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Panama: Where You Can Play Hard, Day and Night

Written on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 am , by

 

That’s me ziplining in the Anton Valley!

Written by Kathy Green, managing editor

It’s January and most of the U.S. is in a deep freeze.  What better time to plan a trip to somewhere warm!  How about Panama?  I was there recently as a guest of the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  The temperature was perfect (it’s always around 80 degrees) and their eco-tourism is growing.  There are lots of daily flights, which makes it an easy, sunny destination for a break from the cold.

Before this trip, my only association with Panama was the canal, but I discovered there is a lot to do there. My travel buddies and I drove for about 2 hours outside of Panama City to the Anton Valley—a rich rainforest that is a volcano crater.  We hiked into this beautiful park and then zip-lined over a tremendous waterfall called Charro el Macho.  I had never tried ziplining before, and soaring through the lush canopy was truly a special experience.

After ziplining, it unfortunately started to pour, but that didn’t stop us from ATVing around the hillsides of the valley.  Even in the rain, we had a great time.

We also discovered the Soberania National Park, just 20 minutes outside of Panama City. A rainforest this rich with wildlife so close to civilization is a true find.  When we entered the park, the guide told us we’d possibly see monkeys, kinkajous and an abundance of birds and plant-life. Soberania delivered on beauty and rainforest magic­­­­—just as we started off on our three-hour hike, we found a sloth high up in a tree relaxing in the sun.

My friend Jennifer and I ATVing in the rain!

An added perk from Soberania? Driving right by the Panama Canal to get there and back from Panama City.  So even though we didn’t have time to take a tour, we did stop and take pictures of ships going through the locks.

So if you like to party as much as you like to hike, the perfect place to stay in Panama City is the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  It’s located right near the harbor and attached to a large shopping mall filled with stores such as Diesel and Nike (shopping and partying—what’s not to like?!). I stayed in a beautiful suite with a great view of the skyline and ships lined up to go through the canal. With no time for a pedicure before leaving New York City, hitting up the spa (at a reasonable price) was the perfect prep for the Hard Rock night scene.

The hotel is full of incredible rock n’ roll memorabilia and it has the greatest room service offer—you can get a Fender electric guitar or personal DJ box delivered so you can be a rock legend in your very own room. It is a party-hardy place with great restaurants (we ate in two of them–Soy and Tauro and the food was first-rate), bars (the roof bar has awesome views of the city) and a happening club called BLING—THE place to be seen in Panama City (Justin Bieber was hanging out there a couple of nights with his entourage). The DJ was exceptional, and my friends and I had a blast dancing into the wee hours of the morning. Calorie burning, right?

BLING, the trendiest club in Panama City

 

But if hiking isn’t your thing, and you’re not quite into the party scene, there are plenty of other things to satisfy your thirst for adventure in Panama. Try a visit to the Old City, bike along the Amador causeway or go to one of the great beaches on either the Caribbean or Pacific coasts.  Plus one essential perk: a Panama vacation can be reasonably priced. And we know that’s the real reason to start booking your next vacation.

Photos courtesy of Jim Raycroft

The Fit Girl’s Guide to Exploring Aruba

Written on September 16, 2013 at 11:14 am , by

This could be the view from your Aruban room.

Is it just me, or does it feel like now that summer is over, it’s time for another tropical vacation? If you’re in the market for a getaway, I have a great suggestion: Aruba. While I love lounging on the beach as much as the next girl, there comes a point in my trip when I feel the urge to get up and go. So, if you’re like me and need a healthy mix of active adventure sprinkled with total relaxation, then the One Happy Island is perfect for you to explore. Allow me to explain:

Beaches. Aruba’s got ‘em and they’re beautiful. The crystal-clear water is extremely inviting, and the temperature is perfect for swimming, snorkeling or a good ole’ splash fight with friends. The sand is pure white, and with more than 10 locations, there’s plenty to choose from if one spot is a bit too crowded for your liking. One warning, though: It’s windy in Aruba (making the high temps super comfortable). So if you’re a girl who prefers sun-bathing to water-splashing, I’d recommend lounging by the pool.

Water sports. This is the place to try it all and really test your limits. If you’re a beginner, try snorkeling or stand up paddleboarding. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, give wind- or kite-surfing a whirl. I hopped on a catamaran tour with friends, where we explored three different locations, including a ship wreck! And you have to be sure to try a unique water activity I had never heard of before: Snuba. A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, this is for those who don’t have their scuba certification but still want to explore the depths of the ocean. The difference: instead of strapping a tank to your back, it stays above water so you can swim freely. Perfect compromise, right?

Guy-friendly adventures. If you’re bringing a special man along, most of the time they do a good job of relaxing on the beach beside you while sipping ice-cold beverages (I recommend tasting an Aruba Ariba, the island’s famous tropical cocktail). But if they’re being honest, most would rather explore in a more, er, rugged way. Enter ATV riding. The landscape in Aruba has turquoise waters colliding against desert-like terrain, giving you those Instagram-worthy views (#nofilterneeded) and him an adrenaline rush as you cruise over sand dunes, past cacti and through the rocky cliffs of Arikok National Park. And if that’s not quite your speed, you can hike or hop on a horse – you’ll still slowly walk along the beach for more of a romantic vibe, but there are plenty of trails that take you through the same rugged terrain as an ATV. Join a tour of more experienced riders and you won’t soon forget the feeling of moving along at a full gallop with ocean views to your left and rocky mountains to your right.

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2 Ways to Take a Culinary Vacation (in Your Own Kitchen!)

Written on January 4, 2013 at 9:44 am , by

Now that the holiday season has passed, we’re experiencing a bit of cabin fever. Not all of us can jet off for a warm-weather getaway, but we can all take a trip to the kitchen to whip up meals that take our taste buds on a trip around the globe! Lindsay Nixon, author of the new book Happy Herbivore Abroad, shared two low-fat, vegan recipes to help us do just that.

Lentil Taco Meat

“I got this idea from one of my fans and now we make lentil tacos (or burritos, or enchiladas!) at least once a week. Use brown- or the greenish-colored lentils here, not red or yellow,” Nixon suggests.

This “meat” would also be great in a taco salad. (Photo courtesy of BenBella Books)

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 tablespoosn ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons lemon or lime (juice)
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (granulated)
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder (granulated)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • nondairy milk (optional)
  • salsa (optional)
  1. Pulse warm lentils in a food processor or blender until chopped up or pureed (your choice).
  2. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.
  3. Taste, adding salt or pepper as desired, plus a splash of nondairy milk or a touch of salsa if the mixture looks dry.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories 137, Total Fat 1.1g, Carbohydrates 23.9g, Fiber 9g, Sugars 3.9g, Protein 9.9g

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Fit Links: A Destination Race To-Do List and Low-Calorie Comfort Food

Written on October 12, 2012 at 9:15 am , by

If you’re doing a race on the road, don’t forget to pack some comfy travel clothes for after the event! (Photo by Bert Meadows)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Fun, Fit, Fab: A Miami Getaway

Written on August 3, 2012 at 10:14 am , by

At Turnberry much of the cuisine is prepared with seasonally fresh ingredients from the hotel chef’s garden.

Written by Nichole D’Auria, Art Director

It wasn’t more than a week after I began craving a spa getaway that I was invited to spend five indulgent days at two of Miami’s best resorts. My itinerary, courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitor Bureau, included golf and tennis lessons, rock climbing, paddle boarding, a DJ dance class, breakfast with a nutritionist, a massage and shopping. And spa treatments, of course. What more could I ask for?

My journey began at the Turnberry Isle resort in Aventura, just north of Miami. Renowned for its world-class championship golf courses, which are good enough for Michael Jordan (yes, I actually spotted him there!), and tennis facilities, this luxe hotel boasts a three-story spa and fitness center. While you’re there, treat yourself to a magical reflexology foot massage. Request Pilar, who has over 15 years experience with the hotel. Believe me, after hours of pavement pounding (did I mention that South Florida’s leading shopping destination—Aventura Mall—with more than 300 stores is conveniently located across the street?), your feet will thank you.

Be sure to also sign up for the golf and tennis lessons. The ones I took were among the best I ever had, and I’ve taken a lot of golf lessons. Thanks to my instructor Gary Knapp, I’ve already knocked a few strokes off my game! Read more

Go on a Good-for-You Mini Getaway

Written on July 20, 2012 at 8:50 am , by

Are you escaping for the weekend? (Photo courtesy of Ford)

Half of all U.S. adults will take at least one weekend getaway this year, according to a Harris poll commissioned by Ford. Are you one of them? We’re definitely down for a quick roadtrip, but after all the planning, packing and driving, 48 hours can seem like seconds. We talked to Julie Morgenstern, an organizational pro and author, to get tips to make your weekend escape as smooth-sailing and relaxing as possible.

Here’s what you need to do before taking your car for a ride:

1. Always be prepared: Keep these things in your vehicle in case of emergencies:

  • Tools and a spare tire
  • Phone/iPod charger
  • Travel information (reservation documents, maps)
  • Change/dollar bills for parking and tolls
  • A small medical kit (band-aids, aspirin, Neosporin)

2. Snack smart: Bringing healthy snacks will help you save money and eat well on the go. A cooler or insulated bag will help keep fruit and vegetable slices fresh. Non-perishable foods like nuts and energy bars are also good for on-the-go eating.

3. Log on: Use programs like SYNC and MyFord Touch to input rest stop destinations — food, bathrooms, landmarks — into your navigation system. Ford’s innovative technology lets you  find hotels, restaurants, tourist destinations, visitor centers, with more than 14 million businesses in the directory.  “It’s best to plan to stop every one and a half hours to stretch and change scenery,” says Morgenstern.

Read on for simple yoga techniques you can do in your car to stay stress-free.

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Sportscaster Angela Sun Shares Her Fitness Favorites

Written on June 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm , by

Sun loves to hit the waves with her surfboard for a mental and physical workout - double win! (Photo courtesy of Angela Sun).

Written by Andie Surget, editorial intern

As host of the Yahoo! Sports Minute, co-host of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and an anchor for the Tennis Channel, Angela Sun has one full plate. Her fearless and adventurous attitude toward life motivates her to explore and travel all around the globe in exotic locations such as China, the Philippines, Australia and Guatemala, just to name a few. In fact, when we caught up with her, she had just returned from Fiji! Angela loves fitness and it’s clear that it’s about more than working out – it’s a way of life.

Keep reading for Sun’s essential workout gear picks and the fitness moves that keep her in shape for her on-the-go lifestyle!

When did your love for sports and fitness begin? How did you get involved in the entertainment industry?

Growing up I had always loved sports and fitness. It was a way of life. I always went to the beach and to the park. I loved playing volleyball, basketball and softball as a kid, and skateboarding and surfing in high school. I was surrounded by sports all my life.

I knew I always wanted to do something in the media. As an Asian American female, I did not have many female role models to look up to. So I decided that I wanted to see somebody who looked like me succeed in this industry. I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was 12. I always loved being in front of the camera. I love home videos on family vacation!

You’re currently producing a documentary. Can you tell us about it?

My documentary is a seven-year journey. The documentary is called “Plastic Paradise.” Through my love of the oceans (I surf, scuba dive, and snorkel), it is very important to me to keep the waters clean, and that’s what this is about. The plastic that we throw away, I had to know more about it so I can prevent it and inform people about the harmful effects it has on our environment. It will be released this year. To learn more, you can visit plasticparadisemovie.com

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Fit Links: Kitchen Must-Haves and How to Make Any Trip Healthier

Written on April 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm , by

A pantry full of healthy staples leads to fewer "what's for dinner?" panics. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Take a Breather With This Puerto Rican Yoga Retreat Deal

Written on April 11, 2012 at 11:07 am , by

Imagine relaxing here between classes! (Photo courtesy of St. Regis)

You drive up to the gas pump and feel like you’re charging your paycheck away—we get it! Money is tight, but with summer coming up, a feel-good getaway may be just what you need. Luckily, we found an amazing deal on a restorative yoga retreat that will leave your brain, body and bank account in fantastic shape.

The Bespoke Yoga Retreat, in partnership with Yada Yada Yoga, will be held June 15 to June 18 at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. Those who attend will be treated to delicious meals, morning and evening yoga classes overlooking the ocean and beach activities from kayaking to paddle boarding (and of course lounging).

For double occupancy, a stay at this luxury resort in a Garden View room during the retreat—with all of the extras above included—is only $357 per person per night. Score!

To book your space (a two night minimum is required), contact Angelica Lenox at (954) 624-1784 or at angelica.lenox@stregis.com.

More from FITNESS:

4 Charity Races On Our Bucket Lists

Written on March 6, 2012 at 10:50 am , by

Wacky costumes for a very worthy cause! Runners take on The Lemon Run course. (Photo courtesy of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation)

I’m currently in training mode for my first half-marathon and am enjoying the experience so much that I’m already looking ahead to find more events to keep me motivated all year long! Having upcoming races on the calendar gives you a goal to work toward. Plus, visualizing yourself crossing the finish line with a personal best will inspire you to lace up your shoes (or clip into your pedals, slip on some goggles, etc.) when you’re feeling less-than-inspired. Bonus points if you’re raising money for a good cause at the same time!

With that in mind, we found four unique events held across the U.S. that we can’t wait to try.

Four Courts Four Miler

  • When and where: March 10 in Arlington, Virginia
  • Why: It’s a little late notice, but if you’re free this Saturday, try to beat the leprechaun in this fun run! The man in green begins 10 minutes after the gun goes off and tries to pass as many walkers and joggers as he can on the way to the finish. Snag a prize if you beat him, but don’t feel bad if you see him run on by. For every person the leprechaun beats, one dollar is donated to a local police charity.

Urban Assault Ride

  • When and where: March 26 in Tucson, Arizona; April 1 in Charlotte, South Carolina; June 3 in St. Louis, Missouri; June 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota; June 24 in Austin, Texas; July 15 in Fort Collins, Texas; July 22 in Denver, Colorado; August 12 in Des Moines, Iowa; August 19 in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Why: Bored on your bike? Not during this race! Find a partner and tackle checkpoints around town, pedaling between each stop. Adding to the fun factor: There’s no set route or order to the checkpoints, so it’s up to you to pick what you believe is most efficient. Proceeds from each race benefits two or three charities in the host town.

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