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Month: September 2015

Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking

I try a few tentative strokes, and I feel as if I’m wrestling an alligator as my boat waggles haphazardly across the bay in Smith’s arrow-straight wake. Within minutes, though, the pain in my arm subsides. Smith has to remind me several more times to keep my arms straight, and gradually I relax into a rhythmic, torso-powered stroke. Reach, dip, rotate right. Reach, dip, rotate left. When a ferry leaves a wake behind us, Smith shows me how to catch a wave so my boat surges forward like a surfboard.

I spot a sea lion poking his whiskery nose above a nearby wave, I watch the shorebirds wheeling overhead and I peer into water-level caves as we round the island of Alcatraz. It’s a typically blustery San Francisco day and the island’s tourists are huddled against the chill, but I’m toasty inside my sprayskirt and splash jacket. Although I’m sitting low on the water and foot-high waves are beating against the hull, the kayak feels reassuringly stable and I’ve barely gotten wet. I had secretly feared my boat would flip at the first ripple and I’d have to remember how to release my sprayskirt underwater if I ever wanted to see my two children again.

When we turn back toward San Francisco, a head wind whips me in the face, and I can feel the muscles in my back and legs straining to put on extra steam. I continue to inch closer to the shore, however, and Smith says my stroke looks much stronger.

“Any questions?” he asks as we pull our boats out of the water.

Just one: When can I go again?

6 STEPS TO YOUR NEW SPORT

How to float your boat

  1. MUSCLE UP. These strength exercises will get you ‘yaking in no time. Shoulder strengthener: Hold a 2- to 4-pound dumbbell in each hand. With straight arms, raise weights to your sides at shoulder height, bring hands together in front, then return them to the sides and lower. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps. Rows: Bend over and place right hand on the seat of a bench. Keeping legs slightly bent and back straight, lift a 20-pound dumbbell from the floor to your chest with your left hand. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps on each side.

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Touch-and-Go Landings

Touch-and-Go Landings

My father had been there, lifting kids for a peek into his cockpit and demonstrating the same touch-and-go landings they did on carriers in the South China Sea. The Blue Angels were the final act, and as they streaked across the sky, the collective heads of the crowd swept with them, like fans doing the wave in a football stadium. Judge and I talk about the present: our kids, where I live, what sports my boys like. It’s a bit depressing to think that I’ve come this far and mustered this much courage only to have the type of conversation you have in a supermarket aisle. Cloud cover limits our altitude to 5,000 feet high enough to reduce the landscape to whorls and eddies and other abstractions, but low enough, let’s say, to be plucked out of the sky by an artillery unit. We approach a small mountain topped by a radar station, and Judge does a flyby, swooping so close I swear I make eye contact with a guy getting out of his car.

Soon we are back over cropland; the flight is winding down. Suddenly, below us, I spot a flock of long-necked birds flying in a V, brilliant white against the dark-green fields.

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How to have the Time of Your Life?

How to have the Time of Your Life?

WHEN THE DIRECTOR WELLS “CUT!” THESE FOUR TELEVISION ACTRESSES REALLY PUT ON A SHOW.

It wouldn’t be a real Sports Night without a day spent on the slopes.

Don’t assume Felicity Huffman can rattle off NFL and NHL stats simply because she plays the producer of a SportsCenter-like show on Sports Night (she swears its all in the script). But when it comes to participating in sports, that’s no act. “I grew up in Aspen, Colorado, and I’ve been skiing since I was 5,” says the 37-year-old. “Three days a week, I went to school, and on the other four, I skied. Now I can ski, but I can’t spell.” Her favorite mountain is Snowmass, her hometown peak, where she goes on winter vacations to escape the Hollywood scene. “I like the bumps, and I like to go fast,” she explains. “I’ve gone backcountry skiing, but I prefer the regular, groomed slopes.” Her equipment of choice? Volkl P40 Platinums. “They ski for you, they’re really amazing.”

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Elite Athletes on Diets

Elite Athletes on Diets

Even Olympians love doughnuts. But here’s what five stars learned when they got coached on eating.

Elite athletes are fine-tuned machines, working with the best coaches, the most scientific training tools and the expertise of top sports psychologists. So, of course, they also have well-honed eating habits, right? Wrong. Many professional athletes have diets no better than the fans gobbling hot dogs in the bleachers. Sheryl Swoopes was once a drive-thru junkie. Picabo Street practically lived on pasta. and…

 Mountain biker Alison Sydor subsisted on nonstop snacks. Until they found nutrition

Amazingly, doughnut-fueled athletes manage to finish triathlons in record times, sink three-pointers and take home Olympic gold. Eventually, such shoddy diets do leave their mark, however, and the pros pay the price in the same ways we do–with energy swings, muscles that can’t repair themselves and stubborn, unwanted pounds. “You can exercise and train as hard as you want,” says Kristine Clark, Ph.D., R.D., the director of sports nutrition at Penn State University’s athletic department, “but it’s balanced nutrition that really determines your health and energy levels.”

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A State of Suspended Animation

A State of Suspended Animation

I was just a kid, and while I don’t know what my older brother thought, I felt a rivalry with my father’s jets. I sensed that he loved more than anything to fly them and that this love had something to do with why he was willing to go to war, whatever war was. And on April Fool’s Day 1969, when two officers appeared at our door, with hats in their hands and sorrow in their faces, I knew that his love of flight had a lot to do with that, too.

He hadn’t been very high when it happened–about 5,000 feet, coming into position to photograph the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Suddenly, without warning, his plane exploded, broke into pieces and spiraled into the jungle. His chase pilot circled overhead, screaming “Eject! Eject!” until antiaircraft fire chased him off.

My father and his navigator could not possibly have survived, it was decided, yet there were no bodies as proof. Their deaths were official, yet hypothetical. In my mind, my father existed in a state of suspended animation, as if he had ejected out of our lives and simply never come down. I spent several years looking up, waiting for him to land. I imagined him picking himself off the ground, miraculously uninjured, his parachute deflating behind him like a botched meringue. When the POWs were released in 1973, I sat by our front door, expecting him to amble through it, reanimated by faith. But of course he never did, and gradually I accepted that he never would.

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The Famously Icy Tennis Champion

The Famously Icy Tennis Champion

When Steffi Graf retired and started dating Andre Agassi, he soared to No. 1 and she found her next big passion.

Steffi Graf’s mother, Heidi, was sitting on the patio at the Polo Club in Boca Raton, Florida, in January when she as handed a copy of People magazine.

The famously icy tennis champion had morphed into a giddy

Inside were photographs of her daughter, clad in a bikini, laughing and frolicking with Andre Agassi on a beach in Hawaii. One photo showed Agassi carrying Graf in his arms; another caught the couple in a playful clench, half wrestling, half waltzing; in a third, Agassi affectionately nuzzled Graft’s breast. For a moment, Heidi Graf was stunned. Then she burst out laughing.

It was a Steffi Graf few had ever seen before. The famously icy tennis champion had morphed into a giddy, love-struck woman–a transformation that has amazed her family, friends, and fans. Graf and Agassi’s New Year’s romp was only their latest public display of affection in a four-month relationship that has created the tabloid frenzy and that Graf’s friend Boris Becker has called “a great love affair.” Who could have imagined Graf, the stone-faced champion who barely cracked a smile or allowed a glimpse into her personal life during her nearly 20-year reign over women’s tennis, letting it all hang out for the world to see?

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WHEN IT COMES TO KAYAKING

WHEN IT COMES TO KAYAKING

As long as Hewitt stays on this active job track, she’ll be fit enough to wear those Hollywood glamour girl dresses, even though her diet consists of McDonald’s french fries and Coca-Cola. “I love that whole princess mentality,” she has confessed, “but I also like throwing my hair in a ponytail and just wearing jeans, going on a hike and then eating a big chili-cheeseburger.” We should all be so lucky.

After locking up criminals on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, she rides off into the sunset.

Every young girl has fantasies about being a cowgirl. The difference is that Mariska Hargitay’s involved a horse named Stumblebutt, which she used to ride during summers in Durango, Colorado, at the home of famed western writer Louis L’Amour. “I think from the first time I ever got on a horse, I felt sort of like, Ooh, this is what I should be doing,” she recalls. But since moving from Los Angeles to New York City last year to film Law & Order.’ Special Victims Unit, her dream has changed. “I kicked my cowgirl fantasies right out the window after I rode English-style!” she says. “I loved it. I felt like a Ralph Lauren ad.”

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The Fatal Attraction

The Fatal Attraction

She’s no Blue Angel, but she had a mission: to understand her father’s fatal attraction.

This is the last place I ever expected to find myself: strapped into the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet on a drizzly February afternoon, moments away from rocketing into the wild gray yonder. My reasons for coming to this airfield in El Centro, California, are complicated, but the rules of the flight are simple: There are things I can touch (the air vents, the seat adjustment switch, the plastic air-sickness bags) and things I can’t (the flight control stick, the rudder pedals, anything painted yellow and black).

I shouldn’t even think about touching the ejection loop handle. If something goes wrong, my pilot would be responsible for punching me out; I, however, would be responsible for not buying the farm. In the event of an emergency egress, I should tuck my chin to avoid decapitation. After my chute opens, I should steer it into the wind. If it fails to open and I go into free fall, I should manipulate the risers so as to cause the chute to bloom with air. “Avoid power lines, avoid mountains, avoid the highway,” the plane’s crew chief had told me. “Land next to the highway so we can get to you quicker. We’ll drive up and remind you that you signed a waiver.”

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The Body Workout

The Body Workout

Four days a week (Jason suggests taking Tuesdays and Fridays off to give your body a rest), start your workout with 30 minutes of strength training (you’ll see greater results if you do this before cardio, while muscles are fresh). Lift enough weight so you’re tired by the time you do the last two reps. To keep your heart rate up, don’t rest for more than 45 seconds between sets. Over eight weeks, Jason recommends adding at least two reps per set every week and 10 to 20 percent more weight every two weeks. After you finish all your strength moves, do 30 minutes of any heart-thumping activity you want, such as running, swimming, Spinning or stair-stepping.

For your final workout of the week, exercise in a way you don’t normally. For example, hike or play touch football. This will keep you and your muscles interested. If you stick to Jason’s plan described in the following weekly calendar–you’ll soon be ready for your own close-up.

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TOURNAMENTS IN STUTTGART AND PARIS

TOURNAMENTS IN STUTTGART AND PARIS

From that moment on, the romance was hot news; every kiss made headlines, and rumors blazed about impending marriage (untrue at press time).

Graf started spending a significant amount of time at Agassi’s Las Vegas house, which she now calls home during breaks from her own farewell tour. The awards and mementos she collected–awards she usually sent to her homes in Boca Raton or Heidelberg, Germany–were now shipped instead to Agassi’s address. In September, the couple cuddled ringside at a celebrity-studded Oscar de la Hoya–Felix Trinidad fight in Las Vegas, and later that month Graf appeared on Agassi’s arm for his annual benefit, Grand Slam for Children (trying to raise the bidding on a tennis lesson he and Graf were offering, Agassi promised, “Steffi will do it in high heels!”).

paris

Accompanied Agassi to tournaments in Stuttgart and Paris

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