Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

I was, indeed, born to burpee 😀

Interview with ViewSPORT – Home of Sweat-Activated Fitness Apparel

*Enter the code “viewsport” to save 15% on most of their gear. The code “freeshipping” eliminates your shipping cost when you buy two or more shirts/tanks!*

Strength & Sweat: I’m here with Ben Wood, ViewSPORT CEO and Head Coach of ViewSPORT fitness apparel. Welcome! Thanks so much for contacting me about your company. Tell me a little about your company, Chris—how and why it came to be.

BEN WOOD: It’s a great story. I was actually a medical student a few years back and I was exercising one day and thought, “how cool would it be to be able to control your sweat patterns?”  I was able to come up with a way to do that and thus – ViewSPORT was created. We create fitness apparel that motivates athletes to sweat more and perform at their absolute best.

S&S: The technology for this is crazy-cool. How in the heck was it discovered!?

BW: I discovered it while in med-school. It took a ton of work and it’s taken even more work to learn what textiles and colors it works best on – but we’ve developed it at a place that we’re able to give every customer a great sweat-activated experience.

S&S: So who would you say is your target audience? I see references to WODs (Workout of the Day) on the shirts, which is a CrossFit term.

BW: We’ve had great success in the CrossFit and running markets but we’re focused on anyone and everyone who wants to live a healthy, active life. We believe ViewSPORT is more than a fitness apparel company – it’s a motivation company. We’ll do whatever we can to help people take control of their lives, beat obesity, live fit and be awesome.

S&S: Any recommendations for making the shirt work to its full potential?

BW: Like I said, we’ve worked hard to make sure the technology always performs. It’s up to everyone who buys one to sweat, work hard and give everything they have to maximize the experience. We’re here to help them with motivation if they need it!

S&S: Any goals you guys are striving to achieve in the next year or two?

BW: We want to motivate everyone and anyone to live a healthy active life. We believe people and fitness are awesome – and when you combine the two, incredible things happen. We want to grow and be a company that motivates millions across the world to be their best.

*S&S REVIEW: I wore the burpee tank top while I sweated through a few intense Spinning classes, but it didn’t activate well. Don’t worry, ViewSPORT wear isn’t a hoax, I just had bad luck for two reasons: 1) the sweat activation technology was on the low back of the shirt and I don’t sweat much there, which brings us to point 2) I didn’t sweat enough. ViewSPORT is awesome and sending me another shirt with front activation technology (where I sweat a heck of a lot more!), so I’ll be trying that one next!*


Great plan from a great lady.

Amanda Russell’s 14-Day Shape-Up Plan

*Disclaimer: Before I begin reviewing this plan, I would like to mention several things. 1) I am a fitness instructor, personal trainer, and freelancer. My fitness/activity level is much higher and greater than the average working adult’s thanks to my jobs. On average, I work out for 2-4 hours/day, and that was without including Amanda’s workouts. 2) I did not complete every single workout to its fullest since I do exercise so much. Often I did one or two rounds in order to get a good idea of how each workout was.

What It’s All About: Amanda Russell presents a 14-day fitness and nutrition plan that’s intense, but it’s her version of healthy detox (and mine, too!). This is not an every-day-of-the-month plan; this is an I-need-to-shape-up-for-an-event plan, a jump-start-to-a-healthier-you plan, a get-back-on-the-right-path plan, and a learn-how-to-fuel-your-body plan. Amanda’s mantra is “When you want something you will do whatever it takes, when you don’t, you will always find an excuse. Decide how much you want this… and do what it takes.” I like that because I happen to agree with her. YOU and only you are in charge of how you live your life. YOU and only you can make the decision and take the necessary steps to change your life. The plan packet itself is 30 pages of awesome info. Amanda provides you with some basic intro info, a list of foods to avoid and list of foods to enjoy, meal recipes, meal guidelines, and, of course, the 14 days’ worth of meals and exercises.

The Workouts: All of the workouts are free and there are even videos and written directions for you to follow online! How? Because of the workouts are always free—they’re already on her website and anyone and everyone can do the workouts.

All you do is click on the workout, skim the written details, watch the video, and you’re ready to go! Intensity-wise the workouts varied, but one thing was consistent—the amount of time needed. Each workout was only about 30 minutes total! So no more complaining about time-consuming workouts! As for my favorite workout…. Hmmm…. That’s tough…. I really liked the “6 Minute Abs of Steel,” “Super Calorie Burn,” “Jump Rope,” “New Year, New Body,” “Killer Sculpted Arms,” “One Minute Intervals,” and “Big Burn” workouts. Yes, I liked a lot of them. And yes, I used a mix of a bunch of them in the total body classes I teach!

The Food: It’s uncomplicated, it’s fresh, it’s real, and it’s pretty basic. There are a lot of eggs, a lot of veggies, and a lot of salads. There isn’t much variation in the meals, but if you’re trying to detox your body, eating fresh, real foods is the way to go. The good news is that you don’t have to forgo all fruits or meats, and you even get to have some Greek yogurt!

What I Liked: It was all spelled out for you and ya know what—there were no calorie counts and I gotta say, I loved that. Good, healthy calories are necessary for total body function and fueling yourself the right way is the only way to achieve a total body healthy detox. Nothing was too complicated or time-consuming either. The recipes were all pretty simple, but good, and I will definitely continue to make some of them! Like the Feel Good Protein Pancakes. Holy yum. Doug and I eat these at least once a week now.  I like how she suggests two rest days, but also says that if you want to take a walk, that’s cool, just make it a chill one. This is what I do. I never take a day off. But I choose one or two days to just walk. I walk with my mom, I walk with Doug, or I’ll walk on the treadmill and read a book or magazine. It’s a nice way to recover while still being active. I also LOVED how all of the workouts were short and intense. Changing your body isn’t about time, it’s about intensity. Amanda proves that you can get a great workout with simple, mostly-bodyweight moves in just a half-hour. Oh, and the fact that this is only two weeks is a HUGE plus! I could never do a 90-day eating plan : /

What I Didn’t Like: The lack of variety in the meals and the lack of some fruits. But, like I said above, when you’re doing a healthy detox for your body, you have to stick to the real, fresh basics. And I get that. I just love fruit! I also didn’t like some of the foods she included due to personal preference (I can’t stand tuna!) and there weren’t alternatives, so you just have to choose one of the other few options. Which, again, isn’t horrible-terrible, just gets a little boring. But hey, for 14 days, it’s okay.

My Verdict: Do you need to shape-up for an event and you feel lost as to how to do it? Do you feel like your eating has gotten out of control and you don’t know how to get back on track? Do you feel like you don’t know what to do exercise-wise and/or don’t have a gym membership? Do you feel like you just need to revive all of your old “good” habits of eating well and exercising every day, but it seems so daunting to do on your own? Do you want to learn how to better fuel your body and challenge it physically? If you answered YES!!! to any of these questions, then you better seriously consider/BUY this plan. Why? It never goes out of style. It works. It’s simple. It’s realistic. It doesn’t require a ton of money or time. Did I mention that it works? I noticed less bloat, a tighter tummy, and less cravings within two days. Yeah, seriously. And I even dropped a few pounds—and I work out a lot and eat pretty dang well!

GUESS WHAT!!! Amanda is giving you—all my awesome readers–$10 off her plan with the code “strengthsweat”. Use it to lose it—those extra pounds, that is 😀

Amanda’s YouTube
Amanda’s Twitter
Amanda’s Facebook
Amanda’s website
Amanda’s workouts on her website

There really is nothing quite like the great outdoors.

Tina Vindum’s Outdoor Fitness

Tina Vindum and her camp sent this to me and I’m really grateful for it. Though, I will admit right now, it took me a year to find time to read this *EEK*. With the career change and a bunch of other life changes, everything got put on the back burner.

But I’m back to reading! YAY!

This book is all about getting into shape—mentally and physically—using the gym nature provides.

What I Liked: Tina explains how liberating it can be to work out outside and how beneficial it is to your mind, emotions, and physical health. She mentions how her body completely changed thanks to working outdoors, and I don’t doubt that! She’s a former Alpine skier and competitive mountain biker, so she knows how to listen to her body and understand what really works best. She gives ideas for how and where to find places to exercise, how to be safe, what to expect, what to eat, as well as workout plans for single site, multisite, and traveling sites. I also liked the last part—“Going Inside Your Body”—where Tina explains how to take care of your body by taking measurements and eating intuitively.

What I Didn’t Like: She spent two chapters about how to connect mentally to the outdoors. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting stuff, however, I would rather she have talked about things to focus on outside as opposed to describing a bunch of them. Everything she talked about was beneficial and there are fascinating facts behind it, but I just thought it got a bit wordy.

My Concluding Thoughts: If you’re dropping your gym membership, but not sure where to go now or what’s possible in the wide world of outdoor fitness, then this book would be a smart investment because of the workout moves and ideas in the last two parts. It gives you a wide variety of ideas of what you can do and where you can do it and with what props you can use. I love how she explains how to use nature’s tools to work out—trees, stumps, rocks, logs, and hills—but she also explains  how to use an urban city’s tools to your advantage, too—parking meters, curbs, stairs, and walls. If you’re happily in a relationship with your gym, there’s no huge need to grab this book. It’s definitely a fun way to spice up your exercise routine, so you should definitely look into her approach either way. Another idea is if you have a personal trainer, mention this book to him or her and request an outdoor session to try things out!

Well, I’m 10 days into Amanda Russell’s 14-Day Shape-Up Plan and it’s going pretty okay. I’ve cheated a few times : / and I’ve had to supplement it a lot since I train and teach very heavily four days a week and continue to train and teach (more moderately/lightly) on the three remaining days of the week. Basically what I’ve been doing is following the main meals and then doing my own snacks, following her plan when I can. The meals are pretty simple, but good. They definitely don’t leave out flavor, which is great to see.

One of my—and Doug’s!—new favorites thanks to Amanda’s plan is the Feel Good High Protein Pancakes. These are so good that Doug and I have even made them for other meals 🙂

Feel Good High Protein Pancakes

  • ½ banana
  • 2-3 egg whites (we use the whole egg for more protein and calories)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Sun Warrior Protein (can substitute with whey protein—I use my favorite vanilla kind)
  • ½ Tbsp. ground Chia Seeds (I didn’t find these at the store, so we’ve been using flax seeds!)
  • 1 dash of cinnamon or maple syrup (we rock cinnamon)

Mix it all together with a fork (we use a blender). Pour into a preheated skillet (spray with canola oil), once the bottom has set, flip and finish cooking. For extra staying-power and calories, Doug and I have topped them with a little chunky peanut butter.

This is the kind I bought and love! No grinding required.

To round-out this FF, I want to chat a little more about flax seeds. What are they? Well, they look a bit like a small seed and have some benefits of a grain—they’re loaded with fiber, phytochemicals (antioxidants), and Omega-3 fatty acids. Oh, and it’s low in carbs! Flax seeds are also high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese.

I add them to more than just the protein pancakes now. I put them in yogurt and oatmeal, and you can also put them in cottage cheese, protein shakes, hot or cold cereal, and you can even put them in things you bake and cook—meatloaf, meatballs, casseroles, sauces, bread, muffins, and brownies.

Some tips and tricks when using/consuming/storing flax seeds: drink plenty of water due to the fiber content; flax can be used as an egg substitute; store in a cool, dark, dry place, or in the fridge or freezer.

I got my flax seeds from Meijer and they were only $3.50/bag, which is great seeing as you don’t use a ton and there are a lot in there!

Foodalicious Friday

Posted: September 14, 2012 in Product Reviews, Recipes

Today’s post is more of a discussion/review of something I’m currently doing — Amanda Russell’s 14-day Shape-Up Plan. She saw one of my reviews of her workouts and we started emailing. That’s when she asked me to try her 14-day workout and diet plan. Challenge accepted! (Cue Barney Stinson voice.)

I’m on Day 3 and it hasn’t been easy, I’ll admit that. Due to my new, busier schedule (I teach 14 classes in 4 days, not including personal training), I have to supplement the diet and I also have to decrease her exercise plan set-wise in order to be safe. However, on Day 3 I can say that I have followed the meal plans (except yesterday at lunch because I didn’t have time) and have added only healthy snacks (except for a mildly-healthy dessert my Mom made). And so far, I am down about 2 pounds and feel a heck of a lot less bloated. Yeah, crazy, right!?

Without giving too much away, the basic concept is to decrease your starchy carbs and up your veggie intake. This includes cutting out processed foods, cereals, breads, oatmeal, and even starchy fruits like bananas (which, I’m a monkey, so this part is hard!). It’s pretty simple, though, and honestly, I like this diet plan a lot better than other “diet” plans I’ve seen. No, I wouldn’t call this long-term sustainable, especially if you’re an athlete, a new mother, or someone who exercises often. This is definitely a get-back-into-good-habits, healthy-detox, prep-for-a-big-event diet. It’s great because you are still eating carbs, but you’re focusing on healthy fats and proteins and tons of veggies, while getting your healthy sugars from certain fruits and some yogurt here and there.

I’ll continue to keep you posted 🙂

Now, for a recipe one of my sisters sent me that I’m definitely going to try when I’m done with this diet challenge!

Light Baked Spaghetti


  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. whole-wheat angel hair pasta
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c. torn fresh basil leaves
  • Cooking spray, for the pan
  • 1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers, mushrooms, seasoned salt and Italian seasoning and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, 3/4 cup water and the basil and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine with the sauce. Spoon half of the pasta mixture into the casserole dish. Sprinkle with half of each cheese. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cover loosely with foil sprayed with cooking spray (do not let the foil touch the cheese). Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

SERVES: 6; Calories: 323; Total Fat: 11 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Protein: 20 grams; Total carbohydrates: 36 grams; Sugar: 8 grams; Fiber: 6 grams; Cholesterol: 48 milligrams; Sodium: 836 milligrams

My Trainer Fitness—For at Home

Posted: September 12, 2012 in Product Reviews

Workouts on the go…. Brilliiant, simple, and tough…. In only 30 min.

My Trainer Fitness—For at Home

I was sent these workouts a while ago, and as horrible as it sounds, I just haven’t had the time to really do them. These are a pack of laminated cards that can find in any gym bag or purse and have six 30-minute workouts inside. The first few cards consist of an intro, some guidelines to choosing weights, and info on how to use the cards with some warm-up and cool-down ideas. Each card is double-sided and each side consists of a 15-minute circuit. So basically what you do is follow the cards by doing a certain number of reps per exercise, with or without weight, and do the moves all back-to-back as many times as you can in 15 minutes. Then you flip the card and do the same thing with the exercises on the back. There are even pictures and a few short descriptions for some of the moves so no need to use Google or YouTube!

How long did it take?: Each workout in 30 minutes long.
Was it tough?: Yeah, surprisingly it is. When I saw the moves, I thought, “Well, this can’t be TOO hard.” I was somewhat wrong. While the moves are on the more simple-and-basic side, throwing them back-to-back in a circuit and doing some jumping along the way really gets your heart rate up and the sweat going!
Did I feel like I got a good workout in?: I do. And it was nice because I took these cards home for a long weekend with the family and was able to do them in the basement when I had time. So it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t have a gym!
Why I liked it: It’s simple, but effective. Not complicated, but still tough. Everything is there for you—exercise name, number of reps, weight to use, pictures, descriptions, and simple way to do them all (a circuit!).
Do I recommend it?: If you’re someone who is just getting back into a gym routine and knows how to use weights and/or has had some experience with classes and the gym, these are great cards to tote with you. They give you pre-made workouts that target the different muscle groups on different days, while giving you bursts of cardio, and you don’t need much time, space, or equipment. Plus, you can carry them on the go, so whether you’re a soccer mom away at a tournament, a traveling businessman (or hey, vice versa), or just someone who wants to spend more time at home with family and less time driving to and from the gym, these cards are a great idea. And a great gift idea!

Small, concentrated movements in the glute and thigh regions never burned so bad!

Pure Barre – Mile High 1

I have been interested to try a Pure Barre workout for a while since 1) I’m nothing close to being a dancer, but I admire the strength, endurance, and discipline that goes into being one and working out like one; 2) I’m always looking for something more when it comes to fitness; and 3) the founder Carrie is from Michigan!

Equipment-wise, all you need is a mat, a small weighted ball, and a stable support. I used my carpet, a small homemade sandbag, and my table barstool-like chair for support. I have a weighted ball, but it’s 8lbs. (which is a little heavy for this workout) and the material didn’t allow me to grip it well enough. But I made do!

Where I Got This DVD: The wonderful Pure Barre team—thank you!
: Approx. 30 min.
Carrie Rezabek Dorr, the founder/creator
Three ladies

  • The workout menu says the DVD is broken into 17 segments, but they go quickly.
  • The warm-up was tough! It involved having the ball between your thighs the whole time and ended with a stretch.
  • Seriously, holy thighs! You rock squeezes, pulses, hip/ab tucks – they are all pretty killer despite the fact that the movements are small. I was a little shaky.
  • There were small stretching sections in between each level of work.
  • When we got into the standing leg work, I found it hard to keep the sandbag in the crux of my knee, so I had to hold it there. But wowzers—I felt it! It was hard to keep my leg high and straight, though. I wonder if there’s a trick to that….
  • The ab work at the end was impressively challenging—my core was screaming at me by the end. Thank you, small, killer movements.

: Carrie was a good instructor who gave good details—for the most part. She talked very quickly and she transitioned so quickly from one move to the next that I had to rewind it a few times. I also didn’t think her explanations on the different pulses and tucks were enough.
: Small, quick movements—I loved and hated thanks to the burn!
Intensity Level
: Beginner to Advanced
Buy It?:
If you are looking for a great, short workout that will help tone your tushy and tummy without losing your curves, this is definitely one for you! If you’re looking for an all-over, total-body-toner, though, I would pass. While this is somewhat total body, it’s more core and leg-focused. I only wish I had more means to incorporate things like this into my classes—or even the kind of classroom to teach these kinds of classes in!