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Relive the 2012 London Olympics with a “FIRST” of Its Kind Sports Documentary

Written on June 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm , by

Caroline Rowland at the London Olympics for FIRST film

“I fell a little in love with every one of the athletes featured in FIRST,” Director Caroline Rowland says. Photo courtesy of New Moon.

If you thought the buzz about the London Olympics ended last summer, we have news for you: There’s a brand-new sports documentary that chronicles the journey of 12 first-time Olympians, including Americans Missy Franklin and John Orozco. Aptly titled “FIRST: The Official Film of the London 2012 Olympics” the two-hour film is a real treat for anyone who enjoys the emotional personal stories, montages set to killer soundtracks, and gripping recaps that accompany the Olympics. Last Thursday, select theaters screened the film, but you can watch it on NBC on July 27 or buy the DVD here.

During the Olympic Games in London, Caroline Rowland—the film’s director and the Executive Creative Director of New Moon—was granted special access to exclusive areas by the International Olympic Committee. Here she shares some behind-the-scenes insights into her behind-the-scenes film.

Why do this film now, instead of four or eight years ago? What makes this the right time to film and release FIRST?

CR: Throughout the history of the modern Olympic Games, each Games has been immortalized on film. But the London 2012 Olympic Games made a specific commitment to inspiring a generation—so it’s fitting that FIRST focuses on young people and their transition into adulthood through their experience of being an elite athlete at their first Olympic Games.

What were some of the biggest challenges in creating/filming FIRST?

CR: It’s always challenging to film at major sporting events, but the challenges of creating a feature film—using the technology and approach that would typically be used in a more controlled environment— certainly kept the entire production team on their toes!  Between 26 sports, 10,500 athletes, hundreds of thousands of spectators, and unpredictable outcomes…it was all challenging.  But at the heart of it were 12 superstars who kept us all immersed in the experience and we were able to confront everything that was thrown at us.

What were your favorite parts in creating/filming FIRST?

CR: Having the opportunity to be at the London 2012 Olympic Games for 17 days, 17 hours a day, at the heart of the action was unforgettable.  I fell a little in love with every one of the athletes featured in FIRST. Getting to know them ahead of their events meant that I had a very special interest in their performances.

What do you think this film means for the athletes in it, as well as other Olympians?

CR: Several of the athletes in the film have commented on how the film has given them a prism through which to see their own Olympic experience, after they emerged from the most heady and defining experience of their young lives.  FIRST is the sort of story that any athlete—amateur or professional—can relate to. It is about triumph and adversity and the very human experience of being vulnerable in the face of unseen forces.

What’s the one takeaway you hope the audience will get, upon watching the film?

CR: I hope that FIRST is an uplifting, inspirational film that reaffirms all the things that make it incredible to be human—and specifically, an athlete.

FITNESS had a chance to screen the film and we loved it! So make sure to tune in on July 27…and in the meantime, we’re going to try and hunt down some of the songs from the fab soundtrack! For more info, like /OlympicsFilm on Facebook.

ASICS Elite Julie Culley Takes On Her First Marathon

Written on October 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm , by

Julie counts on a specific race day playlist to get her in the right frame of mind, ranging from U2 to Jay-Z. (Photo courtesy of ASICS)

In less than two weeks, spectators will line the Big Apple’s streets across all five boroughs to watch professional athletes and running enthusiasts, alike, pound the ING New York City Marathon pavement. Among this year’s ASICS elite lineup is U.S. Track & Field member Julie Culley, who placed first in the 2012 5,000m Olympic Trials. Julie has switched gears since returning from London, preparing to make her marathon debut by racking up around 95 miles a week. We discussed the upcoming race with the speedy 31-year-old, who shared running tips, her go-to grub and more. Here’s what Julie had to say:

What does your typical marathon training week look like?
A typical training week includes 90 to 95 miles in six days with either a rest day or a cross-training day on the seventh. I typically do two harder effort workouts either on grass, roads, track or dirt trail depending on the day’s assignment. I have a strength coach and hit the gym at least twice a week and also have a number of corrective exercises I do at least five days a week. I do a full dynamic warm-up of drills and openers at least two to three times a week and try to rest as much as possible between each session. Naps are a necessity, as well as weekly chiropractic treatment and massage!

Do you have any race day rituals to get you in the zone?
I usually start the morning with a shake-out run along with a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, cereal or a gluten-free bread of sorts along with some juice, lots of water and usually two cups of coffee. If I can get my hands on some espresso, that is a plus! I typically braid or twist my hair with a number of pins and always top it off with a headband to match my uniform. My race day playlist is pretty specific. There are a few songs that get me in the right frame of mind ranging from U2 to Jay-Z.

Do you carbo-load the night before a race?
I’m not normally fixated on carbo-loading as much as having a well-balanced meal including meat and lots of vegetables. I usually always have a glass of wine the night before a race to help me relax, unwind and sleep. My favorite pre-race meal is gluten-free pizza!

Do you have any tips for runners looking to increase their mileage?
Take it slow! I’ve only increased my mileage by 15 miles a week from the 5K to the marathon. More importantly is getting the quality workouts and quality long runs in the books. Doing too much too quickly can lead to injury. You have to get to the starting line healthy!

Favorite running apparel item?
Accessories! I love accessorizing my running outfits with headbands, hats, colorful socks, cute bags, etc. ASICS has some great accessory items out to match some of the beautiful fall and winter colored apparel items on the shelves!

For more information on the New York Road Runners’ premiere event, check out their website and be sure to check in and cheer on Julie as she crosses her first marathon off the bucket list!


Keep Your Olympics Fire Burning with a Gold-Medal Workout!

Written on August 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm , by

Compete with classmates to see who earns the gold medal. (Photo courtesy of New York Sports Clubs)

We know it’s hard to figure out what you did with your time before the Olympics started. Having the opportunity to watch all of the inspiring athletes on a regular basis taken away has left a serious medal-sized hole in our hearts. So if you’re looking for something to fill the void, we may have the perfect workout.

If you’re in New York City, Washington D.C., Boston or Philadelphia anytime in August, head over to select New York Sports Clubs, Washington Sports Clubs and Philadephia Sports Clubs locations to give the free UXF-London Calling Edition class a try (non-members are welcome!). When we heard that the workout promised a butt like Hope Solo and legs like Lolo Jones, and let our competitive streak come out to play, we sprinted right over!

The one-hour class features five timed stations where you’ll box, row, hurdle, lift and jump to a seriously fit bod. Race yourself against the clock to increase the number of reps you hit each time (participants rotate through each station five times) or bring a friend and see who can clock more with each round. After you’ve sweat through the stations, team up with a buddy to conquer a plank and sit-up combo—one performs standard sit-ups; the other holds their partner’s feet while up in a plank—along with other core-blasting exercises. To wrap things up, the instructor hands out a gold, silver and bronze medal to whoever completes the most reps collectively.

After muscling through the workout ourselves, we can assure you that this class is no joke! Find a class near you at the NYSC website, then come back here and let us know how many reps you completed, and if you stood on top of a podium at the end of class. We nabbed the silver medal!

Now you tell us: What will you miss most about the Olympics?