroft teamed up with Extra gum to promote healthy swaps. We chatted with Melissa and got the scoop on her favorite healthy snacks, exercising with a new toddler in tow and life after Dancing with the Stars. Spoiler alert: this ex-Dallas Cowboys cheerleader won’t be putting on her dancing shoes anytime soon!

How do you make your health a priority?

I’m a huge advocate for living a healthy lifestyle. I have a family now, so health is of the utmost importance to me, but I also think it’s important not to disguise your old lifestyle. I think we all have guilty pleasures, but that’s a part of who we are. So, I really love this idea of “Simple Swaps!” It’s not about overhauling your entire life and wiping out your fridge full of food and putting in dry lettuce leaves, because let’s be honest, that’s not fun! It’s all about taking the things that you love and just  swapping one or two ingredients. For example, swapping Greek yogurt for sour cream.

What is your stay-healthy routine?

I grew up very healthy and active, knowing which foods to eat and stay away from. Now, having my own little one, I like to go on bike rides, I like to go on jogs—just being outside and staying active makes me feel better. I feel like there’s a misconception sometimes that ‘healthy’ means ‘skinny’ or ‘stick thin.’ I think it’s important to get the message out that we all look different and we’re all shaped differently but it’s so important just to give your body the nutrients that it wants and work it out the way it wants.

Can you tell us some of your favorite healthy snacks?

I love Greek yogurt, love oatmeal, love blueberries and I love my stick of gum that I put in when I’m craving a snack. My guilty pleasure is chocolate so I really have to stay away from candy bars!

Since we are talking about swaps, what else would you recommend to make meals healthier?

Swapping your dinner plates. It sounds silly going from a full-size dinner plate to a medium plate, but you don’t put as much food on and, to be honest, we don’t need to eat that entire meal. I also really like substituting the bottled salad dressing that you buy for olive oil and balsamic vinegar—it tastes really good, but it has nothing added to it compared to even the healthiest of healthiest pre-bottled salad dressings. Easy stuff that you switch out can really transform how healthy a meal can be. Read more

Peta Murgatroyd Hopes to Defend Her Title on Season 15 of DWTS

Written on September 14, 2012 at 9:00 am , by

Peta Murgatroyd returns for her third season as a professional parner with Gilles Marini for another chance at winning the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. (Photo courtesy of ABC/Craig Sjodin)

One of the most anticipated television shows of the year, Dancing With The Stars, will be hitting the dance floor again next week for yet another exciting competition but with a new twist—an all-star cast. That’s right! This season will welcome 13 fan favorites and previous winners back to the stage to take the quick footwork and drool-worthy ensembles we love to the next level.

Among the cast is reigning champion, Peta Murgatroyd, who took home the Mirror Ball trophy as Donald Driver’s professional partner. We talked strategy with the Aussie-native, who hopes to continue her winning streak with Season eight’s runner-up, Gilles Marini. Here’s what she had to say about injury prevention, her secrets to looking fab and her favorite indulgence, cheese!

After being the first duo to be sent home Season 13 with Metta World Peace, how did you change your tactics for the win with Donald Driver?

I think that it’s always easier when you have somebody that is willing to learn and willing to put in the effort and the hours. I was devastated when I got out first because it was my first season. I wanted to come out and make a big bang as the new pro on the block but that didn’t really quite happen and I was crushed. I really think that Donald was so inspiring to have as a partner and he really wanted to win it. It’s just all about how you guys work together and the communication.

What have you been doing in preparation for another victory, this time with Gilles Marini?

One of the biggest things is respect for one another and I think [Gilles] has that. He’s an amazing person. He can definitely move well. I looked back on some of his old YouTube videos and he was really good. One of his major pros is that he can act so he’s great with getting into character and really sort of honing in on what the dance is about.

Gilles suffered from a separated shoulder during his season. How do you prevent injury?

Warm-up is key and cool-down is key. I can’t even start dancing until stretching first. I think that’s from the ballet background that I’ve had for 12 years. We didn’t take a step without making sure our feet were flexed and pointed and, you know, every muscle was warm. Also, because I’m so flexible with my body, I need to keep it strong and make sure that I do a lot of Pilates, for instance. I do a lot of that and strength training with weights. Read more

DWTS Champ J.R. Martinez Gets Ready for His First Marathon

Written on September 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm , by

From ballrooms to marathons, J.R. Martinez is always up for a challenge! (Photo courtesy of Timex Sports)

If you’ve read the Fit Stop for more than 30 seconds, you know that here at FITNESS, we are quasi-obsessed with all things Dancing with the Stars. So when we heard that Season 13 winner J.R. Martinez would be running the 2012 ING NYC Marathon this year on behalf of Timex, we had to catch up with him. Read on to see how training is going with a newborn, his goal time and how you can train with him in your city!

This is your first marathon, but have you ever done any type of distance race before?

Never! I am definitely outside of my comfort zone here, but I’m so excited. This announcement comes at the perfect time, because 10 years ago I was sworn into the U.S. Army, and now 10 years later, I’m committing to something else. I am especially stoked to be doing this with Timex, because I get to test out the Ironman GPS, which is a big help for me since I’m always traveling for speaking commitments. On the road it’s hard to figure out how far you’re running, but I love that I can track my heart rate, distance and calories no matter where I am. I’m also excited to do this to help raise money for the New York Road Runners Youth Program. I’ll be starting dead last the day of the marathon, and for every person I pass Timex will donate $1 to the organization.

What’s your training been like so far?

I’’m very lucky because I have a running coach who helps me plan out my weeks. Right now I’m running five days a week, with Sundays being my long run days. Every week I up it another mile, so right now I’m at 11 miles. On the other days I mix it up–I’ll do 45-minute slower jogs or 5-10 minutes of jogging followed by five, 60-second sprints with a 1-minute recovery. On top of that I do a lot of planks to strengthen my core as well as strength training for my legs and calves. And I’ve recently discovered the foam roller when stretching, that thing feels so good! Read more

Extra’s Maria Menounos Talks Food and Fitness

Written on August 15, 2012 at 9:30 am , by

Maria laces up to fit in some healthy doses of sweat! (Photo courtesy of Reebok)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Maria Menounos is always challenging herself in new ways. She danced her way through painful injuries on season 14 of Dancing with the Stars, and runs her own charity, Take Action Hollywood!, which raises awareness for causes like diabetes and AIDS. If that isn’t enough, she often travels from L.A. to New York for her role as host on popular entertainment show EXTRA!, and produces AfterBuzz TV, a network devoted to giving “post-game” wrap-ups of the most popular shows.

Now, as a longtime fan of Crocs, she helped them celebrate their 10-year anniversary by ringing the opening bell for NASDAQ on July 31. We caught up with her right before to find out how she stays fit and keeps her energy up through the long work hours.

How did you get involved with Crocs?

I’ve been a fan for a while. I’m actually sporting the Carlisa style right now and got a ton of compliments! I like them a lot because they’re comfy and cute, and I can fit in my orthotics.

Tell me about your injuries on Dancing with the Stars.

I had multiple stress fractures in my feet. I was looking back at a video of our doble paso, and though I remember being in so much pain, I’m not showing it. I never complained! I just kept doing it. I was kind of impressed with myself, I have to say! Now I’m just trying to heal from the show.

What was your favorite part about competing?

It didn’t feel like a competition. I was having way too much fun to compete with anybody. We set the tone by being friendly and helping each other. I made so many good friends, like instructors Derek Hough and Peta Murgatroyd. We all still keep in touch.

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Julianne Hough’s Rock of Ages Fitness Routine

Written on June 15, 2012 at 9:21 am , by

Catch Hough in Rock of Ages, then get a personal dance lesson from the star! (Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay)

No pre-filming diet here! Julianne Hough recently revealed to Hitfix.com that she “beefed up some of my exercises and lifted weights” to achieve a slightly curvier look that would fit her character, Sherrie, an aspiring singer in the 1980s in Rock of Ages. Still, after catching a sneak peek of the film earlier this week, we think that Hough has never looked better while performing on stage to tunes like “Rock You Like a Hurricane and “Don’t Stop Believin’.” What other workout keeps her in such amazing shape? Dancing, of course!

The former Dancing With the Stars pro, who recently released a two disc set of her workout DVDs (which our readers love), told us that “everyone can really benefit from dance—men and women of all shapes and sizes. You can definitely see that on Dancing With the Stars. Everyone becomes so toned and fit, even in places they didn’t know could get toned!”

Sherrie fits in plenty of activity by rollerblading, playing at the beach and taking plenty of steps as a waitress, but by the end of the film it’s clear that the character’s true passions match Hough’s—to be a singing and dancing phenomenon.

She thinks you should try her workout of choice because “dance affects every part of your body: shoulders, back, abs, and of course the legs and butt,” Hough says. “You walk away feeling like you’ve learned something and done great things for your body as well.”

Now tell us: Will you see Rock of Ages this weekend? Which member of the star-studded cast (Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Malin Akerman, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones) are you most looking forward to seeing shake it on screen?

More from FITNESS:

Brooke Burke Dishes On Her Top Summer Treats

Written on June 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm , by

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Burke serves up tasty treats to help one of her favorite charities, Operation Smile. (Photo courtesy of Chris Weeks/AP)

Brooke Burke is a busy woman. Not only is she a business owner, entrepreneur and a mother of four, she is a co-host on the popular TV show Dancing With the Stars. Somehow she finds time to devote to a charity close to her heart,  Operation Smile, and teamed up with Dreyer’s/Edy’s at an event in Los Angeles to give out 25,000 scoops of their slow-churned light ice cream. Luckily, she was able to dish about her involvement in the charity and her latest way to get in summer shape.

Since 2010, Burke has worked closely with the charity, hosting galas and fundraising events that have helped countless children receive life-saving surgeries.

“I’m very lucky to have healthy children,” Burke says. “When I began to learn about the program and really understand the statistics, I learned that a surgery that costs only $240 could change a child’s life. It’s something that we take for granted.”

When she’s not giving back, the TV host stays busy on the business side of life. She recently launched a line of intimates, IntiMINT, and released two new fitness DVDs (with two more on the way this summer). How does she fuel all that fitness? With healthy fare fit for the whole family, of course!

“We like to eat clean and raw, so some of my favorite summer treats are fresh fruit and veggies, and homemade frozen pops,” Burke explains. “We keep a summer supply for the kids—it’s a big hit in my household. Things like frozen berries and grapes. They’re so delicious. You just take them off the vine and pop them in the freezer.”

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ESPN Host Mike Greenberg Lost a Bet…And Takes on Dancing With the Stars

Written on May 8, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by

"Greeny" smiles with partner Anna Trebunskaya at the end of his dance. (Photo courtesy of ESPN, Inc.)

Sure, March Madness pools are nothing new. But the stakes on the line when ESPN’s Mike & Mike get involved crank up the excitement considerably!

This year, Mike Greenberg (AKA Greeny), lost the wager to his co-host Mike Golic and had to perform a cha-cha with Dancing With the Stars pro Anna Trebunskaya live on ESPN2…with one day of practice. We spoke with Greeny, who also recently had a guest hosting gig on Live With Kelly, right before he began training for this morning’s big show to see if we should place our bets on him.

Which is more intimidating: Hosting with Kelly Ripa or dancing on live TV?

It’s about a dead heat, although I wouldn’t say that hosting Live With Kelly was intimidating—it was exciting. Doing this dance is very scary. I have more confidence hosting than dancing!

Have you done much dancing in the past?

I chair dance regularly on the air during our show, but beyond that, my 11-year-old daughter makes me stop. This will be my two-minute reprieve! I basically get one full day of cramming with Anna, and we’ll give it our best shot.

Have any athletes or performers from Dancing With the Stars inspired you?

Look, all of the athletes have been great. I was thrown off the high school chess team for not being athletic enough! In terms of dancing skills, I think Cloris Leachman might be more fair competition than going up against one of the athletes who have been on the show.

To see if Greeny would bet on March Madness again, and to watch the performance itself, click below!

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How You Can Dance Like a Pro With Kym Johnson

Written on May 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm , by

Learn to dance with Kym and Mark! (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Publicity)

We don’t know about you, but we’ve found ourselves tuning into this season’s Dancing With the Stars and wishing we could move as well as the pros, and even some of the contestants. We got the scoop from Kym Johnson about how she keeps dancing fun for her and her partners, her stay-healthy tips and how you can learn to salsa and shimmy while staying fit.

We’re sad to see you and Jaleel White go last week. Who do you think are the top competitors this season? Who do you enjoy watching?

I think Katherine and Mark are ones to watch and William and Cheryl are really good. There are a lot of great dancers this season, so it’s exciting.

How do you keep dancing fun, especially when you’re practicing for hours a day?

It’s always fun for me; it’s difficult to learn a dance in just four days but it’s fun. For the show, we dance for seven to eight hours a day. It’s hard on the body. We use a lot of Epsom salts for baths after.

There’s also the mental aspect of the competition, right?

You have to be a mentor and be motivational. These celebrities are out of their comfort zone. Everyone is different and you need to figure out how to get them to learn in their own way. When I see that my partner is getting frustrated, I usually do a five-minute break. I always give positive feedback first and then give a critique to help them learn.

Besides dancing, how do you stay in such great shape?

When the show’s on, all the practicing is more than enough of a workout. When the show’s not on, I do Pilates and Xtend Barre and just like to get outdoors in general.

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