Written on November 25, 2013 at 10:19 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Freefalling from 18,000 feet above the Earth isn’t for everyone, especially those afraid of heights—or flying for that matter. But for Amy Chmelecki, the 170 mph ride is just a day on the adrenaline-pumping job; a passion turned dream-come-true.
As the only female member of the Red Bull Air Force, an exclusive 13-person team of the world’s most elite professional human flyers, Amy specializes in wind tunnels, skydiving and wing suit flying. This upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, Amy will be teaming up with 79 women in attempt to break the Women’s Vertical World Record in Eloy, Arizona of 41. Talk about girl power!
So what does this undertaking entail exactly? “The challenge is getting all the flyers to the ‘base’ [formation] in an orderly manner,” she explains. “The organizing team has to carefully plan when people exit the aircraft. If the exit order is planned correctly, flyers can approach it traffic free.” Once each flyer gets into their assigned slot and makes the connection to the base, the team has to continue to fly strong, staying engaged in the mission. “We are all counting on each other, with our lives, to do our jobs and do them well.”
At an altitude of 7,000 feet, the group ‘breaks off’ and flies to an open area to safely open their parachutes. Talk about a precise process! “Things can get dangerous quick,” Amy admits, adding that this is especially hard in larger formations.
The final challenge: landing. “Modern parachutes are very easy to steer,” says Amy. “A good pilot can land their wing where they want. The girls involved in this event will be very experienced. Nonetheless, it is a lot of people in the air at one time.”
So how exactly does one train for a jump of this magnitude? “My exercise routine involves an even split between cardio, weight training and yoga,” Amy says. “It’s more physical than people think. We pull on each other, fly very fast in a very close space, jump all day even when it’s freezing out (gear weighs about 30 pounds) and sometimes our parachutes open hard in a way that creates a whip lash effect.” Plus, since thinner individuals fall slower, keeping a healthy weight is key for this Bikram-loving Superwoman’s success, so both a well-rounded diet and workout regimen are a must.
As daring as it all sounds, like anything else, practice makes perfect when it comes to skydiving. “The most important part of my training is practicing the sport over and over again,” Amy explains. “Sometimes I practice a move for days before I nail it.” Oh, and never get too comfortable. You are falling from an airplane after all.
Now tell us: Do you have the guts to go skydiving?
Written on September 26, 2013 at 10:37 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Most days Jill Kintner prefers two tire treads over her own two feet. She fell in love with the family hobby of BMX biking at age 10, and won the National Bicycle League’s National Title only a decade later. She then steered into four-cross mountain biking, leading her to a career in downhill racing where she continues to compete across the globe today. We caught up with this badass biker to hear all about her extreme biking, professional training and race-day preparation.
Congratulations on taking 4th place in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships earlier this month! How did you train?
Thanks! Yeah, this was a good course for me. I tend to gain time on most of the other girls when there is pedaling, just from having efficiency and power from my BMX days. I also raced in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa last year, so I knew what to expect as far as the speeds to push for and how hard the sprint in the middle was going to be. Even still, downhill has so many variables that we have to train to be balanced, powerful, focused and fit to attack a 4-5 minute race in changing conditions. Red Bull helps get me dialed in by improving my reaction speed and increasing endurance. These benefits plus specific training programs and intervals really help me prep for all of downhill’s variables. Training for this particular race was focused on intervals and timed recovery from a max effort. I have a section of road near my house marked by two mailboxes 20 seconds apart that caused me a lot of pain.
What are your favorite parts about the training process?
Riding, or trying to figure out how to get better and seeing it work. My least favorite: taking vitamins.
What do you find to be the most challenging when prepping for a competition?
Physically, I enjoy challenges so the harder the workout, the more entertained I am. I find monotony to be the most difficult part of anything. Being outside and riding makes me the happiest, but I’ll do whatever I have to do to get better.
How do you calm your nerves before a big race?
I like to sit somewhere and remember the days that were hard that got me to where I am. When practicing at home, I pretend that I am at a World Cup with all the best people, and when I’m at a World Cup, I picture being at home by myself pushing as hard as I could have, so it’s all the same.
What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve come across thus far, and how did you face it?
When my dad passed away, that was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in life. He was a key player in my success and my biggest supporter. I was lost and went through a lot of emotions trying to fill the void. It doesn’t really get filled, but I have dedicated a lot of what I have done for him and what he taught me.
Do you have any pre-race or workout songs that help you get in the zone?
Usually I just listen to a couple of Pandora stations. Snowboarding music is really quite good for working out—sort of an indie dance station or hip-hop. My favorite artists: Ratatat, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Muse, Macklemore, Kid Cudi and Kanye West.
What are you looking forward to most now that your competition in South Africa has come to an end?
I still have two more world cup rounds to go: Norway and Austria. But after that, I am getting married, so we are gonna party it up and have a month off!
Now You Tell Us: If you could try a new extreme sport, what would it be?