Posts Tagged ‘review’

1671589-slide-fitbit-flex-black-3lights-72dpiOne of the main things on my birthday wishlist this year was a Fitbit Flex, and I was so excited when I opened it on July 2nd.  Apparently, my parents had quite a hard time buying one – it was sold out at Amazon and Best Buy, but they finally found it at Brookstone.  There are quite a few of these wristband activity monitors on the market, but the Flex was the newest, and I’d heard such good feedback about the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip, that I decided to give this one a try.  The $99 pricetag is a bit of an investment, but less expensive than a heart-rate monitor.

I’ve used the Flex for almost a month now, and overall, I’m really pleased with it.


Motivation: It has definitely spurred me on to get in a bit more activity in a day so that I can hit that golden 10,000 step goal I’ve given myself.  When I was in Sacramento for the teaching conference, I even went down to the motel gym at 9:30pm my first night and hopped on the elliptical machine for 15 minutes to make sure I hit my 10,000 step target, something I would have never done otherwise. I also love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I hit my 10,000 step goal.  This is the biggest factor in why I’ve been enjoying the Flex.

Easy to wear: When I had a BodyBugg, I hated that the armband would show under clothes or when I was wearing something with shorter sleeves or sleeveless.  It looked clunky and ugly.  With the Flex, it blends right in.  Someone looking at my wrist quickly would assume it’s a watch.  I’ve worn it paired with bracelets to a party and no one was the wiser.  I definitely see myself wearing this everyday without making any fashion faux pas.

Measurement: In my opinion, the Flex is an accurate measure of my activity, especially when walking.  I have been really surprised a few times by many steps I’ve actually gotten in a day.  The first time was when I was at the beach with my sister and our dogs – we walked walked along the beach and I ended up hitting 10,000 before we’d even packed up to go home.  I wouldn’t have given myself that much credit if I was calculating my activity on my own.  More recently my cousin and I went walking together along the Presidio in San Francisco, and before I knew it my wrist was vibrating (indicating I’d hit 10,000).  It was only 11am!  That was a great feeling, but I was a bit skeptical of the measurement, so I tracked out path, and found out that yes, we’d walked over 5 miles during our 2-hour session.  The Flex is a nice tool in getting a more accurate idea of how much I’m accomplishing in any given day.  I’ve even secured the Flex to my shoe when biking so that it can more accurately measure my “pedals,” and it seems to work well that way too.

Sleep: I wasn’t interested in this feature when I asked for the Flex, but it turns out to be something that’s pretty cool.  The Flex measures sleep activity, and I was very interested to find out that I am a highly effective sleeper.  Meaning that I take less than 10 minutes to fall asleep and once asleep, I am restless less than 1-2 minutes the entire night.  The hardest part with measuring the sleep is actually putting the wristband in Sleep mode before I fall asleep.  LOL.


Display: I wish the Flex interface was better.  Seeing 3 or 4 dots along the display of the wristband doesn’t really give me as much information as I’d like to have about how close I am to the 10,000 step target.  The display moves to 5 dots and vibrates when I’ve hit my goal.  But when I see four dots on the display, I have no idea if that means I’m at 7500 or 9500 steps.  I won’t know until and unless I take the time to sync it to my computer, which is easy enough, but not convenient when I’m on the go.

Measurement Per Activity: There’s no way to set the Flex to measure how many calories I’ve burned in a single time period, like when participating in a Zumba class, for instance.  When I had the BodyBugg, I could set it so that I’d see how many calories I burned in a certain time period, which was a great tool in measuring my progress.  The Flex doesn’t really do that.


This is my actual activity from Wednesday, July 24.

Sure, I can look at the Dashboard after I’ve synced it on the computer and add up each of the lines in a given time period and try to see how many calories I burned, but who has the time or patience for that?  Plus, that only works when I’m back at my computer.  It would be really nice to be able to know that on the fly.  (Supposedly the Flex can sync wirelessly with my iPhone via the app I’ve downloaded, but I have no idea how it works.  And I’m no neophyte when it comes to online gadgets, apps, etc.  This is another negative in my book…

Directions/Guidance: The Flex comes with no directions.  You have to go the Fitbit.com site the first time you activate it and follow their steps.  But finding out how to do things like sync it with the app or whether or not I should wear it in the pool, is not user friendly.  The message boards are somewhat helpful, but who wants to wade through that information?  And again, I’m someone who loves computers, gadgets, and apps.  This is my forte.  If I’m finding the lack of information upsetting, how about someone who is not a big computer user?

Price: Based on it’s functionality, I think the Flex is overpriced.  For what you get, I think $50-60 would be a much better price point.  The Flex is a glorified pedometer.


I’m really grateful that my parents bought me the Flex, and I have enjoyed it, but I do think that it’s a tool that I will outgrow quickly.  I’m still going to use it to measure my steps; for example, I’m very interested to see how many steps I put in during an average school workday.  If I had it to do over again, I might ask for the Nike Fuel Band, which displays the steps numerically on the band, offering real-time information.  But really, I think I’m more interested in the information that a Heart-Rate Monitor offers, so I think that will be my next purchase.  (If you use a HRM and have a recommendation, please let me know in the comments).

Since I use MyFitnessPal, I haven’t used the Flex’s Food Tracking tools at all, which is why they’re not mentioned in this review.

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Do you call a couple of months ago when I needed some advice about which color I should buy the Bloch Lightening shoes in? I really wanted the Multi, but they’d been out of stock so long on Zappos, that I finally broke down and decided to go with another color? Well, I’m so glad that I did.


I am LOVING the turquoise, yellow, green, and black combo!  They pair nicely with so many of the clothes I workout in, and they have just the right amount of pizzazz for Zumba shoes.

I wanted to try them out both in a class at the gym as well as at home for this review.  I can say that at first they’re really slippery, especially on my bamboo floors at home.  I felt like I was going to slide across the floor a few times that first evening.  They were better at the gym because those hard wood floors aren’t quite as smooth as mine at home.

The sole of the shoe has that unique pivot point near the ball of the foot that makes turns a breeze.  I’ve never been able to move as quickly as I have while wearing these shoes. I still may not be completely graceful (yet!), but I didn’t feel like the shoes were holding me back, as I used to wearing my Ascics or even my Reebok Flex. The right equipment makes all the difference in performance, and these shoes are no exception to that statement. I know I’m going to be a better Zumba participant now that I have the proper shoes.

These shoes are the opposite of clunky sneakers.  I love their lightness; I feel like I could dance all day in these shoes!  I’m not sure how they’d hold up for walking/running, but they’re meant as dance shoes, and that’s what I plan to do when I’m wearing them.  These are the go-to Zumba and U-Jam Fitness shoes, for sure.

I agree with the reviewers on Zappos who said that these shoes run small.  I originally bought the 8 1/2 (I normally wear an 8 in sneakers), but had to go up to a 9 for them to fit comfortably.  Now that I have the 9s though, I can say that these are really comfortable shoes, even with my recent by plantar fasciitis.

The price is great, too.  I picked them up for $66 on Zappos, and I know it’s going to be money well spent, because I’ll get a ton of use out of them.

All in all, I highly recommend these shoes.  I also recommend you buy them in person so you can try them on, or like I did, on Zappos, where you get free shipping both ways.


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 I got home late last night, around 8:30pm, and was so thrilled to discover that I had received the Wii Fit Plus in the mail yesterday!  I’d been looking forward to getting it every since Moralia first published a post about this new Wii game.

So even though I was dog-tired and beginning to be a bit sore (from Monday’s workout), I immediately changed into some workout clothes and hopped on my Wii balance board. 

The best part about this new version of the Wii Fit is that you can pre-select both the yoga and strength training categories so that you can do them consistently, rather than stopping between each one, as you have to do with the regular Wii Fit.  This made it so much easier to get into a rhythm and a routine!  It also helped me work up a bit of a sweat after some of them, which was great. 

After my 21 minutes doing the yoga and strength exercise, the trainer comes on the screen and gives you a bit of a rundown about how you did on all of the exercises.  So, I guess what it lacks in feedback about each individual exercise move, it adds in the fact that you can smoothly move from one exercise to the next. 

The locker room where you go to select the different Fit Plus Routines (aka exercises) was interesting.  It lets you target certain areas that you want to focus on and suggests the games (strength, cardio, balance, and yoga) that would fit into that area.  The categories are broken down into Lifestyle, Health, Youth, and Form. 

There are some really fun new balance games, and I tried two of them last night – Snowball Fight and Perfect 10 (this one was expecially fun, because I got to use my ample hips).  There are quite a few more that I’m looking forward to trying. 

And that’s the main point.  I was super tired last night, but I was so excited to try the new game that I spent 30 minutes burning calories and enjoying myself.  That’s the key to this game – it’s fun and because you enjoy it, you’ll be more likely to be active and do it, rather than just watching t.v. 

So, I’d highly recommend this new version.  It’s only $19.49 on Amazon, which is well worth it, in my opinion.  If you haven’t bought the Wii Fit yet, definitely get this Plus version over the regular Wii Fit.

 Sorry this picture quality is so bad.  I took it using my iPhone.

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I’ve had my Skechers Shape-Ups for about a week, and I wanted to wear them in a variety of settings before I wrote a review of them.

I’ve worn them:

  • walking around the store, just doing everyday errands.
  • on a power walk around the neighborhood.
  • at the gym, on the treadmill.
  • at the gym, on the elliptical machine.

Wearing them to walk around doing errands, I really didn’t notice much of a difference in my calf or shin muscles.  They do feel like your heel is sinking in the sand, which is a strange feeling at first, but something that I found easy to get used to.  I love the way the shoes look on me, and I like that they have a bit of a heel on them (because of the “technology”), so they make me a bit taller (always a plus!). Also, these shoes are incredibly comfortable to wear.  It’s like they have extra cushioning or something.  I could see myself wearing these to school on a Friday (when I usually dress more casually), because they would be great to wear while standing up all day in my classroom.

Wearing them power walking, I definitely noticed a bit more effort used in my calf muscles.  In fact, I found that I had to walk a bit slower so that I wasn’t in  too much pain.  I finished my walk feeling as if I had walked much farther and for much longer than I actually did, which I take as a good thing.  Because I’m putting forth more effort when wearing them, I’m getting a better workout.  At least, I hope so.

Wearing them Friday night at the gym to walk on the treadmill was basically the same as power walking with them outside.  Much more effort needed to walk, but in a good way.  I was getting a good workout.

Wearing them on the elliptical machine was very surprising.  It took me SO much more effort to work out on that machine wearing these.  I especially felt it when I moved backwards!  I could feel my thigh muscles really working, and I was quite sore Saturday morning, which was great.

So, I would highly recommend them.  I don’t plan on wearing them next week at the Golden Gate Bridge 5K, because I want to have a decent pace, and since I walk a bit slower with them, I’d rather not throw them into the mix for that type of activity.  But overall, it was money well spent.  Plus, they’re really cute; at least I think so.


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After a wonderful day spent with my sister, I was in a great mood, and absolutely felt like the cobwebs of blah were cast out of my head.

51gqvdxkmol_sl500_aa240_I felt so good, in fact, that I decided to finally try the Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga DVD I had purchased a few weeks ago.  I wasn’t in the mood for a full-on, heart-pounding workout, but I was ready to earn a few APs, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

As some of you know, I am a huge fan of Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga.  The main reason is because the poses are held for much longer.  I think the movements are much slower because of the heat, and thus, I can keep up really well.  I can’t make all of the poses, but I can do most of them pretty well.  I leave the yoga studio drenched, but feeling as if I have just had a great massage, or stepped out of a nice, warm bath.  Really relaxed and soothed. Plus, the next day I always feel that “good sore” in my abs.

The first thing that I really liked is that in the menu, you can customize your workout.  You can select which levels you want to add (from 1-3), as well as a warm up and cool down.  The times of each are listed on the side, so you know ahead of time exactly how much you’re in for.

Not knowing what to expect, I selected a warm up, the level one workout, and a cool down.  These totaled 30 minutes, which was a great amount of time for what I had in mind for this evening.

The warm up was awesome.  Lots of deep breaths and wide arm movements.  It got my blood flowing and made me feel alive, which is the point,  right? Then came the actual workout which was sort of a “flow” style of yoga.  You moved from pose to pose fairly quickly, and after just a few minutes, my breathing was definitely quick.  I didn’t really sweat, but my heart rate was elevated.  I really like the way Bob led the yoga class – just like any good instructor he was quick to say that wherever  you are (whatever you can do) is exactly where you should be for your body.  It takes the stress out of not being able to get into certain poses perfectly.  (I am a perfectionist at heart, and hate it when I can’t do the moves the way they show on the DVD). The cool down was completely relaxing and made you feel as if you had just accomplished something pretty awesome with your body.

Overall, I would say my fitness level is such that I should include at least level 1 and level 2 into my workout if I have the time.  Level 1 was nice, but it didn’t make me feel like I was really pushing myself that much.  (We’ll see if my muscles say differently tomorrow).   I only watched level 2, but it’s a great combo of yoga, pilates, and ab work.  This level is where you use the water ball that came with the kit I bought – I was wondering when that came into play.  (Level 2 lasts 15 minutes). Level 3 is yoga/strength training in which you do the yoga poses while holding light weights in your hands. (Level 3 lasts 10 minutes).   I almost feel as if I could do all three levels, but that might be going a bit overboard this early into it.

One thing I really liked about the DVD was that they had past BL contestants on it.  Different people were showing different levels of difficulty.  For example, Heba (season 6), Michele (season 6 winner), and Bernie (season 5 at-home winner) were doing more modified poses (less strenuous), while Ali (season 5 winner) was doing the most difficult poses, and even going beyond what Bob was doing (the showoff!).  (Seriously, Ali is a machine!  That girl is so ripped it’s amazing.  I’m so motivated by her.  She completely transformed herself, and she’s such an inspiration).  The nice thing about having different contestants at different levels was that you didn’t feel badly for not being able to get into the poses as well as someone like Ali.  There were people like Heba and Michelle to follow, and as long as I felt like I was doing the moves sort of like they were, I felt good about what I was able to do.

I would definitely recommend this DVD for those who want to incorporate yoga into their workout routines, but may not have the time (or money) to join a yoga studio.  The poses shown are fairly simple to get into in their modified version, yet difficult enough in the more strenuous version to really add a nice challenge for more advanced people. Plus, it’s so convenient to just pop a DVD into the player and get your workout on – no driving to the gym/yoga studio, waiting for the class to start, and then driving home.  The workout is ready to go whenever you are.

I think this yoga workout will be a nice compliment to a few of the other DVDs I’ve recently purchased.  Also, one of my friends who is a runner mentioned that once my trainings for the half marathon kick into gear I’ll probably want to do yoga just to soothe my sore muscles and stretch them out.


On a personal note, I have to say that I was really proud of myself for snapping out of my funk and getting in some activity tonight.  It would have been just as easy to come home and read a book or watch t.v., but I chose to do the DVD instead.  Making positive choices like that is a great example of the lifestyle changes I’m trying to instill.  This was definitely a (barefoot) step in the right direction.

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