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Stuff We Love: The Garmin Forerunner


Back in September 2009, I reviewed the Nike Plus sport band. Back then, I wasn't a serious runner. Running was a casual thing I did because I thought it was a good workout—not something I actually liked doing or looked forward to. When I reviewed the Nike band, I spent a lot of time using it to see how well it worked, and it definitely helped me enjoy running more. It's still a great running gadget at an introductory price point that I would definitely recommend to others.

But it wasn't perfect: It didn't calibrate very well, and wasn't the most accurate tool. Plus, it lacked a heart rate monitor, which I really love to use when I train. I was ready for an upgrade, so I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner in January 2010 and WOW. I love my Forerunner so much that I can't imagine running without it. It has been instrumental in helping me become a better runner—and in transforming running from something I tolerated into something I actually enjoyed. So why has it taken me more than a year to tell you about it? Good question! (I have no excuse other than procrastination.)

If you're curious about how the Garmin Forerunner works, or interested in a new workout gadget that can making running (or walking) a little more fun, here's what three SparkPeople's coaches who all use the Forerunner have to say about it.
Posted 4/13/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 59 comments   21,864 views
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We Tried It: The Gym Boss Timer


Editor's Note: We were recently sent the Gym Boss timer to review. SparkPeople's resident mixed martial arts expert, Paul, put it to the test.

By Paul Elfers

They say: The GYMBOSS is a small, easy to use, repeating interval timer. This multi-use timer has many versatile functions that make it beneficial to virtually any type of exercise program.

GYMBOSS will make any workout easier to plan and execute with more accuracy and consistency.

Posted 3/23/2011  5:30:28 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 46 comments   22,638 views
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DVD Review: The Booty Barre Workout


As a fan of both Pilates and dance workouts, I have been dying to try one of the latest fitness trends: barre workouts. Many celebs (including Kelly Ripa) are reported fans of these toning workouts that combine ballet, Pilates, calisthenics and yoga movements into one workout, usually using a ballet barre as a prop—or a chair if you're exercising at home. Some barre workouts use just your body weight, while others incorporate some props like light hand weights or bands. The premise behind these workouts is to trim and tone and achieve the long, lean body of a dancer. They heavily focus on the lower body with focused movements and high repetitions with little to no added weight (besides your own body).

At first glance, these may look or even sound easy, but everyone I know who has ever tried a barre workout has said the same thing: that they are very challenging.

I was ready for a new challenge! So when Tracey Mallett's Total New Body: The Booty Barre ($14.99) workout DVD landed on my desk, I was eager to try it.
Posted 3/4/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 55 comments   36,574 views
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4 Fun Fitness Apps for the iPhone


Some of you may not know, but I am a techno-nerd. I find this to be a positive though, as technology has really improved the way we do things and has introduced a lot of new and fun ways to do things, including fitness. Keeping up with my techno-nerd ways, I purchased an iPhone a couple years ago and actually wasn't sure I would like it, but now I can't imagine parting with it. I always have it with me and I love to try out new apps when I get a chance.

This week I am sharing with you my reviews of four iPhone fitness apps that I have found to be fun and helpful.
Posted 2/22/2011  2:00:57 PM By: Denise Tausig : 63 comments   26,339 views
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Stuff We Love: Great Gear for Runners


Some women can't wait for the latest fashions to hit their local department store, but for me I get that same thrill when I walk into my local running specialty store. I must confess in the five years since I took up running I have bought more pairs of running shoes, socks, shorts, tech shirts and sports bras than I have any other 'real' articles of clothing. Because I have the liberty to work from home, many times I am sitting in my running/workout gear waiting to pound the pavement or hit the gym so purchasing other clothing really isn't a need.

Below are just a few of my favorite running things and even if you are not a runner, walkers can benefit from them as well.

Posted 2/16/2011  2:30:26 PM By: Nancy Howard : 59 comments   19,901 views
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Stuff We Love: Home Gym Equipment


Over the years I have built up my stock of home gym equipment. While I currently have a gym membership, I find having a variety of home gym equipment helps to add more choices to my workouts, especially during the winter months when I can't make it to the gym due to bad road conditions. I'll share with you some of my favorite pieces of home gym equipment.
Posted 2/15/2011  5:30:03 AM By: Denise Tausig : 45 comments   17,252 views
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Our 10 Favorite DVD Reviews


Last week, when the temperature dipped into the single digits and the snow piled up outside, there was no way I was heading outside for some cardio. Instead of skipping my workout, I reached for one of the many workout DVDs we have here at SparkPeople: Work Out One-on-One Training with Jackie.

I rarely do workout DVDs and instead rely on yoga and running for the bulk of my workouts. This reminded me what a great option they are, especially when you can't go outside.

I searched the blog for 10 of our favorite DVD reviews. Maybe you'll find a new workout to shake up your routine!

Posted 1/27/2011  1:09:29 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 92 comments   22,479 views
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The Coobie Sports Bra: Great Support, No Uniboob!


A chance visit to a fancy lingerie shop recently revealed something completely unexpected: the Coobie, a seamless bra that happens to be great for working out.

A number of features prompted me to try it on: the seamless construction, the padded cups, the fantastic array of colors and the price (just $20 for the scoopneck style and $22 for a lacier v-neck). But what really sold me on the Coobie, despite its silly name, was its in-gym performance.
Posted 1/26/2011  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 105 comments   47,953 views
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The Fab Fitness Gear I Can't Live Without


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!

Posted 1/21/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 33 comments   17,861 views
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Stuff We Love: A Yoga Teacher's Favorite Gear


I get lots of requests from people who want to know what equipment, clothes, and other gear I prefer. Today I'm going to share with you a range of products that I use both as a yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher.

Confession: January has been "Wear Your Spandex to Work Month" for me. Between marathon training, yoga practice, and teaching, I wear workout clothes at least three weekdays and both weekend days. I feel like I'm always washing workout clothes! For me, it's important to have gear that's durable and attractive.
Posted 1/20/2011  2:36:22 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 26 comments   14,812 views
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Gear Up: My Must-Have Accessory for Winter Workouts


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…
Posted 1/5/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 50 comments   18,944 views
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DVD Review: Jackie Warnerís 'Xtreme Timesaver Training'


As a busy mom, my free time is limited and very valuable. So if Iím going to spend it exercising, I want the workout to be something that really challenges me. I love running, so thatís my primary form of cardio. But at the beginning of this year, I made a real commitment to focus on strength training. Even though Iím a personal trainer and know what kind of exercises to do, I prefer to strength train using videos that tell me what to do and when to do it so that I donít have to think about it too much.
Posted 11/5/2010  6:44:23 AM By: Jen Mueller : 54 comments   27,023 views
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DVD Review: Amy Dixon's 'Give Me 10!' Has It All


Adopting my dog a few months ago has changed my life in many ways, and that includes my exercise routine. While I'm even more active than before since I share dog-walking responsibilities with my fiancé, I'm not able to spend as much time at the gym. That means at-home workouts make up the bulk of my routine now, so I've been strength training at home, usually with a few of my favorite workout DVDs.

When Amy Dixon's "Give Me 10!" workout DVD showed up on my desk at work, I was excited to try it. Amy Dixon may look familiar to many of you who are avid readers of women's fitness magazines. She's a regular contributor and fitness consultant for magazines like "Self," "Shape," "Women's Health" and more. She knows her stuff, too. With a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology and a boatload of fitness certifications, she's been training and designing workouts for 15 years.

This DVD features a nice mix of six 10-minute workouts: Fat Blasting Cardio, Upper Body Sculpt, Lower Body Firmer, Core Makeover, Yoga Stretch & Flex, and a bonus Kettlebell Tone Up. So are these workouts for you?
Posted 8/6/2010  11:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 37 comments   21,598 views
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Rave Review: Quick Sculpt Pilates DVD with Toning Ball


I like to do Pilates twice a week. That's the minimum amount of core training I need to keep my persistent back problems at bay and to feel centered and limber. Fortunately for me, I've been teaching two mat classes for the past several years—until recently, that is. One of my classes was recently canceled, so I've been on my own to fit in my mat exercises…only I've been a little lazy about doing it on my own.

Last week I dug through my library of workout DVDs searching for a good Pilates DVD to plug the hole in my routine. The folks at 10-Minute Solution sent me the Quick Sculpt Pilates kit (which contains a DVD and a toning ball) a while ago, and now was the perfect time for me to try it.

I've said it before, but I LOVE doing Pilates with the mini ball. I use it in my classes all the time, and my students really enjoy using it, too. I tested the Bender Ball a couple years ago and loved it, so I had high hopes for this DVD. Still, I was a bit skeptical, because it's not easy to find quality instruction on Pilates workout DVDs. Here's what you need to know about trying this Pilates workout set.
Posted 7/14/2010  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 24 comments   15,950 views
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We Tried It: The TRX Workout


I can't remember how I first heard about the TRX suspension trainer, but this portable piece of workout equipment caught my eye a few years ago. I continued to see it make appearances on shows like "The Biggest Loser" and in my fitness magazines, so I figured it was time to give it a try. When I contacted the company about receiving a product to review, they were happy to indulge us. (Hey, this job does have a few perks!)

It's difficult to describe the TRX to someone who has never seen it in action. It look like nothing more than a big band with handles and loops on the ends. So what's the big dealóand how do you use it?
Posted 7/2/2010  5:50:21 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 64 comments   91,882 views
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