All Entries For gear up
I'm not much of a "gadgets" person, but I am a results person. While I don't go for every trend or spend a lot of money on the latest technology, I will invest in things that have a big benefit to me. If that means a premium iPhone app, an amazingly accurate GPS watch (love my Garmin Forerunner), or a simple activity tracker, I'm generally skeptical at first, but very loyal once I find something that works.
Many of you know that I've been a Fitbit fan for many years. I still love the Fitbit and think it's a great device. It happened to be the tracker that really resonated with me, but that's not necessarily because the Fitbit is better or more accurate than anything else. From my perspective, any activity tracker that has the basic features you need and is easy to use can work wonders even if it's not the best or the most impressive. Regardless of the brand or type of device, the biggest benefit you'll get from any activity tracker is that wearing it each day as motivation to set and reach new goals. For me, that's why I love certain gadgets and data.
I'm proud to have been involved in the testing and developing of the Spark Activity Tracker's online features. After years of using an activity tracker, I had more than a few ideas on how to make our tracker great. For people who don't already have an activity tracking device—or for those who simply want a more streamlined experience—the Spark is an affordable gadget worth checking out. I love it for all the reasons I fell in love with my Fitbit years ago—but as loyal as I've been to the Fitbit, I have to admit that The Spark has several more perks that you won't find in other activity trackers.
Here are six reasons why I think you'll love the Spark as much as I do. Read More ›
Since I started working at SparkPeople this April, I've gotten into the habit of wearing workout clothes to work on most days of the week. It helps me fit in fitness breaks throughout the day without having to spend time changing clothes. But because I'm wearing fitness gear so much, my old ratty yoga pants and oversized T-shirts just aren't cutting it anymore. If this is what I'm going to wear every day, I want to look cute, too! Luckily, it's getting easier and easier to find cute workout clothes in extended sizes. (I wear a 14 or 16 depending on the brand.)
Fall is a tricky season for exercise clothes. It can be quite cool in the mornings but then warm up throughout the day. There are also sometimes weeks of lingering summer heat or sudden, overnight cold snaps. At least that's what it's like here in Ohio. If you don't like the weather, just wait 24 hours and you'll get something completely different! My strategy is to dress in layers and to always keep some of my summer clothes in the rotation until the first freeze of the season. Here are some of my current favorites and some things I'm putting on my list for fall shopping. Read More ›
The summer heat is enough to keep even the most dedicated exercisers lying indoors with the lights off and the shades drawn. But if you want to make fitness a lifelong habit, that often means dealing with the changing seasons and temperature extremes without breaking stride.
I used to be much more of a "fair weather" exerciser. If it was raining, I'd skip my daily walk with the dog. If it was cold, I wouldn't leave the comfort of the indoors to walk to my car, let alone go out and run for an hour. But I can tell you that if you want to stick with a lifelong fitness plan—especially one that involves the highly accessible and inexpensive forms of exercise we know as running, walking or biking—changes in the weather are a fact you have to deal with. But I promise—no, really, I PROMISE—exercising in the summer heat (or even the dead of winter) is not as bad as you may think.
For me, exercising consistently in summer's hottest heat waves is dependent on four factors, all of which I have control over: Read More ›
Summer swimming gives way to fall hiking, and our once too-hot-to-handle weather is whisked away by cool breezes and darker mornings.
As the seasons change, so do our workouts—and our wardrobes.
Here's some of the cutest, coolest and newest trends in fitness apparel that you can find this fall. Read More ›
As a long-time exerciser and fitness instructor, I've tried my fair share of fitness gear over the years. But only a few items have withstood the sweat test! My workouts consist of a combination of running, walking, Pilates, Spinning, and general fitness training (weights, aerobics, etc.), and today I'm sharing some of my top picks for apparel, gadgets and gear in all of those categories!
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I never learned to ski or snowboard. I've never been tubing or snowmobiling. And not once have I donned snowshoes, ice skates (as an adult anyway) or cross-country skis. Why? Because I have always hated winter. I'm cold when it's 75 degrees out, so just imagine how I feel when it's in the teens! "I don't want to be outdoors in the winter unless I have to be," I'd think. As a result, I've missed out on a lot of the events above…but at least I could always feel my toes.
When I became serious about running over the last year and a half, I knew that running outdoors in the winter would be a must. And happily, it has become something that I look forward to! I actually enjoy the winter and tolerate the cold so much more now that I am a runner; sloshing through all kinds of elements and pushing through dropping temperatures for mile after mile puts the walk from the car to the office into perspective. Running in the winter has taught me to appreciate the cold, ice and snow, and I'm thankful for that. But the key to enjoying an outdoor workout in the winter isn't an attitude adjustment (although that has been part of it): It's all about the clothes.
When you wear the right apparel and layer properly, there is nothing uncomfortable about heading outdoors to work out. I've ran in snow, single digits, cold rain (not that I recommend it), and never once suffered for it. And I attribute a whole lot of my comfort and ability to withstand the cold to a single piece of apparel… Read More ›
With the holiday just around the corner many of you may be looking for a few fitness gift ideas for your family, friends or maybe something you would like to put on your own gift wish list. Check out my list and feel free to add a few of your own ideas in the comment area below. The majority of the items are less than $50 which makes them the ideal gift for that someone special in your life.
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As runners we know the necessity of being fitted for the right shoe for our training needs and pronation. After all, shoes are the only 'real' equipment a runner needs, right? Well, not so fast. While running in the correct shoe for your needs is a top priority, never underestimate the importance of wearing the proper performance socks. Wearing the wrong socks can turn what would have been a great run, into a not so great run when blisters begin to form. Trust me, when your feet hurt, it is almost impossible to continue running.
So you may be asking yourself, why are socks so important? After all shelling out $10 or more for one pair of socks seems absurd. But if you have ever developed a blister anywhere on your foot during a run, you would gladly pay any amount of money to keep it from happening again. The purpose of wearing a sock is to provide protection for your feet. Because blisters are caused by friction and moisture, wearing a sock that wicks moisture away from the skin while lessening the friction created within the shoe, may prevent a blister from ever developing, making your runs more enjoyable.
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New workout gadgets and exercise clothes are big motivators for me, not just because they help me feel excited about exercising day after day, but also because having the right gear is important for any exerciser. When you have the right clothing, equipment and accessories for fitness, other things that would normally keep you from working out (like bad weather) aren't viable excuses any longer.
Last year when I started to get serious about running year round (read: snow, rain and extreme temperatures), I had to add to my wardrobe: fleece pants and jackets, running tights, a wind- and rain-proof hat and jacket. While all of these items ran the gamut in cost (who knew a pair of tights alone could cost upwards of $50?!), one new item I bought was dirt cheap in comparison—and interestingly, one of the best investments I've made so far. Read More ›
A recent study showed that when people received motivational emails with pictures of people exercising, they increased their gym time by 54%. Whether it was the image, the email, or just the reminder itself, these messages helped people get more active than people who didn't receive ongoing messages.
For the times when you can't get to the computer, I created the next best thing: SparkPeople's daily tear-away calendar. It's full of my favorite fitness and nutrition tips, quick and healthy recipes, motivational quotes, and goal-setting ideas. One of the most requested items in the SparkPeople Store, we're happy to announce that our 2011 motivational calendar is now available! Read More ›
Now that school is out and summer's official start is just days away, many people are gearing up for their summer vacations. (I wish I could say the same, but I'm saving my vacation days and dollars for a fall honeymoon!) One concern for many of us is how we'll keep up with our healthy habits while away from home. After all, you've worked hard to fit into that bathing suit and feel more confident in your shorts and tank tops and you don't want to reverse all of that progress in a matter of days!
Don't worry. With a little planning, it IS possible to stick to a fitness routine, eat healthy foods, and still relax and live a little while you're traveling. The following products from the SparkPeople Store can help! Read More ›
In recent years running has seen a huge resurgence for those of looking to reclaim their health and meet new goals. But what happens when you are forced to forgo your running due to an inconvenience caused in your training. It can leave many runners sidelined and frustrated; however by taking a few precautions early on hopefully you can prevent these so-called minor inconveniences from turning into bigger ones down the road.
Blisters are one of the most common running inconveniences especially as a runner increases his/her mileage. They are primarily seen on the soles of the feet and the toes, but they can actually occur anywhere on the foot. And while they may be a minor inconvenience for some, for others they can literally be so painful they can keep you from running.
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Specialty workout clothes might not be a necessity to your exercise program, but the sweat-wicking fabrics and body-hugging designs sure can help! Clothes designed for exercise are made for bodies in motion; they're designed to fit right and stay put when you're on the go so that you stay comfortable. Both high-tech synthetic fabrics, and natural ones such as wool, can help pull sweat away from your body so you stay dry. That means you'll be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter—and that's more than a comfort issue. Regulating body temperature also keeps you safe. But beyond functionality, workout clothes are just plain motivating! Unfortunately, all that motivation comes at a price.
Last year, I confessed that I tend to spend more on workout clothes than I do everyday attire. $50 for one pair of pants. $15 for special wool hiking socks. $45 for a winter performance top. And I won't even get into the shoes, which need to be replaced every few hundred miles.
More than 60% of SparkPeople members agree that new workout clothes motivate them to exercise, but when asked what they tend to wear during their workouts, a whopping 75% wear "any old clothes" they have. The high cost of workout wear is a major deterrent for many.
Luckily, it doesn't have to be. Although I occasionally splurge on the high priced items, most of the time, I am a bargain shopper who wants high quality at a low price. Since I've been buying workout clothes for more than a decade, I have a few tried and true tricks that I use to refresh my own workout wardrobe on a budget. Here are some of my best tips on how to save money on workout clothes! Read More ›
Are you having trouble squeezing exercise into your busy days? Do you need a workout plan that is simple to follow, yet effective? Are you thinking about making fitness a part of your life, perhaps as a New Year's Resolution? Whether you need help starting a consistent fitness program or just want new ideas, my newest workout DVD, The Spark: Fit, Firm and Fired Up in 10 Minutes a Day can help!
A couple months ago, I told you how you can get a free workout from this DVD by preordering The Spark. Today, I'm happy to share that this DVD is now available! Read More ›
I can hardly contain my excitement as I write this post. There's something that I've been hiding for a while and as much as I wanted to, I wasn't able to tell anyone about it. But the day for my big reveal is finally here, and I hope that you will be as excited about it as I am!
Most of you know me from the SparkPeople workout videos. Some of you may also know that I created a couple workout DVDs for the SparkPeople Store. But what you don't know is that I designed and shot eight new workouts for a brand new fitness DVD a few months ago. This wasn't just any video shoot. We built our very own set, shot it on a real sound stage, and I even had my own make-up artist and stylist for the two-day shoot. Probably the most exciting part for me was that I bought eight new workout outfits to wear (and you know how much I love workout clothes!)
This isn't just any fitness DVD either. I designed it as a compliment to our new book The Spark, and like that book, it will be sold in retail stores nationwide. Look out world: Coach Nicole is going to hit the mainstream!
Now, you can get a sneak peek at one of the new 10-minute workouts from my forthcoming DVD: Fit, Firm & Fired Up in 10 Minutes a Day! Read More ›