Review: Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

lumo-lift-posture-activity-coach

Do you slouch? I know I do. I keep trying to remind myself to sit up straight because a) slouching is bad for you; b) I don’t want to end up looking like Gillian McKeith and c) um, let’s just stick with b, shall we? Flippancy aside though, there are more benefits to good posture than purely physical ones. If you stand up straight and walk tall, you’ll feel more confident and this should filter down into the way you act, for example, when using the phone, at job interviews and asking for a custom-made sandwich in Subway.

But what do to about it? You could stick a plank down the back of your top (please don’t do this while you’re ordering a sandwich in Subway. You’ll look weird), set an egg-timer to remind you to sit up straight, get a special chair that forces you to sit up, or you could buy a Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach. I know I don’t need much of a reason to get another gadget but buying a gadget which stops me looking like Gillian McKeith sounds like a damn good reason for buying one if you ask me (which, admittedly, you didn’t but, hey ho). I’m not sure it’ll ever give me the confidence to allow me to venture into a Subway again and relive the horror of being interrogated about what bread I want, what size I want it, what fillings I want, what salad I want and what sauce I want though. I only wanted a sandwich. I’ll stick to ordering pizza facelessly and silently online in the future.

As you’ve probably gathered, the Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach is a gadget that helps you to correct your posture.

Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

Sensor, strap clip, Windows dongle (supplied separately), magnets, charger

 

In the box is the sensor which you affix to your bra strap (hang on, men, I haven’t forgotten about you – bear with) with the supplied strap clip or – if bra-less – hold in place with one of the two supplied magnets. Personally, I don’t like the look of the magnets (although glitzy ones are available on the website, if glitzy things are your kind of thing), so I’ve been testing the Lumo Lift with the strap clip which is easy enough to put on and has a strong magnet and doesn’t fall off. These magnets are strong; this is why everything’s far apart in the photo. Any nearer and they gravitate or magnetate or whatever it’s called towards each other.

Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

Lumo Lift sensor

Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

Lumo Lift magnets

Once the sensor’s attached, it’s easy to align. Just stand up straight and double press it. It’ll buzz to let you know the coach has started. Each time you slouch, it’ll buzz to tell you. It buzzes a lot. I also found that it buzzed when I moved my arm up to drink a cup of tea so maybe I should have had it on the other side but then maybe it’d buzz each time I used the mouse, I don’t know. It also buzzed when I was making food but it’s easy enough to turn it off if you’re doing something where you won’t be sitting up straight – you just just press and hold.

I’m not really sure I got the hang of it, despite there not really being anything to get the hang of in the first place. But I get the impression it’s not something you keep on all day – just when you’re at your desk for a long period of time and want a reminder to unMcKeith yourself.

It’s also an activity tracker which will track your steps, distance and calories so if you want graphs and charts and statistics and stuff, then you can sync it with your iPhone and other iThings and find out how far you’ve walked and it’ll also tell you for how long you had good posture. Although, if you’ve got an ancient iPhone 4, like mine, you’ll need to get a Windows dongle, which is supplied separately.

Lumo Lift dongle

Windows dongle. Not actual size

 

lumo-charts

Must try harder.

 

Okay, I confess (don’t really have a choice, do I?) I haven’t used the Lumo Lift for a while but it’s a great way for those who have desk jobs and are in the habit of slouching to be reminded to sit up straight and I am going to try and get into the habit of using it.

For more information, visit the Lumo website.

 

Giveaway: Win a Case of DCOCO Coconut Water

DCOCO coconut water

Win a case of DCOCO 100% natural young coconut water

Coconut water has been touted as a good sports recovery drink for many years now and I’ve had cartons of it in race goody bags but, to be honest, I haven’t liked it much. But when DCOCO asked me if I wanted to try their 100% natural young coconut water, I thought I’d give it another go. Plus, as I’ve been making a lot of smoothies lately, I thought if I didn’t like it on its own, I could blend it with some fruit. I’d imagine it’d be great with some pineapple and strawberry. Or sod the strawberry and stick some rum in it and make a piña colada instead.

As it happened, I found DCOCO coconut water perfectly nice to drink after a visit to the gym. I haven’t tried it in a smoothie yet but I have, however, used it in a recipe for raw chilli crackers (which you can see on my Planet Veggie blog).

Dehydrated raw crackers

Raw chilli crackers

What makes DCOCO unique to other coconut water brands is that it’s the UK’s first 100%  natural young coconut water and never uses concentrates, preservatives or mature coconuts.

The only downside really is that the bottles are made of glass, so you probably won’t want to carry them around with you in case they break and you end up with coconut-aroma’d kit (although, let’s face it, that would be preferable to Powerade-aroma’d kit). On the upside though, at least being glass means they’re easy to recycle.

DCOCO coconut water

Giveaway: Win a case of 12 bottles of DCOCO 100% Natural Young Coconut Water 

If you’d like to win a case of 12 x 210ml bottles of DCOCO, simply leave a comment below and I’ll pick a winner after the closing date of Midnight, Saturday 16 May 2015.

UK entries only.

 

Janathon Winners Announced!


Janathon winner

Well done to everyone who won a prize and thank you for taking part in Janathon (and a special thank you to those of you who have done what must seem like flipping billions of them but keep coming back for more).

Those of you who won – you’re under absolutely no obligation to do this but if you did want to share the above image and blog/tweet your thanks to the companies who donated the prizes, that would be nice. Just saying, like.

Anyway, as you were. Here are the winners.

Audiofuel running tracks

Tim Hodson

Beer from Country Life Brewery

Lena Conlin

2 bottles of Beet-It shots

Anke

Handmade bracelet by Corinna Korrubel

Tim Hodson

Online detox class from Mission Lean & Clean 

Carla Greer

21 day detox recipe book from Mission Lean & Clean

Lucy Jiwa

Case of drinks from Everything But The Cow

Stuart Walker

Box of Ener:Gels

Julian James
Angela White
Ruth Rouse
Helena Romanowska
Stuart Walker
Keith Jenkins

A pair of Firefly knee straps

Catherine Henderson

A box of Fuelify nutritious snacks

Freya Rodger

Helly Hansen top and tights

Dave Thomas

Fat Burn Revolution book by Julia Buckley

Ruth Rouse

A pair of shoes from New Balance

Laura Dryden

Thanks again for taking part and thanks to all the generous brands and companies and people for their donations.

 

 

 

 

The JogBlog DIY Hot Soup Dash

Five years ago, I took part in the Isle of Oxney Hot Soup Dash (now called the more descriptive, but not as pretty, Tenterden 5). It was cold, wet and windy, with a never-ending hill in the middle, but they gave us soup at the end and I will always run for soup.

I had planned to do it again this year but I’ve been reviewing a Bodychef diet plan over on my Planet Veggie blog and, as well as running for soup, I also run for roast lunch and beer and, unsurprisingly, no matter how hard I studied the diet sheets, nowhere did I see roast lunch and beer mentioned.

So, I decided to do my own 5 miler here and have a cup a soup after. I told Facebook I might even make myself a medal.

My run was slow and muddy (made slower by the interruption half way by Shaun checking up on me on his mountain bike on his way out to buy some eggs but, let’s be honest, I don’t really need much of an excuse to stop running) but the weather was perfect – not too cold, sunny-ish and barely any wind.

After a shower and some dicking around on Facebook, it was time to make my lunch, which – with it being the Hot Soup Dash – had to involve some cup a soup. I made it in my new Helly Hansen mug which is black-ish when it’s cold.

Helly Hansen mug sans soup

Helly Hansen mug sans soup

and reveals a picture when hot liquid is added.

Souped up mug

Souped up mug

As you’d expect from a Helly Hansen mug, it has pictures of sporty things, like this girl out running who, if you look at it from far away and squint between a tiny gap in your fingers, could be mistaken for me running through Ashford.

Will run for soup

Will run for soup

And yes, I made myself a medal, too.

JogBlog bespoke medals are available by arrangement

JogBlog bespoke bling is available for commission

I’m going to send this off to the London Marathon medal design dudes. They’ll be sure to commission me to make theirs in the future.

Stats

Race: The JogBlog Hot Soup Dash
Distance: 5 miles
Pace: sloooooooooooooow
Interruptions by Shaun going to buy eggs: 1
Cup a soups: 1
Bespoke medals: 1

Daisy Print Running Tights? Oh Yes!

On the way to the pub after the Ashford & District 10k a couple of weeks ago, Helen and I stopped to look in the window of Sports Direct (don’t ask me why this was more important than the pub. We must have been feeling athletic after our race or something) and I saw a jacket I had been eyeing up a few months ago had been reduced in price so we went in to have a look.

The jacket wasn’t the same jacket I thought it was but look what I found instead.

USA Pro daisy print running tights

Don’t cha wish your running tights were hot like these?

DAISY PRINT TIGHTS, BABY!!!! They were £17.99, which is more than I’d usually want to pay in Sports Direct, but… you know… daisies…

Flower print running tights

Stop looking at the mess behind me. Nosy.

I went for a run in them today and they’re thick and comfy but they don’t have a drawstring and they do slip down a bit, although not as much as some tights I’ve worn in the past so they’re okay to run in but may be better suited to the gym.

You can buy similar ones in Tesco for £14, although they’re a lot thinner. I was tempted to buy some when I saw them the other day but I’d already bought my SD ones but yesterday when I went into Tesco, I bought some fab bright pink and black ones which I’ll model for you another time.

I bought my daisy print tights in-store at Sports Direct, but here’s the link if you want to buy some online.

Isn’t great that we can get tights more interesting than plain black now?

 

Octane Zero Runner Review – No Impact Running

Octane Zero Runner

Octane Zero Runner – sold exclusively at Fitness Superstore

 

Back in 2007, I ran on a treadmill for 90 minutes. Because of the impact on my joints, this caused an injury which left me barely able to walk for about two months and, as any runner can tell you, getting over a running injury can take time. Lots of time. So, my advice to you is to not run for 90 minutes on a treadmill (unless you’re a nutter called Phil Anthony who ran 100km on a treadmill in 6 hours and beat the world record. Sorry – did I say ‘nutter’? I meant ‘superhero’). Obviously it’s not just treadmills that can cause an injury – road running puts a lot of pressure on your joints, too, and so the folks at Octane Fitness invented the Zero Runner.

As the name suggests, it’s a running machine with zero impact on your joints. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a cross between a treadmill and a cross-trainer though – it’s not. The Zero Runner has mechanical hip and knee joints that replicate human biomechanics in running and the user controls the motion, with the Zero Runner following the runner’s movement.

It’s been around for a while in the US and has now been brought to the UK, where it’s sold exclusively by Fitness Superstore, who invited me to come along to one of their stores for a demo.

On my arrival at the Tunbridge Wells store, the manager, Malcolm, greeted me, along with Ricky who set me up on the Zero Runner and talked me through it. The first thing I noticed about the Zero Runner is its size. Considering it’s for home use (you won’t find them in gyms), it’s a big machine, but, as Malcolm pointed out, compared to a treadmill – which are a few feet long – the Zero Runner’s footprint is actually quite small. On the plus side though, because it’s self-powered there’s no motor which means there’s no need to plug it in which in turns makes it quiet while also not increasing your energy bills.

Smartlink app from Octane Fitness

Smartlink app from Octane Fitness

You can link up the Zero Runner to Octane Fitness’ free SmartLink app on your iPad and set up programs and workouts and watch videos that will walk you through everything. If you don’t have an iPad, as you’d expect, the Zero Runner has a console that shows basic stats such as pace, speed, calories burnt, distance, etc. It also has wireless heart rate technology for Polar, ANT+ and Bluetooth.

Octane Zero Runner console

Octane Zero Runner console

So, what is it like to use? After a quick demo from Ricky, I hopped on to the Zero Runner and tried to make the paddles move and failed. I ended up kind of scissoring my legs without bending my knees. I asked Ricky how long it takes to get used to it and he said it’s usually around a minute or so, so I persevered for a while longer before jumping off and asking Malcolm (Ricky had gone to help a customer) to show me how it’s done. This time I paid more attention to his leg movements and when I went back on for another go, I quickly got into the swing of it. As I mentioned above, the Zero Runner isn’t like a cross-trainer. It doesn’t move for you – you make it move and it follows your movements and, once you realise you can make a natural running movement, it’s really effective.

When I’d finished my demo, I was so impressed I wanted one. Space is at an issue at the moment with the conservatory (where the rest of the home gym equipment is) currently being used as storage for kitchen stuff (the kitchen’s currently being demolished/decorated) but also The Zero Runner isn’t cheap at £2,699 at the time of writing. No decent piece of gym equipment is cheap though and this is a multi-purpose machine which, as well as a running machine, can be used as a cross-trainer (you can change the resistance on the arms) and skiing machine. You can also strength train on it with the included resistance band which can be attached at 7 points.

Strength training workout on the Smartlink app

Strength training workout on the Smartlink app

To summarise,

Pros:

Zero impact to protect your joints
Replicates road running
Fully customisable flexible stride options
Ideal for runners who want to avoid injury or are coming back from injury
Great supplement to outdoor training
Multi-functional
No motor/quiet
No energy bills
More fun than a treadmill

Cons:

It’s a big machine
I can’t afford one

To see the Zero Runner in use by someone who knows what they’re doing, watch this video.

The Zero Runner is exclusive to Fitness Superstore. To arrange a demo at one of their stores in Leeds, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Frimley, Gloucester or Northampton, contact them on 01604 673000 or visit their website at www.fitness-superstore.co.uk/zero-runner for more information.

The Bells, The Bells…

Hark! Is that the sound of bells heralding the end of Janathon? Why, I do believe it is. Unless you haven’t done yours yet – in which case, GET OUT THERE YOU LAZY SLACKER.

I know I’ve been the slackest of you all and it’s such a shame as, in the first week of Janathon, I HAD ALL THE ENERGY. Yes, all the energy, even yours. Then it went. Gone. My energy kaputted itself out of existence. Bye bye energy. It briefly came back over the last couple of days and I would have made more of an effort today if I hadn’t spent the day saving escaped bunnies, being a plumber’s assistant and making up stupid names for cottage pie.

But I did do some kettlebells later on in the day. Here they are.

The bells, the bells... (Yes, I know... I already made that joke)

The bells, the bells… (Yes, I know… I already made that joke)

So… thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s Janathon – I hope you enjoyed it and reached your personal goals whether that was to do one mile without stopping or to do one hundred miles over the month (or to do 400-odd like that nutter in Australia). Thanks also to those of you who took part in the DGDVC and I’ll embed the videos into a blog post some time next week and let the public vote for their favourite. If you haven’t done a DGDVC but still want to give it a go, feel free to send a youtube link to me over the next few days and I’ll add it.

Special thanks to Deputy Helen for being Deputy and helping to arrange some of the prizes and – more importantly – accompanying me to drink wine and eat pizza. But because we’re so hardcore, Helen and I haven’t even finished Janathon yet, as we’re doing a 10k tomorrow.

Wish us luck!

Review: Polar Loop

Polar Loop

Considering my original review was going to consist of simply, ‘Fuck it, can’t be arsed’, the Polar Loop is my new favourite glorified pedometer (also known as wearable tech).

So, what caused my initial angst and frustration?

This, that’s what.

Adjusting the wrist band on the Polar Loop

Meccano meets wearable tech

Before you can play with your new toy, unless you have wrists as big as your thighs, you’re going to have to cut the wristband down to size and reassemble the buckle with pins and stuff. I spent about a quarter of an hour trying to get the damn buckle on before feeling like I was auditioning for a job at Timpsons and giving up and throwing it at Shaun when he got home to put together. Shaun, of course, put it together in about thirty seconds (after re-cutting down the buckle three more times – the measuring guide that comes with it isn’t accurate).

After it was ready to use, I started to really like it. While it was charging, I had a play on the Polar Loop website and found out I could stalk people all over the world.

Polar Loop world map

Been spendin’ most their lives, livin’ in the stalka’s paradise

You can zoom in on any of those little dots in squares and see where people have been running and cycling and walking and stuff. When I say ‘zoom in’, I mean ‘zoom in’. You can click on any of the people who appear in the column on the right hand side and click on ‘relive’ and it’ll replay their activity. RIGHT FROM THEIR HOUSE AS VIEWED IN STREETVIEW. Blimey. I clicked on a local man and had a nose (if you’re reading this, hello, you have a nice house) at his house and said ‘ooh’ when I was taken past the park in which the local parkrun is held. Obviously, it would be a rather sad person who – when given a zoomable map of the world to play with – only stalked their local area, so I also had a nose at a man called Igor in Russia. Russia seems rather bleak, I must say. I thought I’d get some marathon tips from a Kenyan, but the only person I could find near Kenya was called Keith. Cue disappointed face.

I should point out that all my stalkees had Polar-something-elses, not Loops, so you can’t relive your Loop steps on here, as it’s not a GPS device, but if you want to spend some time looking at the beautiful lake a girl in Tanzania ran round, then you can fill yer boots on the Polar website. I should probably also point out that it’s not the whole route that’s replayed in Streetview, just the beginning and a couple of points in between.

Anyway, enough about Igors and Keiths, what’s the Loop like? I love it. What I especially love about it is that it also functions as a watch and if it wasn’t for my Bounts points* that my FitBit and Jawbone UP collect for me (Bounts isn’t linked to the Polar Loop), I’d ditch those and just use the Loop instead.

The Polar Loop has a clear LED display which can be tapped to show different screens: Time, calories, steps, activity, and to do (which shows you what you can do to reach your daily target).

As with all these wearable tech thingies, you’ll have access to the bit we all love the most – yes, I’m talking about stats. We all love stats, don’t we? All those pretty charts and graphs and, um, inactivity stamps to humiliate you.

Stats and stuff

It’s low because I take it off when I wear my Garmin. I can only wear so many pieces of tech at once.

Ignore the bit about sleep – I haven’t set it to monitor my sleep, unless it knows when I’m asleep.

The activity stamps of shame

The inactivity stamps of shame

To sum up then; if you want a multi-purpose bit of wearable tech with the added bonus of stalking people all over the world, then the Polar Loop’s for you. As with all these things, there’s an accompanying app but only for iPhone 4s upwards (and some Android devices), which meant as I only have a lowly iPhone 4, I couldn’t play with this. Whatever happened to backward compatibility, huh? Still, there’s plenty on the website to keep you occupied if you haven’t got a compatible smartphone.

Thanks to LV for sending me the Polar Loop to review.

*Points add up really quickly on Bounts – I’ve just ordered my fifth £5 supermarket voucher. If you sign up with my referral code (white1136), we’ll both get 100 points. Hurry though, Bounts are going to start charging for membership soon – at the moment it’s free and will stay free for anyone who signs up before they start charging. Although you can’t link to the Polar Loop (they keep adding stuff though, so they might in the future), you can link your account to FitBit, Jawbone UP, Strava, MapMyRun and plenty of other apps and gadgets.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing (or whatever the saying is)

‘Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you’, sang Crowded House. This isn’t a sentiment I entirely agree with as, although, yes, it would be nice to bring back a bit of sun from your summer holiday, all those English people lazing about by the pool in Barbados in December won’t be best pleased if you rock up after your long haul flight from the UK with a bit of British cold wet winter weather, will they?

So, no. Don’t take the weather with you everywhere you go. Instead, dress for the weather you currently have. Take this morning, for example. Although the sky was clear and blue and, from the warmth of my centrally-heated room, the world outside my window could almost have been mistaken for summer, I knew it was going to be cold outside and I’d promised Facebook I’d go for a run (mostly to stop The Running Goth picking on me by calling me a slacker every three minutes) and so I needed to dress appropriately. Hello, thermal top from Blackspade.

Yes, I'm holding my stomach in

Yes, I’m holding my stomach in

This top is lightweight, comfy, warm, has a high neck (if you like that kind of thing – personally, I don’t like things round my neck so I undid the zip a bit) and, as you can see, is quite long and stays in place.

This isn't me, but you probably new that

This isn’t me, but you probably knew that

I also wore it out walking a couple of weeks ago (you can see a pic of the pretty countryside in which I walked here) underneath a body warmer and it kept me warm then, too.

I changed out of my slippers and put walking boots on, honest

I changed out of my slippers and put walking boots on, honest

I’d also wear it out cycling so, all in all, it’s a versatile top. If you would like a top like this, in the absence of anyone bringing back some winter sun to warm you up, the Blackspade Winter Thermal Sports Top is available from Amazon (this link takes you to one which is identical except there’s no zip on the neck).

And remember kids, ignore what Crowded House say and don’t take the weather with you – leave it where it is.

Shamed Into Blogging

The Running Goth has outed me at least three times in different places over the last couple of days for slacking, so before she finds anywhere else to shame me,  here’s an update.

On looking at my Running Free Online calendar, it’s not as bad as I thought. Okay, so the blogging perhaps maybe kind of a little titchy tiny bit slightly got a tad slack but I have sort of done some exercise. Look.

rfo-19Jan I think the 10 minutes last Monday must have been some kettlebells, the 4 miles on Wednesday was, in fact, a 6 mile walk in the countryside (my Garmin doesn’t like pausing too often and when it does it robs me of my mileage. Stupid Garmin). This countryside, to be specific.

countryside

The bike ride on Friday was cycling to the station before I went pizza-making with Helsbels where we put in further Janathon effort by kneading the dough for our pizzas. It counts. Shut up.

waitrose-pizza

The bike ride on Saturday was me cycling home after the pizza-making class, after midnight.

Okay, so I was slack last week – I admit it and I did annoy myself by being so slack but after such a promising start to Janathon where I had an immense amount of energy, that energy just seemed to disappear last week.

I promise to do better this week.

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