Interview With Michael Cammarata

Men’s Journal sat down with Michael Cammarata, CEO of Neptune Wellness Solutions to discuss the variety of wellness-oriented products in the company’s portfolio, including the newly launched Forest Remedies and Ocean Remedies.

Monikered The Natural CEO, Michael discusses why consumers should educate themselves about Essentials Oils and HEMP Extract, while showcasing the company’s vast array of healthy-lifestyle and plant-based products.

For more information visit Neptune Wellness Solutions or connect with the brand on social media via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Interview: Herschel Walker Takes Fitness Mission To Washington


Herschel-Walker-Talking-To-Donald-Trump

Shutterstock

When Herschel Walker played for the New Jersey Generals from 1983 to 1985 in the now-defunct USFL, his boss was billionaire mogul Donald Trump. He became close with the team owner and his family. While training in Orlando, Walker took Trump and his children to Disney World.

Well, it’s certainly a small world after all because after Donald Trump became president, he appointed Walker to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. The purpose of the council is to increase sports participation among youth of all backgrounds and abilities and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for all Americans.

One of the greatest all-around athletes of all-time (football and track star, Olympian, MMA fighter – he didn’t get into the latter until his 40s) Walker, 58, practices what he preaches, continuing to impress with a workout regimen that he’s been doing every day since he was 12 years old. “I’m always exercising. I never missed a day.”

Here’s Walker’s take on training, diet, and the state of fitness in the U.S.

What’s your goal as co-chairman of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition?
We’re an obese country. Our young people are playing more video games than working out. Team sports are getting so competitive that parents have to pay and they don’t have the money.

When I became a member of the council, I got my high school class together and we got the city of my hometown in Georgia to give us six acres to build a fitness park. We’re going to put up a pullup bar, dip bars, jungle gyms. I’m not putting up a basketball court or fields. There will be a track for people to walk and run around. You also get community by doing this. I have to practice what I preach.

Kids years and years ago would jump rope and have fun, but that was exercise. Today on the school playground, you don’t see a jungle gym anymore. Kids were doing monkey bars and pullups. They didn’t even know they were exercising and now they don’t have that. Now they have a computer or have an avatar to workout for them. A kid might break an arm using a jungle gym, but that will heal. His obesity will kill him.

What’s been your experience like working with the federal government?
I want to get something done in Washington, but didn’t realize how slow Washington moves.

It’s been a challenge. I’ve been trying to get the Fit Bill passed for 18 years. It’s a bill to incentivize to workout. It lets people take a write-off before taxes if you pay for your kids to play or your gym membership. The bill got into the Ways and Means Committee in 2019, but ran out of steam in the Senate, but I’m still trying to push it through.

What’s your current workout routine?
It hasn’t changed much since I started as a kid. I’m still doing pushups — I cut those down from 3,000 to 1,500 when I got into boxing and martial arts — 3,500 sit-ups, ride my exercise bike for 30 miles, then go out and jog, do 500 dips and at least 150 pullups. I do jump rope. I still do martial arts drills.

How did this workout come about?
I was obese, I was not athletic at all. I got beat up at 12 years old. I remember crying and went home and I said enough is enough. I started working out and overcame so much. Then I became obsessed with it. I wasn’t thinking of playing football — that wasn’t a big thing. I was just trying to get through tomorrow.

Didn’t you also do ballet?
I studied it for about 10 years. When I got into martial arts — I thought I could be the next Bruce Lee — I thought ballet can help with flexibility. Before I got into MMA, it was the hardest thing I had ever done, over football and track and field. I was using muscles I’d never used. Ballet is very tough because of the discipline you have with your muscles.

What was your MMA experience like?
I loved it! It is one of the best sports I’ve ever done in my life. I trained myself then met Scott Coker and Bob Cook. I moved out to San Jose, California for about a year and trained for six days a week at American Kickboxing Academy.

I was a fifth-degree black belt in taekwondo. Most people don’t know I competed in taekwondo tournaments in college on Sundays, a day after playing football. This did not help me in the Octagon. It’s a tough sport!

How’s your diet these days?
My diet isn’t the best in the world — I eat one meal a day, consists of salads and soups. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, I don’t like fish. I still have sweets, but with my meal. I eat what I want but I work out so much I burn it off. My diet is so unusual and I’m as healthy as a horse.

Why one meal a day?
I was doing this in high school, in college, in pro football. I don’t live to eat, I eat to live. We overeat anyway in this country.

When we played on Sundays, I never ate the pregame meals. I ate Saturday night, then again maybe Monday or late Sunday after the game. When you eat a pregame meal that’s not where you get your energy from. It’s from Saturday night. If you eat a pregame meal, you’d get sluggish. This is my stupid philosophy.

Who was the one guy in the NFL you wanted to run over?
Lawrence Taylor. You always wanted to get the best of him, but you couldn’t. The guy was an amazing athlete.

Check back to Muscle & Fitness for more updates from members of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.

[RELATED1]

No

All About Krill Oil

Men’s Journal sat down with Dr. Graham Wood, Chief Scientific Officer from Neptune Wellness Solutions to discuss the various benefits of Krill Oil.

 

 

During this educational video you’ll learn more about:

  • The benefits of Omega 3s
  • What is the proper dosage of Omega3 in your diet
  • The difference between Good Fats and Bad Fats
  • What exactly is Krill Oil
  • Is Krill Oil beneficial for brain health

 

Ocean Remedies Krill Oil is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). The omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil have been demonstrated to be 2.5 times better absorbed than fish oil*, without any reflux or fishy aftertaste. Plus, it has a higher phospholipid content compared to other brands. Learn more about krill oil at  oceanremedies.com.

 

Ocean Krill

How Lamorne Morris Got Action Hero-Ready For ‘Bloodshot’

Lamorne Morris was looking for an excuse to get in shape when he snagged the role of eccentric coder Wilfred Wigans in Bloodshot, starring alongside Vin Diesel.

“I was carrying some extra weight around, and you don’t want to be the guy that shows up to the set of a superhero movie with a stomach,” says Morris, best known for his hilarious work as Winston in the long-running comedy series New Girl. “I also didn’t know what to expect of working with Vin. Was he going to punch a hole into me for nothing, while wearing a tank top and holding a beer bottle by the neck?”

Bloodshot follows Ray Garrison, as played by Diesel, who is killed in the line of duty and reanimated as a cyber-enhanced soldier. Set up as a viable franchise, the arc of Wigans left the door open for his own super-warrior status down the line, which was all the justification Morris needed to get into the gym.

So after winning the gig, Morris walked into Ultimate Performance in Los Angeles, where he mapped out his transformation goals, which included leaning out and muscling up. That morning he was paired with Eddie Baruta, U.P.’s global head of personal training, or as Morris describes him: “a shredded Romanian man who is one of the most intimidating people I’ve ever seen.”

But beyond the first impression, Morris learned that Baruta was just the kind of person that was going to get him to his objectives. The work began with building a full-body program that utilized supersets and big compound exercises to build strength and increase output. The in-house program was elevated by including modified strongman movements, like farmer’s walks, weighted sled pulls, and prowler pushes, which Morris struggled with at first.

Lamorne Morris playing basketball between intense workouts
Lamorne Morris playing basketball between intense workouts Jonny Marlow at Early Morning Riot

“My first try, I couldn’t get the sled across the room,” says Morris. Not to be bested by an inanimate object, he bought his own for home, and drilled whenever the opportunity presented itself. That combined with a few months of Baruta’s program had him feeling like a champ. “Going back into the gym later and being able to run it around the place felt really good.”

Baruta combined those strength-building circuits with an all-around elevated energy expenditure, which Morris increased with regular runs and games of basketball. Even just the task of walking everywhere whenever possible, making sure there wasn’t a moment where they weren’t burning calories.

The final step was getting Morris’ diet in order, and that meant cutting out a few of his favorite eats. “I knew that the hamburgers and the fried chicken were going to go,” says Morris, who would send photos of each meal to Baruta for approval. “But I had no idea how much fat were in cashews! I had been eating like a bag a day thinking I was being healthy.”

Since starting the process, Morris has shed around 40 pounds and continues to dial in the rest, improving every day. “I finally look at myself in the mirror and I see more than the ‘funny best friend,’” says Morris. “I see someone who could be an action star.”

Lamorne Morris
Jonny Marlow at Early Morning Riot

A Day Inside Lamorne’s Training (Chest + Shoulders)

Superset A
Complete 4 rounds of this superset with 60 seconds rest between sets.

A1. Neutral Grip Chin-Ups: 8 reps
A2. Flat Dumbbell Press: 8 reps

Superset B
Complete 4 rounds of this superset with 60 seconds rest between sets.

B1. Neutral Grip Seated Chest Supported Row: 10 reps
B2. Incline Machine Press: 10 reps

Superset C
Complete 4 rounds of this superset with 60 seconds rest between sets.

C1. Lat Pulldown With Neutral Grip: 12 reps
C2. Lat Machine Press: 12 reps

Superset D
Complete 4 rounds of this superset with 60 seconds rest between sets.

D1. Chest-Supported Lat Raise With Dumbbells: 20 reps
D2. Chest-Supported Row To Neck: 15 reps

Finisher E

Deadmill Sprint (15 seconds on, 45 seconds off): 8 reps

Bloodshot is now available on all leading on-demand platforms (download it on iTunes here).

The Best Whiskey of 2020 Is a Beloved 15-Year-Old Single Malt

The best whiskey of 2020 has been crowned by the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and the newly elected winner is GlenDronach Revival 15 Single Malt Scotch.

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition announced the best in show winners this week for categories including whiskey, brandy, liqueur, and aged and unaged white spirits.

GlenDronach 15 is one of our favorite whiskeys—since its re-release in 2018 it has continued to garner praise and affection from the whiskey community. It’s a delicious, and affordable bottle—a $90 sherry bomb with complexity, lush mouthfeel, and a chill-inducing, pleasant finish.

Here’s what we said about it two years ago: “The short stills of the distillery make it an oily, viscous whisky from day one, and the time in sherry casks has left 15 Revival surprisingly dry and nutty, though still fortified with those fruit and candy notes. It’s like a perfect piece of highland cake: sticky toffee pudding, with a light orange glaze. It’s rich and earthy, but with just the right amount of sweetness.”

The SFWSC is among the most rigorous tasting panel programs in the world, and their recommendations and awards are the results of blind tastings conducted by dozens of experts from bartending, sales, and media professionals. We got an exclusive look behind the curtain at the competition in 2018.

Scotch is returning to the top of the whiskey category after a year of bourbon domination; in 2019 the competition crowned Henry McKenna 10-Year Single Barrel the best in show.

The SFWSC gives out medals and accolades beyond best in show. Some of this year’s whiskey highlights include Woodinville Straight Bourbon, for Best Straight Bourbon; Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Sour Mash Whiskey, for Best Tennessee Whiskey; Catskill Provisions New York Honey Rye Whiskey, for Best Flavored Whiskey; Aberlour A’bunadh Single Malt Scotch, for Best Single Malt Scotch without an Age Statement; and Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon, for Best Single Barrel Bourbon.

John McDonald—the Man Behind the World’s Greatest IKEA Hack—Is Ready to Disrupt the Kitchen Cabinet Business

Every entrepreneur has a great story about before they broke out with that big idea. John McDonald, the creator and owner of Semihandmade—a Los Angeles company that makes custom doors for IKEA kitchen cabinets—has at least two of them.

Let’s start with his first dream: becoming a star in Hollywood. The kid from Bryn Mawr, PA, moved to Tinseltown after graduating from the University of Delaware with a vague plan of “making it.” He flirted with acting before landing a gig in the mailroom at Paramount Studios through a family friend. “I delivered mail to stars like Tom Cruise and Eddie Murphy,” he recalls over the phone from his home in Southern California. “This was back when Eddie Murphy was still Eddie Murphy, complete with a 30-person entourage.” That led to some PA gigs and then finally the hardscrabble life of a struggling screenwriter.

John McDonald, creator of Semihandmade
John McDonald, creator of Semihandmade Courtesy Image

In addition to writing between shifts waiting tables, he and his friends had a unique approach to perfecting their craft. “We used to dumpster dive at Paramount,” says John. “We’d find lots of shitty scripts and we’d also find some amazing scripts that we could use for inspiration.” When he couldn’t find proper representation and without any scripts being bought (he wrote mostly thrillers, he says), McDonald tried to become what just might be the exact opposite of a Hollywood screenwriter—a member of the LAPD. “I ended up not getting in because I made the mistake about being honest about smoking pot twice,” McDonald says. That, plus an unfortunate admission that he ate and gave away to friends more sushi than he served while working at a Japanese restaurant, meant that there was no way he was going to serve with L.A.’s finest. “I’m an emotional person, and if I would have shot somebody, I would have shot myself. I never would have done that job.”

It was clearly for the best. Both aborted careers meant McDonald could turn to what would eventually become his true moneymaker. Although even his segue into custom furniture making had a rough start, including two severed fingers the first day he brought home a band saw (one was able to be reattached). He also spent years jockeying at furniture shows and teaming up with local architects and designers to create a business from scratch. The big breakthrough came when someone made an offhand comment at one of those trade shows about whether McDonald had ever considered “making doors for IKEA cabinets.” The idea didn’t take off right away, but it stuck in the back of the entrepreneur’s head. After a rough personal period, that included a divorce and moving into his woodshop, he began working with Los Angeles architect Barbara Bestor who made that same suggestion about mixing IKEA cabinets with custom doors. Thanks to some key early collaborations, he landed on influential design blogs and the idea exploded.

Semihandmade
Courtesy Image

The concept is simple: IKEA makes some high-quality and affordable kitchen cabinets, but they can use a bit of a makeover. To that end, you can order the cabinet guts from the Swedish box store (including the basic boxes, hinges, drawers, etc.), but Semihandmade will make you doors and fronts in a wide range of custom colors and designs. It instantly elevates any kitchen—and still keeps the cost well-below full custom. McDonald admits it’s an odd relationship between himself and the Swedish furniture giant, but they’ve settled into a kind of peaceful detente. “I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to formalize something with them, but they’re just not interested,” he says. But the fact remains, IKEA sells all its pieces a la carte, and about 10 percent of customers seek out companies like Semihandmade for an upgrade. Clearly, it’s big business, as Seminhandmade reported $14.5 million in revenue last year. But McDonald, a gregarious guy who is passionate about business (and baseball), is not done yet.

The one-time wannabe screenwriter is now looking to further disrupt the kitchen cabinet business, an industry, he says, that is as stale as they come. With his new venture, More by Semihandmade, McDonald hopes to make ordering kitchen cabinets as easy as buying a suitcase online. It begins with a 3D camera that is sent to your home (via a partnering company), which homeowners use to record the details of their space. Once the footage is uploaded, eight different custom designs will be sent back, and you’re ready to place an order. “We want to remove all the pain points,” says McDonald who is more than ready for a new challenge. “This new thing is scary, but I think we’re in a place where we bring a really great infrastructure, and sales and marketing background and also technical knowledge,” says McDonald, adding, ”I am also smart enough to work with people who are smarter than me.” And of course, not make it in Hollywood.

John John Florence Answers Fans’ Questions In ‘AMA From More Than 6-Feet Away’

This strange time of social distancing that we live in is far from ideal. For those of us in areas under strict stay-at-home orders, we miss high fives in the parking lot while checking the surf, we miss paddling out with a few friends, we miss interacting with our community in the actual, physical world. But luckily we also live in a time when there’s no shortage of other ways to stay connected, to check in on friends and family, to make sure they’re staying safe and healthy and not buying into conspiracy theories about mind-controlling 5G bats forcing people to buy toilet paper.

Yes, it is important to stay connected. And in the interest of making our little surf community feel more connected in this strange time, we’re kicking off an Ask-Me-Anything interview series from a CDC-approved distance, where you get to ask surf stars whatever’s on your mind. For the first episode, John John Florence was gracious enough to answer your questions on everything from sailing to Tahiti to his all-time-favorite Pipe surfer to why he never texts Albee Layer back.

Huge thanks to everyone who sent in questions on Instagram, and feel free to let us know in the comments below who you’d like to hear from next.

This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.

Snowboarder Triggers Avalanche in Colorado Requiring 20+ Search and Rescue Volunteers

While many people lob Instagram stories towards those still riding during this time, there has been a question of whether people are being overactive about stretching the healthcare system too thin during a time like this. Perhaps this news coming out of Telluride Colorado this week will help people understand the severity of the situation. According to a Facebook post by the Colorado-based San Miguel County Sheriff (on March 24):

“Deputies and more than three dozen Search and Rescue volunteers responded to a report of an avalanche with injured snowboarder in the East Waterfall Canyon area of Ophir. The call came into dispatch a little after 1 p.m. today. There were many skiers and snowboarders in the area. The slide started at approximately 11,500 feet, was believed to be human caused, had 1 1/2-2 1/2 foot crown and slid 1,500 feet. The local man in his 30s was seriously injured when he got caught in the slide and struck a tree. He was evacuated and transported to the Telluride Airport by Mountain Blade Runner helicopter where he was met by Telluride EMS and transported by medical helicopter to St. Mary’s Hospital. Sheriff Bill Masters wants to remind people of the dangers of the backcountry especially in light of COVID-19 when our local resources are stretched and incidents like this stretch them even more. People need to use their friggin heads.”

San Miguel County Sheriff’s department services the Telluride area, and this is not even the first instance this week of a human-triggered slide. On the 20th the department posted this statement:

“There was a skier-triggered slide in Ophir’s Magnolia drainage today – no injuries. The Sheriff is urging backcountry skiers to use extreme caution due to the fact that Deputies, SAR members and other responders may have an extended response due to COVID-19 activity. Individuals venturing into the backcountry should always be self-rescue capable. Let’s be careful out there.”

These sobering stories are a reminder that getting out and split-boarding isn’t necessarily a life-hack for these strange times of quarantine.

Our advice? If you INSIST that you cannot stay home, make sure to consult local Avalanche sites. We have compiled a list of resources specific information in Alaska, Arizona, California, Canada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Click HERE to see this article.

This article originally appeared on Snowboarder.com and was republished with permission.

The Kitchen Counter Gets a Masculine Makeover

Is there such a thing as a masculine countertop? That’s definitely debatable, but Caesarstone, the company that invented quartz surfacing for kitchens and other home interiors, has a new quartet of colors that, if they’re not strictly masculine, are definitely dramatic.

New for this year, the 33-year-old manufacturer has launched a line of “blacks” that transform alloys like bronze, steel, and cast iron into a finish that is a bit more metallic-looking than the average kitchen counter and instantly creates a modern aesthetic in any space. The colors, with names that make them sound like they’d fit right in with Darth Vader’s aesthetic—Black Tempal, Oxidian, Piatto Black, and Empira Black, the latter of which you can see below—are textured variations on dark grey and charcoal hues, and they’re all incredibly natural-looking. Imagine the coolest downtown loft or the bar of a hot new restaurant—that’s the exact look you can now bring to your own kitchen remodel, just by changing the kitchen counter. It’s one of the easiest ways to dramatically transform a kitchen, even if you don’t have the budget for an architect and a bunch of high-end appliances.

And each color is still Caesarstone through and through. For anyone not familiar with the brand, that basically means it’s a blend of more than 90 percent of natural stone (along with polymers and pigments) that creates an entirely realistic look, but built to withstand normal wear-and-tear in the kitchen like scratches and stains. It can even be used outdoors if you’re looking to upgrade that pool and barbecue area. So if you’ve ever looked longingly at the dining room of some chic downtown restaurant and wished you could create that look at home, there’s now an easy way to make it happen.

 

How Mountain Bike Shops Across the Country Are Coping With COVID-19

In most states that have enforced stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of COVID-19, bike shops are being considered essential businesses and are allowed to stay open. But it’s complicated. Yes, it is essential that those who rely on bikes to commute to jobs in healthcare or other positions deemed essential be able to keep their bikes working. But the same can not be said for those who rely on bikes purely for recreation. That has left many shops with difficult decisions to make: Is it worth it to stay open? Is it sustainable to close? Is there a middle-ground? And it all gets even more complicated when much of your business relies on tourism, which is slowing rapidly both by choice and by force. We spoke to a few mountain bike shops in a few mountain bike destinations to get a sense for how they’re coping.

Poison Spider Bicycles: Moab, Utah

Poison Spider is one of the most iconic shops in one of the most iconic regions for North American mountain biking: Moab, Utah. But on March 17, Moab shut down access to any out-of-town overnight visitors. By order of the Southeast Utah Health Department, you can’t get a hotel room or a campsite if you aren’t in town for an essential purpose. That’s not unheard of right now. For cities that have done the same like Crested Butte and Telluride, it’s been an effective way to isolate the community.

“For us it’s a little hard because we have a major highway going through our town,” explains Scott Newton, owner of Poison Spider. There is traffic there naturally, ready for Poison Spider harness if it were safe to harness it it. “We have our front doors closed and locked, and we are encouraging people to come around back and wash their hands, then we greet them inside.” Including employees, only 10 people may be in the store at one time. But at least on this past Tuesday when we spoke, Newton says there was plenty of interest. “Our phone’s been ringing off the hook. People saying they’re planning a trip for this weekend. That’s a lot of what we’ve been dealing with, people who aren’t aware of that restriction. And it’s challenging because this restriction went into effect on March 17, and then Governor Gary Herbert comes out on March 19 stating, ‘Go to your national parks.’”

This makes the decision shops are making that much more difficult. Poison Spider is not renting bikes, and is discouraging those who reach out to them from coming, and it is having consequences. “We have close to 100 rental bikes, and those aren’t going out right now.” Fewer bikes out and fewer people mean less business, and inevitably, that means cutting hours. “Right now, we’re running the staff through the 1st, trying to work on projects. Fortunately we do have some bike sales in the works, and fortunately people do want to go through with those sales, but I’d say we have half staff right now.”

In tourism-dependent Moab, there are a lot of factors outside of Poison Spider’s control. “Right now, the lodging ban is to April 17, but I’m thinking it may be more like May 1. It could be longer, it could be longer. It could be June or July.”

[Check them out: poisonspiderbicycles.com]

Sycamore Cycles: Pisgah Forest, North Carolina

On the other side of the country is Sycamore Cycles, in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest. But they’re in a very similar predicament. “Basically, we’re a tourist destination,” explains Sycamore Cycles owner Wes Dickson. But that’s changed. “It’s kinda odd to try to attract people for years, and then have to think how do we not attract people.” North Carolina has decided to close DuPont State Forest, which holds a dense cluster of popular trails just southeast of Brevard. But north of Brevard is a larger collection of trails in the still-open Pisgah National Forest.

Without enough political will on the federal level to take measures like the local ones being taken in North Carolina and southeast Utah, national forests will remain open. It puts further burden on shops like Sycamore Cycles which, like Poison Spider, has locked its doors to walk-in customers. “If someone really needs something, they can email us and we can do an appointment,” but Dickson feels that staying open would send the wrong message to potential visitors, in addition to posing a potential public safety risk. And he puts it very plainly. “Honestly, we were part of the problem being open, so that’s why we decided to lock our doors.”

It’s had consequences for Sycamore Cycles employees. Right now, Dixon is running the show with the help of one employee who, at the moment, is technically a volunteer. “It just didn’t make financial sense to keep them all on, and the state of North Carolina is being fairly gracious with allowing them to collect unemployment with no penalty to the company. They’re treating it like a seasonal layoff.” Layoffs are a difficult decision for many reasons. Especially in core mountain bike cities, there is a loyalty between employee and shop. Of course, nobody wants to cut anyone loose.

But also, there’s a cost to a business when an employee makes an unemployment claim, just like when you make a claim on your car insurance. If a shop hopes to stick around, cutting its entire staff isn’t cheap, so any relief is important. And Dickson definitely plans on sticking around. “That’s Ideal, right? But if I had a crystal ball, I’d be on CNBC.”

[Check them out: sycamorecycles.com]

Fanatik Bike Co: Bellingham, Washington

Otherwise known as Bike Mag North, Bellingham is or was home to at least four current or former Bike Mag employees. It’s rad up there. But it also happens to be in Washington State, an early hotbed in the COVID-19 outbreak. During the first week that Americans were finally realizing that this was something we would have to face head-on, Washington was nevertheless just as hesitant as the rest of the country to enact statewide restrictions. But that all changed after a rare sunny spring weekend brought mountain bikers and other recreationists out on the trails in droves. When I first called Steve Coen, operations manager at Fanatik Bicycles, the order had come down just hours before stating that Washington would become another stay-at-home state. I gave him a day to sort things out before we got into it, but still he said the same thing everyone I spoke to said. “Everything right now is constantly in flux. There’s a lot of unknowns.”

But Fanatik is tackling things one issue at a time. “What we’re trying to focus on is the well-being of our employees. We’re having anyone who can work from home work from home, we have currently shut down our brick-and mortar, so we’re just doing online orders only.” This is what sets Fanatik apart from Poison Spider and Sycamore. Fanatik has a relatively healthy online business. It’s helping Fanatik to do something pretty unique. “Employees that need to stay home such as the sales staff that are no longer out front, we are offering compensation for them while they’re away during this time.” This surprised me.

Layoffs are surging right now, and a shop needing to cut all of its in-store sales staff would be a forgivable reason to join the club. But Coen doesn’t want to lose the people who make Fanatik Bikes what it is. “Maintaining those employees that we’ve put a lot of effort into and are part of our family is important. We want to maintain their health benefits. We’re still hopeful in planning for a busy season at some point.”

Tourism and rental business is a factor for Fanatik, but it’s not as significant as at Poison Spider and Sycamore. The shop largely serves in-town customers, which makes service a difficult issue. “We’re working on potentially doing a drop-off with a wash station so we can wash the bikes right away. But that’s something we’re still navigating. Everything’s happening so quickly. Before the stay-at-home order, we were operating a curbside pickup program for both online orders and repairs, but we have stopped the curbside pickup.”

Of course, beyond safety measures, Fanatik is continuing efforts to keep the business afloat, and the online presence is a big part of that. “Just because we’ve shifted the front-of-the-house sales onto online, we’ve seen a slight increase there, but it’s kinda surprising people are still riding bikes right now. Maybe an entry-level mountain bike so they can go do something active that’s not just sitting at home. We see a lot of individuals coming in to pick up a bike for their kids who are out of school right now so they can get them out of the house.”

[Check them out: fanatikbike.com]

Over The Edge: Sedona, Arizona

One of the last things the North American mountain bike community did together before we woke up was the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival in Sedona, Arizona, organized by Mike Raney. Raney also runs the Sedona location of Over The Edge, a very unique, very core chain of shops with six locations around the world. Like everyone I spoke to, Raney has a heaviness in his voice as he talks about what’s going on. But his worry goes beyond just that of someone managing a small business in times of crisis.

“Currently, I feel lucky that we’re a pretty healthy shop and that we have some savings and we’re in a reasonable place. But taking care of these people is important to me.” Despite the benefits of being supported by a chain and having a robust online presence, Sedona is a tourism destination, and the hit that tourism has taken is having an effect on Over The Edge’s business. Raney has yet to lay anyone off because of it, but it hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve been communicating with them what we’re doing, we’ve been having changes in our rental fleet, selling bikes down online, we’ve had changes in our ordering. We’ve been telling them all the steps we’re taking, which also includes what all the owners are doing. We’ve cut our pay in favor of paying staff to keep them going, and we’ll communicate that going forward. And that is speaking strictly for the Sedona location, but that’s what we feel we need to do.”

Sedona is in a unique position because, privately, bold steps are being taken to contain the virus. A lot of hotels have closed and restaurants are serving take-out only. But there’s no sign from Arizona’s state government that they are planning on standing behind or reinforcing those efforts, which is frustrating for Raney. “The governor has said that local governments are not allowed to make controls over this anymore. And the governor has said he would not allow Sedona to shut down or regulate business any further.”

The message being sent to Arizona’s citizens puts Over The Edge Sedona in a particularly difficult situation. Though Utah is seeing similarly disjointed communication, Moab was still free to put widespread restrictions on lodging and camping. And North Carolina was able to close a state forest. And Washington enacted statewide stay-at-home orders. There is no such support in Arizona.

At least for now, there is business at Over The Edge’s doorstep if they want it. “We’re stuck in this dilemma whether it’s personally- and public-health-wise a good idea to remain open or if being open is what’s right to keep our staff going and keep this thing alive.” Still, Raney is optimistic that, whatever he chooses right now, they will come back from this. “I would say that wasn’t a clear thing a little while ago. I wondered—is this going to shift everybody’s psyche so they would just want to play video games inside forever? And I don’t think that’s the case. It’s pretty universal that people are finding the opportunity to be hiking and riding if they do have some free time right now.”

The question remains, though, what to do until we get there. Every shop owner I talked to spoke of their employees first. It’s a job like few others. You start wrenching or selling bikes because you love riding, and you learn from the get-go that there’s not much money in it. The people who make it to high-end shops like the ones I spoke to in the last couple days are special, and the employers know it. Raney feels the gravity of what he and every other shop is facing right now. “These people are there for us when it’s hard for them, so we’re going to try to be there for them when it’s hard for us.”

[Check them out: otesports.com]
bike shops
Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Smith/BIKE Magazine

This article originally appeared on Bikemag.com and was republished with permission.

8 Pro Tips for Taking Better Action Photos

We think Meg Haywood-Sullivan looks pretty good in front of the camera, but what she creates behind it looks even better.

The sought-after commercial outdoor lifestyle and action-sports photographer has an impressive resume of clients, including Clif Bar, The New York Times, Toyota, Urban Outfitters, Salt Optics and Patagonia.

Meg Haywood-Sullivan poses in front of a gallery of her photography; Photo courtesy of Haywood-Sullivan
Meg Haywood-Sullivan poses in front of a gallery of her photography. Photo: Courtesy of Meg Haywood-Sullivan

She’s battled frost-covered lenses shooting winter bouldering in Mammoth Lakes, California and backcountry snowboarding in Montana and has captured the action shooting an Ironman triathlete in the Bay Area. So who better to school us in photographing athletes moving fast—really, really fast—in beautiful places?

“I’ve always been drawn to shooting the relationship between athletes and the environment; it’s that intersection where moments come alive to paint a bigger picture,” she says. Get out your notebooks: Action-photography school is officially in session.

Lesson 1: Get the Right Camera

Whichever brand tickles your creative fancy, make sure it’s up to snuff. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

While you can capture quality action-sports shots with a standard point-and-shoot camera, a GoPro or even your iPhone, Haywood-Sullivan says she relies on a professional-level camera kit (this includes pro-level Nikon DSLRs). Whichever camera you go with, make sure it can handle the elements.

For shooting fast action, Haywood-Sullivan relies on her 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. “I love working with 50mm and 85mm prime lenses if I’m sneaking in a portrait and outdoor lifestyle images,” she adds.

Lesson 2: Invest in Some Accessories

“It all starts with the pack,” Haywood-Sullivan explains. “I’ve been using F-Stop Gear products for years; they’re high quality and have storage in all the right places for a photographer shooting action.” (She adds that the company makes a female-specific pack called the Kashmir UL.)

In cold conditions, she recommends a good pair of down mittens with liners: “Frostbite sucks and you won’t be able to feel the [camera] trigger if your fingers are frozen.”

When natural lighting isn’t ideal for your photos, speed lights can be great portable investments that add more dimension to images.

Lesson 3: Get Off “Auto” Mode

The camera won’t (or shouldn’t) do all the work for you. Photo: Federico Bottos/Unsplash

The first step to taking better pictures? You have to learn how the camera actually works. “Flip your camera off the auto setting,” Haywood-Sullivan says. “If it’s all about freezing the action for you, try using the shutter priority mode; it allows you to be able to set the ISO.”

To reduce the graininess of your shot, set your camera to a low ISO number, then set a fast shutter to freeze the moment. To do this, you have to learn how to adjust the aperture manually.

“Try playing around with all the features to get a better understanding of all the different modes your camera offers. Each one has its own unique benefits,” says Haywood-Sullivan.

Lesson 4: Learn Where to Stand

Action sports photography oftentimes means staying out of the way of the athlete; Photo by Haywood-Sullivan
Action-sports photography oftentimes means staying out of the way of the athlete. Photo: Courtesy of Meg Haywood-Sullivan

Capturing the meat of the action without messing up the athlete? “That is one of the most difficult predicaments of an outdoor photographer,” says Haywood-Sullivan. “Oftentimes the best angles are ones that are nearly impossible or just downright dangerous.”

She says that ultimately it’s all about creativity. Try using a tree as both a foreground and a barrier, and make sure that if you aren’t visible to the athlete, there is audible communication between the two of you.

“No shot is worth broken bones,” she adds.

Lesson 5: Shoot the Person, Not Just the Athlete

Meg Haywood-Sullivan regularly shoots athletes in both urban and backcountry settings; Photo by Meg Haywood-Sullivan
Haywood-Sullivan regularly shoots athletes in both urban and backcountry settings. Photo: Courtesy of Meg Haywood-Sullivan Photo: Courtesy of Meg Haywood-Sullivan

“Honestly, I can get tired of flipping through endless pages of A-plus action shots. No matter how incredible the action in the image, they all tend to blend together,” she says.

“When I’m creating a photo, I’ll run through in my head how to utilize the natural environment to complement the action and the personality of the athlete.”

Use sun flares, rocky outcroppings and different perspectives to experiment with the mood you’re trying to achieve.

Lesson 6: You Are Not a Solo Artist

At the beginning of a session, Haywood-Sullivan says, make sure everyone involved is on the same page. “If the athlete doesn’t want to wait to set up a shot, agree to a fun, mellow day shooting from the hip and snapping raw, gritty, behind-the-scenes action,” she shares.

If both people want to stack shots during a shoot, create a timeline and sketch out some shots together.

“Sometimes I’ll suggest highlighting a natural feature, then the athlete will come up with something even better,” she says. “You never know what in-between or unexpected moments might make the shoot an epic one.”

Lesson 7: Prepare for the Weather

Haywood-Sullivan says using the environment can play up an athlete's personality and enhance the mood of a shoot; Photo by Haywood-Sullivan
Haywood-Sullivan says using the environment can play up an athlete’s personality and enhance the mood of a shoot. Photo: Courtesy of Meg Haywood-Sullivan

How does Haywood-Sullivan handle weather extremes? “Tough skin,” she says. “I often put my camera’s comfort over mine.”

Expecting heavy snow in the backcountry? Bring an umbrella. Battling the heat of the desert? Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face and camera.

“If you are miserable in the elements, it will reflect in the images you take,” she explains. “Stay inspired by the environment, not incapacitated by it.”

Lesson 8: Know When You Have the Shot

Haywood-Sullivan says she usually knows the moment her shutter fires that she has the winning shot. “When everything aligns—the athlete lands their jump, the weather conditions cooperate and you nail the angle—it’s the most incredible feeling. It’s what we live for as creatives,” she shares.

That doesn’t mean she neglects the rest of the shots she took; take a quick browse through all of your photos in post-processing for winning shots you may otherwise overlook.

3 Delicious and Healthy Comfort Food Recipes (That Also Make Great Leftovers)

So you’re stuck indoors, away from friends, likely starting to go a little stir-crazy. How about upping your cooking game and putting these three recipes together? It’s not that they’re just healthy—we’re willing to bet that these meals will also provide an extra dose of comfort and make the long days cooped up inside a little more enjoyable (without expanding your waistline).

Mom’s Homemade Chili
Erin McGrady for Men’s Journal

Mom’s Homemade Chili

What’s not to love about a homemade chili that not only tastes good, but also adds a mouth-watering aroma to your living space for hours before it’s even ready?

Makes 4 servings; prep time, 20 minutes; cook time, 1 hour and 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs organic ground beef (we used 75 percent lean to 25 percent fat)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (10 ounce) diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 scallions, green parts sliced
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Set a pot on medium heat and brown ground meat, stirring occasionally. Once meat is browned, add diced onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, salt, garlic powder, cumin, and pepper and cook until simmering.
  3. Add chicken stock, stir, set temperature to low and let cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Add more chicken stock if consistency is too thick.
  4. Serve with scallions, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and avocado on top.
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Root Vegetables
Erin McGrady for Men’s Journal

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Root Vegetables

We set out to make a whole roasted chicken, but when we got to the grocery store, there weren’t any left. There were, however, chicken thighs. We decided to forge ahead with our plan to make the recipe, dialing back a little on cook time.

Makes 4 servings; prep time, 20 minutes; cook time, 1 hour and 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp ancho chilli powder
  • 4 carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 stalks celery, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut in pieces the same width as carrots
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, season with salt, garlic powder, sumac, and ancho chilli powder. Let sit in fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Keep the dish uncovered (this helps the skin to remain dry so it can crisp up nicely in the oven.)
  2. Set oven to 425 degrees. While oven is heating, mix vegetables and lemon with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  3. Put a cooling rack inside a baking tray and arrange chicken and vegetables evenly on the tray.
  4. Bake for 70 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (the thickest part should reach 165ºF), the skin is crisp, and the vegetables are tender.
Sweet and Savory Fried Rice
Erin McGrady for Men’s Journal

Sweet and Savory Fried Rice

This dish is gluten-free and easy to make. You can pretty much add any vegetable that you can find at the grocery store. Heck, you can even get creative like we did with ham and pineapple and add a surprise ingredient or two. Who said fried rice had to be boring?

Makes 4 servings; prep time, 15 minutes; cook time, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked rice that has been chilled overnight.
  • ½ cup of diced, smoked ham
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 ½ cups of peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup ripe pineapple, cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2–3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili-garlic sauce

Directions:

  1. Brown the ham in a skillet on medium heat, then set aside to cool.
  2. Next, put 2 tablespoons butter in skillet and when melted, sauté onion for 5 minutes. Add carrot and garlic and sauté on medium-high until onion is lightly browned.
  3. Add one more tablespoon of butter, then add rice, peas, pineapple, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce and cook until heated through.
  4. Mix well, remove from heat and stir in scallions and toasted sesame oil. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce if needed. Serve up.

 

These Wireless Headphones Make Working From Home a Little Easier

A great pair of wireless headphones is always high on our must-have list—but now more than ever. OK, no, they might not be as essential during these times of isolation as, say, toilet paper and some good soap. But when you’re going on day 11-plus of being stuck in the house with the whole family, well…we think any gadget that helps you tune it all out is pretty crucial.

Here are five of our favorites, perfect for everything from immersing yourself in music to holding incredibly clear, hands-free work calls. Whether you want earbuds that’ll stay snug in place for your daily get-some-fresh-air run; want a sleek set for constant Zoom meetings; or prefer cushy, noise-minimizing, over-ear headphones for staying comfortable while canceling out your suddenly homeschooled kids, we’ve got a pair for you.

Pandemic Parenting: Home Schooling, Safe Outings, and Managing Free Time

If you’re a parent reading this, it means you’ve survived almost two weeks of the Great American Self-Quarantine. You’ve played freezer Tetris (to ensure the ice cream fits in with all the frozen veggies), you’ve struggled to teach your kids a new way of doing math (that you’re completely clueless about), and now, you’re wondering how you will face the next six weeks of pandemic parenting.

The good news is, you’re not alone. Virtually every parent in America is facing the same issue right now—homeschooling, finding activities, projecting a positive mental attitude (even when you’re ready to lose it), and navigating which movies are worth paying $4 for even though you already fork over money for three streaming services as you start to mentally budget for the next few months.

And since we’re all in the same boat—hopefully not a cruise ship—we thought we’d give some ideas and insight for those at home with children for as long as this may last.

First off, let’s talk about your kids’ psyche. Since this reporter is no authority on the emotional side of child-rearing, let’s leave that bit to the experts. Above all, they say it’s important to stay calm.

“Children can’t process fear and anxiety properly if we are unglued,” says Julie Oldham, the school counselor at the Long Beach Island Consolidated School District at the New Jersey Shore.

“Turn the TV off, or at least the news when kids are around. Answer questions if they ask but don’t give the grim details. Remind them, ‘Yes, we are taking care of ourselves so we don’t get sick,’” Oldham continues. “If they’re not asking questions at all, use a ‘test’ question or statement like ‘What do you think about being home from school or do you have anything you want to talk about?’ It is possible that your child might not even know what is going on and is just enjoying being with you.”

It’s a novel idea. Might this self-quarantine be a generation of parents’ blessings in disguise? (Maybe if it weren’t for the homeschool part.) But either way we have to lessen the impact.

Oldham recommends keeping to a schedule. Sure, it can be looser than normal, but kids crave consistency. That’s something that parents who homeschool full-time can agree on.

Now, all you have to do is structure your days and keep busy. This is where we have some creative ideas for you.

If there’s one thing you have on your hands, it’s time. Take advantage of that time to do worthwhile activities. There isn’t a single project in the world that someone hasn’t made a YouTube video about from their kitchen or garage. Most materials can still be delivered to your house if you don’t want make unnecessary trips to the store.

How to Stay Healthy (and Sane) While You Ride Out COVID-19

If you’re fortunate enough not to have coronavirus in your home, lucky you. No one’ll fault you for throwing on the television, heating up frozen meals, and counting down the days. But after you’ve done the bare minimum—washing hands thoroughly, cleaning surfaces and doorknobs—there are some simple ways to feel better and saner in the coming weeks, according to Myles Spar, M.D., chief medical officer for Vault Health and author of Optimal Men’s Health. “Every day, there are four things you need to consider: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress,” Spar says. Here’s how to get it done.

Diet

Meme-worthy as it is, you shouldn’t be eating all day. If you followed a diet before, such as intermittent fasting or no sugar, keep it up. If you’re running out of fresh produce, remember frozen is just as healthy. Canned is third place—still good, but can contain more sodium. It’s a good time to explore some shelf-stable healthy options, like mushroom powder. We like Four Sigmatic, which comes in coffee and cacao form, plus packets to mix into soups and protein shakes. And make sure to drink plenty of water, which may not be as strong of a habit at home as it is at work. It won’t prevent you from contracting the virus, but hydration helps you get over colds quicker, Spar says.

Exercise

Obviously getting some fresh air is ideal, but if you don’t have a backyard and your city has asked you to stay inside, there are plenty of bodyweight workouts that require minimal space. And try to work out as a family, Spar says. If a run isn’t in the cards, try yoga, which has physical and mental benefits. We like the Down Dog app, which is free for anyone working in a healthcare setting through July 1. And there are plenty of other studios streaming flows for free, like CorePower Yoga and Sky Ting.

Sleep

The regular rules of better sleep still apply: no devices in bed, create as dark and quiet an environment as possible, quit drinking a couple hours before bed. But here are a few additional ones. Stop watching the news at least an hour before you go to sleep, Spar suggests. Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, as if you were going to work and coming home. To wind down, take a hot shower, do some deep breathing, or journal.

Stress-Relief

This is hard to manage on a regular day, and it’s ratcheted up know. “In these tight environments, it’s really easy to get impatient and frustrated,” Spar says. “So let’s train ourselves to come from a place of responsiveness rather than reacting.” What does that mean? If someone is annoying you, don’t give in to yelling. Instead, take a breath and calmly say that you could use a little space for a few minutes, then find a place in the house to chill out for half an hour. If you’ve never meditated, now’s the time. (If you’re not convinced it’s for you, Dan Harris’s book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics may change your mind.) And make time to have fun. If you’re with your family, have a movie night and art hours. And maintain social connections. Fix a cocktail, video chat with your friends, and suspend reality for a little while.

Guidelines for Responsible Outdoor Adventures During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The collective outdoor community, from distance hikers escaping for weeks on end to urbanite weekend warriors, is predicated on the same thing: the feeling of freedom. Whether it’s a day-hike in the Sierras, a week-long canoe trip in the Boundary Waters, or an expedition around the world, outdoor enthusiasts like to push limits. So, clearly, staying home is a tall order.

But, in the midst of the largest public health crisis in modern history, our collective behavior needs to change, and change quickly. Politics aside, a near consensus of epidemiologists (experts on the spread of disease), agree that we necessarily need to isolate ourselves to stem the spread of COVID-19, for weeks if not months. The only exceptions to this rule are significant others and housemates. That’s it.

These limitations come with massive economic implications, among other complicated challenges. Many people, myself included, are hoping to stay healthy and still get outside within the sedentary constraints of the current lockdown. ‘Responsible adventuring’ is trending, but what does it really mean? Here are our five new rules to stay ethically active in the outdoors, helping to keep you and others safe in the age of the coronavirus.

It’s still OK to run outside

Or walk, hike, bike, and ski. The important caveat is that you should run by yourself or with just one other, and only if you live with that person. Running shouldn’t be an excuse to catch up with a friend or a good way to date your Bumble match. Just a healthy break from reality that still requires you to stay six feet away from everyone, even while outside.

 

Keep it casual

Now is not the time to ski an epic line or set a stout FKT. There are a couple reasons for keeping it low-key. First, avoiding big risks helps lower the number of hospital visits unrelated to coronavirus, giving those who are sick a better chance to survive. Your risky decisions could lead to added stress on the system in the event a search-and-rescue team needs to be called in (for this reason, many avalanche centers across the U.S. are closing in an effort to keep backcountry skiers at home). Second, intense training weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to contract COVID-19, be affected more severely, and have long-term heart and lung damage.

Start from your door

Now is a great time to learn to live without your car, other than necessities like grocery runs. Instead of driving to the trailhead or spending the weekend out of the city in a quaint mountain town like Bishop or Moab, try exploring your own neighborhood. Travel increases our ability to spread an infection, often putting smaller communities with fewer resources at risk. Even driving to a state park an hour from your house increases the chance you run into others on the trail. The best thing we all can do is keep it ultra-local for the time being.

Avoid crowds

This means avoiding popular trails, parks, and running routes, and trying to run, walk, or bike at less busy times. Some states are even closing parks and beaches to proactively prevent this happening. The purpose for avoiding crowds is pretty clear: staying six feet apart from everyone else is impossible when a destination is crowded, regardless of the effort to get there. That advice extends logically to popular climbing routes and bouldering crags. While you’re at it, try to avoid trailhead railings, benches, and public water fountains, because they likely have been touched by hundreds if not thousands of others. So when you pack your gear for a day outside, don’t forget that hand sanitizer too.

 

Embrace R&R

A good training plan does two things: stresses the body and provides time to recover. Most of our training for big objectives in mind takes care of the first part, though it’s not so great at the second. There’s no better time than now. We all have a unique opportunity to relax, reset, and plan for the next big adventure. It can be hard to embrace sitting still, but it’ll make all of us appreciate the next time we get to spend an extended period in the backcountry.

— See more recent adventure dispatches from Cochrane, including a recent wilderness journey dog sledding across the Boundary Waters, plus coverage of life on an Alaskan crab boat, the Baja 1000, and an emergency canyon evacuation deep in the Mexican jungle.

Take a (Virtual) Vacation to Puerto Rico This Weekend

Let’s face it: We’re all getting a bit stir-crazy stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns. You’ve already cleaned every corner of your home, your list of shows to stream is getting shorter by the day, your children are likely bouncing off the walls, and your pets, well, they’re staring deep into your soul for explanation.

How nice does a relaxing vacation far off the beaten path sound? With international travel as the last thing on your mind, we have an excellent solution for you: Experience the beautiful culture of Puerto Rico … virtually.

This weekend (Mar. 27-29) Discover Puerto Rico will be hosting multiple live events for anybody looking for a fun, creative and culturally enriching escape from this self-quarantined world we currently live in. These events include salsa dancing lessons, a cocktail mixing class, and an authentic Puerto Rican cooking demo. Each of these events will be hosted live by experts in their respective fields.

“We take great responsibility in helping stop the spread of COVID-19, so we’re not encouraging travelers to visit us right now as everyone needs to stay safe in their homes,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. “Instead, we want to extend an important part of our culture—our salsa music and dancing, our mixology and our delicious cuisine—to uplift people during these challenging times.”

With no end to broad self-quarantined lockdowns in sight, consider this a simple option to look forward to in the next few days. Trust us, your friends will be quite impressed when this is all over and you emerge from your house with salsa-dancing skills. Just sayin’.

Below is the full lineup for this weekend’s live events. Happy (virtual) travels!

Helicopter Dog: Inside an Avalanche Search and Rescue First

Though he didn’t know it a decade ago, the Sherriff found his deputy. That is, Adam Sheriff, Mountain Safety Team Leader and avalanche forecaster for British Columbia’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, who brought home a puppy that was a reject from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The black shepherd was too small to be a police dog. But the dog, named Brooke, was a perfect size to be a CARDA dog (certified by the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association).

“Right from the onset Brooke showed great hunt and prey drive,” says Sherriff. “She would pursue her ball for hours if she lost it in the grass while playing fetch. She showed no signs of ever wanting to quit searching or playing.”

Avy dog
courtesy Adam Sherriff

It isn’t easy to train a CARDA dog, even with a naturally gifted animal like Brooke. It takes loads of dedicated hours and countless courses (for both dog and handler), plus re-certification each year. Costs add up fast. In sum, a fully trained rescue dog is worth well over $40,000. Since 2000, when a B.C.-based dog-and-handler team first uncovered a live buried subject, the ends have justified the means. For the dogs, the prolonged training isn’t exactly a grind.

“Brooke loves every day at work, each morning when I let her out of her run she waits by the front gate to load up in the truck,” says Sherriff, who also teaches for Canadian Avalanche Association as well as CARDA. “Trucks and helicopters take her to work, and she loves riding in both because she knows wherever we go, we are going to go do something fun.”

AVY 6
courtesy Adam Sherriff

Other times, it’s not all fun and games. A decade of technical training and preparation led to day last spring where all the preparation and work was put to the test. Parks Canada Visitor Safety called in help to search for three missing climbers, presumed to have perished in an avalanche on Howse Peak in Banff National Park.

“It was obvious that it was going to be a very technical response,” Sherriff said after assessing the terrain and information relayed from an initial reconnaissance flight, which had established the deceased climbers’ likely location in avalanche debris with some of their gear—though they had been unable to launch a ground search due to unsafe weather conditions. Knowing that a storm was coming, and that an avalanche could cover up the climbing gear, Banff Public Safety dropped a beacon to mark the area.

Avy Dog 2
Courtesy Parks Canada

With better weather the next day (April 21), the team called in the dogs—that is, Sherriff and Brooke. The hazard was still high for a ground search, requiring the use of a ‘long line’ down from a helicopter—first, to human rescuers. After the initial tethered searchers probed (unsuccessfully) for three 20-minute shifts totaling one hour, the next search would be with Brooke.

Brooke Avalanche Dog
Courtesy Parks Canada

The helicopter hovered down to the side of the snowy mountain and lowered Sherriff and Brooke on the 150-foot long line. Sheriff hit the ground, pulling a few feet of slack in the line to move around. He dropped Brooke to start her search, attached to him via a 115-foot leash. This is where, in essence, the $50,000 dog began taking the $2 million helicopter for a walk.

The cost was high and the time was tight. To complicate matters—beyond the noise of the helicopter swirling a hundred feet up—the wind made it even more difficult for Brooke to get a scent and find its source.

“At first, Brooke was confused by the noise and wind, I could see her looking back to me for clarification of our task.” Sherriff says. Hovering is an exhausting technique for pilots and the team wasn’t sure how Brooke would respond either; they had only allotted 20 minutes for the search. Brooke’s nose and speed, however, allowed her to cover large areas of debris that would’ve taken a human probe-line hours to cover.

“Not only is using a dog faster than probing,” Sherriff adds, “it’s also far less exposure for rescuers by limiting the amount of resources on the slope.”

Sherriff and Brooke started upslope from the GPS coordinate and efficiently worked their way down. Right at 20 minutes, Brooke started heading back upslope and Sherriff and pilot Paul Maloney took notice. She had something.

“Brooke began digging and I could see she had reached the source of scent.” Sherriff says. “I marked her ‘find’ with three wands and then flew back to staging with Brooke and played ball.”

Avy CA dog
Courtesy Parks Canada

No one on the crew had ever executed a search with a dog tethered to a rescue helicopter. Or heard of one prior.

Although it was a first, Sherriff says, it was essentially a combination of previously practiced skills. “I trained Brooke early on around helicopters, making her very comfortable both inside them, and while slinging underneath them,” he adds. “Throughout her career, I also introduced her to working areas while attached to a rope. This practice was to simulate working in glaciated terrain, or in areas of high fall hazard. So by combining her previous training, she had done all parts of the proposed mission—just not while still attached to the helicopter long line.“

At 10 years old, Brooke made one of the most unique recoveries to date. She found the scent of Jess Roskelley, Hansjorg Auer and David Lama—three of the strongest alpinists to ever live. As members of The North Face Global Athlete Team, the high-profile accident itself garnered press around the globe; the lesser-known recovery providing families and followers priceless clues as to what happened to these talented climbers, and allowing loved ones a key degree of closure to help process the tragedy.

The procedure that Brooke, Sherriff, Maloney and the rest of the Parks Canada Visitor Safety team executed will likely (hopefully) never have to be repeated. It has brought more awareness to the climbing community on the importance of always wearing a beacon in avalanche terrain, survivable or not. Brooke and Sherriff still proved that it can be done, and that rigorous training is absolutely worth it.

Avy Dog 5
courtesy Eva Capozzola

Some Avalanche Centers Ask Skiers to Stay Home, Others Keep Forecasting

Avalanche Canada announced they would be stopping their forecasts for the remainder of the season, beginning March 24. The organization is responsible for assessing and forecasting avalanche hazard across all Canadian avalanche terrain, namely in Alberta and British Columbia.

Executive director Giles Valade said that they are no longer confident in their forecasts due to a lack of on-the-ground data points as most heli and cat ski ops, ski resorts, professional guides, and lodges have ceased operation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Moreover, Valade says the EMS system is concerned about responding to incidents in the field while they’re operating at reduced capacities. “Their own ranks are diminished through responders and healthcare professionals self-isolating,” he says. “I’ve been asking for people to refrain from using the backcountry.”

Valade noted that like in many places in the US, there has been a considerable increase in backcountry use in the past few weeks, as skiers are looking for resort alternatives to exercise and experience nature during the lockdown. But he argued this practice is unsustainable for the healthcare network.

In an effort to halt backcountry skiing for the time being, Avalanche Canada will also be shutting down their Mountain Information Network (MIN), an online platform that allows backcountry users to submit trip reports and observations from the field.

“The product and the information we put out there is enabling people to use the backcountry. If people are on the fence, hopefully this will convince them to stay home” says Valade. “Our staff is making a conscious decision to do what we can to ease this. It was sunny last week for the first time ever this winter and I didn’t ski. We need to be part of the solution here, and there’s not a lot we can do. Please don’t ski.”

Following Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s and Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s shelter-in-place orders on March 23, the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) announced they will suspend avalanche forecasting until further notice. Director Scott Schell says this decision was not taken lightly.

“The stay at home directives tipped the scales for us. By us issuing a forecast, we are equipping, could be enabling, and even encouraging people to go into the backcountry. We couldn’t bring ourselves to assert that backcountry skiing is an essential activity.”

For Schell, there were other critical factors at play. They, like Avalanche Canada, also use a network of professionals for their data. With their pipeline of data rapidly reduced, they would have to send employees farther into the field. Schell was also concerned about the safety of his employees, who are already over-stretched working from home.

“One of the key things I really want the public to understand is these forecasts are built by people. We have a team of people who have to leave their house, enter the backcountry, get on a snowmobile and make these observations. We need to manage those people’s safety.”

With one NWAC employee currently self-quarantining, Schell feels the need to flatten the curve inside his office. While NWAC will keep on and pay their employees for the season, they cannot afford for everyone to be sick at once. “If we continued our forecasts, we could run into the situation where all our staff gets sick,” Schell said.

Unlike Avalanche Canada, NWAC is suspending their operations, they are not committed to ending them for the season. “This is a fluid moment in time. Directives are coming from many government agencies, not all of whom are in agreement.” Schell feels that it’s important to note that most backcountry skiing is on public land, and Washington’s National Parks and National Forests are rapidly closing.

“While it’s important for people’s mental and physical wellbeing to be outside and to move, we don’t think it’s essential to be in the backcountry at this time. There is always next season,” he said.

Elsewhere in the US, many avalanche forecasters are still running as normal including Sierra Avalanche Center, Teton-Bridger Avalanche Center, Mount Washington Avalanche Center, and more. Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Trent Meisenheimer says that because people will be skiing in the backcountry anyway, and in large numbers, the UAC will continue to do its part to keep skiers as safe as possible.

UAC operates under the US Forest Service, and, using CDC guidelines, will continue to operate as long as it is safe for its field workers to do so. However, UAC director Mark Staples advises that if there is elevated avalanche danger, and you are unfamiliar with avalanche terrain and practices, “Save the skiing for later.”

In the meantime, the UAC has a created an e-learning course called “Know Before You Go” as well as a collected list of avalanche education resources that can be found here.

“We’re also asking people to be a little extra conservative to ease stresses on the healthcare system,” Meisenheimer says, as beds are filling up in hospitals all over the country and adding a heavier load to the healthcare system in the form of search and rescues or hospital beds is unacceptable at this point.

He also expressed concerns towards people skinning up resorts, not thinking their favorite run is an avalanche path. Steep, north-facing runs that are often the highest quality when controlled by ski patrol will be hazardous in the coming weeks—especially with a storm coming to the Wasatch.

The Utah Avalanche Center is currently running a spring awareness campaign. Donate to them here if you are able.

Taos Avalanche Center is shutting down as well. POWDER will continue to update this story.

This article originally appeared on Powder.com and was republished with permission.

Juliana Bicycles’ Pro Rider Works the Coronavirus Frontlines

When Alex Pavon leaves work, she does so in fresh hospital-issued scrubs that she’ll change out of as soon as she gets home and put into decontamination, then it’s immediately into the shower, trying not to touch anything as she moves around her apartment. Only then, will she consider briefly seeing her family, with whom she’s very close, but mostly she spends her limited free time alone—practicing yoga in the living room, hiking or backcountry skiing solo. This is Pavon’s life now, as an EMT during the coronavirus pandemic.

You may recognize Pavon from her much more recognizable role as a pro rider for Juliana Bicycles, but her ‘real job,’ the one she does behind the scenes without any fanfare, is a full-time EMT for the emergency department at the hospital in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she lives.

This month, she was supposed to be on a photo shoot for Juliana in California, and gearing up for a season of racing and traveling, starting at the Sea Otter Classic and continuing with a handful of Enduro World Series races, but instead she’s kitting up daily for a race with much more dire consequences.

“I came back to work yesterday (Sunday), after being off for five days, how much things have changed in five days is astonishing—everyone’s in masks, glasses, working in negative-pressure rooms in full gowns.”

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Kitted up for a race of a different kind. Photo: Courtesy of Alex Pavon/BIKE Magazine

Pavon is accustomed to seeing the aftermath of car crashes or stitching up cuts or seeing broken bones and head injuries, but now she finds herself on the frontlines of a global pandemic that’s surging in the U.S. “We’re seeing a pretty big increase in the number of cases,” Pavon said over the phone during a break in her shift on Monday afternoon. “Last week we had two confirmed cases, and we tested 150 people on Saturday. The number of hospitalizations we’re seeing is going up rapidly, and it’s probably going to keep doing that as we keeping getting more tests.”

With limited test kits in the U.S., the hospital in Flagstaff is testing based on a tier system of patients’ symptoms. All elective surgeries have been canceled and critical care workers from other parts of the hospital are helping the ER staff up in anticipation of a continued rush of people sickened by the fast-spreading coronavirus. Everyone is triaged first at a ‘decon’ tent set up outside the ER and staffed by workers in full protective garb before anyone comes through the door, and if people are admitted, they must come in alone unless they need a caretaker; no visitors allowed.

“It’s the quietest I’ve ever seen it. People aren’t coming in for their stubbed toe as much. It’s quiet, but it’s eerie. It’s eerily quiet,” she said.

For Pavon’s part, she spends her shifts starting IVs, drawing blood, collecting sputum or doing EKGs. “It’s just a lot of exposure time even if I’m not sticking a swab up someone’s nose.”

And no, Pavon is not just seeing elderly patients with underlying conditions coming in with the virus. It’s people in their teens, 20s, 30s and 40s who are sick enough to be admitted to the ICU, and cases aren’t just from population centers, either—there was an outbreak at an isolated Navajo reservation.

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Pavon in more carefree times, shooting with photographer Bruno Long last November in Sedona. Photo: Courtesy of Bruno Long/BIKE Magazine

Pavon gets people underestimating the seriousness of the virus—she did the same until seeing the swift uptick in person—but, from the frontlines, she urges everyone to slow the spread and stay home as much as possible to protect vulnerable people they may unknowingly be infecting, and to let hospitals try to get a handle on the crisis.

“The next two weeks are pretty crucial,” she said. “It is pretty wild. I definitely didn’t think it was going to be this big of a deal, but holy f*&k, it is.”

If people want to help, Pavon suggests donating to your local food bank to help those who will be affected by the economic collapses as a result of the virus. And if you happen to be someone who stockpiled N95 masks, do the right thing and bring them to the closest hospital—protective equipment is still desperately needed by frontline medical workers.

One silver lining Pavon has seen to the current social-distancing climate is the sense of community that’s sprouted up on social media, and through virtual hangouts. She in fact, will be hosted one herself on Wednesday on the Juliana Bicycles Instagram Live feed, where she led a home strength body weight workout.

This article originally appeared on Bikemag.com and was republished with permission.

Ivanka Shines Spotlight on Fitness with #TogetherApart Campaign


Ivanka Shines Spotlight on Fitness with #TogetherApart Campaign

ivankatrump / Instagram

As the world focuses on efforts to resolve the current coronavirus crisis, Ivanka Trump has emerged as an advocate for making healthy choices during a historic window of isolation. The mother of three tells Muscle & Fitness, “As we continue to social distance during this critical time, it is important that we maintain positivity by sharing collaborative, uplifting and useful ideas to keep everyone healthy – mind and body.” She continues, “This is why we encourage readers everywhere to use the hashtag #TogetherApart to share ideas that will inspire and entertain our children and each other.”

Working alongside the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, the Presidential Senior Advisor has taken an active role in the administration’s various fitness and active living initiatives.

The 38-year-old adds, “While we may be apart now, we are all in this together!”

Visit https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/index.html to learn more about the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.

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Junk Food Could Reverse the Benefits of a Vegan Diet


Junk Food Could Reverse the Benefits of a Vegan Diet

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The health benefits of plant-based diets are varied and many, ranging from living longer to decreased risk of cancer and heart disease. But, just like their carnivorous and omnivorous counterparts, vegans need to make sure they’re primarily eating healthy foods and not consuming too many processed carbs and sugary foods. Doing so could negate the positive aspects of a plant-based diet, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Harokopio University of Athens, Greece reported that vegans who ate mostly unhealthful foods (juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes, and sweets) did not have a significant reduced risk of heart disease compared to people who ate mostly animal-based products.

Only vegans who ate healthful foods (primarily fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, oils, and tea or coffee) enjoyed better heart health compared to those who ate meat and dairy.

“Based on these results, it seems that simply following a plant-based or vegetarian diet is not enough to reduce cardiovascular disease risk,” Demosthenes Panagiotakos, PhD, professor of biostatistics, research methods and epidemiology at Harokopio University of Athens, Greece and the study’s lead author, said in a release. “It is also important to focus on specific, healthful plant-based food groups to see a benefit in terms of reducing cardiovascular disease.”

For the study, researchers tracked the eating habits of more than 2,000 Greek adults over a 10-year period beginning in 2002 and asked them to complete a detailed survey about their diet and overall health at the beginning of the study, after five years and after 10.

At the end, researchers analyzed the relationship between diet and the development of heart disease. Men who ate fewer animal-based products were 25 percent less likely to have heart disease than those who ate meat and cheese. That number was 11 percent for women.

That sounds good, but again those benefits were only seen if those people focused on healthful foods. Additionally, women on a plant-based diet who ate unhealthful foods actually saw an increase in heart disease risk.

This study doesn’t necessarily contain anything groundbreaking, as we’ve known for ages that eating healthy foods – on any diet – is the way to go. That’s why donuts, juices, and sweetened beverages should only be savored on the rare cheat day. Don’t make them part of your everyday meal prep.

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