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How Cyclist Evelyn Stevens Went From Wall Street to Olympic Hopeful

Written on June 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm , by

Stevens is planning to train at altitude for the month or so prior to the Games. (Photo courtesy of BMW Performance Team)

Some athletes aim for sports glory from a young age. Cyclist Evelyn Stevens is not one of them. In 2007, when she was seeking a casual way to stay fit as a Wall Street associate, Stevens discovered—and fell in love with—cycling. Within three years, she was racing on one of the best female teams in the world and had finished first at the U.S. National Time Trial.

This year, as Stevens is gearing up for London, she was voted onto the BMW Performance Team, which helps Olympic and Paralympic athletes focus on making the team and reaching their goals. “It’s allowed me to continue to focus on making the Olympic Games, but also because it shows I have fan support,” Stevens says.

In her own words, here’s how Stevens made the transition from trading to training in one year flat.

  • “When I first started biking in June 2008, I absolutely fell in love with it. I found it to be the most freeing activity, plus it got you fit very quickly! A year after I bought my first bike, I decided to take a big risk and make a big change by following my heart, passion and dreams.”
  • “I am fueled by challenges and immediately I was driven to become the best cyclist I could become, I didn’t know if that would just be at the amateur level or at the professional level, I just knew I wanted to push my limits”
  • “I will always remember my first 10-day stage race in May of 2010, as my body was suffering, I couldn’t help but think that only a year ago I was spending my day in front of a computer, instead of racing up mountains in the Pyrenees!”
  • “In order to thrive in cycling and in finance, you have to be driven and competitive. You have to be able to work well with a team and in stressful environments. Also, attention to detail is hugely important in cycling as it was during my career in finance—all of the small things make a big difference.”
  • “I love my Specialized Amira SL4 road bike, and a comfortable saddle pair of shorts are an absolute must. If you are just getting into riding, definitely take the time to find a saddle that is comfortable and don’t be afraid to try out a variety of different ones in a shop. And I never get on my bike without my helmet.”

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Olympian Jennie Finch Tells You How to Walk Off Major Calories

Written on April 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm , by

Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern

Olympian Jennie Finch wants to inspire you to step up your game. (Photo courtesy of the American Heart Association)

Do you think you could burn a billion calories? You might need a little help–but the American Heart Association (AHA) has you covered.

With over 300 scheduled Heart Walks taking place in 2012, the AHA is determined to help Americans on the path to collectively burn more than one billion calories before 2020. The national campaign is called the Billion Calorie Count-UP, and leading the way alongside the AHA is Olympic softball gold medalist Jennie Finch.

“As an athlete I know how important being fit is,” Finch told FITNESS in an exclusive interview during the official kick-off event. “I also know how much motivation it takes to stay fit!”

Now retired from softball, Finch has a new role as a mother of two boys. She has had to find different incentives to stay healthy and active since hanging up her mitt. “Working out used to be my job. Now it’s my priority,” she says.

The AHA aims to help Americans walk towards a healthier life. The president-elect of the AHA, Donna Arnett, shared some sad stats about America’s current fitness state.

“Heart disease is so preventable,” Arnett says. “If you make it to 50 years old and you have a normal blood sugar and cholesterol level your chance of heart disease is five percent. Only one percent of our population fits into that category.”

So the AHA has its sites set on improving America’s overall health and heart disease prevention by 20 percent by 2020! And it all starts with a simple 30-minute walk per day. It’s not always easy to get started, but as Jennie told us, when you have a team to work with it suddenly becomes much easier. After running her first marathon she raved about the success of a running group.

Having a finish line or goal to work toward, and someone to work toward it with, can create a level of fun to the challenge of being healthy. The AHA is organizing walking groups and community walking paths across the country for anyone who’s looking to join! Head to the website, heart.org, to find a heart walk, trail or group in your area.

Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler’s Top 5 Healthy Living Tricks

Written on April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm , by

Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern

Bleiler co-founded the company that makes the fun ALEX bottle she's toting! (Photo courtesy of Lauren Ross)

We may not all be Olympic level athletes, but some days, it can feel like we have a schedule worthy of one. The only difference is, for us, hitting the gym doesn’t pay the rent. So how can we stay on top of our game? We asked Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler how she conquers the mountains (both literal and figurative) she faces everyday.

Recently, Bleiler partnered with Listerine, Reach and the American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life initiative, aimed at keeping American’s healthy, so she filled us in about that as well.

I’m sure you’re busy! How do you fit in time to keep yourself healthy?

If you take care of your health you’ll have the energy for everything and everyone else too! It’s like the emergency announcement when you fly; they stress to put the oxygen mask on yourself, before helping others. The same thing is true in life!

How do you fit in activity during your most jam-packed days?

I think the secret to staying healthy is in the daily habits that you build into your everyday life that help create balance, energy and the foundation to create the life you want. My five favorite tips for keeping up with an active and healthy lifestyle are: eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising, drinking water, following through with a proper oral care routine and always wearing sunscreen!

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Exclusive Interview with U.S. Beach Volleyball Pair Jenn Kessy and April Ross!

Written on March 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm , by

april ross and jenn kessy fitness article

Photo by Marc Serota for the National Volleyball League.

One of the most thrilling, coolest, and—yeah, we’ll say it—sexiest Olympic sports is Women’s Beach Volleyball.

That’s why we were pretty psyched to chat with Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, the U.S. women’s pair currently ranked fourth in the world. The duo is just a few months away from a berth to the Olympic Games in London and are preparing to dive into their competitive season. But remember how we told you about that Ludus Athletics Model Beach Volleyball Tournament in Miami this weekend? Yep, Kessy and Ross will be there.  (Gah! Let’s all go!)

“We train really hard Monday through Friday and try to have a regular life on the weekends,” says Kessy. “So, we’ll be back to work on Monday. But in the meantime, the event gives us the chance to support the NVL (National Volleyball League). Plus, it’s in Miami and we like to enjoy the ride!”

And enjoy the ride they do. But it’s well-deserved: After just missing out on the 2008 Games in Beijing—only two teams per gender per country can go—Kessy and Ross have been preparing for years to represent the U.S., with Olympic veterans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Here, Kessy and Ross reveal a few of their essentials while they’re on-the-go…plus, we find out exactly why those volleyball bikini bottoms are so itty bitty.

FITNESS: What do you have to have when you’re traveling?

Ross: “The number one thing I have to have is a big water bottle. If I go half an hour without water, I tend to freak out.”

Kessy: “I have to have my pillow. My neck can’t take different hotels pillows every week, especially after you spend your days diving for the ball. Sleep is really important to us, being on the road a lot, so I also have a sleeping mask and earplugs.”

FITNESS: Are there any beauty products you can’t live without, other than SPF?

Ross: “I hate the grimy buildup from the sweat and sand, so I bring exfoliating cleansers on the road to get the layers off. I also have some sun damage, so I use Kieh’s Spot Corrector. I usually carry Eucerin hand cream, too.”

Kessy: “I just got the Clarisonic (Skin Cleansing System), and talk about getting grime off your face!” Read more