When we first discovered Heather over at with a Side of Sneakers, one word popped into our mind: perseverance. Seriously, this girl is tough. Even though she’s been battling chronic foot and hand pain that doctors still haven’t been able to properly diagnose, she found the strength and determination to finish a triathlon, along with other various races. And mind you, this was no ordinary pain – it reached a point of barely being able to walk, sign notes or hold a pen. Yet Heather never let it become an excuse, saying “somebody else has it worse.”
We took some lessons from this athlete, and want you to as well. Keep reading to find out which sport she loves to practice, and what other goals she’s getting ready to tackle.
My favorite way to work out: Swimming. It’s not always easy to get to the pool, but I love the full body workout and cardio it provides. There’s nothing like feeling totally exhausted in a matter of minutes!
5 things I can’t live without:
- My family. Cliche, but oh so completely true.
- My camera. I love capturing all of my 9-month-old’s first moments on “film.”
- My foam roller. I’m so injury prone and this helps keep them at bay.
- My porch. I love being outside and my porch lets me be out in the sunshine even when I’m doing boring things like working or folding laundry.
- Coffee. Enough said.
On my fit life list: Finish an Ironman. Run a marathon. Climb Mt. Everest. I’m not too sure about that last one, but it sounds good, right?
Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: “White Houses,” by Vanessa Carlton. I have no idea how it ended up on my iPod, but it’s there and I definitely kick it up a notch and rock out when it comes on. Lucky for the people on the treadmills next to me, I sing to myself…mostly.
My fitness mantra: Persistence is far more important than perfection.
My “I Did It” moment: A couple of years ago I came down with a mysterious condition that causes severe chronic pain in my hands and feet. I was devastated that I could no longer run. After a couple months of throwing the world’s biggest pity party, I dusted off my running shoes and signed up for a triathlon. I needed the motivation of the other two sports to fight through the pain and hit the pavement again. Crossing the finish line was one of my proudest moments because it’s something I fought so hard for. That day I vowed to never let another obstacle stand in the way of my dreams, no matter how big or small.
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
After nearly drowning at age five, you have to give Cullen Jones credit for being willing to enter a pool again. But he’s done much more than stick a toe in. He now dives off the blocks and races the likes of Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and the other top swimmers from across the globe. In fact, he won Olympic gold as part of the 4 x 100 meter team in Beijing!
Now, Jones is on a quest to help kids of all backgrounds feel comfortable near and in the water as part of USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash program, which is sponsored by Phillips 66. So how did he get the guts to jump back in and how does he feel about the London Games (just 63 days away!)? We asked, he spilled.
What do you think made you confident enough to hop back in the pool?
Definitely my mom’s conviction. I was very nervous to go back, but she made me go to lessons because she didn’t want me to be afraid of water. Twenty years later, I became an Olympic medalist. At age 8, I swam in my first swim meet, and at age 10, I told my dad that it was my passion. That crushed him, though, since he was such a big fan of basketball!
Why do you think there is such a disparity between the swimming abilities of kids with different backgrounds? [Editor's note: Seventy percent of African American kids, 60 percent of Hispanic kids and 42 percent of Caucasian kids don't know how to swim, according to the USA Swimming Foundation.]
Fear, parental backing, physical appearance…Or the kids had a bad experience in the water, or parents did and project that on their kids.
What will kids learn by participating in Make a Splash?
They’ll learn a life skill—how to be safe around the water. Kids really gravitate to the water, and we want to give them the tools to be safe.
For inside scoop about the Olympics and who inspires this role model, click below.
With the 2012 Olympics headed our way, we thought that Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard would be a great girl to catch up with. On top of being a star in the pool (did you know that she won her first Olympic medal when she was only 14?!), she’s a mom, a model and a philanthropist. Talk about someone who does it all!
Here’s what Amanda had to say:
What is one food that you absolutely can’t live without?
I love Mexican food. It’s my guilty pleasure!
What food do you eat right before a big meet, that you feel gives you the most energy?
Since Mexican food is not ideal before getting in the pool so before a meet or workout, I like to snack on PB&H (honey) sandwiches or smoothies. They’re both delicious, easy to make and help keep me energized.
Swimming requires a lot of body strength. What is your go-to workout move to help keep you strong?
The 18 x 100 breaststroke is one of my favorite strength-building workouts. I always walk away feeling energized, despite the fact that the minimal intervals between each repetition makes it a tough workout! [Editor's note: Sure sounds tough to us!]
There is one strong mom cheering from the stands when 16-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps dives into the pool. Debbie Phelps was an athlete in her own right in high school and still enjoys keeping fit. And as a Subway Famous Fan, alongside her son, Debbie enjoys supplementing all that action with a healthy diet. “I love my milk, veggies and protein, but have to have a little bit of ice cream! It’s all about moderation,” Phelps says, with a laugh.
We caught up with the mom of three on Wednesday right before she walked in The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection Fashion Show in New York City to learn more about her first trip down the runway and whether she’d ever challenge her son to a lap race.
How does it feel to be a model?
Walking in a fashion show has been an item on my bucket list, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity. I feel elegant and sophisticated in the beautifully-beaded Adrianna Papell dress.
Do you ever exercise with Michael?
No way! As Michael’s mom, I feel that the safest place for me is not in the pool. I gravitate to the treadmill and StairMaster upstairs! I’m not afraid of the water but when I was growing up, the pool was a place for fun, not competition.
How are you and Michael feeling about the upcoming Olympic Games in London this summer?
It feels like we were just in Beijing! We’re so excited. It is bittersweet and emotional, though, that his goggles and Speedo will be hung up after the London Games. Michael has brought awareness to the sport and has shown such drive and dedication. We hope to take our grandchildren with us to watch.
Dara Torres has been one of our heroes here at FITNESS for years. She even appeared on the cover a couple times in the ’90s! But this 44-year-old fit mom is out to prove that age is just a number and is training to compete in her sixth—yes, sixth—Olympic Games.
We had to ask: Will there be seven? “This will be my last try at the Olympics, no matter what. Going back to 1984, I had always thought that would be my last swim, but I mean it this time,” says Torres, who was in town as a BENGAY Brand Ambassador.
As she prepares for her final quest for Olympic hardware (she already has twelve medals), we sat down with Torres to learn more about her training, her hobbies and the other swimmer in her house.
You recently had surgery—how are you feeling?
I took a year off after the 2009 World Championships to have a cartilage transplant in my knee. It really helped with my quality of life—I can now walk without pain and train again. But I never completely stopped. I would do pull-ups with my crutches resting against a nearby bench! Being fit is so important to me. Exercises relieves stress, gives me energy and I like the way I look because of it.
Speaking of that training, what does a typical week look like for you?
I train five days a week while my daughter is in school and take Thursdays and Sundays off. I swim for two hours, spend 60 to 90 minutes in the weight room and do 45 minutes of leg rehab, including Ki-Hara resistance stretching for recovery.
So the 2012 Olympics are in seven months! How do you feel?
The trials are at the end of June and beginning of July. I’m training for that now, or as I like to say, “I’ve been training for this since I was eight!” My Olympic prep really began in August 2010. I’ll be 45 by the Olympics, so tapering before trials is important, but I can’t rest quite as much as I used to because I lose muscle quicker at my age.
For Dara’s pick for the next great swimmer and her favorite pool-free activities, Read more
You know when you cannonball into a pool and you feel your bikini top slide or you get pushed over by a wave in the ocean and you feel like you’ve lost your bottoms? Well fear no more ladies, the bikini bloopers can be gone forever with one simple cure. O’Neill, one of our favorite surf brands, has come to our rescue with one of the coolest bikinis ever: the SUPERKINI, the bikini that sticks with you. Literally.
Here’s how it works: By using a brand new material called NANOFRONT (it’s super comfortable!), there is 200 percent more grip than a standard Lycra suit, which creates a greater frictional force when wet. This will ensure minimal bikini slippage. Hello, new best friend!
Check out this cool new video that O’Neill has released about the Superkini One Way Runway. We’re amazed how well it actually works! It will be available next spring.
Now tell us: Have you ever had a swimsuit mishap?
Stripping off a wetsuit can be a sticky situation, which is exactly why we shared tips from pro surfer and Roxy wetsuit designer Kassia Meador in the Sweatiquette column of our July/August issue. But who actually needs a wetsuit anyway?
“Anyone and everyone who wants to surf,” Kassia recommends. “Not only is it rad to rock up to the beach wearing a hot new suit, but they keep you warm and comfy in the water!”
Depending on the air and water temperature in your area, you’ll need a different type of suit. Here are Kassia’s suggestions for different surf locales.
- Hawaii/Pacific: It’s warm most of the year, so a vest or wetsuit jacket is all you’ll need.
- West: Try a medium-thick suit with full sleeves for winter, a slightly thinner suit for spring and fall and a sleeveless suit for summer.
- Northeast: You’ll have to stock up on a whole wardrobe, since the temperature changes so much from season to season. Think everything from a thick, full suit (with a hood!) to the styles fit for Hawaii.
The best suits of any style and cut are “flexible, warm, durable and of course stylish,” Kassia says. See her designs here (we’re loving the Cypher 3/2 chest zip wetsuit).
More from FITNESS: Your search is over! Check out the editor’s picks for the best surf gear around.
It’s itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow, polka dot bikini season and everyone here at FITNESS is so ready to hit the beach. And we’ve heard from many of you who are too! According to a recent poll done on fitnessmagazine.com, 42 percent of participants said polka dots/other options were tops over sequins, florals and stripes, when asked to name your favorite bikini print.
So to honor your selection, the fashion gals have decided to showcase some of the coolest polka dot bikinis that are available this season. Whether you’re strutting these spots on the beach or sporting them poolside, you’ll be rocking what our readers think is the cutest bikini look this summer!
1. J.Crew top $52, bottom $50
2. Asos $69
3. Island Company top $62, bottom $62
4. Tomas Maier $130
5. Roxy top $34, bottom $34
6. JETS by Jessika Allen top $145, bottom $82
7. L*Space top $73, bottom $70
8. Etoile Isabel Marant $165
More from FITNESS: Have no fear! Check out secrets from 12 women to hit the beach with confidence to spare.
One of the things we’re looking forward to this summer is taking a swim at the beach or local pool. And while going in the water can be fun, it can also be dangerous if you don’t know how to swim.
A few facts about the importance of staying safe in the water:
- Drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Research shows that if a child doesn’t learn to swim before the third grade, they likely never will.
- Nonfatal drownings can cause injuries and brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities.
To increase awareness about water safety, Coppertone has organized The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson for tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET. If you’re in Walt Disney World (lucky you!), head over to Typhoon Lagoon so your kids can get swimming lessons from Olympic medalists Rowdy Gaines and Summer Sanders and set a new Guiness World Record. Non-Floridians can still get in on the action by visiting the event website to find one of the 600 locations that’s also a part of this international event. What a cool way to be a part of the history books and learn an important skill!
When making dessert is your job, staying fit can be a challenge. We recently sat down with swimmer and competitive chef (she was on season two of Top Chef and Food Network Challenge) Marisa Churchill to discuss the launch of her new cookbook, Sweet & Skinny: 100 Recipes for Enjoying Life’s Sweeter Side Without Tipping the Scales. Though she’s around tempting desserts all day, Marisa is in amazing shape and even competes in swim meets. Here’s how she makes that possible:
What’s your workout routine like?
I try to exercise at least five days a week. I swim three times, completing about 6,000-8,000 yards weekly, and strength train twice a week.
Aside from swimming laps in the pool, what’s your favorite way to work out?
Since the launch of Sweet & Skinny, I am on the road a lot traveling for my book tour. Therefore, I’m all about “exercises on the go.” Here are a few of my favorite ones that you can do just about anywhere:
- Squats and Lunges: These are perfect for when you’re on the go because you don’t need a lot of space or equipment. You just need your body! You can easily do either exercise in a hotel room or hallway. I do three sets of 15 squats and three sets of 20 lunges.
- Sit-ups and Push-ups: Any style works. It doesnt matter what type of sit-up or push-up you perform, as long as you get it done!
- Planks: Drop down and hold for 30 seconds! I aim for four sets.
What do you eat to fuel up for a tough workout or swimming competition?
I cut back on sugar the week before a competition and make sure I eat well-balanced meals with lots of fruits and vegetables. I also drink a lot of green tea to keep me energized.
Stay tuned for healthy cooking and eat-right tips from Marisa in an upcoming issue of FITNESS!