Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Gorilla Sports ankle weights

August 11, 2013

I do a lot of walking. In fact, most of the cardio I do for my bodybuilding prep is simply… walking. Fast walking (the dog sometimes struggles to keep up) but still – it’s walking.

gorilla sports

That’s why, when Gorilla Sports sent me a pair of their new ankle weights, I was able to put them to use straight away. Ideal for adding a bit of extra work to some of my twice-daily walks, and therefore a bit of extra oomph to my prep.

Gorilla Sports are a great online source of professional gym equipment at really good prices. Check out their website for high quality equipment for at-home workouts or for kitting out a home gym (or a professional gym – do I have any gym owner readers?) There’s weights, medicine balls, kettlebells, barbells, benches, loads of accessories including weighted vests, lifting belts and gloves – just about anything you could want, to be honest. Have a look.

Back to my ankle weights – I’m finding them pretty easy to wear and use. They took a little getting used to, just because it feels a bit weird having a weight on your ankles. You kind of have to start walking, get into a rhythm, and keep going, using the extra momentum from the weights. I guess you could also use them for bodyweight exercises, hanging leg raises and reverse hypers? (Ooh, I’ve just given myself an idea there… )

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Gorilla Sports sent me a pair of 2kgs ankle weights, which are pretty hefty and certainly feel like they’re making me and my legs work harder. However, I spoke to a fellow female bodybuilder this week who also walks with ankle weights for cardio, and she told me she wears a pair of 5kgs ankle weights! I now feel a bit puny LOL! 😉 Bit up yo bad self, Madam, you know who you are!

Thank you, Gorilla Sports folk, for sending me such a nice bit of great quality home exercise kit. Readers, do click through and have a look around the Gorilla Sports website, I bet you’ll find plenty there you could put to good use!

You can follow Gorilla Sports on Twitter and like Gorilla Sports on Facebook.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Gorilla Sports ankle weights 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.


TheFitDog’s manifesto for walking (for National Walking Month)

April 22, 2013

*This is a blog post from Frankie the office dog*

Hey gang!

So today I am writing a blog on the topic of WALKING. Nic did offer to do it but I said leave it to me. If you want to know about walking, ask a dog!

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Did you know that May is National Walking Month? Well, every month is walking month as far as I’m concerned, but next month is going to even better.

I’m going tell you all about it so you can join me (in a virtual sense, at least) and we can all walk together.

First up, my manifesto for walking. I have spent a lot of time on this so please don’t laugh. I already have a touch of alopecia and I don’t think my nerves could take it.

dog's manifesto for walking

Here are some stats for you sporty folk. Did you know that 40% of adult humans who go to the gym less than two miles away actually drive there? And 13% of the ones who have to go less than one mile drive. You humans are so silly! Walk!

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The charity Living Streets asked me to ask you to walk more during May – National Walking Month. There’s Walk to Work Week (13-17 May) and Walk to School Week (20-24 May) so don’t say they haven’t tried to tempt you!

Living Streets is the national charity that stands up for pedestrians (mostly humans, but they care about dogs too). They’ve been the national voice for pedestrians for 80 years now and it’s them we have to thank for the introduction of the driving test, pedestrian crossings and 30mph speed limits.

Check out the National Walking month website and get signed up before May. I’ve had a look (with Nic’s help) and it’s really good, there are virtual challenges, log books and route planners, it’s really fun to use and there’s so much on there. Registration (which is free) is open now. You can also like Living Streets on Facebook and follow Living Streets on Twitter.

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TheFitDog’s manifesto for walking (for National Walking Month) 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: TevaSphere Speed shoes

March 4, 2013

In this installment of Fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week I’m pleased to tell you about some brand-new shoes from outdoor adventure brand Teva. I’ve had them for a while but was asked to hold back with a review until launch date – which is today. Hot off the press!

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A lot of people understand the benefits of more minimalist footwear these days. Barefoot running has had a huge effect on the kit we’ve seen on offer from major brands, and gone are the days when huge big cushioned soles were the order of the day.

The TevaSphere range bridges the gap between minimalist and structured footwear and has been designed specifically for outdoors. The team feel that minimalist footwear and more traditional over-supportive training shoes have shortcomings, and wanted to develop a range which gives outdoor athletes like adventure runners a higher-performing shoe.

The brand collaborated with leading sports science and human performance institute P3 (Peak Performance Project) and the result was the first outdoor cross-trainer offering a spherical heel and pod-based arch support system. The idea is that the spherical heel lowers your point of contact with the ground, for a more natural point of impact and more efficient transition, and the pod-arch system gives you specific support only where it’s needed, to make the shoe supportive but really light.

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I don’t do a whole lot of fell running or adventure racing (!) but I do a lot of power walking on varied terrains and I was happy to test the Speed shoe. In fact, I’ve been wearing them for a month or so now. The verdict? They’re very light and feel supportive but definitely allow me to feel more in contact with the ground. Enough support, without too much cushioning. And I did feel that I was able to roll through my foot whilst walking, which often isn’t the case when wearing walking shoes or regular trainers. The shoes dry really quickly and seem to have withstood the worst of the late-Winter weather.

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There are three models in the line: the Speed (quick dry materials and lightweight design), Trail eVent® (a breathable waterproof membrane, sturdy design and toe bumper), and Trail Mid eVent® (with extra protection of a mid-cut height).

They are exclusively available from Cotswold Outdoor.

Thanks Teva for letting me try the shoes!

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: TevaSphere Speed shoes 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: Belkin sport armband

April 1, 2012

Here I am with another fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week, aimed at the runners amongst you (how’s the marathon training going, by the way?).


This Belkin sport armband, available from the Three store, is a water-proof neoprene armband designed to carry a range of smartphones. It’s perfect for wearing in the gym or out running: the neoprene material keeps your phone dry and protected, but the entire display of the phone is visible and accessible through the front “window”. I’ve got an iPhone and had no trouble “swiping” my screen and pressing the buttons whilst the phone was in the armband.

The arm band is wide – perhaps a bit too wide if you’re in the gym doing biceps or triceps (as I found out!) but perfect for running or other cardio. It’s very lightweight and comfortable. There’s a little velcro bit so you can fold up any extra cord from your earphones and clip it up out of the way. It’s only £15 and you can get it here.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Belkin sport armband 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: SOLE Sport Flips shoes

March 4, 2012

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is for my runner friends. With marathon season fast-approaching, no doubt you’re all racking up the mileage and spending a lot of time on your feet. Here is something I’ve tried out recently which might be right up your alley, plus a few expert tips to help keep your feet happy before you start your taper.

SOLE Sport Flips

I’ve reviewed a SOLE product before (in this post) – the Exhale recovery shoes, which I still wear around the house. This time, I was sent SOLE‘s Sport Flips, which look like flip flops but offer a lot more support and comfort to tired hard-working feet.

They’re great! I’ve been wearing them round the house and actually even wore them out and about yesterday (that was before it started snowing…!) They’re extremely comfortable (even the bit which goes between your toes isn’t annoying or painful) and very good for you feet. And that, of course, is the point – slippers and socks are all well and good but they don’t help your feet recovery whilst you’re slouching about. In fact, they’re likely to encourage the arch of the foot to flatten out, making the muscles work hard to keep you balanced. By putting their orthopaedic mouldable footbeds into shoes, SOLE give you a couple of great recovery options (these flip flops or – if you want a cosier option – the Exhale shoes I reviewed before) for more cushioning and support.

I don’t do long runs any more but I imagine these would be ideal to pop on after your Saturday or Sunday run, so your poor feet can slowly recover. And they’ll be great for wearing during the days and weeks after your marathon! The Sport Flips come in loads of colourways, too, so you’re not stuck with one choice. They are £50 and you can get them from the SOLE website, Runners Need and other selected sport stores.

An expert note on recovery time between runs: Andrew Stanley, Podiatrist and running Biomechanics Specialist at The Rebound Clinic, says it can be difficult to know how to help your legs and feet recover between sessions when you’re trying to peak for a long race. “Traditional flip flops, slippers and slouch socks create a very unstable platform”. he says. “This instability can lead to excessive foot motion resulting in foot, leg and even back pain – not helpful when you’re trying to recover between runs.

“These SOLE Flips and the SOLE Exhales mentioned prevously are scientifically designed to support the heel and arch of the foot which stabilise the walking motion. They keep the feet and legs in a more neutral position reducing the stresses of walking, resulting in less stiffness, pain and tiredness after running,” he says.

How is your marathon training going? Did it snow on your long run today?

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: SOLE Sport Flips shoes 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.


StepSuccess walking experiment update 4

September 5, 2011

Here’s the latest update in my walking experiment! (The previous updates are here, here and here.)

As my competition dates creep closer, I haven’t been striding around the county with the stripey dog as much as I was a few weeks ago. I’m running low on energy and need to channel it into maintaining muscle (and, you know, doing work and stuff like that!)

That said, here are the vital stats for w/c 29th August from my StepSuccess unit:

Any new PBs?

12,500+ steps on 14th August. That was whilst my husband was in Canada, and it was a Sunday, which meant I walked the dog twice (one being a longer walk than usual, because I have more time at weekends) and went to the gym twice (I walk there and back).
6.14 miles on the same day. Not really surprising!
2 hours 21 minutes on 1st September. I’ve no idea why. That was last Thursday and it was raining. I’d have to get up and find my training diary to shed more light on this little factoid and, quite honestly, I can’t be bothered. Sorry.

Since I started tracking my walking on 2nd August

In summary, last week, I:
– walked 41,136 steps (and plenty of undocumented ones!)
– walked for 8 hours 42 mins (and a few more)
– covered 19.48 miles

I think this will be my final StepSuccess update, as I really won’t be walking any more than I need to this week or next, and after that… well who knows what I’ll be up to! (I’ll certainly be walking with my husband to our favourite local restaurant, that’s for sure. I may not wear the StepSuccess on my shoe, though.) Thank you to StepSuccess for lending me the unit, it’s been fun!

TheFitDog says hi, and hopes you’re enjoying lots of walks yourself.

StepSuccess walking experiment update 4 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.


StepSuccess walking experiment update 3

August 28, 2011

Here’s the latest update in my walking experiment! (The previous updates are here and here.) I’ve got two weeks to cover so let’s get on with it.

First up, an apology to StepSuccess! There are several functions I hadn’t even realised it’s capable of, so I need to clear that up right away:

WEEKLY DISPLAY
In my previous post, I was confused about why it seemed to display a week as Saturday to Saturday. It doesn’t. That was me being dim. Actually, the weekly highlights section simply the last seven days.

DISTANCE MEASUREMENT ACCURACY
A few people had asked about the accuracy of the distance/measurement aspect of the device, and I said I thought it couldn’t be very accurate as you’re not asked to input stride measurement (and it doesn’t use GPS). Again, my bad. The unit works by measuring foot contact time with the ground (which has been shown to be inversely proportional to a person’s speed). So, once it has captured this, that’s how it calculates distance and caloric burn. So, initially, the unit is accurate on distance to about 85%, but you can actually configure it to your own stride and this makes it 98% accurate. (You do this online, in the ‘devices’ tab above your activity board – there’s a ‘calibrate actiped’ option. I’m not sure how I missed this!)

Apologies, StepSuccess! I really should read instructions…

OK, so onto this week and last week’s walking stats!

My husband is now back from his Rocky Mountains trip (hooray!) so I’ve been walking a lot less than I was whilst he was away. I didn’t want to go from lots of walking to virtually none, though, so I’ve been doing at least one dog walk a day (apart from exceptional circumstances involving horrendously early starts and work days which turned into evenings), along with one or two trips to the gym a day (it’s about a 5 minute walk from my house).

I must admit there were a couple of days when I forgot to put the unit on my shoe, and then other days when I – *gasp* – wore shoes other than trainers for part of the day (yes, I sometimes wear heels!) However, here are the scores on the doors:

w/c 15th Aug

w/c 22nd Aug

Any new PBs?

Since I started tracking my walking on 2nd August

In summary, last week, I:
– walked 39,336 steps (and plenty of undocumented ones!)
– walked for 7 hours 28 mins (and a few more)
– covered 19.48 miles

And this week, I:
– walked 42,924 steps (and plenty of undocumented ones!)
– walked for 7 hours 53 mins (and a few more)
– covered 20.84 miles

TheFitDog says hi, but he’s a little too sad to comment further on his recent walking adventures. We saw a dead cat on our walk the other day and that made him sad. Then he heard that one of his friends, Boston, had to be put down. That made him really sad. Here is his sad face:

COMP UPDATE
It’s now 14 days (!) until my next comp (the NPA South East qualifier) and 21 (!!) days until the BNBF Finals. HOW has the time flown by so quickly? It has a habit of doing that, I suppose. I’m going to blog tomorrow with an update on training, diet, maybe some progress pics and probably a day’s eats, since that’s something a lot of people ask me about. Brace yourself for a lot of MEAT! ;D

StepSuccess walking experiment update 3 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.


StepSuccess walking experiment update 2

August 14, 2011

Here’s this week’s update in my walking experiment! (The previous update is here.)

As explained, a company called StepSuccess sent me one of their pedometer gadgets to trial, and I put it to use whilst my husband’s been abroad – a period of time when I’d be walking to and from the gym once or twice most days, walking the dog at least twice a day and doing various other bits of walking too. It should be noted that I made sure I wore the StepSuccess pedometer for dog walks, and occasionally wore it at other times (I often forgot!)

So, what are the walking totals from this past week? Let’s have a look:


(The software automatically uses Sunday-Saturday as a week – I’ve no idea why!)


(I could custom-set the dates here, so this is Monday to Sunday)


(Since I started on Tuesday 2nd August)


(We love PBs!)

You’ll notice a big drop in steppage yesterday – Saturday. That’s because I was at my nephew’s birthday party and some friend’s offered to walk the dog for me… bliss… huge thank you to Tim and Hayley!

In summary, this week, I’ve:
– walked 64,848 steps (and plenty of undocumented ones!)
– walked for 10 hrs 52 mins (and a few more)
– covered 31.3 miles (although distance is debatable, as StepSuccess doesn’t measure stride nor use GPS)

No wonder I’m knackered! Now if I can just take a couple more steps to the kitchen, I’m going to have my dessert…

(The dog says to tell you he’s pretty knackered too. You should hear the snoring!)

StepSuccess walking experiment update 2 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.


StepSuccess walking experiment update 1

August 8, 2011

Hi all,

As I explained in this post, I’m doing a lot of walking for a couple of weeks as my husband’s away (read his adventures here – from the point of view of his training partner in crime Richard of Richard’s TransRockies). So, as well as training once or twice a day, working, keeping the house relatively clean and tidy and doing all those little chores life throws at you, I’m also solely responsible for exercising our young, lively dog.

He needs at least two, if not three, walks a day. They need to be at least 30 minutes long (he’d prefer 45-60 minutes each time) and they need to be fast (he’s got energy to spare).

I won’t lie, all that walking on top of my own training is exhausting, particularly as I bring my calories down to come in nice and sharp for the BNBF Finals. But, we have a dog, so what am I going to do? He needs walking and, if I’m honest, I like walking. Podcasts, audiobooks, my wonderful Bose earphones (love) and a stripey dog on a lead. What’s not to like?

StepSuccess sent me one of their gadgets to trial during this period, so I can see just how much walking I’ve done whilst my husband’s away, and assess how useful simply walking is as a form of exercise. It’s my opinion that walking (at a decent pace) is a vastly underrated method of cardio. Why run when you can walk, unless you particularly love running or are training for a running event? Walking rocks.

So, I’ve had the StepSuccess clipped to my shoe for every dog walk since Wednesday afternoon (husband did his last dog walk on Wednesday morning). Here are some screen shots from the StepSuccess online software. You can click to enlarge.



In a nutshell

Since Wednesday afternoon I’ve walked 51,685 steps with the dog (this doesn’t include other walking, like to the gym and back, for meetings, around the supermarket etc)
We’ve walked for nearly 8 1/2 hours
The dog and I have covered 24.6 miles (although, as StepSuccess doesn’t require you to measure your stride, this is debatable)
I’ve used up 1400 precious calories walking (again, the accuracy of this is debatable since it’s not linked to heart rate or anything else specific to your body, just stepping)

I’ve been asked:

– do you have to measure your stride?
No, so I’m not sure how accurate the distance aspect of it is. However, used as a pedometer which synchs with your PC/Mac and gives you lots of feedback (which you can compare to other people in your “team”), it’s useful.
– what info do you input?
Your own stats – DOB, weight and height.
– is it easy to use?
Very! You just clip it to your laces and walk. Then take it off, put the USB stick in, shake the clippy thing around near the USB and it synchs in about 5 seconds. Then log on and have a look at your stats.

Stay tuned for more walkies! And let me know if there’s anything in particular I can address/answer on this topic.

StepSuccess walking experiment update 1 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.


A walking experiment (StepSuccess review)

August 3, 2011

I was recently asked to review an activity-tracking device called StepSuccess. Since I do a lot of walking – both because I’ve got a dog, and because it’s great low-level cardio and suits my contest prep – I said yes. Then I thought… I can go one better than that. I’ll test it over a period of time and do a blog series about it.

My husband’s away at the moment, which means I’m doing all the dog walking (two or three walks a day – and we don’t dawdle!) For that reason, coach Kat agreed that, for this period of time, powerwalking with the dog should be my only low-level/steady state cardio.

I’m not sure what the experiment is exactly (look, I’m only married to a scientist, I’m not remotely scientific myself). Basically I’m going to use the device for all my daily walks, update here with the stats and feedback (probably not daily, maybe a round-up every few days) and then let you know how it went once the walking experiment is over. I guess what I really want to know is:

how far do I cover when walking an enthusiastic pup twice or even three times in a day?
what impact does this have on my fitness, energy output, weight loss?
how many steps do I take just walking to and from the gym and around my house?
– is there a level of steppage (<— possibly not a real word) I need to hit before I start seeing positive effects from walking?

I'll let you know how I get on. In fact I think I'll put all the relevant posts in a new category ("walking"?) In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about the StepSuccess gadget, take a look here.

A walking experiment (StepSuccess review) 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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