2017 NYC Marathon: #Fivebeforefortydone- What's Next?

"As I entered Central Park for my final .2 of a mile, I wasn't tired at all.  From my hips upwards, I felt completely energized, strong, and endurance wise like I could keep on going.  But my legs which had been severely cramping since mile 21 were telling me a different story.  It was the strangest feeling to feel- in some ways- like I could run another 10-12 miles yet in other ways like I couldn't move another inch. When I finished, my mother said "you look unusually great! How do you feel?" I looked at her and those around me, many who were limping or hovelled over, and said "I'm fine.  I don't even feel that tired."  Why did this happen? Read on."
 
 
At 430am, Sunday morning November 5, I woke up to take the Staten Island Ferry to the starting line. After about a four hour wait, I entered my assigned corral for my 10:15am start. As we walked onto the Verrazanno Bridge, my legs shaking with anticipation I took "it" all in.  After the National Anthem, the gun went off, and the second wave of the 2017 NYC Marathon commenced, and I started my fifth marathon before turning 40, with Frank Sinatra's "New York" playing in the background.
 
The Weather
Just like the majority of this training season, the weather was humid and unseasonably warm.  Expecting this, and knowing I run "hot", I dressed accordingly.  Nineteen years ago, when we all started in one big wave, the custom was to wear as many layers as you wanted to the start and then either check the bag or leave your clothes in Staten Island.  I remember in 1998, as we walked onto the bridge, people shedding their clothes and throwing them up on trees where they dangled.
 
From start to finish, I was in awe of the organization of the 2017 NYC Marathon.  So it was no surprise that, upon entering our corralls, NYRR anticipated people would be getting rid of layers and they nicely had huge blue bins where we could put our clothes in for Goodwill.  The same bins were just inside the corrals.  Trying to find the right balance between being cold pre-race which in 2010 led to the numbing of my feet for the entire two miles I ran on the Verrazzano, I tried to time my de-clothing as best as I could which led to me ditching my outermost layer when I was already on the bridge.  True to form, as I took in the views from the Verrazzano Bridge just one mile in, I was already sweaty.  Around mile 7.5- just over an hour into my race- it started to drizzle and that spitting rain at 96% humidity stayed with us for the entire time.
 
The Crowds
A native New Yorker or not- if you ever feel that New York isn't your city- on Marathon Sunday think again.  In a city where everyone is trying to be someone; where we move at 100 mph; the New York City Marathon is the time where it feels like the entire city pauses and comes together either to participate or to cheer.  Whether they know you or not, if you are wearing your name or something on your shirt they will cheer you on.  New Yorkers also have a sense of humor second to none, and I found myself often laughing at the signs I read as I ran as well as inspired to push on, particularly when- at mile 22 on the Madison Avenue Bridge- I saw a man just standing on the side, in the rain, holding a sign that read "#LastDamnBridge" (I had forgotten and had thought the Willis Ave Bridge was the last!)
 
Having those that you know cheer you on and anticipate seeing them; that is a feeling like no other.  Knowing that my parents, Sophia, my brother and possibly sister-in-law and nephew (depending on nap schedule) were in Brooklyn, between mile 6-7, kept me going. This video says it all....

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Just a half mile later, my good friend Janna, was looking out for me. Janna- a working mom of two and a very good friend of mine- in the spitting rain, on her Sunday, was out and cheering.  I was overwhelmed with exhilaration and emotion when I saw her.

 

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I know I missed my friend Erica and Pamela who were looking for me.  As I headed into Queens and then over the 59th street bridge, my freshmen year roommate from Cornell, Jess and her daughter were waiting for me on 72nd and 1st as well as my client, Trisha and her daughter Alex.  I caught up with them at mile 17.

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I have always said a marathon is two races; the first 20 and the last 6.2.  For this reason, after seeing my client Kate ate at mile 19, I buckled down, zoned out as best as I could, and focused on the end where Sophia, my parents and my boyfriend were waiting at the finish line.  I had an incredible unexpected sighing of a fellow UWS Mom Alison as I was entering the park for my final .2.  who took the photos below as I passed....

 

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And then it was done.

 

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The Race
 Last week, the title of the post was "No Expectations?"  I also said that it would be dishonest for me to say I didn't have an expectation for myself.
 
Competitive to the core, as I finished my previous two marathons in under four hours, I was hoping to replicate that.  I knew that I hadn't trained the same way as I did when I ran NYC in 3:50; similar, I was in better running shape leading into my training for Houston, where I finished a relatively flat but humid race in 3:53.  But I was hoping that- despite my inconsistent training - I would achieve my third marathon time in under 4 hours.
 
For the majority of the marathon, I was on point to finish around four hours. I hit each of my "arrival" times at each location.  I continuously checked in with myself and assessed that I felt good, strong, and able to stay at the pace I was at.  There were several moments where I definitely felt like I could run faster but, unlike previous marathons, I wanted to conserve the speed until the last 6 miles.  
 
Around mile 12, however, I noticed that I was unusually thirsty.  I had been hydrating throughout the marathon already, but I felt like no matter how much water- or Gatorade- I drank I couldn't get enough.  When I started to run up the Queensboro Bridge, around mile 15, the cramping I started to feel two weeks prior during my 19 mile run came back.  I did my best to ignore, and didn't feel it again until around mile 20.
 
Around mile 21, I was no longer able to ignore the leg cramps.  At this point I reassessed. The four hour goal was starting to slip away.   Unlike previous marathons, I had to get up and teach the next day; my daughter was at the finish line and I didn’t want to look sick or injured once I saw her.  So, for the next 5.2 miles, I ran and walked as needed. 
 
When I ran across the finish line 27 minutes slower than my goal, 37 minutes slower than my fastest time, I felt good and, in many ways, like I had not just run a marathon. 
 
What Happened to My Legs?
 
The obvious answer: after running more than 13 miles, anyone would have leg cramps. The human body is not naturally designed to run 26.2 miles. But I had never experienced this before.   Moreover, the fact that I felt I could continue in terms of endurance even after I crossed the finish line indicates there was something else going on. 
 
It turns out that I had a condition called Rhabdomyolysis; a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein into the blood, resulting in weakness and muscle cramps.  This occurs- at times- during strenuous exercise, when your body is depleted of carbs and fats to use as fuel and then starts to rely on your own lean muscle tissue.  If not taken care of, it could be very dangerous and lead to renal failure.  The best way to take care of it as quickly as possible is to - in essence- rehydrate.  I have done so, and my recovery has been fine. I taught the very next day and have gone for a few runs.


What's Next?
 When people asked how my time was, for this marathon, I said it was my "fourth out of fifth" best.  A common response: well, you aren't in your 20s and you are clinging to your 30s.
 
Wrong answer. 
 
Shalane Flanagan- the first American woman in 40 years to win the NYC Marathon- is 36 years young.  Do I dare compare myself to her? No.  But I am certain, with the right nutrition and training, if I want to replicate my days of 3 hour 50 minute marathons- or better- I can.


For now, I'm doing my best to relish in my accomplishment.  Running a marathon is no easy feat, and running five of them is something to celebrate.  It was an honor to run in honor of Marvin and JoEllen Kipnes, and tears are brought to my eyes every time I think about this intention.  
 
Will I go for #sixbeforeforty or #oneafterforty?  Undecided.  But this coming Sunday, November 19th, I will be joining my client, who created a team called FitCo and Friends, for the 24th annunal Race to Deliver, a four mile adult run/walk followed by a children’s run at 10am.  For those in the NY area who want to join, click here.

This Sunday, November 5th NYC Marathon: No Expectations?

Marathon Motivation from Sophia:

"Mommy, are you going to come in first?"
"No"
"Are you going to come in third?"
"No"
"Are you going to come in tenth?" "No" "Mommy! (sigh) are you going to come in last??"
"NO"
"Mommy, How will I see you with all these people running?" "Well, I will stop and look for you."
"No Mommy! Then you will lose! You have to keep running" 

Where did she get this competitive streak from? 

 


1998:  I was 20 years old, a junior at Cornell, and planning for a semester abroad in Florence.  My mother- a two time NYC Marathon runner- told me "If you can run three miles, you can run a marathon."  Not really understanding the correlation, I still took her up on her theory, applied for the NYC Marathon, got in and ran it.  I did train- albiet my longest run was 16 miles beforehand, often after a night out until 3am- and I did no cross training whatsoever.  While I finished, I had developed tendenites in both knees, a stress fracture in my left tibia, and had my slowest time to date as it took me about 53 minutes to run the last 3 miles due to the pain in my knee.  
Time: 4 hours 35 minutes.

 

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2007:  I was 29, studying International Affairs and Middle East Security Policy at Columbia University.  My close friend, Lindsay from college, wanted to do a marathon and asked me to join her.  Cautiously, I agreed.  This time, however, I cross-trained with yoga twice a week and strength training.  While the marathon started with me losing my cell phone on the Verrazzano Bridge and quickly trampled by- at the time- around 35- 40,000 people all starting in one wave- it was an incredible run.  The only time I had "negative splits"- running the last 13.1 faster than the first 13.1- when I finished I felt almost too good; like I could have continued to run which means I could have run the marathon faster. 
Time: 4 hours 17 minutes.

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2010:  I was 32.  I was focused, determined.  I WAS going to finish the NYC Marathon in under 4 hours.  Working in the then-Intelligence Division of the NYPD- I was not on my feet during the day, training other people or teaching classes.  I was yet to be a mom so I had what now seems like all the time in the world to workout as I needed, run when I wanted, and be focused.  After a training run, I had time to rest, recover and not run to the next client.  I got my 22 mile run in, my 20 mile run in and my two 18 mile runs in, and as I trained it seemed as though there was an outside chance for me to Boston Qualify with a time of 3 hours and 40 minutes.  A few days before the race, I emailed those who wanted to track me and estimated I would finish between 3:40 and 4 hours.  Race day came and I split the difference.  And when I crossed the finish line, I was done. 
Time: 3 hours 50 minutes.

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2015: I was 37, a mom of an almost three year old, a fitness professional teaching 20 classes a week.  My close friend, Courtney was running the Houston Marathon in her hometown.  Seven weeks out, I decided to join her and started training. Training was more challenging as time was limited, but since this was my first winter marathon, the bulk of it was done in cooler weather and in the middle of the day.  The Houston marathon is- in many ways for me- the complete opposite of New York.  The course is flat whereas New York is a sneaky beast with the last 7 miles on a steady incline including the last .2 which is on a killer steep incline. However, Houston is hot, humid, and a city- while everyone was super nice- I know 5-7 people.  New York is my home town. Net-Net probably everything equal.
Time: 3 hours 53 minutes

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2017:  I am 39 years old, 8 months and three weeks (to be exact!) on race day.  I am a mother of a 5 and a half year old, an owner of a fitness company which includes a physical location, instructors, and a team.  It is virtually impossible for me to get a break; where I could carve out a solid period to run, not get a text that is either business or Sophia related, having to stop, immediately answer and then get back into the head space to continue my run.  Many of you have been following my journey which means so much to me, so you know that I had taken a year off from consistent running and only picked it back up this May, have struggled with "not stopping" during my runs, have dealt with a potential marathon-ending injury, and unseasonably humid weather.   Yet, when I circle back to my intention, remember the reason I am running in the first place, focus on just the moment, and think about those who have been supportive, I am able to push through and keep running.

This is what I intend to do Sunday.  I will be wearing a shirt I made in honor of Lindsay's parents to remind me, a headband made by Funky Shredz which is Sophia's favorite, and I will be looking for all of you in the crowds.  

Do I have any expectations for myself for this particular marathon? It would be dishonest for me to tell you that I don't; however, I am doing my best to just enjoy the journey, be thankful that I am healthy and able to be present and take on these 26.2 miles.

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See you on the other side.

Marathon Update: Circling Back to My Intention

On October 14th, I set out to run 20 miles.

The “Three Bridge Run”, organized by the New York Fliers, went over two of the three bridges we will be running over the Sunday after next and took us through Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, then back into Manhattan. Facing another unseasonably humid day, I selected to run with the 9-Minute mile pace group. It “felt” as they were running faster than that- which it turned out they were in pacing more like 8:40.  I was concerned about keeping that pace up for the 20 miles, and while I stayed with them for the first 13, I lost them around mile 14 and had no idea which direction to go.  By the time I got my bearings- after wandering around in Queens for 10 minutes- my legs were cold and cramping. I knew three weeks out was technically the time to start tampering. Yet I decided to roll the dice, stop, and gear up for my final big run the following weekend.

Over the next week, I started to consider again what I needed to keep myself going. It was another hectic week of work,  life and the unforeseen visit of lice in Sophia's hair which led to a 24-48 hour period of cleaning, washing and visit to Licenders.  But once again, I circled back to my original intention. This marathon is to honor my friend and her parents.  When life is cruel, when it feels unbearably painful, and when it feels almost impossible. When we cannot say or do anything to make it better. Stop. Breathe. Remember those we love. 

As life moves on, gets hectic, and at times feels overwhelming, it is easy to get caught up. It takes effort to remember this intention. Doing my best to do so,  I headed out to Sag Harbor this past weekend with my mother, my father, and Sophia.  A place where I have been going for almost forty years, a place where I have spent over half my life time running, with three of the most important people in my life. 

Three hours: I needed three hours consistently, on my feet, to feel confident heading into this particular marathon. I estimated three hours of running would put me at 18-20 miles. 

During this training season, I did my best to do my longest runs when I was not with Sophia.  But there was no more time; it had to be done this weekend.  So I decided to incorporate her into my run.

"I need your help," I told her.  "It's really important that I get this last long run in before the marathon.  I need you to help me by handing me water, gatorade, and gel packs."

"But what if I don't "benember" (she still says benember instead of remember) the name of the second thing," she asks, referring to gatorade.

"Will you remember electrolytes?" I ask her, joking.

"Actually I think I will benember that one," she says.

So at mile 6.5, mile 12.5 and mile 18, I had Sophia hand me what I needed.  

I can honestly say, there was nothing like seeing Sophia with my parents, waiting for me, as I turned the corner to see them at our designated place by the little red school house I have spent years parking the car then going for a run.  

 

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Sophia's excitement waving to me, then cheering me on as I continued to run definitely did the trick.  My final long run of 3 straight hours, approximately 19 miles.  Of course she wouldn't give me a hug; "Mommy, you are too sweaty.  You need to take a shower."  So I did, we had the rest of our day, followed by pumpkin picking that Sunday.

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There Is Still Time To Contribute: In Honor of Marvin and JoEllen Kipnes

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In honor of Marvin Kipnes:

Allyson Ocean's research at Weill Cornell Medicine. The instructions are at follows:

https://s010.med.cornell.edu/wcmc/make-a-donation.html
 
In the “about your gift” section, please tell people to check “other” and specify it is for Dr. Allyson Ocean’s research.
 
And in the “Tribute” section, please tell people to write in Marvin Kipnes. 

In honor of JoEllen Kipnes

JoEllen had Luekemia and was under the care of Dr. Gail J. Roboz at Cornell Hospital.  Dr. Roboz was great throughout all of this and does amazing work. She runs a program called Leukemia Fighters devoted to the clinical and translational research projects of the Weill Cornell Leukemia Program.

 https://cornellleukemia.com/leukemia-fighters/

2017 Marathon: #FivebeforeForty#fuckcancer

March 30th, 2017.  I woke up first thing, with a little head of blonde curls next to me.  Around 7:15 in the morning, the head began to move, little arms started to stretch from underneath the covers, and I started to sing Happy Birthday to my daughter who had turned five just hours before.

About six hours later I learned that, the very same morning, one of my closest friends from college, Lindsay, was saying her final goodbye to her father.

Lindsay's father had been fighting cancer; we all "knew" that this day would happen, yet I do not pretend to know what it must feel like to say goodbye to a parent. And when Lindsay's mother passed away from an entirely different form of cancer just shy of four weeks later, it was clear how unfair- and how utterly cruel- life truly can be.  


There are times when words just don't suffice.  This is one of those times.  Yet I will tell you that I do remember JoEllen and Marvin Kipnes very well.  I remember meeting them my freshman year at Cornell; I remember staying at their home in New Jersey over that Christmas break.  I remember their personalities, her mother strong, blunt and deeply loving; her father witty, charming, and the life of the party.  I remember his epic toast on Lindsay and Nick's wedding day ten years ago. 

While I cannot imagine what their children and grandchildren are going through, I can say that their presence is deeply missed.  

Running of Marathons: The History

I was twenty years old- my junior year of college- when I ran my first marathon. At this time, Lindsay was one of my roommates.   At age 20, I truly was more focused on college life and fun, and primarily relied on my youth and natural athletic ability to pull me through the 26.2 miles.  My longest training run being just 16 miles and doing no other cross training, it is no surprise that while I finished, I ended up with my slowest marathon time as well as tendinites in both knees and a stress fracture in my right tibia.  Needless to say, I spent the beginning of my junior semester abroad in Florence, Italy hobbling on the cobblestone streets in a walking boot.  

Almost a decade later, in 2007, Lindsay had decided she wanted to take on the grueling 26.2. She asked me to do it with her.  I hesitated.  But friends don't let friends run alone.  Learning from my previous mistakes, I took the training a lot more seriously, and included cross training such as yoga and high intensity interval training.  I ran a much faster, injury free race, and chose to do another NYC marathon in 2010 and my first post-baby marathon by running Houston in 2015.

Running This Marathon

For better or for worse, in good times and in bad, running has been a constant in my life. Growing up in a household where some of my earliest memories are of my parents coming home on a Saturdaymorning after a run, running is as integrated as my daily meals.  Lucky for me, my parents, who are both turning 70, are still healthy and running. 

This February, I will turn 40. What this means depends on the context of the question.  Here, it means I have been friends with Lindsay for more than half my life. It means that for almost 40 years, starting when I was at the finish line greeting my mom as she finished the 1979 NYC marathon that running has been a huge part of my life. It means that for almost half my life I have been running marathons. It means that for way over half my life- from age 8 when I was the only girl in our after school sports league where I then evolved to a three sport varsity captain in high school to then a fitness business owner- bringing people together through fitness and movement has been my lifelong journey.  As I get closer to the big 4-0, more and more friends and colleagues of mine are losing their beloved parents way too early to cancer. When words fail, which they do at these times, I know I can move. I can run.  I can honor.  


As I run the 2017 NYC Marathon, I will be doing so in honor of Marvin and JoEllen Kipnes who's lives were cut way too short.  

Please consider helping me honor their lives through my run by donating to their charities of choice.
 

In honor of Marvin Kipnes:

Allyson Ocean's research at Weill Cornell Medicine. The instructions are at follows:

 

https://s010.med.cornell.edu/wcmc/make-a-donation.html
 
In the “about your gift” section, please tell people to check “other” and specify it is for Dr. Allyson Ocean’s research.
 
And in the “Tribute” section, please tell people to write in Marvin Kipnes. 

 

In honor of JoEllen Kipnes

 

JoEllen had Luekemia and was under the care of Dr. Gail J. Roboz at Cornell Hospital.  Dr. Roboz was great throughout all of this and does amazing work. She runs a program called Leukemia Fighters devoted to the clinical and translational research projects of the Weill Cornell Leukemia Program.

 

Information on how to donate to that program can be found at the following link: https://cornellleukemia.com/leukemia-fighters/

 



PS Does This Make Me a Marathon Runner? 

 

For those of you who were at Marvin's funeral and heard the beautiful eulogy delivered by Lindsay, you know we would have to ask Marvin. He would likely have said yes. 

In Honor of National Single Parents Day

Happy National Single Parents Day!    

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Hi All,

A few weeks ago, my client who is a mom of 17 month old boy twins, spent the weekend alone without her husband.  

"I don't know how you do it on the regular," she said to me during a session.  "Single parenting is no joke."
 
I have never considered myself a single parent.  Sophia's father is just as involved as I am, and we have two sets of grandparents- all living on the Upper West Side- as well as an amazing nanny.
 
What does this mean?  As a part-time single mom, I do get breaks.   I have never valued "me time" as much as I have now, and I know that is something my married friends, clients and colleagues who have kids, don't get. 
 
What this also means is that when I am with Sophia there is no one else to share both the triumphs and the challenges.  How her voice gets really loud with excitement and determination when her almost-five-year-old self is able to read a word.  When she asks the meaning of a word like the word "test." When she says "big" words like "extracting" when she is trying to say "distracting."  How endearing she is when, before she is asleep, she is in bed talking to herself and singing the songs she sang at school earlier in the day.  And yes; it is not all a picnic; there is no one else to help discipline when she disobeys, and no other set of hands when she can't sleep, gets sick, and wants water, breakfast, and help with her clothes, all at once.   After she is asleep at night, there is no one else there to sit with.  This is at times peaceful, lovely and incredibly rewarding, and at other times very lonely.  
 
I can only imagine the challenges yet ultimate fulfillment full-time single parents face; whether it be a widow/widower or a man or woman who decided to either biologically or adopt.  And of course, those who thought they would have a partner, but then suddenly did not.
 
" I always knew I wanted to have a child," a client of mine, Niki told me.  "I decided to BE a parent the moment I became pregnant.  I decided to be a single parent the moment my boyfriend decided he did not want the responsibility of being a parent."
 
When Niki was on maternity leave, with her adorable son Teo, she attended some of my MamaFit classes.  Despite the solo-sleep deprevation she was facing, as no one else was there to bear the burdeon, she still managed to get to class.
 
"The biggest challenge has been not having help, having to do everything alone. Not really getting that time out where a partner would take over," Niki, who doesn't have family nearby, continued.   

But the biggest reward?  "My son.  The love I am capable of and receive. He is the most amazing loving sweet strong willed little boy.  His smile makes everything ok.  Even when he is testing me (often) the love I have for him is overwhelming.  He has given my life a whole new meaning.  Coming home from work is like coming home to the winning lottery ticket every single day."  
 
The biggest surprises.  "How important coffee would become to me," Niki says with a laugh.  "I'm not joking.  I never realized it until I had my son. But I also never knew that I would need and have so much patience and that how my son would consume every part of me.  I also didn't know my apartment would look like a preschool. ;) How hard it would be to take a shower or how stressful the prospect of figuring out what school he would go to and the processes involved.  How lost I would feel at times and in a moment feel like I had figured it out only to be reminded that I don't. How sometimes the most routine things become the most challenging to do i.e. meal time, changing a diaper would be like wrestling an oiled piglet at the state fair."
 
Advice? "The best piece of advice for anyone who is faced by choice or unexpectedly with becoming a single parent is that you can do it.  It seems overwhelming and impossible and it can be overwhelming at times but it is totally possible.  Surround yourself with a strong support network especially other new moms and moms who have done it already.  Don't stress the small stuff and enjoy every moment.  It sounds cliche but it's so true it goes by so fast. Cherish it, because having a child is one of the ultimate blessings."


For those of you who are, or anyone who knows any single parents, please forward this on.  We are extending them a discount off of our 4 pack (normally $120, discounted at $80 which is valued as one free class) if purchased by 3/31.  Knowing the challenges they face they are welcome to bring their kid with them to ANY Fit Co class.  

Click here and enter promo code: SP2017

 

Seasons Greeting & Gift Guide

Seasons Greetings!

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At The The Fit. Co,  you know we are all about efficiency. That's why we did the hard work for you and put together some amazing holiday gift ideas and discounts. 

Just click away and get all of your holiday shopping done.
Don't forget to treat yourself!  You deserve it!

The Fit Co. On the Go-- Stay fit with us over the Holidays. Whether, you are traveling and want to keep up your fitness routine or want to share these amazing full body workouts with your bestie who lives far away. These videos make a great gift!
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