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The Hybrid Workout We Can’t Stop Talking About: Snowga

Written on January 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm , by

Photo courtesy of Anne Anderson.

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Growing up in the south, I can safely say that I’ve hopped onto a pair of skis a mere three times in my life. I can also say that those three times started with a fair amount of trembling, anxiety and general fear that I would lose control and go flying off the mountainside. But if I had met Anne Anderson back then, I’m sure my skiing experiences would have turned out a little differently.

A yoga and snow sports enthusiast, Anderson began teaching yoga classes and ski lessons in 2000, and by 2008, she discovered the organic connection between the two practices. “It was magical; it worked beautifully,” she says. “The breath is the greatest tool we have to calm the mind and body.” Since coining the term “snowga” and successfully launching the hybrid class at Connecticut’s Mohawk Mountain in 2012, Anderson has watched the mindful practice help transform the way newcomers and veterans alike experience snow sports.

Each class is structured similarly to Kripalu yoga. “The mountain becomes the yoga studio; the slope becomes the yoga mat,” says Anderson. Beginning in a circle at the base of the mountain (no skis strapped on at this point), she begins class with a relaxation breath and centering mediation lesson to calm the minds of her students. After setting a positive intention for the day, the group warms up and moves through asanas to relieve tension and stretch the body (in other words, make sure you bring gloves). The actual ski lesson follows, incorporating a few yoga postures while clipped in, like Mountain, Eagle and Chair pose, which creates an experience similar to Vinyasa flow. “Everyone loves to ski with this natural rhythm,” says Anderson. “It’s like dancing on the snow and lots of fun!” The class ends off the skis with her teaching the importance of deep-relaxation pose Savasana, or the always-popular corpse pose. It may not be conventional, but we wouldn’t be opposed to tossing in a few snow angels at the end. After all, you are already in position.

The one question on our minds: why hasn’t someone thought of this before? “Students told me that practicing snowga helped them break through to a new level of skiing, and they experienced a new sense of serenity and connection… they could relax and enjoy skiing,” she says. So basically, we’re sold.

Although classes aren’t offered across the nation yet, there’s no reason you can’t give it a go on your own. “Take time to warm-up and get centered before heading off to the chair lift. Notice the surroundings; get in touch with your breath, your body and all of the senses,” she says. “While on the mountain, think flow instead of force. Keep calm through conscious breathing,” and if you need to take a few minutes for yourself, go for it.

More from FITNESS:

Yoga Your Own Way

Postcard from the Edge: How Skiing Taught Me to Take More Risks

Winter Workout: Strengthening Moves for Skiing, Snowboarding, and Ice Skating

Inspirational or Insulting? Fit Mom Maria Kang’s Controversial Facebook Photo

Written on October 22, 2013 at 11:46 am , by

Not going to lie, we’re pretty envious of those abs! Photo Credit: Facebook/Maria Kang

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Maria Kang, a California fitness enthusiast and mother of three little boys, learned this lesson the hard way with the social mediascape’s recent outpour of commentary revolving around her Facebook profile picture.

The former pageant queen and fitness model originally posted the photo last year but decided to reintroduce it as her profile picture once she realized it was receiving so much attention. The photo was taken a mere eight months after her third son was born, and we have to admit—she looks pretty phenomenal. The image itself is pretty harmless, depicting Kang and her sculpted abs alongside her three children. However, the words plastered across the top of it, “What’s your excuse?” did not sit well with a quite a few viewers.

While some liked it and felt motivated to stick to their fitness goals, others felt outraged and accused Kang of bullying, fat-shaming women and choosing to focus more on herself than her three children. On September 25, she posted a non-apology for people who interpreted the image in a negative way and explained how blaming her for others’ perceptions does not accomplish anything.

While Kang tried to call on ladies everywhere to make fitness a priority in their lives, her phrasing and photo choice created two polarized reactions—inspired or offended—rather than uniting women with the important message. She considered herself an average woman, but the problem is that she is far from average as she comes from such a competitive fitness background. She tried to provide a relatable image to inspire women, but she opted for a professionally shot photograph of her posed in skimpy workout apparel rather than a real-life, fit candid like this. She chose to ask a provoking question, “What’s your excuse?” rather than share a motivational mantra like, “You can do it, too.” With a different turn of phrase and more realistic image, Kang could have come across far more real, genuine and positive. What do you think?

Now you tell us: Do you find the image more motivating or offensive?

Get Tailgate Ready with Celeb Trainer Mike Ryan

Written on September 13, 2013 at 10:15 am , by

Don’t be sidelined with tailgate aches and pains. Mike Ryan’s four strengtheners will have you cheering like a healthy champ. (Photo courtesy of Karen Pearson)

Written by Gabriella Rello, editorial intern

With football season finally here, we can’t help but be pumped for tailgates. Can you blame us? Although we love to cheer on cute guys in tight pants, pre-game fun with our pals is what makes football season worth waiting for. Throw in some good food and drinks and we’re counting down the days until the next kickoff! As we gear up for fan festivities, it’s clear game day prep isn’t just for our favorite teams. While the stands aren’t quite as dangerous as the field, common activities like loading up coolers and sprinting to seats leave fans with fears of being sidelined. Gold’s Gym and celebrity trainer Mike Ryan teamed up, giving us four moves to tackle pre-game injuries.

Prevent Pre-Game Back Strain: Standing Arm and Preacher Curls

Cooler-carrying duties can take a toll on your back, so pump up your arm routine to relieve some of that pressure. Add three sets of seated dumbbell tricep extensions, suggests Ryan, for 12 reps. After each set, jump into a superset of 15-18 reps or seated dumbbell curls, using a weight that’s lighter than your extensions, but still challenging.

Tackle Forearm Flipping Fatigue: Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curls

Grilling seems like an easy tailgate task until the forearm ache sets in. Prep your wrists for endless burger and hot dog flipping with dumbbell reverse wrist curls. With an overhand grip on the dumbbell, lean forward resting your forearm at a 90-degree angle on a bench. Then lower the weight down and bring it back up, flexing your wrist throughout the process. At least three sets of 12-15 reps on each side will keep you in chef shape, says Ryan.

Avoid Second Hamstring Pulls: Lying Leg Curls

Top-notch football tickets are hard to come by. Do your wallet and legs a favor by opting for the nosebleed section. While climbing endless stairs may leave your muscles in need of a “Hail Mary,” pre-game hammy strengtheners like lying leg curls will make it a possible feat. Adding four sets of 12 reps will build muscles ready to scale the stadium.

Skip Stadium Sprint Splints: Straight Knee Calf Wall Stretch

Whether you’re late for kick-off or trying to beat the post-game parking lot rush, running at full speed can lead to painful shin splints. To avoid an embarrassing injury, Ryan suggests setting aside 5-10 minutes a few times a week to stretch out your calves with straight knee calf wall stretch. Aim for three or four sets, holding for 15-30 seconds per side.

 More from FITNESS:

How to Pick the Perfect Personal Trainer

Written on September 10, 2013 at 10:12 am , by

Maybe it’s the slew of emails and pitches editors get a day, but lately it seems like everyone is an expert at something. That’s far from the case, says Paul Juris, ED. D., executive director of the Cybex Research Institute. Even if the person is certified, there are some critical checkpoints you should look out for when choosing a trainer for your own fitness goals. See what he has to say below.

Oh, and did we mention that Juris used to be the strength coach for the Dallas Mavericks? If there is anyone who knows a thing or two about using personal training to reach your goals, it’s him!

More from FITNESS: What’s Your Fitness Motivation?

Flowchart: Should You Work Out Today?

Written on August 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm , by

Should You Work Out Today Flowchart

Sit and Sweat: TechnoGym’s New Wellness Ball

Written on June 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm , by

Editors planking on the Wellness Ball. Hello, sore abs!

One of the many perks of working here at FITNESS is the ability to test out new workouts and routines often. And while as a staff we work up a sweat quite a bit, we have our fair share of standard 9-to-5 days too, which of course means sitting all day long. But now thanks to the new TechnoGym Wellness Ball, anyone can get a workout at their desk by using it for what trainer Josh Holland calls, “active sitting.” The ball is composed of two different densities, so that bottom half is heavier than the top half (so no rogue ball rolling down the hall!). It also comes with a QR code on the handle, which gives you the ability to scan with your smartphone to grab additional exercises.

To correct your posture, strengthen your core and improve your flexibility on those days when you can’t make it to yoga or even a quick lunchtime walk, sneak into a conference room and try a few of these moves below using the Wellness Ball.

First, start with a stretch. Wrap your arms as far around the ball as you can then do the inverse, lie with your back on the ball and roll it slightly to elongate your back and open up your chest and shoulders.

Plank and Pike (Core): Start with a plank, forearms on the ball and feet on the floor (for additional support put the ball against a wall). Hold for 10 seconds and go into a Pike and Level–from plank position pop your butt into the air, then back down to level for 10 reps.

Chair and Squats (Legs): Place the ball between you and a wall at waist height with your back to the ball. Squat into a seated position for 10 seconds and hold. Next, squat up and down, rolling the ball against the wall with your back from the seated position for 10 reps. End back in Chair position and lift one knee at a time for 10 reps.

Even if you can’t bust out a squat in the middle of your busy day, just sitting on the ball gives you a slow and steady burn if sitting correctly. Holland says to make sure you are always engaging your core. To give yourself a quick self-check, place your hands behind your back and lengthen the chest to straighten out your posture.

For more information on the TechnoGym Wellness Ball, visit technogym.com.

Win An Autographed Ball From Beach Volleyball Pro Kerri Walsh Jennings!

Written on June 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm , by

Pro Walsh Jennings busts her butt for that killer physique. (Photo courtesy of AVP)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

Olympic beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings is no stranger to pressure, but this time the mom-of-three is putting the heat on herself: “My post-pregnancy body needs a lot of work right now. I’m just starting to rebuild my foundation.” Walsh Jennings, who is gearing up for the seven-city AVP (Association of Volleyball Professional) Tour, stopped by the FITNESS office to chat with our uber-excited editors about pregnancy, Pilates and the secrets to her fit physique (spoiler: a ton of hard work). Bonus: YOU could win an autographed ball from the superstar herself!

You welcomed your third child, Scout Margery, to the world just two months ago. Other than a lack of time, how has motherhood changed your exercise routine?

It’s made me more focused, for sure. I used to have plenty of time during the day to take care of myself and get my workouts in, but now it’s get in, get done, get out. When I was pregnant, I stayed really fit so that I could hit the ground running, especially with the AVP Tour coming back this summer. It’s a big objective of mine to come back and kick everyone’s butt, so I needed to start pretty fit. I’m building a strength foundation, trying to stay really flexible, and then working to get my agility back. It’s very humbling every day—but really fun, too!

So what were your workouts like during pregnancy? How’d you  stay in such great shape?

I played volleyball, lifted three times a week, did Pilates twice a week, and then did other random workouts. I’m really lucky in that I can mix up my workouts a lot, and I have really nice trainers who help me think outside the box. I keep my body guessing—I think that’s huge.

That’s definitely a lot! Anything in particular you love to boost your flexibility?

I do Pilates twice a week. I’m a firm believer in it—I think everyone in the world should be doing Pilates, especially people who are pregnant or post-partum. It’s a beautiful way to get your core back and your body awareness back. Flexibility is a function of strength, and I need to be flexible on the court, so that’s a huge priority. You need to tackle every base.

Which moves do you swear by for toning your tummy, especially post-pregnancy?

Everything Pilates! It’s all about the deeper ab muscles. I work on the big Plyo Ball a lot. I’m also really into windshield wipers. I think that anything with twists is really good, not only for your spine and your obliques, but for your entire abdominal structure.

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Brett Hoebel From ‘The Biggest Loser’ Now Teaching at Flywheel – And We Got His First Playlist!

Written on June 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm , by

Ever dream about hanging with a celebrity trainer every week while you get your sweat on? Now you can – just head to Flywheel Sports and look for Brett Hoebel on the schedule (you watched – in awe, we’re sure – his capoeira skills on season 11 of The Biggest Loser). He’ll be teaching at their Los Angeles studios, and making guest appearances in New York City. We scored seats in his debut ride at Flywheel’s Flatiron studio, and couldn’t stop raving about his crazy beats on our walk back to the office. But you know we’re not the type of girls to keep those tunes all to ourselves, so of course we nabbed the playlist before we left. Now get on a bike, blast each song and prepare for a serious dose of sweat.

Get Running with Kara Goucher’s Ultimate Playlist

Written on June 5, 2013 at 10:46 am , by

 

Blasting Goucher’s favorite tunes = an automatic PR, right? (Photo courtesy of Victah Sailor/Competitor Group)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

From cardio to cool-down, a good music playlist can work like magic on your motivation (we’ve pushed out more than a few extra reps to JT’s new album!). And today, in honor of National Running Day, Olympian marathoner Kara Goucher has teamed up with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series to share her top tracks that keep her running strong and speedy.

We took a listen and can guarantee you’ll want to get moving once the first track begins (at least, that’s what happened to us). Lucky for you, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is offering a whopping discount – $20 off any of their races in the country, so you can put your pumped-up motivation to good use (Assistant Web Editor Samantha Shelton is tackling Philadelphia and Vegas later this year – join her?). Visit Rock ‘n’ Roll today to sign up for a run, and check out Kara’s ultimate playlist below. We’ll be here, celebrating the day Goucher-style.

Happy running!

More from FITNESS:

15 Best Marathons

Music Monday: Marathon Training Playlist

“Why I Run”

 

Yoga on the Go: Practice Anytime, Anywhere with Yogify

Written on March 27, 2013 at 10:00 am , by

Stretch those muscles anywhere. (Photo courtesy of EA Sports)

Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern

Wouldn’t you love to have access to a studio-quality yoga class whenever the desire to practice strikes? A calming atmosphere and knowledgeable instructor make for a restorative flow that keeps yogis coming back for more. So if you can’t get your om fix live, we recommend checking out Yogify, a new app from EA Sports.

Studio yoga flows promise different sequences every time you unroll your mat, and Yogify offers more than 30 hours of practice across 50 progressively challenging classes. The app can be downloaded for free and contains five complimentary classes. Think of it this way: once you master sun salutations, then you can try warrior poses. And thanks to audio cues and photos, you’ll have no trouble applying the basics to a beginner flow class. For intermediate and advanced yogis, there are three levels of classes available, so there’s no reason why you can’t up the ante when you feel mat time might be getting mundane.

After you’ve used the five complimentary classes, the app offers pay-to-download programs that focus on building strength, balance and flexibility.  Like its free classes, these workouts span three levels and help you perfect certain poses and engage specific body parts. We bet workouts like “Superman Abs, “Teddy Bear to Tripod,” and “Inversion Excursion” will fire up your muscles and keep your practice fresh.

For more information, visit the Yogify website.

Right now, Yogify is only available on iOS. For you Android lovers, we recommend checking out yogatoday.com – the website posts one free yoga class per week, and you can get an unlimited access for $9.99/month. Keep calm and om on, friends.

Now you tell us: What’s your favorite fitness app?