All Entries For product review
I'm an avid reader of health, fitness and nutrition books, both for work and for pleasure. When author Robert J. Davis, PhD, asked me to review his book "Coffee Is Good For You" (Perigee, 2012), I was more than excited. You see, Davis is the founder and editor-in-chief of the website Everwell.com, a long-time partner of SparkPeople's. We have several of their informative videos on our website, and I've always been impressed with how well their messages align with our own. Davis is an award-winning health journalist, author and professor of public health. His videos, articles and books are always well researched, clearly explained, and entertaining to boot. The man knows his stuff.
This book in particular gives an overview of the science behind a lot of common diet, nutrition and health "facts" to decide whether there is any truth to these ideas or not. It covers a wide range of long-standing dietary questions (What's better: butter or margarine? Do low-carb diets aid weight loss? Are artificial sweeteners safe?) as well as recent hot topics such as the healthfulness of organic and local produce, whether grass-fed beef is better, the real facts behind the "caveman" (paleo) diet, whether microwaving food in plastic is safe, so much more. Davis' style is to examine all the research available behind such claims to help consumers find the real truth. In some cases, he debunks the myths. In other cases, the research may surprise you and change your mind on a certain issue. And in a few cases, there's a little truth on both sides. Read More ›
I heart Amy Dixon. She's a veteran fitness instructor, master trainer and creator of many wonderful workouts you've probably seen in fitness magazines and DVDs alike. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at the IDEA World Fitness Convention and she is a real treat: super sweet, super fit and down to earth. It makes it hard for me to hate her when she kicks my booty in her DVDs, which she always does (in a good way).
Amy's latest DVD "Breathless Body: The Ultimate Calorie Burn" ($14.99, amazon.com) capitalizes off the trendy "Tabata" style interval training, which involves 20 seconds of intense effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for four minutes. Tabata training is touted as one of the most efficient ways to boost aerobic endurance and fat burning, and although I had read about it, but hadn't experienced it until I tried this DVD. I have to admit, I was a little scared. So how did I fare? And is this DVD right for you? Read More ›
Here at SparkPeople, we love the feeling of putting on brand new workout clothes. There's just something so empowering about a piece of clothing that makes you look and feel good while you get fit! Sometimes, all you need to re-ignite a dwindling workout spark is a good-quality exercise outfit.
Taffy specializes in stylish, functional, plus-size activewear. You asked for more plus-size giveaways, and we think Taffy fits the bill for high-quality products that will take your workouts to the next level.
Fitness trainer and longtime athlete Katie Kozloff is the Founder and CEO of Taffy, a line of stylish activewear made just for women size 14 – 24.
Katie came up with the idea for Taffy while she was working as a personal trainer at a local Philadelphia gym. She noticed some women who frequented the gym were bigger than size 10 or 12. She also noticed that these women tended to wear baggy t-shirts and unflattering sweatpants to work out. Katie did some research and found there are some options for workout clothing for plus-size women, but much of what was available was not stylish, flattering or attractive. Katie realized there was a need for stylish activewear for curvier women.
As a result, Katie created Taffy, a new line of yoga and activewear designed specifically for women size 14 – 24. Taffy is a line of stylish sweats, flattering tops and versatile yoga pants that women can wear to the gym or anytime. Jackets and tops are longer in length, and all pieces are cut to fit and flatter curvier shapes. Taffy features sweat suits with jackets and pants, yoga pants and several tops. Taffy activewear is offered in sizes 14/16, 18/20, and 22/24. Made of cotton and spandex blend, all pieces are comfortable yet hold their shape. The clothing coordinates, so women have lots of options to add to their workout wardrobe.
While developing the line, Katie realized a strong emotional connection between looking good, feeling comfortable, and actually being more motivated to be active and healthy. Katie’s goal is to help plus-size women feel confident about the way they look in activewear, so that whatever their goal, they will lead healthier, more active lives.
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The DVD Ageless with Kathy Smith: Staying Strong is Kathy's response to dealing with the physical issues that women begin to experience as they head into the menopausal and post-menopausal years. The DVD targets strength-building to help women gain muscle and bone mass, and includes four 15-minute routines that are a quick and fun way to improve fitness.
The first 15-minute segment focuses on arm strength. Kathy hits all arm muscles with her exercises, and provides modifications as she goes through the routine. Kathy is known for her great cueing and frequent coaching on maintaining proper form. She's also a motivating instructor and projects lots of energy-something that can be helpful when you're struggling through those last few repetitions.
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*Contest Closed. The winner is: AMARYLLIS8. Congratulations!*
Going to the gym straight from work can be a hassle, but sometimes it's the only way you can squeeze some fitness into your busy day. Wouldn't it make things a little easier if you had a cute, functional bag for carrying your workout gear? We thought so, too-- so we are giving away a Sherpani Blaze Sport Duffel Bag!
One lucky winner will receive a duffel bag (in light blue or light green-- your choice!) that's perfect for on-the-go storage of gym essentials. Here are the details from the manufacturer, as well as our thoughts on the product:
Product Overview (From Sherpani)
Compact and full of zip, structured and secure.
Earth Friendly - 67% Recycled Fabric
Two Zippered External Pockets
One External Mesh Sleeve
Water bladder pocket access
Detachable shoulder strap, handles and backpack options
External zippered fleece lined pocket
10.5" x 18" x 9"
What we thought*:
I at first thought the bag had too many handles, but I soon realized how useful each set was. I use this bag daily to tote my work clothes and lunch to work, then tote my yoga clothes and other odds and ends home with me. It easily fits my purse, cosmetic bag, a change of clothes and my breakfast and lunch, with room to spare.
In the morning, I slide my yoga towel in the elastic part on top along with my water bottle so I can easily remove them when I get to the yoga studio. I carry the bag by the shoulder strap or the two handles to keep my food from spilling.
At night and when I travel, I use the backpack straps, and they’re super cushy. I used this bag as a daypack and carry-on bag during a 10-day vacation, and I loved it. There is an inside elastic pocket where I stored a change of clothes, side pockets for things I needed quickly, and a double zipper for easy access. There are elastic side pockets inside, too.
The only thing I don’t love is the contrasting colors, but I do love purple, so I’m willing to overlook the style.
*Note: We received merchandise from Sherpani for review purposes.
To enter, click here! Be sure to read the rules. This contest will end exactly one week from today! Winners will be notified via email. Read More ›
If you are looking for a fun and effective yoga workout, then look no further! Bethenny’s Skinnygirl Workout will challenge you in just the right way. With this DVD, you will work your muscles in ways that you never knew you could. There is a mix of simple and difficult poses in this workout, but no matter what level you are at, you'll really feel your muscles working. The great thing about this workout though, is that you can modify as needed, and between Bethenny and Mike McArdle, the yoga teacher who leads the workout along with Bethenny, you'll see different variations for all the poses. Also, Bethenny reminds you throughout the DVD that you should go at your own pace and do what you can, but not to give up, which I found to be encouraging and genuine. Learn more about what the DVD is like!
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So you think you CAN'T dance?
Do you feel like most workouts don't work for your size or physical limitations?
Or maybe you simply don't like to follow structured workouts like classes or DVDs?
I promise you that this DVD will change that. It's the most innovative workout I have ever seen. Ever. I don't use those words lightly, and I've never used them before today.
Misty Tripoli's Body Groove: Delicious Dance DVD belongs in every exerciser's collection. Whether you love to dance or hate it. Whether you're super fit or just starting out. Whether you have mobility issues, physical limitations, or are the epitome of health. Every single person can enjoy and benefit from this DVD. Find out why everyone who has tried it at SparkPeople loved it so much—including one tester who (formerly) hated dancing and workout DVDs in general! Read More ›
When I first started SparkPeople as a member back in 2004, I lost the first part of my weight by doing a lot of workout videos at home. To this day, I still love to try new workout DVDs when I can so I can continue to have variety in my workouts when the weather is bad. When Coach Nicole asked for help in reviewing DVDs for the dailySpark, I couldn’t help but be excited about the opportunity!
I recently tried out the Ageless with Kathy Smith: Total Body Turnaround DVD. As some of you may know, Kathy Smith has been in the fitness industry for a long time (nearly 30 years). She definitely knows her stuff, and what I love about this DVD is that Kathy is great about giving cues and instructions for proper form. She wants to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly so that you don’t injure yourself. (Believe me, injuries can happen to anyone). Now, I honestly can’t remember if I have seen or worked out with any of Kathy Smith’s other workout videos, but I was very pleased with this one.
From the DVD cover:
"Split into three 20-minute workouts, each one targets a physical change people face as they grow older. It’s like a reset button for your body!
First, the circuit segment trims and firms, ramping up your calorie burn and attacking your trouble spots. You’ll tone and strengthen your legs, buttocks, arms, and core all while trimming your waistline. Next, you’ll hone your balance, a vital practice to keep you doing the things you love. Finally, refresh and recharge with the total-energy segment. You’ll wake up your body and de-stress your life.
With plenty of modifications to match your experience level, Total Body Turnaround is a convenient, fun, and fast way to get fit. Whatever your age, you’ll feel stronger, leaner, and more energized!"
My take on the 3 segments:
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Although kettlebell training has been around for more than a century, they've only recently become mainstream fitness tools within the last few years.
I get questions about kettlebells, requests for kettlebell videos, and queries about the best kettlebell workout DVDs regularly—and for good reason. Kettlebells are popular because they offer a unique way to train for both strength and endurance in a single workout. They challenge your balance, allow you to move functionally, and strengthen your body from head to toe. Plus, kettlebell training may just be the highest calorie burning exercise there is, if this study by the American Council on Exercise is any indication.
When I review a DVD or fitness product and make recommendations to all of you, safety ALWAYS comes first. I don't care how popular, fun or even effective a workout is; if the instruction and demonstration doesn't emphasize safety and form, I simply won't endorse it. Let's face it: When you consider these factors, there are a lot of really bad DVDs out there! That's especially true with more and more people trying to capitalize off of the popularity of kettlebell training. I have tested MANY kettlebell workout DVDs, including the titles from famous trainers you know well, but I have never come across a kettlebell workout DVD that I would recommend—until now. Read More ›
Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): So many workout DVDs land on my desk, but since I only have so many hours in the day to work (and work out), I've started enlisting the help of my fellow SparkPeople employees to test them. I asked Teri, a new employee on SparkPeople's sales and marketing team, to try the first (and recently released) DVD by Chris Powell, trainer from the TV show "Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition." When I previewed the DVD, I liked what I saw: lots of encouragement, good modifications (plus tips to progress exercises), and workouts that seemed introductory and geared toward beginners and/or people who have a lot of weight to lose. I also loved seeing the real people doing the workouts along with Chris. The DVD includes three workouts (15 minutes, 25 minutes, and 30 minutes) that increase in intensity as you get fitter.
Teri is getting back into fitness since starting her job at SparkPeople two months ago, and her goal is to lose 25 pounds. Find out what she thought about this workout DVD! Read More ›
If you often try yoga, Pilates or other floor and mat-based exercises, but tend to feel discomfort in the neck, knees or wrists, you're not alone. Various moves from kneeling to lying on your back can aggravate these areas of the body, making exercise uncomfortable and difficult. As a Pilates teacher, I generally tell people that they can roll up an extra mat or towel to support their neck, cushion their knees, or place under their palms to make certain moves more comfortable. It's a cheap solution that can help, but it doesn't always provide total comfort.
I was skeptical when I first received the Do Or Die (DOD) Fitness Tools here at SparkPeople. Why would you spend all this extra money for these small "cushions" when you could use something you already have? I had been using towels or extra mats for years, so it just seemed silly to me.
But I tried the products anyway, and spoke with their creators while at the IDEA World Fitness Expo in L.A. a few weeks ago. After trying them myself, I am a believer. Read More ›
Barre workouts are HOT, and this workout trend doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Once available only in posh gyms and exclusive studios, barre workouts are not popping up in big box gyms across the country, and they are as varied in their moves and styles as their instructors and branded names.
What I love about the barre workouts and DVDs I've tried is the variety. I've been doing strength training since I was in middle school, and quite frankly, it gets boring to me over time. So for me, a barre workout is a new and different way to strengthen and challenge my body that isn't the same old stuff I've done for years. Plus, barre workouts are infused with so many of the elements of Pilates (my favorite workout of all time), like core engagement; lengthening of the limbs, spine and muscles; control and precision. I love these things about Pilates; they allow you to constantly push yourself to a new level of mastery, and forget about your day because you're so focused in the moment.
Acacia recently sent me one of their barre DVDs, Xtend Barre®: Lean & Chiseled ($12.49, amazon.com). This 55-minute DVD is the creation of Andrea Rogers, a professional dancer and choreographer turned Pilates and fitness instructor. Find out if it's right for you. Read More ›
I've been really bad. You see, there's this new DVD—actually set of DVDs—that I tried months ago and loved. I mean L-O-V-E-D. And even though I continue to work out with these DVDs and still enjoy them, I haven't shared them with you. I know, it's completely unforgiveable. But I'm finally finding the time to share my this secret now, and the good news is that you, too, can now benefit from this fitness trifecta by Andrea Metcalf called "Keeping Fit" (Acacia, 2010). These were sent to the SparkPeople offices and I've been keeping "Keeping Fit" all to myself, and I don’t plan on giving up these DVDs any time soon.
The set ($32.49 at amazon.com) contains three distinct titles: Strength, Cardio and Pilates. Each DVD has 60 minutes of total workout time that can easily be split up into multiple 5-minute segments.
Based on the description on this box, it's actually geared toward middle age exercisers, designed to help "build lean muscle, increase bone mass, and enhance balance and flexibility so you can remain active." So I was actually expecting a pretty easy workout when I first popped in the DVDs. Boy was I surprised! Read More ›
The winners are: MCJULIEO, SPWITHSPIRIT, KLBS111.
A few months back, the team at CalNaturale reached out and asked us to try their Svelte protein drinks. We agreed, and we liked them. Now you can try them for yourselves!
They say: Svelte provides you with the lasting nutrition and sustained energy you need to navigate through your active and busy day. Each rich, creamy flavor is created with 16g of protein from fresh organic soymilk, along with complex carbs for sustained energy.
We say: Most of the ready-to-drink protein beverages on the market are milk-based. As someone who is lactose-intolerant, it was great to try these Svelte shakes. They are thick, creamy, and just sweet enough. I generally don't like the taste of stevia (I find it to be too sweet), but I don't mind it in these drinks. The chocolate one tasted like a milkshake that wasn't frozen. It was very satisfying and kept me full for a couple of hours.
Some of the guys in the office tried them as well and liked them. (View the nutrition info here.)
Today we're giving away Svelte products to you! You can get the chance to try all four flavors: chocolate (my favorite!), French vanilla cappuccino, and spiced chai.
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The editors of Fitness magazine recently sent me a copy of their newest book, "Fitness Fast Track to a Better Body" (Wiley, 2011). I dug into this paperback gem while traveling for work last week, and it helped me make the most of my wait time at the airport (and while flying). I'm a big fan of Fitness magazine, and love their workouts and sensible advice each month. But the healthy skeptic in me was, well, skeptical of this title. After all, can you really "fast track" weight loss or fitness in a healthy way? I wasn't too sure that that those two things could work hand in hand. Something had to give, right?
So when I reviewed the book, first and foremost I wanted to make sure it didn't contain any crazy claims, outrageous diets or wacky workouts. What I found were realistic, accurate and helpful tips to changing your diet for the better and squeezing in exercise in short chunks, like just 15 minutes at a time. I also found tons of quick recipes, fun and interesting new exercises, and a healthy dose of weight-loss myth busting. So will the book help you, too? Read More ›