How-To Guide: Affordable and Quality Activewear

❄ Hi everyone, ❄

I created this how-to guide on deciphering quality and affordable activewear. Because, in the current financial climate, we can’t afford to keep winging it and ending up with disappointment. Ripped seams, questionable fit, undesirable price tags… we’ve all been there. We want performance quality clothes for the gym, that also look awesome on. It really is possible. And it’s a beautiful thing.

The two brands I’m featuring in this post are 90 Degree by Reflex and GapFit. Both have exceeded my expectations on style, fit, and durability. I received all of these items on discount (GapFit) or at a very reasonable base price (90 Degree).

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Here’s me on Christmas Day wearing my high waisted 90 Degree charcoal leggings, complete with fuzzy robe and Santa hat. 
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Same leggings, different day. This is the GapFit Breathe open-back top in Black. 

When you’re buying activewear, you are constantly debating price versus performance. Do you buy the Old Navy leggings in a pinch or splurge on the high grade $100 ones from (insert high price point brand here)? Tricky question, I know.

You can have both. The lower price point and the performance. My tips:

❄ When you buy matters a lot here. Taking advantage of sales and holidays really bring down price points. For instance, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is when I purchased all of the GAP clothing pictured in this post.

I received 8 items from GAP on cyber Monday for a grand total of $195, as opposed to the original price of $355. I’m currently loving my modal sleep joggers while I type these words of wisdom.

 

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These are the gFast High Rise Sculpt Revolution leggings in New Vineyard. I’m trying to add more colored leggings to my wardrobe! Shoes: Under Armor Lightning 4 basketball shoes.
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Top: GapFit Breathe open-back top in crystal dusk 

❄ Always read reviews. From actual customers, not the website. If multiple people are complaining of ripped seams or unforgiving fabric regarding the same brand of leggings, you want to take that into account. My advice: go to YouTube. Customers there are brutally honest, and you can find many videos actually comparing affordable versus high-end brands.

❄ Beware of social media influencers advertising activewear. I myself almost purchased GymShark leggings based on the promotional reviews of their top influencers, but once I went to YouTube, I found horrible reviews. I am not in any way judging this brand, I’m just using them as an example of oversaturated social media advertising.

Instagram lovers, I get you, but just know that these individuals are compensated to claim the quality of the activewear they represent. What fits one girl’s body shape might not fit yours. And 15 reviews of a ripped seam WHILE in the middle of a gym routine? I cringed. Definitely do your research.

❄ Even if you love that celebrity’s music, you might not want to invest in their activewear. Carrie Underwood’s activewear line was all over Dick’s Sporting Goods, and I  know how I feel about it. Kate Hudson’s Fabletics has gotten a lot of hype and a lot of hate for the quality of clothing and the strange membership requirements.

❄ Stick to brands you know. Whether you’re a Nike or Under Armour enthusiast, these brands (and many more) are designed for athletes and active people with performance needs. Buying activewear from brands that specialize in activewear is crucial.

I know it’s tempting to get the deal at Victoria’s Secret Pink for their leggings for the holidays, but for real, I’m not going down that rabbit hole again. Every brand out there is trying to make activewear, but what’s the common drawback? You buying the brand not the quality, and the clothes lacking performance. Sad, sad tale.

❄ If you love Nike, for instance, but don’t want to mourn your bank account, don’t go to the actual Nike store. Nordstrom Rack and Dick’s Sporting Goods, to name two, always carry discounted items from brands like Nike. And if you really want to be a pro, I would recommend TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Target carries Champion, and Costco often has brands like Columbia and outdoor active brands.

What I’m saying here is, I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for clothes.

 

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Top: GapFit Breathe deep V-neck short sleeve tee. These are on final sale for $14.97! The Back says “Girl Pwr Wins” 
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Under Armor Lightning 4 basketball shoes in Black

❄ Fabric matters. If I can’t sit down, squat, lunge, or do a cartwheel in a pair of leggings, chances are I won’t purchase them. I only buy online if I know the brand or the fabric of the item, because I am so picky on fabric.

Why I love these two brands: 

These 90 degree by reflex leggings are available on Amazon for an average cost of $22.99, and they are so comfortable. I bought them in charcoal grey and black to start out with the neutrals. The material is wicking, so they are great for cardio as well as weight sessions. I can kick high and squat low in these babes (they did pass the squat test).

These are the high waist leggings, full length, and I can’t tell you how important a compression waist is for me. Nothing bothers me more than a slipping waistband. My hips to waist proportions give me a very hourglass figure, making it difficult to keep pants up without the high waist. These even have a hidden pocket in the front waistband! I love them, and three washes in, they haven’t lost any shape.

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GapFit has been a longtime success for me. I feel like the regular prices are more reasonable than high end activewear, and I still get the same quality. I love high waisted leggings, and there are always multiple styles online and in store. I stick with the gFast high rise sculpt revolution line, because I like the fit and waistband, so I actually purchased two capris in addition to the purple leggings photographed above.

Gap has sales all the time, so I would highly recommend trying one of their leggings or workout tops. No pilling after washes, either.

I hope you guys liked this hybrid post of product review and how-to guide. Have an amazing rest of your Wednesday! Any questions on the above purchases, just drop a comment below.

The links: 

Under Armour basketball shoes for $74.99 as opposed to $94.99 (although I purchased them during a sale for $54.99)

GapFit Breathe Deep V-neck short sleeve on final sale

GapFit Breathe open-back top (they are all out of the ones that tie, but here are similar tops with the same colors)

gFast High Rise Sculpt Revolution Leggings (same style in Capri version as well)

90 Degree by Reflex High Waist Power Flex Legging (check out all of their colors!)

xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness Trackers & My Fitbit Charge 2 Review

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone had a great NYE and holiday break, which brings me to my review of the Fitbit Charge 2. I jumped right into that because I’m excited to share its features! Probably a bit too excited.

When looking at fitness trackers, you may be asking yourself:

➳Do I need a tracker? Or is it just another thing I have to charge?

➳What brand of tracker is the best for different workouts?

➳Which Fitbit would be right for me and my routine?

➳Are these trackers aesthetically acceptable for daily wear? (shout out to others that think this way)

Let me tackle each of these based off of my final choice of the Charge 2.

In regards to needing a tracker, this of course depends on your fitness goals and how organized you wish to be with your fitness routine. If you think you would benefit from looking at numerical goals for workouts, I think you should consider one. Checking your heart rate, steps, sleep quality, and meal tracking, these all directly relate to a healthy and active lifestyle. Actually seeing the numbers can motivate you to make necessary changes.

There are many brands of fitness trackers currently on the market, and I went straight to customer reviews for this one. The main thing to look for in my opinion is accuracy of the actual data on the tracker. Some trackers are better suited for runners, for instance. Some are water resistant while some can’t take more than the average sweat session. It really depends on how much you want to spend, how many features you want the device to have, and what types of activities you most frequently do.

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Some comparisons:

The Garmin VivoSmart HR+ was named the Fitness Tracker of the year for 2016. This particular tracker is water resistance whereas the Charge 2 is not. It has the features as high up as GPS, but it retails quite a bit higher over $200 and is described as pretty chunky looking on the wrist (again, for the aesthetic folks).

Even comparing those two, the Fitbit Charge 2 retails for less around $150 but does not have GPS and is not water resistant. I like to pair my phone with the tracker and I don’t mind going in the shower without it, so these details don’t matter to me personally.

There is another more basic tracker called Moov Now, a small and round tracker that can go around your leg or clip on. It has much less features, but is said to be a great choice for getting in shape and particularly for longer intensity workouts such as running, cycling, and swimming. It retails for much less at around $60.

The Tom Tom Touch is another tracker that is mainly targeted for weight loss. You get very accurate data of your body fat composition as well as muscle percentage. It retails fairly high at about $130, however, you also get the features of daily steps, sleep quality, and heart rate.

As for the Apple watch, it retails too high for what it is in my opinion. In addition, it is basically a second phone due to its phone call alerts and texts, as well as ability to play music. This drains the battery life of the iPhone paired to it. and i’ve read that the watch’s battery life averages at about 18 hours. My Charge lasts up to 5 days!

Lastly, I have seen a lot of Polar A360’s on Instagram. This fitness tracker is definitely cool looking, to give it aesthetic credit. It is said to have a great full-color display for even outdoor light, is waterproof, and it can be directly connected to a USB port to charge. Essentially though, it not having GPS makes it at the same level of features as the Charge 2 except for it being waterproof, and the Polar A360 retails about $50 higher.

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Now getting more specific with which Fitbit device could be right for you:

I was going between the Alta, the Charge 2, and the Blaze. I would suggest going on the Fitbit website and looking at the features of each device, as well as a comparison chart.

Essentially, I didn’t want GPS tracking from the Surge, and I thought the Blaze, although really interesting looking with the display face, was too bulky for daily wear. The Charge had heart rate monitoring which the Alta did not, So it was really a process of elimination there based off of features.

As for aesthetic, I actually really like the look of my Charge 2 for daily wear. I got the black band with the plum purple for a replacement. I think it’s a great size, however, most men I have seen including my trainer like the look and size of the Blaze! When doing additional research, many women stated that the Alta, being slimmer than the Charge 2, was a bit more discrete and they preferred that. It’s all up to you! All of that aside though, don’t feel self conscious about wearing a fitness tracker. You’re on your way to being a healthier version of yourself.

I’ve been loving my Fitbit for multiple reasons. I consider myself a healthy person who goes to the gym on average 6 days a week, but we can always do better. We can always be better. I have already learned:

➳how much sleep I really need to have enough energy

➳how much protein and other essential dietary needs I can improve on

➳how active I am during the day in terms of steps and calories burned

and on top of that I have an app of fitness data to track my progress.

I find myself more motivated and organized to get the most out of my workouts.

The standout con I have noticed about the Charge 2 is the screen responsiveness, due to the fact that you have to tap the screen a certain way to get the displays to switch. I haven’t had an issue with this personally. Another piece of advice is to be sure to place the tracker correctly when exercising and when you’re sleeping, in terms of higher or lower on the wrist and tightness. The instruction manual that comes with the device touches on this.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so having a fitness tracker excites me as opposed to makes me dread having to keep track of another device. I can understand the fact that our society is in love with technology, but remember, this is a fitness and health device aimed to benefit you not distract you 🙂 .

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I hope this review of the Charge 2 and the fitness tracker comparison was helpful for those looking into investing!

Get out and sweat! xx

♥  Kelly

 

 

 

 

Weekend Outdoor Workout

Hi everyone,

In light of my long seasonal work hours this weekend, I’m posting my favorite outdoor workouts that keep me in shape when I don’t visit my gym. They’re simple, and they don’t require any extra equipment.

Cardio 

Running stairs: Your heart rate increases and the constant climbing and descending pushes your muscles to work harder. You get the cardiovascular activity as well as the muscle-building. Because of the step incline, the activity is engaging more of your leg muscles and is easier on your joints. Not to mention running stairs is great for toning your glutes.

Trail running: I personally want to encourage trail running over pavement due to the extra cushion on the joints. I’ve had experience with shin splints, and the thought of running on pavement makes me cringe. Trails are also more therapeutic, given you are surrounded by forest coverage and nature as opposed to traffic and cement.

Uphill sprinting: This is a great shorter, high intensity cardio workout

HIIT

If you have a park bench or something similar:

  1. Single leg step-ups
  2. Tricep dips
  3. Decline push-ups

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If you want to really make your arms burn:

Commandos: these are done just with your bodyweight, and they are great for toning

Push-ups: these are a standard arm workout with no equipment and done with bodyweight

For your abs:

Mountain climbers: These are so effective for the abdominals. I usually really start to feel them at 30-40 reps!

Straight leg raises: Be sure to support your back by placing your hands slightly underneath

Ab bikes: I prefer to do these slow to really target my abdominals correctly. I often see people rushing through these and I never find them as effective that way!

*For the ab exercises above, make sure to keep your core engaged the entire time to get the best possible tone*

Legs:

Squats: These are so common because they’re great for building your leg definition as well as your glute muscles. I like to get really low with my squats to better train all of my leg muscles, including my hamstrings.

Lunges: I do either reverse lunges or walking lunges, depending on space. If you have a lot of it, aim for doing 20 walking lunges each leg in one set.

*With squats and lunges, be sure not to let your knees come over your toes in sake of your form*

Ready to get outside and sweat? Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

Strength Training Myths + My Workout Tips

What’s on my mind: the idea that girls will bulk if they lift anything over 10 lbs.

I wanted to try to help this clarification, mainly because girls and women often find it questionable when built men say females won’t bulk. How do you know for sure? It actually has to do with the fact that women have much lower levels of testosterone than men. However, if you’re looking for other reasons to ease you into heavier weight training, I’ve come up with the reasons I told myself after research as well as reliance on qualified professionals.

Women tone through heavier weight training as opposed to “bulking” like men, because they don’t gain the added mass on top of the muscle. The result is toned muscle. This is a great thing, for the fat that surrounded the developed muscle reduces, and you are left with a toned physique.

It should be noted that reps and sets make a big difference to the type of training you’re trying to do, as well as recovery time. Some are training with more weight and less reps for more muscle, and some are doing less weight and more reps for more endurance. It really depends on you. Simply lifting heavier weights will not make you bulky, in fact, it’s important to increase weight to continue gaining benefits from your exercises. Your body will adjust to a stagnant routine, and you will be left with zero progress. 

Bulking is calorie dependent. If you eat more calories than you are burning, then there is a chance you will experience weight gain. And sometimes when you start lifting heavier you have a higher appetite, so make sure to follow the next tip: diet.

It’s a false assumption that increased gym time or adding weight training to your routine means you can slack more on your diet. This is not true at all! I have personally experienced myself needing more protein with my new workouts, but I focus on eating clean. Eating clean and working out will get you so much farther than you think. So much of what you see in the mirror comes from what you’re eating in the kitchen! It is said by trainers that diet is 80-90% of your fat loss. 

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I also need to pay special attention to the seemingly universal rule that women should do sets of 10 reps. It has been ingrained in our heads that we shouldn’t do more than 10 reps, when in reality we could probably do 30 per set with those small dumbbells we always carry to our corners out of everyone’s way. Listen to your body and also listen to qualified trainers that could give you a free consultation at your local gym. You may be surprised with what your body can do. 

There’s no universal workout routine for everyone. People have different body types, fat distribution and problem areas, as well as metabolisms. It’s not realistic to compare your workout routine to someone else’s to achieve your desired results.

Also take note that women you see on magazine covers that specialize in weight training also take supplements to enhance their muscles. Not everyone takes supplements. I personally just use protein powder, a plant-based one from Vega, in order to increase the protein missing from my pescatarian diet.

Your personal genetic makeup plays a huge role in how your muscle develops, as well as fat reduction. Everyone loses fat in certain places in a certain order. In other words, if you are trying to focus on two specific areas as priorities, you might lose the fat in other areas first due to your genetic makeup. This process takes time.

If you’re looking for an even leaner look, integrate cardio into your routine, but don’t overdo it and deplete the muscle you’ve worked hard for. I like to do no more than 20 minutes of cardio at my gym sessions.

There is also the theory that men and women have to train differently. This isn’t entirely true. I go through workouts with my trainer or with guy friends in the gym and I’ll do the same exercises as them. Yes, I will be using less weight, but that’s because I’m not strong enough to do the heavier weight with correct form. So do not avoid workouts thinking they are gender specific, because this is also a myth.   

Bottom line: train the way you want to train. There are many different types of training to choose from, however, adding weight training can only benefit weight loss and toning of the muscles. My current mix of training is as follows:

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) : lots of jump squats, mountain climbers, etc to boost my heart rate up

Weight training: personal training with heavier weights and getting new material!

Cardio: believe it or not I actually get very bored doing cardio now. But when I do I like to do 10 minutes warm-up doing sprint intervals on the treadmill or the elliptical, and then often end weight training with 10 minutes on the stair master. This gives me a variety. Sometimes my shins bother me from the treadmill, so if you have the same issue, choose a lower impact cardio workout with the bike or elliptical.

Yoga and Pilates: I love yoga for flexibility and Pilates for toning and core. I would highly recommend integrating them into your weekly routine, and there are plenty of online videos to follow if your schedule doesn’t allow time to go to a class. 

I hope these tips and clarifications helped anyone deciding on a new workout routine! Feel free to ask questions on the above content in the comment section below.

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For my fitness journey, refer to my Instagram. My username is @kmzwicker

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

Affordable Gym Gear and Where to Buy it

What’s on my mind: Ways of getting quality and fashionable gym gear, without the high cost. Interested? Read on, because these stores contain beautiful bargains. It’s all about the bargains.

First off, I want to love the gym gear I work out in and feel comfortable, because I’m doing a lot of movements that require both flexibility from me and the fabric. Getting super low for squats or doing shoulder presses, quality gym gear is key.

The top places I have found steals:

  1. TJ Maxx/ Marshall’s: These stores have the best deals. I find brands such as Nike, Under Armour, and Athleta in the fitness sections. Recently I got a pair of Nike cropped tights for $29, regularly around $85. You save a ton of money scouting these stores. Another thing to look for are zip ups and sweatshirts. I have also gotten my protein shaker, jump ropes, yoga mats, as well as free weights from one of these.
  2. Costco: I know Costco is a beautiful place due to free food samples, but the clothing section is actually pretty sweet. There are regular brands such as Calvin Klein or Adidas, and then less known brands that have recently collaborated with Costco. Ladies: the tights featured in the above photo are from Costco, a brand called Tufts Athletics. I bought two pairs, each for $16.99. They are super comfortable and flattering on, and the patterned one is fun to wear to weight sessions.
  3. Nordstrom Rack: This one is lower on the list because this store is such a hit or miss for me to find something, and usually the gym gear is shoes not clothing. Then again, I am very picky about running shoes in terms of arch support. However, if you want to snag a pair of Nikes for maybe $60 or less, go here.
  4. Target: So Target carries a lot of gear made by Champion, and I have on occasion gotten tights from there that lasted a long time. I find the brand to fade faster than higher end ones like Nike and Adidas, but the cost is super reasonable.
  5. Amazon: Shout out to those addicted to Amazon prime for fast deliveries and bargains. You find some really good gear and workout accessories on here. I purchased a spiked foam roller for my shin splints in college, made by a company is Utah. One of the best things ever, although rolling out shins is not a pleasant thing.

Another sidenote: I did work for Athleta for a year, and I absolutely love their clothes. The quality is amazing and the clothes are completely functional. However, it didn’t make the list because I wouldn’t consider the store “affordable” for many people. Athleta is a great store to splurge on. The reason why I own 5 pairs of yoga pants (as well as tights) from there and some tops is because I had a 50% discount as an employee. If you’re looking for a retail job and live in the gym, consider working there because you’ll be covered for a while.

These are the places I think of for the best deals on workout gear. Why buy full price when you don’t have to?

Where is your favorite place to get gym gear? I’d love any other recommendations for steals. Comment below! xx

-Kelly