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High-Intensity Interval Training Is The Cure For Class-Phobics

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Photo via Kore

Let your blacklight shine

When one of our editors pitched a team-wide exercise story with each editor choosing a class and attending 3 to 5 days a week for a month or two, well, it sounded like torture to me. But fear (of death) and curiosity (what even is high-intensity interval training, and am I secretly good at it?) drove me to participate. I was soon put in contact with KORE studio in NYC’s Meatpacking District specializing in high-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT. 

I am not a class person. Most of my life has been low-key active. My early 20s were spent nannying, which meant lots of waking up early to chase children around and spending lots of time outdoors. One of the reasons I love New York City is that I can walk everywhere. When I eventually started working in an office, I briefly experimented with running. On a treadmill. Alone. It was... therapeutic, but also felt kind of creepy too.

But anytime a friend dragged me to a class, I whined about it. "I'm uncoordinated, I can't follow instructions, my vision is bad—I can't see myself in the mirror. Everyone is judging me..." Classes always seemed too crowded, and I always felt like the new person who didn't know what I was doing—mostly because I was.

All of which is to say that for the past year my lifestyle has become increasingly sedentary, and while I'm not actually mad at it, I know that on behalf of my insides, I should be. But KORE was about to change that.

They say ignorance is bliss and so I decided to remain unenlightened about the classes I had agreed to take until the day I was set to begin KORE. Trying to understand what I was getting into, I clicked around on the website, where I saw very fit people and lots of black light. I emailed my PR connection asking if there was anything special I needed to bring. She wrote back, "Nope, just you... and a lot of energy!" Grrreat.

I got to the studio early, was given a goody bag, and immediately misunderstood the staff's directions and used the men’s locker room to change into my complimentary "LEAN AS FVCK" tank. I tried to feel pumped up. I was getting nervous about the class but was also relieved to find everyone at the studio really friendly and helpful despite my bumbling.

My first class was with Erin and she RULES. She is a ball of energy and smiles but not in an annoying way because she is also funny and tough and sincerely a nice person. Erin immediately asked if anyone was new to the class and welcomed me. All the instructors at KORE do this and also survey the class for any injuries, which they follow up with one-on-one suggestions for modifications. I won't go into the gory details of my first class but here’s how KORE’s classes are structured: You begin with an active stretch, warming you up and preparing you for what’s to come. Then comes core training, consisting of exercises to strengthen and “fire up” your abs, butt, and lower back. (“Fire up” is an understatement.) From there you move into “Kore4”: Eight minutes of high-rep bodyweight strength and stability movement. Next, equipment-based HIIT: high-intensity strength and interval training utilizing TRX, Kettlebells, bodyweight circuits, and resistance bands. Annnnnd finally, my favorite part of the workout: the stretch and cooldown. Whew!

It was painful, and I couldn't believe everyone else in the class seemed to be keeping up. But it was also SO motivational. For better or worse, I am as stubborn as I am out of shape, and struggling through that first class made me determined to conquer it. When I spoke to Jessica Bolbach, who developed the KORE approach, she described it as “fitness meets the club; it’s a PARTY! The method was designed to cater to the busy lifestyles and discerning tastes of New Yorkers.” This is definitely an accurate description. It is a party! Now, I am not what you'd call a fan of the club, and, as an aforementioned class-skeptic, I was surprised to find the approach worked for me. But perhaps (or definitely) because I was so engaged the entire class, I didn’t have time to think of anything to whine about. Plus, while KORE is intense, it's not, like, scary or complicated.

The next day I woke up in so much pain, I considered calling in sick to work. It took me five full days to feel up to going back to class, but back to class, I went.

Over the next few weeks, I continued to struggle, but less and less. And the most satisfying thing was that I could actually feel my body changing. I could hold planks longer, do real push-ups, and my stamina was increasing rapidly. I even got a couple fitter friends hooked on KORE and, therefore, had buddies to go to class with. It took me a few weeks to leave the back row, but by the second month, I felt like middle row material. I still felt like everyone in the class was fitter than me, but a great thing about KORE is that, yes, the instructors push you and, yes, it’s motivational to keep up with the group, but the emphasis is on you and your progress according to your body. So who cares if everyone else is more fit? It's not about them. It's about you.

KORE describes their classes for all levels, but if you are not a fit person, it will be really hard, in my experience. However, the instructors are skilled at providing modifications, and they continuously encourage you, noticing and calling out improvement. This feels amazing.

Now, I had heard of (and ignored) the term HIIT elsewhere, so I asked Jessica what was unique about the KORE approach: “We’re changing the way people feel and think about group fitness by incorporating aspects of light psychology to prevent your mind from convincing you that you 'can’t.'" She described the instructors' approach, “The music and lighting are thoughtfully orchestrated based on that day’s class sequence. The instructor’s personality is a huge factor in delivering the signature experience of KORE that people know and love to come for. KORE’s foundation is its culture that is practiced inside and out of the studio by each person. We believe in and love this brand.”

At risk of sounding like a total Kool-Aid drinker, I can attest to the role of the instructors in my participation. Because of my schedule, I took all my classes at night with either Erin or Tomás. And I can say that their personalities were probably the main thing that kept me coming back. (My BFF, who became a member at KORE after taking a few classes with me, assures me that all of the instructors are that amazing.) Their classes were fairly different, but they both had such a positive energy; even when they were tough, it didn’t feel judgmental. You could tell they loved what they were doing, and even though the classes were super difficult for me, each portion of the class was timed and designed perfectly to push me a little further than I thought I could go before moving on to the next thing. And it left me feeling accomplished.

After two months of class, I still haven’t mastered the burpee, but I know what one is and can actually imagine a day where I might. I have graduated to the front row and the instructors know me. But let’s face it, LEAN AS FVCK is just as much a state of mind as a state of being. KORE gave me a new respect for my body and what it can do. I feel stronger all over and just better. Less worried about my organs, for example. I can walk up all the subway steps at the Broadway-Lafayette subway stop without getting winded. Badass. Turns out sweating profusely with a group of strangers under a black light is a pretty great release. Mostly, though, it feels pretty great that I stuck with something that challenged me to get way out of my comfort zone. It was really worth it. 

You can purchase a KORE monthly package at $200 or try a KORE class for the first time at $20. 

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Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

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Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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After delivered the perfect pep talk

When Lena Waithe took over as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live, her first time ever as a late-night host, actress and friend Halle Berry knew exactly how to pump her up. After Kimmel's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez hit the "Berry Button" (a large button on the wall that says just that), Berry came running out in a backless tee and boyfriend jeans to give Waithe a pep talk... and plant one on her.

Berry rolled in as if she'd just jogged from hanging out with her friends to come to Waithe's immediate aid, joking she wasn't dressed for the occasion; but, let's be real, she could wear a paper bag, and we wouldn't complain. Waithe requested the "Halle Berry juice," similar to her 2002 Oscars speech, and Berry immediately had the lights turned down low and jumped into inspirational speech mode.

"I know that you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful African-American queen going after everything that is hers," Berry said before going on to list Waithe's many titles and accomplishments. She jokingly concluded, "And you already winning, girl, 'cause you are dressed way better than Jimmy ever will," before asking if Waithe needed anything else. Clearly, Waithe thought that was all Berry was there to do, because she said no, but Berry insisted she needed one more thing before grabbing Waithe's face and surprising her with a kiss. "Wow," Waithe reacted after Berry pulled away, and honestly same!

Watch the video, below.

Lena Waithe's Guest Host Monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live youtu.be

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