The Best Yoga Mats for Men in 2022

Yoga mats might seem like a simple piece of gear, but these six-foot rubber pads symbolize more. By unfurling one in a bikram yoga class or at home in front of your favorite yoga channel, you’re creating a physical space to move your body as well as a mental space to invite more mindfulness. Think of the mat as a landing spot for taking care of your entire wellbeing.

If you’re new to the practice or just looking to upgrade your yoga mat, you’ll want to consider a few different features before adding one to your shopping cart. The most noticeable feature on yoga mats is the material they’re made from. Most yoga mats are made from a blend of rubber and polyurethane to provide grip during sweaty workouts, but some mats are made from fabric and plant-derived materials. Yoga brands are being more conscientious about using earth-friendly ingredients, so keep an eye out for mats that are made with recycled content, are FSC-certified, and are chemical-free.

The next feature to consider is thickness. If you’re sensitive to hard surfaces or tend to have joint pain, opt for a thicker mat: It’ll offer more cushioning for your hands, knees, elbows, and feet when they make contact with the ground. You can also add a blanket, pillow, or block for extra support. Keep in mind that the thicker the yoga mat, the larger it’s going to be when rolled up. Thinner mats tend to be lighter and easier to roll up and transport.

Bonus features in some selections include antimicrobial additives, anti-slip coatings, lifetime guarantees, extra surface area, and the use of natural materials like grass and cotton.

To help you choose the right yoga mat, we compiled 15 of our favorites for all types of yoga sessions. Whether you’re planning on sweating out all your worries in a hot yoga class or just doing some after-work stretching, these are the best yoga mats for men in 2022.

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The 15 Best Yoga Mats for Men in 2022

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Author: Amelia Arvesen

How to Make and Flavor Kombucha at Home

Sharing tips on how to make and flavor your own kombucha at home!

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a lovely morning! This week is a bit bonkers and we’re enjoying time with some friends who are here from Florida! I’ll be back on Friday with some faves, but in the meantime, here’s a post from the archives. If you’re curious about making your own kombucha at home, here’s the full how-to!

homemade kombucha

So, it FINALLY HAPPENED.

After about a year (maybe a little longer?) of inconsistently making kombucha at home, I finally made some that tastes even better than store-bought stuff.

How To Make And Flavor Kombucha At Home

Orange Cranberry Ginger Homemade Kombucha

Homemade Orange Cranberry Ginger Kombucha

It was getting really close, and I was happy with the flavor combos I’d tried, but it was always a little too tangy, too sweet, not fizzy enough, etc.

After quite a bit of experimentation, I got the result I’d been searching for my finished kombucha; it was a glorious moment indeed. A warm embrace was shared with the kombucha jar before holding the scoby in the air like a baby Simba while singing a celebratory chant.

(Ok, just in my mind.)

Tips on How to Make Kombucha at Home

-I followed the steps in this post, but will outline them again, updated with the current techniques.

1) The quality of the scoby (the starter bacteria that looks like a flat, opaque gummy disk) makes all the difference in the world. I got an awesome scoby from Amazon, but I’ve also ordered a dud that ended up molding. (A little tidbit about mold: a lot of people are rightfully fearful about making moldy or bad kombucha. If the batch is bad, it’s an obvious thing. You will know it’s bad just by looking at it. The scoby will have blue or greenish patches on it, and well, it will look like mold. Don’t drink it; throw it away to start over.) The scoby I picked up from the farmer’s market in Ocean Beach is a BEAST.

(I got a bottle from the farmer’s market, filled with scoby strands and starter tea. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. Shame on me.)

I’ve made multiple batches with said amazing scoby and also gave one to Whitney; she now has a full-up scoby hotel.

I like ‘em thick.

Scoby handling guidelines: always make sure your hands, tools, container, anything that comes in contact with the scoby, are fully sanitized. Do not touch the scoby (or stir your kombucha) with anything metal; it can destroy it. Use wood or plastic tools instead.

make kombucha at homeThe Kombucha Fermentation Process

2) After you have your scoby, make your starter tea (black and green tea with NO added essential oils work well). I like the Newman’s Own organic black tea. 8-10 cups of water to 8-10 bags of tea (equal water:tea ratio). After the water comes up to a boil, I add the tea bags, remove from the heat and stir in one cup of organic sugar. Let the tea cool completely to room temperature before straining it and pouring into your kombucha jar (this is a perfect one).

3) Next, you’ll add about 2 cups of starter liquid (or whatever came with your scoby), and gently place the scoby on top. If the scoby and tea are the exact same temperature, it will float beautifully to the top. If it sinks to the bottom, NBD. Just let it swim around and a new scoby will grow on top.

4) Cover it with cheesecloth or a paper towel (covered to protect, but with something that will enable it to breathe) and secure with an elastic band before placing in a dark cabinet to ferment. Avoid looking at it while it’s fermenting (the kombucha is brewing!), and start checking the taste of the mixture in about a week. This is where you’ll decide how tangy or sweet you like it.fermenting homemade kombucha

Dip a clean plastic spoon into the ‘buch and give it a taste. If it’s to your liking, you’re ready for a second ferment! If it’s too sweet, give it a couple more days to become more tangy/acidic. Or if it’s too tangy, move onto the next step (flavoring and second fermentation) and add some extra fruit juice.

The duration for your kombucha fermentation will vary based on your climate and taste preferences. In hot Tucson, it was ready in about a week. In cooler weather, it could take up to two weeks. Be patient, young grasshopper.

Kombucha Brewing

5) When you’re ready for your second fermentation, this is the fun part: flavoring it! Get another jar or two (that has a flip lid, like these ones), or some airtight bottles like mason jars for the second round fermentation + flavoring the mixture.

Here are some flavor ideas:

  • Fruit juice (apple, berry, orange)
  • Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries); I’d recommend using fresh vs. frozen fruit
  • Herbs (lavender, dried ginger, mint)
  • Fresh ginger for that zing!
  • Strawberry basil is also a favorite combo of mine. Have fun experimenting!

kombucha flavor ingredients

To each jar or bottle, add some juice, herbs (if you’d like) and (this is KEY) some dried fruit (like dried cranberries or raisins). The sugar in the dried fruit will continue to feed the bacteria, and will also make the kombucha fizzy. Another thing that helps will fizz factor: dried ginger. This stuff is particularly awesome; a little (like a hefty pinch for each Mason jar) goes a long way. Pour the kombucha into each jar or bottle, but be sure to leave at least 2 cups of kombucha in the original jar to use as your “starter tea” for the next batch.

6) Seal the flavored kombucha and place back in the pantry (in a dark, temperate spot) for 2-3 days. 

7) Next, you’ll transfer the jars/bottles from the pantry to the fridge to chill and enjoy! (if you used any “whole” fruits, herbs or berries, strain the mixture before sealing again to place in the fridge.

Homemade Kombucha Tips

So what do you do with the old bottle of kombucha (which now has the old “Mother” scoby in it + the new layer “baby” scoby growing on top)? You separate the baby from the mother (yes, this involves touching it with your hands and cringing as you peel the slimy layers apart). The baby scoby can now venture on its own into the world to make its own kombucha (so you can have two batches growing at once). Or even better: put it in a baggie with some starter tea and gift to a friend! The gift that keeps on giving haha.

A little tip: I only use one scoby for a max of two batches of kombucha, and then will switch over to the baby scoby. They become weaker with each batch, so it’s good to switch to a new scoby after a couple of rounds.

Hope this helped those of you who were considering making your own kombucha!

Kombucha: yay or nay? Have you ever made kombucha at home? If so, what are your favorite flavors? Anything unique that you like to make or ferment? I would love to experiment with homemade ghee or goat cheese!

xoxo

Gina

The post How to Make and Flavor Kombucha at Home appeared first on The Fitnessista.

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Author: Fitnessista

The best dairy-free broccoli salad

Sharing a recipe for the best dairy-free broccoli salad. This is the perfect side dish for dinners, delicious leftovers for lunch, and an awesome healthy summer BBQ or potluck side dish.

Hey friends! How’s the day going so far? We’re back in town after a trip to Phoenix for Nationals, and have a mountain of laundry + have some virtual 1:1 appointments.

For today’s post, I thought I’d share a summer side dish recipe! Whenever we have friends over during the summer, finding recipes for the *fun* stuff like appetizers and desserts is always super easy. I always like to make sure we have some kind of salad or vegetable, and am always looking for new favorites. Mia recently shared her favorite broccoli salad recipe with me and I knew I had to post it here on the blog! It lasted about 15 minutes in our house.

I accidentally found out that the girls love raw broccoli when we were low on groceries and I was running out of options while packing their lunch + snacks for school. I’ll typically roast broccoli with dinner and they tend to be pretty meh about it. I needed one more spot to fill in their lunch bento boxes, so I added some raw chopped broccoli. When I picked them up, they both said how much they loved the broccoli in their lunch, and I’ve been adding it ever since. This broccoli salad was a HUGE hit in our house – we each had a bowl and it was gone.

Broccoli salad is a great source of fiber and vitamins. It’s also dairy-free, and includes blanched broccoli, which still has a crunch, but can be easier to digest than raw. You simply mix all of the ingredients into a bowl and enjoy! It’s also a versatile recipe; feel free to customize it as you like. You can swap out the almonds for another type of nut, or use a different type of dried fruit (like dried cranberries or raisins) instead of the dates. Just make sure that you don’t skip the celery seed, as it gives it a unique flavor and crunch.

The best dairy-free broccoli salad

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli (or a 12 oz bag of pre cut florets)

Avocado oil mayo (Chosen foods, Sir Kensington or homemade. I like to make my own, or order Sir Kensington from Thrive Market)

Maple syrup (or honey) for a little bit of sweetness

Celery seed – don’t omit this ingredient!

Salt & pepper, to taste

Onion powder

Red onion

Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

Toasted, sliced almonds or pecans (you can also use walnuts, sunflower seeds or cashews)

Chopped dates

Bacon, cooked until crispy and chopped, optional (I used turkey bacon and it was SO good)

Instructions

Step One

Chop the broccoli into florets. Fill a 2 qt saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and drop in the raw broccoli florets into the pot. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Set next to the stove.  When the timer ends, skim the broccoli from the hot water and submerge into the ice bath.  Let stand in the ice bath for 5 minutes.

Step Two

Remove broccoli from the ice bath and allow it to drain on paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth.

Step Three

In a large bowl, combine mayo, maple syrup, celery seed, salt, black pepper, onion powder, chopped onion, and vinegar.  Whisk to combine.

Step Four

Add broccoli and stir to coat completely. Add toasted, sliced almonds and chopped dates. Next, add the optional bacon if you’re using bacon.

Step Five

Chill the salad until ready to serve. Can be made up to 4 hours before serving!

*Tip: to make this a fully vegan broccoli salad, use Vegan mayo and skip the bacon. I love serving this with some protein, like grilled chicken or fish.

How long is broccoli salad good in the fridge?

If you use blanched broccoli, which can be easier to digest than raw broccoli, it will keep for one day. If you choose to use raw (which absolutely works with this recipe!), it will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Here is the full recipe:

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The best dairy-free broccoli salad

Cool and crispy salad that is perfect to pair with any protein. This salad is also easier to digest thanks to the blanched broccoli.  Very versatile and easy to customize! Keep it low-carb by omitting the dried fruit or substitute raisins or diced apples for the dates. This dairy-free broccoli salad is the perfect summer side dish!

  • Author: Gina Harney // The Fitnessista
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets (or a 12 oz bag of pre cut florets)

½ cup avocado oil mayo (chosen foods, sir kensington or homemade) 

1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)

1 tsp celery seed

Salt & pepper, to taste

2 tsp onion powder

¼ cup red onion, finely minced

¼ cup apple cider or red wine vinegar

⅓ cup toasted, sliced almonds or pecans

¼ cup chopped dates

3 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and chopped, optional

Instructions

  1. Fill a 2 qt saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Salt the water and drop in the raw broccoli florets.  Set a timer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Set next to the stove.  When the timer ends, skim the broccoli from the hot water and submerge into the ice bath.  Let stand in the ice bath for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove broccoli from the ice bath and allow it to drain on paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth.
  3. In a large bowl, combine mayo, maple syrup, celery seed, salt, black pepper, onion powder, chopped onion, and vinegar.  Whisk to combine.
  4. Add broccoli and stir to coat completely.
  5. Add toasted, sliced almonds and chopped dates. Bacon, optional. 
  6. Chill the salad until ready to serve. Can be made up to 4 hours before serving.  

The girls and I absolutely LOVED this one. If you’re looking for a delicious summer side dish, definitely give it a whirl!

So tell me, friends: what are some of your favorite summer recipes? Please link it up in the comments below!

xo

Gina

More summer recipes:

S’mores in a jar with vegan chocolate mousse

Healthy summer party and grilling recipes

Vegan artichoke dip

Berry crumble in a jar

The post The best dairy-free broccoli salad appeared first on The Fitnessista.

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Author: Fitnessista

Glen Powell on Flying F-18s for ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and Best Lessons From Tom Cruise

Glen Powell nearly didn’t end up in the cast of the box-office-smashing Top Gun: Maverick. Originally the charismatic actor had screen tested to play “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Anthony Edward’s “Goose” from the original movie. When that role went to Miles Teller, Powell thought he might be left high and dry from the long-awaited Top Gun sequel. That’s when Tom Cruise came to him with a different mission: playing the “Iceman”-like Lt. Jake “Hangman” Seresin—if he chose to accept it.

“I have to give Tom credit because he gave me confidence that we’d be able to build something special together with Hangman,” says Powell. No surprise, Cruise was right. The resulting hotshot aviator is the perfect antagonist for “Rooster”—as well as Tom Cruise’s “Maverick.” Perhaps even more than the original, the movie is a true team effort—following young ace F-18 pilots as they train for a seemingly-impossible mission under Maverick’s tutelage. The sequences at the titular naval tactics program and on the aircraft carrier were all done for real, with actors like Powell living on-site among the enlisted personnel. “I’m glad that I signed on,” says Powell. “I could’ve missed the experience of a lifetime.”

We spoke with Powell about living on Navy bases, working out with the cast, filming that beach football scene, and learning from Tom Cruise.

Men’s Journal: Are you glad Tom Cruise and Paramount decided to wait for this movie to release on the big screen?

Glen Powell: There has never been a movie more primed for the big screen than this one, since we shot in IMAX with cameras that have never before been used in jets like this. There had to be a lot of cooperation from the U.S. Navy to get this done in a way that couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Seeing this on a 50-inch screen at home or on an iPhone would’ve been a huge bummer.

How’d you feel stepping into the sequel of one of the biggest action movies ever?

I’m a big fan of the original Top Gun. It’s one of the reasons I became an actor. That movie had action, romance, iconic lines, and everyone in it just looks cool. Once you’ve seen the movie, you’re pumped up to go fast. You want to pedal your bike until the gears fall off.

Top Gun: Maverick / Paramount Pictures

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Once you got the role, when did flight training begin for real?

Not long afterwards. I have a few friends who are military pilots, so I went down to Miramar beforehand to kick it with that crew and live with them. I like to be around the real deal whenever I’m prepping for something. Over the course of the experience, all of the young pilots were living together in close quarters. When the actual flight training began, we started with the Cessna, went to the Extra EA-300, then the L-39, and finally the F-18. That’s how we worked our way up to understand the physics of the airplane and get acclimated to all the G-force. There was additional training, too—like a helo dunker where they spin you blindfolded underwater, then make you escape the cockpit by breaking glass and swimming out. The goal was to be as legit Top Gun pilots as possible in that short amount of prep time. I actually got my pilot’s license just a little while after we wrapped.

What was it like flying in the F-18s?

I was in the cockpit with the best aviators in the world who were doing maneuvers they’d never done before. The preparation was key to be ready in those moments because we were taking around 7 Gs. The affect that can have on your body is serious. We were taught a number of tricks and exercises that the pilots do during flights to keep from passing out. But it was all worth it. With the cameras in there, it was so authentic. You can see we’re really feeling it during those scenes.

Living among the Navy service members must have helped bring authenticity to the film, too.

There’s no question that staying on the Navy bases and on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Roosevelt, all in the real pilots quarters, was profoundly helpful. On the bases—we were at North Island, Miramar, Lemoore, Fallon, and Whiting. We’d wake up, work out, go fly an acrobatic plane, then work with the actual Top Gun team on the script. So for a good long time, my life was the Navy.

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Were actual fighter pilots on the set a lot—given how close you were working with the U.S. Navy?

There was one guy we called “Jo Pro”—his name is Joseph Prospect—who was a liaison between our film and the Navy. Then there was Brian “Ferg” Ferguson, an accomplished pilot who was essentially the Navy’s rep on the set with us. CDR Christopher ‘POPS’ Papaioanu, who runs Top Gun, was there with us too. They were the three key people who I connected with every single day. If I had any questions about protocol, I could just reach out to them. There’s no debate that the first movie did amazing things for the U.S. Navy as far as perception, visibility, and recruitment. Of course we hope to have a similar affect with Top Gun: Maverick. The cooperation of the Navy was integral to the production of this movie. We’re using actual war machines in this film—and you can’t rent them. Without them we would’ve been in some huge studio surrounded by a bunch of green screens pretending fly. Luckily, the heads of the Navy saw value in it, so we got to be in actual F-18s for a year and a half.

Beyond the movie liaisons, what were your interactions like with other soldiers on base?

I was wearing my flight suit the entire time with my cover on my head. On base, the carrier soldiers would salute me. I’d try to stop them and explain I was just an actor and not really a solider with rank over them. Most of the time they were just really confused and it would take a long time to explain it. At a certain point I just had to assume the role and act the part on or off camera. I had to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Courtesy Image

Speaking of talking the talk, what was your communication with the leaders and actual instructors at Top Gun?

I was giving briefs to the leads at Top Gun before I was going up. That made sense because even though this was a movie, it was made with the Navy, and I was going up in a true war machine. These planes are super sophisticated and obviously expensive. That meant I had to give my flight brief to the commander at Top Gun, as well as the director and Tom Cruise. I had to tell them the airspeed we’d be going, orientation to the sun, proximity to other planes, and when we’re going to be pulling off certain maneuvers. In other words, the same sort of briefs you’d do on a mission. By the end of it, I really felt like I’d done a deployment with the U.S. Navy. The fastest, easiest, and quickest one ever, but a deployment nonetheless. The guys who really do it are the true heroes.

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I’m guessing you wanted to get into pretty good shape for this because of the role’s physical demands—not to mention a certain football scene we’ll get into later. How’d you take all that on?

I knew I was going to have to get in some sort of shape for this movie, and originally I was planning on just working out on my own. Then I discovered Ultimate Performance here in Los Angeles. I have a few friends who’ve gotten in really great shape there, like Lamorne Morris. I saw their transformations and was blown away. If there was ever a time to lean a little more into the training for a role, I figured this was it. I went in there and immediately connected with UP owner, Nick Mitchell.

Did you set some specific training goals there to prepare for the movie?

The one big note I had for Nick—and I think he had the same thoughts from the get-go—was that I didn’t want to get too huge. At the end of the day, I’m playing a pilot. I need to be able to fit in the cockpit of my plane and into a flight suit. These guys are lean and mean. There’s a lot of physical exertion to fly fighter jets to the level that we were, and to take those Gs. But to add to that, I was looking to get shredded. Everybody is different, but with my body if I throw around heavy weight, that’s where I end up. I actually didn’t really do any cardio. The extent of my cardio was running for maybe 5 to 10 minutes. For nutrition I was staying on a very high-protein diet. There were no cheat days when it came to preparing for the next Top Gun.

Can you take us inside those workouts with Nick? How did his program differ from what you’ve done in the past?

That’s exactly the mentality we went in with—to find something beyond what I’d accomplished before. So the sessions were very, very serious. Sure, we would catch up a little bit during the warmup and stretching, but once the routine started, it was all focus. Over the years, it’s clear that Nick has learned exactly how far to push people—to take it to that limit without endangering you. I’ve seen other trainers who don’t have that talent, so they’re afraid of taking it to the next gear. Or they do and cause more trouble than good. I was working with extremely heavy weights, the biggest I’ve ever gone before. We were maxing out everything. There were no easy pullups or chinups. I would have 70 pounds around my waist. I was pushed to pure exhaustion every time I was in there.

What got you through it?

Nick would often repeat a single helpful phrase: “Remember why you’re here.” That became my mantra every time I was working out—even if he wasn’t around. Now I have a sign in my home gym with that phrase on it.

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Was it difficult to get workouts in when you were on the Naval airbases with the rest of the cast?

When you’re on these bases, especially as long as we were, you can’t help but become a bit of a gym rat. It’s just what everyone does—especially when you get grounded because of the weather. There’s nothing else to really do. But we made it fun. We had a game where we’d try to punish each other with the workouts. We were doing circuit workouts, and everybody would take turns picking the most brutal exercise ever. As you can imagine, the gyms are really impressive on these bases. Getting to train there was awesome. The high-tech gear was all in the indoor gym where people were working out constantly, but the outdoor gym was what we enjoyed the most. That’s where they had all the tires, heavy chains, sleds, and pullup bars. That’s where we really tortured each other—but it kept us entertained and in shape.

Was that shirtless beach football scene some added motivation to look the part—and do justice to the original Top Gun’s iconic volleyball montage?

I don’t think anyone in the cast of the first Top Gun imagined that volleyball montage becoming as iconic as it is. I mean, who could’ve known that it would be this copied, spoofed, and historic? Of course, this time around, the cast for Top Gun: Maverick knew it was going to be a big deal. The bar had been set really high with the original. So I have to admit that knowing that added an additional incentive when it came to prepping for this physically. There was no doubt in our minds that hundreds of millions of people were going to be watching this footage of us shirtless—and critiquing. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that information, but as Tom likes to say, “Pressure is a privilege.” That’s true. It’s a privilege to be doing our version of such an iconic scene.

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How would you describe the actual filming experience of that scene?

It was one of the first things we filmed. That was a great move, because you spend all this time getting into shape and it can be hard to maintain while you’re on set working these long shooting days. The tough thing was that we didn’t realize the filming demands of the montage, which was a lot of camera angles and long lenses. So after we’d filmed for an entire day on the beach with Tom, playing our hardest and looking our best, we thought we were done and went out that night to celebrate—drinking and eating wings and tater tots. The next morning, we found out they were only getting Tom’s angles and would be shooting the rest of us the following week. We were like, “What?!” Then we ran back to the gym. We shot that whole thing about three or four times in total. It became the running joke—time to do the beach football scene again.

Did you pick up any pointers from Tom Cruise about how he stays in such great shape? What was it like to work with him on this film?

There’s no question he puts immense effort into staying in peak condition—much like his dedication for the movies he leads. I remember having to guard Tom during the beach football scene and I was blown away. I like to think I’m pretty fast, but Tom is just so fast. The fact that he’s getting close to 60 years old and is sprinting on the beach is insane. I mean, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. So when he talks about how he works out and how he eats, of course I’m going to listen. The truth is he has tremendous discipline in all aspects of his life. He’s disciplined in how he treats his body and what he puts into his body. Tom’s diet principles—which is a lot of lean fish and veggies—make a lot of sense to me. And I don’t think there was a day when he didn’t work out. You hear these stories about actors with workout trailers that never get used. His was used constantly. There were a lot of days where he’d invite us over to his trailer to hang out, chat, and eat. A lot of movie stars don’t really go out of their way to share wisdom. They tend to shy away from taking on that mentor role. Tom is the exact opposite. He really revels in being an instructor and a teacher. He’s also very aware that people want that time with him to gain insight into what makes him so great at what he does. He’s aware that he’s done something in this industry that’s completely unprecedented.

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Best life lesson from Tom?

He’s an open book. He loves talking about movies, but that’s not all he likes to talk about. Plus, he doesn’t want to just be listened to. He likes hearing what everyone else is up to. I think that’s what keeps him at the top. He’s insanely curious and he’s not one to rest on his laurels. I paid close to attention to how he treats people, listens to people, and how he runs his career. “Tom Cruise Film School” has been very good for me.

Top Gun: Maverick is now playing in theaters.

 

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Author: Charles Thorp

The Best Mountain Bike Backpacks of 2022

Preparing for a mountain bike ride follows a fairly standard routine: after you put on a jersey and shorts (but before the sunscreen, gloves, and helmet) you fill a water bottle, grab your repair kit, a hand pump, a windbreaker, some snacks, and maybe even a beer to crack open post-ride. And where do all of those items go? That’s where mountain bike backpacks come in handy.

If you ride, you likely have one. It’s multi-pocketed yet lightweight, and it has seen you through countless hours of trail time. These days, it might be looking a little tattered, sun-bleached, and worn out; maybe it smells a little funny, or it’s so sweat-stained you could probably use it as a salt lick. You’ve definitely bonded with your mountain bike backpack, but it might be time for an upgrade.

Whether you need to replace your existing pack or you’re shopping for your first, you’re in luck. Many rad new biking-specific packs hit the market this year. Thule, Dakine, CamelBak, Evoc, Osprey, and others all came out of the gate strong with fresh new mountain bike backpacks and lumbar packs. Here’s your guide on what to look for, along with our top picks for 2022.

Types of Mountain Biking Backpacks

What makes a good mountain biking backpack? The answer depends on the rider and the kind of riding they’re doing. Some packs are minimalist—designed to cut weight at every possible stitch, crafted for speed and enduro-style performance. Others are made to withstand abuse or offer maximum storage capacity. And still others are engineered for hydration first and foremost. To help you sort through it all, here’s a general breakdown of the types of packs available (just keep in mind that these styles and features aren’t mutually exclusive):

Hydration packs: Most mountain biking packs are built to accommodate hydration reservoirs, and many others come with them already installed. Hydration packs include a passage for a hose (the part you drink from), a hanger or hook to attach the water reservoir, and a compartment or sleeve to hold it. Some hydration packs also include magnetic or snap-on clips to keep the hose attached to the shoulder strap and easily accessible. Generally, hydration packs put water first and storage second. Even so, most models will include a functional amount of space for other necessary supplies.

Minimalist packs: For some riders, low weight and high speed is the name of the game. They prefer minimalist packs made with lightweight, single-layer materials and just enough pocket space to carry essentials.

Lumbar packs: Lumbar (or fanny) packs are designed to keep the weight of the pack low and centered on your back, which helps keep your overall center of gravity low and over the rear tire (which is better for traction). They’re also easily accessible, and some even come with built-in hydration systems. Most don’t have the capacity for longer rides, where you need to carry more food and supplies, but for quick singletrack attacks, they’re a convenient and comfortable option.

How to Shop and Compare Mountain Biking Backpacks

When comparing mountain biking backpacks, always note the packs’ weights and their storage capacities (usually listed in liters). If you’re looking at options with hydration reservoirs, look for packs that have a clip to hold the hose in place for easy access. Hip and sternum straps are also important, as they hold the pack snug to your back and prevent it from jostling around on your ride. Finally, dedicated pockets for electronics and bike tools are also helpful—they’ll offer some protection for your gadgets and keep your tools within easy reach.

Ready to shop? Read on for the best mountain bike backpacks of 2022.

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The Best Mountain Bike Backpacks of 2022

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Author: Will Brendza

New TAG Heuer Monaco Proves It’s Cool to Be Square

Did you catch the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday? While the attention was rightfully focused on the Formula 1 drivers battling it out on the track, Sergio Perez’s first-place finish wasn’t the only noteworthy story from the weekend. To mark the occasion, TAG Heuer released the new Monaco Grand Prix, a special edition of its longstanding series of watches inspired by the famous F1 street circuit. The new TAG Heuer Monaco reimagines the square-shaped watch with a new titanium case and details that recall its 1970s forebears.

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From the beginning, TAG Heuer Monaco was a watch that broke the mold. It was introduced in 1969, and it departed from several watchmaking conventions. First and most obvious was the square case: It was a rare feature on chronograph timepieces, and it continues to be a hallmark of Monaco watches today. The ’69 original was also waterproof, featured an automatic movement (also rare for chronographs at the time), and stood out thanks to its blue dial with contrasting white and red accents.

Later editions of the Monaco would appear with a range of new colors. In the 1970s, TAG Heuer debuted a version with contrasting grey tones, and later that decade, the company created the famed “Dark Lord” Monaco. The watch got its name from its matte black case, which was paired with orange and red accents for good legibility—a nod to its roots as a tool watch for racing drivers.

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Black TAG Heuer Monaco watch on a white background.
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Aesthetically, the new TAG Heuer Monaco is a riff on the Dark Lord, but it includes plenty of upgrades. The case is made from DLC-coated titanium for exceptional strength and durability with minimal weight. (Only one previous Monaco, a 2021 limited edition version, was made with titanium—and Max Verstappen wore it during his dominant 2021 F1 season.)

The new Monaco continues with the familiar “circle-in-the-square” layout of previous iterations, but there are new textures on offer: The main dial circle features a satin-brushed finish that contrasts with a rough sandblasted finish on the squared portion of the dial. According to TAG, that finish is inspired by the pavement of F1 tracks and the tires on F1 cars.

Against that rich black background, the bright red chronograph hands really pop, as do the rose gold main hands and indices. To make them even more legible, the hands are coated with Super-LumiNova for better visibility in the dark. Flip it over, and the see-through case back provides a glimpse of more rose gold accents. To top it off, this blacked-out watch is paired with a black alligator leather strap and a black titanium buckle. How’s that for a new Dark Lord?

TAG didn’t skimp on the mechanicals, either. The watch is powered by an in-house-made Heuer 02 automatic movement. It offers a hefty 80-hour power reserve, so you won’t have to worry about this watch stopping if you take it off for a few days. Just like a Formula 1 driver, it’s ready to go full tilt.

[$8,200; tagheuer.com]

Get it

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Author: Michael Charboneau

Everything You Need to Know About Golf Gambling

There are two things you need to know about PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons: he’s golf-obsessed and loves gambling. So naturally, Parsons is keen to put some cash on his regular matches.

“I just love to put myself in that position,” Parsons says. “The feeling’s wonderful.”

He’s not alone. Many players thrive under pressure. PGA tour pros will often play big money games to simulate the experience of a major championship. It’s also fun for amateurs to see if they can handle the pressure and not let the fear of losing diminish their abilities.

For Parsons, the trick to maintaining his focus with money on the line is remembering to have fun.

“I’ll catch myself not being happy about how it’s going, and I start thinking, ‘Brother, you’re doing the opposite of what you need to do to win.’ ” Re-engaging with a more jovial spirit almost always turns things around.

Paul Casey of England hits from the bunker on the seventh hole during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links, on February 10, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

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Of course, it’s called gambling because the risk of losing is a reality. “The most I’ve ever seen change hands on a hole is $9,600,” Parsons says; he is a billionaire, after all. “I’ve got the wherewithal to handle it. But I think about what I might lose and just accept it.”

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What is golf gambling: types of games to play

As in the game of golf, gambling on it requires adhering to established etiquette, such as: Never welch on a bet, or no one will want to play with you; don’t get over-competitive, or no one will want to play with you; don’t tally up scores or exchange money on the greens, as it slows play.

Also, don’t gamble with money you don’t have or can’t comfortably afford to lose. If you think you might have a problem please contact ncpgambling.org.

For those who want to spice up their regular game with a little cash on the like, there are loads of ways for players to bet on a golf match. The “Nassau” is probably the most common. Essentially, it’s a match-play format with wagers on the front nine, the back nine, and the aggregate. Another intensely popular wagering concept is ‘Wolf.”

Each member of the group rotates as the “Wolf,” who hits the first tee shot. That player can then choose a partner as they tee off for a best ball contest on each hole. The “Wolf” can also choose to play solo against the rest of the group for a larger wager (usually double). And for those who are supremely confident in their game, the “Wolf” can also choose to go “Lone Wolf” before they hit their tee ball, which escalates the action further.

For fans of math, “Daytona” is a two-against-two game and scores are displayed as a double-digit integer—with the lower in the first place and the higher in the second. So, if you rolled in a par putt for a 4 and your partner made a double bogey, the group score would be 46; and if your competitors made bogey and double, their score would be 56 and the point differential would be 10. Each point can be assigned a dollar value. Had you made birdie, your team score would have been 36 and your opponents’ score flips their highest number first—now 65—for a 29-point shift.

But for Parsons and his usual crew of competitors, there’s only one game, and it’s called “Sweat.”

Titleist golf ball on tee
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Parsons describes his favorite on-course cash game as a kind of modified version of “Wolf,” in which you have the option to choose a partner for a hole. In “Sweat,” it’s one person versus the rest of the group, “so you have to beat three or four capable golfers’ best ball, which is no easy task,” Parsons says.

Every hole starts out with a value of one point. Parsons and his crew typically play for $100 per point. But here’s where it gets interesting: Any of the sides can double the bet against the person who has the tee whenever they want—as long as the ball has not already been holed. This is called a “roll.” A player can decline the “roll,” but they would then forfeit the hole and wager.

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In another twist, when you “roll” someone, they get a half stroke advantage. So, you’d want to be in a good spot before kicking up the action.

Birdies automatically double the bet, eagles quadruple it, and a hole in one is 10x. There’s also what Parsons calls a “stop loss” rule that insists any player up 5 points or more must accept a “roll.”

There’s also no limit for “rolls” per hole, so “Sweat” is a game that can escalate quickly. While it sounds like it might be hard to keep track of where everything is during a match, Parsons insists it’s quite the opposite. “If you’re in it, you know exactly what’s happening,” he says.

Obviously, Parsons plays this game on a fairly sizable scale and will pretty much wager whatever his fellow competitors want to, but there are stakes he finds too high.

“Any amount that would devastate somebody I was playing with,” Parsons says. “I would have no interest in doing that.”

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Author: Nicholas Hegel McClelland

The Best Players to Watch at the 2022 Memorial Tournament

With two major championships down and two to go, the PGA Tour summer season is in full swing. The time between May’s PGA Championship and mid-June’s U.S. Open tends to be quiet, with one key exception: the Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus’ event at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio.

The Memorial tends to be notable for a few reasons. One is that broadcasters and players alike will shower praise on Nicklaus—and avoid any recent controversy surrounding him. Another is a strong field: As is the case in most years, the 2022 Memorial Tournament will draw most of the best players in the world. While it’s still not a major-caliber field, it comes closer than most tour events. In 2021, the Memorial had the sixth-strongest field of any tournament outside the majors and World Golf Championship events. In addition, last year’s Memorial Tournament leaderboard saw plenty of drama: Patrick Cantlay beat Colin Morikawa in a playoff after 54-hole leader Jon Rahm had to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Wondering who to watch at this year’s event? Here are six players worth keeping an eye on at Muirfield this week. If you’re the betting type, you can browse a full odds list here, and the list below is loosely ordered by each player’s odds of winning.

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Author: Alex Kirshner

Finally, a Solution to Your Car-Camping Water Woes: Dometic GO Hydration Water Faucet and Jug

This article was produced in partnership with Dometic.

Dometic has long been the leader in refrigeration solutions for the adventure set, so it was only a matter of time before the brand launched a comprehensive camping collection: Dometic GO. The line is comprehensive, comprising a bevy of gear like a folding table, collapsible chair and bench, and multi-use blanket. The highlight, though is the Hydration Water Faucet and Hydration Water Jug 11L.

Don’t be fooled: These items may seem mundane, but the Dometic crew has cracked a common pain point felt by nearly all car campers: dispensing fresh water. Whether to wash your face, brush your teeth, or fill a basin to wash dirty dishes, efficiently transporting water wherever you need has been an oft-missed necessity in the outdoor space.

Conquer water woes in camp with Dometic's new Hydration Water Jug.
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H2O Heaven

Water vessels have been around for millennia, so it doesn’t seem like it could undergo much improvement, but The Jug is a clever innovation.

“Our goal was to create a water container with the user in mind—not just focus on its ability to store water,” says Owen Mesdag, outdoor product manager at Dometic.

It comes after years of buying 1 or 2.5 gallon containers that are heavy and hard to pour, or cheap and flimsy.

But the Jug is fashioned in a rectangular shape from tough, rotomolded, low-density, food-grade polyethylene. It’s designed to fit behind the wheel wells and has removable webbing handles, which reveal slots to attach to tie-downs when taken off. The Jug also has multiple ways to get the water out two ways—through a large 4-inch opening that allows for easy filling and cleaning, and a Nalgene-style 63mm opening with a flow reducer gasket for splash-free pouring. It can also connect to accessories like the included spigot, water filters, or the Faucet.

We love the 11-liter size. It may seem like an odd number, but it’s intentional.

“It’s half the size of a conventional 20-liter water jerry can, but when two are stacked on each other, they take up the same space as a conventional container,” Mesdag says. “The square-ish shape also makes it easier to carry, and you can tote 22 liters at the same time because the load is balanced between both arms.”

Conquer water woes in camp with Dometic's new Hydration Water Faucet.
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Let It Flow

And then there’s the Faucet, a trick piece of outdoor kitchen gear that brings the convenience of running water into the outdoors with no muss or fuss. Mesdag explains the concept was taken from the types of auxiliary water pumps used besides the main faucet on kitchen sinks that dispense filtered water. Dometic just added features and mounting abilities to fully adapt the design for camping use.

It turns any container into a running-water system with an internal rechargeable battery good for 150 liters; has a one-touch on/off button; features an integrated LED light; and comes with a puck you can put in different locations to attach the magnetic base to for sturdy placement on a variety of surfaces.

That’s not all, says Mesdag. “The pump [in the Faucet] is self-priming,” he says, “meaning the user doesn’t need to worry if there’s air in the system, unlike some pumps which must already be full of water to function. It also has an anti-syphon check valve inside, so if the water level in the Jug [or other container] is higher than the Faucet, it won’t leak.”

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GO Camping Now

Combined with some of Dometic’s other new car camping options in the GO collection—like furniture (Chair, Table, Bench) and storage (Hard, Soft)—the Faucet and Jug round out the brand’s innovations beyond its renowned electric coolers. Everything is made to pack up smartly and efficiently to maximize space in the smaller confines of a car, SUV, or CUV, and easily set up a basecamp around your vehicle.

Having access to water is essential, not a luxury. Isn’t it time you invested in the right gear?

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Author: Adam Bible

MTNTOUGH+ Is the Last Fitness App You Need

I like the idea of fitness apps. You get a workout plan in the palm of your hand that, in theory, provides motivation and eliminates the guesswork from your training session. The problem is a lot of fitness apps aren’t designed for people who actually want to push themselves in the gym. At best, they offer watered down workouts that might help you burn a few calories. At worst, they’re a complete waste of time. Then there’s MTNTOUGH+, a new app developed by the Bozeman-based gym of the same name that’s designed to address overall fitness holistically—addressing everything from mental toughness to nutrition. Yes, it’s loaded with burly workouts that’ll leave you sweat-drenched. I spent a month testing every aspect of the app to see if it’s worth the $29.99 monthly subscription fee. The result? I got my ass kicked—in the best sense.

The brick and mortar MTNTOUGH made a name for itself by developing full-body workouts for mountain athletes and military personnel (think backcountry hunters who need to hike for miles with a deer on their back or soldiers who want to stay in shape for their next deployment). The workouts themselves, however, have an appeal that’s far broader than that niche market. The company has always designed programs focused on building strength and endurance that anyone can purchase à la carte through their website. We covered their heavy pack workout last spring.

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MTNTOUGH+ fitness app menu on tablet, finger selecting a program
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This new app puts all of the workout programs in one place—along with nutrition guidance and bonus content like podcasts, interviews, and tutorials on mental toughness. It’s broken down into four types of workouts: Bodyweight, Backcountry Hunter Series, Military Specific, and Minimal Gear programs. Each of those courses are divided further; for instance, Minimal Gear program has one series of workouts that uses kettlebells and another series that uses a heavy backpack. The Backcountry Hunter program has a preseason prep workout track, along with a spring training camp and postseason strength track.

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While this all may sound confusing, it basically means you have a lot of different workout options within the app. Some of them will have you burpeeing into oblivion. Others rely on classic lifts like squats and cleans. But notice I used the word “program.” Instead of single workouts, MTNTOUGH+ is designed to guide you through entire fitness phases (building strength, building endurance, maintaining strength, etc.), with specific programs you’ll follow for up to four months. You choose a program—like No Gear 60—then follow it for 60 days as one workout builds into the next.

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From a fitness perspective, the principals are solid. You’re strengthening multiple muscle groups and systems, and constantly challenging yourself day after day. It also eliminates the fickle nature of our human brains. I work out several days a week, but before I started following MTNTOUGH+, I’d simply do the exercises I wanted to on any given day based on how I felt. Working through something like the four-week kettlebell-dominant KB20 provides guidance on the reg and helps me progress toward my fitness goals because the program has me either add weight or reps while diversifying the work I’m doing at the gym. In other words, I’m not basing my conditioning on how I feel. I’m following set guidelines that are proven to lead to results.

And the workouts are hard. I can’t stress that enough. I had trouble getting through some of them at first. Most training sessions will take about an hour and typically hinge on supersets, so you’re constantly moving and pushing yourself without much rest. Personally, I enjoy the variety built into each program. Choose the Backcountry Spring Training Camp program, for example, and you’ll be supersetting bench press and deadlifts one day, and burning through box jumps, farmer carries, and spin bike laps the next. It keeps you engaged and delivers results—if you can keep up.

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On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s used to doing bench presses every other day (like me), you might get frustrated with the lack of routine. There’s no “leg day” or “back day” and you won’t repeat the same exercises three days a week. This app isn’t designed to build a big chest. It’s designed to build overall strength, endurance, and mobility for athletes who have to perform, so every day is a full-body workout.

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I spent four weeks bouncing around the app and sampling the different programs—but the best way to use MTNTOUGH+ is to pick one program and stick with it from beginning to end. After you’ve finished one, move on to the next. There’s a solid variety of programs to choose from. If you only have 30 minutes a day and can’t get to the gym, do the 30-30 bodyweight program. If you love kettlebells, knock out KB20. If you’re a gym rat that likes to throw heavy weight, Backcountry Hunter Postseason Strength is your jam.

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And the workouts aren’t the only value in MTNTOUGH+. I’m not really into the motivational videos, but I became mildly addicted to the mobility tutorials and worked them into my nightly TV-watching routine. I thought the nutritional plan was helpful, too. It wasn’t groundbreaking (e.g. eliminate processed foods and focus on proteins and healthy fats) but it made me think about every calorie I put into my body and made me realize I haven’t been eating enough protein to support my training.

After 30 days, I’m encouraged by the results. I’m leaner and stronger and eager to see where the app can take me. Curious about checking it out for yourself? Here’s a sample workout taken from the Backcountry Hunter Postseason Strength series.

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THE WARMUP

  • Row x 500 meters
  • High knees x30 seconds
  • Butt kicks x 30 seconds
  • World’s greatest stretch x 30 seconds
  • Overhead lunge x 30 seconds
  • Walkout/inchworm pushups x 30 seconds
  • Lateral lunge x 30 seconds
  • Floor wipers x 30 seconds

THE WORKOUT

1. Half-mile sprint: On treadmill or outside—as fast as you can maintain for that distance.

2. Superset ball squats and release pushups ladder: For the squat, focus on form—dropping your butt until it touches the top of a medicine ball or low bench. For release pushups, do a standard pushup, but at the bottom, rest your chest on the floor and release your arms to the side before pushing back to the top. You’ll complete a ladder in the following sequence:

  • 20 ball squats + 2 release pushups
  • 18 ball squats + 4 release pushups
  • 16 ball squats + 6 release pushups

*Continue until you finish with a set of 2 ball squats + 20 release pushups

3. Half-mile sprint

4. Superset forward lunge and barbell military press ladder: You can do lunges with bodyweight or use dumbbells to increase the challenge. You’ll complete a ladder using the same sequence as above.

  • 20 forward lunges, 2 barbell military presses
  • 18 forward lunges, 4 barbell military presses
  • 16 ball squats + 6 release pushups

*Continue until you finish a set of 2 forward lunges + 20 barbell military presses

5. Half-mile sprint

6. Core finisher

  • Plank x 1 minute
  • Left side plank x 30 seconds
  • Right side plank x 30 seconds
  • Plank x 1 minute

Want to try MTNTOUGH+ for yourself? Right now, you can save 15% on MTNTOUGH+ with promo code “LAUNCH” for monthly or “LAUNCHYEAR” for annual savings. You can purchase videos individually, or pay $29.99 monthly subscription fee.

Learn More

 

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Author: Graham Averill