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How Ryan and Abbie Got in Shape for The Amazing Race

ryan-abbie-amazing-race-300x168I may not be an avid The Amazing Race viewer, but I’ve seen enough episodes to know that being on the show is a serious physical and mental challenge. You need endurance, patience, strength—and a whole lot of can-do ‘tude. And Ryan Danz and Abbie Ginsberg from season 21 were fan favorites, traversing over three continents, nine countries and 25,000 miles. From all of their experiences, boy oh boy, do they have tips to share! Which brings us to our guest post today…

Currently, Abbie is a full-time dance/fitness instructor, and Ryan is an expert in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who regularly competes. Ryan and Abbie are also both spokespersons for lululemon and Fitmark backpacks. And Ryan is going to tell us all how in the heck they got super in shape for The Amazing Race, along with some of his favorite get-fit-at-home tricks! —Jenn

Ryan Danz’s Experience Getting in Shape for The Amazing Race

Getting to take part in the CBS nine-time Emmy-award-winning show The Amazing Race was one of the highlights of my life last year. My girlfriend, Abbie, and I knew we were embarking on the trip of a lifetime but also knew that if we wanted a shot at the title, we’d have to prepare for everything (literally!).

Our very first order of business was buying our backpacks and a handful of traveling gear. We were ecstatic and began building out an Excel spreadsheet to capture all of our training methodologies for the next six weeks. We mapped out our intellectual/mental training (e.g, Sudoku, geography, foreign languages), physical (yoga, Pilates, cross training, at-home-stretching and calisthenics) and task-specific to-dos (stick-shift practice, changing a flat tire).

The physical training element was by far the most rewarding, as each of us drastically altered our workouts and saw the results almost immediately. We enlisted in yoga one to two times per week, advanced Pilates classes two to three times per week (using the reformer machine), weight-lifting and body-weight (push-ups/pull-ups/dips) four times per week and “active physical fitness” tasks (hiking, stair-climbing, beach runs, swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle board) four times per week. Every night at home we made sure to treat our bodies to a foam-roller session to improve blood circulation, lengthening of tight muscles, tendons and ligaments and generally active release. We also found ourselves doing a nightly regiment of core exercises. Abbie led us in a series of plank exercises, Bender Ball movements, glute push-ups, twisting Supermans and a series of hanging movements (knee raises, straight legs, toes to bar).

Having taught competitive dance for more than 10 years, Abbie engages core training multiple times a week with her students. The value in us strengthening our core was that it would be our most prized muscle group on our upcoming adventure since it would ensure ideal posture and mobility while racing with 25-pound packs, and reduce or protect against injuries while performing whatever abstract endeavors the Race had planned for us. Later, we realized this included such tasks as a 140-foot free-rappel, a one-mile sprint through mud in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and spending almost two hours learning, practicing and performing a synchronized swim routine with the Russian Olympic Synchronized swim team!

Now let’s get to those tips…

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