Holiday Gift Guide For The Fitness Fan On Your List

If you have a fitness fanatic on your list (and if you’re like me, that person is you:), here are some of my personal favorite workout gadgets and goodies perfect for gifting. We’ve got a bit of everything…clothes, new classes to try, workout equipment and techno fitness so I’m certain there is something for everyone on you list! Moms, sisters, husbands and you too!

  1. Polar heart rate monitor: This is one of the highest rated heart rate monitors on Amazon.com and it comes in under $100, pretty reasonable for one of these devices. Keeping track of your heart rate ensures you maintaining proper intensity during your workout and I LOVE that this one tells you how many calories you’ve burned.
  2. Athleta Hoodie: Athleta does a wonderful job of creating fashionable fitness gear. This jacket has a really cool hood and the side zip is just so uber chic for a workout jacket.
  3. FitBit: I have one of these and LOVE it! It helped me lose some weight and I currently swear by it for maintaining my weight. It tracks steps, stairs climbed and calories burned. Sync it to your phone for updates and use the food journal function to ensure awesome results. It’s small, sleek and incredible accurate, making it one of the best fitness trackers on the market.
  4. Kettelbell set: An entire gym that fits in a corner of your living room. These will shred your body… abs, legs, arms you name it. I like this set because they are covered in vinyl meaning they won’t do as much damage to your floor or hands:)
  5. Dance Central 3, XBOX Kinect: OK, you can actually get a workout with the Kinect and this new edition of the BEST dance game ever will totally get you sweating. Bonus, it’s beyond fun!
  6. YogiToes Yoga Towel: Put this super absorbant, hygienic and totally cute towel on top of your yoga mat to keep yourself from slipping around. It’s made of 50% recycled polyester and comes in a variety of colors, I happen to love this rainbow prism for brightening up those cold winter days.
  7. Bar Method gift certificate: I’m really into barre classes lately and giving someone the gift of 30 days at Bar Method runs $99 for an unlimited number of classes for a new client. The gift that keeps on giving…giving you flat abs and super toned legs!
  8. FlyWheel or Soul Cycle gift certificate: Spinning is the next thing I have to try, in fact the FlyWhell gif card is on my list! If you or someone on your list has one of these studios in their city, think of gifting them single classes or a month of rides.  Kelly Ripa, Sofia Vergara and Katie Homes swear by spinning to keep them in superstar shape.
  9. Ugg Knit Boots: I saw a fellow Bar Method student slip these on the other day while I fumbled around with my running shoes, and I made a mental note of how great these Uggs are for after class. Since yoga, pilates, barre and spinning classes use either socks or special footwear, having cozy slip on boots instead of shoes after class, is a treat for your feet.

There are a few more gift guides to come, so let me know what else you’d like to see!

Happy Holiday!

-Caitlin

My Top 5 Free Fitness Apps

While I love basically low tech workouts like running, the TRX, bodyweight work and kettlebells, sometimes I can’t help but infuse them with some high tech help from my iphone. While my phone is always on me for emails, shooting video and obsessively checking IMDB each time I see and actor who I recognize but can’t place  (seriously my phone has reached near appendage levels…I might need help at this point), it’s also my new favorite workout buddy. With that in mind, here are five of my current favorite apps that help me get in shape, get more out of my workouts, map my runs and keep track of my calories. FYI all these apps are FREE!!!
  1. bit timer: This is my go to app for strength training intervals since you can set any work time and rest time you want, then set how many times you’d like to repeat that interval sequence. While your playlist plays in the background, the app alerts you when your intervals start and end and even gives a countdown. I love using it for tabata training and circuit work, plus it is supremely user friendly.
  2. gymboss: I love the traditional GymBoss timer and I’m so happy they’ve come out with an app. It allows you to create your own timer with intervals and rounds, choose from preset programs like tabata training or boxing rounds, plus it also has a basic stop watch.
  3. lose it: I cannot exclaim my love of food journals loud enough! I’ve been in the health and fitness field for years and I’ve even written a book on the subject, but I also really love food and can easily overeat. I totally attribute my use of food journals to weight loss and weight maintenance succes and lose it is one of my favorite food journal apps. It’s easy to use, includes a very extensive library of foods to choose from and calculates calories from recipes. You can also add and track exercise, and the graphics make it easy to see how many calories you’ve consumed and how many you have left.
  4. Nike Training Club: This is a great alternative to workout videos or a personal trainer since this app comes with tons of different workouts and workout programs. It has great graphics and videos of the exercises and you can choose workout based on a beginner, intermediate or advanced levels. There are cardio workouts, strength workouts and a combo of both with goals like toning, leaning out, getting strong or targeting certain body parts. All exercises are done for a preset amount of time like 15 seconds or a minute and you can play your own music in the background. The only hitch is that you have to look at your phone to see the workout and the exercises so  unless you know what say a plank row to rotation is, I’d recommend keeping your phone in front of you instead of wearing it on an armband.
  5. runkeeper: I’m always kinda “estimating” my outdoor runs and this app uses GPS to actually track them, which was rather eye opening for me. A run I had been doing for years and thought was my easy 3 miler, turns out to be only 2.5 miles so, thank you Runkeeper…I think:)  One of my other favorite things about this app, it allows you to input things like a target pace, intervals and “fitness classes” with audio cues and pace trackers. The fitness classes are training programs like 5k, 10k, half marathon and weight loss training plans designed for different levels of runners. I love anything that takes the guess workout out of working out and this app is great for that! Plus you can post your runs to Facebook and Twitter and use the RunKeeper community to keep you motivated!

I recommend giving these apps a try for your next workout. Let me know what you think  and which one is your favorite! Plus check back soon since I’m going to do a video review of these apps so you can see them in action!

How To: Make a Home Gym… The 7 best fitness accessories!

A few years ago I gave up my gym membership which is a pretty big deal for me given I’ve belonged to a gym since I was 15. I love running and body weight workouts, and working out from home is so much more convenient than driving or walking to the gym. Plus, doing so has made me more consistent and cut out excuses…now,  I’m more likely to simply get my workouts done first thing in the morning.

Home workout equipment has come incredibly far and DVD workouts like P90X and Insanity (I’m a graduate of both:) give you a gym quality workout without having to leave your living room. In fact, that’s the very idea behind many of my printable workouts on Fit Fab Cities! I found a couple of my favorite home workout fitness accessories that bring gym worthy results to you at home, plus simply make your workouts more fun! And I always love to try new fitness trends and workouts so I use the some money I would have spent on a gym membership to try out speicailty fitness classes like TRX and Barre.

Here are a my 7 favorite fitness accessories that make for a perfect home gym. You can go with just one thing or even all of them!

  1. TRX Suspension Trainer: This allows you to do thousands of exercises using your body weight and you can anchor it to a door at home. You can check out my review of my favorite TRX class here.
  2. Bosu Ball stand on it while doing shoulder presses, curls or squats to get an added core bonus or use it for some killer crunches.
  3. Kettelbell or Kettelbell Set: This is one of the best pieces of fitness equipment out there! You’ll get a cardio burn (up to 20 calories per minute!) plus strengthen and tone every muscle in your body. But make sure you learn how to use it with proper form first so you don’t get injured!
  4. Dumbbells: It always great to have a few sets of dumbbells at home. I like these since the vinyl covering will help protect your floor from scratches.
  5. Jumprope: 10 calories per minute…simple, easy, effective cardio in a hurry!
  6. Bodylastics Resistance Bands: These are a great compliment or alternative to dumbbells and I love this Bodylastics set since it has many different levels of resistance. In fact, you can even stack a few together to really feel the burn! Plus it comes with door anchor attachments and the bands are super strong so you don’t have to worry about them breaking.
  7. Stability ball: Perfect for core work, sit on it for shoulder presses, lay down for chest work, prop your feet on it for pushups or use it against the wall for squats. It’s an inexpensive accessory that will really amp up your workouts!

My Workout “Stick-With-It” Secret …

My husband is quite adept with technology and I’m pretty happy some of it has rubbed off on me because all that nerdy goodness has not only improved my running but is also totally my secret to workout success.

I’ll be honest, sometimes instead of working out I would much rather just sit down on the couch and watch TV. So, here is where being a bit of tech nerd has totally changed my life. (I’m not overstating…I really love this thing that much!) Now instead of having to choose between 5 miles on the treadmill and the latest episode of Revenge I get to do BOTH!

There is a downloadable software called Roxio Toast Titanium (for both Mac and PCs) and it allows you to copy your DVDs  (ones you already own, of course:) into digital files onto your computer so you can watch your movies and TV shows on your iPad, iPod or iPhone. This is great… but my favorite thing about Toast is that if you have a Tivo you can transfer any Tivo’ed show from your Tivo onto your computer and then Toast converts them to digital files meaning you can load your favorite Tivo’ed shows right onto your  iPad, iPod or iPhone. (This may sound a little complicated but truth be told it is so simple and easy to do.) Think about it… you can watch everything on your Tivo playlist and burn off last night’s dessert.

I love this…not only do I get to catch up on the Teresa/Melissa drama on Real Housewives of New Jersey but I also really look forward to my runs! The best part is I can knock out long treadmill milage or extra time on the elliptical without even a hint of boredom creeping in since I’m glued to Project Runway for over a hour!

If you like to do your cardio indoors and you need just a little extra motivation to get you to or through your workouts I totally recommed downloading Toast and you can do that here. And if you already have a Tivo..it’s pretty much a must:)

Roxio Toast Titanium download link. 

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Fitness Fan On Your List (Or you!)

Fitness Gift Guide

Okay, I’m willing to admit I might be a little weird. Every year for Christmas I ask for some sort of fitness thing. One year it was a BOSU ball, then next it was boxing gloves and last year it was kettlebells and every December 26th I bring my new haul to the gym where I can’t wait to try it out. (Needless to say last year the 35 lb. kettlebell proved a little tricky:)  I think the holidays are a great time to ask for a few fitness things you’ve been eyeing but your practical side won’t let you buy for yourself. I’ve complied a few of my holiday must haves that are sure to make your workouts more fun and give you an edge when it comes time for those New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Valslides $30: Jennifer Garner and Jessica Biel’s trainer Valerie Waters uses these to whip her clients into shape for big movie roles. I am obsessed with using Valsides for killer core exercises and sliding lunges that totally tighten up your butt and thighs. Plus you can use them in your living room or pack them and take them anywhere!
  2. GymBoss Trainer $19.95: This is totally on my list this year. The Gymboss lets you set a repeating interval timer perfect for circuit training, intervals or running workouts. (Think 30 seconds on, one minute off) You don’t have to struggle to set your watch or look at it throughout your workout since Gymboss is small and clips onto your shirt.
  3. Foam Roller $34: If you’ve ever had sore muscles you have to get one of these. It will open up your back and  make those miles on your legs melt away. Simply a must for runners or, let’s be honest, anyone who uses a computer.
  4. TRX Training System $199: Oh I LOVE this thing!!! BTW so do Jennifer Lopez, Gisele Bundchen and Superbowl MVP Drew Brees. This is a complete gym in a bag. You can do thousands of exercises, take it anywhere ( all you need it a doorway or high place to anchor it) plus it’s only two pounds so you can totally pack it in your bag for business travel and vacations. This thing rocks I can’t say enough good things about it so I think I’ll just have to devote a later post and video to my TRX devotion so you can get the full effect. Bottom line…if you’re ok spending a little more money you must get thing. (Good news is you could probably give up your gym membership).
  5. Lululemon Triumphant Tote $118: Not only is this bag waterproof but it’s also made of material that won’t cause your Lulu pants to pill when it rubs against them. Plus I think carrying a cute bag is totally be motivation to hit the gym, right? This bag even has a laptop pocket so it’s business and pleasure!
  6. iPad 2 $499: All right, this is a big ticket item but if you’re thinking of one for Christmas I’ll tell you it is my workout secret. I load my favorite TV shows and movies onto the iPad and I actually look forward to my cardio sessions. Consider it a health care cost;)

Happy shopping!!!