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Meet the Trainer: Megan May

Written on April 29, 2013 at 11:59 am , by

What’s on Megan’s fitness bucket list? Competing on a team at the CrossFit Regionals. (Photo courtesy of Ted Williams)

The second we entered Reebok CrossFit’s 5th Avenue box with trainer Megan May a few months back, we knew we were in for a sweaty, no-joke treat. Thanks to Megan’s can-do attitude and flawless technique demos (she made everything look so easy!), we pushed ourselves beyond our limits—box jumps, ring apparatuses and all. Megan thrives as a WOD motivator with an infectious fitness passion, alongside a background in gymnastics and professional bodybuilding. In our March Express, the 2009 World Natural Bodybuilding Federation’s “Ms. Fit Body” designed a routine full of dumbbell swings, Turkish get-ups and power deck squats to test even the biggest CrossFit critic. We approved! Read on to learn more about Megan, “bulkiness” misconceptions and why she believes strength is sexy.

Most of us are NYC transplants, how did you make your way to the Big Apple?
I was coaching for Mike and Nate, who own Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave, at their two locations in Miami, Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach and IMT CrossFit. When plans for the gym in NYC started to form, they asked if I would relocate. My first answer was “absolutely not.” My husband and I had just recently moved to South Beach from Atlanta and purchased a condo on the bay. I had no intention of leaving paradise. When I decided to ask them more about the relocation, they told me about the big plans for the flagship CrossFit box, and they were teaming up with Reebok to open on 5th Ave in New York. This was an unbelievable opportunity that I didn’t want to miss. Besides, I told myself that if I hated it, I could always move back.

How did get involved with CrossFit?
I first heard about CrossFit about four years ago from one of my best friends that had just left the Air Force and was training to become an Air Marshall. He told me about these crazy workouts called CrossFit they were using for training. I was a personal trainer and a figure competitor at the time, so I was always looking for new ways to spice up workouts. There was no CrossFit close, so I went to the CrossFit.com main page and pulled exercises and WODs to use in my training and bootcamps. It went right along with the type of training I was already doing and putting my clients through. It wasn’t until I moved to Miami to become the head trainer at the Gold’s Gym in South Beach, that CrossFit popped back into my life. Six months after moving there, what is currently Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach, opened across the street from my where we lived. My husband and I joined and were instantly hooked! Within six months I had earned my CrossFit Level 1 coaching certificate and was working out and training solely as a CrossFit coach and athlete.

What else do you do for working out besides CF?

I just started doing yoga, as a way to supplement my CrossFit training. It helps a lot with mobility, which is often overlooked. CrossFit hits every muscle group and energy system so I look just as good as I did when I was a figure competitions. 

We all know why CF is great—but what’s your most persuasive reason for getting newbies involved?
It is so much FUN! I think CrossFit is one of the most fun ways to workout. When you participate in the group workout, you never have to work out by yourself. This helps push you and keeps you motivated to get through incredibly challenging exercises that might seem otherwise impossible. The community that has built up around CrossFit is truly amazing. Read more

Meet the Trainer: Brynn Jinnett

Written on January 29, 2013 at 9:18 am , by

Train smart, train hard. Brynn’s highly sought-after Refine Method is a total-body workout with custom equipment to help you sculpt muscles you didn’t know you had! (Photo courtesy of Lululemon Athletica)

There’s a reason why The Refine Method is known to be “New York’s Smartest Workout.” The intense circuit-style technique, Metabolic Resistance Training, was created by former New York City Ballet dancer Brynn Jinnett to exercise not only your body, but your mind to think differently about the overall approach to fitness and heath. Instead of a fad-based approach, Refine is founded on principles of facts and a constantly evolving education to help take clients to a whole new, metabolism-boosting level.

In our February Express Workout, Brynn tossed dumbbells for resistance bands in an arm workout fit for the red carpet. Firm and sculpted in six moves? Count us in! Read on to find out Brynn’s best strengthening moves, her favorite workout tunes and the one person Brynn believes could outdo her in a push-up competition.

Most of us are NYC transplants, so tell me how you made your way and landed in the Big Apple?
I am actually a native New Yorker! It’s a little embarrassing, but I still live about 10 blocks from where I was born and raised in! I love the city.

How did you fall in love with ballet and know that you wanted to pursue it professionally? Tell me about your ballet career?
I used to dance around in my diapers, so my Mom put me in ballet class at age 3! I enjoyed my dance classes, so I entered the School of American Ballet (the pre-professional division of New York City Ballet) at age 7. At 16, I was then fortunate to be offered a position with New York City Ballet, where I danced until heading off to Harvard for college. I continued to dance while at school and then returned to dancing professionally after college for another 3 years before retiring. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have performed on some of the world’s greatest stages in the most beautiful ballets and also for ballet giving me the discipline and drive that have helped me in all aspects of my life.

How did you transition from ballet to running your fitness method?
I taught fitness throughout my career part-time and only began to consider it as a full-time profession when I decided to retire. I foolishly thought that as a professional dancer I must know a lot about how the body works, but so many of my clients were working so hard and not seeing significant results which left me questioning things I held as “fact.” I realized that many of the smartest thinkers in fitness worked with professional athletes, so I spent over a year traveling the country learning from professors, athletic trainers and successful business owners. Refine is a product of that journey. I continue to spend a significant amount of my time learning, reading journal articles, attending conferences and speaking with other athletic professionals. We will always adapt our methods to fit the information we know today. Read more

Meet The Trainer: Nedra Lopez

Written on December 28, 2012 at 11:40 am , by

Check out those sleek arms! Sculpt your shoulders like Nedra with her seesaw move in October’s Express. (Photo courtesy of Remorca Fitness)

Less than a decade ago, Nedra Lopez moved to the Big Apple to work at the UN by day and wait tables at night. Things have drastically changed since then and our fit bods are thankful for it! After being recruited by Equinox, Nedra became one of their top trainers. Now, as the co-owner of The Studio at Remorca Fitness, Nedra implements a variety of disciplines in her unique class design. It’s no surprise there’s been a lot of client buzz raving about her holistic approach. “I am the type of person who loves what I do for a living because I love to help people and love to help them find balance,” she told us.

Nedra helped target all-over trouble zones (yes, more than just your core!) with the stability ball in October’s issue. Between butt burners and dolphins, Nedra revealed her workout trend do’s and don’ts, the celeb she’d love to shape up and even shared her fave, must-do move. Read on to learn more about Nedra.

Most of us are New York City transplants, so tell me how you made your way and landed in the Big Apple?
My Mom is originally from New York so I spent a lot of time growing up visiting New York and fell in love. I always said I would live here some day so after college I made it happen!

Did you always want to be a personal trainer? How long have you been a fitness instructor?
Fitness has been a part of my life for 15 years. My Dad was an avid workout-fanatic. He had a no-nonsense approach to health and fitness: “You either start young and make it a part of your life or wait until you are older and struggle to find balance.” I started taking fitness classes and certifications in college at the University of Colorado in an attempt to always stay active. I never thought anyone would ever take me seriously as a fitness expert since I spent my time in the gym surrounded by men in the weight room and moms in classes. Teaching fitness was something I did on the side for fun and I loved every second of it! I was told to be a “professional” like a lawyer or doctor. A “personal trainer” was not something my family would ever accept…so I thought! Once I moved to NYC, I worked at the UN during the day and at night at a restaurant waiting tables. NYC is so much more expensive than CO so I did what was needed to survive! Though given my hectic work schedule, I still found time to hit the gym and apparently people noticed! I was recruited by Equinox to become a trainer and still remember breaking the news to my boss at the UN, who said I was making a big mistake. I never looked back and never worked so hard in my life! I became one of the top trainers at Equinox in only three months and maintained that status all three years I was there! I have been an instructor and trainer going on six years now. Read more

London 2012 Olympics: Meet The Trainer of Our Summer Games Workout!

Written on August 2, 2012 at 10:19 am , by

Puma Trainer, Angela Parker, founder of Body Inspired Fitness in LA! (Photo courtesy of Body Inspired Fitness)

Can’t be at the games this year (okay, perhaps some of us won’t ever get there!), but go for the gold in your own backyard with our hardcore Summer Games circuit workout featured in our July/August 2012 issue! I met trainer, Angela Parker, founder of Body Inspired Fitness in Los Angeles, while we were in Miami for Puma’s BodyTrain girl’s getaway weekend. During Angela’s workout, her upbeat personality and can-do attitude was enough to make me do my best to impress, and her bootcamp training style meant I was being told to work harder every single step of the way. I knew this lady would be loved by you guys, even if you can’t experience her one-on-one like I did. Her backyard bootcamp, created exclusively for FITNESS readers, has you competing against yourself (or the clock) to eke out more reps. Meet the trainer behind this kick-butt routine:

What was the most surprising thing you learned about your training style from watching yourself on Chelsea Settles?

What was surprising is that it captured the emotion and the connection that comes from working so closely with someone over such a long period of time. How you saw me on TV is exactly how I am in real life. I am passionate, I am focused, and I don’t let anything get in the way of others’ success. I am learning how to not want it more than my clients want it.

What’s your favorite workout outfit? Head to toe:
I’m an ambassador for Puma so I’m a big fan of their workout gear. Of course I love my new Puma BodyTrain Slim Capris, especially the gray ones with blue and green stripes. I like how they give me an extra super flat tummy. I love pairing it with an oversized puma tank like this one. I love the cheap sports bras from Target. I always wear colored socks, which is a great way to add flash to a boring workout ensemble. Anytime I workout outside I am always wearing a visor. There is nothing sexy about wrinkles or skin cancer. And my favorite funky workout accessories are crazy nail polish and colored leather bands around my workout watch.

Favorite pre- and post-workout snacks?

My favorite pre-workout snack is Paleta’s 100 calorie bar. A great post workout snack I enjoy is my banana coconut smoothie. 1 cup coconut milk, 1 banana, 3/4 cups frozen pineapple, 1 tbsp almond butter. It’s cold, it’s refreshing, it’s hydrating and it’s the perfect snack to replenish and refuel me!

What’s the one or two best nutrition tips you tell your clients?

Don’t deprive yourself. Load up on veggies. Drink lots of water. Read more

Meet The Trainer: Fitness Expert Michele Olson

Written on June 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm , by

For more fun from Olson, check out her new workout DVD. (Photo courtesy of CollageVideo.com)

Written by Andie Surget, editorial intern

Skimpy shorts and bikinis leave little room for your trouble zones to hide. That’s why we had FITNESS advisory board member Michele Olson, Ph.D., create (and model!) the “Banish Every Bulge” Express Workout in our June issue! Check it out on page 52, try it for yourself and hit the beach with confidence.

To learn more about the personality behind the powerful workout, we spoke with Olson. Read on to find out about workout of choice, what’s hiding in her gym bag and who would be her dream gym buddy!

How did you get your start in the fitness world?

When I was playing competitive tennis in high school, one of our assistant coaches was the head football coach. He made us go to the weight room and lift weights with his football players. I could not believe how much it did for me, my body, my fitness and my tennis game! This translated into my college tennis playing career. I was one of the few who worked out and used weights. Once I saw the power of fitness, I pursued it with even more passion.

There are a lot of fitness trends circulating right now: CrossFit, TRX, 90-day programs, Zumba, etc. Do you have any favorites?

Everything runs in cycles. In the early days of “aerobics” everyone trained hard and jumped their brains out—often causing stress fractures, shin splints, plantar faciitis and back pain. So I began doing studies on hard-style exercise and found that injuries often occur when you do these kinds of workouts more than four days a week without variation. Then, everything moderated to low-impact, more Pilates, less dance-based workouts. And, here we are again, with more extreme exercise programs and more dance-based workouts like Zumba. I like ALL of these formats! There is something in each for everybody. It’s just learning how much to do of each and how to vary these workout formats so avoid injury and optimize fitness gains. Personally, I love Tabata intervals, [high-intensity] metabolic resistance training and Pilates. I teach a lot of these formats.

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What’s New With Our Favorite Trainer, Bob Harper

Written on May 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm , by

Me, Hannah Curlee, Bob Harper and Olivia Ward at Bob's book launch party for The Skinny Rules!

Usually I give you all a sneak peek into the trainers’ lives who create our popular Express workouts, however, this man really needs no introduction. But so many things are happening for our favorite TV and all-time trainer, Bob Harper, that I had to fill you in on some of his latest projects!

Bob’s first book, The Skinny Rules, was released this month (it’s already a New York Times bestseller!), he’s got a line of supplements called Smart Success on the market, and his new interactive website, BobHarper.com powered by Watch It Now Entertainment, is a totally cool online fitness club that anyone can be a part of. The website is the closest you’ll get to working out with Bob himself, without taking a trip to the ranch. You’ll also get daily videos of Bob leading workouts, giving cooking demos and providing you with motivational tips so you’re inspired to stay on track. Plus, the thinking is done for you—get new workouts to try everyday, three circuit exercises to incorporate into your routine each week and a group fitness class to join to get your social fix from. Of course, you’ll find a place to track your weight-loss progress, food journal and workouts as well as chat with other members (and other Bob-fanatics too). It’s only $9.95 a month, and compared to other weight-loss clubs, this one is truly a deal. And let’s be serious, part of the reason we couch-potato it up every Tuesday night is to see Bob make others sweat on national TV, so why not indulge every single day?

Check out my one-on-one with our beloved renaissance man, Bob Harper and see what he had to say about our 20th anniversary issue!

I love that Ben Ward, husband to Olivia Ward season 11 winner of The Biggest Loser, was part of the reason you were inspired you to write your book, The Skinny Rules. He said he followed you on Twitter and from that guidance he was able to lose 100 pounds before Olivia came home. That’s amazing! [Check out Bob's article "Eat What I Tweet!" HERE.] Do you have one rule that you make sure you never break to stay in shape?

I wanted to give people what I have been doing with my contestants on The Biggest Loser for a long time and that is a set of rules that they could live by that was going to give them the results that they wanted.  I think the number one rule that you make sure you never break is to NOT DRINK YOUR CALORIES. All those sugary sodas, coffee drinks, and smoothies add up to a lot of calories and sugar. I would rather eat all my calories.

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Meet The Trainer: The Balance Method’s Becky Tinney

Written on April 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm , by

Tinney helps her clients—and you—achieve amazing results! (Photo courtesy of The Balance Method)

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!

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Meet The Trainer: Harley Pasternak From ABC’s The Revolution

Written on March 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm , by

The trainer behind ABC’s newest get-fit-and-feel-gorgeous show, The Revolution, and the founder of weight-loss program 5 Factor Fitness, showed us how to get seriously toned and sleek in March’s Express Workout. Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer to stars like Halle Barry, Hilary Duff (can’t wait to see the post-baby body he whips into shape!), Lady Gaga, Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson and Ashley Greene (yes, the list can go on!) is the Hollywood trainer of choice for many, but you don’t have to be an A-lister to get a hot body. It’s true—try his moves and you’ll see why he’s so in demand. But first check out my one-on-one interview with Harley, then flip to page 56 of the March issue and get started. [The model is Harley's wife, Jessica! I adored her so much and we couldn't stop chatting about all things fitness, fashion and NYC during our shoot, so she answered some questions for us too!]

Was it always your dream to work with celebrities?

Not necessarily. It just kind of evolved. I was scientist, an exercise and nutritionist scientist for the Department of National Defense and I was working toward my Ph.D. I started training to put myself through school.

Harley and Jessica cozy up on the set of the March Express shoot! (Photo by Sophia Vourdoukis)

When you travel with someone, like Lady Gaga, when do you find the time to squeeze fitness into her crazy schedule?

There are two ways. First, we try to make sure people like Lady Gaga are active throughout the day. I give them a pedometer to use. And second, we try to be creative. We don’t have time to find a gym so we try to do something local to wherever we are. Say we’re in Hawaii, we go running on the beach or surfing or out on a kayak. If we’re in L.A., we’ll go hiking or if we’re in NYC, we’ll go to Central Park. As for resistance training, that becomes a challenge. I try to design equipment to travel with. One of those things evolved into the “Harley Bar.” I actually designed it to travel with Halle Berry when she was shooting Batman. I had built a mobile gym and used to travel with that, but it was huge. It was a tractor-trailer that was 53 feet long and 12 feet high. But I realized it was not really possible to do this so the Harley Bar kind of evolved out of necessity.

What’s the #1 move that every woman should be doing?

It’s called “walking.” The one thing that separates us from other countries is that those people walk everywhere. Or take the stairs. It sounds simple but all that walking adds up. As for a specific move, there isn’t just one I’d go with, total body is what you need to do.

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Meet The Trainer: Tae Bo Creator Billy Blanks

Written on January 30, 2012 at 11:47 am , by

When Tao Bo master and creator, Billy Blanks, stopped by the FITNESS offices a few months ago he created quite a stir! Women were popping out of their offices and cubicles to get a sneak peak of the man himself, as Billy and I tried out moves from his hit new workout, PT 24/7 in our conference room. Not only was Billy super-fun to hang with, but we have a shared passion for martial arts, and anybody with a butt-kicking background will always be on the top of my list. (I spent 10 years practicing Shotokan karate growing up!) After our February Express Workout shoot, I sat down with Billy for a little one-on-one.

With Billy Blanks when he stopped by the FITNESS office!

Why did you decide to create the PT 24/7 DVDs?

I wanted a 30-minute workout with strength and cardio combined. People complain they don’t have time for both, so we put them together. The plan includes a rotation calendar for when to do the workouts and an eating plan too. We called it 24/7 because within 24 hours you’ll feel the difference and within seven days, your body starts to change.

For someone who is unfamiliar, how would you describe them and how they are different from other DVDs?
Tae Bo as a whole is a basic workout that will help you recognize your true self, change your body and your attitude. PT 24/7 will teach you how to put together a physical fitness program and make healthy living a lifestyle, not just something you do for 60 or 90 days. It builds you up mentally and physically.

Do you have any tips for readers trying this Express workout?
Pick out basic moves first. I really recommend the gloves that come with the PT 24/7 kit because they help you feel like a fighter and give you confidence. The gloves that come with the system, with bands attached, are easy to pick up. It’s really interactive with the bands. The moves in this workout and the DVDs will test and challenge you, but you’ll quit if you’re not engaged.

What do you do to exercise when you have just 15 minutes?
I take the gloves with bands and do punches. I use them for push-ups (with bands looped behind your back, hands in triangle position), military press, squats and lunges. You can really do everything with them and combine moves together, like a military press with a side lunge. Your core gets involved when you work multiple muscles.

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Meet The Trainer: YogaWorks’ Keisa Parrish, Former Broadway Rockette!

Written on December 21, 2011 at 9:53 am , by

Keisa, second from right, in full Rockette regalia! (Photo courtesy of Keisa Parrish)

The start of the New Year means the start of so many new fitness routines. Hitting the gym hardcore may be your 2012 resolution (studies say losing weight or getting in shape is the top promise people make), but what about those “off” days, when you’re sore or just don’t feel like getting your butt kicked by your favorite bootcamp master?

That’s why we thought it was so important to give you a total-body stretch/yoga routine that’ll keep your body moving but also give it a nice break too. Plus, when things get hectic before the New Year even begins, you can take a breather with these relaxing moves. January’s Express Workout moves from YogaWorks instructor, Keisa Parrish, come straight from her popular DanceWorks class. Psst…Keisa was a former New York City Rockette too! How cool is that?!

You were a Rockette. What was it like to have this job? (It seems amazingly fun!)
It was amazing! There’s nothing like being apart of a legacy and a sisterhood that spans many generations. And performing for about 6,000 people, is not half bad either!

How did you get into dancing?
Well, it was actually Ms. Renee (the school secretary) who saw me “moving” in the fifth grade Christmas show. And she thought I was a natural dancer and suggested I go take class at Universal Dance Design. These legs haven’t stopped yet.

What’s one thing people would be shocked to find out about Rockettes?
That they do anywhere from two to five shows a day during the Christmas season.

Is Christmas one of your most favorite times of the year?
Yes, it definitely is. I love New York City at holiday time. The lights, decorations, the shows and attractions, the family feeling in the air. Hands down favorite time of year!

What’s on your holiday wish list?
Two things! A day at Bliss Spa to pamper myself (I’ve been saying this for four years now…we’ll see if it happens!) and Rachael Ray serving size casserole dishes. It would be easier to make my son’s favorite homemade mac and cheese!

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