Fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week: Smart Recovery bedding from The Fine Bedding Co

August 19, 2014

I love napping. And sleeping. And bedtime. Never more so than during bodybuilding prep when, frankly, the days just seem a little bit too long. (The rather trying extra bit seems to be between 3pm-6pm. What is the point of that part of the day? Unnecessary.)


So, I was delighted to receive a lovely bit of kit to review from the clever people at The Fine Bedding Co: their brand-new Smart Bedding set. It’s the UK’s first “smart recovery” bedding and has been specifically designed to improve sport performance by boosting recovery (after all, the period of time we’re asleep is the biggest stretch of recovery time in our day).

Smart Recovery Bedset

Sports Sleep Coach Nick Littlehales was commissioned by The Fine Bedding Company to develop the bedding (a pillow and duvet – various sizes) who knows how important consistent, good quality sleep is to sports performance. Nick told me:

“Sleep is the longest recovery period in any 24 hours and is essential to achieving optimum performance – whether you’re a top athlete or simply want to get the best out of your day. But it’s not just about how many hours we sleep for, it’s about how many productive cycles of sleep we actually get and managing these cycles so that we wake refreshed both mentally and physically. Like all sports related equipment, bedding needs to be under constant management and development to improve an athletes’ personal best performance.”

The aim of this bedding is to enhance the amount of deep sleep we can get each night. The Smart Bedding has proved so popular with athletes like that they take it with them to major competitions and use it instead of the hotel bedding. Nick works with elite sport events, including the London 2012 Olympic games, and sports squads and teams including the FA and England squads, leading premiership football clubs, Rugby Union, Rugby League, British Cycling, the Sky Pro cycling team, cricketers, triathletes, rowers and golfers.

What’s different about the Smart Bedding?

– Smartfil fibres for breathability and temperature control
– very light
– the pillows are really plump and keep their shape
– non allergenic
– designed for comfort
– 10.5 tog (I had to ask them about this bit!) – “There is always a lot of tog talk when duvets are being discussed – maintaining core body temperature is vital to quality sleep. We chose 10.5 as the best tog for this duvet to help regulate body temperature throughout the year. Anything more or less in tog relates to certain people’s individual needs – whether they experience night sweats or are particularly cold in the night.” (Now you know!)

My experience of using the Smart Bedding?

I do struggle with sleep when I’m dieting for bodybuilding comps. I don’t know why – hormones, I suspect. I tend to wake around 2am and stay awake for an hour or two. This affliction definitely lessened the very first night I used the Smart Bedding. I won’t lie – it hasn’t stopped completely – but it is much, much better. The bedding feels amazing, really light and soft, but keeps me a nice temperature. The pillow is very comfy. In short, yes I’d recommend it. For the price, I think it’s definitely worth a try if you do any kind of sport, or just know how important sleep is to a healthier, more stress-free lifestyle.

I’ll leave you with
Nick Littlehales’s Top 3 Smart Recovery Tips

1 Check your mattress, pillow and bedding is giving the right support. “Your mattress should take your body shape and weight easily – almost as if you don’t need a pillow,” says Nick. “Get someone to ­analyse you lying on the bare mattress, in a foetal position on your non-dominant side (so if you’re right handed, lie on your left side). This is the natural sleeping position. If there is a clear gap of five centimetres or more ­between your head and mattress, or you feel your head dropping on to the mattress, then it could be too firm. Head raised out of line? The mattress may be too soft.”

2 Choose bedding that’s breathable, comfortable and sleep inducing. Nick makes up “sleep kits” for athletes with contouring, pressure sensitive mattress toppers, linen and climate control duvets and pillows from The Fine Bedding Company.

3 Think of sleep in terms of 90-minute cycles rather than hours. During each 90-minute cycle, the body goes through five stages essential to overall recovery. These include “light sleep”, “deep sleep” and “REM sleep” (when we dream).

Thank you, Smart Bedding people! What a lovely thing to receive. 🙂

You can find out more about the Smart Bedding sets online here at The Fine Bedding Co, or check them out on Facebook or Fine Bedding Co on Twitter. Sport Sleep Coach Nick is on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week: Smart Recovery bedding from The Fine Bedding Co 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: Budokon yoga, Exhale recovery shoes

January 27, 2011


I’m off to India with my bezzie mate tomorrow (yippee!) so I’ll keep this short (ish) and sweet: here’s another “fitness kit I’ve tested this week” post for you. By the way, I have a great selection of guest posts lined up whilst I’m away. I hope you enjoy them; please feel free to let me know (either way!) in the comments.

OK, without further ado: fitness kit I’ve tested this week.

Budokon yoga

When I was invited to have a 1-2-1 session of Budokon yoga, I’ll admit that I rocked up without having done my research. I thought it would be stretchy, lying-downy kind of yoga, ideal after the day I’d had (basically wasting several hours of my life going through the rigours of obtaining a Visa to go to India. Top tip: don’t admit to being a journalist! Although I’m not really sure why it’s a problem…)

So I arrived at the beautiful Evolve Wellness Centre in London (if you get a chance to go, do. It’s fantastic!) for my Budokon lesson with Ryan Carldon-Miah, Budokon’s UK Director, thinking I was in for a lovely relaxing time. I was wrong! Well, that’s not quite true. I did walk out of Evolve incredibly relaxed, but it wasn’t from lying down in corpse pose.

Here’s what Ryan has to say about Budokon:

Budokon was created in 2000 in Los Angeles. It’s a blend of martial arts, yoga, meditation and “animal movements”. The combination works to provide a fun and challenging workout with a varied array of exercises, giving a well-rounded practice. For those looking for the ultimate challenge we offer the Budokon Academy, taking participants from White to Black belt through our six-pillar system which focuses on thought, emotions, relationships, nutrition, environment and fitness.

All of the techniques in the system are designed to create power, strength and muscle tone whilst also providing flexibility, range of motion and core conditioning. Combining the animal movements with the yoga means a class can give you a fast and furious cardio blast along with the relaxing and restorative properties of yoga in one workout.

My verdict? I LOVED it. And I don’t say that often about new (to me) forms of exercise which I can’t go and do quietly by myself. I absolutely loved the way Budokon blends the flowing, graceful moves of martial arts and the strong stances of yoga, and the animal poses were great fun and very hard work! I found it challenging, fun and energising, and it totally turned my mood around.

This is what we covered (you can view videos – not of me! – here)

(Martial arts) – Pivot punches and knee strikes

(Yoga) – Rolling Wave, Floating Frog and Dancing Dog (look on youtube for these if you’re interested – they look beautiful when done properly!)

(Animals) – Komodo dragon and leaping leopard (I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to do the latter but, surprisingly, I could one of those things where you just have to give it a go without overthinking it).

If you get the chance to try a Budokon class, taster session or course, please do. I hope you’ll love it as much as I did. Thank you to Ryan for his time, good humour and patience!

Exhale recovery shoes

You know those items you would never have thought you needed until you got them? And then you wonder how you ever did without them? These shoes are one of those things. The idea is simple: plenty of us go to the gym and do a massive legs session, or go out and pound the pavements on a long run and then come home…and put our slippers on. Or walk around the house in socks. Our poor feet and legs! Do we really expect to make the transition from high-impact, repetitive sport in supportive shoes to….no support at all? Well, yes, we do. I certainly did, until I tried out the Exhale recovery shoes from Sole.

Now, these shoes are not the sexiest things you’ll ever have put on your feet, that’s for sure. But they’re not for wearing out and about. They’re for popping on your feet when you get back from running or the gym, and they’re great for that. They’re cosy, with fluffy insides, and have mouldable footbeds and support all the bones in your feet, as well as your arches. Here’s the blurb:

The Exhale features the same wear moldable, orthopedic platform as our original Sport Flips. This slipper/shoe hybrid is perfect for all sorts of activities, from après-ski to lounging around the house. A Sherpa lined footbed and fold down heel panel offer slip-in comfort. A uniquely styled upper made with mini-ripstop polyester featuring insulated baffles guarantees maximum coziness. An inner PU coating makes these water-resistant and Polygiene® helps combat foot odor. All SOLE Custom Footwear is wear moldable, to conform to your feet.

Yes, they look weird (I advise you get the black!) but it’s not about what they look like. It’s about looking after your feet after you’ve asked so much of them during training, not just getting home and clomping about the house. I really like them.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Budokon yoga, Exhale recovery shoes is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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