How Marvel Has Evolved

How Marvel Has Evolved - Nerd in the City

How Marvel Has Evolved

As we embark on Infinity Gauntlet Fitness and inch ever closer to the release of Avengers: Infinity War (April 27th, you guys!) it feels like as good a time as any to reflect on the journey Marvel’s taken us on in the last decade. Particularly in the last two or three years, as the MCU has expanded and Marvel has gained more pop culture influence than even company executives (likely) ever dreamed of, it feels like there’s been a great deal of evolution. Once I got to thinking about this, I realized the extent of it is actually pretty great, so I decided to write it all up. 

Side Arcs Have Drifted Away
This isn’t true in all cases. For instance the Captain America series is more or less directly in line with the core Avengers/Infinity War collaborative films. But elsewhere, a lot of the MCU side arcs seem a little bit more separate from the Avengers saga than they once did. Thor films have completely taken on their own flavor; the Guardians movies and Ant-Man series exist largely for MCU comic relief; and Black Panther certainly seems poised to launch almost its own world within the MCU. At this point it feels more like Marvel is in charge of several interconnected series, rather than one big one with a lot of separate chapters. 

The Netflix Experiment Got Huge
Once upon a time the introduction of a Daredevil series on Netflix seemed almost quaint. It was exciting, to be sure, and as it turned out Netflix and Marvel did a wonderful job with it. But it seemed very small compared to the sheer magnitude of the MCU. But even though blueprints were released pretty early as to the plans to expand the Netflix concept, it feels like a surprise just how big it all got, and how quickly. We’ve now seen multiple seasons for multiple heroes, as well as The Defenders, and it’s only been a few years. Oh, and for what it’s worth, the newly released second season of Jessica Jones is as good as any of it! The show is ahead of its time and thoroughly entertaining. 

The Gaming Priorities Shifted 

Aside from streaming and TV, gaming is probably the biggest side branch of the Marvel empire, and it’s actually changed quite a bit. Two years ago most of what Marvel had to offer in this arena existed via mobile app or online casino. Now the landscape is quite different. Playtech, the online developer responsible for the casino games, flushed out all of its Marvel content. And the apps, while still running strong, are taking a backseat as the company looks to develop more high quality console games. A few of these are just around the corner, and should elevate Marvel gaming to new heights. 

Diversity Became A Priority 
To put it bluntly, all of Marvel’s leading heroes for many years were straight, white men. To some degree this was to be expected, since that’s the case with many of the most prominent heroes in the comic books. But the studio took far too long to figure out ways to emphasize non-white, female, or LGBT characters (and we’re mostly still waiting on that last one). But credit where credit’s due, diversity has become a clearer priority in the last couple of years. Black Panther just became one of the biggest hits in the MCU and is a terrific celebration of black culture (with a few fantastic, strong female characters as well). And there are some female-led films coming down the pipe. Things are moving in the right direction, and in a beautiful way the MCU feels different for it. 

There May Be Award Talk
Here we’re looking into the crystal ball a little bit, but why not? There’s a chance that another year from now, when we’ve already witnessed the Infinity War, Deadpool has given us a stash of new quotable lines, and Infinity Gauntlet has whipped you into shape, we’ll be talking about how Black Panther performed at the Oscars. None other than Christopher Nolan has predicted a nomination, and he certainly isn’t alone. Award talk for a Marvel movie would definitely represent an exciting evolution in the MCU.

This is a contributed article from Henry Johns.

The Road to Civil War

Marvel Cinematic Universe Entertainment Civil War #TeamCap blog

Marvel Cinematic Universe Entertainment Civil War #TeamCap blog

We are on the verge of Civil War…no, not the North vs. South kind…no, not the Dems vs. GOP kind. The Marvel-ous kind!! The #TeamCap vs. #TeamIronMan kind!! The kind that will have grown men and women crying in the aisles come Thursday, May 5th (for the early birds) and Friday, May 6th for the rest of the viewing public.

There are those who have already laid eyes on this highly anticipated entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the word is GOOOOOOOD!!!

So get ready for it…if you can. You’ll probably need lots and lots of tissues. Marvel has probably purchased stock in Kleenex cause they know we’re gonna need them!

To prepare for this journey I am watching the entire MCU in order starting today, Wednesday, April 27th and going all the way till the premier of Captain America: Civil War.

Join me over on Twitter every night for live tweets. But be warned…my gif game is hella strong, so if you choose to join…you better be ready to bring it!

We know where Spiderman stands…and Black Widow and Hawkeye and Ant-Man and Rhodey and The Winter Soldier himself. But where do you stand, nerd?? WHERE!

My feet are firmly planted in the #TeamCap camp!! But there is room for everyone in my nerdy family. (Even those who make bad choices…looking at you #TeamIronMan *wink…just kidding…i love ya…but seriously!)

See schedule below…

Captain America: Civil War Marvel movies watching blog

UNITED WE STAND                                                                                                DIVIDED WE FALL

Marvel’s Shipyard

Today I’m examining relationships in the MCU. Watching Agents of Shield last week led me to the realization that there are very few functioning or healthy relationships over at Marvel.
Maybe it’s the superhero business…there’s hardly time for love much less relationship counseling. Has to be hard to find time for romance when you’re trying to save lives and save the world.
Let’s see who stands a chance of making their ship sail… (and see how many ship analogies I can possibly come up with!!)

1. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (aka #Pepperony)
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This is currently the strongest ship in the fleet. Tony and Pepper flirted in Iron Man, were together by the time Whiplash tried to take Tony out in IM2 and have survived not one but 3 other Marvel movies (Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.) It’s funny to think that the most narcissistic Avenger is the one in the healthiest relationship. Shows real growth! Good for you Tony (but we really mean Good for you, Pepper, cause we know who’s the Captain of this ship!)

2. Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter (aka #Huntingbird)
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These two were on again/ off again all last season, but currently things seem to be on the rise for these two. Bobbi is back in the field and Hunter has let his vengeance against Ward for almost killing his ex-wife cool off a bit. It’s tough to find a happy ending in the line of duty, but these two are really making a go of it. Their chemistry is great and I can’t wait to see where this ship sails off to.

3. Hope Van Dyne and Scott Lang (aka #Scope)
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Coming in third place would have to be the newcomers to the Marvel Universe. From Marvel’s Ant Man, I present Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne. This is a budding romance. So new that it hasn’t even made it through one full film yet. We’ll keep an eye on these two. But seeing as Hope already has title billing in the second Ant Man film aptly titled, Ant Man and the Wasp, chances are that come 2017, this ship will still be floating.

4. Daisy Johnson and Lincoln Campbell (aka #StaticQuake)
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This ship is still on it’s maiden voyage. Having just met last season and surviving some pretty heavy stuff, Lincoln went on the lamb. But he’s back and already making out with our girl, Quake. Definitely a ship to keep an eye on. (Although, am I alone in dreaming of Grant Ward secretly being on the side of good and eventually getting back together with Daisy/Quake/Skye? I’m willing to eventually give up on the dream…but not just yet. Come on #SkyeWard)

5. Thor Odinson and Jane Foster (aka #Fosterson)
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Talk about long distance relationships. These two don’t just have the pitfalls of a ‘normal’ couple, they have entire realms between them. They said goodbye at the end of the first Thor after a couple steamy kisses. Thor was far too busy fighting his brother in Avengers to visit his lady love. In Thor 2, the couple is reunited temporarily because of that pesky ether. But after returning Jane to Earth and heading back up to Aasgard, where he belongs (and returning for a quick, steamy kiss) they are parted again. While Thor does take time to brag on his girl in Avengers: Age of Ultron, I don’t see this ship surviving the long voyage. But hey, you never know. Long distance works for some people. Maybe Thor and Jane can make it.

6. Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter (aka #Steggy)
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Get out your tissues. We all know how this one ends. This ship never had the chance to get out of the dock. Luckily Peggy goes on to have a kick ass career as a spy and Rogers…well, we know that Marvel is pushing Peggy’s granddaughter, as a potential future ship. But for now, Steve has new Avengers to train and old Avengers to war against.

7. Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff (aka #Brutasha)
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This is one ship that has split the fanbase. In the comics both of these Avengers have very different love lives that don’t involve each other. Bruce was always destined for fellow scientist, Betty Ross (played by Liz Tyler in the Edward Norton film, The Incredible Hulk…but we won’t mention that one.) And Natasha had a couple ships in the comics including but not limited to Hawkeye, Daredevil and Captain America. So imagine everyone’s surprise when the MCU turns it all around and has Black Widow turning up the heat with Bruce in Avengers: Age of Ultron. A little flirting and a passionate kiss does not a solid ship build. But it gives us something to look out for in the future.

8. Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz (aka #FitzSimmons)
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Grab those tissues again, cause so far this is a ship that could rival the Titanic. At the end of season 2, Fitz and Simmons were on the verge of exploring their feelings for each other. Then along came the Kree Monolith that held a portal to another realm where a dark, handsome stranger and his arms were waiting for Simmons to cling to. (Not cool, Marvel. Not cool!) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently in season 3. So the jury is still out on this ship. But given the givens, a happy ending is a long way off for these two.

9. Melinda May and Andrew Garner (aka #Meldrew)
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Tissues…you may as well hang on to them. (Are you sensing a trend here?) After the events of season 2, the future looked bright for Andrew and May as they rode off into the sunset. But come season 3 and this couple is not living happily ever after either. Agent May is busy fighting bad guys and Andrew…well, he’s a little busy being a bad guy. I’m still keeping hope alive for these two.

10. Agent Colson and Rosalind Price (aka #Coulsalind)
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I don’t know if anyone was really on board with this one. But I never was. Coulson is very special to the Marvel Universe and he deserves a lady love who is equally special. Rosalind does not fit the bill. Plus…after last week’s episode it seems like she may not be on the side of good after all. It’s only a matter of time before this ship runs a ground. (Thank goodness.)

Which ships are you hoping will get a little work done in the MCU? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter: @nerdinthecity

#AvengerinTraining – Recap

After 6 weeks of weekly challenges, superhero meal plans and different classes all around New York City, I lost 15 pounds and I feel stronger than I ever have. 15 pounds is by no means as extraordinary amount of weight to lose. But it’s a good amount and it’s enough to be very proud of. There were times I faltered. Times I gave in to the temptation to fall off track. But it’s the getting back on part that makes the difference!!

If you decide to take this #Avengerintraining challenge, remember that any amount of activity is better than none.

-Staying motivated is sometimes hard, but never impossible.

-The second you make it about more than just a number on a scale…that’s when you find out the reason you want to do it in the first place.

-Never compare yourself to someone else’s goals or progress. Not the models in a magazine or fit actors in a movie or your coworker who is always hitting the gym. Their plan isn’t your plan. Their plan might not work for you. Find what does and ignore the rest!

Thank you for reading! I’ve got a couple ideas for some new nerdy workouts in the future. So I hope you’ll check back! And come follow me on other social media platforms! I love to connect with new people.

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Iron Man Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Hulk Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)

 

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Black Widow Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Thor Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Hawkeye Week (photo by Cristina Fowler)
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Captain America Week (photo by Cristina Fowler )

Let me know what you thought about my workout. Did you try it, did you like it? And which week was your favorite?

#AvengerinTraining – Captain America Week

Finishing Strong

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Entering the final week, I felt strong. Stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I discovered muscles I didn’t know could ache. I had better balance and control in my workouts. And since Captain America is my very favorite Avenger, I’d been looking forward to this week since the beginning of this challenge. And this week certainly did not disappoint!! It was an amazing finish to an amazing 6 weeks of focus and determination. I’m not an actress! And I’ll probably never be in a big budget action film. I’ll never have a crazy six pack or weigh 140 pounds. But I lost 15 pounds on this program and I have felt healthier than I ever have before! And that is success.

Week 6: Captain America Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Steve Rogers, an average man with above average morals and a desire to do more than he was born to do. After joining the Army, Rogers was given a “Super Soldier Serum” that transformed him from a small town Brooklyn boy into the superhero known as Captain America.

To become what he needed to be to play the Super Soldier, Chris Evans packed on 30 pounds of muscle and spent a lot of time in the gym training as he never had before. Take a look over at BodyBuilding.com for the full report.

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers, Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are all obvious. And if there’s on other comic book hero that will bring that all-American spirit, it’s DC Comic’s Superman. The alien who started it all. Without Supes there might be no Cap. And just imagine that sad, sad world!!

Music

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap comes back the world but is out of his time and has missed decades of pop culture, music, movies, etc. To try and catch up, Cap keeps a running list of things that people suggest he see or do or listen to. I tried to add some of the music to this list that Cap might have missed in the decades he spent in the ice. Including Falcon’s suggestion, Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye.

Meals

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I really loved having steak back on my shopping list!! Thanks Chris Evans!! Take a look at Evans’ meal plan at BodyBuilding.com

Weekly Workout Challenge

I chose an army crawl challenge for Captain America Week for the obvious reason. Before becoming Captain America, puny Steve Rogers joins the army to try to make something more out of himself, not knowing at the time what that would mean for him in the long run. So army crawls it was!!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 2 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 2: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 3: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Day 6: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Day 7: 6 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Extra Credit

Boxing @ Church Street Boxing Gym

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Photo from Church Street Boxing Gym

This was my favorite class of the entire 6 week program. I’d never taken a full on boxing class before. Church Street Boxing Gym is everything a boxing gym should be. It’s in the basement of a building in downtown Manhattan. There are pictures plastered on the walls, a giant ring in the middle of the gym and punching bags hanging around every corner. Church Street offers a free intro class and it was so great! Best workout of the entire series. I love that they allow you to start punching the bags right away. Halfway through the class we were hitting the bags. I gotta tell you, it’s addictive and after all the other classes I’ve taken, I would sign up to do this weekly!!

Parkour @ Brooklyn Zoo

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Photo from Brooklyn Zoo

Parkour, for those of you who don’t know this word, is a form of free running. You’ll often see it in high speed action chases in movies/ TV like: Casino Royale, Arrow and of course Captain America. It’s the art of being able to handle any challenge that comes in your path as you run. Jumping, swinging, ducking. Throwing your body into the movements needed to keep your momentum up. Brooklyn Zoo specializes in a lot of amazing high intensity classes. And their parkour class did not disappoint!!! If I thought the boxing class or the cirque class was intense, I was mistaken after taking this!!! Another class I would definitely try again sometime. And their gym is really cool!! Classes are $20 if you pre register online. Give it a try and stretch yourself far beyond what you think you can accomplish!

Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk weekBlack Widow WeekThor Week and Hawkeye Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Hawkeye Week

Pushing Through

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After hitting the wall during Thor Week, I was back on track and pushing through Week 5. Spring had returned, making morning runs a joy to complete! I really love to workout in the morning. I feel like it’s my personal time to get things done. Like the rest of the world is asleep and the early morning hours were made just for me. I live right across from Astoria Park in Queens and I love to run along the water. It’s a gorgeous view and if it’s a particularly warm morning, the breeze from the water feels wonderful. It’s definitely one of my happy places!

Week 5: Hawkeye Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Clint Barton was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor, when he was sent to the compound to keep an eye on a certain grounded Asgardian Prince. Barton, aka Hawkeye, is a proficient marksman in archery and joined the Avengers to help save the world from it’s biggest threats.

Jeremy Renner has been doing action films for a while now, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so stepping into the role of Hawkeye seemed like an easy fit (though I’m sure the workout regiment was not easy.) Renner is 44 years old, though you’d never know it. Take a look at his fitness regiment over at Muscle World.

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers, Age of Ultron… duh. You can also go ahead and rewatch Thor if you’d like, since Hawkeye is introduced to the MCU in that one. I also added a couple excellent films starring Jeremy Renner. In Bourne Legacy, Renner takes Matt Damon’s place and runs around being awesome! Also, try Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to keep with the spy spirit. And for good measure and an extra dose of archery, go ahead and watch The Hunger Games.

Music

Hawkeye is a warrior and a soldier, so I put a lot of music in this playlist that made me feel that way. Like I could run through bootcamp and finish the toughest challenges.

Meals

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For Hawkeye’s meal plan, I took my shopping list from CelebritiesExercise.com Honestly, I really believe that if you are watchful in your eating and keep to the simple rule of moderation, you could eat just about anything and maintain your health (with glaring exceptions of course.)

Weekly Workout Challenge

To channel my inner Clint Barton, I worked on my abs and did a crunch challenge. I know we see a lot of arms from Jeremy Renner, but the core always comes in handy, no matter which Avenger you are channeling! And since I have a serious sweet tooth, my stomach is one of my problem areas. All that sugar just sits right there. So working on the core and getting it strong was a big priority for me!

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Day 1: 30 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 2: 60 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 3: 90 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: 150 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 6: 175 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 7: 200 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Make sure to take all the final day’s challenges from each Avenger with you into Captain America Week.:

-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

-Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

-40 Squats (2 reps)

-20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

-200 crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Extra Credit

Archery @ Big Apple Archery

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I loved archery! And Big Apple Archery in Queens is a really great place to learn. They do a great job of showing you proper technique and give you plenty of time to practice what you’ve learned. They have excellent equipment and a great range on which to practice. The class had a decent number of students, but wasn’t so full that it seemed overcrowded or anything. Plenty of room on the range for everyone in the class. I used a Groupon deal to take this class, but the first equipment rental is free and if you purchase a bow from there, the first class is free. Definitely worth a try!

Sports Conditioning @ Velocity Gym

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Photo from Velocity Sports Performance

Hawkeye is a warrior, a soldier, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I figured he’d have done a lot of different things to train. I took an intro class at Velocity where they focus on conditioning the whole body for different sports. We pulled weights, ran sprints (thought I was gonna die after the sprints) and worked with resistance bands. It was indeed a full-body workout! Every inch of me ached the next morning. An introductory class is free and when you walk in you might be a little intimidated, but don’t be. The instructors are really great and will help you make it through the whole class and finish strong. I trained with 3 other men on my team and it was a really great experience!!

Stay tuned for the following Avenger: Captain America. Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk weekBlack Widow Week and Thor Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Thor Week

Hitting a Wall

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

By week 4, I was tired. I just wanted to sleep. Scheduling was getting difficult. The nice promising Spring weather had turned cold and my motivation almost left me completely this week. Morning runs were hard to come by (because I don’t like running in cold weather.) So I had to find other ways to stay energized in the morning. One particularly lazy morning, I forced myself up and out of bed and I started making a list of reasons why I was doing this. Why did I want to train to be an Avenger? Why did I want to get healthy? Why had I given up my beloved mint chocolate chip ice cream? Was it really worth it?

After writing down 2 pages of reasons why I should continue on with this journey, I found out that I did believe it was worth it and I went out and ran, in the rain no less. It was never going to be easy to do this. And if you take that step towards a healthier life, it won’t be easy for you either. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Chris Hemsworth who has children and a wife and a job and a lot of things that demand his attention. And the world will be against you. I pass by 3 Dunkin Donuts on my commute to work every morning. Giving me not 1, but 3 opportunities to cheat. But this week, despite hitting a wall… I refused to. Something about reaching a limitation really made me want to kick it down and press through. It won’t always be this way. But it was this week!!

Week 4: Thor Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Thor Odinson, god of thunder, ruler of Asgard, wielder of Mjolnir. Thor was born into a privileged life. He was raised to be a king of Asgard, along with his adopted brother Loki. Stripped of his powers, he was sent to Earth by his father, Odin, to learn the true meaning of kingly responsibility. Upon his return he was welcomed back and was shown to be a worthy prince of Asgard. When Earth was once again threatened by his brother, Loki, Thor joined up with the team known as The Avengers to fight the threat to Earth, home of his beloved Jane.

Chris Hemsworth plays the mighty god of thunder. To prepare for the role, Hemsworth started training with former Navy seal, Duffy Gaver. Gaver applied an “old school bodybuilding approach” to train Hemsworth. Take a look at the full article and  workout over at MuscleandFitness.com

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers and Age of Ultron, are on the list as usual. Adding in Thor and Thor: The Dark World for all kinds of Asgardian goodness!  Thor is a great figure of mythology so I added Clash of the Titans to the list because it’s all about the gods and demigods of Greek mythology, to keep with that mysthological theme. And for good measure I added in Star Trek, the JJ Abrams reboot, which stars none other than Chris Hemsworth himself, as James T. Kirk’s ill-fated father.

Music

The music used in Thor and Thor: The Dark World have that heavy epic feeling to them, so I also added a lot of Star Wars music and other epic movie themes. Along with Carmina Burana. Anything that makes you feel like you are in a sweeping epic. This music definitely made me run with purpose!

Meals

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I crafted my meal plan based on what Chris Hemsworth ate during training. Take a look at HealthyCeleb.com

Weekly Workout Challenge

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 5 Kettlebell Swings/ 5 Pushups

Day 2: 8 Kettlebell Swings/ 8 Pushups

Day 3: 11 Kettlebell Swings/ 11 Pushups

Day 4: 14 Kettlebell Swings/ 14 Pushups

Day 5: Rest Day

Day 6: 17 Kettlebell Swings/ 17 Pushups

Day 7: 20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

By now you should have layered on the final day’s workout from Iron Man Week, Hulk Week and Black Widow Week. Take the last day of Thor week with you into Hawkeye week. It should look like this:

-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

-Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

-40 Squats (2 reps)

-20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Extra Credit

Kettlebell Kickboxing

Photo from Kettlebell Kickboxing

I chose kettlebell class because I thought the kettlebell could stand in for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. At Kettlebell Kickboxing they teach you a lot of different ways to utilize the kettlebell. They also incorporate some kickboxing and cardio into the routine as well. It made for a really great full-body workout! I brought a friend with me to this class and we were both smiling and sweating by the end. Intro class to Kettlebell Kickboxing is $20. A great class!!

Diesel Class @ Crunch Gym

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Photo from Crunch Gym

If there is one member of The Avengers who could be described as “diesel” it would be Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. So I decided to take Diesel Class at Crunch Gym for Thor Week. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. It was an intense 60 minutes of weights, cardio and floor work. Cruch offers a free trial at their gym where you can take advantage of their gym equipment and/ or their classes. I’m a classes person myself and I really loved the group energy in this class as well as the unbridled enthusiasm of the instructor!! If you are a Crunch member or thinking of joining, definitely give this class a try!

Other options for Thor Week:

Weight Lifting

Other Kettlebell Classes

Helpful Tips

Here’s a list of tips that really helped me through this fitness plan. They are nothing new. They are nothing you couldn’t easily find online or in Shape magazine. But they are things that really worked for me and I hope will work for you, if you need that extra bit of motivation!

-Be honest with yourself – Try using a food tracker, I like My Fitness Pal. And make sure to be accurate in honest in your tracking. Lying only hinders your own progress. And unless you allow someone to be your accountability, you will be the only to know if you are creating a faithful accounting of your eating habits. But I truly believe that if you start being honest, even if it means tracking the 2 bowls of mint chocolate chips ice cream you ate one night, that you will start to change your habits because you want to see healthier stats. And because it will start to feel so good to make better choices. It did for me

-Stick to serving sizes – For dry goods and things that can be broken into portions, I tried to split up the portions way before meal time came around. For example, as soon as I got home from the grocery store I divided up the whole wheat pasta into ziploc bags with the correct portion size in each bag. Same with things like grapes or chips. Anything that would be easy to overeat in one sitting. That way when the time comes to eat the food you want, you can judge it based on an accurate portion and log it into your food tracker correctly. It’s ok if you need more that 1 portion of the food. But that’s where the honesty comes in.

-Shop the outer rim – When you go to the grocery store, try to stick to the fresh foods. Dairy, fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, etc. These can be found along the outer circle of more super markets. The aisles generally hold dry, preserved goods. Some of which you might need. But to eat cleaner, greener, healthier meals, the best things are the ones that might not survive a nuclear apocalypse (I’m looking at you Twinkie!)

-Keep what you like, ditch the rest – There’s nothing worse than a fitness plan that feels like it was meant for someone else. That’s why I want you to be able to take what you like from it. Sure, working out everyday, never losing focus and living only off the land is probably the healthiest way to live. But it’s not practical. I’m a firm believer that some effort is better than no effort. So even if you just do a weekly challenge or hit one class a week, it’s better than nothing. I went on Pinterest and just made a whole board of things that inspired me (after all, that’s what Pinterest is for!) This allowed me to visualize and then I went ahead and took the things I liked and ditched all the rest. Enjoyment is really half the battle!!

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Hawkeye and Captain America. Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk week and Black Widow Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Black Widow Week

Going Strong

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

By week 3 I felt like I could take on the world. My muscles were aching  because I was constantly using them in new ways. My endurance was getting better. My eating was clean and really healthy!! It’s the healthiest I’d ever felt. And I loved it!! An added bonus, my skin was looking so great cause of all the water I was drinking. Food started to become fuel. I loved Week 3!!

Week 3: Black Widow Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Iron Man 2. Using the alias Natalie Rushman, she was placed in Stark’s circle of trust by none of than Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., himself.  Natasha was originally trained to be an assassin in the KGB, but after Hawkeye was sent to eliminate her, by Nick Fury, he saw her potential and convinced Fury to recruit her to S.H.I.E.L.D. instead. When Loki threatened Earth, she joined Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop the impending threat.

To prepare for the r0le of Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson turned to trainer Bobby Storm to get her in shape and able to fit into her signature catsuit. Check out the full breakdown over at HealthyCeleb.com

Inspiration

Movies

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Still keeping both Avengers and Age of Ultron on the list, because Black Widow really has a chance to shine in both films. Iron Man 2 is where she’s introduced to the franchise and while it’s an extremely weak entry into the MCU, ScarJo has a really kick ass scene that you can feel free to fast forward to (if fast forwarding were still a thing… clearly I’m old.) I’ve also added Lucy to the list, in which Scarlett plays… you guessed it, an extremely bad ass female! She’s really good at that! Speaking of ladies who kick butt… I’ve added Wanted and Mr. & Mrs. Smith to the list for Black Widow week because if there is another female actress out there who could be on the team with the rest of the Avengers, it would be Angelina Jolie. Let these movies also motivate you to get in shape!!

Music

This list is comprised of music from The Avengers and a lot of music that puts me in a bad ass female state of mind.

Meals

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Head back over to HealthyCeleb.com to see the full report of Scarlett’s weekly meal plan, I based my sh0pping list on hers and then, once again, just made up my own meals with the ingredients.

Weekly Workout Challenge

For Black Widow Week, I focused on the booty and did a Squat challenge.

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 20 Squats

Day 2: 30 Squats

Day 3: 20 Squats (2 reps)

Day 4: 25 Squats (2 reps)

Day 5: Rest Day

Day 6: 30 Squats (2 reps)

Day 7: 40 Squats (2 reps)

Extra Credit

Cirque Class @ The Art of Fitness

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Photo from The Art of Fitness

I fell head over heels in love with this class. I’d never tried any sort of class on the silks like Aerial Yoga or Cirque or anything of that nature before. And let me tell you… it was certainly a challenge! We started doing floor work to get the feel for the movements that would be employed while in the air on the silks. Once our muscles were loosened, we went up on the silks and started climbing. I made it to the ceiling a few times and felt so powerful when I got up there (coming back down was a little different experience.) But after a few climbs I really started to get the hang of it. And then the instructor had us do a flip which was really fun but super difficult. If you’ve never been on the silks before it’s a really humbling experience to watch a class full of people who have done this before and be one of 2 new people to the class. We all need a little humbling every once in a while. Cirque class at The Art of Fitness is $20 and after doing a lot of research, this is one of the more reasonable rates in the greater NYC area. So worth the money!! I will definitely try this class again!!

Muay Thai @ Sitan Gym

Photo from Sitan Gym
Photo from Sitan Gym

One of the crafts Black Widow has mastered is Mixed Martial Arts. In order to be considered proficient in MMA, one must study many different forms of martial arts. So I started with Muay Thai which is a form of Kickboxing. I took class at Sitan Gym in Astoria. It was a very full class and again, I was one of 2 new students to the class. I really liked how they managed the new students. They throw you in with everyone else, but then there is a secondary instructor to help newbs with the movements. I enjoyed this because I like to do workout movements correctly, as you can really injure yourself if you don’t do things the right way. Sitan offers a free introductory class. Give it a try!!!

Other options for Black Widow Week:

Kickboxing

Barre Class

Ballet

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. Check out Iron Man week and Hulk week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

#AvengerinTraining – Hulk Week

Hitting Stride

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

In Week 2 I really felt like I was in the zone. My morning runs were really strong. And coming out of Iron Man week I was ready for the next challenges. The foods I ate during Iron Man week really helped me reboot my eating habits and eat clean and healthier meals! Heading into week 2 it was time to up the ante. Check out the plan for Hulk Week below:

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Week 2: Hulk Week

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Artwork by Blule

The next Avenger to be introduced to the franchise was, The Hulk. After an accident in the lab and exposure to toxic amounts of Gamma radiation, mild-mannered scientist, Bruce Banner, was transformed into the green behemoth known as The Hulk. When angered Bruce goes green and starts smashing.

Originally played by Edward Norton, the role of the Hulk was recast for The Avengers. Mark Ruffalo took over the role. Obviously the muscle mass that The Hulk has onscreen is a creation of the magicians of the CGI department at Marvel. Ruffalo himself did do some training for the role, but maintained a scientists’ physique. He also reportedly gave up meat and dairy to prepare for the role of The Hulk. Read Mark’s interview with Paste Magazine here. And check out The Incredible Hulk fitness plan from MensFitness.com which is where I got some inspiration for this week’s plan.

Movies

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Again, Avengers and Age of Ultron are on the list for the obvious reasons. I also watched The Incredible Hulk for inspiration, which is the least successful movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I actually really like it. And I think Norton makes an excellent Hulk! (I tried to watch Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’… but that was a mistake. It’s a really terrible movie.) Besides the Avengers, there’s another group of super beings that might be able to relate to Hulk’s mutation…the X-Men. X-Men 1 and 2 are both great films and keep with the theme of being a little different than the average human. And then I added Fight Club to the list for good measure because 1: it has Edward Norton so…there’s that. and 2: it’s just a really phenomenal movie.

Music

This list is comprised of music from The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers as well as music that reminded me of the Hulk. Anything to get me in the mindset while pumping iron every morning. Hope you pump up the jam with this playlist!

Meals

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For Hulk week’s meal planning, I took a lot of suggestions from The Incredible Hulk fitness plan from MuscleandFitness.com and just tweaked it by removing dairy and meat from the list. A lot of greens (obviously) but mixed with some of the leftover items from Iron Man week, it made for a great week of eating!

Weekly Workout Challenge

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: Dumbbell Chest Presses and Flys (2 sets of 15)

Day 2: Dumbbell Chest Presses and Flys (2 sets of 25)

Day 3: Rest Day

Day 4: Standing Shoulder Presses and Arm Curls (2 sets of 15)

Day 5: Standing Shoulder Presses and Arm Curls (2 sets of 25)

Day 6: Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (15 reps)

Day 7: Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

Remember to add in Day 7 (2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)) from Iron Man week before each day’s challenge in Hulk Week. We are building up to a full body workout by the time we hit the end of the 6 weeks.

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Extra Credit

Here are the extra classes I took for Hulk Week to keep thinking Hulk-y thoughts:

Cycling @ Monster Cycle

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Photo from Monster Cycle

This is a relatively new cycling studio in Manhattan. Right off the bat I was told that this was different than any cycling class I had previously took, but most specifically from Soul Cycle (which I told them I was used to doing.) Monster has great music, good energy and no tap backs. I have to be honest and tell you that Soul Cycle is my jam. But Monster was definitely my jelly!! I really enjoyed this class. And their first time rate is only $13, while their single class rate is $33. Definitely a class worth trying!

Yoga @ LuluLemon

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Photo from LuluLemon

I chose to do yoga for Hulk week because keeping the heart rate in check is one of the ways that Edward Norton’s Banner keeps from transforming into The Hulk. Every Sunday at stores around the country, Lululemon closes down it’s shop and makes room for the yoga mats. They offer free yoga in their stores and even provide mats if you need one. It’s a wonderful, free weekly workout and they feature different instructors from local yoga studios each week. So you can get a sneak preview of different studios in case you are looking for more than just once a week. The instructor I took from during Hulk week came from Jivamukti Yoga and it was a really amazing practice! I have never been able to do a full bridge, and the instructor really pulled me out of my comfort zone…literally!!

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. And check out Iron Man week if you missed it.

Make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you join my Avenger in training revolution. It is really transforming me and I hope it can do the same for you!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler