Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Out & About | #FitMeet2014 Part One!

SUPER LONG POST WARNING!

I have tried to split this post into two, but both are still going to end up being a little longer than normal so apologies in advance! :)

So last weekend after a lot of last minute panics and organising, I was lucky enough to meet-up with some fabulous people in London's Covent Garden for #FitMeet2014. It was literally the most gorgeous day, and I don't think we could have asked for better weather as I hopped onto the tube to meet Natalie at King's Cross so she could laugh at me help me carry the goody bags to Gymbox ready for everyone to arrive! Despite me being in my full gym-kit I think a Swedish nightclub promotor must have taken the bright pink bags to mean that I was on the way to a hen party or birthday as he wondered up to me at Baker Street and asked if my friends and I wanted free entry and drinks at his Mayfair club... Needless to say I politely declined.
Natalie and I also popped to Leon for lunch - but as I wolfed my Chicken Club Wrap down far too quickly to get a decent photo, it just means that I'll have to go back and write it a post of its own (which it thoroughly deserves!) Poor me... Haha. ;)
Firstly I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who came! I am so grateful for you all taking the time out of your day to come down and meet everyone, I hope you had a nice time! If you write a blog post on the meet-up, please let me know so that I can add it to this blog post (and the second part!). :)
I'd also like to say another HUGE thank you to the fantastic brands who contributed goodies for the event! I'll show all of the goodies in a second blog post to prevent this one from being ginormous but here are all of the thank yous to all of the brands involved in making #FitMeet2014 awesome!:
  • Thank you to Primal Snack Box for their super generous gifts of one of their subscription boxes for each of the bloggers who attended - they are absolutely delicious!
  • Thanks to Vivid Drinks for providing us with lots of yummy refreshments that kept us all super hydrated post-class and when we were out in the sun. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out in the future, they were amazing!
  • Thank you to Pretty Athletic for sending over three full-sized versions of their products for me to use as a giveaway prize for one lucky attendee (Cantara won!) - and for the discount code you generously sent over for all of the other attendees!
  • Thank you to Simon Roshdy from The Diet Kitchen who shared some fantastic information on nutrition with us, and answered all of our questions.
  • Thank you to MyProtein for providing us with some additional goodies for each of the bloggers who came along - that protein shaker came just in time for me as all of mine seem to have mysteriously disappeared!
  • Thank you to Gymbox & our gym instructor Jess for letting us hire the venue, and for an amazing class - I'm still aching now!
  • I also want to thank my work (Intel!) for paying to have Gymbox as a venue, and giving me the perfect opportunity to test out my Acer Switch 10 to the limit while I was planning it - the event couldn't have gone ahead without your contribution!
I think I've remembered everything - now lets move on to the actual event! :)

(Christina, Simon, Cantara & Natalie Rollin' with their Foamies - led by Instructor Jess!)

We all arrived at Gymbox and headed down to Studio 1 for a super-cool sounding class called Rollin' with my Foamies - and yes it was as awesome as it sounded! The class is unique to Gymbox Gyms and is based around a foam roller which you use for a combination of plyometric-style pick-up/put-down kind of movements, as well as movements where you used the foam roller to create a more unstable surface so that your core gets more of a workout as well as the rest of your body.
Jess was a fantastic instructor and her enthusiasm was utterly contagious! Even when I was struggling to keep going through some of the exercises, Jess wondering around encouraging us to sing along to some of the tracks could put a smile on even the most exhausted of faces! Her choice in music was also outstanding, with a mixture of Beyonce and more old-school tracks keeping things upbeat and super fun.
It was the first time that I've ever used a foam roller, and boy did I feel it! I always suspected that my legs were a little tighter than normal from adding running into my weight routine, but I wasn't expecting them to be that bad at all! So naturally I went out and bougt a foam roller that day....
I definitely suffered from major bum and leg ache the next day after that workout, despite the use of the foam roller to massage my muscles a litlte, and is a class I 100% would recommend trying out if you ever get the chance!

Once Jess had put us through our paces, we inhaled some of Vivid Drinks' Matcha drinks which Vivid Drinks had kindly sent over in a variety of flavours. I loved all of them but I did have a particular soft-spot for the Grape & Elderflower which was delicious and super refreshing! Whilst we cooled down and rested our poor bodies, nutritionist, YouTuber and MyProtein rep, Simon Roshdy led a Q&A-style session with us all sat round in a cirlce on the studio floor asking any burning question we had.
There was such a good variety of questions from recommended supplements, to macro-nutrients, to eating for fat-loss. It was honestly so so interesting to hear and I felt like I came away having learnt a lot - I've definitely taken lots of mental notes which I plan to put into action as soon as possible (Simon I'm sure you're glad to hear that!).
Simon definitely gets an extra honourable mention for sticking it out the whole day being the only lad in attendance - I can imagine it must have been pretty daunting to be surrounded by 8 over-excited females!

By the time we had gotten showered, changed and had ventured outside, the sun was still glaringly hot and despite my original idea of heading to a restuarant for lunch/dinner - we decided instead to head to M&S to grab some grub and feasted outside in the sunshine perched on the steps of Covent Garden Market.
(l-r: Simon from The Diet Kitchen, Cantara from Gymbags & Gladrags, me!, Natalie from The Blonde Ethos & Natasha from Ballet Dance Fitness + Cantara with her prize from Pretty Athletic!)
 A spot of shopping was the next port of call, and with Covent Garden being busier than I had ever seen it, we were lucky to have Natasha as our guide who took us round all of the side streets to get to places instead of having to battle it out with the masses of people surrounding all of the street performers!

I'm going to leave the shopping for a separate post as that was an event alllllll of it's own believe me! I'm still debating whether to be brave and go for a video 'haul' or whether to just stick to the normal with some photos instead... If you are interested in a video, then let me know!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

First Impressions | Acer Aspire Switch 10

Last week I was given the Acer Aspire Switch 10 by someone at work, with the task of giving it a full-on test drive, and give feedback on the device and what I thought of it from as user perspective as both a blogger and also as a general lover of health and fitness. Of course being a blogger means that I’m also sharing my experience with you guys with my honest opinions of the device and whether I would recommend it or not!
The thing which really intrigued me about the Switch 10 is that it can either be a laptop OR a tablet (classed as a 2 in 1!)  – which is why I have been referring to it as a ‘device’ and not a laptop or tablet until now! Because of how the tablet and keyboard attach together (some super strong magnets that just slot together) you can have the 2 in 1 in different ‘modes’. Depending on what I’m doing I can switch modes making it loads easier to watch films, use it to do workouts, or write blog posts. The ones which I have probably used most frequently is laptop mode to blog and display mode for watching Cheerleaders or Game of Thrones in bed!
While prodding the screen instead of using a trackpad or mouse did feel a little strange at first, now that I am used to it, it actually feels a lot more natural to me to gently poke or tap where I would usually click, and scrolling using your finger or thumb is a nice way to navigate as well. It’s also super lightweight and is the perfect size for portability, which is essential as I travel a lot between my house, Ryan’s and my parents’. It fits in my smallest handbags and I can barely feel it compared to my old laptop which I swear weighs the same as a baby elephant.
Of course no device is perfect and there are a couple of drawbacks. Being a detachable-style 2 in 1 means that it is more tablet-based and so doesn’t have as much memory as some other laptops, but with Microsoft’s cloud storage and all the other online storage tools that are around at the minute I honestly can’t see it being too much of a problem for me. The only thing that might change is the amount of time that I used to spend on The Sims!
That said when I do need the bog-standard desktop it’s there waiting for me, and anything there isn’t an app for in the Windows store like Picasa for my photo-editing (I’ll learn how to use Photoshop eventually! :P), I can just download and use as a normal programme.
So far the battery life has been a lot better than I expected considering I'm effectively putting a tablet through the same paces that I would a laptop, and it's been really responsive for me in that it can keep up with everything which I am doing on it at once - which is all down to the tiny but powerful Intel Atom processor that it has inside of it I guess!

The Acer came preloaded with Windows 8.1 and after playing around with the features there are definitely some which I feel deserve a special mention. Firstly, despite me hating Windows 8 on my old, non-touch laptop, I actually really enjoy it on a touch-enabled device. It’s super handy having the customizable tiles on the one hand and has applications such as Bing Food & Drink where you can make shopping lists, search/create recipes, and not down food plans for myself. It’s so easy to use I can really see myself using this day-to-day to plan my food for the week and discover new things to try – although I guess the proof will be in the metaphorical pudding I guess!

So – how does this brand-spanking new 2 in 1 fit into the life of a health and fitness blogger? Well, from first impressions it would seem really well! But I’m not going to give it The Barbelle seal of approval just yet – it has to go through more tests than that before I make a final decision.

What are your first impressions from what I said so far? Is there anything you would look for in particular when hunting for your perfect device?

If you do have aspects in particular you would like me to focus on when I’m testing the Switch 10 out, leave them in the comments section below and I’ll make sure that I add them into my final review in a week or two!

Monday, 16 June 2014

A #FitMeet2014 Update!

So #FitMeet2014 is this weekend and words cannot express how excited I am to meet everybody! It’s been a lot of work and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little nervous about how it will all go on the day, but I’ve tried super hard to try and make sure it goes without a hitch so fingers crossed! I wanted to do a blog post for you all to explain a little more about what’s happening on the day so that you all know where you need to be and what to expect. There are still some little bits and pieces which I’m still trying to sort out but they’re all mini surprises anyway so we shall have to wait and see what happens. J

What We’re Doing

Now that everything is booked and organised I can finally tell you guys what we’re going to be up to on the day!

We’re starting at GymBox in Covent Garden where the lovely Jess will be taking us through a class called Rollin’ with my Foamies which was developed by herself, is unique to GymBox gyms and sounds like so much fun! I obviously know what it entails, but I’d love to hear your ideas on what you think it might involve in the comments below – and no cheating!! ;)
After we’ve been put to the test a little, GymBox have allowed us to use their facilities to get showered and changed, with some refreshments provided by the lovely folks at Vivid Drinks, which I am super excited about because their Matcha drinks sound amazing. Whilst we’re inhaling sipping on some yummy juices, nutritionist, vlogger and general healthy-food guru Simon Roshdy will be here to talk to us about healthy eating and answer any questions that we may have (I love his YouTube channel The Diet Kitchen, so make sure you take a look!).
After that it will be a little more free-flow with us having lots of time to explore, do a bit of shopping and grab some food, as I’m sure that we’ll all be starving! There are heaps of shops in Covent Garden and the surrounding areas including Lululemon and Reebok FitHub as well as all of the usual high street and high-end fashion and beauty stores. I can’t wait to let loose on all the beautiful workout gear in Luluemon, although I can’t promise that my bank account will feel the same! I’d love to see your wishlists for things which you’re hoping to pick up at #FitMeet2014 so make sure that you use the hashtag if you do make one and I’ll be sure to retweet it! J
With regards to food, I'm thinking of Bill's Restaurant (see menu here!) but I want to get all of your recommendations and feedback on it before I book it, so let me know if you have any suggestions ready for me to book on Wednesday! 

What to Bring

Depending on whether coming in your gym kit or are planning on changing when you’re there (which you are more than welcome to, just remember to come with time to change!), bring a change of clothes for afterwards as well as a towel and any shower gels, shampoo etc that you need. You’ll also need to bring a padlock for the lockers, and whilst Vivid Drinks will be providing refreshments post-class, it may be a good idea to bring a bottle of water with you as well to ensure you remain hydrated throughout!
Other than that, all you will need to bring is a smile! I really want #FitMeet2014 to be the perfect excuse to chat, and meet new people who share the same passions as yourselves, so don’t feel shy just wander over and say hello! J

Timings

We’ll meet at 13:15 outside GymBox Covent Garden which is on St. Martin’s Lane, and I’ll hang around until a little before 13:30 in case some of you are running a little late. Leicester Square station is probably the closest station as I think Covent Garden’s is still closed, but please remember to check for planned closures, delays etc of the various lines to save you a lot of hassle on the day! As far as I’m aware, the only line that may be affected by planned works is the District Line, so we should be safe. If you are a little late, just send me a tweet (my handle is @tweetrhii) so I know to keep a look out for you! J
For those who can’t make it to the class, but want to come along to the talk from MyProtein and The Diet Kitchen’s Simon Roshdy, it will start at around 14:30. Again, just let me know your plans so that I know when to expect you as I don’t want to leave anyone behind!
After the talk which will be over by 15:30 at the latest (although more likely a bit before!) it will be time for some shopping chilling-out and dinner! I don’t want to structure this too much as I want to just see what/where people fancy going on the day, although I will probably tweet what time I have booked our dinner location for as I doubt that a bunch of overly chatty bloggers will be able to turn up and expect to get a table!
Dependant on whether I get my final surprise organised, the day could go on until half 9 in the evening, however I know that some of you will have had to travel to get to the meet-up so let me know what time you have to get trains by so I know whether the Finale will be worth it! J

A Little Competition!


Pretty Athletic who are a superb skincare brand specialising in products designed specifically for us gym bunnies have kindly donated some of their products as a prize for me to give away on the day! The winner will be chosen at random from the attending blogger who has been tweeting using the #FitMeet2014 hashtag, so the more you tweet, the greater chance you have of winning!
If you want to find out more about Pretty Athletic and the products which they have created, click here to go through to their website. J


If you have any more questions then let me know! Also, if you would like to come but haven't let me know yet, send me an email on thebarbelle@gmail.com or tweet me @tweetrhii and I'll see what I can do - the more the merrier! :)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

What's in my Gym Bag?

 
I've seen many a 'What's in my Bag?' post on blogs over the few years that I've been reading them, but since the content of my handbag is many old receipts and long-forgotten lipglosses I thought that a what's in my Gym Bag post would be a nice spin on it!
Starting off with the bag itself - a not-so sparkly-new holdall from Victoria's Secret's PINK range. I can't remember how much I actually paid for it, but i expect it was a little above what should normally be paid for something you carry smelly gym clothes around in! But no regrets here - I bought, I love it and it's still around a year or so later, even if it is with the addition of some grubby marks from where it has been tossed and dumped in all kinds of places.
Pink Animal Print Logo Top - Nike | Grey three-quarter length Leggings - Nike | Nike Free Run 2 | Victoria's Secret Such a Flirt Body Spray | Sure Crystal Invisible Compressed Deodorant | Lee Stafford Blow Dry Wonder Spray | Niva Pure & Natural Body Lotion | Virgin Active Gym Towel* | iPhone Earphones

Naturally bits and pieces are added or taken away from my gymbag's contents dependant on whether I have work afterwards, going for a swim etcetc. but this time round it was a standard post-work gym session where the only thing I planned on doing afterwards was going home and eating!
I guess the obvious contents is the gymwear itself, and I guess it's easy to see I do have a slight addiction to Nike! I'm not normally one to wear t-shirts to the gym in all honesty as I over-heat super quickly which can make the high-intensity workouts that I do the majority of the time absolutely unbearable. If I'm doing yoga or a standard pick-up-put-down weights session however, then I can normally get away with wearing one without feeling like I'm in the Sahara desert. Is anyone else the same?!
My trusty Nike Free Runs have been with me as long as I have been 'seriously' working out - and when I say 'seriously', I mean actually making a dedication to getting fit and healthy as opposed to doing some sit-ups and thinking I was the don. After a couple of years of solid, unrelenting wear though, they are sadly starting to lose their support around the ankles so I am beginning to wonder if it isn't time to trade them in for something fancy and new!
Other products worth mentioning is the Victoria's Secret body spray (or 'fragrance mist' as they call it) - a gorgeously fruity combination of grapefruit and white orchid that really seems to lift my mood and relax me before heading into the gym, and Lee Stafford's Blow Dry Wonder Spray which while not perfect by any means, is a bit of a saviour when I'm running late and need to get my mane dry ASAP. Not forgetting of course my Virgin Active gym towel which comes complete with a handy zip-up pocket which is a savious for the girl who has a tendancy to leave her locker key, headphones or anything else which may not be attached to me lying around the gym!

So there you have it. The contents of my gym bag. I can't say it's actually anything drastically different to the norm to be honest, but if you are thinking of starting up at the gym and wanted some ideas of things which may be useful to take along, then here are some things that you should probably pack for your first time at the gym! ;)

What's in YOUR gym bag? Comment below! :)

 Don't forget to sign-up to come alnog to #FitMeet2014 - there's still space!
Open to all bloggers, not just health and fitness! :)
Click the button below!

The Barbelle

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Personal | June Goals

I cannot believe we are already half-way through the month and I feel as though I have accomplished nothing, even though I know that is probably not the case! I do feel like I should probably keep a better trakc of what I am doing to see if I actually ever achieve any of the goals which I laid out back in January (see this post).
So here are the things which I want to accomplish for June - are they the same as any of yours?

Consistant Blogging


Whilst I am still well and truely back into the blogging mindset, I'm still struggling to post on set days so that you guys know when to expect posts from me! This is something which I am hoping to rectify this month with me deciding to post on Wednesday's and Friday's as a bare minimum. This will probably go up to three or four posts per week when I get back to university, but for now I don't want to promise too much and want to get into a proper routine slowly to get my consistency and quality nailed down.
And if you were on the ball today you may have noticed that that the image of my blog is not the same layout as I am currently using! I am in the process of moving my entire blog over to Wordpress and have decided to take the opportunity to give my blog design a bit of a revamp in the process. The blog URL etc will stay the same, but make sure that you keep a look-out to see when I make the switch!

#Junathon & #100HappyDays

I am also taking part in a couple of Instagram challenges so make sure that you're following my journey for #100happydays and #Junathon! I'm sure you've seen these popping up in your feeds so far, but in case you haven't #100happydays is a daily photo challenge where you upload something which has made you happy every day for 100 days. It's so easy for us to focus on the negative things that happen instead of the positives so it will be lovely to be able to make a concious effort to remember the little things that brighten up my day-to-day life.
#Juneathon is similar in that it is a daily photo challenge, and asks you to upload the exercise/activity that you did for that day and share it on social media using the hashtag. I want to get into the habit of taking photos of my exercise routines etc. so that I can use them on my blog as I tend to get so involved in what I'm doing I forget! Hopefully this will act as a good reminder for me. :)

Nail the Keto 'Diet'


The last of my goals for this month, is to really give the Keto 'diet' a go. I first tried this for a couple weeks before holiday in a bid to shred a little more fat before I hit the beach, and I the results I got were fantastic having lost 5lbs and 3% body fat in the first week. Whilst I don't ever intend for this to be a permanent lifestyle change (I am relucant to use the word diet!), I would like to see how it goes over the next month or so and potentially use it as a cutting method in preparation for the summer months before switching to 'normal' healthy eating during winter.
I have also been thinking about doing a write-up talking more about what Keto is, how it works,typical meals etc. if you would be interested in something like that?

I'd love to hear what your goals for this month are, so leave them in the comment box below! :)

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