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Posts Tagged ‘product reviews’

I got a great birthday package from Sara with an awesome workout gift…and after a month of half-iron training, I could use a little boost! Sara sent me an awesome SweatyBand for my hair. She included a sticky note telling me it would not budge, even on ‘our’ super fine hair. I tried it out while I was on my bike trainer and it really didn’t move. Then I sported the orange, yellow, and red band during a run; again, no slipping at all.

Zoe thinks I'm beautiful in my SweatyBand!

The bands are made of ribbon with a velvet-y backing and elastic that goes under the base of your head for a comfortable fit. I’m going to have to stock up on these, because I love wearing headbands during workouts to keep my hair off my face. Testimonials on the SweatyBands.com website include a girl whose band stayed in place even when she took a helmet on and off! Amazing.

– albledsoe

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Review: Wii Fit

I tested out the Wii Fit tonight with Adam after a friend at work loaned it to me. We just tried out the basic features to see what we thought. I have to admit I was very skeptical…fitness in a video game? Really?

When you are a first-time user on the Wii Fit ($99.99, Wii not included), you set up a fitness profile complete with weight, BMI, balance test, etc., and the system gives you your fitness “age.” You also get several tips and facts about fitness. The system emphasizes setting goals, and gives you fun little ways to keep track and meet them.

The “workouts” are divided into several categories: yoga, aerobics, balance, strength. We tried a few from each, and since I scored pretty low on balance during my assessment, I focused on the balance games. I’m pretty terrible at video games, so it took me awhile to get the hang of things, but some of the exercises were better than others. I enjoyed the yoga, but was frustrated that it was one pose at a time instead of a series.

Neither of us really worked up a sweat and it took way too long between each activity to get to the next, but I liked how it helped you keep good form because you could see where your center of balance was. It was fun and tracking weight and goals is a good method for motivation. For people who never workout, I think the assessment could be a good wake-up call and maybe encourage them to get moving.

I would be surprised if anyone had remarkable results just from using Wii Fit, but I think it’s a good option to have for families and rainy days, maybe to change things up a little.

– albledsoe

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Stick it to me

Since I got into endurance sports a few years ago, I’ve heard lots of praise for a gadget called “The Stick.” It was supposed to work wonders for sore, tight areas, especially IT bands, where I’ve had some trouble. So I was super excited this Christmas when Santa Clause brought me one of my very own (well, it was actually from my mother-in-law, but you get the idea).The Stick comes in various sizes, and is a flexible, plastic…well, stick, with spindles that roll independently to stretch and apply pressure to problem zones.

the stick

The Stick

I tested out my stick this afternoon after returning from a run of just over 9 miles. I followed the instructions, which include about 10 recommended exercises for arms, back, neck, and legs, and then added a couple of my own. The verdict? My muscles don’t feel nearly as sore as they did after last week’s run. Plus, using The Stick forced me to take the time to stretch following my workout, which I admit I don’t always do. I think I could use this almost every night and it will help with my general well-being. It’s super easy to use, and small enough to tuck away in a corner or on a shelf (as opposed to the foam rollers which are often recommended for similar use).

If you’re like me and can’t afford weekly massages during training, I would recommend grabbing a Stick of your own. Your body will thank you!

– albledsoe

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Although the Smarty Panties didn’t win the No Skirts Allowed Adventure Race this year, we did get a sweet door prize: vouchers for a free pair of Salomon XT Wings Trail Running Shoes. I was so excited…what girl doesn’t love shoes? And free ones at that!

Salomon XT Wings

Salomon XT Wings

Within a few days of returning to Louisville at the race, I headed to the Trail Store to get fitted and mailed in my voucher. Funny enough, the staffer who helped me was wearing these shoes, and he gave a great testimonial. He said he wears them for running and casually, and loves them. Sweet! Less than a week later, the box with my shiny new shoes had arrived.

I had been running in a pair of Asics that were described as road/trail hybrids. They did the trick, but a dedicated pair of trail shoes was definitely on my wish list, and now here they were on my front stoop! The first run in the XT Wings started out great. The shoes are lighter, have great traction/tread, and I really like the cinch-style (“Quicklace”) lacing system, though it’s taking some getting used to. A bonus is that they’re pretty cute, gotta love the green and grey color scheme (like F2BT!).

A couple miles into the test run, I got an all-to-familiar feeling…blisters forming on the arches of my feet. This is a personal problem I have learned to live with, and after several years I’ve found a pretty reliable fix (or fixes): Superfeet insoles, BodyGlide, and the perfect socks (which can vary depending on the shoes, and takes some trial and error to discover).

We slowed to a walk and finished our route, I let the blisters heal, and next time time tried the shoes with my insoles. No blisters!

The best thing I’ve noticed since I started running trails in these shoes is the sturdy reinforced toe. I can stub my toe on a tree root or the dirt (yeah, I’m not the most graceful runner around) and not even feel it. I even tripped once and fell flat on my face, but my toe was no worse for wear! They’re also easier to clean, which is handy for muddy Kentucky winters.

I’d give these shoes 3.5 of 4 stars so far. If I had paid for them, I would definitely be satisfied with my purchase.

– albledsoe

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I’m probably going to be competing in the No Skirts Allowed Adventure Race next month with my friend Valerie. It’s a women’s-only event in Indiana, and the name made me think of the several running skirts (or skorts, I suppose) I’ve accumulated over the last couple of years.

Champion skirts sell at Target and are reasonably priced.

Champion skirts sell at Target and are reasonably priced.

My skirts come from Target, usually the clearance rack. I was a little hesitant at first to try one out, but they look so cute on people I had to give one a try. I was pleased to discover the skirts are quite comfortable. They have little “hot pant” style shorts underneath for modesty and comfort, though I have seen styles with longer shorts as well as some with briefs underneath. The skirts I have are a great length, hitting right at mid-thigh, and have little pockets for keys or extra gum. The pocket isn’t big enough for a cell-phone, but since they don’t have a drawstring, the weight of something like that could end in a wardrobe malfunction anyway!

There are now entire sites dedicated to selling athletic skirts, and many styles and designs are available. Major apparel companies like Nike have gotten in on the trend, and like anything else, prices range from my $14.99 deal to $60-$70 and up.

Nike and other top sports companies make running skirts in all price ranges.

Nike and other top sports companies make running skirts in all price ranges.

Although the skirts are generally comfortable, I still feel a little funny sometimes when I wear them. For some reason, it seems like the REAL runners are never seen in skirts. Are they just behind on the fashion, or is running in a skirt somehow disrespectful of the sport?

I like feeling kinda cute when I work out, I think any bit of confidence while you’re sweating is great. But I seem more prone to wear my skirts to volunteer at an event or during a casual day out than while I’m doing serious exercise. I do love to put a black running skirt over black running tights in the winter for a little extra coverage. They’re also great to slip on over bike shorts after a ride to make a coffee run or something.

So I guess I won’t be wearing a skirt during the adventure race, but you might catch me in one at the pre-race pasta party!

– albledsoe

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