KIT: Autumn Fitness Outfit

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Today I was supposed to go to the Health & Fitness Expo in Manchester. Hence, this post was supposed to be about what I did, the great time I had, and all the stuff* I bought (*Quest bars and peanut butter). When I got there at 4pm though I was told that they were shutting three hours earlier than the advertised time of 7pm. Hmm. No further information. Yep, I was pretty annoyed, as I was looking forward to the expo, AND I was wearing my current favourite fitness outfit.

Not wanting to waste the outfit, I snapped some photos in the venue’s car park, and here we have it: an outfit post. How’s that for flipping a negative situation into a positive?!

Many of you will have figured out where it is I work by now, and as you can see, I’ve been making the most of my staff discount. The Flash tights I wanted so badly I actually bought them from Very.co.uk at full price – they were available early there so I had to snap them up before anyone else!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to be a walking advertisement forevermore. Next month is my birthday so I’ve asked for some different bits – namely yoga equipment and Sweaty Betty stuff – so once my Nike excitement has subsided I’m sure I’ll be back to a more even spread.

Well, maybe. Oh, come on! Don’t say you wouldn’t be the same.

Tech Cape/End Is Near tee/Flash leggings/Lunarglide 6 shoes

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KIT: Fashercise Is Go!

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Written by runners and best pals Alex and Camille, Fashercise was one of my must-visit blogs for workout wear inspiration. The site was hot on all the latest health and fitness trends, whether it be juice cleanses or patterned lycra, and their Fit Fashion editorial-style features were far beyond that of any other blog – so it seemed natural progression for Fashercise to open their own online store, selling the brands they so loved and modelled so well on their blog!

Launching today, Fashercise is for real girls living real lives (that’s us!) and mixes “can I have this for my birthday?” Monreal London jackets with “oh, go on then!” Dear Kate sporty knickers. The site still has its magazine element, but now instead of drooling over the brands from afar, you can BUY them too.

With more brands to come I can quickly see this my go-to site when in need of some retail therapy. The site reads of a who’s who in the activewear scene right now: Charli Cohen, Lexiesport, and Hey Jo all feature. The pineapple print Been By D’Heygere – incidentally a brand I first heard of from the Fashercise blog – is first up on my wishlist! The Fashercise campaign images are below – I promise you will be rethinking your gymkit after a peek at these photos.

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Vivofit Activity Tracker Review

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Remember the disaster I had with my Jawbone UP? Yeah, that kinda put me off activity trackers for a little while. Recently though I was approached by Health-on-Line about their Body Fuel campaign, offering a Vivofit – the one band I felt I could put my trust in, with it being made by sport watch powerhouses Garmin – so I decided to give it a go. And I’m glad I did!

I’ve been wearing it for a week now and overall I really like it. Whilst generally I think activity bands are good for encouraging mainly sedentary people to hit movement targets, I really enjoy having this gadget on my wrist and it’s actually shown me how my maintenance calorie target and step count differs from day to day.

Cons:

    As with all activity bands, it just records the calories you burn whilst generally moving around. Calories burned weight lifting, cycling, swimming and so on must be recorded manually. In isolation this doesn’t seem so great but this is the same across all fitness bands, and most don’t work as seamlessly as the Vivofit does.
    I created my Garmin Connect account using Twitter; trying to log in to the website version it just takes me on a loop and I can’t access the page. I’ve been using the app anyway so no big deal for me, just something to consider if your phone or tablet doesn’t have Bluetooth (sidenote: the pack comes with a dongle to plug into your USB port, which is useful and a cool addition).
    There’s a slight discrepancy between MyFitnessPal and the Garmin Connect information, though I’m sure I must just be missing something here. If you were using the band and app on its own it would obviously not be a problem. The only third-party app available to connect is MFP, incidentally, which is the tracking app I use anyway.

Pros:

    There’s potential for heart rate monitor integration – this means you get the full picture of how many calories you burn each day, rather than the calories you’ve burned by just walking. I feel this is what sets the band apart from the rest on the market; normally you’d have to wear the activity band plus a heart rate monitor, then delete the activity from your band for the given time period, making it all rather complicated!
    The battery lifetime is around a year, so you’re not missing any activity while it’s being charged. The display does not light up and there is no alarm facility to wake you up in the morning, though this is a small price to pay for such a long battery life.
    Connecting to the app is very easy via Bluetooth, and if you don’t have Bluetooth a USB dongle is included to sync with your PC. Garmin seem to have thought about this process to make it as simple as possible.
    The app made for the band is great. It syncs easily (it kept failing once and I just re-paired the devices), the information is clear, it appears to be accurate, and it’s well-designed.

Ease of use: 10/10
Ability to improve workout: 2/10 (but with the heart rate monitor attached probably 10/10!)
Value for money: 8/10

Overall, a great little band at a really decent price of £79. Activity bands are basically glorified pedometers and are not a necessity to everyday life – but what really makes the Vivofit stand out is the potential for integration with a heart rate monitor, giving you a true view of your calories burned throughout the day rather than just using the amount of steps you take. It also works perfectly with no bugs at all I could find, and having something attached to my wrist recording activity really appeals to my inner geek. Overall I’d give this band 9/10 – with the potential for top marks when I try the heart rate feature. Thanks for the gadget and opportunity, Health-on-Line!

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KIT: South Beach Fitness

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Manchester-based swimwear brand South Beach Swim are diversifying into fitness gear for spring/summer 2014. Crop tops, booty shorts and yoga pants are the first tentative steps into the buzzing fitness market, in bright, block colours with simple logos.

The crazy coconut guy above seemed impressed, and I was too! Although the range doesn’t boast any particular technology, the fabric felt very supportive to me, almost like compression gear. High street brands like H&M, Forever 21 and Primark are really going for the fitness gear nowadays, so I love that a smaller brand have taken a bit of a risk to make quality gear in a new market. Prices range from £15 to £22 so it’s highly affordable. Let’s hope it pays off and they create a wider range – patterned leggings in this fabric would be amazing.

The kit will be available through their website, SouthBeachOfficial.com, from early July.

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As with any good product launch there was cake. Oh boy, was there ever cake. Safe to say my self-proclaimed balance is a little out of whack this week, leaning more towards cheat than clean! With cake this good, how can you possibly resist?

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KIT: Jawbone Up? More Like Down

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This was intended to be a thorough, detailed review of the Jawbone Up, as I feel these activity trackers cost a lot of money for something that is not essential for day-to-day life, so you need a lot of information before making your choice. As you might have guessed from the above image my experience with the Jawbone Up activity tracker was so bad that it didn’t last past three days!

Unfortunately, mine just didn’t work. At all. First up, although unrelated to the actual workings of the band, the sizing seems to be wrong. My wrist measurement should have fit comfortably into a size small, as it did into the perspex “try it on” hole, but when wearing the actual band the end bits stuck out uncomfortably and snagged on clothes and all manner of things, even pulling clean off at one point.

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Anyway, it arrived, I charged it, I read the instructions: of which there were few, but it all seemed very straightforward. I wore it for half a day then excitedly plugged it into my iPhone. No stats. Hmm… Must have done something wrong. Re-charged, reset, reconfigured; wore for bed and all the next day to make sure there was enough data. Still nothing. I start searching on the internet for solutions, and I read that I am to try “soft-booting” and “hard-booting”. Neither work – I figure out that the light isn’t flashing the colours it should flash, anyway. I emailed Jawbone support, telling them the things I’d already done, and received a reply days later simply telling me to do the soft-boot and hard-boot. Great! Thanks for nothing.

The more I pry around the internet, the more I read terrible reviews about this activity band. That when it works, it works great, but users have to send their bands back every few months for a replacement. One review even says that after the warranty on the band was up (after several replacements) Jawbone refused to send any more out. Could I really deal with that amount of hassle.. just for an activity tracker?

Needless to say, the band went back. I bought it from Very who took it back no-hassle, despite claiming on the site it was excluded from their regular guarantee – clearly there had been a few issues previously. I am idly considering the vívofit from trusted brand Garmin although this experience has burned me somewhat. Who really needs one of these things, anyway?!

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