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Fit Links: Competitive Yoga and America’s Healthiest States

Written on March 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm , by

This week’s fit links from around the web:

OK, we forfeit. (Photo by Jody Kivort)

Yogis Unite to Help Somaly Mam Foundation

Written on January 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm , by

Taking a yoga class this month will benefit a lot more than your health. (Photo courtesy of Yoga Freedom Project)

If one of your fitness resolutions is to take up yoga this year, we’ve got the perfect opportunity for you to stick to it and do something good in the process. This month Off the Mat NYC is partnering up with Somaly Mam Foundation to create the Yoga Freedom Project, a global initiative to raise awareness and funding against sex trafficking.

By joining the Yoga Freedom Project, you’ll get connected to a global community of studio owners that will allow you to collect donations for the Somaly Mam Foundation throughout the month. To start collecting, you can either host a donation-based class, sell copies of Somaly Mam, founder of the Somaly Mam Foundation and survivor of sex slavery’s book Road to Lost Innocence, sell jewelry made by survivors of trafficking in Cambodia, or set up a donation box at one of the Yoga Freedom Project’s studios during a class.

On Tuesday,  Jan. 31 the project will end with a sun salutation event in NYC featuring Elena Brower, Dana Flynn, Cyndi Lee, Jodie Rufty, Alan Finger, Sri Dharma Mittra, Sierra Bender, Tricia Donegan and Suzanne Sterling. Buy tickets here to attend and help the fight against modern-day slavery.

For more information on the Yoga Freedom Project, and a list of studios involved visit offthematnyc.com.

More from FITNESS: Yoga Tunes to Move You

Yoga Tunes to Move You

Written on January 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm , by

Pure Yoga instructor Loren Bassett. (Photo courtesy of Pure Yoga)

I scored a seat in Pure Yoga‘s coveted Loren Bassett Hot Yoga class last night and left with not only a relaxing mind and body, but also this awesome playlist. I’ve done lots of hot yoga over the years, but nothing like Loren’s class. The studio was fully dark and these tunes filled the empty spaces as you made your way through flows and inversions. I loved everything about it and although I couldn’t master the handstand (OK, I was too scared to even try), this class is a must-do on my growing yoga class list!

Match your yoga poses with this playlist from Loren—who’s been teaching hot yoga for more than 10 years—and get in the mood to move.

Be a Better Yogi

Written on January 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm , by

I’m really trying to hold on to my New Year’s resolution as long as I can—they say people tend to fall off the wagon by the time February hits. But my goal of attending two to three yoga classes a week is manageable, especially since here in the FITNESS office, we’re lucky enough to have a yoga instructor come in at lunchtime two days a week! There’s really no excuse I can’t accomplish this goal, and after seeing this ridiculously cool and inspiring video, “The Contortionist,” from West Hollywood Equinox instructor, Briohny Smith, I’m even more motivated to perfect my yogi-ism far into 2012.


Briohny—Bri for short—was introduced to yoga while on a trip to Thailand in 1999. She found yoga to be the cure to getting more “me” time and adding some much-needed serenity to her busy life. Upon exploring different varieties of Hatha yoga over the past 14 years, Bri fell for the arm balances and inversions you see her mastering in this video. As a yoga teacher, she helps her students bridge the gap between their mind and body, as well as helping them strengthen their muscles, while safely edging them closer to the positions she so beautifully aces. Even if I never reach the level that Bri does with such ease, I’m in awe of what she can make her body do and I’m keeping this video in mind as I hope to lengthen and strengthen my body this winter!

[Check out Equinox's innovative new blog, Q by Equinox, for cool things happening at Equinox locations and fun celebrity and athlete Q&A's...plus much more!]

Looking to be a better yogi this year too? Keep reading for two of Bri’s favorite beginner moves!

Read more

An Affordable, Accessible, and Awesome Getaway Destination

Written on December 22, 2011 at 8:30 am , by

My Christmas cards finally went out, complete with a list of 11 things I learned in 2011. Among the lessons? “Sometimes you have to peel shrimp before you eat them. —Dewey Destin’s, Emerald Coast, Florida”

(I also learned Yoloboarding in Florida, but I wanted to keep my destinations diversified!)

My point: As the year wraps up, we can’t help but think about the memories we made in the past twelve months and the trips we took. Our Fit Stop readers have heard about staff adventures like Karla’s in Colorado  and Marla’s in Mexico, and I’m going to throw another log on the inspiration fire: When you’re thinking about your affordable options in 2012 and looking to get a little sand in your soul and in between your toes, I’d head toward the “Emerald Coast” (Destin area) in Florida. Because I like lists, here’s why:

*The sand is like perfect, white flour and the water is a pretty, jewel-green. It doesn’t feel like other American beaches. My sun salutations were extra peaceful!
christie griffin warrior 1 sun salutation at inn at crystal beach on emerald coast in florida

*It’s where YOLO/paddle boarding really took off! You can rent a board for $20 from lifeguards and don’t need any special lessons. I scored mine right outside  the Inn at Crystal Beach, which is where I was lucky enough to stay.christie griffin paddleboarding on yolo board in destin, florida

*Locals call it the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and just look!christie griffin and red snapper catch deep sea fishing

*There are a lot of family-friendly things to do, like parasailing, jet-skiing, the “Gulfarium” (sooo fun!), dolphin watching, and more!
women interacting with dolphin at Gulfarium in Emerald Coast Florida

*There are grown-up things to do, too: golfing, wine and cheese cruises, and even the top level of AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar turns into quite the party later at night!AJs seafood and oyster bar

*Lastly, the people are so nice and you’re treated like a new friend, rather than a tourist…Which can be a huge sigh of relief when you have no idea how to eat their local cuisine.emerald coast florida zimmerman agency destin locals

For more on the Emerald Coast, visit emeraldcoastfl.com or check out this cool video.


Meet The Trainer: YogaWorks’ Keisa Parrish, Former Broadway Rockette!

Written on December 21, 2011 at 9:53 am , by

Keisa, second from right, in full Rockette regalia! (Photo courtesy of Keisa Parrish)

The start of the New Year means the start of so many new fitness routines. Hitting the gym hardcore may be your 2012 resolution (studies say losing weight or getting in shape is the top promise people make), but what about those “off” days, when you’re sore or just don’t feel like getting your butt kicked by your favorite bootcamp master?

That’s why we thought it was so important to give you a total-body stretch/yoga routine that’ll keep your body moving but also give it a nice break too. Plus, when things get hectic before the New Year even begins, you can take a breather with these relaxing moves. January’s Express Workout moves from YogaWorks instructor, Keisa Parrish, come straight from her popular DanceWorks class. Psst…Keisa was a former New York City Rockette too! How cool is that?!

You were a Rockette. What was it like to have this job? (It seems amazingly fun!)
It was amazing! There’s nothing like being apart of a legacy and a sisterhood that spans many generations. And performing for about 6,000 people, is not half bad either!

How did you get into dancing?
Well, it was actually Ms. Renee (the school secretary) who saw me “moving” in the fifth grade Christmas show. And she thought I was a natural dancer and suggested I go take class at Universal Dance Design. These legs haven’t stopped yet.

What’s one thing people would be shocked to find out about Rockettes?
That they do anywhere from two to five shows a day during the Christmas season.

Is Christmas one of your most favorite times of the year?
Yes, it definitely is. I love New York City at holiday time. The lights, decorations, the shows and attractions, the family feeling in the air. Hands down favorite time of year!

What’s on your holiday wish list?
Two things! A day at Bliss Spa to pamper myself (I’ve been saying this for four years now…we’ll see if it happens!) and Rachael Ray serving size casserole dishes. It would be easier to make my son’s favorite homemade mac and cheese!

Read more

Olympic Snowboarder Hannah Teter’s Winter Workout

Written on November 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm , by

Looks so easy, right? (Photo courtesy of Eric Lars Bakke/Shazamm/ESPN Images)

For most of us, winter is a time to hole up in the gym, trading in our favorite trails for the treadmill. For Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter, it’s prime time to amp up her training routine. We got the chance to chat with Teter about her workouts in both seasons, her favorite moves to nail, and more. Read on and get inspired to hit the slopes this season!

Tell us about your training routines during in season and off?

My workouts during the off-season consist of slack lining (a variation of tight rope walking, with the rope being more slack than pulled tight), surfing, jumping on the trampoline and biking. Slack lining is insanely good for balancing skills, working your core, and mental strength. I love it because you can set it up anywhere, even between two trees. I usually warm up on the slack line and then do 360s, walk backwards, and 180-degree jumps.

Once the summer is over I snowboard pretty much every day, on top of traveling. I recently started to practice Ashtanga yoga, so I’ll incorporate that into my workouts during the winter as well.

Read more

Fit Blogger We Love: Danielle Abroad

Written on November 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm , by

Danielle loves sampling exotic, healthy cuisine.

Staying fit, healthy and balanced while away from home is a difficult task, which is why Danielle Abroad resonates so much with us. This passport-toting 20-something details how she balances indulgences with exercise, whether she’s near or far from familiar territory.

Here are five fun facts about the fit food blogger who offers a “nourishing glimpse” at life.

On my fit life list: I’m working towards being able to hold a handstand in yoga class, and eventually I’d like to run a half-marathon (preferably overseas).

I’m happiest when I’m: Visiting friends or family. So many people I care about live in other cities, or countries, and I love the opportunity to spend time with them and get to know the place they call home.

My biggest indulgence: Wine. I could probably do without dessert (not counting holidays) but I thoroughly enjoy the visual, aromatic and flavorful qualities of wine too much to ever give it up. Plus, it also has quite a few benefits, right?

My fitness mantra: “Just keep swimming.” I don’t actually swim all that often, but this phrase keeps me going whenever workouts get tough. It always helps me maintain optimistic perspective when my mind is telling me I can’t.

Olympic sport I’d love to try: Fencing. These days it may mostly be under-appreciated but I love the historical combination of speed, endurance, precision, flexibility and even strength. It’s a beautifully competitive dance of sorts.

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

Get Fit Like Jennifer Aniston: Yoga Instructor Mandy Ingber Shares How to Get Abs and Buns of Steel!

Written on November 9, 2011 at 10:27 am , by

Mandy Ingber helps Jennifer Aniston sculpt her envy-worthy body. (Photo courtesy of Mandy Ingber)

Guest post written by Julie D. Andrews

When Jennifer Aniston’s Los Angeles-based yoga instructor of nearly 22 years, Mandy Ingber, tells you to surrender to the mat at the beginning of her yoga class, the phrase takes on a whole new (deeper and sweatier) meaning. After her 90-minute hot yoga session in New York City’s Pure Yoga on Saturday, I get it. You want Aniston’s abs and buns of steel? You’ll have to grunt and sweat your way to them.

Ingber’s hot class is unique in that it incorporates 12 exercises set to tone the body into the yoga session. Ingber’s “yogalosophy” (which she developed and coined in 2009) mixes traditional yoga poses with calisthenics. Each exercise was done for two sets of eight, with a third additional pulsing set. “Pulsing goes a little deeper to burn out the muscle. With those smaller, faster reps, you really feel the burn,” she explains. Ingber takes inspiration from the 1980s stretch and tone era, of leg warmers and thong leotards, and incorporates moves like the Jane Fonda-esque fire-hydrant leg (pulse that sucker for eight reps and you’ll feel the burn!).

After class, I sat down with Ingber, feeling amazing (with apple-red cheeks and my clothes saturated enough that they could be wrung out and fill half a bucket) to chat.

What’s different about your approach to yoga?

It’s light-hearted and open-minded. I don’t take it too seriously. Life is hard enough—exercise is hard enough! Yoga is detached in a way. It shows you that you shouldn’t let things bother you too much.

How are celebs like Jen different when they practice yoga?

They’re not. There’s no secret. Everyone has to heat up and sweat through it. I’m not here to feed spirituality. I’m no guru, and I don’t see myself as that. Spirituality is highly personal. But what I do with celebs is motivate to keep their workouts going. People need motivation on a daily basis.

What pose is hardest for Jen?

It may be plank. I hear her grunt with that one sometimes. Or bringing the knee to the forehead from downward-facing dog—the moves that really engage the core.

What poses does she like the most?

She likes sun salutations. Those are good for her arms. And she loves balancing poses. She’s very focused and graceful. She could stay in tree pose longer than I could! She’s learned how to stay focused amid a bunch of other stuff happening.

To learn about how yoga translates to other areas of life and what yoga poses are best for bad backs, Read more

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Wrap-Up

Written on October 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm , by

As October draws to a close, so will much of the discussion about “pink.” But women (and men) will be fighting the disease all year long, so here are two more resources that help fighters, survivors and researchers who are all working towards one common cause: a cure.

  • Claire Petretti began teaching cancer-specific yoga classes while being treated herself. (Photo courtesy of OceanSoulYoga.com)

    Yoga for Cancer Recovery: Cancer survivor and yoga instructor Claire Petretti created this workout DVD specifically for those going through treatment or recovering from cancer. She holds a Yoga for Cancer Therapy certification, and credits the practice with helping her bounce back from the disease, which she battled in 2010, stronger than ever. A portion of the proceeds from the DVD are being donated to cancer research organizations. ($19.99, oceansoulyoga.com) Scientific studies have proven the beneficial effects of yoga for cancer survivors!

  • BreastCancerTrials.org: This non-profit aims to improve access to clinical trials so those affected by breast cancer can be aware of all of their options for treatment. Whether you’re interested in prevention-related trials or want to learn more about biological therapies (which can help those currently fighting discover the best treatment to block cancer cells’ ability to multiply) the resource can help you find it.

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