Stairs can provide a great workout, for free. (Image courtesy of IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock).

15-minute FITNESS: Household Objects Workout

Stairs can provide a great workout, for free. (Image courtesy of IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock).

Stairs can provide a great workout, for free. (Image courtesy of IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock).

This article was originally published on ActionHub on October 27, 2014.

Whether it’s the high price of a gym membership, a busy schedule, or simply cold weather that makes you want to hide at home, many of us can easily find excuses to not work out. But with a little creativity, there are plenty of ways to exercise for free in the convenience of your own home.

The following exercises can be done at home without shelling out money on high-priced workout equipment, although I do suggest investing in a comfortable outfit to exercise in, as well as a pair of tennis shoes. You don’t have to spend a ton of money, but purchase pants and a shirt that fit well and don’t need to be adjusted constantly. You’ll be thankful for the clothes when you’re in the middle of your workout.

Kitchen Chair

A sturdy kitchen chair is perfect for tricep dips and modified sit-ups. Sit on the chair, place your hands on either side of it while gripping tightly, move forward so your butt is just past the chair and dip down, using your arm strength to lift you back up. For sit-ups, lay on the ground with your knees bent and your calves flat on the seat of the chair. Depending on how tall you are as well as the height of the chair, you might need to switch objects—a couch, bed, or ottoman may work better. Put your arms behind your head or folded across your chest, and crunch in and up.

Sets: 3
Reps: 20
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

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Cotopaxi's Pacaya Women's Raven Jacket

Review: Cotopaxi Pacaya Women’s Raven Jacket

Cotopaxi's Pacaya Women's Raven Jacket

Cotopaxi’s Pacaya Women’s Raven Jacket

This article was originally published on ActionHub on October 16, 2014.

Cotopaxi came onto the market in April, and since then has released a collection of outdoor gear so large that it seems near impossible for a company so young to have accomplished. I was able to talk to the brand’s founder and CEO, Davis Smith a few months ago for an ActionHub feature about how the company was able to establish itself so quickly, as well as the initial inspiration behind it.

The brand not only provides stylish, technical gear for adventurers, but it also gives back, sporting the tagline, “Gear for Good,” which can be seen on the design of its products. When you purchase gear from the company, a specific humanitarian cause is tied to it. The causes differ based on the product but, for example, if you purchase a Cotopaxi+India water bottle, you can give clean water to a person in India for six months through charity:water, one of Cotopaxi’s partners. When you buy a Cusco pack, you help educate a child in Peru for one week.

The brand recently sent me the Pacaya Women’s Raven Jacket to review for ActionHub, and I was looking forward to receiving it not only because I reviewed one of Cotopaxi’s packs this summer that I loved—the 20-liter Kilimanjaro—but also because I was able to get a sneak peek of the brand new apparel line at Outdoor Retailer this summer, where I was able to meet Davis in person as well as the whole team behind the products.

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A medicine ball can provide a great cost-effective workout. (Image courtesy of kzenon/iStock)

15-minute FITNESS: Five Great Medicine Ball Exercises

A medicine ball can provide a great cost-effective workout. (Image courtesy of kzenon/iStock)

A medicine ball can provide a great cost-effective workout. (Image courtesy of kzenon/iStock)

This article was originally published on ActionHub on October 13, 2014.

Like many people, I’d rather not know how much money I’ve spent on gym memberships and yoga passes over the years. Though both environments can provide fantastic workouts, some of us struggle a bit more than others when it comes to motivating ourselves to actually get there—especially in the cold winter months. Although I’ve found I’m great at attending classes when I find a routine I truly enjoy, there are just some days I’d rather hide at home.

But a few months ago, I was inspired by Women’s Health Fitness Director Jen Ator, who I interviewed for an ActionHub feature story about her training for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, which was held last weekend. She succeeded, by the way.

In the interview, Ator reminded me just how simple it is to fit in short workouts throughout the day, rather than relying on one long one. So, instead of bailing on my workout completely, I’ve started incorporating a short 15-minute medicine ball routine into my schedule on the days when I’m either too busy for a full yoga class, or simply too lazy. Here are five of my favorite medicine ball exercises:

Russian Twists

Sit on the ground, hold the ball with both hands, and lean back while bending your legs at a 90-degree angle. Extend the ball out in front of you and alternate crunching the ball to the right and left sides with a twist.

Sets: 3
Reps: 15 on each side (30 per set)
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

Russian Twists (Image courtesy of CREATISTA/iStock)

Russian Twists (Image courtesy of CREATISTA/iStock)

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Yamaguchi wearing the Casey Legging and the Willa Hoodie Tunic.

Q&A: Kristi Yamaguchi on Her Women’s Athletic Apparel Brand, Tsu.ya

Yamaguchi wearing the Casey Legging and the Willa Hoodie Tunic.

Yamaguchi wearing the Casey Legging and the Willa Hoodie Tunic.

This article was originally published on ActionHub on September 30, 2014.

Known for her years competing as a professional figure skater, American athlete Kristi Yamaguchi was accustomed to wearing all varieties of athletic wear. Because of her career, she basically lived in it. Now a mother and philanthropist, she said she still spends most of her days sporting workout attire because of its comfort. Two years ago, Yamaguchi sought to create her own line of athletic and lifestyle apparel that could seamlessly transition between a day at the office, running her kids around after school, and finding time to exercise.

She launched Tsu.ya under a licensing arrangement in the fall of 2012, and the brand has now re-launched on its own, featuring a collection of apparel structured enough to wear daily but functional enough to wear during any workout. I recently had the chance to chat with Yamaguchi about Tsu.ya, her current focuses, and what goals she has for the future of her young company.

Where did the initial idea for Tsu.ya come from?

It started back four or five years ago. I really wanted to start a lifestyle brand that had purpose behind it, kind of like Newman’s Own or Toms. I segued into active wear because it fit my lifestyle at the time—a busy mom wearing many hats. Also, I felt it was what I’d known my whole life.

Our first two seasons were under a licensing arrangement, fall 2012 and spring 2013. I worked closely with their designer and we came up with the collection. After spring 2013, I wanted to take more control over production and development. That’s when we started to hit the ground running, to relaunch on our own.

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First Descents was founded by Brad Ludden in 2001.

First Descents Outdoor Adventure Program Lauded by Recent Study

First Descents was founded by Brad Ludden in 2001.

First Descents was founded by Brad Ludden in 2001.

This article was originally published on ActionHub on September 19, 2014.

Founded in 2001, First Descents began with a precise goal in mind, and one that’s been achieved over and over again since the organization’s inception—to provide free outdoor adventures for young adults with cancer as well as cancer survivors.

The initial idea came to Brad Ludden, First Descents’ founder, back in 1999 when his aunt was diagnosed. At the time, he had opted to work as a professional kayaker rather than venture down the road offered by college. Despite being able to live out his dream job as an athlete, he said he still felt as if something was missing.

“Being an athlete can be somewhat self-centered—you’re always focused on promoting yourself, and I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy unless I found a way to give it back,” he recalled. “That was the awareness that sparked the idea. I started to think about who else could benefit from kayaking, which was something I really loved.”

While Ludden first began to search for a way to provide outdoor adventures to children, he soon realized there were plenty of options for them already, and he was trying to fill a void rather than become “just another organization.”

“I remember doing some limited research and at the time there were tons of support programs for children. I think the general inclination is to help kids—they tug at our heartstrings. Also, kids generally have a really strong support system,” he said. ” But seeing how few resources my aunt had was eye opening.”

It was an age group, 18-39, that was largely ignored when it came to services offered. It was a big population with no support, he explained. He decided that he wanted to share his passion for kayaking with others, and weave that together with his goal to provide resources for young adults dealing with cancer.

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Barry Blanchard

Barry Blanchard Recalls a Life Spent Mountaineering in New Memoir

Barry Blanchard. Photo by Mark Twight.

Barry Blanchard. Photo by Mark Twight.

This article was originally published on ActionHub on September 10, 2014.

“I saw the avalanche coming.” Not only does Barry Blanchard hold a wealth of knowledge about the world of mountaineering, he knows how to hook a reader from page one. With more than 40 years of experience climbing, he’s one of the most respected alpinists in the world. The mountain guide has more than 3,000 days of climbing under his belt and is known for pushing the limits of high-risk alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies and Himalayas. Now, he’s compiled the best of his almost endless list of stories gathered from years spent climbing into a memoir, The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains.

It was at age 13 when Blanchard was introduced to climbing, learning to rappel as a member of the 1292 Lord Strathcone’s Horse Army Cadets. Although he was soon kicked out for insubordination, his attraction to climbing didn’t fade. Described as the kid “from the wrong side of the tracks,” he looked to climbing as a way to make a name for himself—he definitely did.

Some of his most impressive climbs include the first ascent of Infinite Patience on the Emperor Face of Mt. Robson, the first ascent of the North Pillar of North Twin, and the first ascent on the north face of Les Droites. The UIAGM-certified international mountain guide and father of two serves as the Associate Director of Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. He’s also a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, is sponsored by Patagonia and Black Diamond Equipment, and currently lives in Canmore, Canada.

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Complete silence. It was beautiful.

Photos: Backpacking Michigan’s North Manitou Island

The first time I visited North Manitou Island in Michigan was a summer in middle school spent at camp. I had never been backpacking before. Camping, sure, but never backpacking. It had an entirely different feel than simply camping—you must carry every tool and piece of clothing you’ll need for days on your back.

And so I did. Fortunately, I loved it. I went back to the island every summer for four years after that, but once I moved to college, it became more and more challenging to attempt planning a trip with either my old camp friends or my newly-made friends from school. I let it go and eventually gave up on trying to plan a trip altogether. It wasn’t until I graduated from college and took a job as a writer at an outdoor publication that I realized I really missed spending time outside. So much of school had been spent in classrooms, the library, the newspaper office, the gym, my shitty apartments, that I was easily able to push aside my love for the outdoors in favor of sitting inside.

But with my new job, I was interviewing some of the most impressive people—those who were hiking the Appalachian Trail, racing in ultramarathons, climbing massive rocks while paraplegic. These people provided so much inspiration. It started to get easier to push myself each day, whether it was in my work or during a yoga class. It wasn’t long before I realized why I was so envious of their lives. I wanted to be outside. It’s sad, it’s true, but most of our jobs keep us indoors, away from the sunshine and revitalization nature provides.

I began to search for places to visit near my home, but the browsing quickly led me back to North Manitou, a roughly four-hour drive away. I reached out to a few friends who I thought may actually agree to a weekend backpacking trip, and luckily two of them agreed. I was able to get back to the island over Labor Day weekend, and the trip not only gave me the resetting I needed before the following week of work, but reminded me of my roots in the outdoors and where that love first began.

Below is a collection of photos we took over the weekend: