Why I Want To Work In Sportswear

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Images L-R: Charli Cohen, Alexander Wang AW14, Pinterest (no source), Sweaty Betty.

As a third year student, I’m often asked what I want to do when I graduate from my fashion marketing degree. And my reply?

I want to work in sportswear.

People are often surprised at not only how definite my answer is but the area I want to go into. Surely if I’ve studied fashion, I’d want to work in fashion, and ladieswear at that?

Let me explain. In my degree I’ve studied marketing, financial management, international business, product design, corporate strategy, and business simulation. Throughout, we had to relate the theory back to fashion practice, but it’s basically prepared me for a career within any business and marketing sphere, with knowledge thrown in about fibres, threads, quality control, and garment construction. In that respect clothes are the same as underwear, the same as kidswear, the same as underwear, the same as bedding, and so on.

I admit, at one point I dreamt of working for the luxurious Chanel, or the ever-youthful, fast-moving Topshop. Over time, though, I have become jaded with the passing fashion seasons. They seem to pass quicker each year – and indeed they do, with the new fashion seasons, cruise and pre-fall, being pushed on customers, encouraging them to spend even more money. And on what? The same stuff they were pushed into buying last year but were then told was out of fashion, hence the clothes being stuffed into bags and sent to the charity shop, or worse – forgotten about in the back of a wardrobe.

Now, I’m not saying sportswear is perfect, not by a long stretch. Normally, though, much-hyped new releases are because of new technologies and developments in fabric that complement your existing workout kit. It’s a slower-moving industry, that allows more time on quality control, product development, and consequently marketing. That’s why you will find that, cared for well, your gym stuff will last longer than similarly-priced fast fashion. And, normally when you buy performance gear, it’s because you want or need it – and not because a celebrity has been spotted wearing it. How novel!

Sportswear is not so far away from fashion nowadays, anyway. Thanks to runway designers like Alexander Wang and Philip Lim showcasing sports luxe trends, with mesh, lycra and sleek cuts trickling down to Topshop and Zara; on the flipside, brands like Nike, Sweaty Betty and Charli Cohen creating street-ready looks just as at home at Fashion Week as in the gym.

So where will I get with my desire to work in sportswear? Watch this space – only time and hard work will tell.


The Importance Of Active Rest | Chill Time in Harrogate

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A “rest day” may sound like an excuse to lay on the sofa eating chocolate, but the best way for your muscles to recover is to gently use them – to get the restorative blood and nutrients flowing to them, and also get rid of any lingering toxins like lactic acid.

Last week I went away to Harrogate and I used this as an excuse to take a couple of active rest days (granted, on the middle day I hit the hotel gym. But it was still leg day, whether I was on holiday or not!). The hotel I stayed at, Nidd Hall, is set in 40 acres of land and within there is an outdoor fitness circuit you can follow. These were very low impact exercises, like a gravity walker, bodyweight leg press and hip swinger thing, and it was lovely to get outside in the fresh air and have a chat with my boyfriend as we tackled what was basically an outdoor playground.

I kept my food as clean and tasty as possible, and factored in a couple of cheats, such as a trip to the unmissable Betty’s Tea Rooms in Harrogate centre, and a nightly half bottle of wine. Breakfast was a particular favourite of mine – how beautiful is the yoghurt and granola in a martini glass?

I also got a chance to do a little of my favourite active rest day cardio, shopping. And at my favourite store Sweaty Betty too! My purchase will be revealed in a later post.

Harrogate is also the start of the 2014 Tour de France – so this is an ideal opportunity to visit if you’ve been thinking of a Yorkshire trip! The town is lovely and it’s so easy to get to the Yorkshire Dales, York, and Ripon.

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Hearty, Healthy Ginger, Chilli & Garlic Turkey Recipe

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You go to work, it’s dark; you come home, it’s dark. You’re tired, and the last thing you want to do is stand over a stove cooking for hours. I get it.. it’s actually chopping veg that gets to me. So I’ve figured out a super easy way to get a hearty, healthy meal down you in less than half an hour. Turkey is an awesome source of protein, is relatively quick to cook, is full of B vitamins, and also contains tryptophan, a substance that will help you drift off to sleep. That’s why the basis of a lot of my meals is turkey – not least because of its excellent price.

I whizz up two cloves of garlic, some ginger, a chilli and some vegetable stock in a blender with a splash of hot water, cover some turkey with the mixture (whether it’s breast, mince, breast chunks or meatballs) then put it in a tagine in the oven. A tagine isn’t necessary – even in a baking tray covered with some tinfoil would be good, or it could go straight in the pan, but the meat wouldn’t stay quite as moist. You just want the turkey to soak up as much of the mixture as possible. While that’s cooking I throw a tin of chopped tomatoes and whichever vegetables I fancy into a pan to cook, and get the brown rice/pasta/noodles on the go too.

This garlic, ginger, chilli, stock and chopped tomatoes combo is the basis for most of my meals. I use whatever vegetables are in my fridge (for an even easier ride, just throw in frozen veg – normally it’s small so doesn’t even need chopping), plus paprika, kidney beans and sweetcorn with lean turkey mince for chilli; breast pieces with noodles; spiced turkey meatballs with pasta. The beauty is you just mix and match whatever you feel like – or whatever you have in your cupboard! – and it feels like you’re eating a different meal each time.

And there you have it. Varied, easy, and most of all healthy meals, that I promise will leave you more satisfied than bung-in-the-microwave ready meals.

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Running On A Sunny Winter’s Day

Though today we may be back to our usual March weather of being chilly, dull and wettish, a few weekends ago we had the most spectacular Sunday. I jumped out of bed and couldn’t wait to lace up my trainers to get out on the trails, and I ended up doing around 7K in the sunshine. It was a few days after the UK-wide storms hit so it was a little more of an obstacle course than usual, mainly involving climbing over fallen trees and fences, but that’s what I love about cross country, though – the unexpected element. When you’re running along roads you only have your own mind to keep you occupied, whereas on trails you’re seeing all sorts of new sights, and have to use a bit of the old grey matter to negotiate your way around and over hurdles and obstructions.

As you can see, the great weather awakened the hijinks within me: tree poses in trees and headstands in the middle of tracks!


How To Do A Pull-Up

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One of the goals I set for myself in 2014 is to do ten unassisted pull-ups in a row, and for a little while I was using the dip & chin assist machine though I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere. In a PT appointment with Jamie Ann I told her of my pull-up goal, and she’s given me a simple plan I can use to work towards my ten pull-ups, which I’ve added and tweaked a few parts of.

To warm up, I do ten minutes of short intervals on the cross trainer, then use the multi-station on low resistance to do straight-arm shoulder flies.

Then it’s the lat pulldown. I do sets of 20-12-8 reps with increasing weight with narrow underhand grip (the aim here to lift my own bodyweight on the machine, I’m about half way there now), then I do wide-arm overhand grip, again 20-12-8 reps. Learning to use my shoulderblades and back rather than just arm strength is the toughest part for me.

Onto my main exercise, which is on the functional trainer, the big thing shown in the pictures that looks a little like a torture device. I:

  1. Pull down the small step on the right and grab the bar closest in with underhand grip.
  2. Launch myself up to grab the other handle whilst also tucking my body up high – this is now the highest point of the pull-up.
  3. Lower myself down to straight arms over 4 seconds.
  4. Jump down and repeat for 10 reps!

Cooldown is a couple of intervals on the stationary rower. I’ve been doing this routine for a little over a month now and found that I can pull myself up from about three-quarters of the way up, which is huge progress considering how weak my upper body was initially. I totally accept this is going to be a long, tough process – though I now firmly believe I will be able to do ten underhand pull-ups by the end of the year. I’m already thinking of 2015’s goal: ten wide-arm overhand pull-ups!

Nike Miler tee, Adidas Response tights, Nike Free Run 2 EXTs.

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KIT: Topshop x Adidas

It was only a matter of time before Topshop sealed a sportswear deal, and this week it was announced they have designed a collection in collaboration with Adidas Originals. With sorbet colours and graffiti-inspired prints, the kit performs well for the gym, but its modern, slim silhouettes are perfect for the street, too.

In a fashion world mad on joint ventures and collaborations, I’m not surprised that this is Topshop’s way of dipping their toe into sporty waters. But I also think an own-brand luxe, trendy sportswear line is on the cards for Topshop: they’d be daft to miss the fitness boat that’s so strongly sailing right now.

I have my eye on the running shorts.. But I hope they come in pink as well as coral! Shop from March 20th.


LIFE: Favourite Fitness Females

As a blogger myself, it can hardly be a secret that I love to read others’ blogs. But one of the reasons I started this blog is because I struggled to find fitness and health blogs I related to: many were not personal enough, with how-tos and recipes – which are great, but I want to hear about you, too! – and some were way too personal with a constant stream of self-indulgent ab and bicep photos.

I like bloggers who are fit, healthy, and happy; but who also have a life outside fitness and keep it real. I also love to see shiny bright new kit, but that’s the fashionista side of me coming out! Check out my three favourites below…

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1) Blogilates: I won’t patronise you by explaining who Cassey is. Everyone knows she is the Queen of internet fitness, thanks to her chirpy, friendly manner and tough (but manageable!) YouTube workouts. Ever positive, the Blogilates community is growing exponentially and this has caused a few hiccups lately, but they’ve been handled beautifully by Cassey.

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2) Lydia Elise Millen: Lydia has newly integrated her successful fashion blog with fitness content; she is relatively just starting her fitness journey and takes you along with her complete with gorgeous photographs. Despite being an absolute babe and clearly working hard for her body, Lydia is the first to admit it’s been a struggle for her, and inspires others with her honesty.

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3) Fitness On Toast: Faya trains hard, and will happily explain to you how to eat and work out right; always in brightly-coloured, highly enviable workout kit. A personal trainer by trade, you know you can trust in her advice. I’d love to be a client of Faya’s!

Who are your favourite fit bloggers? I’d love to find some new ones so drop links in the comments below.