Becoming a Spin Instructor Taught Me to Love Myself

A post shared by Emily Abbate (@emilyabbate) on Jul 7, 2017 at 5:13am PDT

Sweat dripped down my face as Beyoncé blared overhead. My cadence was off-beat. As my cheeks grew red, I lost my words, looking out in front of me to an empty room. Then it happened: I broke down. Overcome with emotion, I began to wonder if I’d ever be able to get this whole Spin instructor thing down. I wondered if maybe I was making a mistake.

You see, at the beginning of the year, I lost my full-time job as a fitness editor when they shuttered the magazine I was working for. I hit the ground running, navigating the world of full-time freelance writing and editing, but I had so many questions. What would be next move? What would be my best move? Just over a month later, I found myself in talks with a cycling studio called Swerve I’d been going to for years. As a certified personal trainer and run coach, I thought being a Spin instructor could be right up my alley. And at this particular studio, where teamwork and community are key, it felt like an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

So I did it. I rallied up the courage, stopped asking myself “what am I doing?”, and auditioned. In that first stint, it immediately felt right. I got the sense that this would be a place where I could connect with others. This would be a place where I’d take on my next adventure. This would be a place where I could learn about myself. But little did I know at that moment just how much I’d learn.

Here’s the thing. I’m a perfectionist. I’d also never taught a Spin class. I live my life by the mantra that all it takes is all you’ve got. Getting the call that they wanted me to train to become an instructor, having never done it before, was enthralling. The training program, though? It was grueling. For give-or-take six weeks, I learned everything from proper bike setup and how to structure a playlist to form cuing and how to command a room.

At Swerve, the class is divided into three teams competing against one another. You have a couple of different ways to earn extra points for your team, via sprinting past the beat of the music and “Swerving to the beat” (that’s holding the RPM – or revolutions per minute). Both of those involve using a special technology that’s unique to the studio, all while cuing everything from bike positioning to cadence. It’s . . . a lot. But it’s a lot of fun, too. The team aspect fosters togetherness. Being part of a community of athletes like the one at Swerve meant that I had to put in my time. I had to learn all of the special tech’s in and outs so that I could best lead a class. (Have I mentioned I’d never done this before?)

I was giving it all I had. Hour after hour, whether I was working with the studio’s head of training or talking to myself in an empty studio, I was learning. But still, I was missing cues. Despite dedicating so much time to this new skill, I kept feeling like I was failing. I kept feeling overwhelmed. I kept feeling . . . stuck.

I remember that breakdown day in the studio like it was yesterday. I removed myself from the bike. Looking down at my bright red leggings, I had my moment. I thought of an interview I had done with Olympian Dawn Harper-Nelson about a year earlier. On the phone, we talked about her spill at the World Athletic Championships in Beijing. She told me about how she felt ruined after tripping over that. She was overcome. Despite wanting to run and hide from the media, she persisted. We talked about the lesson she learned that’s stuck with me: in times of difficulty, it’s important to have your moment. You don’t work hard to fail. You work hard because you’re passionate. You work hard because you care. So when things don’t go your way, when mistakes happen, have your moment to appreciate the frustration and how you feel. Then, reflect. She encouraged told me to ask myself: why is it that the mistake happened? What is it that you can learn, and how will you best move forward?

For the zillionth time, I confronted my reality: Spin was something I’d never done. Being good at this was going to take time. Just because I wasn’t perfect off the bat didn’t mean that I couldn’t be great. It didn’t mean that I didn’t have potential. It didn’t mean I wasn’t working hard.

So I began to accept the mishaps. Instead of getting choked up when things went wrong, I grew to appreciate the chaos and learn how to incorporate small flukes into the swing of things. I began to realize that the small errors I was making may have been blaring to me but unnoticeable to everyone else. I started to realize that in time, with practice, I was getting into the swing of things.

One day, everything clicked. My demo ride, where you invite a bunch of good friends to hit the saddle and squad up for a little practice ride, was the next day. I set up in the studio by myself and ran through my entire playlist. By the fifth song, no mess-ups, no frustration, just this feeling of accomplishment. And the next day, in front of 24 close friends, I did it. I lead my first class, nearly bursting into tears the second the final song came to a close. Surrounded with love, I’d done something I wondered if I was even capable of doing in the first place. And the best part? I did it well.

A slew of classes in, I’m proud of myself. I’m proud to report that I haven’t burned down the studio. I’m proud to report that I encouraged my mom to take her first Spin (slash boutique fitness class). I’m proud to report that I am part of an amazing team. I’m proud to report that I’ve learned to love myself, flaws and all. It was never that I wasn’t good enough to do this. It was I’ve come to learn that during the hard times when you want to give up, you’ve gotta dig deep. Challenges emerge in life because we are capable of handling them. We are capable of the growth necessary for moving forward. Now that I’ve risen to this one, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Punch Your Way Into Fitness With Boxing

5, 3, 2, 6, 2.

If you think those are just random numbers, you probably haven’t ever laced up a pair of boxing gloves. Lucky for you, we’re here to change that.

As an outsider looking in, boxing might seem intimidating and only something you’ve seen in the movies or on your TV during fight night, but it’s actually a very approachable sport for people of all abilities and fitness levels. Plus all that punching, crouching and constant moving is a fantastic way to get your heart rate soaring.

Taking up boxing, however, isn’t as easy as slipping on a pair of gloves and going to town on the closest target (be it a bag or a partner). Technique and preparation are key to staying safe and avoiding injury — for both yourself and others. We enlisted the expertise of Cleveland Berto, a former professional boxer, to break down everything you need to know before jumping into the ring.

Samsung and Under Armour have collaborated to offer an authentic fitness and nutrition experience by combining Samsung’s revolutionary wearable device with Under Armour’s Connected Fitness suite of apps. Whether you’re tracking your nutrition, daily workouts or running routes, this best-in-class partnership makes it easier to reach your personal goals and achieve things you never thought possible.

So if running and biking are your old standbys for cardio workouts, consider switching your running or cycling shoes for boxing gloves about once a week. Plus, with the rise of boxing gyms, chances are likely there’s a ring or punching bag right around the corner from you right now.

Are you ready to spar?


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12 Workout Myths That Just Need To Go Away

For every two fitness truths, there’s a lie, and sometimes it’s hard to determine which is which. (Especially when it’s something many of us have just assumed for as long as we can remember.) So, now presenting: Mythbusters, Fitness Edition. Letting go of these 12 fitness misconceptions will help you get better, faster, stronger, and more powerful. Flex on friend, flex on.


Truth: It’s pretty hard for women to bulk up from a normal strength-training routine because they don’t have as much testosterone as men (the difference in this hormone level makes men more prone to bulking up). In fact, if weight loss is your goal, strength training can actually help you lean out, but you have to keep your nutrition in check, too. “Muscle is metabolically active,” explains Adam Rosante, C.S.C.S., author of The 30-Second Body. Simply maintaining lean muscle mass requires higher energy, he explains. “So, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest.” #Science.


Truth: Spot-training is not a thing. “Fat cells are distributed across your entire body,” says Rosante. “If you want to lose fat from a specific spot, you need to lose overall body fat.” High-intensity interval training can work wonders—after an intense workout, your body needs to take in oxygen at a higher rate to help it return to its natural resting state. This process requires the body to work harder, burning more calories in the process. Incorporating strength training can help you hit your goals too, since having more lean muscle will help your body burn more calories at rest. (Psst—here are 10 workouts that are insanely effective for weight loss.)



Truth: If your goal is weight loss, logging endless miles on the treadmill isn’t always the best approach. Yes, traditional cardio workouts will help create a day-to-day calorie deficit (in addition to a healthy diet), which is essential for losing weight. But in the long-term, since having more lean muscle mass helps your body burn more calories at rest, you’ll be adding to this deficit without doing a thing. A combination of both high-intensity cardio and strength training is a good idea. And don’t forget, when it comes to weight loss, having a smart nutrition plan is key.


Truth: While soreness and workout intensity are sometimes connected, how tired your muscles feel isn’t always a good indicator of a solid sweat session. “Being sore doesn’t necessarily mean it was a great workout—it just means that a significant amount of stress was applied to the tissue,” says exercise physiologist and trainer Pete McCall, M.S., C.S.C.S., host of the All About Fitness podcast. “You can have a great workout and not be sore the next day,” he says. Proper recovery will help prevent achy muscles. “Refuel within the first 30 to 45 minutes post-exercise, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep—all of these things can help boost recovery and minimize soreness.”


Truth: Sort of. You should try your best to stay focused, be present, and give 100 percent during every workout. But not every gym session should require a balls-to-the-wall level of intensity. And if you are sore everyday, that may be a sign that you’re going too hard. “It’s not a good idea to exercise at too high of an intensity too frequently—it limits recovery and can lead to overtraining,” says McCall. Ideally, to avoid putting too much stress on your body, you should only be going extra hard two to three times per week.


Truth: Strength training means using resistance to work your muscles—and that resistance doesn’t necessarily have to come from a machine or a heavy weight. (Hello, killer bodyweight exercises!) Aside from your own bodyweight, you can also use tools like kettlebells, medicine balls, and resistance bands to add resistance. None of that around? Here are 13 incredible bodyweight moves you can do at home.


Truth: Not necessarily. “You sweat because your core temperature increases,” explains exercise physiologist Tracy Hafen, founder of Affirmative Fitness. Yes, your muscles create heat when you exercise so a tough workout will increase your internal temp, she explains, but it also has to do with the temperature you’re working out in. “For example, you’re not going to sweat as much in 40-degree weather as you would in 80-degree weather,” Hafen explains.

The humidity in the air also plays a role. “It’s not sweating that cools you off, it’s the evaporation [of sweat]. You’ll feel like you’re sweating more when it’s humid because sweat can’t evaporate.” (This is also a reason to be careful exercising in hot, humid climates, because your body temperature will keep increasing.)


Truth: Meh. Crunches probably aren’t going to hurt your core strength, but they’re not the most efficient exercise you can do to strengthen your midsection. “Your ab muscles are designed to work most effectively when you’re standing upright,” says McCall. Of course, there are plenty of great abs exercises that aren’t completely upright (for example, this perfect plank), but these four standing abs moves will set your whole core on fire.


Truth: You can get an amazing cardio workout in less time by utilizing high-intensity interval training. “High-intensity cardio challenges the respiratory system to work efficiently to deliver oxygen to working muscles,” says McCall. “If the system is stressed hard enough, it doesn’t require a lengthy workout for results.” Plus, high-intensity training creates an afterburn effect, meaning you continue burning calories after you’re done. One approach is Tabata, or 20 seconds of hard work, 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds total, which adds up to a four-minute routine. Here’s what you need to know about Tabata.


Truth: While it’s true that you shouldn’t just jump right into a workout, dynamic warm-ups are where it’s at—you can save those static stretches for afterwards. “Your pre-workout goal should be to improve mobility and elasticity in the muscles,” says Rosante. This is best done with foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up, where you keep your body moving (instead of holding stretches still). This preps your body for work and helps increase your range of motion, which means you can get deeper into exercises (and strengthen more of those ~muscles~). Try this five-minute warm-up, or the warm-up section from this 30-minute workout.



Truth: “People who write off yoga probably have an image of yoga as series of gentle stretches—they clearly haven’t taken a tough yoga class,” says Rosante. “The first time I took one was at Jivamukti Yoga Center, and was a radically humbling experience. It’s been one of the best additions to my routine, both for my body and mind.” While there are some blissfully relaxing yoga classes out there, tougher types (like Bikram and power Vinyasa yoga) can definitely leave you sweaty, sore, and satisfied. Can’t make it to class? Here’s a yoga-flow sequence for stronger abs you can do at home.


Truth: Definitely not true—hallelujah! When you work out, you’re breaking down muscle fibers so they can rebuild stronger. However, to do this, you need to give your body time to recover from working out. Aim for one to two days per week of active recovery rest days—that means doing something that doesn’t put stress on your body, like gentle stretching or a walk. So, you’re definitely off the hook for that seven-days-a-week workout plan.


> Men’s Workout Tops
> Men’s Workout Pants
> Women’s Workout Tops
> Women’s Workout Pants

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Kim Kardashian Finds Workout Motivation Looking at Sister Khloé Kardashian’s Derrière

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Kim Kardashian West may have one of the most sought-after booties in the business, but she has her eyes set on another desirable derrière.

The 36-year-old reality star shared video of herself in the gym to Snapchat on Monday, explaining to fans that she was using a poster of sister Khloé Kardashian as her motivation to power through her workout.

Taken from Khloé’s steamy 2015 Complex cover, the poster has the youngest Kardahisan sister’s backside front and center as she sits backwards on a workout bench — dressed in a sheer black bodysuit (naturally).

“Khloé you have no idea how much you’re motivating me today,” Kim said zooming in on the poster hanging on the gym’s wall. “You guys, the squat machine is no joke and I like to focus on one thing. So I look into her eyes, and think she’s saying to me, ‘Do it Kim, you f—— lazy f—, get up you can do these squats.’ ”

Kim added: “So I’m looking at your butt, thinking about my butt wanting to look like your butt. It’s so complicated and twisted in this family.”

RELATED: Want a Booty Like Kim Kardashian? You’ll Need to Follow Her Insanely Hard Leg Day Routine

Competition aside,  Keeping Up with the Kardashians viewers saw the Kardashian sisters as nothing but supportive of each other as Khloé and Kourtney devised a plan to help Kim get over her body confidence issues.

The mother of two broke down on a September episode when a set of bikini photos from her vacation in Mexico surfaced, which she said led her to develop “body dysmorphia.”

“Kim is normally not this insecure,” Kourtney, 38, said during a confessional. “If she just didn’t have access to social media or just stopped looking at the blogs, I think that she would start to feel better.”

“I feel like one of the best things she did for herself after her Paris incident was she really detached herself from the internet and social media,” added Khloé, 33. “I think we kind of need to step in and do something like that so she realizes this does not matter, and we take that bulls— out of her life.”

Meanwhile, workouts aside, Kim and Khloé have a lot to celebrate as both are expecting babies this fall

Sources confirmed to PEOPLE in September that Khloé is pregnant with NBA boyfriend Tristan Thompson, 26, whom she has been dating since September 2016. While it will be her first child, the Cleveland Cavaliers player welcomed a son named Prince Oliver with his ex-girlfriend Jordan Craig in December 2016.

Kim is expecting her third child with husband Kanye West via surrogate early next year, she confirmed in a supertease for season 10 of her E! reality show

They’re not the only ones. Step-sister Kylie Jenner is also expecting a baby girl with her boyfriend Travis Scott, a source told PEOPLE. She is due in February — close to the same time as Khloé, according to an insider close to the family.

“They are looking at it like a unifying experience for them as sisters,” a source told PEOPLE. “Getting pregnant at the same time was totally unplanned but they are really happy about it.”

Reps for both Kardashian and Jenner have yet to confirm the news.

François D’Haene Breaks John Muir Trail Speed Record

Around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, October 17, French ultrarunner François D’Haene arrived at the northernmost point of the John Muir Trail just two days, 19 hours, and 26 minutes after departing from the trail’s southern terminus. In doing so, the 31-year-old set a new supported Fastest Known Time on the iconic trail that traverses eastern California’s Sierra Mountains. His effort shattered Leor Pantilat’s 2014 record of three days, seven hours, and 36 minutes. 

D’Haene began on Saturday morning at the base of 14,505-foot Mount Whitney and continued north to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. In total, the trail climbs more than 47,000 vertical feet, and winds through extremely remote sections of Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. D’Haene was gifted with clear, cool fall conditions for all three days—a rarity given the height and exposure of the JMT that often results in extreme heat—and team of Salomon crew members who met him at various points along the trail with food, water, supplies, and a bed for temporary naps. 

The record-setting run comes just over a month and half after D’Haene won the prestigious and highly competitive Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc—a 103-mile race with over 30,000 feet of elevation gain—for the third time. Over the last five years, D’Haene has established himself as one of the world’s most dominant mountain runners. “He’s the best in the world at anything over 50 miles,” says Mike Wolfe, a North Face ultrarunner who had previously set the record in 2013. “I’m not surprised that he crushed it.”

The John Muir Trail tops the bucket list for many ambitious ultraunners due to the combination of its relatively manageable distance and challenging, high-alpine conditions. The trail has a rich history of notable FKT record-setters over the past 15 years, including elite runners Peter Bakwin, Hal Koerner, Brett Maune, and Wolfe. With D’Haene’s most recent dominance, it may be some time until we see a new name at the top of that list.