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Extra’s Maria Menounos Talks Food and Fitness

Written on August 15, 2012 at 9:30 am , by

Maria laces up to fit in some healthy doses of sweat! (Photo courtesy of Reebok)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Maria Menounos is always challenging herself in new ways. She danced her way through painful injuries on season 14 of Dancing with the Stars, and runs her own charity, Take Action Hollywood!, which raises awareness for causes like diabetes and AIDS. If that isn’t enough, she often travels from L.A. to New York for her role as host on popular entertainment show EXTRA!, and produces AfterBuzz TV, a network devoted to giving “post-game” wrap-ups of the most popular shows.

Now, as a longtime fan of Crocs, she helped them celebrate their 10-year anniversary by ringing the opening bell for NASDAQ on July 31. We caught up with her right before to find out how she stays fit and keeps her energy up through the long work hours.

How did you get involved with Crocs?

I’ve been a fan for a while. I’m actually sporting the Carlisa style right now and got a ton of compliments! I like them a lot because they’re comfy and cute, and I can fit in my orthotics.

Tell me about your injuries on Dancing with the Stars.

I had multiple stress fractures in my feet. I was looking back at a video of our doble paso, and though I remember being in so much pain, I’m not showing it. I never complained! I just kept doing it. I was kind of impressed with myself, I have to say! Now I’m just trying to heal from the show.

What was your favorite part about competing?

It didn’t feel like a competition. I was having way too much fun to compete with anybody. We set the tone by being friendly and helping each other. I made so many good friends, like instructors Derek Hough and Peta Murgatroyd. We all still keep in touch.

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London 2012 Olympics: Meet The Trainer of Our Summer Games Workout!

Written on August 2, 2012 at 10:19 am , by

Puma Trainer, Angela Parker, founder of Body Inspired Fitness in LA! (Photo courtesy of Body Inspired Fitness)

Can’t be at the games this year (okay, perhaps some of us won’t ever get there!), but go for the gold in your own backyard with our hardcore Summer Games circuit workout featured in our July/August 2012 issue! I met trainer, Angela Parker, founder of Body Inspired Fitness in Los Angeles, while we were in Miami for Puma’s BodyTrain girl’s getaway weekend. During Angela’s workout, her upbeat personality and can-do attitude was enough to make me do my best to impress, and her bootcamp training style meant I was being told to work harder every single step of the way. I knew this lady would be loved by you guys, even if you can’t experience her one-on-one like I did. Her backyard bootcamp, created exclusively for FITNESS readers, has you competing against yourself (or the clock) to eke out more reps. Meet the trainer behind this kick-butt routine:

What was the most surprising thing you learned about your training style from watching yourself on Chelsea Settles?

What was surprising is that it captured the emotion and the connection that comes from working so closely with someone over such a long period of time. How you saw me on TV is exactly how I am in real life. I am passionate, I am focused, and I don’t let anything get in the way of others’ success. I am learning how to not want it more than my clients want it.

What’s your favorite workout outfit? Head to toe:
I’m an ambassador for Puma so I’m a big fan of their workout gear. Of course I love my new Puma BodyTrain Slim Capris, especially the gray ones with blue and green stripes. I like how they give me an extra super flat tummy. I love pairing it with an oversized puma tank like this one. I love the cheap sports bras from Target. I always wear colored socks, which is a great way to add flash to a boring workout ensemble. Anytime I workout outside I am always wearing a visor. There is nothing sexy about wrinkles or skin cancer. And my favorite funky workout accessories are crazy nail polish and colored leather bands around my workout watch.

Favorite pre- and post-workout snacks?

My favorite pre-workout snack is Paleta’s 100 calorie bar. A great post workout snack I enjoy is my banana coconut smoothie. 1 cup coconut milk, 1 banana, 3/4 cups frozen pineapple, 1 tbsp almond butter. It’s cold, it’s refreshing, it’s hydrating and it’s the perfect snack to replenish and refuel me!

What’s the one or two best nutrition tips you tell your clients?

Don’t deprive yourself. Load up on veggies. Drink lots of water. Read more

Chelsea Piers Takes Its Success to Connecticut

Written on July 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm , by

The new sports complex has an array of activities, some taught by former Olympians! Go big or go home, right? (Photo courtesy of CPCT)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

One of the very cool parts of working at FITNESS is the ability to try out a lot of up and coming fitness classes. With that said, we were more than stoked when we were granted a sneak peek at the brand new Chelsea Piers complex in Stamford, Connecticut (open now)! As one of the largest exercise and training centers on the east coast, we felt like we died and went to fitness heaven!

Drawing on the success of the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex in Manhattan, developers wanted the space in Connecticut to take sports training to the next level. With an Olympic-sized pool, seven tennis courts, two NHL-regulation ice rinks and huge turf fields for soccer, lacrosse and football – it’s easy to see that they accomplished their goal!

If you visit the center, get your tennis game in competition shape with private lessons, or pick up a new sport like lacrosse or squash, taught by a former pro. If your daughter loves to play on the monkey bars, let her explore on the balance beam, vault and uneven bars at the gym’s state-of-the-art gymnastics center. Or maybe you want to brush up on your field hockey skills? Let the experts at the complex show you how to kick it up a notch. Each floor of the multilevel facility is jam-packed with fun stuff for the whole family to do. Plus, Chelsea Piers Connecticut has hired former Olympians, like two-time tennis gold-medalist Gigi Fernandez, and professional athletes to head up the programs! Talk about star treatment.

So if you happen to live in or near the Tri-State area, check out all that Chelsea Piers Connecticut has to offer. Their mission is to have each member be able to “relax, play, learn and compete,” so it shouldn’t be hard to find what you’re looking for!

Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Gyms Be Allowed to Ban Skinny People?

Written on June 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm , by

Should gyms be allowed to ban fit people? (Photo by Jay Sullivan)

We’ve heard about the latest trends in the fitness world: bachelorette workout parties, obstacle mud runs and CrossFit, among others. But a new craze has popped up and we’re not quite sure how to feel about it: skinny people being banned from certain gyms.

Yes, you heard that right. More gyms are catering to plus-sized people and screening applicants before allowing entry. When do you get turned away? If your weight or BMI doesn’t qualify as “plus-sized.”

On one hand, this tactic makes sense because it creates a safe space for heavier people to work out without being worried about the super-fit person next to them judging their every move. Let’s admit it: many turn treadmill running into a competition with the person next to them. Some call that motivation, but others might feel like the constant sideways glances are discouraging.

But on the other hand, is this fair to those who have worked hard to maintain their fitness? Should they feel the sting of rejection from an establishment just because they’re already at a healthy body weight and want to work to stay that way? We think banning them from the gym may be a little harsh, and a happy medium may be reached if it’s instead marketed in a way that makes it clear that the fitness center caters toward those who struggle with their weight.

Finally, it begs the question of what happens to those who sign up for the gym membership initially overweight, but then drop the weight (hooray!). Do they lose their membership? This, again, may be unfair because a gym environment can foster relationships and friendships between members, and ripping them away from that after reaching a successful milestone may put their journey in jeopardy.

Now tell us: What do you think? Should gyms be allowed to ban skinny people?

Fit Blogger We Love: Run To The Finish

Written on June 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm , by

Amanda laces up her sneaks often, but isn't afraid to branch out!

Amanda from Run To The Finish sure loves pounding the pavement, but we dig her passion for all things athletic. Although running is her true fitness passion, her experiences with yoga, kickboxing and stand up paddle boarding prove that she’s willing to share the love! To return the favor, we found out which sport she’d be aiming for gold in if she hopped over to London, and what running gear she simply can’t live without.

I’m happiest when I’m: In the middle of a long run, having found a rhythm that allows me to simply move while sorting through my thoughts and visualizing an amazing future.

My motivation comes from: A sense of pride that I feel each time I accomplish a new speed, distance or workout. It’s a reminder that in life I can do more if I move past my perceived limitations.

My gym bag must-have: Oakley sunglasses. I didn’t realize how much energy I was wasting squinting during every run here in Miami, and they’ve stopped my headaches!

Olympic sport I’d love to try: Beach volleyball! If I could have picked a sport to do for a job it would have been this. I love being outdoors and these women are serious athletes.

My fave fit snack: Dessert hummus has become my go-to because I love sweets, but need protein. Here’s how I make it:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 of a banana
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots (sometimes I swap for zucchini!)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 dropper vanilla stevia

Blend the above ingredients in a food processor and then stir in some fruit! I love cherries, blueberries, peaches or whatever else is in season.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com

Scents to Spice Up Your Workout

Written on February 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by

Certain fragrances can encourage you to slide into yoga poses like downward dog. (Photo courtesy of Chris Fanning)

We all know music can pump you up for a workout, but what about smells? Even though it’s one of the most important of the five senses, it’s often forgotten, says Michael Papas, Executive Perfumer at Givaudan Fragrances and creator of more than 100 scents. “Fragrance plays a huge role in the way one wants to feel,” he says. “Different smells can motivate, relax or help reboot to put you in a frame of mind that will make you want to do something healthy, like working out.”

If you’re taking exercise outside, try working out without music and focus on taking in the smells around you, like blooming flowers or freshly fallen snow, Papas suggests. If you’re gearing up for some indoor sweat, try setting these scents throughout your office or house to set you up for a day filled with happy sweating.

Yoga

Aroma is a very important aspect of yoga practice, so it’s key to tap into the part of your brain that relaxes you and relieves tension that may have built up from a stressful day, Papas says. Some scents that will having you gliding into downward dog include:

  • Lavender
  • Ginger
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Sandalwood
  • Sage
  • Juniper
  • Rosemary

Try Glade Expressions Lavender and Juniper Berry for a comforting, tension-relieving effect or Glade’s Cashmere Woods for a more warm and aromatic infusion into your om-session.

Cardio

Fruity, citrus scents help wake you up and give the senses a shot of energy to power up for an intense Spinning class or running workout. For a very invigorating effect, reach for candles, incense sticks or other items with these notes:

  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Tangerine
  • Grapefruit
  • Melon
  • Pear

Citrus scents help boost you into a workout state of mind. (Photo courtesy of SC Johnson)

We’re fans of the Glade Expressions Pineapple Mangosteen to put us in a sweat-tastic state of mind.

Strength Training

When it’s time to lift weights, energy-boosting scents are your best bet to get the juices flowing. Try these vibrant notes to give you a fresh experience with scents of power, says Papas:

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Peppermint

Give Glade’s Peppermint Crush a try, or snack on an orange pre-workout.

More from FITNESS:

 QUIZ: Find Scents to Satisfy Your Soul

Scent-Sational: 8 Fresh, Portable Fragrances

Scents & Sensibility: Fragrances to Match Your Personality

Life as a Stuntwoman: A Sneak Peek into Luci Romberg’s Fit Career

Written on November 22, 2011 at 10:08 am , by

Photo courtesy of Levine Communications.

(Photo courtesy of Levine Communications)

Whenever the latest blockbuster hits theaters, we rush to our seats to watch stars pounce from vehicle to vehicle, race through a collapsing building or barrel under a semi-truck. With all this action, we often forget that someone other than the superstar is actually performing these stunts. Sometimes celebs, like Tom Cruise, are fit enough to do their own moves, but most often a professional is called in for the job. Enter Luci “Steel” Romberg, a professional stuntwoman and freerunner, who has been in top films like Green Lantern, Zombieland and Terminator. We caught up with the super-fit daredevil to find out how you get into a less-than-mainstream career and what keeps her always coming back for more.

Most people don’t think of “stuntwoman” when plotting out future careers. What made you pursue this path? 

I was a gymnast all through college, and a national champion my senior year at Texas Woman’s University. I was a kinesiology major, but there just wasn’t really anything else I wanted to do. I could have been a professor, a physical therapist, a coach or a handful of other things with my degree, but none of them appealed to me. One day one of my teammates came back from acting in L.A., and she just convinced me to give it a shot. When I first got there, I had no idea what being a stuntwoman actually entailed. I was just so pumped on the idea of it that I knew I had to at least give it a try. I’ve been lucky enough to stick around.

What’s a typical day like when you’re hired for a film?

There is no typical day. Sometimes it’s really exciting and you’re working right away, doing anything from falling down a flight of stairs to rolling under a semi-truck, and other days you spend the day waiting around to see if they’re going to get to your segments. It’s definitely exciting though, I love that I don’t know what to expect when I go into work.

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We Have a Situation: The Jersey Shore Workout

Written on August 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm , by

Get a beach-ready body. (Photo courtesy of MTV)

Starting tonight, the drama is headed to Italy for season four, along with the GTL-toned bodies (that’s gym, tan, laundry, the daily routine of the Jersey Shore stars, for those who aren’t fans)! Earlier this week, New York Sports Club (NYSC) gave us a sneak peek at their new “Jersey Floor” class, which aims to help you strengthen your lower half to feel confident strolling on the boardwalk in skimpy shorts like “J-Woww.”

“We think fast, talk fast and move fast—hence the high-energy, high-intensity workout,” says class developer, Raed Jarrar, who is a master trainer and group exercise instructor for NYSC. The circuit-style workout—which alternated between strength moves like lunges and deadlifts and cardio bursts including squat thrusts and high knees—certainly had us sweating!

Just in time for the Shore premiere, you too can try the Jersey Floor class at the Marlboro, New Jersey NYSC location on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. or Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. Or steal this must-do move straight from Jarrar.

Jenkinson Jump Squat (named after a popular Jersey Shore night club)

  • With feet shoulder-width apart, lower into squat position, sinking butt behind you as you bend your knees.
  • As knees near 90 degrees, explode upwards and jump, letting feet leave the floor.
  • Land as softly as possible, letting muscles absorb the impact as you lower back into squat position. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Make it harder: Carefully jump up forward onto a stair or step bench while performing the move, then jump back to the floor, landing softly back in squat position.

Now tell us: What TV show-inspired workout would you like to see next?

Xtreme Eating: Burn Off the Calories From the Country’s Most Indulgent Eats

Written on July 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm , by

You'll be skipping for a while if you want to burn off all of the calories. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Today, the Center for the Science in the Public Interest released their annual “Xtreme Eating Awards.” Unlike the Oscars or Grammys, the recipients generally aren’t too pleased about being selected—these awards highlight the nation’s chain restaurant orders that are worst for heart health and obesity.

While the a restaurant treat on your birthday won’t ruin your get-fit goals, indulging in one of these dishes on a regular basis can do some diet damage. So since we are FITNESS, after all, we calculated how much exercise you’d need to rack up to burn off the calories from the items on the Xtreme Eating list:

  • 118 minutes of kickboxing= Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt (1,260 calories, 21 g saturated fat, 3,010 mg sodium)
  • 143 minutes of running at 6 MPH = The Cheesecake Factory Factory Farmhouse Cheeseburger (1,530 calories, 36 g saturated fat, 3,210 mg sodium)
  • 164 minutes of vigorous spinning = Cold Stone Creamery PB & C Shake (2,010 calories, 68 g saturated fat, 880 mg sodium)
  • 142 minutes of jumping rope = Applebee’s Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine (1,520 calories, 43 g saturated fat, 3,700 mg sodium)
  • 205 minutes of lap swimming = The Cheesecake Factory Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake (1,540 calories, 59 g saturated fat)
  • 156 minutes on the stairclimber = Great Steak King Fries (1,500 calories, 33 g saturated fat, 4,980 mg sodium)
  • 146 minutes of singles tennis = IHOP Monster Bacon ‘N Beef Cheeseburger (1,250 calories, 42 g saturated fat, 1,590 mg sodium)
  • 185 minutes soccer = Morton’s Porterhouse Steak (1,390 calories, 36 g saturated fat, 1,200 mg sodium)

*Calories burned based on a 140-pound woman

If you want to find out how many calories your workouts burn, check out our handy (and free) interactive tool!

Note: We don’t believe that you need to or should burn off every calorie that you eat. These estimates are shared just for comparison purposes.

Now tell us: Would you be willing to exercise for two to three hours (or more) to balance out one of these “Xtreme” meals?

Quidditch: Harry Potter and the Wizardly Workout

Written on July 15, 2011 at 9:04 am , by

Written by Theresa K. Brady, editorial intern

(Photo by Jocelyn Bowman)

Don't get caught by the Seeker! (Photo by Jocelyn Bowman)

Being a fitness fan, of course, one of the things that always intrigued me about Harry Potter was the sport Quidditch. The game once reserved for students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (for all you non-Harry Potter fans, this is the school that Harry and his pals attend) has made its way to the muggle (translation: non-magical) world. In fact, it’s quite the trend: More than 2,000 athletes will participate in this year’s Quidditch World Cup, taking place in New York City on November 12 and 13.

The Northeast appears to be the hot spot for what the International Quidditch Association (IQA) claims is “the fastest-growing sport in the United States.” According to the IQA, the most registered teams hail from New York (39), Masschusetts (22) and Pennsylvania (20). But “28 states and counting” have Quidditch teams, many of which are connected to colleges.

Each team consists of seven players: one Keeper, one Seeker, two Beaters and three Chasers; of course, there is also a Snitch who is a neutral player. With feet firmly on the ground, as opposed to the high-flying version they play at Hogwarts, Quidditch becomes a combination of rugby, dodge ball and flag football.

We spoke with Troy Stanford and Winter Schwaid-Lindner of the IQA to find out how to get fit for each position.

  • Chasers: pass and score.
  • How to train: Chasers are comparable to soccer players. The position involves plenty of running, but is also very physical, so muscular legs and a strong back and core are essential. “Chasers should swim to help build core and back muscles. Cycling is also a great Chaser exercise to help build leg muscle,” Stanford says.
  • Keepers: block goals into the three goal hoops from the opposing teams chasers.
  • How to train: “If you are a Keeper I would suggest weight training and core exercises,” Stanford explains. “Keepers tend to have more of a muscular build and are similar to wrestlers or lacrosse players.”
  • Beaters: protect teammates from objects thrown by the opposing team that are meant to knock them off course; throw these objects at the other team.
  • How to train: “Beaters are one of the least physical positions of the game, but they should mix Keeper and Chaser training for the best results,” Stanford says. Powerful arm muscles are imperative for this position because it requires accurate aim. “The Beaters have bludgers (slightly deflated dodgeballs), and they throw them at other players to get them out,” Schwaid-Lindner adds.
  • Snitches: avoid capture by either team.
  • How to train: The Snitch position requires the widest range of training. According to Schwaid-Lindner, the snitch is “ideally an attention seeking cross country runner with some background in wrestling and gymnastics.” Not sure how to train for that? Try some cardio-kickboxing, Tai Chi or even capoeira classes.
  • Seekers: try to catch the snitch.
  • How to train: “Seekers should run as much as possible since their only job is to find, chase, and catch the Snitch,” Stanford says. He also recommends a combination of swimming and weight training to help with the capture of the Snitch, who does whatever she can to avoid being caught.

For more information on the rules of Quidditch and how to get involved, visit the International Quidditch Association website!

Now tell us: What character from Harry Potter would you most like to join you during your next workout?