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Music Monday: Kelly Rowland Rocks Zumba Step—In Killer Heels!

Written on March 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm , by

Attention, Zumba lovers: there’s a new program in town. Zumba Step is now offered nationwide in 24 Hour Fitness studios, and let me tell you, this program is a breath of fresh air. As someone who fully admits to her lack of dance skills, I’ve always shied away from the original Zumba program. Not because I didn’t have a good time whenever I did it—actually, I always had a blast—but I rarely gave myself the opportunity to let go and just dance. You know, that crazy moment when you really stop caring what everyone else thinks and you just shake it. It’s a pretty freeing moment, but alas, one that was regularly out of my reach.

Step programs, on the other hand, were right up my alley. More often than not, these classes incorporate the more traditional exercises I’ve come to know and love (lunges and squats, thank you very much), and add just a little bit of flair to satisfy those craving a bit of creativity in a cardio routine. So when I heard Zumba was adding the old-school step to their program, my curiosity was officially peaked.

Turns out, the one woman who has serious moves showed up, too. On her birthday. Yep, that’d be Kelly Rowland. As if watching her kill the warm-up in high heels while I grooved in my very-flat sneakers (yep, that really happened) wasn’t enough, she also confessed that the main reason she loves the program is exactly why the rest of us do it—because more often than not, you’re moving with your girlfriends. “I just really love to be around family…so I can still hang out with them and work out,” she said. “It’s all these people in the room that are excited about working out, excited about taking care of their bodies,excited about having a healthy lifestyle. So it’s fun.”

But alas, Zumba Step isn’t the only way Rowland gets that drool-worthy physique (seriously, have you seen her abs?). She works regularly with one of FITNESS’ fave trainers, Jeanette Jenkins, and when I asked about her all-time exercise, she listed my arch enemy: burpees. “I love to hate burpees,” she said. “I see what they do to my body and it’s like it just snaps your body into place so quickly.” #truthtalk

So now I’m going to get my burpee back on, in between Zumba Step classes. To keep myself motivated, I’ve added these tunes to my playlist. Consider ‘em yourself, and keep your ears open for more from Rowland: she said she’s headed back to the studio, and I’m more than ready to hear what comes out of those powerhouse vocal cords, stat.

Photo by Matt Peyton/Invision for Zumba Fitness/AP Images

More from FITNESS: 

I Tried It: Aqua Zumba

The Best Workout DVDs and Games of 2014

We Tried It: Doonya Fitness Party


Actress Tia Mowry’s Path to Healthy Living

Written on December 4, 2013 at 10:00 am , by

Tia Mowry puts her hands together for a flu-less holiday season and a healthy 2014. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for FluMist Quadrivalent)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Actress Tia Mowry (we know you’ve seen throwback show Sister, Sister) has quite a few projects on her plate. From the premier of her new television show, Instant Mom, on Nick at Nite to the postpartum products brand she is developing with twin sister Tamera, it was amazing she found the time to sit down for a chat with us! And one thing is for sure—despite her hectic schedule, her top two priorities remain in tact: her family and her health.

Despite marrying a man with a passion for health and wellness, Mowry wanted to discover it in her own way. Unfortunately, her journey began with a sudden diagnosis of endometriosis, an extremely painful infertility disorder. She quickly gained control of her health, though, and hasn’t slowed down since. “I wanted to have kids, so my doctor told me, ‘Tia, you’re going to have to change your diet,’” she says. After following the Body Ecology Diet for a full year, which focuses on alkalizing the body, Mowry became pregnant with her son Cree. “I’m now a believer that food can be medicine.”

Mowry also decided to try veganism earlier this year to help with other physical ailments – eczema, migraines and genetically high cholesterol – and she could not be happier with the decision. “What I like most about it is the emotional benefit that I get, realizing and understanding that I am doing the best that I can possibly do for my health,” she says. “I feel better, I have more energy, my eczema has disappeared, I no longer get migraines and my cholesterol levels are now fine.”

When it comes to working out, Mowry is all about doing what she loves, thanks to the advice she got after meeting yoga pro Tara Stiles. The routine that’s captured her heart? Dance cardio. “I was the type of person who would be out on the dance floor until the club closed, so I’m doing all types of dance cardio now,” says Mowry. “I’ve done Zumba, I’ve done Piloxing—which is boxing and Pilates at the same time—and I go to classes.” Oh, and she doesn’t look to the mirror for her workout motivation. “It’s not about what I look like; it’s about how I feel. When I focus on that, I actually find that I work out more,” she says. And cute workout clothes don’t hurt! She picks her outfit the night before for a little motivational push the following morning to get up and go have fun with her fitness.

This season Mowry teamed up with Flumist Quadrivalent, a nasal spray influenza vaccine option, to address another health issue she is passionate about now that she has little Cree to consider. “In the past, I did overlook flu vaccinations,” she says. “But after understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on an entire family, I started making it part of my annual routine. I want to protect my family.”

Mowry has experienced quite the journey to health and fitness, so maybe we should take a note or two from her book. “Changing your lifestyle takes time, so don’t get frustrated,” she suggests. “We have a lifetime to get this right, so don’t be too hard on yourself—it’s not beneficial. Start out slow and then build up your momentum and endurance. And just do what you love to do! I have seen a big change in my body since Tara gave me that advice.”

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Fit Blogger We Love: Hit the Road Jane

Written on February 8, 2013 at 9:20 am , by

Jane hits the ground running – now try to keep up!

“Hit the Road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more…”

That’s exactly what we think of every time we head over to visit Lynda’s blog, Hit the Road Jane, no matter how much we try not to. But we say that’s the perfect kind of branding – nothing like leaving a lasting impression! Instead of setting off solo though, we’ll just hit the road running with Lynda, an energetic Latina from Florida who’s showing us day by day how to keep moving, going after goals (no matter how crazy they may seem!) and always having a good dose of hope in her back pocket. Find out what she’s dreaming of next and how she keeps her workout routine interesting.

I’m happiest when I’m: Done with a tough workout! Nothing compares with the satisfaction I get after completing a tough run, group class or swim. I always gain more confidence and am amazed at how strong my body can be, even if I had my doubts coming into the workout. It just goes to show that we are all stronger than we think!

My favorite way to workout: Variety really is the spice of life. I enjoy mixing things up and have really embraced training for my first triathlon because of this. I noticed that doing the same workouts every week bored me in the past. So I like having a plan to run, bike, swim and cross-train with weights, Zumba or a Spin class.

5 things I can’t live without:

  1. Books. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid, thanks to my Dad. If I had to choose only one thing I couldn’t live without, this would be it. Books are an escape, an inspiration, and can sometimes offer my personal favorite – perspective.
  2. Technology. Call me a nerd, but I love gadgets (especially fitness ones like Polar, Garmin or FitBit). It’s just fun to learn how to use them and make them a part of daily life.
  3. Music, especially during runs. Try listening to the movie soundtrack channel on Pandora during your next long run and tell me you don’t feel like you’re on your way to save the world.
  4. My passport. I’m addicted to travel and exploring the world around me. I want to keep visiting new places for as long as I can! Running has definitely helped me travel to places I never would have gone otherwise, like Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
  5. Hope. It drives everything I do an aspire for. Without it, I’d never dream big or set out to accomplish the things that scare me.

My biggest indulgence: Chocolate, hands down. Mmm…

On my fit life list: A half-Ironman, the Boston marathon, and an international marathon, like Paris or Athens.

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

Dance Your Way Slim – At Home!

Written on October 16, 2012 at 9:39 am , by

Time to party (and sweat!) in the living room. (Photo courtesy of Majesco Entertainment)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

If you’re like some of us here at FITNESS, you may be a bit self-conscious about strutting your stuff on the dance floor at the gym. The premise of Zumba has always been appealing, but it can be intimidating. What if I bump into everyone during my cha-cha-cha?

Sound familiar? Enter Zumba Fitness Core, an interactive game for the Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect. This game lets you practice and work up a sweat to hot music – all in the comfort of your own home. We tested out the new workout with Zumba pro Melissa Chiz, whose rock-hard abs grace the cover of the game. Melissa invited us to dance along to one of the easier tracks so we could see how simple and fun it was, no matter what level you start at. There are separate cardio and core tracks, which really allowed us to personalize the game to whatever mood we were feeling – time to get our dance on!

After choosing a song (we chose an Enrique Iglesias original – his voice alone makes us work up a sweat), hop in front of the Kinect and follow the moves. If you’re nailing every move, a big Zumba sign flashes on the screen. At first, we panicked about going head-to-head with Chiz, but once the tunes started pumping, all those nerves disappeared and we had fun getting our groove on!

Find yourself feeling the competitive itch with each sport you try? Here’s another reason you’ll love Zumba Fitness Core: play the songs you love as many times as your heart desires, but try to beat the score recorded with each try. You’ll work  up a feisty sweat before you realize you’re working out!

Interested in testing your dance moves? The game retails for $39.99 and hits stores October 16 – we’re adding it to our wish list!

Now you tell us: Would you do a Zumba routine at home or do you prefer the environment of a group class?

Actress Keesha Sharp, Star of “Are We There Yet?” Talks About Health

Written on September 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm , by

Keesha gets sassy on the set of Are We There Yet. (Photo courtesy of Eric Liebowitz)

Written by Deanna Cioppa, editorial intern

For most of Hollywood, taking care of your body is part of your job as an on-screen presence. For Keesha Sharp, it’s a passion and a calling. Sharp stars as Gigi, a serial dater offering insights from the singles’ scene in the TV series Are We There Yet, which is based on the 2005 film of the same name and launches today in syndication. When not entertaining us on the small screen, Sharp runs her own health and wellness site, Fishers of Health, which tackles everything from natural makeup and skincare to nutrition, fitness and spirituality.

“My goal is to inform people about their health,” Sharp says. “To be the best you can be, you need to be healthy.” And that includes mental and physical health, she notes. A voracious reader and researcher when it comes to health topics, Sharp often buys multiple copies of books she likes to give away to family and friends.

We sat down with this health-conscious actress to find out more about Fishers of Health and what she does to keep her health in tip-top shape.

There’s a lot of research on the Fishers of Health website. Do you do all the research yourself?

I do! I’ve considered becoming a certified nutritionist, too. Not necessarily to follow it as a career path, but more so because people know you’re qualified to give them advice when they see your credentials.

What topics interest you most? 

I want to venture out to both sides of Eastern and Western medicine. I don’t think you have to immediately go to Western medicine practices first; there are alternatives you can try if you’d like. More so than anything, though, I think changing your diet can improve or change your health.

How do you avoid fads?

I read a lot. There are different ways to approach health and you have to decide what works for you. For me, I use organic products whenever possible and limit my meat intake.

Read more

How Giuliana Rancic Fits in Fitness

Written on July 26, 2012 at 11:09 am , by

Between hosting E! News, covering red carpet events and preparing to be a mom, Giuliana Rancic manages to fit in fitness in her busy schedule. “I try to make it part of my everyday routine,” she said, even co-founding the website FabFitFun.com to help others be healthy. We chatted with the E! host after her morning workout to find out how she stays in shape.

What’s your fitness routine like?

I like to do weight training first thing in the morning at 5 a.m. in the gym. I do about 20 to 30 minutes with free weights. Then I do run/walk intervals on the treadmill for about 45 minutes. If I have an early call time at work, I’ll go to the gym in the afternoon and take a Zumba class, which is so much fun. Even when I’m busy, I’ll make time because I like to say “You’ll never regret going to the gym.”

What made you decide to take up Zumba?

I started two years ago after learning about it from an E! segment.  I went to my first class with my coworker Jason Kennedy. I thought, “This is so much fun. I can’t believe they call it a workout!” I couldn’t wait to go back. I just got the Zumba Exhilarate DVDs and toning sticks from Zumba.com. You shake the sticks to sculpt your upper body while burning calories. I’m on the road a lot so this is something I can pack and do in my hotel room.

Do you and your husband Bill work out together?

We do weights together; he’s my spotter at the gym. We go for a long run together outdoors. I’d love to get him into Zumba, and I think can get him to try a DVD with me at home.

Your job requires a lot of traveling and a hectic schedule. How do you make sure you stay healthy?

I’m on an airplane for hours, and it’s hard finding healthy airplane food so I eat what’s there, enjoy it, but eat well when I get to my destination. It’s all about moderation. I keep bars and 100-calorie mixed nuts to always have something good to eat.

With a baby on the way (Ed’s note: Giuliana and Bill are expecting a baby boy from a surrogate), what kind of changes do you anticipate in your routine?

We’re committed to staying healthy, and know it will be hard going to the gym with the baby. So we’re turning one of the rooms in our house into a gym, putting a TV and treadmills in there. I’m going on maternity leave from E! for a few months and after that we’ll figure it out.  It’s our first child so we’ll just figure things out as we go. It’s a learning process.

Tell us: Do you do Zumba like Giuliana?

Featured Fitterati: Personal Trainer Blog The Fitnessista

Written on July 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm , by

Gina's tip for those new to Zumba: "Remember it's a party, and if you get lost, just shake something!"

Each Tuesday, we’re highlighting one category of winners from our Fitterati Blogger Awards! This week, we’re bringing in the pros with the Best Personal Trainer Blogs!

Gina Harney

  • 27, Tucson, Arizona

Mixing things up keeps life interesting, whether it’s in your workouts, diet or reading material. Gina, the personal trainer and group fitness instructor behind The Fitnessista, does exactly that with her blog. Hop over there if you’re craving a sweaty workout, new tunes or even updates on her recently expanded family (no one at FITNESS can resist the photos of adorable daughter Olivia). After all, we always like everything in moderation.

Favorite sweat session “I love any type of dance cardio, spinning, yoga and weight training. Zumba is a big favorite!”

Motivational mantra “‘Change creates change.’ The body is an intelligent machine and will quickly adapt to its expectations. If you change up your fitness routine, you enable visible changes to occur. Each day, I try to do something different with my workout.”

Music must-have “Anything by Pitbull pushes my workout buttons, and I love anything by Bond. Their music is instrumental and extremely powerful to push through a tough weights set or intense cardio workout.”

Fit Blogger We Love: Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen

Written on April 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm , by

Gretchen loves treats, healthy or not! It's all about moderation.

Remember the oldie-but-goodie film, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?” That was a great flick. So we can’t help but smile every time we type Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen into our search bar, waiting to hop onto Gretchen’s blog and catch up on her weight loss journey. From the fun, witty adventures to the serious, self-reflective posts, she knows how to entertain us while keeping it real. We wanted to find out more about this blogger’s  must-haves, so we went straight to the source. Read on to find out what keeps her motivated and what indulgences she still struggles with today.

My favorite way to work out: With variety! When I first started to get healthy, I tried to force myself into long distance running because I thought that’s what I needed to do in order to be “healthy.” Turns out, I don’t really like running! So while I recognize the need for cardio for my overall weight loss and fitness goals, I’m much better at maintaining a regular workout schedule if there’s a lot of variety involved. Now I switch it up between short runs, weight training and fun classes, like Zumba!

My fave fit snack: In between meals, I’m a huge fan of the peanut butter/almond butter and celery or apple slices combo. You get a little sugar to energize you, a little fiber to keep you full and some delicious, filling healthy fats to stave off hunger. Win-win-win!

My biggest indulgence: As much as I love to cook, I also tend to eat out a lot. I’m a huge foodie and love trying new restaurants, and it’s difficult for me to pass up the pastas, steaks and creamy, dreamy dishes when I do. I’m really working on finding the balance in eating out without always overindulging because I don’t believe you should have to completely give up something you love in the name of health.

5 things I can’t live without: My family (we’re super close), sushi (it’s my favorite!), my iPhone (how did we exist before smart phones?), Harry Potter (confession: I am a huge nerd), and my two amazing miniature schnauzers, Harry and Daxter.

My motivation comes from: My blog, funnily enough! I weighed 246 when I started it, but didn’t have any kind of “Eureka!” moment where I saw a photo or someone said something that made me decide to change my life and get healthy. I simply said, “I want to start a weight loss blog.” A year and a half and 60 pounds later, it’s my blog that keeps me going. Having that accountability that writing every day provides, as well as the amazing support of my readers, has really been the key to making it all stick this time around.

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

I Tried It: Aqua Zumba

Written on March 21, 2011 at 10:38 am , by

While on a recent trip to Hawaii, I got the chance to visit the beautiful Hilton Kings’ Land resort for an early morning Aqua Zumba class!

Aqua Zumba at the Kings' Land resort!

Aqua Zumba at the Kings' Land resort!

What it is: All the latin-inspired, dance-fitness moves of regular Zumba but with added resistance from the water.  Our instructor guided us through the moves on dry land so we could see all of her movements. Just like in a regular Zumba class, we jumped, stretched and moved to the beat of the music — all while pushing our arms and legs through the water. (One neat trick: You can adjust the level of difficulty by closing or spreading your fingers when pushing through the water. Open fingers provide less resistance, while a flat, closed palm makes things a little harder.)

water zumba 3Who should try it: Everyone! This workout is completely beginner-friendly, but it even got my heart rate up. Plus: Being in the water makes even the fast-paced Zumba moves nice and easy on your joints.

My favorite move: The exercises didn’t have names, but I’d call this one the “Walk Like An Egyptian.”  Extend one arm out to the side, bent at a 90-degree angle with your fingers pointing down (like the back half of the famous pose). Keeping the top half of your arm lifted up away from your body, swing your hand toward your torso and then away, pushing the water away from you with a flat palm. You’ll feel it in your triceps — it gets right to that hard-to-tone “bat wings” zone.

Read more to find out how to find an Aqua Zumba class near you! Read more