Two Trainers, Two Books, Two Friends



Photo by Debby Hymowitz

Super trainers Bob Harper and Stacey Griffith have been friends for over 20 years with a lot of history between them. Two of the most recognized faces in the fitness industry, they first met at Crunch Fitness in West Hollywood in 1996. Stacey was there to take Bob’s spinning class as part of the audition process to be an instructor. Crunch was looking for a new star, Stacey told the audience in a conversation between the two at the 92nd Street Y, someone to be the next “Bob Harper”. Bob jumped in aghast, “Isn’t that awful? I would have said, I don’t want to be him. I want to be me!” Stacey would get the gig, and go on to be that fitness star by being her. Bob and Stacey were recently on the 92Y stage together to talk about their new books. Stacey’s first book, Two Turns from Zero: Pushing to Higher Fitness Goals — Converting Them to Life Strength is now out in paperback; and Bob’s newest book, his fifth, The Super Carb Diet: Shed Pounds, Build Strength, Eat Real Food was published in December.

Stacey Griffith is one of the founding Senior Master Instructors at SoulCycle whose popularity helped create the boutique fitness behemoth the brand is today. With a cult-like following whose classes are sold out within moments of sign-up, she is an expert motivator and self-empowerment guru. Stacey was a featured trainer on one of Oprah Winfrey’s “Live Your Best Life” tours, teaching to audiences of more than 15,000, and now a motivational speaker as well, regularly invited to lecture at various universities and corporations. Not bad for one who admits she didn’t even go to college. Read More


31 Days of Wellness!


Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the “31 Days of Wellness”! In years past, January 1st has commenced my 31 Days of Fitness odyssey, with SOS (aka me) sampling all the hottest workouts every day for 31 days straight. With a few nagging injuries from 2017, I decided to shift the focus this year from the outside to the inside with 31 days of the most buzzed about wellness trends, classes, and studios. Yoga, meditation, sleep, breathwork, cleanses, sensory experiences, restorative therapies, and more… it’s about looking good AND feeling good in 2018, which can only happen with that mind and body connection.





What’s also unique this January is that the first day of the week, year, and month are all on January 1. The planets have aligned for a fresh start! So here we go…

Day 1: HOT VINYASA YOGA. With most of the country in an arctic freeze, what a perfect way to kick off our 31 Days of Wellness than with a Hot Vinyasa class — especially as I started the new year with the 9 degree NYRR Midnight Run at 12:01am this morning! Read More


Moo-ve Over, There’s a New Milk in Town!



It used to be if you were looking for an alternative to cow’s milk, your only option was soy milk. It was the first non-dairy milk to go mainstream, popping up in grocery stores and soy lattes everywhere. Soy milk fell out of favor, however, for the digestive and allergen issues it caused some people, and rice milk became the popular alternative. Almond milk soon took its place, and has held court as the nut milk of choice for a few years.

Walk into a health food store or your local hipster coffee house these days, and you’ll find a plethora of plant-based milk alternatives, from cashew to coconut, oat to hemp, and more – each claiming to be the best alternative to the alternatives, and leaving us to wonder which one we should drinking.

Plant-based nut and grain milks vary in their macronutrient composition (protein, carbohydrate and fat), and also in the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) they contain. Each have their pros and cons, and for many it comes down to personal preferences – taste, consistency, and dietary needs. For me, it’s which one makes my coffee the creamiest, and is the color closest to cow’s milk. The good news is on that front there are a number of options available in a barista or coffee creamer blend. Read More


Rapid Fire Relief



From professional athletes to celebrities to everyday fitness enthusiasts like you and I, the secret weapon in everyone’s training arsenal these days is the TheraGun. Utilizing high frequency percussive massage, the TheraGun is a handheld, battery operated, professional grade, vibration therapy tool designed to reduce muscle and joint pain, improve mobility, and enhance performance.

Designed by Dr. Jason Wersland, D.C., a chiropractor and the founder/inventor of TheraGun, this power drill like tool uses vibration therapy to provide high frequency percussion massage to targeted areas. According to Wersland, vibration therapy works on the nervous system, in addition to the muscular system, to reset the body’s response to pain and immobility from overuse or an injury. It literally shakes it all back into place.
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3 Minutes to A Healthy Back!



Photographs by Casey Steffens

If you’re an athlete, being sidelined with an injury sucks. So many of us (myself included) don’t take simple preventative measures to keep them from happening, particularly when it comes to the spine. According to Dr. Scott Duke of Duke Chiropractic, our go-to resource for all things sports medicine, 80% of the walking population will eventually have some kind of back injury. We asked Dr.Duke for a quick, no-excuses routine anybody could do to keep their back healthy and ready for action!

The 3 X 3 Back to Back routine is 3 part series of moves that takes just 3 minutes!  This is an easy everyday workout designed to mobilize, stretch, and strengthen the spine without spending a lot of time. It’s a perfect warm up before working out that preps the body for activity and keeps us doing all those crazy workouts we love. Each section below is 1 minute.



This is your warm up, designed to loosen up and lubricate the spine. Each exercise is 20 seconds of continuous movement at your own pace.


1. Cat-Cow

On all fours, flex and extend spine. Head should move in line with spine.


2. Pelvic Release

Lie flat on back with left foot crossed on right. Arms flat at 90 degree angle. Drop left knee out to the side while turning head to right. Switch legs and repeat.

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Use The Force!




While the internet lights up with the release of the trailer for the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, fitness company Onnit has gone to the Dark Side with the release of a new series of Star Wars themed kettlebells, a slam ball, and a yoga mat.

Meticulously sculpted into 50, 60, and 70 lb. black cast iron kettlebells are a bounty hunter, Imperial Stormtrooper, and Darth Vadar himself, ready to wreak havoc with your workouts. Not to be mistaken for toy souvenirs, these soon to be collector’s items are high quality and chip resistant, built to withstand the most ominous workouts.
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W.O.W! Working Out With Bob Harper



On January 31st of last year, day 31 of my 31 Days of Fitness challenge, I worked out with Bob Harper for the grand finale. Bob is one of the most famous trainers and personalities in the fitness industry, having starred on “The Biggest Loser” for 17 seasons. The workout did not disappoint. Bob lived up to his all-star billing, pushing my body beyond what I thought it was capable of in a high intensity circuit workout that kicked my butt after 1 round. Relentless but nurturing he kept me going for 3 more — dropping my time with each round.

12 days later Bob suffered a massive heart attack on the floor of that very same gym.

Bob calls it “the heart attack heard round the world”. It was the top story on every entertainment program, morning television, and the evening news. The last thing you ever expect is for one of the world’s most famous trainers to have a heart attack. Bob had what is known as a “widow maker”, which usually has about a 6% rate of survival. He credits the doctors who happened to be at the gym that day. and the AED (defibrillator) on the premises, for saving his life. He has since said he won’t ever work out at a gym that doesn’t have one.

When Bob woke up from a coma in the hospital two days later, he had no recollection of what had happened, nor anything about that day. He confessed recently he didn’t remember our workout or how we had met, as his short term memory was affected by the heart attack. Since then, however, he has been making steady progress, documenting on social media what has been both a physical and emotional journey back to health. Confronting his mortality and the realization that despite his physical fitness he could not avoid his family history of heart disease has been extremely challenging. His mother died of a heart attack and his priorities have shifted dramatically. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and he doesn’t sweat the big stuff either.
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Double Vision. One Focus.



“On 4/3/15 I woke up like the picture on the left. I’d had a stroke in my sleep which caused a palsy in the 3rd nerve of my brain, causing my right eye to swing out. I saw two of everything and could only see straight if I closed one eye. It’s taken over a year and a half, 3 surgeries, an ocean of tears, and the desperate need to regain my life to get ME back. I took the pic on the right just after taking my new SoulCycle instructor photos — hence the incredible and very fake lashes. I never imagined having the courage to share the ‘before’ pic, but think it’s important to recognize and celebrate the journey, no matter how painful. Unlike so many stories, this one has a happy ending, one that will hopefully inspire determination and hope!”

-Emma Zaks, Facebook post, November 18, 2016

This is the story of Emma Zaks, a bubbly, energetic, and very popular SoulCycle instructor. Those who ride with Emma watched this healthy and fit 33-year old woman go through an unimaginable two-year journey — becoming increasingly ill with debilitating symptoms, both gastro-intestinal and neurological, that ultimately resulted in a stroke.

On and off the SoulCycle schedule at first, Emma began subbing out her classes for other instructors. Then followed a long absence. She would later return to teach — a patch on one eye and face swollen from the steroids doctors had prescribed for devastating symptoms no one really could explain. An autoimmune disease of some sort was the rumor. As is her nature, Emma remained her upbeat self through it all, or so it appeared, never letting her riders see the pain and fear going on inside.

Luckily, this story has a happy ending. After her illness was finally diagnosed and treated, Emma started posting little bits of her journey on Facebook. So moved and overwhelmed by her strength and bravery, we asked her to tell us what happened from beginning to end. This is her story in her own words…. and her Facebook posts.
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