January is here and with it the cold weather, rain and gloom; it also brings with it though the promise of a new year and the opportunities that it offers. For many people this means beginning or getting back on track with a regular exercise routine. I’ve exercised regularly for the last couple of years but with all the changes that 2014 brought (mostly positive) have meant that I’ve been working out a little less regularly than I’d like. I cycle the short distance to my bus stop for work (it is mostly up hill on the way in but that makes for a nice journey home) and I run at least once a week (usually), what I have been missing though is body pump classes. I have weights at home but it just isn’t the same. James and I both wanted to get back on track with our fitness and joined our local gym, which is great because they do body pump classes, and I can run in the dry when it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale outside. I went to my first body pump class in a year last week and loved, loved, loved being back. I couldn’t walk for the rest of the week but that glimmer of being able to get back to where I was at the beginning of 2014 was much needed, I was the fittest and slimmest I’ve ever been back then and I’ve been feeling really disheartened that I let all that hard work slowly slip away. I am also really excited about getting back into swimming, I was regularly swimming 80 lengths but I haven’t done that in a while either.
Anyway, I’m no expert but I wanted to share with you my gym wear choices (plus a few extras), from leggings that let you bend over without everyone in the room suddenly knowing you much better, to headbands that stop you having to wash your hair all the time because you had a fringe cut in 6 months ago that can be a grease fest (attractive huh?!).
When it comes to gym leggings, you really shouldn’t skimp on quality. Working out puts you in all sort of bendy and uncompromising positions and you need good quality leggings. Black Milk Clothing is hands down my favourite clothing company/addiction and when it comes to gym wear, they make magic happen; their gym leggings have 4 way stretch, shrink-resistance, fade-resistance, pilling-resistance, UV protection, breathability and most importantly they stay opaque when you bend over. They also have pockets (on both sides!!) big enough to fit your phone in, even if you have one of those big smart phones, like I do. They spent months sourcing the perfect fabric, which they import it from Italy (they are an Australian company that ships worldwide, US readers, they do have a US site too, so you don’t have to pay import duty). These are my two favourite pairs that I own:
I have two pairs of trainers; my old ones that I keep for running outdoors are Nike Lunarlon’s in blue. I can’t find them anywhere on the internet now but Nike have a new model out that looks very similar. I’ve recently got some new trainers for wearing in the gym and workout studio, I am keeping these much cleaner than my muddy running trainers because you get disapproving looks if you get your workout studio muddy during class! Oops! My new trainers are Karrimor Tempo 3’s and were a boxing day sale bargain. I used them to run a 5km on the treadmill with minimal blisters this week. This was a huge relief because when I ran my Nike’s in I had blisters for months on the insides of my feet. I think my feet are a tad wide for Nike trainers; they fit like gloves now though.
My old faithful sports bra and the one I keep going back to because it is super comfortable and really supportive is a Nike Dri-Fit Dedication (similar to the one in the picture, a newer model that mine). It is important to have the right level of support from your bra for the intensity of exercise that you’re planning on doing. If you don’t have enough support then you can be at risk of damaging your breast tissue. Not cool.
When it comes to gym tops I am not too fussy. I prefer something fun but whatever you are most comfortable in, that is breathable and not too tight that it rubs when running (for example) will do the job. Here are a couple of my favourite gym tops, that help me make it out of that door and in to the gym when all I really I want to do is curl up on the sofa. We all have those days but feeling good in what you’re wearing really does help.
When I am running, I like to wear a headband no matter what the weather because it helps keep my hair out of my face and my headphones in my ears. It also stops my fringe getting so sweaty and greasy as it keeps it out of my face. My best friend bought me this headband the Christmas before last and I absolutely love it.
I keep it simple with some thin touch screen gloves from the local bargain store. I find thin gloves best for running, even in the winter because my hands always end up getting pretty hot in them. If I don’t wear them though my hands turn to ice blocks. Having thin gloves also means I can stuff them in my pocket if my hands get too hot. Touch screen gloves are great for using your running app or music player whilst on the go, without the faff of taking your gloves off.
It can be useful to have a jacket for running. I used to always opt for a long sleeved t-shirt or jersey jumper when it gets colder but my recent running jacket purchase was a great one. I went for an affordable USA Pro jacket and it keeps your neck warm when done up completely but if you un-zip it slightly then it has a collar, for the days it isn’t quite as cold. There are thumb loops to keep the sleeves down and it is long in the body, which stops it riding up when you run. It is always handy to have a few extra pockets too.
Heart rate monitor/calorie counter:
This is by no means an essential item but I absolutely love my Polar FT4 watch; the band around your chest has a heart rate monitor which talks to your watch (and any compatible gym equipment, automatically) and enables accurate calculation (upon initial entry of your age, weight and height) of how many calories you’ve burned and what your heart rate is. You can set a heart rate zone to try and stay inside of, to make sure you’re working hard enough, and set it to beep when you go outside of your zone. This isn’t a feature I use but it can be useful. It keeps running totals and data ofn your last ten sessions. It also has the time, date and alarm functions of a normal watch.
For tracking my runs and progress I use the RunKeeper app. It has built in training programmes and uses GPS to show your route and elevation. It gives you loads of stats about your running and is completely free. There are several great running apps out there though.
Do you have any keep fit essentials? If so, I’d love to know what they are. I’m always on the look out for things to get me in to that gym/out that door.