Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrobuilder protein powder

April 6, 2012

This week, I’ve been tasting testing some yummy new protein powder from Optimum Nutrition (ON), and it’s high time I told you about it. So, here’s my latest “fitness kit I’ve tested this week” post.

Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrobuilder (post-training protein powder)

The folk at ON sent me a very generous sample tub of their new Platinum Hydrobuilder protein powder and invited me to trial it. This protein powder is a complex formula, with the protein coming from several sources (fast and slow release) and with extra goodies like creatine and EAAs – everything you need for your post-workout shake. Here’s the blurb:

Platinum Hydrobuilder is an all in one muscle constructor containing 34.5g of protein from multiple protein sources including Hydrolysed Whey Protein, Micellar Casein and Hydrolysed Egg Albumen. It’s enhanced with CreaPep nutrient delivery peptides and 5g of micronised creatine monohydrate. There’s over 13.5 grams of Essential Amino Acids, but only 180 calories per serving. Ideal as a complete post-exercise shake which will help to improve recovery and construct lean muscle.

I have to say, it is truly delicious (I tried the “vanilla bean” flavour, which tastes like custard and smells good enough to elicit a curious remark from The Husband). It also comes in a chocolate flavour. I can’t honestly say whether it’s helped my recovery or muscle-building efforts in just one week but the theory is sound, and it’s certainly good to have a PWO shake with fast and slow release protein, creatine mono and EAAs. This product makes it very quick, easy and convenient to get everything you need into your system as soon as you’ve finished training.

It’s not cheap, but it’s a quality product and does contain added value in the shape of those EAAs and the creatine. And, at the moment, you get free Amino Energy (which I reviewed here) when you order via the ON site.

Oh and I also tried it made into a sort of pudding, just by mixing it with a little hot water and letting it thicken. One word. MORE-ISH!

The ON people also sent me a frankly enormous Platinum Hydrobuilder t-shirt (XXL) – tee hee – along with a very sweet note apologising for the shirt’s voluminous proportions. You know what, it’s actually come in very handy. The Husband is still in a (massive) sling after his shoulder surgery, and has an ongoing need for over-sized t-shirts which can stretch over him, his sling and his bent arm. The Platinum Hydrobuilder tee is being put to great use, so – thank you!

Thanks for the sample, Optimum Nutrition people! You rock.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrobuilder protein 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.

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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.


Competition winners! GOOD Hemp with Stevia

March 17, 2012

Thanks to those of you who left a comment on this post and on GOOD Hemp’s Facebook page in a bid to win one of five tubs of GOOD Hemp’s chocolate protein powder – now sweetened with Stevia.

*drum roll*

The winners, chosen out of a metaphorical hat, are:

ZoeS, Alice, Ildiko, Olivia B and Tara.

Well done! 🙂 Please email your postal addresses to me (nicola AT nicolajoyce.co.uk) and I’ll pass them on to GOOD Hemp who will ship your tubs of protein out to you directly. I really hope you enjoy them! 😀

If you weren’t one of the five winners, remember you can still use the 25% discount code GOOD Hemp have offered readers of this blog. Put the code GOODN1 in at the checkout and you’ll get a whopping 25% off the new Gym Shake with Stevia (one code per reader).

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Please cross your fingers for my husband who is currently having his shoulder operated on (it was misdiagnosed as a dislocation a few weeks ago….!)

Competition winners! GOOD Hemp with Stevia 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.


Competition time and discount code: new GOOD Hemp with Stevia

March 12, 2012

Morning all! My sponsors, GOOD Hemp nutrition, have just reformulated their chocolate protein powder to use Stevia as a sweetener (previously Sucralose). Great news, as Stevia is far preferable (read why in this blog post).

There are all sorts of reasons why GOOD’s hemp protein powder is great for you: as well as helping you reach your protein requirements (regardless of whether or not you’re a bodybuilder, or even “sporty”), it’s full of really “GOOD” stuff (see what I did there?) including omega 3, dietary fibre and all the EAAs (essential amino acids) your body needs. It’s also much less likely (than dairy-based protein powders) to cause any digestive issues or bloating. Plus it’s reallyreallyreally chocolatey and great for baking as well as just in a shake! The new formulation tastes great and it’s good to know that GOOD have pioneered the way in using Stevia as a sweetener. Be gone, Sucralose!

GOOD Hemp giveaway competition and discount code

To celebrate the launch of the new formulation, GOOD have kindly given me five tubs to give away to five of you! And, on top of that, an exclusive discount code for readers of the blog.

Put the code GOODN1 in at the checkout and you’ll get a whopping 25% off the new Gym Shake with Stevia (one code per reader). It’s currently on an introductory offer of £26.99 (1kg) so the code will make it….erm….*gets abacus out*…. £20.25 (?) And you’ll get loyalty points too.

To win one of the five tubs of the new formulation Gym Shake, leave me a comment telling me why you want to try the product, and then head on over to GOOD Hemp’s Facebook page and pop a post on their wall saying you’ve entered thefitwriter blog competition to win one of the five tubs. That’s it! (Make sure you comment here, otherwise I won’t know you’ve entered).

Entries close this Friday night at 8pm UK time and I’ll pick the winners at random over the weekend. 🙂

Enjoy!

– follow GOOD Hemp on Facebook (just click the link)
– follow GOOD Hemp on Twitter (click the link)

Competition time and discount code: new GOOD Hemp with Stevia 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.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoes

February 23, 2012

This installment of Fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is subtitled “What the hell are those on your feet?”

“What the hell are those on your feet?” is a question I have become used to hearing over the past couple of weeks. You know what? I don’t care. I don’t care, because I’ll tell you what the hell these are on my feet. These are my Vibrams. And, quite simply, they rock.

Yes, they look a bit odd. Yep, they’re a bit garish. But ohhhh boy do they feel good.

I was sent a pair of Vibrams (the Bikila model) by online Vibrams retailers Primal Lifestyle. (In their shop they also sell “primal” snacks, fitness kit, books, events and consultations.) Since I started training at Castle Gym, which has…oh, you know… a SQUAT RACK and all that stuff I actually need from a gym (!), it’s become apparent that I really need shoes other than running trainers for my weight training sessions. Particularly when it comes to squats and deadlifts, trainers with lots of support and thick soles just don’t cut it. You can’t really feel what you’re doing, and you don’t feel grounded. Lots of people had recommended Vibrams to me for that “barefoot only better” feel. Here was my chance to try them out for myself!

How did I get on?

Well, the first thing to note is that they take a bit of practice to get on. My feet aren’t the most lovely things on this earth (no, no photos). My two littlest toes on each foot are all squished and bent, so it took a bit of wrestling to coax them into the correct “toe hole” of the Vibrams. But I’ve got a lot quicker at it now. There’s a definite technique, but it’s not hard, and once they’re on, they are so comfy. It really does feel like being barefoot, only better (and safer). The soles of my Bikilas are 3mm I believe, and other models of Vibram shoes are even thinner. It’s hard to describe the feeling of wearing them. You have to try it!

They’re great for wearing in the gym (although I haven’t run in them – some people do, though) and I can definitely tell the benefits of wearing them for “leg days” and squatting. I can just feel more and have a sense of being in better contact with the ground. I’ve also worn them for general walking around, including walking on pavements and gravel etc, and they’re really comfy. I’m not sure how it works, but – thin as the soles are – walking on stones and dodgy road surfaces is perfectly comfortable. But you know the real revelation? Driving! Driving in Vibrams is a whole new world of comfort. I’m sure our car’s fuel consumption has gone down, too, because I can touch the pedals so much more gently than in regular shoes.

Primal Lifestyle are Vibram’s distributor of the Fivefingers product for the UK. I tried the Bikilas, but you can get lots of different types of Vibrams, from every day slip-on types, to ones made for running (even off-road running) and all sorts, and they all come in various colourways too. Take a look.

Q&A from my week with a pair of Vibram FiveFingers

“Aren’t they a funny colour?”

Yes, they are. I rather like it. It’s not like they’re ever going to blend into the background, so why not be colourful too.

“Oh! Gosh! What are they?” (<— uttered by a lady in her 70s on the rowing machine next to me) Followed by: “well dear if you don't want them after you've done your write-up, I'll take them off you!”

“Don't the between-the-toe bits feel funny? Like the bit on a flip-flop?”

Nope, not at all. It must be the material they're made of, or the way they do the seams, but I honestly can't feel that anything's there at all. Not one tiny little rub nor hint of a blister (and that's more than I can say for many pairs of trainers – worn with socks!)

“Don’t they stink?”

Um, I’m not sure, hang on. *interlude* No, they don’t. Obviously you don’t wear socks with Vibrams, but no they’re not stinky.

“Isn’t it a bit cold to wear them this time of year?”

I wore them in the snow and was fine (this was more out of forgetfulness than bravery). They dry really quickly. If you suffer with painfully cold feet, I guess this might be a problem for you, but you could wear different shoes to the gym, change into your Vibrams once there, then change back for going outside?

“Are you going to take your Vibrams off?” (<—– uttered by my husband)

No! They're more comfortable than my own feet.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Vibram FiveFingers Bikila 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: Bodymusic Gym CD mix

January 26, 2012


Do you listen to music in the gym? If I’m training by myself, I do. I hide under the noise-cancelling headphones my husband bought me for my birthday (best. present. ever) and get to work. The thing is, even with 3000+ songs in my iTunes, I end up listening to the same thing over and over again. I mean, can you ever have enough JLS? What? You can? Oh.

So it was with delight that I opened a mystery envelope this week to unearth a CD full of “choons” designed for the gym. Hoorah! Thank you, Defected Records and DJ Sam Divine.

Defected, the house music people, released the first edition of Defected Bodymusic (“I Like Exercise, But I Love Music”) last Summer. Now, they’ve brought out “Body Music Workout”, three new one-hour mixes (Run, Gym and Chillout Stretch), all mixed by Defected DJ Sam Divine. Here she is, being a lot cooler than I am.

Run is full of uplifting, bouncy beats and up tempo tracks, Gym – so the press release tells me – is deep grooves, and the Chillout & Stretch is a down tempo, melodic and hypnotic mix.

Well, I go to the gym, so I opted for the Gym CD. No flies on me! Here’s the link to it on iTunes. The mix starts off with a short “warm-up” section, which is slow but funky, before launching into the main workout section. It’s not as hardcore or fast as I expected, but then it is aimed at training in the gym, not pelting round a running track or something. It’s around an hour long and I guess an hour of techno would be a bit much, particularly in combination with a pre-workout supplement or a strong espresso. The mix is more lyrical, with plenty of tracks I recognised (but not ones which I’d heard too often already) and all of them worked their way into my head during the hour. There’s then a short cool-down section, which is slower and gentler. Full details in the blurb below, and here’s a screenshot of the tracklisting.

Here’s the blurb on all three, not just the one I tested out:

Defected presents Bodymusic Run (DJ Workout 2) – Uplifting and soulful with a bouncy beat that’s fast moving between tracks. It contains a main workout mix plus bonus warm up and cool down mixes. Based around classic uplifting house vocals from ATFC, Dennis Ferrer, The Shapeshifters and Kings Of Tomorrow amongst many others, there are plenty of house anthems and familiar disco hooks to keep energy levels high…

Defected presents Bodymusic Gym (DJ Workout 3) – Deeper grooves with contagious, head-nodding and toe tapping beats, surrounded by the coolest vocals. It contains a main workout mix plus bonus warm up and cool down mixes. More suited to a gym workout on machines or with free weights and interval training, the music is a little tougher and certainly more epic. Once again, there’s plenty to be familiar with: Bob Sinclar is joined by Sandy Rivera, Haji & Emanuel and Tensnake and with many of the vocal tracks there’s plenty lyrically to get inside your head and really push you to achieve the ultimate training goal.

Defected presents Bodymusic Chillout, Stretch & Tone (DJ Workout 4) – Melodic and hypnotic, with a seamless flow of quality chillout vocal house tracks. It contains two de-stressing DJ mixes. With this edition we explore another side to fitness, with slowed down sounds for a more sensual workout. Better suited to stretching, Yoga and Pilates, the focus is on well-being with house music for the mind, body and soul. Favourites from Afterlife, Louie Vega, Guitarra G, DJ Gregory and Dubtribe Sound System are included to transport you to a different place.

Sound good, don’t they? All three are available on iTunes now and are a bargain-tastic £4.99. I think I’m going to get the other two, actually!

Thank you, Defected!

What’s your favourite kind of music to listen to whilst training? Are you a cool, house music type or stuck in a boy-band jag like me like some people I’ve heard about?

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Bodymusic Gym CD mix 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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