Product & Workout Review: ActivMotion Bar

**This is a paid review, but my experiences and opinions are my own.  As a blogger and fitness enthusiast I do my best to provide true and honest accounts of fitness products and routines.  

 

A few weeks ago I was awarded the opportunity to review the new ActivMotion Bar.  Have you heard of it?

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What is an ActivMotion Bar?  Acting on the premise of stability training the bar is filled with rolling weights that move as you work to stabilize them all while engaging your core.  This action of engaging and disrupting movements is called Disruptive Training.

“Disruptive Training progresses people through three phases of training, with the end results being increased core strength, improved mind-muscle activation and awareness, and smart muscles that will protect and perform.”

The closest thing I’ve tried to this were fluid filled pvc pipes at a crossfit booth last summer.  I remember being thrown off-balance when I used the bar for the routine, the shift of weight made the overhead squats that much more of a challenge.  So when I learned about what this bar did it seemed like it would be a great way to boost my workouts.

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Upon initial receipt of the bar I was a little disappointed in the weight.  I like to consider myself a strong woman and figured that this 6 lb bar wouldn’t have much to offer in the form of challenging my body.  Let me tell you this, I was wrong.

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I had just started up with Body Beast and many of the exercises called for a standard weight bar (which I didn’t have).  After seeing Tony Horton use the bar in some of his routines I figured it would be just as easy to adapt it to my own program.

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It’s come in use the most during leg day and I’ve found it to be great for focusing on proper form during those hefty leg exercises.  I have weak knees so there is no need (or desire) for me to go heavy on the weights when lunging and squatting so the bar worked well to challenge my form.

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After using the bar to focus on form during my Body Beast workouts I decided to change things up and give it a go and test out some of the moves in the Movement Library.

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This bar is perfect for core work!  It’s something that I often neglect (unless it’s built into my routine) and I was glad to see moves geared towards building my core strength.

 

Moves that might otherwise seem simple were amplified when I added in the bar.  Hip bridges and heel touches never felt more challenging.  I stood corrected and was thoroughly impressed with the workout.

I’ve yet to get through every workout DVD that came with the bar, but liked what I have seen so far.  At home workouts are obviously not new to me so I have a lot to offer in comparison.

My only gripe with the workout DVDs that I’ve tried so far is that they are obviously low-budget production quality.  The first DVD I used had issues of blacking out a couple of times through the workout and there weren’t any bells and whistles.  This is not a deal breaker.  If you’re determined to get a good workout in, then these minor issues won’t bother you much.

I blame my bias for these DVDs on my overuse of Beachbody programs and the like.  I’ll admit, I always compare other workout DVDs to my BB collection and it’s a hard habit to break. I’ve been using their programs for so long and have become conditioned to the format.

I do however see the value of a great product and look forward to using this piece of equipment in the future and adapting it to my current Beachbody routines.
Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 8.57.53 AMFor more information on the bar and how to order your own be sure to visit http://www.activmotionbar.com to view their great selection of products.  The bar is available in various weight increments and there are great combination kits up for grabs.

 

 

 

 

On Being A “Larger” Runner & Preventing Injuries

I’m not a small person and I don’t carry the (stereo)typical “runner” physique.  I’m still working towards my weight loss goals and my body isn’t light and lanky.  I have heavy, solid legs and curves.  My mommy tummy still shakes and jiggles when I run and I pound the pavement hard.

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Running at this weight might not be ideal, but it still feels pretty damned good!  I’m pushing 185-188lbs these days and on a good day can push a 10:10 pace for a 5K.  My long runs are much slower, but I can go for miles and miles without needing to rest.  Really though, none of that matters–I am a slow runner, I am a larger runner, I am a mother runner, I am a runner.

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It doesn’t matter which adjective I use to describe it, it all boils down to the fact that I am a runner.  I am strong and powerful and I can accomplish more than my mind knows.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that running larger doesn’t come with its challenges.  Having a heavier build often means that you’re exerting more wear and tear on your body. Pounding the pavement hard can take its toll on the body if you do not take the proper precautions.  Many of us larger runners take on running as a means to lose weight.  Eager to go hard and hit big goals, many new runners are faced with the dread that is a running injury.

Believe me, I’ve faced my share of running related injuries and I know what my body can and can’t handle.  Surprisingly, most of said injuries occurred before I even became a runner.  In college when I participated on the woman’s rowing team I faced multiple overuse injuries to my knees.  I had IT band issues and patellar tendonitis.  There really wasn’t a time where pain wasn’t present.  I resigned to the fact that I had bad knees and thus couldn’t be a runner.

Fast-forward to today.  I haven’t faced any real injuries (aside from the time I didn’t change shoes soon enough) since my running ventures began in 2013.  In the first weeks of running I did make the mistake of using my 2-year-old running shoes and soon enough I began to feel pain in my shin.  This is when I learned the importance of a good shoe and how easing into training is the best course of action.  So, I’ve decided to use my own experiences and compile them with additional tips for preventing injury as a larger runner.

PREVENTING INJURY AS A LARGER RUNNER (aka Clydesdale/Athena runners)

*Please Note:  I am not a running expert nor a physician.  These tips are based on my own experiences and research.

  1. Ease into your training.  If it hurts when you do it, then don’t do it!  I know this seems counterintuitive because running can “hurt” in a good way without causing injury, but what I’m saying is that you need to ease your body into running so that you don’t get injured.  If you try to go too fast or too hard too soon, your body will pay the price.  I strongly advise that you take a couple of weeks to build and develop strength in your legs.  I usedP90X as my foundation builder and I think it’s what helped me feel like I could actually be a runner.Having a proper base is a great way to prevent overuse injuries.  This can also be achieved by using one of the beginner runner programs like Couch to 5K.  Programs like this ease your body into running and it’s important to follow the program as advised, it is not the time to be an overachiever (which can actually set you back instead of push you further).
  2. Buy proper footwear.  Because we are built heavier, it’s very important to make sure we make the effort to get a proper shoe and to make sure we change our shoes when they lose their support. A good rule of thumb for bigger runners is to find a shoe with a strong midsole support system.  For me this just so happens to be Asics Gel Kayanos.  Every shoe’s life expectancy varies depending on the runner’s stride, the shoe type, and the conditions the shoes are run in (i.e. concrete running vs. trail running).  For myself I usually find the 300 mile range to be my sweet spot.  It’s all about listening to your body though!  If you start to feel aches and pains that weren’t there a few weeks ago it might be time for a new pair.
  3. Choose your running surfaces wisely.  Not all running surfaces are created equal!  Concrete is by far the worse surface to run on, it doesn’t offer any form of shock absorption so your body is faced with the brunt of it.  When possible it’s best to opt for softer surfaces–this is why you often see runners on the road when there is a perfectly good sidewalk next to them.  I’ve grown to love trail running for this particular reason. My stride is cushioned by the soft ground and the scenery and terrain change makes for a fun run.
  4. Listen to your body.  With any fitness routine it’s always important to listen to your body.  If you feel achy and it’s just sore muscles you won’t do too much damage by going out for a quick jog.  If you feel pinpoint pain that worsens upon running then you might want to cut back and let your body heal.  If you’re not sure what your body needs then you might want to consider seeing a doctor.  Persistent pain is a big red flag and ignoring it can lead to permanent injury that can derail your running completely.
  5. Go your own pace.  This goes hand in hand with easing into your training.  Group runs are fun, but running with others means that you might try to push yourself too hard.
  6. Fuel your body. With any new routine (even if weight loss is the goal) it’s important to fuel your body.   This is not the time to skimp on your diet.  Your body needs to be properly fueled and fed in order to prevent injury.  Malnourishment can lead to prolonged recovery and an increased risk of injury and illness.
  7. Dress the part.  Clothing attire might not be something that seems important, but for myself I think it helps!  Having the proper clothes can save you from jostling around with each stride and can help prevent chafing.
  8. Allow for rest and recovery.  If you’re just starting out running there is no reason to be running everyday.  Your body will need time to recover and repair those hard-working muscles.  Ignoring rest days can lead to fatigue and poor form which can cause long-term injuries.  As always it’s important to be mindful and listen to your body.

I know that a lot of these tips may seem like common sense, but as a once newbie runner I know that it’s not always so easy.  I didn’t know that running shoes weren’t one size fits all.  I didn’t know that running surfaces mattered and I didn’t know that a gradual build to running was best.  It’s still a learning experience for me, but I am eager to keep running and work on that speed.

Are you a larger runner?  What tips do you have to offer?  What have been your biggest obstacles?

 

Mad(lib) For Sweat Pink #NoExcuses 2015

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Are you doing the Sweat Pink #NoExcuses challenge?  We’ve been challenged today to share our take on this fun madlib.  What does yours look like?

  • Hey 2015, it’s me SarahGriffFit (nickname, spirit animal, real name, blog name)

  • This year I would like to run faster, gain muscle , and be confident.

  • It would also be super duper awesome if I also did_my best to take a vacation_ this year. It’s not a resolution, though, just a reminder to myself to try and have the best year yet because _I deserve it_.

  • The thing I am looking forward to most this year is racing more.

  • I’ll use the one thing that truly gets me out of bed in the morning which is my blaring alarm clock to help me get up, get moving (verb) and get after my #NoExcuses 2015.

  • Speaking of excuses (ahem), my very favorite excuse is my hectic schedule and I have used it to get out of doing meal prep and working out on more than a few (number) occasions.

  • I vow to move my body and be more healthy this year even if it means I have to wake up at the ass crack of dawn.

  • Even if my alarm clock gets eaten by the dog in the middle of the night, I’ll still drag my tired but out of bed

  • I will stop blaming our son [ex: kids, dog, husband] for eating the rest of the oreos when everyone knows it was really me.

  • My kid [job, hair, car, husband, kids] are not the reason I make excuses. I will show my kid [same as before] who’s boss this year and get my run [type of sweaty activity] on

  • I know that lifting weights [type of workout] is better than cake [noun]

  • I will reward myself by buying new clothes or workout gear

  • No Excuses 2015 has just begun and already I am imagining myself a winner. I can’t wait to rock a shirt (article of clothing) from Augusta Active. I can’t wait till my sweaty friends are jealous of how fresh, clean and glowing (adj) I am between workouts with help from ShowerPill body wipes. I can see myself rocking inversions [yoga pose / workout move] in new tie one on leggings [article of clothing from Actio926] from Actio926 and looking fit and fly while doing it. And of course, I’ll be taking my workouts to the next level and improving my core strength [noun] with my new ActivMotion Bar to help me train for my next  10k [distance] race with Sasquatch Racing.

  • Oh, and let’s not forget how amazing my running tights [article of clothing] will smell during my run [favorite type of workout] after washing with some WIN Detergent. And lastly, I’ll keep rocking my 2015 with clean eats and nutrition from Beaming with Health!

Product Review & Giveaway: Win Sports Detergent

Have you ever had a tech tee or running tights that just smelled straight up funky no matter how many times you ran them through the wash?  I know I have!  I’ve become all too familiar with stocking my laundry room with a gallon jug of vinegar just for that reason.  I constantly struggle during the summer months or if I’ve left clothes in my gym bag for too long.

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It would always seem that no matter how much I washed my technical fabrics the stench just wouldn’t disappear.  Well, it looks like that may be a thing of the past and I just may be able to finally ditch the vinegar!  WIN Sports Detergent is a specially formulated detergent that essentially removes embedded sports odors.

My first load of stinky gym clothes was the ultimate of tests.  I decided to provide the best stench inducing environment for my gear–I packed 2 days worth of sweat soaked clothes into a ziplock bag and let it stew for a week.  It was rather rank by the time I was ready to try out the detergent so I had high hopes.  If the detergent didn’t work I would know right away and I would also be stuck with the funk.

Lucky me!  The clothes came out fresh and stank free!  The best part is that the amount needed is fairly low and one bottle gets you 21 loads of fresh duds.

For my second and third trials I decided to up the ante and include a few pairs of my son’s pee laden jammies (he’s still prone to the occasional accident).  Both batches turned out fresh and any scent of urine was gone.  I am definitely sold!

These detergents are great because they aren’t just a fragrant method of covering up odors, they actually work to break them down and eliminate them completely.

Have you ever tried special sports detergents?  Well, guess what?!  Now’s your chance!  You can enter to win 2 free bottles (one regular, one green) of Win Detergent.  That’s 42 loads worth of detergent for FREE!! 

If you don’t win you can still save $1 on this great detergent by purchasing through WIN’s Amazon and using the discount code: WINGIVE1.

To enter the giveaway visit my FB page and use the giveaway tab!    Or go to my rafflecopter link to enter here.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Runlist/Product Review: PRO Compression Calf Sleeves

Tis the season for gift giving!

If you’re looking for a great holiday gift for that runner in your life, look no further.  PRO Compression brand sleeves and socks are the way to go!

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A few weeks ago I was awarded the opportunity to review PRO Compression brand calf sleeves.  If you’re a runner or know a runner, then you’ve probably heard about these handy accessories or at the least have seen another runner donning a pair.  

I noticed my first pair when I saw someone’s race photos.  They were wearing a bright neon pair of them and it had me hopping onto google to see what I could find out about them.  Why were runners everywhere rocking these compression sleeves?

According to PRO Compression the benefits are many….

Marathon Calf Sleeves combine the optimal blend of advanced materials and innovative design to deliver maximum benefit. True graduated compression technology helps improve blood flow and oxygen delivery, resulting in better, more consistent performance with less fatigue and faster recovery.

Thanks to our advanced design, Marathon Calf Sleeves also support critical muscles and tendons, helping reduce inflammation and soreness associated with running and other activities.  Put it all together for the perfect compression sleeve for training, racing, recovery and travel.”

They sounded like a dream!  Whilst training for a marathon the body is fighting constant muscle abuse.  Recovery time is often limited while following a busy training schedule so it’s important to find ways to aid in that routine.  I’m still a fairly new runner (I only truly began running and training in April 2013) so a lot of this training and recovery is new to me, but the one thing I learned early on is that having the proper support during a run is key to maintaining a healthy body.

From stability shoes to KT tape, I’ve found that the little things really do play a big role in overall performance, recovery time, and injury prevention.  So you can imagine how eager I was to try something new!

I’m not severely prone to injuries, but I am a “heavy-stride” runner.  My feet really pound the pavement when I run so shoes with cushion and support have been a huge help in preventing injuries, but I still on occasion (especially during my long runs) feel pain in my left shin.

I tried my sleeves the day of my first run back after having been sick for 2 weeks.  I knew that my body would be angry with me, but as soon as I slipped those sleeves on I felt like my calfs were wrapped in a warm hug.  Though they were a pain to get on, the struggle was worth the effort.  I wore them during my run and then again in the evening after my run and slept through the night with them.

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During my run I appreciated the snug feel, it was like wearing a sports bra for my muscles!  My shin didn’t ache and the next day my calves weren’t sore.  I can’t wait to see how they feel on my longer runs!  Unfortunately, I cancelled my marathon plans and haven’t been mentally capable of doing anything over 5 miles in the past few weeks so I’ll need to update you on how they aid in long run recovery later.

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I do look forward to picking up my training though and hope that I’ll have another long distance race planned soon.  I know these sleeves will be a new part of my routine.  Another added bonus during the winter months is that they turn my capris into long pants!  BONUS!

If you’re interested in trying a pair or buying them for a runner friend be sure to visit http://www.procompression.com and use PINK2 discount code thru December 15th for 40% off your purchase.

 

 

 

 

Product Review: FlipBelt

I finally had the chance to test out my new flip belt! AND I LOVE IT!  I really didn’t know how I would feel about it because I figured it would bunch up and look weird, but once I popped my phone in and flipped it over I was good to go.

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I ran for 5 miles and with my iPhone5s tucked away it stayed in place just fine.  It didn’t ride up or bounce around as one would expect, but I did need to wear it over my pants so that my mommy pouch wouldn’t be squished.

I think this belt would be great for a variety of people, but can see larger individuals or people with excess loose skin (like myself) struggling to feel comfortable.  I was able to solve this problem by wearing the belt over my running tights.  My tights help to hold everything in so my gut wasn’t flopping around over the belt as I ran.

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Overall, it’s a great product and I would recommend it to my friends (and you!).  The only con I can see is for larger individuals.  I know that this is something I would have avoided like the plague back when I first started my journey and can understand that it’s not something that is meant for every body.

I should also note that I ordered a size large for my size 10/12 hips so it’s a fairly standard fit.

If you’re interested in buying one of these at a super discounted price let me know ASAP (leave your email) so I can share my special discount code (I have 15 codes available for 33% off).

Also if I run out of super saver codes you can use code: Sweat10 for 10% off your entire FlipBelt purchase!

Be sure to visit http://bit.ly/flipbeltsweatpink to checkout their full collection of belts!
If you want to get your hands on one for cheap please fill out the form so I can send you the 33% off code!

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Product Review: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70

Disclaimer:  This is an unbiased review.  As an SPA, I am often provided with opportunities to review certain fitness/health related products.  I was not paid for my review, but did receive a free product for testing.

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“HempPro 70 – It’s water soluble and has a smooth texture! It’s also our higher protein option (the Original flavour has 20 grams of protein per 30 gram serving). We love this protein in a post run smoothie or yoga shake (yes, you can literally shake it with your favourite beverage and you’re good to go). Comes in three delicious flavours; Chocolate, Vanilla and Original.”

When offered to review this product I was eager to try it out because I’m always look for vegan protein options. I was a little bit nervous though because when one hears the word vegan one assumes that taste will be lacking.  Though these powders had a mild taste they weren’t on the bad side, in fact it was refreshing to try something that wasn’t overly flavored.

I first tried out the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 in chocolate as a run recovery drink and was pleasantly surprised by the malty chocolate taste.  It reminded me of a less sweet version of Ovaltine.  AND I LOVE OVALTINE!  My blender was dirty so I didn’t bother with testing out a smoothie, rather I just shook it up with some plain unsweetened almond milk and gulped it down.

It mixed really well and was smoother than most shakes I’ve tried.  It didn’t do that weird hydrophobic powder clumping thing that many protein shakes do.  It was also easy on the stomach!  I didn’t feel like it was difficult to process and it didn’t sit heavy.

A couple of days later I gave the vanilla a try.  I liked the vanilla too, but in my opinion it was little too bland.  That’s not a bad thing though.  If you’re a smoothie junkie, the last thing you want to do is add something that has too powerful a taste.  I think the light flavor would be greatly suited for a daily smoothie because it provides more versatility than other shakes I’ve tried.

For those of you that would like to give it a try visit http://manitobaharvest.com/ and for 20% off the #pro70 vanilla and chocolate flavors use the code: sweatpinkpro70