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The FITNESS Fit 50: The Best Breakthroughs for Your Workout

The people, places, products, and breakthroughs you can thank for a better workout this year.

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Abby Lentz
Korey Howell
Robert Nethery
Colette DeBarros
San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Photo
Sarah Kehoe
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Laura Doss
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Abby Lentz: Yoga's Biggest Buff

This picture is not digitally altered. All 243 pounds of Abby Lentz are that flexible -- and the certified yoga instructor aims to help full figures everywhere get limber too. This year, she released her first DVD, HeavyWeight Yoga (available at On it, she uses the formula of modified moves, slow pacing, and lots of encouragement that made her an outsize yoga star in Austin, where she teaches weekly. "Anyone in any shape can practice yoga," Lentz says. "You don't have to wait until you lose weight to get the benefits of a great workout."

Start your yoga practice now with our yoga guide

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Rihanna: The Year's Best Workout Song

"Don't Stop the Music" - Rihanna

Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded - Don't Stop the Music

With its thumping house beat, the dance hit rocked the vote in a poll this year. (Runner-up: Kanye West's "Stronger")

Download more of our favorite workout songs here

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Jessica Mendoza: Fielder of Dreams

"The drive that makes you want to be the best athlete is also the drive that makes you want to change the world." -- Jessica Mendoza, outfielder for the Olympic silver-medal USA softball team, president-elect to the Women's Sports Foundation and tireless advocate for women's sports around the world.

Read more about Jessica Mendoza

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Cool Sports Blogging

Female athletes inspire girls to do great things. Just ask 22-year-old Brittany Jones-Cooper, the first-ever Nike Field Reporter, who spent this past year traveling to sporting events around the country, interviewing superwomen (think Jackie Joyner-Kersee super) and blogging about her experience on "Girls go to the site, see me doing this and see women they can look up to, and it teaches them to have no limits," says Jones-Cooper, who grew up playing basketball and running track with her three brothers. "I wish I'd had this when I was 13."

Read Brittany Jones-Cooper's blog

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Ramon Bermo: Marathon Motivator

Anyone can run 26.2 miles. This is what Ramon Bermo, 41, truly believes after having transformed thousands of couch potatoes into marathoners. "It's the best feeling -- to see people who think they don't belong in the same room with athletes change their mind," says the head New York City coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, the largest endurance-sports training program in the world. Raising $60,000 for its 20th anniversary, Bermo ran a 100-mile race (nope, not a typo) this year. Now that's something not everyone can do.

Learn more about Team in Training

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The Running Skirt

"You don't have to look like a boy to be an awesome athlete," says Nicole Deboom, originator of this year's hottest workout trend, the running skirt. The CEO of SkirtSports explains that she got the idea for her creation four years ago when, as a professional triathlete, she figured "a little attitude in my apparel would help boost my performance." In 2008 the style blew up: SkirtSports' sales soared 75 percent, and major brands now carry their own versions. The start line, we say, has never looked fiercer!

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Fitness Advice On the Go

Leaving home and staying in shape is a lot easier since the launch of Want to know if your hotel has a decent gym or where the nearest healthy restaurant is? For $2.95 a month, you can get the fit-lifestyle lowdown on major U.S. and some European cities from contributors such as Paula Newby Fraser, who won the Ironman Hawaii Triathlon eight times.

Get fitness advice on

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The Wii Fit: A "Work-Free" Workout

Any product that sells 1.5 million units in 10 weeks must be doing something right. Actually, the premise behind Wii Fit is pretty basic: "It eliminates the intimidation of video games -- and fitness," says Denise Kaigler, vice president of corporate affairs for Nintendo of America. We'll second that -- Wii Fit, with its interactive versions of everything from yoga to ski jumping, is a fun-for-all-levels invention that makes it easier than ever to get bitten by the fitness bug.

Read Gear Girl's review of the Wii Fit

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San Francisco: This City's Made for Walking

Despite its steep hills, San Francisco is the most walkable major city in the country, declares Both seven miles wide and long, it "has geographic boundaries -- water on three sides -- that forced concentrated and creative development," says Mike Matthieu, founder of the Web site. The metropolis beat out New York and Boston as the easiest place to hoof it.

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Radu: The One-Name Trainer

He's been dubbed the Muscle Messiah, credited with the success of top models like Cindy Crawford, and even called the Toughest Trainer in Town. Recently, Radu has been focusing on helping everyday Americans. "Life should be about physical culture," he says from his still-under-construction facility in New York City's Plaza Hotel. This year, Radu began instructing trainers who will bring his love of fitness to your town.

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Venus Williams: Grace Under Fire

It's hard to fathom that Venus Williams, 28, with her record-breaking 129-mile-per-hour serve this summer, has been tearing up the pro circuit for 14 years. While her rank has gone up and down, it's a mistake to count out the title holder of 16 Grand Slams. This July, she won Wimbledon in straight sets in yet another face-off with sister Serena; in August, the duo took Olympic gold in women's doubles. "I'm fortunate. I'm blessed. I'm not retiring anytime soon," Williams says. "I love being out there."

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Jillian Michaels and The Biggest Loser

The hard-driving trainer on The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels wants one thing: to get Americans off their couches and into their sneakers. The popular reality show is all about using fitness to kick-start change. Part therapy session, part body reconstruction is how Michaels describes each segment, and she presses the flesh on every episode, repeating her motto, "When your health isn't solid, everything else suffers." For asking women, "What do you dream about? Why don't you go after it?" we respect her. For propelling women toward success, we salute her.

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Streamlined Support Where You Need It Most

Even if you're a DD, you can ditch the sports bra when wearing Athleta's bra cup V-neck tanks. The follow-up to the online retailer's best-selling scoop necks, the new design features a built-in underwire bra with true-size cups. Get the top for the gym -- or to go with jeans -- for a sleek, bounce-free silhouette.

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A League of Our Own (Again!)

Goooooal! Next April marks the return of women's soccer, thanks to Tonya Antonucci, the commissioner of the new Women's Professional Soccer organization. Antonucci has been fighting for the league, drawing up a business plan and winning over investors, since the old one went defunct five years ago. "These women and their league have potential," she says. "The players are so excited, they will be giving 110 percent on -- and off -- the field for fans."

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Dara Torres: Inspiration for Every Age

"My first Olympics, I was 17, just a kid bouncing off the walls. This time around [her fifth], I really appreciate just being here competing." -- Swimmer and mom Dara Torres, who, at the age of 41, went three for three in Beijing, winning silver in all her races and bringing her career Olympic medal count to 12.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2008.

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