2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Fit Family Focused

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

As I traversed the steep, rocky trail — which seemed to continue perpetually — while gazing upward into the sky I realized that this Korean SUV was manhandling the obligatory task of reaching the top of the hill like it were a Wrangler or Rover. Has Hyundai’s best-selling SUV, now its 4th generation, truly inherited that much bravado from the prior generation? Is the automaker’s HTRAC AWD system with an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch and torque vectoring for front to rear and left to right traction really that substantive in various driving scenarios such as high-speed cornering? Well, it surely felt so as the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe anticipated wheel slippage and reacted immediately for an engaging experience which is a necessity for fit families heading toward the heart of the wilderness.

With that in mind Hyundai chose an ideal city to host the national media event for the newfangled utility. So welcome to Park City, Utah, home of the renowned Sundance Film Festival, impeccable ski resorts, active lifestyles and lovers of everything serene and beautiful. The fresh air, mountain views and scores of adventure sports such as mountain biking created the perfect env [Read more…]

Eating Soulfully at Cafe Ono in Kona, Hawaii

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

For three days we zipped around the Big Island of Kona, Hawaii trekking to gardens, national parks, volcano sites, healthy eats and lava attractions. We admired the natives and their beautiful lives while they ogled in reply. Fun, energetic places make you want to engage in fun active routines such as the set of reverse dips I completed on the hitched Thule rack carrying our Specialized road bike while admiring the all-mighty Pacific during lunch break. But it was the food that really set the tone of our Hawaiian vacation.   [Read more…]

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T quattro tiptronic: Sporty Family Fun

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

I must say, this past week was one of Automotive Rhythms’ more thrilling automotive test drive experiences since we were piloting the 2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T quattro tiptronic compact-luxury SUV. Sporty, dynamic, and laden with advanced technology, the SQ5 is suitably fit for small families, adventurous singles, or young couples looking for enticement during each and every ride. Although, it felt more like a taller wagon in comparison to its bigger Q7 cousin, which means parking was never a qualm in crowded lots or on busy city streets. [Read more…]

The LEGO Batman Movie Review: Comedic Family Bonding

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Team Rawlins had a great time at a VIP screening of The Lego Batman Movie in Downtown Silver Spring, MD at the Regal Majestic Stadium 20 & Imax this past weekend. The comedic superhero feature was hilarious but simultaneously emotional as it touched on the meaning of family. I encourage all Fit Fathers to plan an outing with the kids next weekend and enjoy a day of bonding. Oh yeah, Batman (Will Arnett) kept it fitness focused with his abs of steel which actually saved the day! [Read more…]

2017 Jaguar F-PACE S: Extraordinary Moments

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

I fondly recall my internship years at Jaguar Cars immediately after graduating from Georgia Tech back in 2007. At the time luxury auto manufacturers were beginning to explore the development of SUVs so I queried Jaguar on their potential plans to join the movement. Owned by Ford back then, executives stated there were no product planning resources allocated for such a project. Well, thanks to parent company Tata it’s pleasing to see the British brand joining the ranks of Porsche who traditionally had only engineered sports cars. [Read more…]

Third Annual Nomadic Journey: Mountain Biking Cambodia’s Ancient Temples of Angkor

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Greetings from Cambodia for Fit Fathers’ third annual nomadic expedition, a rediscovery of life, newfangled cultures, freedom from attachment and enlightenment. I’ve been traveling for over 20 years now but just recently began traversing the globe to indigenous countries on solo missions. From Phuket to Nepal, the appeal of simple life, thankfulness, ancient spices and herbs and nurturing foods entices my pallet. So I continue digging deeper for truth, perspective and the freedom of life while doing so on a mountain bikes utilizing the best local tour guides in the field. Welcome to my world.

After a 25-hour commute starting on United Airlines from Washington Dulles to San Francisco to Korea and then on to Phnom Penh, Cambodia I landed rather restless. As usual it was confounding circumstances at the airport when I arrived at 11:30 pm so I feverishly picked out my $9 Tuk Tuk driver and headed to the Grand Boutique II in Phnom Penh for two nights. The streets from the airport into town were pretty dusty and awaiting trash truck pickups. The open ride let me get a feel for the city before the next day’s explorations. Food cart vendors were open for business and those that weren’t were preparing for the next day’s busy day. Keep in mind mopeds and Tuk Tuks rule this town like most cities in Southeast Asia. The 3-star, boutique hotel was a small, quaint spot situated in the middle of the hustle off of 5th street. For about $50 a night it surprisingly included complimentary breakfast (exotic fruit platter, fresh mango juice and vegetable stir fry rice), free WiFi and instantaneous customer service. Mental note, trust is an important trait for travelers and jetsetters so your senses must be keen and instincts impeccable to avoid ominous scenarios. You will never see me rocking headphones to drown out the environment while I’m away.

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I popped up bright and early and went for a run to view the bustle of Cambodia’s busy capital streets. By far, running and biking are the most strategic ways to enjoy new lands while simultaneously energizing the body. With 90-degree weather the entire 10-day stay I promised myself to spend the journey outdoors soaking up Vitamin D. First up was a trot to the National Museum which is actually a temple rich with Cambodian history and relics. Later that night I caught a traditional and magical dance performance put on by the Cambodian Living Arts which was the highlight of my day. The revelry is fixated on love, food and peace. For example, in flourishing countries the masses are devoted to earning their next million, obtaining elaborate jewelry, luxury cars, fancy shoes, expensive purses and the grandest houses, while the poor Cambodian farmers dance fervently in solidarity — Beh Krawine Dance — to bless their crops and well-being. It’s the unpretentious things in life that generate happiness.

Next up was a short flight on Bayon Airlines to Siem Reap for day 1 of mountain biking (MTBing) while visiting the ancient temples of Angkor. After extensive research I selected Cambodia Cycling as my tour guides of choice. The 3-day ride totaled about $600 and included 3-star accommodation, an experienced cycling guide, your bike (Trek or Giant) full board meals (breakfasts, lunch and dinner), boat trip on Tonlé Sap Lake to see the floating fishing village, a support van and a 3-day Angkor pass. In fact, Dara, Son and Greg ascertained that every need imaginable was handled under their care including the litany of vegan grub in the area which I have a penchant for. Directly from the airport we hit the ground pedaling to the temples. Combining the love for cycling with nomadic travel is the best and most modest act a spiritual outlier can ask for.

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The route took us to Prasat Kravan Temple, the Buddhist Temple Banteay Kdei (meaning a citadel of chambers) and the infamous Ta Prohm Temple which is adorned by the roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers. It was built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII who is discernibly looked upon by historians as the most formidable Khmer monarch. Keep in mind roughly 80% of all Cambodians are Buddhists. We also admired the Bayon Temple and the temple complex of the breathtaking Angkor Wat. On the gentle ride back to the Angkor Boutique Villa I felt like a kite dancing in a hurricane, flowing freely with thoughts as pervasive as the Andaman Sea. For dinner Son reserved a table at Chamkar Vegetarian Restaurant where the open atmosphere was meditative since I was seated next to the garden. Trees grow inside the eco-friendly eatery and bamboo dividers can be rolled up or down depending on the weather. Chamkar serves fine and genuine foods using fresh, local veggies and as organic as possible. Yes, the meals were light, refreshing and pleasing.

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Each day we road out from my art deco suite to a uniquely, mystic pocket of the country ripe with fascination. For the next 48 hours in Siem Reap I embraced adoration of living in the countryside to explore the simple life and the floating village where the locals (mostly Vietnamese fishers) dwell and work. In the country a little girl eats her rice in what seems to be a private abode behind a bush while roosters scream in excitement and rustic bike shops tend to the villagers number one mean of transportation. Both the Cambodians and I were equally curious with each other. Humbled is an understatement, especially since the people here survive off the crops they grow. After MTBing I went back to the hotel to relax, find more veggie grub and attend another dance and arts show later that night. Certainly I will return again to this part of the world, possibly Vietnam.

The nomadic escape on two wheels was another unforgettable experience that I will cherish dearly. No man or woman should ever fear the unknown. Self-discovery is a powerful awareness tool.

2016 College Park Mother’s Day 5K

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

It was a glorious Saturday morning in College Park, Maryland for the 3rd Annual College Park Mother’s Day 5K put on by the College Park Community Foundation (CPCF). Fresh off five straight days of rain the sun broke through and blessed us with the perfect amount of energy for the family fun run. We’re so proud of everyone for rising early and energizing their lives.

The Fit Fathers team was on deck with both experienced, first time runners and walkers to show solidarity and support of one of God’s greatest treasures. My cousin Havena Rawlins drove down from Delaware with personal trainer Jermaine to participate in her first ever 5K. It was amazing seeing her cross the finish line, and with the sweat to prove it. Yeah baby, you did it! Also, the father of my daughter’s best friend – John Bryant — was equally excited since it was his first official race although he is an avid runner. His wife Bibby and her friend also participated.

[Read more…]

2017 Kia Sportage: Innovation and Reinvention

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WD

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Since my lifestyle is as active as a herd of wildebeest traversing African lands I’ve evolved to a penchant for SUVs and CUVs that replicate the exact or similar pillars in my world. I run, hike, bike, kick and shoot balls and train others seeking to take control of their health. That means storage, utility, AWD, music based technology and a bit of power are essential attributes in the vehicles I choose to drive. Well, Kia is no stranger to this recipe and just recently strengthened their position with the launch of the 4th generation 2017 Sportage, which is also their longest running model in the lineup.

To get a taste of the new bells and whistles of the edgy, little CUV the Fit Fathers team headed to the Gas Lamp District of San Diego where we would spend a few days touring the region’s wandering roads, mountainous panoramas and county landmarks. Offered in three models — LX, EX and SX Turbo – the all-new Sportage sets the tone with a $22,900 price point for a FWD LX loaded with a litany of standard functionality such as a rear spoiler, 5” touchscreen with Rear Camera Display, a Drive Mode Select with Normal, Eco and Sport modes and LED daytime running lights. It’s powered by a 2.4-liter Gas Direct Injection (GDI) 4-cylinder with 181-horsepower (also on the EX) and paired with Kia’s 6-speed automatic transmission.

2017 Kia Sportage SX  SX Turbo 2WD

“In 2015, the final year of production for the outgoing Sportage model, sales were up 25 percent, which speaks to the appeal and staying power of that vehicle, and with our aggressive pricing strategy for the all-new 2017 model, we’re looking to continue that momentum,” said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP, KMA.

For the road experience my drive partner Holly Reich and I chose a Pacific Blue Sportage SX AWD with a black, stylish interior trim (one of five interior hues), which was far from inferior in comparison to some of its competitors. From the knobs to the technologically laden center stack to the wide sunroof, everything felt superior. It was boosted with sharp 19” alloy spins, dual exhausts and the latest AWD system. All vehicles on this press trip were blessed with the 2-liter Turbo GDI 4-cylinder with 240-horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,450-3,500 rpm and the aforementioned 6-speed automatic. I must say, during a skilled highway maneuver I had to cross four lanes before existing which required acceleration before slowing down. Aptly, the Sportage provided the juice and the visibility for the move. Bigger brakes and a sports tuned suspension on the SX Turbo also added to the skillfulness of the smaller CUV.

2017 Kia Sportage EX EX

The Sportage SX Turbo comes in at $32,500 and features the Technology package, skid plates on the front and rear, Dynamic Bending Lights as part of the bug-eyed HID headlamps, LED tail lights, metal pedals hard like heavy metal, a hands-free Smart Power Liftgate and paddle shifters situated on the thick, thumb-imprinted steering wheel. To go along with the stiffer and safer chassis, a Magna Dynamax AWD is available on all models for $1,500 and is a must-have on the east coast where I reside in Maryland. After the harsh winter we had there is no way I’m rolling without AWD and snow/ice tires. Amazingly the Magna Dynamax system is enhanced with torque vectoring which allows the locking center differential to also provide torque to each individual wheel. More importantly, it’s intuitive and predictive and uses software to determine your driving habits over time.

Introduced in 1994, the Sportage of today is far nobler than its ancestor in every category. Designed in Germany and Korea and tuned at Kia’s California Proving Grounds, the newfangled Sportage has a chiseled physique with a triangular stance that is now longer and wider. Alloy wheels sizing in 17s, 18s and 19s are pushed to the corner for optimal maneuvering while the lower, wider grille is highlighted by “Ice Cube” LED fog lights. I’m wondering if O’Shea Jackson is digging them, especially since Kia is so musically oriented. It helps them reach their consumer base and diverse markets.

2017 Sportage EX EX

Just like Kia I have an adoration for music — Roots, Rock, Reggae to be exact — so Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Junior Gong, Burning Spear, Wailing Souls, Junior Murvin and Raging Fyah were spinning for the entirety of our drive. Holly was also delighted by my selections. Our ride was embedded with the Technology package (a $2,700 stand alone option) which comes with a smorgasbord of amenities such as the 8″ touchscreen with onboard navigation, Android Auto (Apple CarPlay also available), UVO eServices telematics and a Harman Kardon audio unit with game-changing Clari-Fi technology (cleans up sound distortion from compressed audio files from satellite radio, MP3s, etc). That’s 320 watts, 8-speakers and the 3rd Gen UVO 3 software in a Sportage!

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From behind the wheel and in the passenger chair I felt comfortable and not squashed as I do in many petite utilities. Kia increased the front and rear legroom, amplified the cargo space by 18% and inserted a dual luggage floor which is perfect for separating sports gear from groceries. Standard safety measures are plentiful in the form of Electric Stability Control, side curtain airbags, Downhill Brake/Hill-start Assist Control, Rear­Camera Display and much more. The SX receives even more with a Blind Spot Detection System, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection System and Front and Rear Parking Assist Sensors. Also, towing capacity for both the AWD and FWD Sportage is 2,000 pounds with trailer brakes and 1,650 without. Perfect for hauling motorcycles or the Fit Fathers fleet of mountain bikes. Of course the best fuel combination is 23 city MPG and 30 highway MPG in a FWD LX. Our SX AWD achieves 20 city MPG and 23 highway MPG.

Together the Sportage and I kept one another active and full of energetic vibes. Before and after my drives with the CUV I hit San Diego’s Embarcadero Park for an 8-mile training run on day one then a 4-mile cool down on day two since I was preparing for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon back home in D.C. I refueled with a quinoa, bean and veggie bowl. Hey, if my ride feels good then I also want those positive vibrations. Remember, stay active, have fun and continue to invigorate your life!

Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren: Your Holiday Fitness Solution

Kimatni_Rawlins_Polo_Sport_by_Ralph_Lauren_Dicks...09.jpgExperienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The holiday season is upon us and DICK’s Sporting Goods® is the perfect destination to choose from a prodigious amount of fitness-focused gifts for friends, family and business colleagues. From cycling equipment to basketball paraphernalia the purveyor of your favorite athletic brands entices every touchstone of the shopping imagination. But now you can add Polo Sport® by Ralph Lauren to DICK’s retail constellation of sportswear collections. [Read more…]