Tested this week: activbod skin and body care range

December 11, 2014

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is a lovely treat ideal for sporty ladies or fellas: activbod‘s range of skin and body care “smellies” (please tell me my family isn’t alone in using the term “smellies”…)

By the way – stand by for a quite a few reviews over the coming weeks: I get sent lots of lovely stuff to tell you about, but can’t try most of it during competition prep. Thankfully the PRs I know are all patient folk!

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activbod is a brand new range of shower products and skin care designed for sports people and gym goers. What’s so special about it? The products are a first for mainstream skincare, made using ground-breaking formulations to help the body pre and post-exercise. And 10% of net profits from activbod sales will go to the the charity Women’s Sport Trust for projects including increasing sports participation.

Get clean, smell nice, and support grass-roots sport… what’s not to love?

Here’s what I got to try:

- ‘Game Changer face scrub’ (a fab face scrub specifically designed to combat redness after a particularly sweaty or outdoor training session)
- ‘Feel Great shower concentrate’ (a small tube of deodorising shower gel which is double-concentrate so you get more from the tube)
‘Cooling finish lotion’ (a light minty gel which cools and moisturises)
‘Pick Me Up scrub’ (a lovely body scrub which gets rid of sweat and dirt. I loved them all, but particularly liked the face scrub.

The rest of the range includes muscle warmers and even an aroma stick balm to promote mental focus.


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All the products smell great (citrus, grapefruit, etc) and really do work well. The entire range is MIT/MI and paraben-free. And the flip-top tubes are the perfect size and design for kit bags and gym bags.

Supporting the Women’s Sport Trust

I tell you what else is great about activbod: it has close links with the Women’s Sport Trust charity (which I fully support, and have blogged about here). The Women’s Sport Trust is a grass roots movement whose aim is to raise the visibility and increase the impact of women’s sport through role models, media coverage and funding. 10% of net profits from activbod sales will be used by for projects that will bring parity to women’s sport – including increasing the profile of female sporting role models and increasing sports participation.

activbod has just launched and will be available in Boots stores and online from activbod’s website

Thanks for the samples, activbod people!

You can find activbod on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: activbod skin and body care range is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tested this week: Enhance Drinks natural fruity water flavour drops

December 5, 2014

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Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is something to liven up your water during these chilly days.

We all know we should drink plenty of water (at least 2 litres, although frankly I think 3-5 litres is more like it, particularly for active folk). Plain, filtered water is always going to be best. But sometimes it’s tough to chug tons of water, especially when the temperature is cold and the weather is grim.

I often use sugar-free flavour drops for my water so, when I was sent this lovely presentation pack of “Enhance”, I was happy to give them a mention on the blog.

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They’re little squeezy bottles of concentrated flavour, made from real fruit juice, with no added sugar or artificial colours/flavours. So technically they’re not sugar-free, but they don’t have any additional sugar, and no Sucralose or other sweeteners. And because you only need a tiny amount, the fructose/carb load is minimal (barely worth mentioning). You can (indeed I have) pop them in your gym bag/handbag if you want to top up your water during the day, and they seem to be lasting for ages because you really do only need a small amount.

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There are four flavours: apple & blackcurrant, strawberry & kiwi, lemon & lime, orange & passion fruit. All are lovely!

I’ve been using them in cold water and also as a hot drink (the apple/blackcurrant and strawb/kiwi are best for that).

Sadly you won’t get them in this lovely box when you buy them from the shops, but I can tell you that they’re on offer at the moment – £2 each instead of the usual £2.49. You can get them from most supermarkets and direct from Enhance’s website.

And for every bottle sold, Enhance will make a donation to the charity Just a Drop, which will provide a child in Africa with clean and safe drinking water for a month.

Thanks for the sample box, Enhance Drinks people!

You can find Enhance Drinks on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Enhance Drinks natural fruity water flavour drops is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


How long have you been “writing an ebook” for…?

December 1, 2014

Is there a document on your desktop labelled “ebook draft.doc”? How many words have typed so far?

Apparently everyone has a book in them (sounds painful). I don’t actually agree with this, but even if it were true, it counts for nothing.

How many of those people have actually started – and finished – writing their book?

Ebooks are big business, and a great idea for fitness professionals like Personal Trainers, gym owners, coaches and online trainers. They’re a brilliant way of reinforcing your brand, dominating your niche and establishing yourself as a credible, visible expert.

They’re also one way of creating passive income in an industry infamous for exhausting its people into early burn-out.

As a freelance copywriter in this industry, I help clients with their books and ebooks, either by editing finished (or near-finished) versions, or by consulting on and ghostwriting the content.

freelance ebook editor fitness industry recommendation
I’ve just finished working on a second ebook project with Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting, and I’d like to share his recent blog post about passive income for person trainers.

^^Have a read^^

“But… Mike’s a really good writer! Why does he need you to edit his books?”

Fair point! Mike is an exceptional writer, in terms of ideas, output and engaging quality content. But he sees the value of a professional “second pair of eyes”. In fact, he has this to say about me (in the blog post I linked to above):

For an EXCEPTIONAL editor with copious amounts of fitness industry experience (she’s actually a champion bodybuilder too – how cool is that!?) I highly recommend Nicola Joyce of thefitwriter and thefitwriter on Facebook – she’s my “go-to” for editing, and offers a fantastic service. Tell her I sent you, and she might give me some Pop Tarts.

Have a read of Mike’s blog post to discover:

- why writing an ebook can be your best source of passive income
– how to use your ebook marketing to build your list
– when to release ebooks for free, and when to charge for them
– using Amazon and Kindle for ebook sales
– how to market your ebook (social media, daily email, newsletters) and track responses
– strategies for getting the thing written
– why you must keep up your blogging, Facebook and other content commitments whilst you finish your ebook
– what type of content works best to build a relationship with your list
– how to make your ebook work with other forms of passive income so you can go on holiday (say, to Brussels, to – oh I dunno – eat waffles…) and not worry about cashflow

Thanks for the recommendation, Mike!

If you’ve been “writing a book” for a while, drop me a line. Let’s get this thing done, out there, and earning money for you.

How long have you been “writing an ebook” for…? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


2 x World Champion!

November 24, 2014

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I’m back at my desk after a week away in Boston, where I competed in the WNBF/INBF World Championships as Team UK’s amateur female bodybuilder. I’m delighted to tell you that I won, thereby retaining my World title (blog posts about last year’s INBF Worlds are here and here) – and can now say I am a “2 x World Champion” (even if it feels a bit weird to say so!)

Like most sportspeople, I place significant amounts of pressure on myself. I’m very competitive and expect a lot of myself. With many things in life, the further you go, the more you need to achieve in order to fulfill your own expectations (even if those expectations are of yourself). Sport is certainly no different.

That’s why this World blog post will be a little different to last year’s. I’m just as happy, just as excited, just as proud of myself. I had just as wonderful a time out in Boston with the rest of Team UK, and feel just as privileged to have been given the opportunity once again.

But, this year, my pride and pleasure at winning are joined by seeing where I need to improve, how I want to move forward, and where to go from here.

First of all, a few words about the experience of going abroad to compete as part of the UKDFBA‘s Team UK.
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Once again, being part of the Team was absolutely fantastic. Last year was one of the best times (if not the best time) of my life and this year did not disappoint. The team were all great people (I knew some of them already but there were lots I hadn’t ever met or hadn’t really spoken to), the UKDFBA’s planning and organisation was flawless, our accommodation was really great, and we had some great opportunities to bond as a team (Team training at local Gold’s gym, for example). I come away from Worlds 2014 – as I did from last year’s Worlds – with solid friendships, amazing memories, and having been part of something very special.

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Onto the comp itself

As already mentioned, I won my class and thereby retained my World title from last year. Last year there were only four competitors (split into three LWs, one HW – me – and then an overall which I won). This year there was just one open class of three (no over all) which I won. :) Cheery wave to the other two ladies, if they’re reading this! It was great to meet you and share a stage with you :)

I am of course delighted to have won, it feels great (if a little surreal!) to say I “retained a World Title” and to say I am “2 x World Champion”. But I’ve got mixed emotions, too, which weren’t present last year. I guess this is what makes competitive bodybuilders what we are! And what keeps us hungry, keeps us pushing forward, stops us ever settling for mediocre, average, for “just OK”.

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As much as I am over the moon to have won, I’ll tell you now that I wasn’t completely happy with how I looked. I did not look as good as I did at the UKDFBA UK show, and I wanted to look the same (or better!) I’d been really pleased – shocked, even – with how I looked at the UKDFBA show this year. But I was heavier, less lean, less conditioned at Worlds and I am disappointed and cross with myself for that. I know why – my diet and mindset weren’t 100% in those weeks between UKDFBA and Worlds. I did diet, of course, but it wasn’t perfect enough for me.

I need a little more think-time before I could tell you why this was. I know that I was so hugely focused on UKDFBA (and the goal of winning there and taking the Pro Card on offer), that when I came 2nd (especially when it was on a tiebreaker) I had a mental wobble. I don’t think I fully appreciated at the time, but a couple of weeks later I saw it had affected me more than I realised.

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None of that is an excuse, and I know that to be a successful bodybuilder I will have to develop ways to prevent things like this affecting me, and to refocus very quickly and turn my attention fully to the next goal regardless of how I am feeling. It’s unlikely to be the last time I fall short of a goal – this is sport, after all!

A note on the Pro Card thing

Pro Cards are only on offer at Worlds to class winners when there are five or more in the class. A lot of people have said they were sorry that a Pro Card wasn’t on the cards again this year for me. But to be perfectly honest with you? I don’t feel I deserved it. I do want to be a WNBF Pro – it’s my ultimate goal in this sport. But, based on how I looked at Worlds, I don’t feel I’m ready (in terms of physique or mindset). Not quite. Nearly… but not quite. The fact that I have “missed out” a few times now by a whisker kind of confirms what I feel: that I am very very nearly there (but not quite), that I still have lessons to learn and improvements to make. I don’t want a Pro Card until I’m ready for it.

My next steps?

A very good, very constructive off season. I may or may not take a year off competing. Either way, I’ll be training hard and heavy, making improvements to physique, mindset, my knowledge about training, diet and my own body.

Stay tuned for a blog post about what to do if you develop horrendous edema/water retention after spending 5 days celebrating in an American city after coming off a long bodybuilding prep diet and then get stuck on a middle seat on a night flight between two large sleeping men (I will come up with a catchier title, promise!)

Thanks for reading!

2 x World Champion! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness photoshoot advice from Fivos the photographer

November 10, 2014

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As part of my prep this year, I booked a photoshoot with Fivos Averkiou, a photographer who specialises in physique-type shoots. He’s been a (very good) bodybuilder himself, and is also the guy who shoots the official stage photos at most of the bodybuilding shows I’ve ever done, so was the obvious choice!

It’s something I’ve been promising myself for a while, and I thought… well, I guess I thought why not! I wanted a record of how I look during prep (and I now have a load of useful work/fitness type promo and headshots, which will come in handy for work!)

The day after the shoot, I ached from head to toe and was absolutely shattered! This wasn’t helped by being in the latter stages of a (lonnnng) prep diet, I’m sure, but the shoot was a lot more tiring than I anticipated. We essentially did a high-rep full body workout (something I never do), with lots of holds and squeezes and plenty of posing, too.

I was pretty clueless going into the shoot. I sort of knew what to expect, from sitting in on magazine shoots as a journalist, but this wasn’t editorial. I was also incredibly nervous, despite knowing Fivos very well (Fivos – I can tell you this now – I nearly cancelled on you about five times!)

Things to do before a photoshoot

If there’s anyone else out there who, like me, has booked a physique/sports gym-based shoot for themselves without having the first clue about how to get the most out it, I hope this will help:

I asked Fivos to give me his best advice for anyone else as clueless nervous new as I was to this kind of thing. Here’s what he had to say.

Who arranges the location and how do you decide what to do when you are there?

Locations are your personal choice, but personally I mainly shoot around London and Essex (where I’m based). Although I have had shoots further up North.

With bodybuilders – what I’m mainly known for – it’s easy to set the shoot criteria as most will want the same kind of thing. I tell them “you train, I shoot”.

I will add in some staged, “static” shots once we’ve got warmed up, which always look cool.

For me, it’s about making the person feel comfortable in front of the lens. Most that shoot with me are bodybuilders/physique athletes, so it’s about coaching them into how the different shots and angles will look, etc.

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On the flipside, when I shoot fitness models, it’s the opposite. They tend to be great at getting in the right position, but need instruction when it comes to muscle contractions.


What do you advise people to wear, bring with them?

I generally tell people to wear what they would normally train in. With men, shoots tend to be mostly topless. I also encourage outfit changes throughout the shoot. And, if the person wants, we can to more brand clothing “model shots” at the end of the shoot.

(Thefitwriter says: for example, I brought two tops to my shoot and only wanted a few frames in each: one for the friend who’d kindly sent me one of the tops as a gift, and one of the wording on my favourite training top: Work Hard, Be Nice… can’t really go wrong with that simple mantra! ;) )
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How would you suggest someone prep for a shoot, both in the medium and short term (e.g. getting your body ready, deciding what sort of images you want to go for, and having a tan…)

If they are prepping for a show, I advise people to shoot one week beforehand at the latest. At one week out you are ready to go and have not started any water manipulation etc. You don’t want to do anything which will affect your show prep, but equally you don’t want to be at your shoot in the middle of a carb deplete. I would always advise a great base tan, as it really shows on the images.

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Fiv’s five top tips for a physique photoshoot
1) Remember you are paying for the shoot so make sure you get what you want.
2) Check out the photographer’s work and ask around about the photographer’s work ethic (word of mouth is the best recommendation).
3) Choose a photographer who will act professionally on your shoot and ask you permission to release any shots.
4) You pay for the shoot, so you should know exactly what’s going on with your images (I always ask permission from the person I shoot if it’s OK to post an image on social media.
5) Take time to talk to the photographer before the shoot: bounce ideas off each other and get a shoot criteria laid down.

Thanks Fivos, I really enjoyed our shoot and love my images!

You can get hold of Fivos via Fivos Photography on Facebook or at his website Showshoots.

Fitness photoshoot advice from Fivos the photographer is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: myvitamins.com BCAA powder

November 6, 2014

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week: BCAAs powder (2:1:1) from myvitamins.com.
powdered BCAAs
I was contacted by myvitamins.com – an online store which offers a range of fitness, health & beauty products – to see if I’d sample and review some of their goodies. I explained I was deep in contest prep but that I could probably stretch to BCAAs.

As I’m sure most of my readers know, BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) are three amino acids (leucine, iso-leucine and valine). They’re referred to as essential amino acids because the body can’t synthesise them from anywhere else, so we need to get them from diet (difficult, at least in the optimal amounts and ratios) or supplements.

Powdered BCAA is a popular choice with bodybuilders, who often choose to take a serving in water before cardio (particularly fasted cardio) or pre/intra workout. People in muscle and strength sports tend to like BCAAs because these three aminos help protect muscle mass (particularly when in a caloric deficit). And leucine is currently thought to be the mac-daddy of amino acids (it plays a key role in muscle protein synthesis).

myvitamins.com BCAAs are a ratio of 2:1:1, which is what I’d consider a basic or “general” ratio. 4:1:1 and even 8:1:1 BCAAs do exist, but 2:1:1 is the most common ratio.

My feedback? These 2:1:1 BCAAs mixed well, were gently flavoured (berry) and went down the hatch just fine without causing me any digestive issues. And my Mum liked the taste, too (cue a mini monologue on “BCAAs 101″ in her kitchen!)

Take a look at the myvitamins.com site – there’s lots on there including a range for active kids.

Thanks, myvitamins.com for the sample (and for your patience in waiting for this review!)

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: myvitamins.com BCAA powder is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


6 things female bodybuilders know (…and now you do, too)

October 30, 2014

Bodybuilding teaches us a lot of things. Time management. Patience. Self-sufficiency. The power of playing the long-game.

But for the females in the sport (holla!) it also teaches a few interesting life skills. Read on to discover a few things only a female bodybuilder knows (until now).
Dream Tan

Dream Tan 2 makes a pretty decent bronzer
Dream Tan is the “wash off” (kinda!) tan used by some bodybuilders in some associations. As opposed to the ones which need to be sprayed/rollered/layered on over an excruciating amount of days, “DT” (as it’s known) just gets slapped on there and then just before you get on stage.

What women know: DT also makes a mighty fine bronzer. Simply tap a (very) small amount onto cheekbones, clavicles or cleavage (wait.. you still have a cleavage? Are you off-season?) Et voila.

Bikini Bite has other uses
Bikini bite is the “glue in a roller” that bodybuilders use to literally stick their bikinis/trunks to themselves to ward off the horrendous possibility of slippage during a particularly enthusiastic bout of posing (I told you about this here).

What women know: Bikini Bite needn’t be banished to a drawer between November and May. In fact, it comes into its own over Christmas and New Year… cos it can be used as “tit tape”.

How to work the MAC counter

Here’s the thing. When you tan for a comp, you don’t put tan on your face (unless you want that lovely “Leprosy 2.0″ look going on for about 3 weeks – never a great look). So, female bodybuilders tend to use a really dark foundation, usually one made for black skin. But not all of us are actually black under the tan. So we don’t necessarily want to buy an entire bottle of a foundation we’ll only use for a few days of the year.

What women know: ask your foundation-manufacturer of choice for a little sample. There’s no need to tell them you have no intention of ever buying the full size.

Once you go orange, you never go back
Tanning is a pain in the glutes. But everything just looks so much better with a tan. Along with fake eyelashes, tan becomes one of those things you possibly never indulged in before taking up this bodybuilding lark. But now… you can’t stop!

What women know: how to apply tan without ending up with orange deadlifting-callouses ;)

Body weight takes on a new meaning

To generalise horribly ;) most women who care about their body weight step on the scales hoping to see the number go down.

What women know: that body weight only really matters if you’re in a weight class. Body fat, now, that’s a different matter.

Sorry, I’m (not) washing my hair

Little things are a big effort when dieting (and after doing a particularly arduous gym session). It becomes a case of priorities. Does my hair really need washing? Honestly? I know, I’ll ask the dog for his opinion…

What women know: dry shampoo exists for a reason. This is it.

6 things female bodybuilders know (…and now you do, too) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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