All Articles Tagged "fitness"

Do Yourself A Fit Favor And Invest In The Samsung Gear S2

November 26th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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samsung gear

In my Working It Out column, I talk a lot about how I love to track everything on my weight loss journey. When I say everything I mean calories in (measuring and logging all food and drink) and calories out (what I burn during exercise and every day physical activity). It’s the only thing that’s gotten me to the 90-plus weight loss mark, but I can admit that after a while having an Exerspy, switching to a Fitbit, and still having to go a specific site to actually log my food and upload info from my tracker, this task became cumbersome.

It’s for that reason that I was intrigued when I first laid eyes on the Samsung Gear S2. For starters, I was blown away by the vibrant display of the smartwatch and all the things I was told you can do on a screen only 1.2 inches in circumference, like check email, respond to text messages, change the song you’re listening to on your other bluetooth device, and, of course, track steps, calories burned, and more. Plus I knew you could view all of that data in the complimentary S Health app that every Samsung devices comes loaded with which meant I could eliminate at least one step in my logging routine.

Still, I don’t like watches and I haven’t worn one in over 20 years probably (most likely due to the fact I kept getting in trouble for losing mine as a kid) and as exciting as the thought of being able to do all those things on a device as small as an 11.4-millimeter thin device was, in my heart of hearts I didn’t think it was necessary, especially since I don’t consider myself a techie gadget kind of girl.

And then I tried it.

In terms of functionality alone, the Samsung Gear immensely outranks the Fitbit Flex which can only track calories and steps. If you’re going to wear something on your arm 24/7, why not where a device that also logs your phone calls, gives you calendar notifications, tells the weather, has maps, news, and is essentially a tablet or smartphone in a wristwatch?

I can hear you saying “But I don’t need all that when I have a phone.” I thought so too, and then I actually took advantage of the apps on the Gear S2. Because I have Bluetooth headphones (the Level U from Samsung as well), there’s no need for me to have my cellphone in my hand all the time — except for when I want to skip to a different song. With the Gear, I could skip along right from my watch which is already handy right on my wrist, and the same is true for checking texts and emails and responding to them. For someone who carries a tote bag as an everyday purse, the convenience of  simply hitting a few apps on my touch screen watch to do what I needed to do verses trying to find my phone in the bottom of my bag then find a new track or answer a call was incredible.

I felt the same when it came to tracking steps and calories. Instead of having to look on a separate app on my phone to see my steps or my calorie burn, I could just turn the rotating bezel on the watch and check my steps, calories, heart rate, and see how close I was to meeting my goal for the day. The ease of having that same info automatically transferred to the S Health app where I could then log my food and check my calorie expenditure vs calorie intake had me hooked.

In just one week of using the Gear S2, I realized I actually might be more of a techie than I think. Sure, the device might not be a necessity, but everyone knows in the midst of buying gifts for everyone else around the holidays you should also treat yourself. Fitness goals are always at the top of everyone’s New Year’s Resolution lists, why not give yourself a leg up with a tool like the Samsung Gear S2 that can keep you on track to actually meeting those resolutions this time? And, you can even get one for bae too.




To purchase the Samsung Gear S2 or get more info, click here.

Why I Have To Ignore The Cute Guy At The Gym

November 4th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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Let me give you a little backstory…

The moment I meet a new guy, my immediate reaction to them is:  “Oh cool!  A new friend!”  I don’t know why, but my brain is hardwired to immediately put anyone I just meet into the friend zone.

I don’t know if it’s because I just love being single, or it takes me a moment to warm up to people in a romantic way, but that’s just how I am. Granted, some of my exes have been able to work their way out of it, but friend-zoning is standard behavior for me.  I thought this was fairly normal until one of my friends told me that she’s the complete opposite. Any guy she meets is potentially “The One.”

Immediate friend-zoning has worked well for me in life, but has also brought along some uncomfortable encounters.  Like recently, when after the gym my daughter and I were waiting for my mother to get dressed and an older man approached me. Being the friendly person I am, I didn’t think anything was wrong when he engaged me in conversation and I reciprocated. However, it became very awkward when I realized I was a sentence away from being asked to go to an early bird special with him.

On top of that, after I gently rebuffed his advances and his suggestion of being my daughter’s new stepfather (I’m not lying), when my mother finally popped up, he started hitting on her! (Dude was a live version of “The Todd.” He didn’t care who he got action from.)

Aside from that unpleasant moment, life at the gym has been going smoothly — or at least it was until I saw him and had to immediately look away.

Let me catch you up.

Ever since I was younger, if I felt immediately attracted to someone, I could not look at them. I don’t know what it was, but even if I wanted to send a nice little smile their way, my eyes treated them like they were solar eclipses and would go out of my way to avoid looking at an object of my affection.

I don’t know why this happens.  It’s not one of those cheesy play hard to get attempts at attraction from a ’90s magazines. I honestly just cannot look at a guy who I have an immediate attraction to; I have to ignore them.

Though I try for it not to, sometimes it works for me, and it actually does bring the object of my lust to me. Other times, the crush doesn’t even know that I exist. Eeither way, I end up back in that same “Hi Cute Guy. Yes, I see you, and I’m ignoring you, now, off to crunches!” cycle.

Though this is fairly normal behavior for me, I realized this time that my reason for ignoring the cute guy wasn’t just due to his fine-ness, there was something else going on.

Ever since I first had my daughter, I’ve been engaging in a workout war where I workout for a a few weeks, and then stop. Now I’ve finally hit a good stride where I’m coming to the gym regularly, making healthy lifestyle choices, and seeing really good results. As my weight loss total creeps up to the 30s, I find that I need to ignore Mr. Cutie McCrush-Crush so that I don’t lose focus. I don’t want to get to the point that my desire to go to the gym is no longer based on being a better me, but on seeing him. As much as I think he’s adorable, my inner-feminist won’t allow for my successful weight loss to be due to a guy.

So, I ignore him.  If he walks past my machine while I’m huffing and puffing, I don’t look his way. If I’m reading on the bike and he’s next to me, I won’t lower my book by a centimeter. If I’m in the weight zone, and he walks past, we’ll exchange a nondescript head nod, and I go back to finishing my reps.

Though he’s not a factor in my weight loss, like the solar eclipse that my eyes think that he is, he does make the initial arrival to the gym very bright. But after that, I immediately go back to ignoring him.

So thank you, Cute Guy, for your masculine beauty. It’s very appreciated, but also very ignored.

Do Skinny Teas Really Work? “She’s The Boss” – AJ Johnson, Celebrity Fitness Trainer & Founder Of The AJ Zone

October 12th, 2015 - By jade
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Meet AJ Johnson. Actress, Choreographer, and Fitness coach. Currently molding the hottest bodies of Hollywood with her rigorous workout training sessions, she is also creating a global movement towards overall wellness with her popular AJ Zone pop up shops, online meal plans, and more. Find out why, She's The Boss.


More information on AJ Johnson:

The AJ Zone



Want more She's The Boss?

Season 2 

Angela Benton, Founder & CEO of NewME Accelerator

Karen Civil, Founder & CEO of Always Civil Enterprises 

Season 2 Promo 

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Working It Out: Sexism And Sizeism In Personal Training

October 8th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Working It Out is a health/fitness column chronicling MadameNoire Manging Editor Brande Victorian’s journey to drop the pounds and get healthy. Follow more of her story on

Wedding August 2011 vs Wedding September 2015

On Saturday I’ll have my last personal training session of the year. It’s a big step for me since I’ve been training ever since November 2014 and this will be my first attempt at continuing my weight loss journey on my own. I’m nervous, but I also know at some point I have to take off the training wheels, and after one year and 92 pounds lost, now seems like the right time. But there’s another reason I’m also ready to take the leap. Though personal trainers exist to help you reach your goals, they also have their own goals in mind. Or rather, ideals of what the finished product, i.e. you, should look like when your training is complete and those ideals can be a bit burdensome, to say the least.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a wedding of a co-worker in New Orleans. I had to miss a few sessions because I was out of town and when my trainer asked me how the celebration was, I sent him a few pics from the festivities. I was proud of myself, mostly for fitting in this dress that would not be possible without the help of a strapless bra, Spanx, the Holy Spirit,  and lots of hours in the gym. And he acknowledged as much, saying he saw me “stylin'” as usual. Fast forward to my return when my trainer was anxious to get back to work — and sell me a new package of sessions by the end of the month — and he said to me, “I really want to see you kill it in a dress or just show up with a pair of pants that are like a size too big now.”

Wait, haven’t I already done those things?

On one hand I didn’t fault my trainer because we’ve only worked together for the past six weeks or so and sometimes I think he forgets that I started this journey long before we met. I wanted to remind him I’m not new to this, I’ve lost about four pants sizes now.But I just nodded in agreement because I do still have a few sizes to go and initially wouldn’t have minded his help in getting there. The dress thing bothered me though. On top of not being here for the implication that a plus-size woman can’t look amazing when she steps out, I thought, I know you’re trying to motivate me to keep going, but did I not just send you a pic of me killing it in a dress? And as much as I tried to remind myself that trainers’ standards of the ideal body are on some next level ish — after all I’m dealing with men who have single digit body fat — it still brought up unhealthy thoughts of the progress I’ve made thus far still not being good enough and was a reminder that while I’m no longer obese (or morbidly so as I started out),  an overweight woman is still what many see when they look at me.

I know that because of other comments my trainer’s made like “you’re going to be killing it in a bikini soon.” Again, I thought, been there, done thatBut I also thought, who said wearing a bikini was my goal? I’ll be the first one to admit looking better and feeling better about myself were stronger motivators to losing weight than my health, but I’m also not here for the constant insinuation that I need to strive to look like a model or the assumption that I even want to. I set out to be a size 12, maybe 10, when I started working out last year and I need to work with someone who supports what a realistic goal weight and look is for me. The more my trainer pushes his ideals of perfection that are so far off my radar, and not even realistic, the more I realize it’s time to take matters into my own hands and craft the next chapter of my weight loss journey for myself.

Several months ago I wrote about things you should know before hiring a personal trainer. Though it wasn’t a concern for me at the time, I’d now add to the list that you need to work with someone who respects your standard of beauty and appreciates you as you are in the moment. I’ll never forget the day I was being unnecessarily hard on myself with my first trainer and he looked at me with complete sincerity at about 205 pounds and told me, “You have a great body. You just don’t see what I see.” It was the most genuine compliment he’d given me and I can’t lie and say hearing that from someone with 6% body fat and abs for days who worked with women with bodies much fitter than mine didn’t put a little more pep in my step. But more importantly it reminded me I needed to speak as kindly about my body as he did and I didn’t have to assume the first thing everyone sees about me are my flaws. That’s the kind of trainer you want: someone who knows the difference between pushing you past your perceived limitations and projecting their perceptions of perfection on you.

Look Good, Feel Good: 5 Sporty Outfits To Help You Get Excited About Working Out

October 1st, 2015 - By Angela Thomas
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Now that summer is over, and we’ll soon be piling on the sweaters, jackets, and boots, we may be less dedicated to hitting the gym. It is easy to hide those few extra pounds under heavy clothes. But with so many different ways to stay fit these days, there’s no excuse for letting yourself go. And with the sporty look being so popular right now, there’s an influx of stylish activewear that will have you excited about getting your sweat on. Here are some of our favorite looks.

Dance Leotard


If you’re feeling bold, try this printed unitard on for size. It’s reversible, so it’s like you’re getting two looks for one price. And while you’re burning calories, keep a record of your progress with the Fitbit activity tracker that tracks the calories you burn, your steps for the day, sleeping habits and more.

Unitard, Sweaty Betty – $280 / Sneakers, Nike – $59.99 / Backpack, Rebecca Minkoff – $195 / Wristband, Fitbit – $99.95

Get Loose! Dancing Helps Your Kids Concentrate

September 29th, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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Like the “15 seconds can save you 15 percent” commercial, there is nothing new about the benefits of exercise. But is all exercise equal? It turns out that dancing is the only form of exercise that also enhances memory.

Should you sign up your kids for dance lessons? Or better yet, teach them those dance steps you perfected many years ago? I am going to guess that most children rarely see their parents dance.

In most cultures, parties are for the entire family. In the United States, however, we separate age groups. Dinner parties for the adults, birthday parties for younger kids, teenagers, etc. The consequence is that our kids are not exposed and learn from the older members of the family.

The other reality for many is families are so spread out, we may only see them at a family reunion. But when we get together, we dance. I always look forward to learning the new dance! Some of us grew up doing the electric slide, now-a-days the wobble and Cupid shuffle. In addition to showing off, having fun and bringing the family together, there are health benefits to bringing back the boogie. Dancing keeps us fit, increases our stamina, reduces stress, improves our sense of well being and improves memory for all age groups.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested swimming, walking, running and bicycling all help the body. But these activities do nothing for the mind, while frequent dancing improved both. According to the authors, dancing combines physical and mental activity and was associated with a 76 percent reduction in dementia. You can dance your way out of mental fuzziness.

It’s important to learn something new every day, especially a new dance step. Challenge your children’s minds with dance lessons, which integrates several brain functions and combines music, feelings and emotional expressions all in one activity. At the end of the day, all dancing is good, even when you are alone. But connecting with others, changing partners in a socially acceptable way and showing off add to the experience.

Black Health Matters

Chewing Your Food–And Then Spitting It Out: 15 Bizarre Health Trends You Forgot About

September 29th, 2015 - By Julia Austin
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Next time you’re considering trying a new health trend and thinking, “What could go wrong?” just remember that people tried these odd health trends at one time. Here are a few bizarre ones we almost forgot about.

New Balance Has A New Performance Collection Just For The Ladies

September 18th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Brande NB 2Gone are the days when women simply threw on a college t-shirt and their boyfriend’s shorts to hit the treadmill. When we workout we want to look good doing it, but we also care about how the clothing we wear helps us perform better and achieve the bodies we’re working so hard for. New Balance is getting us one step closer to our ideal with a new performance and lifestyle collection just for us, appropriately titled, NB Woman.

A lot of people sleep on New Balance, but they shouldn’t, especially since the brand is thinking so hard about us. NB Woman will reach 1 million women throughout the US with their new fitness catalog this Fall and they’re planning to drop another holiday collection in November. As a press release points out, “The Fall apparel collection focuses on form and function” offering “performance apparel and footwear for running, training, and studio, as well as lifestyle products for sporty chic street style.” And did we mention it’s cute?!

After our sister site, StyleBlazer, told us about the new collection, I reached out to try some items for myself, ‘cuz you know, I be up in the gym working on my fitness, and the fit is great. I sweat just thinking about working out so I have to wear clothing that minimizes my perspiration. Thankfully, NB Dry items are made from moisture wicking fabric which releases moisture away from the body for fast drying. Double Win! The CUSH+ midsole sneakers also offer extra cushioning that helps minimize the impact on my knees when running and provides good stabilization and flexibility during other exercises heavily involving my legs.

New Balance is also committed to helping women achieve their goals outside of apparel, offering a number of fitness-focused programs throughout the year and across the country, including the popular Girls Night Out events where ladies can come sweat away the pounds together in group fitness classes. For events in your area, visit their website here and be sure to take a look at the NB Woman catalog to get your gear on point.


Working It Out: The Difference A Year Can Make

August 19th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Working It Out is a health/fitness column chronicling MadameNoire Manging Editor Brande Victorian’s journey to drop the pounds and get healthy. Follow more of her story on

August 15, 2014 vs. August 16, 2014

August 15, 2014 vs. August 16, 2015

Today I woke up just knowing I was going to be writing a post announcing I had officially dropped 90 pounds. And then I stepped on the scale and saw that I was still only down 89.2 pounds and, like the simpleton that I sometimes am, allowed myself to feel defeated. There really was no reason for me to expect to hit the 90-pound mark today other than the fact that I still haven’t broken the terrible habit of weighing myself daily and so I was hoping that from Sunday to Wednesday the universe would allow my calorie deficit and the alliteration of weight loss Wednesday to collide because 90 pounds sounds better than 89, but no dice.

I looked at the picture above several times throughout the day thinking, that’s a damn good illustration of your weight loss efforts, but what do you really have to say about where you are in your journey since you don’t have a (so-called) milestone to discuss? And then I remembered back to the day I took that picture on the left.

Last August, Atlantic records put together a workout class for Tank’s latest album release, Stronger. All the editors of MadameNoire attended what we thought was going to be a cute little pre-work gathering in which our heart rates would increase more at the site of Tank than any type of workout, but alas we were wrong and the event turned out to be a full-fledged bootcamp, personal trainers and all. I can’t even tell you when the last time was that I’d worked out prior to that but the class was a serious struggle, for me at least, and perhaps what was even harder was knowing that everyone else knew as much.

Stronger U workout class, Brande Victorian, Veronica Wells, Tank, Victoria Uwumarogie, Lauren R.D. Fox, and Jazmine Rogers

Stronger U workout class, Brande Victorian, Veronica Wells, Tank, Victoria Uwumarogie, Lauren R.D. Fox, and Jazmine Rogers

When I look back on pre-weight loss pictures, it really is startling to see my size. As crazy as it sounds, I really wasn’t always aware that I was as big as I was. Case in point, when I approached those green bars you see in the pic above which we were supposed to jump over during the bootcamp last year, I remember one of the trainers saying something to me along the lines of, “take your time; you can just walk over them if you want to.” I thought to myself, Why is he assuming I can’t do this? Then I see how snug that t-shirt in the largest size available was over my stomach and I think Because you look like you could barely breathe, much less jump over anything. And that was pretty much the case as I kept fumbling around trying to stretch that mandatory t-shirt over my lumps and bumps, and had to walk over those bars when everyone else could jump them, and skipped the Bosu ball balancing because, well it just wasn’t an option for me at that size, and periodically pretended to have to talk to our videographer about work just so I could take a break because I couldn’t keep up and I was ashamed. I’m pretty sure the half-hearted smile I have in that picture confirms as much.

It would be two months later before I entered a gym again and actually started the routine responsible for my current weight loss but when I see the girl in the picture a year and a day later from that strugglefest, I realize I do have a milestone to celebrate. On Sunday I woke up 89.2 pounds lighter. When my old trainer called me to workout as his new gym, I walked an hour and 20 minutes to get there instead of taking the train so I could burn extra calories. When we started training, I swung a 44-lb kettlebell for 12 repetitions three times, I did deadlifts with the same weight, I did three 45-second plank holds, I did 1-minute rowing intervals in between pushing a metal cage with 135 pounds of weights on it across turf six times, I did lunges while doing sandbag chest presses, I did chest presses with 20-lb dumbbells while balancing myself on a stability ball.  I did a lot of s-h-you know what. Stuff I couldn’t do a year ago; stuff I didn’t imagine I would be able to do 10-and-a-half months ago when I set out on this weight loss journey.

Tonight when I worked out with my new trainer I complained for more than half of the session about my stomach and how we’re going to fix it and why it’s not going away when everything else — like my breasts — are. It wasn’t until about the third time that he looked at my confused and said “I think you’re being a little hard on yourself” that I realized he was right. In the midst of doing 75 crunches on an ab machine and another 36 while catching a 15-lb medicine ball in between each rep I couldn’t see past the need to still fix my body to actually relish in my progress and enjoy the process of getting stronger and being able to do things I’d never been able to before. There’s a cliche saying about how a year from now you’ll wish you had started today. I posted a meme saying exactly that 66 weeks ago and it still took me another four months to actually start. Had I known all this goodness was on the other side, I really wouldn’t have procrastinated another day. Not only am I just 14.5 pounds away from reaching the goal I set when I joined Crunch October 4, 2014, I’m only 45 pounds from the ultimate goal my first trainer and I set when we began working out at the end of November. I’m not a fan of the “slow and steady wins the race” mantra and though at some points in my journey I felt like things were taking forever, when I realize I haven’t even been at this a full year yet, I feel proud. I really did become a “Stronger U” and that, my friends, was worth writing about.

Stronger U trainers

Stronger U trainers

Oh, and if by chance my little spiel did nothing for you, here’s a pic of some fine fit brothas who might be at a gym near you just waiting to whip you into shape when you’re ready to be about that life. Don’t procrastinate!

No Excuses: 15 Fitness Apps To Help You Get Your Health On Track

August 18th, 2015 - By Desiree Bowie
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15 Apps To get your health on track

Source: Shutterstock

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be tricky. With work, family, and social lives to juggle, healthy eating and exercise can end up on the back burner. Technology is making it easier than ever to keep your body on fleek. Check out these 15 apps that will help you get your health back on track.