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Pilates

Sanya Richards-Ross’ Secrets to Training, Staying Motivated and Finding Life’s Balance

Written on December 25, 2013 at 10:31 am , by

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Legs like whoa! Strength-training is a must for the Fastest Woman on the Planet. (Photo courtesy of Sanya Richards-Ross)

The impending winter weather can discourage even the most enthusiastic runners from finding their stride—and that goes for four-time Olympic gold medalists, too. Jamaica-born sprinting superstar Sanya Richards-Ross knows a thing or two about the dedication it takes to lace up and get out there each day.

A sprinter at heart, Richards-Ross has to really push herself through long runs during pre-season training, which typically coincides with chillier months. “After my season is over, I usually take about 6-8 weeks off before we start training again, and that’s always my least favorite part of training,” she says. “It’s long runs; it’s a lot of reps and light weight in the weight room. Just really preparing myself to take training to the next level. Once my training transitions to where I’m on the track doing repeat 200s, 300s and 450s, that’s the part I do like because my body just feels great.”

Richards-Ross takes a comprehensive approach to training, integrating weight lifting and Pilates for the crucial benefits of strength and flexibility, which is why she is so powerful in her cardio-based sport. And when it comes down to it, her favorite workouts are the ones that focus on building that incredible muscle! “I love when we are doing Olympic lifts like power snatching and power cleans and squatting. I love those powerful movements in the gym and I love to really push myself. It’s so full-body and so explosive, and it correlates to the track so well,” she says.

Most sprinters are known for preferring hot, dry weather, so the upcoming months will force Richards-Ross to put her motivational mantra to good use. Whenever her training days are less than exciting or she simply isn’t feeling 100 percent, “I refuse to lose” is the mindset that gets her through it. Not to mention she really bundles up, tunes into some power songs and tries her best to forget about the cold conditions. In case you’re wondering what music inspires her (we definitely were!), she switches off between the likes of Jay Z, Drake, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and Bob Marley, depending on her mood.

Her 400-meter solo and relay performances have earned Richards-Ross the reputation of the Fastest Woman on the Planet, but her talents extend past the track and into the academic setting. “My dad always encouraged me to not be one-dimensional, so even though I was having tremendous success on the track and doing really well, he always challenged me to read and do well in school because as much as I hoped to make it to the Olympics and be one of the best in the world, I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in that basket,” she says. This mindset not only helped her become a straight-A student, but also pushed her to work even harder when it came time to run. “When I had my homework and training, and I had a lot on my plate, it was easier to get everything done. When I only had one thing to do, I’d kind of procrastinate. I always just felt so fulfilled when I was able to accomplish all those tasks.”

When it comes to fueling up for and recovering from her grueling training regimen, Richards-Ross is all about the high protein diet. She reaches for protein shakes after a tough weight room session, grilled chicken before a meet and egg whites with fruit and smoked salmon for breakfast any day of the week. “I mostly juice my vegetables because I’m not really a big fan of them—I know that’s terrible for an athlete—but there’s a few I like, and the rest of them I just juice and knock them out,” she says. And even the top athletes in the world have guilty pleasures. “Mine are the purple bag of Skittles and rum raisin ice cream. Don’t put those in front of me before a race, because I’m going to eat them!”

At the end of the day, according to Richards-Ross, it’s most important to pick an activity you enjoy. “A lot of people go into the gym and bite off more than they can chew and just get totally turned off. Start at a level that is comfortable for you; do something that’s fun whether it’s Zumba or biking,” she suggests. “There are so many things you can do to be active and healthy that don’t mean you have to go and lift 100 pounds or run on the treadmill for an hour.”

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Get Fit, Fab and Happy With Kate Hudson

Written on December 3, 2013 at 9:17 am , by

Shape up in style! Kate Hudson makes sweat sexier than ever. (Courtesy of Fabletics)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

From maintaining her successful acting career to wrangling her two energetic young boys, Kate Hudson has no problem keeping busy. If anything, she has to take advantage of every spare minute to strike a healthy balance within her life. So when the fashion subscription company Just Fab Inc. approached her about collaborating on a lifestyle athletic wear line, Hudson jumped on board.

Fabletics, the result of the collaboration, offers women affordable, high-quality and stylish active apparel that works for running errands, brunching with the girls and, of course, getting your sweat on! “I loved the idea,” says Hudson. “What was really inspiring to me was that we came together to find a way to make it affordable and create a larger community of women to learn about things they could do to motivate the first steps of that part of their life.” Each month the website debuts around 30 new outfits, and now that they have the basics covered, expect to see more sweats, different T-shirt styles and even some snakeskin leggings.

This new venture has not only helped Hudson connect with a new community of women, but it’s also given her the opportunity to spend more time with family. “I love my day job, but I’m also a mom, and my day job takes me away from my kids a lot. So it’s nice to have another outlet that I can do at home that still has a creative entity,” she notes. “It lets me take something that is important to me and hopefully inspire people to start getting healthy and fit and happy.”

As far as keeping herself fit is concerned, Hudson works with celebrity trainer and Pilates pro Nicole Stuart for that extra push of motivation. “She does these series of stomach and core exercises that are brutal, but what I like about them is knowing that it’s working from the inside-out and not the outside-in.” If Hudson had it her way, however, she would simply dance. “I just jump around and dance and play loud music and move around until I start sweating,” she says.

This fun free-styling doesn’t always get the job done, which is why the bombshell uses a little mental trick to change the way her body feels when she isn’t in the mood for a tough workout. “When something is painful and hurts and burns, when I really want to say, ‘Ugh, no!’ I’ll say, ‘Yes!,’” explains Hudson. “It’s not really what I’m feeling, but it’s how I’m make myself do it again.” When she isn’t dancing or working on her Pilates with Stuart, she sticks to high reps of dancing-style squats, focusing on the lifting and stretching movements that help keep her legs lean and toned.

At the end of the day, “it’s really about what you can do to have a happier way of life,” she says. “Any activity that you do to get your blood flowing is going to open up a more optimistic part of your brain and allow everything in your life to become more efficient. It makes for a more present way of life, where people can be more present for their children, their relationships, their jobs and most importantly, really connect with themselves.”

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Feel-Good Fitness: Workout and Give Back During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Written on October 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm , by

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. You—yes, you—can make a difference. (Photo credit: Denise Crew)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern 

Bring on the pink! National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is finally here, flaunting more proud ribbons, charitable events and philanthropic products than ever before (don’t forget to check out our fave product picks!). If you’re struggling to decide how you’d like to give back this month, pick a program that aligns with your passions, too. Here are three ways to get your sweat on and support thousands of women as they brave the breast cancer battle. Now that’s a win, win.

  1. Xtend Barre is hosting Plié for Pink on October 19 and 20 at its participating studios. Donate $30 to take this 75-minute barre bootcamp that really works your legs, glutes and core. Proceeds go to Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization that focuses on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
  2. Real Pilates NYC challenges you to a Mat-a-Thon with pro instructor Regina Arras at its Tribeca studio on October 23. This 75-minute Pilates mat class puts your endurance to the test with 20 rounds of hardcore sculpting moves. Sign up with a $50 donation and see how long you can last. If you make it to the end, your donation is capped at $50. If you tap out early, your donation amount will increase depending on how many rounds you completed. All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Game on!
  3. If Pilates isn’t for you, get your groove on at your local Zumba studio. The third-annual Party in Pink Zumbathons are held worldwide throughout the month with 75 percent of the event ticket fees going directly toward preventative research, a grant managed by Susan G. Komen.

For an added bonus, wear the FitBit Pink Flex Wristband ($99) during these workouts to track your crazy calorie burn. Throughout the month, FitBit will contribute $10 from every Pink Flex wristband sold to the American Cancer Society. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and sport your pink power!

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Take a Breather With the Merrithew Movement Tour

Written on January 23, 2013 at 2:55 pm , by

Moira Merrithew, program director of Stott Pilates, leads a workshop. (Photo courtesy of Merrithew Corporation 2013)

One smart strategy FITNESS editors rely on to stay on track with fitness goals: signing up for future active events! (Like the MORE/FITNESS Half-Marathon coming up in April. Have you registered?) Doing so inspires us to train to stay in shape, plus the actual race/fundraiser/conference is a fun way to test your limits and maybe even meet some like-minded new friends.

Interested in trying this approach yourself? We found a great option for those who aren’t big on competition: the Merrithew Mindful Movement World Tour. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Merrithew Health & Fitness (founders of Stott Pilates), they are hosting three-day gatherings in New York, California and other locations worldwide. While certified Pilates instructors will be on-hand to learn new techniques, those who have never tried the core-focused fitness method are invited to try something new with master instructors leading the way.

Click here to learn more about the classes and events offered, and register by February 15 to receive an early bird discount.

Now tell us: What get-moving get-togethers are on your to-do list?

Meet The Trainer: Alexandra White from Jumping Frog Pilates

Written on October 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm , by

Alexandra’s Lululemon Ambassador ad! Taken in the beautiful Palisades Interstate Park. (Photo courtesy of Lululemon)

During the summer, I got really into Pilates (still am!) and I began to realize why women are so addicted to it. The long, lean look and perfectly toned muscles you’ll get from a class like this and even the slight soreness I don’t expect to have the day after, but do, gets me super pumped whenever I have a Pilates date on my weekly workout schedule.

I started searching around for a Pilates studio that kicks butt—and stumbled upon Jumping Frog Pilates in Tenafly, New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. Jumping Frog Pilates is one of the most successful Pilates studios in the state and one of the instructors, Alexandra White, a Lululemon Ambassador, is truly a FITNESS magazine role model. Mom to two young boys, Alexandra is also a successful runner who holds training camps for adults and kids, teaches girl’s lacrosse, competes (and oftentimes places) in local half-marathons, 5Ks and obstacle course races like Spartan Race, and is an avid skier. She knows firsthand why Pilates is the perfect complement to all the running  she does, so I scouted some moves. What you got was the very awesome Absolute Power workout in our September 2012 issue. Read on to find out a little more about our trainer of the month:

Everyone I talk to seems to have a pre-trainer life. What’s your story?
I went to Parsons School of Design for a degree in graphic design and I was an Art Director for an advertising agency in New York City for 15 years until I switched gears and decided to make my workout hobby my job. I still do freelance print and web design on the side, because I still really love it.

What’s the hardest part about following your dreams?
Giving up knowing what is coming. When you work for an agency, you have predictable hours and rates. Working for yourself is much more unpredictable. I had to get used to having a very flexible schedule and income from week to week. But I’m so much happier now!

During those 15 years, how did you fit fitness into your busy schedule?
Fitness is part of my day no matter what. I work out like I eat my meals. I feel like I have to do it at some point during the day. I often worked out at 9-10pm just to get it in. I still do that now sometimes when my kids are asleep- just get on the treadmill late at night to fit it in. I put my workout first always–and if that means I have to come an hour later to a happy hour gathering, I do.

You’re an avid runner—okay I’ve read your race times border on elite status. Tell me how you got so good?
I wouldn’t say I’m elite by any stretch, but thank you! I usually place in the top 10 of a big race and I’m lucky to get a podium finish if it’s a smaller one. But I have just been doing it a long time—and maybe it’s some talent too! I’ve played sports my entire life that included a lot of running. And I’m too competitive to be mediocre, so I train hard and try to get better each time. You definitely have to put the time in to get the results you want. And yes I’ve won a few races!

Of the races you’ve done, what’s your favorite?
I did a really fun Super Spartan obstacle race with my younger brother. It was fun to break up the running with obstacles and mud!

How did you go from running to being a Pilates pro?
I hurt my back a few years ago and had to do some physical therapy to get it better. I tried Pilates to help strengthen my back and core and since I don’t like lifting weights, I found this was a great way to get my whole body strong without spending hours and hours lifting dumbbells.

Why does a Pilates workout complement a regular running routine?
When you run, your power comes from your core. As soon as you get fatigued, you start to lose form. A strong core helps keep a good body position, which allows for the best running economy. Read more

A Dailey Method Worth Trying

Written on September 6, 2012 at 11:24 am , by

I had never realized how little I engage my core throughout the day or my lack of a proper posture—or should I say “neutral spine”—until I had the privilege of trying The Dailey Method with founder, Jill Dailey. Slouching, be gone!

With a background in dance and Pilates, alongside her knowledge in injury prevention and rehabilitation, Jill has evolved her training from the West Coast’s first barre class back in 2000 to a franchise with 46 studios (and counting)! The full body workout focuses on kinesiology and alignment principles while combining ballet barre work with yoga, core training and orthopedic exercises.

Each micro-bend and extension slims, sculpts and aligns every muscle group. These moves, while constantly pulling in your abdominal wall for stability and elongating the spine, are designed to deliver the toned results we are all aiming for.

The flow and innovative uses of bands, balls, light weights and, of course, the ballet barre took slight movements to a whole new burning level. I am famous for always eyeing the clock or considering my mental to-do list during workouts but did not have the opportunity to think about anything but my body in this class. I was too busy focusing on dropping my hips and engaging my abs! Plus, regular choreography changes and updated playlists keep the challenging hour fresh every time.

Read on to try two of Jill’s favorite moves. Read more

Featured Fitterati: Healthy Living Blog Blogilates

Written on July 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm , by

Cassey loves being connected so you can stay motivated!

Each Tuesday, we’re highlighting one category of winners from our Fitterati Blogger Awards! This week we’re finding out what the healthy living bloggers turn to when in need of a motivation boost.

Cassey Ho

  • 25, San Francisco

Cassey, the blogger behind Blogilates, is all about motivating her readers through any means necessary. “I talk with people through my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts nonstop, and it’s such a big part of who I am.” Her site is a one-stop shop for sweaty workouts, yummy meals and fun giveaways. Sounds like a perfect balance to us.

Favorite Foodie App “I think that writing down what you eat for a little while is a smart idea, and love using MyNetDiary. It helps as you’re learning more about your food. Now I know how many calories an apple has or what 4 oz. of fish looks like, so I can eyeball things and know how my body’s being nourished.”

Online Inspiration “The Blogilates community comes from all over the world, and people are constantly talking about their personal journeys. It’s so fun to make new friendships over the Internet via a common goal – getting fitter in a fun and free way!”

Workout Wonder “I love any routine that makes me really sweat! Well, except for battle ropes…I hate those. All jokes aside, I love Pilates because it helps my posture and firms my abs. I also weight train and do HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts.

3 Moves to Help Moms-to-Be Cruise Through Delivery

Written on May 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm , by

Hollywood seems to be in the middle of a full-fledged baby boom. From Maxwell Drew (Jessica Simpson’s new little girl) to the upcoming film What to Expect When You’re Expecting (in which Cameron Diaz plays a pregnant personal trainer!), bumps are certainly trending in the pop culture world.

Are you or is someone you love expecting too? If so, practicing Pilates now may help make your delivery easier and help you get your pre-baby body back faster, says Mariska Breland, founder of Fuse Pilates in Washington, D.C. Breland explains that you don’t try to correct bodily changes during pregnancy, as many of these are necessary to help with delivery (like the pelvis tilting slightly back). The goal is to adjust the body and your exercises based on these changes, so that it will be primed for delivery and will have strong muscles—especially in areas that are often utilized by new moms.

For a taste of Breland’s Push Prep class, try out these three moves. They’re great for those who are expecting and those who just want to tone up!

Clam Reach

Targets shoulders, upper back, hips, legs

  • Lie on side and prop upper-body up on your forearm.
  • Bend knees, right leg stacked on top of left, and bring them to a 45° angle from hip. Place hand on hip.
  • Lift right knee toward ceiling.
  • Extend right leg straight back and left leg straight forward.
  • Return to start. Do 10 reps, switch sides and repeat.

Read more

Fit Blogger We Love: Blogilates

Written on March 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm , by

Cassey still makes time for her workouts, even when she's on the gorgeous beach!

Talk about taking the bull by the horns: Cassey Ho, a Pilates and fitness instructor, founder of oGorgeous yoga bags (featured in our 2011 holiday gift guide!) and creator of Blogilates hasn’t just turned her passion for healthy living into a career, she’s made it a critical part of her life. We caught up with this chic blogger to find out more about the Olympic sport she wants to try and what you’ll often catch her munching on.

My favorite way to work out: With passion! But if you’re looking for a literal answer, then strength training and Pilates!

5 things I can’t live without: My glasses, my drive, YouTube, peanut butter and the Blogilates community!

My fave fit snack: I’d say nuts, but I’m pretty sure I eat way too many for them to be considered a “fit snack” anymore.

Olympic sport I’d love to try: Figure skating! What girl doesn’t want to glide around in a Swarovski-encrusted mini dress?!

My “I Did It” moment: When I was able to turn my passion for healthy living, fitness and fashion design into a real career. I am so thankful to my students across the globe who do my YouTube workouts, to the enthusiastic readers of  my blog and to the fitness fashionistas who believe in and use my oGorgeous gym and yoga bags. You guys are all helping me live my dream! Thank you so much.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com

Fit Blogger We Love: This Mama Cooks

Written on January 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm , by

Anne-Marie also reviews cookbooks and foodie movies on her site.

Some people start a blog to document a wedding, a baby’s growth or a weight-loss journey, then fall off the writing wagon soon after the big event passes or after they reach their goal. Not Anne-Marie Nichols! She has been blogging about her favorite food trends, kitchen tips and recipes on This Mama Cooks! since 2004. In 2007, she added a nutrition focus and tacked on a few extra words to her blogs title (“on a diet”). Now the mom of two hopes to inspire her readers—and their families—to take small steps to live healthier, happier lives.

Here’s what keeps Anne-Marie feeling great, inside and out:

My favorite way to work out: Reformer Pilates. I’ve fallen in love with it thanks to my wonderful instructor, Alisa at Axis of Movement. She’s helped me eliminate my lower back and sciatica pain and improve my core strength. I go twice a week and take a Pilates mat class from her, too.

I’m happiest when I’m: Meeting my health goals for the day—drinking my water, taking my vitamins, exercising, brushing and flossing, and getting eight hours of sleep.

Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: Anything by Duran Duran. I’m stuck in the ‘80s.

My fave fit snack: Larabars. They’re the only snack bar that I can eat since they’re gluten- and sugar-free.

My biggest indulgence: Cheese. Since it’s an indulgence, I splurge on local artisanal and fancy imported cheeses and try not to worry about the price per pound cost.

Speaking of indulging, Anne-Marie shared one of her favorite sweet treat recipes with us, a sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate mousse! Click below for the 411.

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