What’s Currently in My Gym Bag

What's in my gym bagDisclosure: This #AwesomelyActive post was sponsored by Tampax® Pearl® Active™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR, all opinions are my own.

Don’t worry, male readers, this post may be sponsored by a tampon company, but it doesn’t involve intricate period details or require you to go buy a box of them for your girlfriend. :) On a side note, why do most guys find that so embarrassing?? It’s not like the cashier is going to think they’re for you…

Anyway, while I don’t go to a traditional gym, I’m always running around between different studios (to both teach and take classes), and keep a bag with the essentials in it ready to go. Since I don’t have an office job and pretty much wear gym clothes 24/7, I only carry around a small bag and don’t have to worry about showering or packing a change of clothes. What’s inside changes with the season and my fitness routine, but if I were to dump out my gym bag right now, here’s what you’d see:

Spin Shoes | About a year ago, I bought a pair of spin/indoor cycling shoes, and it was the best purchase ever. They’re made with hard soles and clip into the pedals on the bike (versus strapping your sneakers into a pedal cage), and if you take indoor cycling classes frequently, they’re totally worth the purchase. 

Tampax® Pearl® Active™ | You’d think that by age 26, I’d have mastered this whole period thing, but I still manage to be surprised by it every month. Most gyms and fitness studios will have tampons in the bathroom, but I just feel better knowing I have a few on me. I love this tweet from Chrissy Teigen on the topic (she is hilarious to follow on Twitter, FYI):

I’ve always preferred Tampax® Pearl® because the applicator is so much more comfortable than cardboard, and Tampax® Pearl® Active™ is great because it has a SlenderFit™ applicator that’s 20% slimmer. And I never worry about them while working out because of the absorbent Backup Braid™ and FormFit™ protection (the way they expand)—no leaks!

tampax-pearl-active

Grippy Studio Socks | Although I prefer to take Lagree Fitness classes barefoot, I typically wear grippy socks while teaching. That way I can demonstrate moves on the machines, and have something on while I’m walking around the wood floors during class.

Interval Timer | For the Tone ‘n Torch class I teach once a week at Btone (half Lagree Fitness, half HIIT), I frequently use an interval timer. Because I have a couple, I now just leave one in my gym bag at all times so I don’t risk forgetting it. 

Headphones | Not only do I NEED music if I’m going to go for a run, but now that I teach spin, which is so heavily dependant on the playlist, I like to constantly be listening to and searching for new tunes—walking to and from class, while I write, running errands, etc.

Pen & Paper | All the workouts I post to P&I start as little scribbles on a piece of paper. I’ll write down an idea for a workout (maybe I’m bored sitting on the T or do a killer exercise combo in a class that I want to remember to recreate), and then try it out next time I feel like working out at home. When I’m done, I’ll jot down little notes, maybe make a couple adjustments to things I didn’t like, and then save the piece of paper for when I’m ready to shoot and write up a blog post for it.

I also like having a pen & paper around for when I hear a song I like for spin class—I’ll jot down the name and something like “hill song—heavy 8ct jumps with seated push during the chorus” so I can remember to go back to it. Basically, I have scraps of paper littering my gym bag, apartment, car—everything.

Hair Ties & Head Bands | I’m sure this one isn’t surprising—so necessary when you have long hair! Nothing is worse than getting to the gym and realizing you don’t have a hair tie with you. I’ve resorted to rubber bands and even a shoelace one time to try and keep the mane in place and it’s no fun.

Water Bottle | Plastic water bottles are, like, so 1995. Invest in a quality, BPA-free water bottle and you’ll get years of life out of it while doing your small part to reduce waste. I’ve had the one pictured since college!

Wow, I can’t believe I got through an entire post sponsored by Tampax® Pearl® Active™ without quoting Mean Girls (you know the quote I’m referring to). Teaming up with them was a no-brainer—I already had this exact tampon in my gym bag before they sent me a box!—and Tampax® was a pleasure to work with. Just had to end with that because they were beyond accommodating through the rough few weeks I had at the end of August, and it was so appreciated.

You can follow this awesome company on Facebook and Twitter.

Now your turn: What’s currently in your gym bag?

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My Newest Fitness Gadget: The Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor ReviewThe following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Polar.

I remember as a kid, anytime a new piece of machinery or vehicle—tractor, dirt bike, ATV, snowmobile, truck, etc.—would appear in the driveway, my mom would shake her head and say, “Dad got himself a new toy.” And I couldn’t think of a better way to describe how I feel about getting new workout gear or fitness tech gadgets: it’s like I’m six years old again opening up a Barbie.

As you may recall from my post about the certification process, my first time using a heart rate monitor was just this May when going through the Spinning instructor program. Perfect timing because just as I realized how useful this little gadget was, FitFluential gave me the opportunity to try out one of Polar’s newer models: The FT60. It can do so much that I feel like I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface, but I’m already obsessed. I’ll give you the general breakdown of its functions and then share how I’m going to use it (both personally and for the blog!). 

The Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor ReviewSmart Coaching

The FT60 has a ton of features to help interpret and quantify your training intensity, which they refer to as Smart Coaching. You can set goals and create training programs using the monitor and at polarpersonaltrainer.com, and if you’re a runner, the FT60 syncs with GPS sensors (you’d need to buy the accessory separately) so that you can integrate distance into your training plan.

When you look at your data from each workout, you’ll see that Polar uses three HR zones to help analyze your training session (Zone 1 being your lower HR rage; Zone 3 being your highest HR range). The zones are individualized based on your age, height, fitness level, etc. (Polar calls this personalization OwnZone). As you can see in the screen shot below, the FT60 tells you how your time was divided among the three HR Zones during your workout.

Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor Review

Using this same personal data and your heart rate throughout a session, the FT60 can also calculate the numbers of calories expended during a workout.

Another way the FT60 helps you track your progress is with the Fitness Test feature. I haven’t tried it yet, but the monitor walks you through a 5-minute fitness test, which you can take regularly to compare data and see how you’ve progressed. Pretty cool! 

Polarpersonaltrainer.Com

While you can access your workout data and/or training plan right from the watch, Polar also has an online portal that allows you to upload all your info using the Data Transfer Unit (sold separately from the heart rate monitor). You create an account at polarpersonaltrainer.com, and then all your info is synced from your monitor. I love this feature.

In your account, you can see your workouts and also go in and edit them. I like to change the name to what the workout was so that I can easily compare classes/routines. As you can see in the screenshot, now when I look at a training session, I know exactly what it was. Ah, so a Barry’s Bootcamp class burned x amount more calories than the HIIT workout I did at home. Or hmm that class keeps my heart rate up the entire time, while this one seems to allow for more recovery time.

Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor Review

The site also allows you to see clear charts of how much time you spent in each heart rate zone throughout a workout. I like this because if I see that for two days in a row my workout had my heart beating out of my chest the majority of the time, I’ll consciously aim for a workout that keeps my HR a little lower the next day. High intensity training is awesome and should be integrated into your workout routine, but not every day. You need to mix it up.

If that sounds overwhelming, Polar can make those decisions for you with its Training Load feature. On polarpersonaltrainer.com, you can see a graph of you cumulative training load, and based on the time spent in each HR zones, duration, etc., it will show you when you’ve recovered enough for another tough training session or recommend that you take it easier.

The Polarpersonaltrianer.com community also gives you the option to share your workouts via social media and connect with other Polar users, which I could see being fun if you had a training buddy who also had a Polar HRM. I don’t though, so I’ll probably refrain from bombarding my Twitter followers with my HR stats. ;)

How I Personally Use the FT60

Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor ReviewFor me, creating a training program or setting goals using the watch isn’t particularly of interest right now since I want to workout every day, and don’t need any added motivation. As I’ve touched upon throughout this post, I’ve been using my heart rate monitor to:

  • Find out the heart rate zones I was in during my workouts. Super high heart rate the whole time = maybe I’ll just stick to Pilates, yoga or a light jog for my workout the following day.
  • Get a sense of calories burned. While I am the Anti-Calorie Counter (with both food and workouts), I actually find it fascinating to see what different workouts do for the body in terms of caloric burn. The knowledge just helps me be that much more informed as a fitness professional. And moving forward, I think it will be a fun addition to my workout posts on the blog to be able to include an estimation for how many calories it burns. While I don’t personally track these things, I know it’s extremely helpful for all those on a fitness or weight-loss program who are logging numbers.
  • Become more in tune with my body. During the Spinning training program, our Master Instructor talked about how she wears her heart rate monitor so frequently and has become so in tune with where her numbers are during different workouts and activities that she can tell when she’s about to get sick before she even feels symptoms solely based on raised numbers. That stuck with me because such a large part of my definition of “health” is knowing your body, and being so completely tuned in to it and how it feels that you intuitively know what it wants and needs at any given time. 

Get 10% off a Polar FT60

If you’re in the market for a new heart rate monitor, you’re in luck: I get to offer P&I readers 10% off the FT60! It retails at $179.95 at Polar.com and you just need to use the discount code FitPolarFT60. The code is case-sensitive and expires 10/11/2014.

Do you regularly use a heart rate monitor during your workouts? What do you love most about it?

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Med Ball Core Workout

Med Ball Core WorkoutDisclosure: This post was sponsored by Target® C9 through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Target® C9, all opinions are my own.

You may recall that earlier this summer I got the chance to team up with Target® to wear a couple pieces from the new Target® C9 collection in this “No Rest” Tabata Workout. Well today we’re teaming up again, this time to share some of my favorite ways to enjoy the end of summer/early fall with friends while staying active.

The weather this time of year (at least in New England) is THE BEST for taking your workouts outdoors. Some of my favorite ways to actively enjoy the changing seasons include:

Running along the Charles River

Since his hand surgery, running is one of the few exercises my boyfriend can do, so we’ve started to go for runs together around the city. With the warm—but not oppressive—weather this time of year, it’s the perfect workout (and company!).running-charles-river

Hiking at my parents’ place in Maine

My parents’ second home in Maine is on a ski mountain and a lake, so the hiking is GORGEOUS as summer turns to fall. Last time I was visiting, my brother and I went for a morning hike up one of the mountains and it was the perfect way to start the day.HIKING-IN-MAINE

Taking my favorite P&I workouts outside

I try to shoot the majority of my workout tutorials outside because of the optimal lighting, but I actually do a fair amount of them outdoors as well! Most recently, I took this Med Ball Core Workout outside. I should add, however, that while I shot it in the middle of Comm Ave with the sprinklers going off, I did it in the privacy of my old back patio area. C’mon now, I’m not that awkward… :)Med Ball Core Workout

Med Ball Core Workout

Equipment I Used:

You’ll do each of the 8 exercises for 30 seconds. Move right from one exercise to the next. Once you’ve completed them all, rest for 30 seconds, and then start right from the top. Complete 4 rounds in total. This workout will take you just under 20 minutes to complete. If you’re new to working out, you can start by completing just two or three rounds, and work your way up to four.

I set my interval timer for 35 rounds of 30 seconds of work and 0 seconds of rest. This accounts for the rest intervals and will make the timer beep at you every 30 seconds, signaling you to move onto the next exercise. You could also just watch the clock.

Med Ball Core Workout

  • Table Top Sit-Ups: Start laying on your back holding the medicine ball overhead in both hands (it should be hovering off the ground). Feet should be lifted, knees bent at about 90 degrees. From here, sit up, bringing medicine ball up overhead and in front of you, and place it carefully on your shins. Let go of it, returning to the starting position without the ball in your hands (it’s balancing on your legs still). Sit up, this time grabbing the medicine ball from your shins and bringing it back down to starting position with you. Continue to alternate: one sit-up with med ball, one sit-up sans med ball while it balances on your shins.
  • Russian Twist: Start seated, holding the med ball in both hands at your chest, feet lifted off the ground with your knees bent. Lean back slightly, core engaged, balancing on your tailbone. Twist to one side, bringing the med ball to the outer side of that hip; then repeat in the other direction. Really twist at the waist—you want your chest to be totally facing whatever side you’re bringing the ball.
  • Leg Lift Toe Touch: Lay on your back with arms stretched overhead, holding on to your medicine ball (it should be hovering a couple inches off the ground—don’t let it rest on the floor). Feet should also be hovering a couple inches off the ground; pull your belly button in towards your spine and press the low back against the ground in this position. From this starting position, lift both legs up so that toes are pointing towards the ceiling, keeping legs straight. Then bring the med ball up to meet them, crunching up as you lift the ball overhead, reaching towards your toes (it’s ok if you can’t physically touch them, just focus on lifting your shoulder blades off the ground as high as possible). Return upper body to starting position and then lower legs to starting position.
  • Plank Roll Out (RIGHT): Start in a plank position, right hand on a medicine ball, left hand on the ground. Slowly roll your right palmàwristàforearm over the top of the ball. As you reach forward like this, you’ll need to bend your left elbow, lowering the body (but still keeping strong plank form!). Reverse the motion, rolling right forearmàwristàpalm and straightening your left elbow back to starting position as you do.
  • Plank Roll Out (LEFT)
  • Sit ‘n Toss: Lay on your back with arms stretched overhead, holding on to your medicine ball (it should be hovering a couple inches off the ground—don’t let it rest on the floor). Lift the medicine ball forward as you sit up, keeping arms straight, and lift it straight above your head as your body comes into upright sitting position. Bring ball into chest and toss up into the air. Catch and slowly lower to the ground, bringing ball back overhead behind you.
  • Plank Jump Jacks: Start in a plank position with hands on the medicine ball. Jump both feet up towards the outside of the ball and then quickly back to a plank. Then jump feet out to the sides (like a horizontal jumping jack) and quickly back together. That’s one rep. When doing the “jack” part of this move, try to hold a strong plank alignment with your upper body—don’t let your butt pike up into the air or hips sag downward.
  • Boat Pose Leg Scissors: Start in boat pose holding the medicine ball at your chest. For boat pose, you balance on your tailbone, leaning back slightly, legs and upper body lifted in a “v” shape. To do this, engage your core (I think of trying to squeeze my belly button and spine together). If you’re a beginner, instead of keeping your legs straight, bend the knees (but still keep those feet lifted!). From here, you’re going to scissor your legs, one foot on top of the other, alternating back and forth. For an added challenge, scissor them up and then down (one foot on top of the other for a few scissor kicks, and then reverse the direction, one foot below the other for a few scissor kicks).

Enjoy this workout—and time of year!signature