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Take a few minutes to stop and care for your mental health, too. (c) Styled Stock Society

As you’ve probably noticed, the situation with COVID-19, our novel coronavirus, is very fluid. That’s unsettling in and of itself. People generally like stable situations, not constant flux. People generally don’t like change. Some people (like me) don’t like not having control. All of these can leave you feeling a bit lost and adrift, especially in the sea of misinformation that is the internet. (That’s before we even think about turning on a news broadcast!)

Plus it’s not a “fun” flux. We’re not getting happy news or pleasant surprises. Waiting for more shoes to drop is enough to make anyone anxious. On top of that we are supposed to practice social distancing, which largely means “stay home.” For those of us who get our social needs met at work and other activities, this can lead to loneliness or depression on top of anxiety. Even for dyed-in-the-wool introverts.

Please note that I am not a licensed counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other flavor of qualified mental health practitioner. PLEASE seek professional help immediately if you are in crisis!

Resources for Crisis and Immediate Need

Feelings of scarcity around money and food can be eating disorder triggers. Some resources:

These are definitely not the only resources available–a quick Google search may help you locate something more appropriate. (I welcome comments below with the equivalent services in your country or location.)

Even a short pause during the day to clear your mind can help. (c) Styled Stock Society

Stressed, Depressed, Anxious?

Many Americans are feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious due to the current situation with COVID-19. I’m writing this to provide a collection of potential resources to those feeling stressed or anxious. General mental hygiene advice is good, but it is easy to dismiss as out-of-touch with the current reality. Here are some people and organizations to keep an eye on during this time, following by a list of articles you might find helpful.

VirusAnxiety.com is the very first resource I found that attempts to address mental health and well-being specifically related to COVID-19. Because it is easy to remember, I’ve been splattering it everywhere. I find the simple layout of the site soothing.

Grokker (the fitness app/streaming service) has put together a free course on COVID-19 Coronavirus Prpeparedness. It is a sane guide to fact-based knowledge, no hype at all. One of the videos is dedicated to reducing stress and anxiety. It’s free, and you don’t need a grokker account to watch.

Xen Strength. Founder Danielle Diamond is offering a free guided meditation with full-body relaxation. You can access it online here.

Marie Forleo is a force of nature, and a woman I admire greatly. How many people do you know who have been Reebok dance professional and go on to run a business empire?? Her collection of resources is called “Coronavirus Support Guide: How to Stay Strong & Navigate This Time Together.” It has a curated collection for several topics, including stress and anxiety, “feel good” stuff, how to work from home, how to educate and entertain your kids, and how to serve your community. The comments section is also worth a read. Something for everyone.

Brendan Burchard is also a force of nature (and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him on video talking to Marie!). He recently did a live stream focused on leadership and keeping focus while the COVID-19 situation develops. These are specifically geared towards people who are coaches, or in leadership positions, but I think anyone would find them valuable. “Coronavirus Response: Fear, Focus and Forecasting.” This is more of a tough-love approach.

Ramit Sethi the author and speaker, is hosting “Fireside Chats” every night at 8:30 pm eastern in IG live https://www.instagram.com/ramit He has a list of topics posted on his Instagram, with more to come.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have some resources. They are largely aimed at specific populations. I found them a bit dry, but I didn’t click through to the children’s activities.

5 Ways to Manage Your Anxiety During the Coronavirus Outbreak.”  https://www.shape.com/syndication/coronavirus-anxiety? Valuable advice includes limiting your media diet and realizing that it is actually okay to be worried. (Everyone is worried a little bit, even if they are not anxious!). A quick read.

“How to Cope with Anxiety—Now, in 60 Minutes, and Long Term.”https://greatist.com/health/how-to-cope-with-anxiety This is more of a how to do it article, with a list of suggestions, but also instructions on how to execute them. It doesn’t just advise you to “breathe deeply” but instead offers a specific step-by-step. There are linked resources for apps, articles, and citations (backing claims with sources).

Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a website with a specific page dedicated to COVID-19. There are links to a bunch of different essays, news articles where members are quoted, and links to resources on PTSD. A number of resources specifically address talking to teens and children.

American Psychological Association has a podcast episode specific to COVID-19. The guest is “Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on public perception of risk and human judgment and decision-making. He explains why we worry about new risks more than familiar ones, how to calm our anxiety and what are the psychological effects of being quarantined.”

AHA Voices for Healthy Kids. https://voicesforhealthykids.org/internal/coronavirus-covid-19-resources-you-can-use They describe this collection as a “list of coronavirus resources from our partners and grantees on the frontlines of helping families in underrepresented communities:”

“49 things to do if you’re staying at home due to Coronavirus.”https://medium.com/@neilpasricha/49-things-to-do-if-youre-staying-home-due-to-coronavirus-19b9e47a3cfe This list includes both adult thinks (like reading a long but worthwhile book) and kid-friendly ones, like making a pillow fort. There are links to online resources (the most popular TED talks of 2019, anyone?).  Many of these ideas are about establishing new habits, which seems like a good idea when your entire daily routine has been shot to hell.

“21 Productive Things to Do Today” https://www.urbandaddy.com/articles/43291/21-productive-things-to-do-today The subtitle promises that each one is “social distancing approved.” Some of these are humorous, but all are things you can actually do. Some are short (donate to your favorite charity) others are longer-term projects like learning a foreign language. This is a short, quick read.

“COVID-19: Tips for Working Remotely And Combating Stress.”https://www.lizandmollie.com/blog/2020/3/12/covid-19-tips-for-working-remotely-and-combating-stress Yes, in 2020 it is much more common for people to “telecommute” than it was back when I was growing up in the 1980s. That doesn’t mean all of us know how to do it. Personally, I thought it would be much easier than it has turned out to be. This article has 7 suggestions to help those of us who are new to this way of working. (Heck, I don’t even have an office! I’m working from the sofa and dining table!)

“11 Tips for Staying Calm During the Time of the Coronavirus.” https://gretchenrubin.com/2020/03/10-tips-for-staying-calm-during-coronavirus Gretchen Rubin’s article goes well with a mug of warm tea or a mocha, in my mind. Some of the tips are standard fare (connect with friends and family, reach out to others to help you feel less isolated) but are, of course, sincere. My favorite tip is to tidy up, because even though it makes no actual sense, that has always made me less anxious. (Also since I just moved in November, and have a few projects going on, my house is in a shambles and needs it!)

“9 Ways to Make Working From Home More Joyful”https://www.aestheticsofjoy.com/2020/03/9-ways-to-make-working-from-home-more-joyful/ Whether you love working from home or resent being pushed out of your office, here are a few ways to make your working day better. Getting some sunshine has really helped me out.

“4 Tips for Not Touching Your Face, Since It’s So Hard To Stop.”https://www.shape.com/syndication/how-to-stop-touching-your-face? Why do we touch our own faces? I don’t know, but I know I do it too. It’s one of those things they tell you NOT to do as a kid, again again when you’re a tween or teen and your face breaks out. But it sems like we do it all the time without even noticing!

Can you find a few minutes in your day to unplug and unwind? (c) Styled Stock Society

How are you caring for your mental health?

What are your go-to practices and resources?

Disclosure: I’m sharing these resources because I want to encourage you to STAY HOME. The links provided below are not affiliate links. I am a paid subscriber of some of these services, but I’m not getting any kick-back or brownie points or whatever for sharing about them. I have not excluded services I haven’t tried.

Stick inside? Get Your Workout ON! (c) Styled Stock Society

As of Wednesday last week, I was kinda non-plussed about people fleeing the gym. For one, COVID-19 isn’t transmitted through sweat. For two, at least at a gym I have access to wipes (unlike at the grocery store). Here’s the thing though, if you are going to go to a gym–and really, you shouldn’t–“be under no illusion. These are places where germs and bacteria of all kinds can thrive[.]” That’s true of the gym, that’s true of your CrossFit box, that’s true of every flavor of studio from aerial to zumba.

(By the way, have you seen my two prior posts? Here’s an easy click-through: (1) Don’t Panic, Do Act Responsibly. (2) A Practical Guide to COVID-19.

Initial steps are NOT enough to protect you. My inbox has been aflutter with emails during the past week, promising extra deep-cleaning of the studio, asking people to bring their own yoga mats and props (offering discounts to help people acquire these), limiting class size, spacing the in-use reformers and megaformers further apart, and more. It is really tough for a small business to close, especially when they have staff and teachers they are worried about. But these measures are not enough, and even the ordinarily irrelevant Yoga Alliance has recommended studios close.

Using lots of wipes is NOT enough. As you should know, the COVID-19 virus is primarily spread by “droplets.” Like when a person who has the virus coughs. Here’s what we know:

  • Asymptomatic people can spread the virus. This means you can give the virus to other people before you know you have it. It takes 2-14 days before you start to show symptoms.
  • Best practice is to stay 6′ away from others. This is an OSHA recommendation (see page 7).
  • We don’t know how long COVID-19 remains in the air under normal conditions.
  • We don’t know how long COVID-19 remains alive on hard surfaces (machines, dumbbells, etc. that are not cleaned after exposure). Some articles are guessing 3 days, but that might be optimistic; other viruses in the coronavirus family can last up to 9 days.

Today I’m focused on streaming fitness. That’s anything online, or available via Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Prime or Amazon Fire. (Initially I said I wasn’t doing apps, but some streaming services are also apps, so…yeah, I started to add them in.)

Support Small Businesses First

Yes, there are some large corporately-structured gyms and studios. Please remember that many of these that you see as “big corporations” are actually franchises–meaning your local location is owned by an individual member of your community (or a small business). I am not personally familiar with what type of financial assistance or relief is available to franchisees, but I do know that many of them will be forced to shut their doors.

Speaking of shutting their doors, yoga and fitness studios are taking a hit. If your local studio is closed, please support them if you can. This means (1) supporting and sharing any online offerings, and (2) keeping your membership active, even if there are no classes to attend. If you’re taking a hit financially and can’t afford to help, no worries. If you’ve got $5 or $20 and appreciated the option, please support your local and other small-businesses.

You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to work out at home (c) Styled Stock Society

Free and Low-Cost Options:

Please Donate to Local Studio Offerings if You Are Able

Below are the free and low-cost options I am aware of as of Monday, March 16, 2020. If you know of others, please leave a comment. Due to my current schedule, I can’t promise to keep this updated. They are listed in no particular order, though I have put the locally-owned but closed studios I know about at the top.

Get creative. You do not need any gym, studio, or streaming service to get your workout on at home. Running on the Fly has some suggestions for you!

The Yoga Space. This is a locally-owned studio in Portland, Oregon. They will be offering livestream classes at theyogaspace.live This is being offered as a free gift to the greater community for the first few weeks, and then will be made available as a benefit for members and for individual class purchase. Confirmed classes so far are Tuesday, 4pm PDT (Vinyasa with Allison Duckworth) and 6pm PDT (Intermediate Vinyasa with Ian LeMasters). The Yoga Space is posting updates on their Instagram account @theyogaspace

Flex & Flow. This is a locally-owned yoga and HIIT studio in Portland, Oregon. During the closure, they are offering free livestreams via Instagram. Please donate if you can to help keep the teachers paid and the studio open. https://www.fitapproach.com/ffy for details

Hot Pot Studios. This is a locally-owned dance studio in Sacramento, CA. They currently have a dance class scheduled for Wednesday March 18 at 7:45 pm PDT. Here is their message: “Hey Y’all believers in Science who are staying home: We are getting our Dance Party on with an anti apocalypse I.T.S. Jam! @sarah_unmata Has set up the Virtual Classroom Join Sarah & April Via Zoom Classroom on Wednesday 3/18 $10 for one hour of Dance 7:45pm pacific time via PayPal Sign up by pm [see facebook link] or email April hollon verbatim at gmail dot com Where’s the money go? To cleaning supplies and the utility bills, helping the studio survive the social distancing. https://www.facebook.com/hotpotstudios/photos/a.150142574997245/3122173151127491/?type=3&theater

Tiffany Gustafson. What does a trainer do when you can’t train in person? Hop on a virtual platform and offer affordable group training. Here are two offerings: https://www.lubbdubb.io/class/hiit-it-and-quit-it-30-minute-workout/LXw1h7Dt9 https://www.lubbdubb.io/class/strength-circuit/LXw1h7Dt9 All class times are PDT. Can’t make these? Follow Tiffany on Instagram.

Soul Yoga. This is one of those small, local yoga studios that is closed. Like many studios, it is trying to jump online as fast as possible. Classes are free, but how about throwing in a donation so they can stay in business through this? https://www.soulyogafenton.com/online-content

Love Hive Yoga. This is a locally-owned studio in Portland, Oregon that has responsibly shut the doors temporarily. Please check their website for updates on streaming classes and how to support them, and enjoy free videos until they can stream: https://www.lovehiveyoga.com/

The Bhakti Shop. This is another Portland, Oregon studio. Online recorded classes are $3 (that’s right, Three Dollars) or $15 for a month subscription. Check out their portal. They are also working to livestream their classes, and you can learn more about that over here. Finally, download a 3 minute meditation here.

Derek Beres yoga. Equinox is closed, and Derek is offering live stream classes on his YouTube channel. Classes are free, donations are appreciated. Please find more details, including a schedule, here: http://www.derekberes.com/yoga/

Athletes for Yoga. In addition to the 14-day free trial, Athletes for Yoga is offering 50% off your first month. Essentially, you get 6 weeks for like $5. Here’s how to do it: go to athletesforyoga.com Use code HOMESTUDIO when you create your account. In addition, there’s a free recovery meditation here: https://video.athletesforyoga.com/videos/recovery-visualization

Grokker. Grokker is free through April 30. Classes include yoga, meditation, indoor cycling, pilates, and more. After April 30, regular price is $14.99/ month (and I’m sure there is a yearly subscription discount, I just can’t find it). grokker.com Grokker also added a COVID-19 Coronavirus Preparedness program that is FREE to everyone, and you don’t need a Grokker account to watch it.

Down Dog App. All of their programs are free until April 1. https://www.downdogapp.com/

The Craft of Teaching Yoga/Yoga with Adrienne. Free online rituals. The first one is Wednesday March 18; follow them on Instagram and Facebook to find out about future options.

Glo.com (formerly YogaGlo). An offering of some free yoga, pilates, and meditation are on offer for free: https://glo.com/FromOurHearts

Now Foods Ambassadors. NOW has compiled a range of workouts from their wellness ambassadors. You can find the collection here. All free.

YouTube. Since anyone can post here, the workout options are definitely a mixed bag; some are clearly trained exercise professionals, others are scary and dangerous. Most of the trainers and channels you’ve heard of (PopSugar fitness, Leslie Sansone, Les MIlls, anyone who has released a DVD series) have a decent offering from 10 to 60 minutes.

General Online Resources

Below are a list of general online options to get your sweat on. Not all of these have a special deal going on, but they do have a free trial period. If you are clever, you can work out for free for quite some time before you commit to just one. These are presented in no particular order. If you usually support a local studio please go back when the threat of COVID-19 has passed!! Please note that streaming services sometimes offer coupons, discount codes, or other deals (e.g. subscribe for a year and save). I don’t have all that information for every service 🙂

Yoga can be a workout, but it can also help ease your mind during stressful times. (c) Styled Sock Society

Yoga

The Yoga Collective. Offers a 15-day free trial. Regular prices is $15/month. www.theyogacollective.com

Yoga International. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price is approx. $20/month, though you can save up to 50% by paying for a year in advance. www.yogainternational.com

Glo.com. Formerly known as YogaGlo. Offers a 15-day free trial. Regular price sis $18/month when you register through glo.com or $22.99/month if you register through the Glo app (because then iTunes manages the subscription); you get the same content either way. Hosts a number of big-name/famous yoga teachers. www.glo.com

Gaia. Offers a 1-week free trial. Regular price is $11.99/month. If you choose an annual membership, you pay $99 each year ($8.25/month). Gaia also offers a “Live Access” option at $299/year (or $24.92/month) with online workshops, live chats, and other benefits. Like Glo, there are lots of big-name teachers here. www.gaia.com

Yoga Download. If you go to the site a pop-up will offer you a free video. Unlike other sites, some of the Yoga Download classes are available to download, not stream. That means you get to keep them even if you cancel your subscription. Regular pricing is $12/month (2 downloads, unlimited streaming); $18/month (unlimited downloads); $120/year. They also offer 3-month and 6-month options. Easy to sort classes by style.

BUTI Yoga. This is not your mama’s yoga! Yoga with dance and other movement. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price is $39.99/month or $399.99/year. butiyoga.vhx.tv

Stretch Lab. This isn’t yoga at all, it’s literally stretching. Since it isn’t practical to have one-on-one stretching right now, and group stretches are also off the menu, they’ve moved to the Stretch Lab Go Facebook page. Follow the page for information on virtual events, and get your stretch on–some sessions are just 10-20 minutes. A strap and foam roller will be handy, if you have them.

Strala/Tara Stiles. If you’re not familiar with Strala, it’s like yoga with more emphasis on the movement in your body than the yoga poses. The library of free practices has meditation and movement. In addition, Tara is offering 50% off all classes. class series, and at-home retreats through the end of March. Use code PRACTICENOW at check-out.

We don’t all have a Reformer at home. If you do dust it off! (c) Styled Stock Society

Cycling

Peleton. I’m told the app is now free for 90 days (thanks, Jennifer!)

Train Right. In exchange for your email address, you can get access to 20+ training workouts (some of which were originally released on VHS, so be nice when you see they look “dated”). https://trainright.com/products/video-downloads/

Barre-style and Pilates-based workouts

Blogilates. One of the original online Pilates workouts (and an app), still free. Sign up for Cassie’s email list to get a monthly workout calendar. She’s also made a special 14-day quarantine workout. Most of her videos are on the Blogilates YouTube channel as well.

Sleek Ballet Fitness. Sleek is a ballet-based workout. Offers a 7-day free trial. Regular price is $19.99/month or $199.99/year.

Barre3. I have a soft spot for Barre3 as it was created by a Portlander, who was affiliated with YogaWorks, and (most important!!) is a body-friendly, anatomically sane barre workout. You don’t need a barre to do the home workouts, though some incorporate small hand weights and props. If you’ve never tried it, there is a YouTube channel. The streaming service at barre3.com/trial for a 15-day free trial. Regular price is $29/month.

Ballet Beautiful. One of the more expensive options, but rooted firmly in ballet (not “fitness”). This is the site of the professional ballerina and trainer who worked with Natalie Portman for Black Swan. There is a two week free trial, using code 2WTRIAL. (If you can’t make it work, try Instagram or Facebook, where they are running an ad for a 15 minute download class for free, and the two week free trial.) You you can get a discount on your first month with the code on the website (currently BBMARCH20). Regular price is $39.99/month. balletbeautiful.com

Physique 57. You may have seen Physique 57 studios, or perhaps you caught the DVD package back in the day. Now they offer a streaming service with new classes added weekly. Offers a 7-day free trial. Regular price $24.99/month or $249/year (essentially 2 months free). ondemand.physique57.com

Pilatesology. Focused on classic Pilates, this site has both equipment workouts (e.g. Refomer) and non-equipment workouts. Offers a 16-day free trial. Regular price $20/month or $179/year. pilatesology.com

Pilates Anytime. Currently has 1,582 mat videos, 812 Reformer videos, and 193 Wunda Chair videos, among others (barre, small props, tower, and more). Offers a 15-day free trial. Regular price is $18/month. pilatesanytime.com

Yoopod. Formerly known as “Pilates on Demand.” This service focuses on Pilates, yoga, and mindfulness practices. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular prices are posted in British Pounds Sterling–you do the math. yoopod.com

Pilates on Fifth. Like most Pilates options, this site has both equipment workouts and those that use no equipment. Also includes some barre, cardio, and strength-training. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price $12.99/month or $129.99/year (includes some products with annual membership). pilatesonfifthonline,com

Pilates Interactive. This is a project of BASI Pilates. Unlike other sites, this is both written instruction and video. It is aimed at Pilates professionals (teachers and trainers) and includes breakdowns for the exercises. Offers a one month free trial. Regular price is $10/month for BASI Repertoire or Polestra Repertoire, $15/month for both. (Client management software is also an option.) I’m not a Pilates professional, but this looks like a screaming deal to me. pilatesinteractive.com

Balanced Body. I wasn’t able to wait for the site to load (I’m sure my internet is throttled at this point) but you can check it out at video.pilates.com

(c) Styled Stock Society

Gym-style and mixed variety group exercise

Bolly-X. Choreographed dance workouts using Bhangra hits! Apparently they were on Shark Tank?!? Regular price $14.99/month. Currently offering a $49 access for life special (or $24/year or $15/3 months): https://bollyx-swag-shop.myshopify.com/products/lifetime-membership-with-bollyx-on-demand-at-home-workouts

Body Groove. Another dance-based workout, this one uses HIIT theory. Offering a 30-day free trial. https://www.startbodygroove.com/hiit.htm Regular price is $9.99/month or $59.99/year (basically half price if you choose the year membership).

The Sufferfest. AltRed is sponsoring an additional free month. The Sufferfest is primarily a training tool for distance cyclists, but there are also a bunch of other videos including strength training and yoga for cyclists. To access a full six weeks, first download The Sufferfest. Then create your account to start your 14-day free trial. Next, go to Settings > Manage Subscription and choose the monthly subscription option. Enter promo code ALTREDSUF30 to get a free month (in addition to the 14-day free trial). Wile you do need to enter payment information for the code to activate, you won’t be charged if you cancel before the end of your free month (which is really six weeks).

OpenFit. This one appears to offer specific programming both live and recorded. (If you’re wondering where gixo went, OpenFit bought it.) The programs are Xtend Barre, Xtend Barre Pilates, Rough Around the Edges, Yoga 52, 600 seconds, Tough Mudder T-Minus 30, and Sugar Free 3. I’m only familiar with Xtend Barre, which I personally recommend as one of the top barre programs for attention to form. Offers a 14 day free trial. Regular price is $96/year ($8./month), $60/6 months, or $39/3 months).

Sissfit. Sisters Lauren and Kelly are offering free access to the Sissfit app (which they apologize is only available in iOS right now). Click here for 30 Days Free Access. (Offer is only for new users.)

Jari Love/Get Ripped. Jari is relasing free workouts via YouTube. You can find the workouts on her channel, starting with this one. The workouts require dumbbells/weights, and you can use a step or the floor. She also released “Slim and Lean” on Vimeo.

City Row. The City Row studios (which to my knowledge are all franchises) are closed. They are posting workouts that require no equipment on their Instagram page; follow them at @cityrow for details. The City Row GO app (which is separate from the scheduling app) is free for a month with code 1MONTH_FREE. It has rowing workouts (in case you own a rower) as well as strength, yoga, and mobility. Psst! There is apparently a whole family of “[insert name here] GO” apps.

Crunch Live. You know the gym chain called Crunch? This is their streaming service. If you belong to a Crunch gym, you can use this for free (unless you are on the base membership plan). Offers a 10-day free trial. Regular price is $9.99/month o $90/year. www.crunchlive.com

Daily Burn. A little bit of everything. Actually a LOT of everything. Whatever you like, they have it. Offers a 30-day free trial. Regular price is $19.99/month. dailyburn.com

TRX. I haven’t seen any specials on the TRX app (yet). If you own a suspension trainer, sign up for their newsletter to receive free weekly workouts.

Centr. Who doesn’t want to work out with Chris Hemsworth?? HIIT, boxing, yoga, strength training, MMA. Offering six weeks free. Regular prices is $29.99/month, $59.99/3-months, $119.99/year. https://centr.com/join-us

Get Healthy U TV. Started by Chris Freytag, with powerhouse Amy Dixon and others! Kickboxing, strength training, yoga, and more. A whole year is $9.99 right now (“regular” price is $59.99) https://go.gethealthyutv.com/a21445/

Body FX. JNL Fitness and Figure 8 workouts, among others. I hesitate slightly to recommend this one, only because several years ago they were planning to launch an MLM to compete with BeachBody, and I don’t know if they will try to upsell you a bunch of supplements (they do make a protein powder) and nonsense (there’s a recipe for something called Sueperfood Detox Soup). Offers 30 days free, regular price is $11.99/month or $84/year. https://bodyfx.com/home-workout/

Suzanne Bowen Fitness. I kinda love that you can click ‘surprise me’ and the site will choose a workout for you! This site also has a workout builder, and a collection of prenatal videos. Offers a 24-hour free trial. Regular price $14.99/month, $129.99/year, or $74.99/6-months. suzannebowenfitness.com

SCW On Demand. SCW produces the fitness Mania events where your teachers go to get their continuing education credits. Offerings include personal training type videos plus active aging, yoga, and aqua. $19.95 month-to-month; $9.95 with an annual commitment (but you pay one month at a time); $99/year (paid all at once). https://scwfit.com/store/on-demand/

Jillian Michaels. Her fitness app offers a 7-day free trial. More information at https://www.jillianmichaels.com/ Note that Jillian offers nutritional advice that is sometimes way off the mark (at least in terms of evidence-based practice). She’s publicly pooh-poohed keto and vegan diets, and promotes misinformation about organic products. If you’re going to use her app for nutrition tracking, just be aware you might want to take her advice with a salt lick.

Pvolve. This is a streaming service that uses custom equipment, though I think you could hack most of it from other equipment (e.g. using a band instead of the gloves with the band). They offer a variety of packages of equipment and their streaming service. Whatever you do, do NOT pay full price. At any given moment I see at least a dozen different ads or influencer campaigns for 20% off. https://www.pvolve.com/

What did I miss? Drop a comment with what you are offering, or how you are supporting your trainers and teachers when their studios and gyms are closed!

Disclosure: Portions of this post were provided by New Hope Network and are from Melaina Juntti’s article, “10 Ways to Say No to Plastic.”  I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people. New Hope is NOT related to #PlasticFreeJuly, which is based in Australia.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen a lot of information about plastic recently. Whether it is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or the fact that China is no longer accepting plastic from the United States for recycling, we are generating more plastic waste than ever.

Humans have generated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since 1950, when plastic first came into common usage, according to a 2017 University of Georgia study. What’s more, almost 80 percent of that plastic is still sitting in landfills or junking up the environment. Plastic—even the “biodegradable” kind—is a permanent substance and in the United States we are using it to solve problems that last for just a minute. (Most biodegradable plastics just break down into smaller and smaller pieces, which might become fish food.) It clogs waterways, chokes out wildlife, and emits an unfriendly mix of chemicals (when it burns or breaks down) that leech into water and soil.

Join me for #PlasticFreeJuly

I just learned about the Plastic Free July Challenge, and I’m game. Are you? According to the Challenge website, the top four sources of plastic waste in takeaway/to-go items are bags, straws, bottles, and coffee cups (either the foam-like self-insulating cups, or the lids on paper cups).

Ideally plastic is like junk food: just don’t bring it home, and you can’t use it. In reality? I get it. There are some applications for which there isn’t a good non-plastic option available to you. (I can think of some medical items that I would rather not re-use, for example!) If you absolutely have to get a plastic thing, choose the least plastic you can, and choose the option that is reusable and try to re-use it as long as you can. Large yogurt containers, for example, can be re-used for storing leftovers (or broken crayon bits, or legos, or…).

Image courtesy of New Hope Blogger Co-op

Tip #1: Skip Even More Plastic Bags

Choose to Reuse–at ALL The Stores. If you’re a green shopper you probably already bring your own your own re-usable shopping bags to the grocery store. (Do you take them to Target, too?)  If you’re choosing paper, remember that you have to re-use them multiple times to reduce the environmenal impact of making them (otherwise the single-use plastic is actually more Earth-friendly, no kidding). I keep mine in the car so they are there when I go shopping, and keep a Chico Bag (or two–they’re small) in my backpack. Next up, do you really need to toss those individual green peppers into a disposable plastic bag? You’re going to wash them before you eat them, so letting them go free-range in your cart shouldn’t be a big deal. Other alternatives: get reusable mesh produce bags, or toss produce right into your cloth shopping bags while you finish shopping. And  hey, you don’t need that giant plastic tote from the running store either. Your shoes come in boxes, and you can choose a reusable bag instead–if you work out, you probably have a few dozen.

Avoid the Plastic Wrap Trap. You can save time (and money!) by using a reusable beeswax paper wrap such as Bees Wrap. Many beeswax wrappers will stick to themselves to seal. Just be careful when you wash them: make sure the water is not so hot that the wax melts, and use the softer side of the sponge. When you’re done, many of these wraps are compostable or at least repurpose-able (no more wax = fabric for craft projects). Not ready to commit to beeswax wrap? Try aluminum foil. If you don’t crush it you can wash it and re-use it multiple times. When it has reached the end of its useful life, give it a thorough bath, dry it off, and toss it into in the recycling bin.

Skip the plastic baggies too. At home, choose re-usable storage containers. While those made by baggie companies are reusable, invest in something sturdier that will last longer.  IKEA has plastic containers with rubber-sealed lids for $1 each piece, and the ones I’ve had for years are in great shape. You can also choose glass (glass lids are easy at home but tricky in lunches), though I admit it’s less than ideal for families with young children who mess around in the fridge. For lunchboxes, you can wrap sandwiches in waxed paper (which is also compostable, though not accepted by all municipal compost facilities). I’m using silicone “bags” that are resealable and reusable by Stasher. So far, they are holding up very well to multiple uses, reuses, and washes. As a bonus, they are dishwasher safe. Perfect for my pre-race and post-race snacks. They come in multiple colors, include fun limited edition shades.

At the races, skip the plastic bags! You’ve got multiple ways to skip plastic bags here. (1) Unless a race is FORCING you to use a plastic bag as your checked bag, DON’T TAKE ONE! If you run a bunch of races in the same series that insists on using plastic bags (such as Revel or Rock ‘n’ Roll) REUSE your bag. It’s the same identical bag, you don’t need another one. (2) Don’t use a plastic garbage bag as a warm-up in the corrals. Instead, either use clothing you’re willing to toss, or buy something very cheap at the thrift store (bathrobe, anyone?). Clothing tossed at start lines often goes to charity, and some races put it directly on the backs of local people experiencing homelessness (after a good washing, of course). (3) If you carry supplies in a plastic bag–which isn’t a terrible idea, since rain and smart phones don’t go together–choose a freezer bag, and then reuse it. Freezer bags are slightly thicker than regular zip-top bags, which means you can reuse it dozens of times before you will need to replace it. If you’re not going to use your phone to take pictures, a Stasher bag might work well too.

Skip the Plastic Bags at the Gym! Lots of gyms have a roll of plastic bags in the locker room to bag up your wet swimsuit or sweaty gym clothes. As nice as it is to keep those sweaty, wet things from getting loose in your gym bag, a plastic bag is not the best way. Instead, try using your swim  or shower towel to wrap those things. I lay the towel on the bench, layer on the wet stuff, fold the towel in half, and then roll it up like sushi.

Image courtesy of New Hope Blogger Co-op

Tip #2: Choose Wines That Use Real Corks

Celebrate Sustainably! Trust me, I enjoy a good post-race bubbly or glass of shower wine. I’m definitely NOT begrudging you yours! About 15 years ago, buzz began circulating that cork, the classic wine preserver, wasn’t so sustainable. There was concern that cork tree forests were being depleted, so perhaps plastic wine stoppers would be better. Well, the truth is cork production is pretty darned sustainable. The bark can be stripped and used to make wine closures without cutting the trees down, and this process actually makes the trees better able to offset carbon dioxide. Also, Mediterranean cork forests host some of the greatest plant biodiversity on the planet, according to the World Wildlife Fund. So next time you’re selecting wine, opt for bottles with real-cork corks, not plastic stoppers. As a bonus, many wineries will accept corks for recycling, or you can  get a cork box through TerraCycle.

Check Your Inner Wine Snob. As an intermediate option, don’t snub your nose at screw-top wine. While screw-tops used to be endlessly mocked as they were only used on cheap, poor quality wines, now even big and fancy wineries are looking at screw-tops. They make it easier to re-seal your wine bottle, but also tend to protect your wine better than corks. And hey, there’s always that old college staple. (No, not Boone’s Farm!) Boxed wine, while lined with a plastic bag, keeps much longer than bottled wine. If you only indulge every now and again, boxed wine might be your best bet…and the more people nudging the wine makers to recycle their packaging, the more likely it is that it will happen.

Stay Tuned for More Tips to Just Say No to Plastic!

In the meanwhile, what’s your top “just say no to plastic” tip? Do you have a tip that is especially applicable to runners?

Disclosure: This post by Lauren Grant was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people. The parts in italics? All me!

Eating right doesn’t have to equal mundane meals and slim wallets. And this list of the ten healthiest—and cheapest—plant-based foods proves just that. From leafy greens and grains to fruit and hearty vegetables, these ingredients guarantee nutritious, budget-friendly meals that will satisfy even the hungriest of appetites. So say good-bye to boring breakfasts and flavorless side dishes and get in the kitchen with these versatile recommendations. They provide endless options for healthy, money-saving meals that will fuel your body and save your wallet. There is something for everyone!

Nuts for Seeds?

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds. When it comes to buying seeds and nuts, you may experience some sticker shock. Stop struggling between health and savings, and pick up a bag of nutritious, budget-friendly pumpkin seeds.

Cost: $0.30 per ¼-cup serving ($4.25 per pound).

Benefits: Pumpkin seeds—or pepitas, as they’re called when they’re shelled—pack a lot of health benefits for their little size. Aside from offering a high amount of manganese, just ¼ cup of pepitas contains nearly 50 percent of your daily need for magnesium—important for muscle, heart and bone health. That same serving size is high in heart-healthy fats and adds almost 10 grams of protein to your diet.

Ideas: I like pumpkin seeds on my salads, but I also like them plain (cooked, even in the shell!). Next time you gut your Jack o’ Lantern, save the seeds, wash and pat dry, then spread on a cookie sheet with a little oil and salt; bake until they start to turn brown, stirring occasionally. Buy in bulk to save money. Spending to treat yourself? Try Health Warrior’s pumpkin seed bars!

Need Some Color in Your Life?

Carrots & Cauliflower. With a combined résumé that’s pretty stunning, these two powerhouse veggies are vital when it comes to filling your plate and your wallet.

Cost: 0.20 to $0.50 per cup ($0.98 to $2.48 per pound).

Benefits: One cup of carrots alone surpasses your daily need of vitamin A. Throw in the various antioxidants (beta-carotene being the most well-known, and a precursor to vitamin A), and you’re already looking at one of the healthiest foods you can buy. Add a cup of cauliflower to up the ante. Just 1 cup contains 73 percent of your daily vitamin C needs; plus it’s been shown to decrease the risk of various cancers.

Ideas: Grate cauliflower and cook, use in place of rice. Carrots roast nicely either whole or chopped into pieces, alone or with other root vegetables, but my favorite way to eat them (in the winter, at least) is in carrot and roasted red pepper soup. Make a hearty all-vegetable meal by topping a baked potato with cauliflower and carrots; add broccoli for color variety and top with butter or cheese if that’s your thing.

Bean There, Tried That?

Pinto BeansPinto Beans. Whether dried and cooked or used straight from the can, heart-healthy pinto beans are one of the cheapest protein sources you can buy.

Cost: $0.04 per ½-cup cooked serving from dried beans ($0.80 per pound dried beans) and $0.20 per ½-cup serving from canned beans ($0.64 per pound canned beans).

Benefits: Not surprisingly, pinto beans are packed with fiber. Just ½ cup of cooked beans gives you more than 30 percent of your daily recommended intake for dietary fiber. Additionally, pinto beans contain high levels of folate, magnesium and potassium, all of which contribute to heart health. And, being high in protein and iron makes pinto beans a favorable plant-based alternative to red meat.

Ideas: My go-to “lazy dinner” is the homemade version of Cafe Yumm’s classic bowl: brown rice, beans of your choice, salsa and/or pico de gallo and/or chopped tomatoes, top with cheese and Yumm sauce. Make it fancier by adding some sliced olives, chopped onions, garlic, cilantro, and cheese. If quac is your thing, that would work too. (Yuck.) Need Yumm sauce? Find out where to buy it here.

Feeling Fruity?

Butternut squashButternut Squash. This hourglass-shaped fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) has taken a backseat to summer squash for far too long. The butternut is a winter squash that offers more benefits and versatility than is often thought.

Cost: $0.40 per 1-cup serving ($1.31 per pound).

Benefits: Although some produce hide their nutrients, butternut squash isn’t afraid to flaunt them. Its brightly colored orange flesh indicates the presence of beta-carotene, which we know to fight certain cancers and protect eye health. Beyond that, this gourd adds a healthy amount of fiber and vitamins A and C to your diet, which in combination contribute to a strong immune system, bone and tissue health and healthy blood sugar levels.

Ideas: Not a big squash eater here…but I do love chopped, baked butternut squash served warm on a winter salad (kale, goat cheese, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds) or in a cold quinoa or rice-based salad (especially pretty with the black “forbidden rice”). In the winter, I love using it in soup. If you’re not up for cooking, look for Pacific Foods butternut squash soup (it comes in a carton, so if you take it to work for lunch you can make it last two days).

Would it Kale You to Eat Greens?

KaleKale. This once rare but now beloved veggie can be found on tables and menus everywhere. The popularity of this leafy green has caused prices to drop, and you should take advantage of its nutrition prowess.

Cost: $0.11 per 1-cup serving ($1.60 to $2.00 per pound). (I seriously dare you to try to eat a pound of kale. I swear it cannot be done.)

Benefits: Kale contains more lutein, a type of carotenoid important for eye health, than any other produce. It’s also high in manganese and vitamins A, C and K, all of which contribute to kale’s health benefits—such as lowering your risk of some cancers, reducing your risk of blood clots and boosting your bone and tissue health. Just 1 cup of loosely packed kale contains 20 to 25 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.

Ideas: Before I started to like the taste of kale, I used to “hide” it in my smoothies. Turns out I just prefer thinly sliced kale to big kale leaves–try it, you might like it better too! I am particularly fond of the chopped salad kits by Taylor Farms, Eat Smart, and Fresh Express. Yes, they definitely increase the cost of the kale, but they also ensure I will eat it–wasted food is wasted money.

Fancy Something Fuzzy?

EdamameFrozen Edamame. High in fiber and protein and low in unhealthy fats, soybeans are an easy and healthy way to get more bang for your buck. Not many protein sources render as strong of a nutritional profile, which lands edamame on this list.

Cost: $0.34 per ½-cup serving ($2.72 per pound) of frozen, shelled edamame.

Benefits: Edamame contains a long list of vitamins and minerals (some rarely heard of), with the most notable being iron, manganese, B vitamins and vitamin K. Additionally, edamame is a complete protein, which means it contains all of the nine essential amino acids, a rarity in plant protein sources.

Pro tip: You can find edamame at Trader Joe’s, and often at discount grocers such as Grocery Outlet. It’s easy to steam, and you can even warm it in the microwave. If you buy the edamame still in the pods, it tends to be substantially cheaper than the shelled stuff; I find it helpful to buy the pods so it takes me longer to eat it.

Fuzzier?

KiwiKiwifruit. This little fruit packs flavor, nutrition and a gorgeous green hue inside an unusual fuzzy peel. Simply slice in half and scoop out flesh with a spoon, or peel and slice, or even eat it sliced with the peel on (wash it first, of course) for a quick, healthful snack.

Cost: $0.53 per fruit ($3.56 per pound).

Benefits: An incredible source of vitamin C, kiwi is a good option when oranges become mundane. Just one kiwi serves up a hefty amount of dietary fiber and more than 30 percent of your daily needs for vitamin K. This small green fruit, speckled with tiny seeds, has been found to benefit cardiovascular health and respiratory problems such as asthma, shortness of breath and coughing.

Lunchbox Envy: I first learned to love kiwi when a classmate brought one in her lunch. We used to peel them with our fingers–messy, but satisfying–but you can also slice it in advance. Kiwi is really yummy frozen, and frozen sliced kiwi looks pretty in drinks and sparkling water.

Are You the Saucy Type?

Marinara SauceMarinara Sauce. Although it may be surprising to see a sauce on this list, marinara has earned its place. Made primarily of whole foods, including tomatoes and spices, marinara contains a long index of antioxidants. But be sure to check labels and look for marinara with the fewest grams of added sugars and sodium.

Cost: $0.32 per ½-cup serving ($1.92 per 24-ounce jar).

Benefits: Tomatoes are naturally high in the antioxidant lycopene—thought to have cancer-prevention benefits—and when cooked, lycopene becomes more readily available to absorb. Marinara also provides a good amount of iron and vitamin C.

Top tip: It’s not hard to make your own sauce, and then you can control how much sugar and salt is added. You don’t even have to start with fresh tomatoes–try canned tomatoes or tomato paste, and add an Italian herb blend. I like mine with garlic, and sometimes pieces of bell pepper and onions. If you have picky eaters, try making your sauce relatively plain, and offer a buffet of add-ins, such as mushroom pieces or grated Parmesean cheese.

Sticks to Your Ribs, They Told Me…

OatsOats.  A quick, nutritious breakfast, old-fashioned oats offer a myriad of health benefits in just one bowl. This wallet-friendly whole-grain can be enjoyed sweet or savory, and is a great foundation for a healthful meal or snack.

Cost: $0.07 per ½-cup serving ($1.09 per pound).

Benefits: Naturally gluten-free (but often processed in facilities where gluten-containing grains are also processed), oats deliver almost 10 percent of your recommended daily fiber needs in just ½ cup cooked, along with 3 grams of protein. Also, the daily intake of unrefined, concentrated sources of fiber in oats has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer. Now that’s a healthy carbohydrate!

Warning!! If you (or the person you’re serving the oats to) is celiac or has a gluten allergy, be absolutely certain to look for oats that are certified gluten-free. That ensures the oats were processed in a place and manner that ensures they will not be cross-contaminated. Buying in bulk might be cheaper, but not if it’s going to make you ill.

Keen for Something Ancient?

QuinoaQuinoa. Although this seed has been around since 1200 AD, quinoa took the world by storm just a few years ago, thanks to its incredible nutrient profile, credited with strengthening warriors through the ages.

Cost: $0.21 per ¾-cup cooked serving ($2.14 per pound).

Benefits: These tiny seeds provide 8 grams of complete protein and nearly 60 percent of your daily manganese needs in each ¾-cup cooked serving, making it an ideal plant-based protein. It contains essential fatty acids and heart-healthy fats, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits—proving that good things do, after all, come in small packages.

More than salad! Quinoa is often served as a side dish or salad, like rice. You can add it to soups, breads, meat-loaf (and meatless-loaf!), and a wide variety of other dishes. I’m also a fan of Qrunch, quinoa-based frozen foods. Qrunch products are certified gluten-free and made of ingredients you recognize. In addition to burger-type patties, I really like the “breakfast toastables” which are tasty with syrup, or can be a quick grab-and-go hand-held breakfast. 

Stretch Dollars While Eating Well?

I’d love to hear how you enjoy these foods! Is there a recipe you like to use them in? Or do you prefer some other inexpensive yet nutritious finds?

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, I encourage you to choose a fitness challenge for January. (Yes, the Seventh Day of Christmas. go look it up if you don’t believe me!)

January is one of the biggest months for fitness and workout challenges! Lots of gyms, studios, and boutique fitness locations host a January challenge to encourage people to start to build healthy habits to back their New Year’s resolutions. For example, Gold’s Gym has a 12-week challenge for gym members only. Some OrangeTheory Fitness locations will start their transformation challenges in January. And it’s not just the big chains and franchises: a quick google search led me to wish I lived in Charleston, South Carolina so I could do the Ignite 2019 challenge at This Time Fitness.

Online Fitness Challenges Work Just As Well

Personally, I find that a fitness challenge is a great way to help me stay on track, and you don’t have to belong to a gym or studio to participate. One of the groups I managed on Facebook has had lots of success with a monthly-themed challenge. If you prefer to work out at home, want to save money, or you just live too far from any facility offering a challenge, there are LOADS of options. The same goes for not starting in January. Maybe you’re moving house, changing jobs, having a baby, or otherwise just not down with January. Many sites with streaming content, such as Yoga International, have all sorts of options that you can start any time you want!

In general, an online or virtual workout challenge will include (1) a workout plan or template, (2) a qualified professional (e.g. for a running challenge, a coach with Revo2lution Running, RRCA, or USATF certification), (3) a Facebook group or other forum for chatting with other participants, and (4) prizes (maybe). Not every challenge includes all of these items, and some may include more–videos, printables, etc. Depending on the challenge’s rules, you might be required to check in each day, submit photos, or provide measurements–but don’t let that stop you. MANY challenges don’t have any requirements, and you can play along with any challenge by doing the workout even if you don’t submit materials to win prizes.

I’m collecting up all the challenges I can find to share with you–pick one and jump right in! (There’s still plenty of time to choose and get ready!)

The Challenges

Run the Year 2019

Website: https://runtheedge.com/run-the-year-2019/
Challenge: Run 2019 Miles (or your choice of miles) alone, or as part of a team
Led by: Run The Edge (Adam Goucher, Tim Catalano, and friends)
Start/Duration: January 1 to December 31, 2019
Cost/Discount: $25, $37, $57 (depends on swag pack selected) $3 discount if you use my affiliate link: http://runtheedgestore.refr.cc/elizabethbain
Content: Basic package includes access to the tracker (online/mobile), RTY 2019 Mileage Guide and plan, private Facebook groups, access to RTY FIT (a community for planning meet-ups) and local/regional Facebook groups. I expect there will be some fun monthly challenges as well!
Swag: Upgrade to Deluxe to add a Challenge Medal, Legacy Coin for 2019, a mileage tracking poster and stickers. Upgrade to Get It All to add a hi-tech challenge shirt.
Disclosure: I have done this challenge every year it has existed, and I collect the Legacy Coins. I am the Lead FITster for Portland, Oregon and the moderator of the related Facebook group. If enough people use my affiliate link, I get credit to use in the Run The Edge store.

100ABChallenge

Website: https://www.blogilates.com/100abchallenge-begins-jan-1st-you-in/
Challenge: Perform 100 reps of a specific Pilates abs exercise every day
Led by: Cassey Ho, aka Blogilates
Start/Duration: January 1 to January 31
Cost/Discount: Free
Content: Printable calendar of exercises, daily video of each exercise performed by Cassey. (If you haven’t checked out the Blogilates YouTube channel, you should! There are free workouts in the app, too. Plus if you subscribe to the newsletter, every month there is a new workout calendar–free–with a theme or focus.) There is a designated hashtag for social media posting/community
Swag: None (but it’s FREE)
Disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Cassey. Nicest most real-deal Pilates instructor I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

30-Day Be a Better You Challenge

Website: https://grokker.com/individuals
Challenge: choose from four challenge options (mindfulness, healthy eating, fitness, yoga)
Led by: Various instructors on grokker
Start/Duration: January 2 to January 31, 2019
Cost/Discount: Free if you are new to grokker, with a 37-day trial period (but after January 31, access to grokker is $14.99/month OR you can choose to pre-pay a year at $9.99/month OR you can cancel)
Content: 30 videos selected by the grokker team (but you also have access to all of the other videos on grokker during your trial)
Swag: Four winners who accrue more than 100 points will receive an an Apple TV; winners selected via raffle/random drawing from all eligible participants
Disclosure: I signed up for the yoga challenge–why not? I’ve never tried grokker. (Look for a review sometime later…)

The Barre3 January Challenge

Website: https://barre3.com/januarychallenge
Challenge: Follow the barre3 and Headspace Mindfulness Plan
Led by: instructors from barre3 (including founder Sadie!) and Headspace
Start/Duration: January 7 to February 3, 2019
Cost/Discount: $29 online OR $99 in studio
Content: Online option: unlimited access to 500+ Barre3 classes online (auto-renews on February 4, 2019 unless you cancel) OR Studio option: unlimited Barre3 classes in studio and free unlimited access to Barre3 online. Both options include one free month of the Headspace app, the Mindfulness Plan, and daily email with the daily plan.
Swag: None. You can purchase optional equipment (light hand weights, yoga mat, resistance band, core sliders, core ball) when you register.
Disclosure: I’ve enrolled in this challenge twice…and never actually finished it. Oops. Of all of the barre-based workouts, Barre3 is in my top two for quality of instruction and programming, and for being rooted in the science of movement. Unlike so many other barre-based workouts, this one won’t send you straight to the chiropractor!

Whole Life Challenge

Website: https://www.wholelifechallenge.com
Challenge: Commit to seven habits, every day, for six weeks.
Led by: Andy Petranek, Michael Stanwyck, and the WLC team
Start/Duration: January 19 to March 1, 2019 (additional challenges start in April, July, and September)
Cost/Discount: $39 for new players, $29 for returning players; $89 Annual Membership (four challenges)
Content: “The Whole Life Challenge is a six-week online, community-building, habit-changing game that challenges you to create a happier, healthier life by making small changes to your daily habits. Playing along with your friends, and family, you’ll score points every day, focusing on seven key areas of health and well-being: nutrition, exercise, mobilization, sleep, hydration, lifestyle practices, and reflection.”
Swag: Swag includes use of the app to track points, the Whole Self Assessment, and the online community. There are no prizes. The website includes free e-books you can read before you start.
Disclosure: I have zero personal experience with this one. A friend of mine who does shift work has, and he mentioned being disappointed that the app tracked the day as ending at a certain time, causing him to “lose” some days.

30-Day Get Strong in 2019 Challenge

Website: https://www.livestrong.com/article/1012163-30day-slim-down-challenge/ (blog post/preview) https://www.livestrong.com/get-strong-challenge/ (signup)
Challenge: 30 days of exercises and nutrition (new healthy recipes to try out)
Led by: Workouts by Jordan Shalhoub, other content by the Livestrong.com team
Start/Duration: January 2
Cost/Discount: Free
Content: Daily email with a workout, recipes, motivational memes, playlist, and tips and advice. In addition to daily-themed workouts, and a healthy tip for each day, each week also has a health goal. Challengers have access to a Facebook group just for challengers.
Swag: None
Disclosure: I have no experience with this challenge.

Fit Chicks 28-Day Challenge

Website: https://www.fitchicks.ca/challenge
Challenge: Daily workouts and nutrition plans for women to build habits
Led by: Laura Jackson, founder of Fit Chicks
Start/Duration: January 1 to January 31
Cost/Discount: $297 (though the website showed  me a $97 offer)
Content: 28 workouts under 30 minutes, 50 exercise tutorials, 8 streaming workouts, meal plans (vegan and vegetarian options available) with grocery lists, 45 simple recipes, healthy lifestyle videos, daily email motivation, Facebook group, private members site, email support.
Swag: None (that I know of); additional purchases offered at a discount
Disclosure: I have no experience with this challenge; I thought a challenge for women only might appeal to some of my friends. The challenge page has some video workout previews.

The Self Challenge

Website: https://www.self.com/join/sign-up-new-years-challenge
Challenge: workouts and fit tips, including suggested meal plans
Led by: contributors to Shape
Start/Duration: January 2, 2019
Cost/Discount: Free
Content: a workout plan, meal plans, nutrition tips, and more via email. Facebook group to talk all things challenge.
Swag: None, but there are prizes. Sweepstakes prizes include a vacation at the Grand Fiesta American a Coral Beach.
Disclosure: True confession, I have a soft spot for this challenge, which I first participated in way back in the 1990s. This year’s program includes 20 new bodyweight workouts, daily emails with motivation and advice, a Facebook group.

Gixo #FitForward Challenge

Website: Use Alyse’s affiliate link to get your free first week
Challenge: I’m fuzzy on the details right now, but I bet it’s a month of workouts and sharing on social!
Led by: Gixo trainers
Start/Duration: January 1
Cost/Discount: first week is free, then $19.99/month (or $14.99/month if you pre-pay a year)
Content: live audio and video classes via the Gixo app. These are NOT pre-recorded videos you can play over and over, but a live class, with an instructor teaching in real time, and other classmates sweating right there with you.
Swag: Unknown at this time–I’ll update as I learn more!
Disclosure: While I am not (yet?) a Gixo subscriber, I am a Sweat Pink ambassador, and Sweat Pink has an ongoing relationship with Gixo.

Lululemon 40/80 Challenge

Website: https://www.strava.com/challenges/lululemon-40-80-challenge-2019
Challenge: Run 40k or 80k in the first two weeks of the year
Led by: YOU!
Start/Duration: January 2 to January 15, 2019
Cost/Discount: Free (Strava’s premium membership, Summit, is optional; pricing varies–an “all three pack” is $5/month when you pre-pay a year)
Content: Go run! Use Strava to record your runs, or use a device (such as Vi) that connects with Strava.
Swag: Unknown–it’s a surprise every year. Last year there was a discount code good for online or in-store purchases. Also, you get a badge in the Strava app.
Disclosure: I’ve run this one, and am signed up for 2019. If you are training for a race, like to run with friends, or already track your miles, go for it!

New Year Yoga Reboot Challenge

Website: https://www.yogadownload.com/Challenge.aspx
Challenge: 3o minutes of yoga for 30 days
Led by: rotating instructors on the YogaDownload platform
Start/Duration: January 2 to January 131, 2019
Cost/Discount: $12 for one month of unlimited access to Yoga Download ($30 for three months, $90 for a year; all are cancel at any time)
Content: A curated selection of “reset” and “reboot” yoga videos. Log in each day, do that day’s video, and then leave a comment about how it went. NOTE: if you like the idea of a daily yoga challenge but the idea of “reboot” doesn’t do it for you, Yoga Download also has a variety of other challenges (e.g. 5-Day Evening Yoga, 2-Week Yoga for Busy People, etc.).
Swag: Unknown–there is a grand prize package, but I haven’t scoped it out.
Disclosure: I’ve had a Yoga Download membership for years, so I’m in!

 

Other Challenges…

In your neighborhood. Since January is absolutely the most popular challenge month, there are literally dozens of other options. Check the website for your local gym, yoga space, cycling studio, or boutique fitness class for special class packs and challenges.

Online. Also check out Instagram! One of my Sweat Pink sisters, Katie Arnold, aka @iamkatiearnold, is hosting a yoga challenge in 2019. You can read all of the details on her blog: http://www.talkless-saymore.com/weekly-workout-wednesday-13/

Did I miss your favorite? Drop a comment and share it!

 

Inspired by Jenna Blumenfeld’s article, 5 food trends that should end in 2018, I offer you Six Food Trends That Need To Die Immediately. (For the record, I’m on board with all of Jenna’s recommendations–erythritol [I would expand this to “overuse of sugar alcohols”], bottled water, protein overload, natural flavoring [at least where the flavoring ingredients can be described legally and accurately], and “pixie-dusting,” which is throwing in a dash of some ingredient like turmeric or reishi and then splashing claims about the ingredient on the packaging even though there isn’t even a single serving of the ingredient in there.)

Six Food Trends That Need To Die Immediately

“Clean Eating.” I love the idea behind clean eating–eat more produce, more whole food, fewer things that fall into the category of over-processed junk food. It pre-dates the zany blogger-amplified contemporary “clean eating” by years. See, for example, Tosca Reno’s series of books (influencer link) which started in 2007 and focus on healthy and nutritious eating, not a ton of restrictive rules. (BTW, there is LOTS of processed food that is not over-processed. A few examples: fruit that is washed, sliced, and frozen; shredded and bagged salad; simple pico de gallo in a tub.) More apples, more carrots, fewer Twinkies, fewer Fruit Loops. I really loathe the actual term, “clean eating.” It implies that anything that doesn’t fall into the approved definition is dirty or contaminated. It’s a way of letting disgust define your eating (or It’s just one step from “clean eating” to dietary snobbery and an attitude of superiority. The term is readily accepted in most circles, but it’s easy to take it too far and twist a basically fine idea into an obsession or an eating disorder such as orthorexia. In my own experience, I have a friend who became so particular about the food she was eating that when she went to visit her parents there was “nothing to eat.” That might sound normal if you grew up in a meat-and-potatoes Midwest suburb, but her parents own and operate a produce farm and orchards. I’m not the only critic of “clean eating;” check out the evaluations by Vice, Vogue UK, a variety of other publications (you can use Google to find more), and the Daily Mail UKs piece on how clean eating hurts women. There’s even a film on the subject, Clean Eating–The Dirty Truth. Let’s continue to believe in, and advocate for, healthy eating and access to nutritionally dense food like fresh produce for ALL people, but let’s quit using judge-y language to do it, eh?

All “Natural”?

“Natural.” The word natural conjures up all sorts of wholesome images, and the people marketing to you know this. The problem is that the word “natural” is susceptible to all sorts of interpretations. I don’t care if you use the word with your own definition. What I take issue with? Using the word “natural” on consumer products and food. Why? Unlike many of the words on your food and household products–words like juice, cheese, and organic–the term “natural” has no legal meaning. It’s not defined by the FDA. This means anyone can put it on any package with any intended meaning. Almost worse, it means a small group of lawyers are wasting limited judicial resources on lawsuits. There have been lawsuits challenging the use of the word natural on products that contain GMO corn, high-fructose corn syrup, types of vanilla, xanthan gum, and for products such as green tea that when tested had “trace levels” of glyphosphate, juice made from concentrate, cheese and yogurt made from milk from cows that ate GMO grains, and pita chips with B vitamins created synthetically but identical in every way to those found in nature. You can read more and find links on this Washington Post article. There are two easy solutions to this problem. One, ban the use of the word “natural” on all consumer products. (No one is going to like that solution.) Two, require any product using the word “natural” to include a footnote that states “the term natural has no legal meaning, and is not a guarantee of the quality or origin of this product.” There are other ways to resolve the “natural” dilemma, of course, but if we wait for the FDA to step in my great-great-great granddaughter will be president.

P.S. I’d like to remind you that “natural” does not have the same meaning as “healthy” or “good for you.” A few 100% natural items to consider: cyanide, crocidolite asbestos, white oleander, poison dart frogs, black widows, volcano, cobras, certain bright red mushrooms, hemlock, ticks, manure, MRSA, listeria, malaria, salmonella…and the list goes on.

It might taste good, but it’s not removing toxins or cleansing anything

Detox, tea-tox, pre-tox, cleanse. Everything marketed in this category makes me want to vomit because it is so grossly misleading that it is unconscionable. Worse, many of the recommended practices can cause health problems in healthy people. But let’s start from the top: The term “detox” is used in the medical realm to refer to medical interventions for a person who is physically dependent on a drug and treatment of the associated withdrawal symptoms. “Detox” may also used in the case of an accidental poisoning. For an actual, real detox, there is science to explain exactly what toxic substance is being removed from the body, and how it is being removed. For example in many case of poisoning, activated charcoal is used to absorb the poison (“activated” means it has been treated to make it more absorbent, allowing it to soak up more) and generate a laxative effect to help it exit the body. (There is chemistry to explain how this works, and you can go look it up.) Commercially marketed “detox” and “cleanse” products claim there are mysterious “toxins” built up in your body and if you release them from your body by taking the magic pill or drinking the special smoothie, you will improve your health. Even if they specify a scary-sounding “toxin” (heavy metals!) none of these products will explain to you which toxin(s) they allegedly remove, nor will they explain the chemical and biological means by which they allegedly remove these toxins. (Because they don’t.) There’s not a single, credible, peer-reviewed study showing any detoxes achieve the results they claim–all detox claims are 100% hype. For the amount of money going into this market, that’s beyond suspicious. Worse, some allegedly detoxing things can be dangerous. Colonic irrigation has no proven benefits, for example, and most “tea tox” products either contain ingredients that sound nice but do nothing or known laxatives (such as senna)–and of course they are marketed as “100% natural.” Ugh.

As for the term cleanse, if your kidneys and liver are functioning properly, you are “cleansing” right now. Go look at a basic human anatomy text and read about the circulatory and urinary systems. (BTW, if your kidneys and liver are NOT functioning properly, you should be under medical care–poorly functioning kidneys may require dialysis to keep waste products out of your bloodstream, for example.) If you are afraid your body has bad stuff in it that needs to get out, start by “cleansing” your kitchen of all the things containing stuff you don’t want in your body.

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Alkaline everything. Let’s go back to basics. Your body works very hard to maintain a state of equilibrium called homeostasis. Basically, your genes are pre-programmed to know what is best for your body on any given scale. Think about your body temperature; your body naturally regulates to keep you from getting too hot or too cold (you sweat in the heat, and your body sends more blood to your core in the cold, among other adaptations). In chemistry, everything has a pH based on how acidic it is. At one end of the 0 to 14 scale is 100% acid  (pH 0) and on the other end is 100% not-acid, also called alkaline (pH 14). Just like your body adapts to keep your temperature at the right place, it also adjusts to keep your pH at the right place. Different parts of your body have different needs in terms of pH, for example your stomach creates an acidic environment to help you digest food while your blood is slightly alkaline. Your body (and specifically your kidneys) works really hard to keep your blood at the right pH because allowing it to get even a little bit too acidic OR a little bit too alkaline means you will die. While I love the idea of getting Americans to eat more green vegetables, you’re never going to “alkalinize” your body by eating them. If you did, you’d die. Oh, and in case someone tries to argue that a change in urinary pH is proof in support of this unscientific nonsense, remember that urine is a waste product kept in a holding tank (the bladder) so the body can get rid of it.

Hype and confusing messaging about products is designed to keep you spending.

Profiteering via ignorance and disinformation. This is so rampant in the consumer marketplace, in every category of product. This is a sugary kid cereal advertising it is made with whole grains–even if true, that just makes it slightly better than the non-whole-grain alternative, it doesn’t turn Cap’n Crunch into health food. This is products touting that they are non-GMO when there isn’t even a GMO version of that product or its ingredients available (e.g. salt, popcorn, and EVERY product that doesn’t contain squash, cotton, soybeans, field corn, papaya, alfalfa, sugar beets, canola/rapeseed, potato, and one type of apple which are the only available GMO crops) and failing to mention that no one has so much as gotten a tummyache from a GMO. This is any product that relies on consumer ignorance or fear to help sell itself. We are better than this. Consumers deserve to be educated and know the facts, and companies should be working to make this knowledge easier to obtain, not harder.

Nutritional Imperialism. As Americans, we live in one of the richest nations on Earth, one that wields a considerable amount of political and economic power. Unfortunately, we collectively end up pillaging other nations to support our needs and wants. All of those exotically sourced ingredients? Many have a negative impact on the environment and the economy in their nations of origin. Take palm oil, for example. As demand increases, we’re threatening the orangutan population and rapidly increasing deforestation. (Details at Rainforest Action Network, Say No To Palm Oil, World Wildlife Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists.) Companies are responsive to consumer demand, so why not demand the companies that make the products you buy use sustainable palm oil or an alternative? (There’s a debate on whether palm oil can be truly sustainable, but I’ll leave you and Google to that.)  Palm oil isn’t the only bad guy, it’s just an example.

One of the alternatives to nutritional imperialism is trade that helps build and sustain the local economy while respecting the environment. This isn’t necessarily the same as Fair Trade, which is a specific third-party certification that can be cost-prohibitive for small companies. A few companies doing this type of work are Kuli Kuli, which has helped women farmers in Ghana, Haiti, and Nicaragua earn an income and support their families, and Dean’s Beans, which has relationships with each of the farmers that grow their coffee beans and actively supports the farmers and communities that grow them.

Which food trends would you like to vanish?

SAVE YOUR MONEY, SAVE YOUR MIND!

First there was Black Friday, allegedly named because it is the first day of the Christmas shopping season and when retailers’ books go from red to black. (This was eventually ruined by the appearance of Christmas stuff on store shelves in September.) Then there was Cyber Monday, when Amazon and all the other .coms of the world offer deals to relieve you of whatever money you didn’t spent on Black Friday. As Wal-mart began to displace the beloved “mom and pop” stores that were on mainstreets in towns across America, and people realized where you spend money has a direct impact on what your world looks like, the “Shop Small” and “Shop Local” movements brought us  Small Business Saturday. Sure, I appreciate the season-of-buying as well as the sales, but a ton of this spending is mindless.

Then came #GivingTuesday. I personally have plenty. I’m thankful. I’m spending some of my time going through all the things I moved and parting with the things that could help someone else, but are not really serving me. (I did a lot of this before I moved too–I even gave away a big carton of books!) With the advent of Kondo-izing and Swedish death cleaning, I hope you and your family have all of the stuff you actually need and maybe you are even living with an eye towards not acquiring more stuff you don’t. Sure, things wear out and need to be replaced, and new gadgets come out that are critical (or at least useful). It’s not like clothes now last forever or shopping is over. But let’s be thankful. For me, part of being thankful is giving back to others who are not so fortunate. I’m really lucky to work in an office that supports all kinds of community involvement. I’ve barely been here half a year, and we have fundraised for a Race for the Cure team, donated hundreds of new or gently-used coats and warm clothing to homeless teen services in Seattle, given to Hoop Camp for the developmentally disabled, contributed to Lawyers Against Hunger, supported the Campaign for Equal Justice, and more.

NOTE! IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP! Before you give, make sure the organization is what it says it is, and that it will use your money responsibly. Check out Charity Navigator, or GuideStar for more information.

If you have what you truly need, I invite you to consider giving money to an organization that is helping to make your world a better place. Last year I solicited suggestions from my friends. This year, here are my own top choices.

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SAVE THE NATION!

I couldn’t decide on the best way to organize my favorites so these are in no particular order (not alphabetical, not by how much I value the work they do, just randomly there).

Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s not just about the south. Their slogan is “Fighting Hate. Teaching Tolerance. Seeking Justice.” The SPLC documents hate crimes, provides legal services, develops educational materials for children and adults, and monitors news outlets for stories about discrimination based on race, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation, and economic status. SPLC News This Week is a weekly email covering these topics. On Giving Tuesday, a generous donor has pledged to match the first $300,000 of donations, through midnight. For a limited time, donors who give $50 or more can send a special card about SPLC’s work to an honoree. If you select this option, may I suggest sending the card to a government official? http://www.splcenter.org

Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF works to protect the rights of everyone on the electronic frontier through technology, activism, and legal action (also called “impact litigation”). Some of EFF’s projects this year including suing the Department of Homeland Security to challenge the escalation of warrantless device searches at the U.S. Border, fighting NSA surveillance programs and forcing disclosure of signficant documentation about mass spying (ON US, the US CITIZENS!), blocking invasive web trackers through the Privacy Badger browser extension, addressing the growing power social media companies have on speech through the OnlineCensorship.org website, and so much more. (Why yes, I did just crib that from the email asking me to renew my membership!) Like NPR, you can choose a free gift at some levels of membership, and members received discounts on EFF events and merchandise. EFF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.eff.org

College/University/School. Pick one. The cost of higher education–and that includes trade schools–has gone through the roof. There’s no reason why only rich kids should get to have a post-high-school education. The pre-K to grade 12 schools aren’t exactly well-funded either. Create a scholarship, donate to a department, sponsor a club, or find some other way to help keep education accessible to all who desire it.

ACT LOCALLY!

For every group I know about and have listed below, I am certain there is a similar group where you live. National charities are great, and sometimes being national in scope is the best way and most efficient way to accomplish goals. (We don’t need every city to have an EFF, for example.) Other times, smaller organizations can accomplish tasks more efficiently than larger ones, or a local organization can better serve the population where it operates.

The Lawyers’ Campaign for Equal Justice. CEJ funds Legal Aid, which provides civil legal services to low-income and elderly Oregonians. Legal Aid tends to the basics and can be the difference between life and death, or safety and homelessness. CEJ funds help people fight illegal evictions, secure safe housing, get access to medical services, and escape domestic violence. You can read some of the success stories on the CEJ website. (Regardless of what you think of lawyers, those who work for Legal Aid do some of the most difficult work for some of the lowest pay. Without CEJ, Oregon’s Legal Aid program wouldn’t exist.) Poverty in Oregon is on the rise, and the demand for legal services is too.  http://www.cej-oregon.org/

East Bay SPCA. Yes, I now live in Oregon, but East Bay SPCA is the group that united me with my current kitty-love, Professor Nick Sterling. The Professor started his life in another shelter, where he was adopted. At some point things went sour, however, and eight years later he was rescued from a hoarding situation and returned to that same shelter. After languishing there several months, the East Bay SPCA identified him as a cat they might have a better chance of re-homing and took him in to their Oakland shelter. Poor kittyboy was there for months before we found each other. In 2016 (when Nick and I got together), East Bay SPCA adopted out 3,417 animals and fostered another 938. He had been there so long that he was free (his adoption fee was waived) but I donated since the cost of caring for an animal before it is adopted always exceeds the adoption fee. East Bay SPCA has multiple programs to help people keep their pets, including help finding pet-friendly housing, behavior resources, a pet food pantry, free wellness clinics and medical care assistance programs for those who need financial help, and a pet survivor placement program (to help fluffy find a home if you die first). They even have a special Second Chance Fund to help older animals find new homes. East Bay SPCA is a nonprofit funded by fees and charitable donations. http://www.eastbayspca.org 

Oregon Food Bank. Even in relatively prosperous-looking areas, food insecurity runs rampant. It’s not just rural Oregon that needs the food bank pantry shelves stocked–it’s Portland, too. You can read more about how hunger devastates children here. Delta Air Lines will match any gift of $25 or more, up to a maximum of $15,000. https://www.oregonfoodbank.org/

With Love,. Their mission statement: “With Love, exists to support foster families by providing safe, clean and quality clothing and supplies to children ages 0-5, while exuding love and honor.” Foster care for young kids is expensive–they outgrow clothes quickly and need developmentally appropriate toys–and it generally isn’t the rich people who take in foster kids. This year I’m participating in “Stockings With Love,” a stocking stuffer program for kids in foster care. All I have to do is buy 8-10+ items for either the 0-24 months group or the ages 2-6 group, put them in a bag, and label them with the appropriate gender and age. With Love, asked that donors NOT choose candy or food, and provided a list of suggestions. You can lazy-web it by going to http://www.withloveoregon.org/amazon to buy suggested items and have them sent right to the organization. Learn more at http://www.withloveoregon.org

SAVE THE WORLD!

Pencils of Promise. Education is something we take for granted in the United States, where state and federal laws protect every child’s right to an education. For $75, you can fund a kid’s education for the entire year. PoP promises that 100% of your online donation will directly support their education programs. (Read: NONE of your donation will pay for the costs of fundraising, administration, etc.) Donations build schools, train and support teachers, and keep kids in school supplies. PoP also has a handwashing initiative, WASH, which teaches kids about water, sanitation, and hygiene. You would be absolutely shocked at the amount of death and disease that could be prevented by a bar of soap and knowing how to use it (and equally shocked at how few of us have the luxury of soap-on-demand with clean water).  https://pencilsofpromise.org/

Gazelle Foundation. Access to clean, healthy, safe water should be a human right–but it’s not. In Burundi, people can spend four or more hours every day just to get clean water. This is a huge waste of potential for children (who should be in school), and for adults (who should be with their families). The Gazelle Foundation has nine water projects scheduled in Burundi for 2018, each of which will change the lives of people by reducing the 3+ mile trek now required to get water to 250-400 meters. That’s huge. Why Burundi? Burundi has a very high child mortality rate, largely due to lack of water. Waterborne contaminants are the leading cause of death in Burundi. To date, Gazelle Foundation has provided 80,660 people clean water FOR LIFE. That includes 24 schools, churches, and hospitals, 126 miles of clean water pipe, and the creation of 4,200 new jobs in Burundi.  https://www.gazellefoundation.org/

Back on My Feet. Homelessness isn’t an intrinsic part of anyone’s identity–it’s a condition some people experience, many through no fault of their own. BoMF combats homelessness through the power of running, community support, and essential housing and employment resources. It operates in 12 major cities. As runners know, running builds confidence, strength (including mental!), and self-esteem. These are all qualities you need to succeed, and come back from a major blow to your self-worth and identity. Changing the way we think about and address homelessness is revolutionary–which is why I put this in the Save the World category. On Giving Tuesday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching all donations. https://www.backonmyfeet.org/

Finally…SHARE?

There are a million ways you can help others with just a few dollars. If you have other charities you support, please leave a comment and share that information with others?

If you found this useful, would you please share it?

Following last year’s smash hit catalogue of deals to support your sweaty and fit life, I’ve decided to reprise the original post. These are listed in approximately alphabetical order. (Last year I categorized them all, and that was a pain in the butt.)

Here’s the scoop:

I’m reporting the deals as I learn about them, which is primarily by email and social media–reach out if you’ve got scoop that I don’t! My goal is to include the what (what’s the deal?), the how (how do I get in on it?), the where (what’s that website again?), and the when (how long until it expires?). Not every deal is providing me with that level of detail, of course. Assume that (1) all the information below is all the information I have on the who, what, why, where, when, how; and (2) I am relying on the accuracy of information reported to me by others. It’s highly likely I will update this page multiple times between now and Giving Tuesday, November 28, 2018.

Affiliate links, if any, will be clearly indicated per my Integrity First policy. TrainWithBain has sole authority to determine what to include on this list (though suggestions and comments are welcome).

If you happen to live in Portland, Oregon (or be shopping there), download the Little Boxes app and check out pdx.shoplittleboxes.com for information about all things local!

Psst! Why not click here to let your Tweeps know I gathered up all the deals for runners and others who sweat? I'll keep adding, you drop comments! #TeamWorkClick To Tweet

Here are the deals:

100 Half Marathons Club. Lifetime membership for $50. Open to new members only, no discount code needed. Good through Monday, November 27th. http://100halfmarathonsclub.com/

22 Days. Vegan meal delivery plans. 30% off with code YESPLEASE. Restrictions apply, deal ends November 27. https://www.22daysnutrition.com/vegan-meals 

Aaptiv. Fitness workout app with music-driven, trainer-led workouts. 50% off a year of unlimited access ($49.99 total). http://aaptiv.com 

Aftershokz. RSVP to http://exclusive.aftershokz.com to get in on the deal. AfterShokz will send you an invitation link, only valid for the first 1000 orders! #GiveGoodVibes

Amino Vital. Pre-workout, hydration, and recovery beverage mixes. Save 30% off site-wide with code HOLIDAY through November 27. http://www.amino-vital.com/store

Amrap Nutrition. All AMRAP products are 50% off. http://amrap.us/50offAMRAP

Apera. Bags for sweaty and fitness types. Spend $175 and save 30% through cyber Monday. Spend less and save 20%. http://www.aperabags.com

ASICS. Running shoes, athletic shoes, clothing, and more. 30% off select styles with code BLACKFRIDAY.  http://www.asics.com

B Yoga.  Yoga clothes, mats, and props. 30% off, no code needed. https://us.byoganow.com

Barre3. Books, subscriptions, clothing and more. Sale prices listed on website–includes Handful bras, and some DVDs are just $3! Ends Monday. https://shop.barre3.com/collections/sale

Bay to Breakers. May 20, 2018. Special pricing through Monday. Adults: $49.99; Child (Under 18): $24.99; Centipede (Groups of 13 or more): $5 per person discount; VIP: $119.99; Breakers Bonus – $10 add-on this weekend only (normally $20 – that’s 50% off!) Register here: https://events.racepartner.com/baytobreakers

Best Damn Race.  Use code BLACKFRIDAY2017 to save on any race in Jax, Safety Harbor, Orlando, or New Orleans. Expires November 26. http://www.bestdamnrace.com

Beverly International. Nutrition for athletes and bodybuilders. Discount code BFAB. (1) 25% off any order up to $100 at regular price; (2)  30% off if your order total is from $101 to $150; (3)35% off if your total reaches $151.00; (4) 40% off if your total reaches $200.00 or higher before applying your discount code. https://beverlyinternational.com/store/

Blue Ridge Marathon. April 21, 20178. This *is* “America’s Toughest Road Race.” I had a glorious DNF last year when the race had to be black-flagged due to weather and it was one of the best races I had all year. Score 20% off the price (but not the elevation change!) using code RUNBLACKFRIDAY.  http://www.blueridgemarathon.com/

Bombas. Great socks that give back (for every pair you buy, a pair is donated). I’m personally a huge fan and have these in my sock drawer and have given them as gifts. If you haven’t looked lately, they have  expanded from the original lineup of cotton “sweat sock” styles and now have dress socks, more colors, and wool. Get 20% off with code HOLIDAY2017. Combined with the box/set/pack discounts, you could save 35%. https://bombas.com/

Brooks Running. Shoes and clothes. Various specials, like 45% off Glycerin 14, 35% off sports bras, and free shipping. http://www.brooksrunning.com/en_us/offers-and-promotions.html

BUFF. If you read the blog you know I’m a huge fan and own a BUFF wardrobe.  Now through Cyber Monday, all sorts of things are 50% off.  http://buffusa.com/shop-buff/sale.html

Buffalo Marathon. I highly recommend this race! (Check out my review and review and review.) $10 off the half or full, May 27, 2018 with code BLACKFRIDAY. Offer expires Friday, November 24th at midnight. https://www.buffalomarathon.com 

Bumbleroot. Baobab-based hydration powder. 25% off orders over $40 with code 25THANKS; 30% off orders over $75 code 30THANKS; 40% off orders over $100 with code 50THANKS (yes, the email said 50 on the code…) https://shop.bumblerootfoods.com/

Bunny Butt Apothecary. I’m a fan of this small business that makes soap, body cream, and other body care products. The Whipped Cream in ‘Let Them Eat Birthday Cake’ scent is my favorite. You can shop at https://bunnybuttapothecary.com/ or shop their Etsy store. 25% off your order at either location through Cyber Monday, with code BLACKBUNNY17.

Buti Yoga. Pre-order the new Buti Sculpt DVD for $29.99 (regular price $39.99) and receive a free digital download if you order by 11/24. Sculpt DVD ships 12/5. Black Friday only deals include 20% off clothing, discounts on certifications, and more https://butiyoga.com

ChiRunning and ChiWalking. Take 25% off the online store (excludes workshops and events). Use code THANKS through Monday. https://www.chirunning.com

CLICK. Coffee and protein! 15% off all merchandise (Click and swag), with code BlackFriday17. https://www.drinkclick.com

The Clymb.  Gear for sports and other adventures. 25% off site-wide with code SAVE25 https://www.theclymb.com

Colorado Threads. Mrs. Claus yoga pants are on sale for 35% off with code HOLLYJOLLY.  https://coloradothreads.com/collections/holiday/products/mrs-claus-yoga-pants-special-order

The Color Run. Up to 50% off, plus spend $30 and get a free pair of mint party shades or spend $50 for the sades plus free domestic shipping. https://store.thecolorrun.com

Dean’s Beans. Great coffee from a company that works with coffee farmers, and works on community development projects in coffee country. Also connects people to their coffee farmers via internships and the Java Trekker programs. Deals on Cyber Monday ONLY, 10-50% off select items. http://www.deansbeans.com

Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon. Gear on sale through Sunday, November 26th. Free shipping through November. The less they have, the less you pay. Get ready to register for the race on December 4! https://playmakersfit.com/collections/detroit-marathon

Detour Bars. Protein bars. Detour will donate one bar for every bar purchased through Cyber Monday. 30% off everything. https://www.detourbar.com/view-all-products/

Dona Jo. Really cute, colorful women’s workout wear. I haven’t tried it yet, but the skirts and tights look adorable and comfortable. 40% off with code thanks40, only on Friday. https://www.donajobrand.com

Dream Water. Dream water, creators of a bottled “shot” that is supposed to help your sleep better, now have a powder you mix yourself (less waste, etc.). Subscribe to the sleep powder auto-delivery for 50% off, for up to a year. Ends November 24 at midnight. https://recurringcheckout.com//s/dream-water-usa/checkout/recurring_product

EBoost. Hydration and nutrition products. 40% off with code CYBER40 ends on Monday. https://www.eboost.com

Elliptigo. Long stride, stand-up, elliptical cycles for cross-training. Various sales and markdowns, and flexible financing.  https://www.elliptigo.com

Enell. 30% off sports bras that keep the ladies locked and loaded. Code ENELL30. Ends November 27.  https://enell.com

Feetures. Athletic socks from a family owned company right here in the US. Some of the stripey new line are cute enough to wear to work! 25% off all orders over $35 with code CYBERDEAL.  https://feeturesrunning.com

FitBit. Save up to $50 on select models (ends November 27), some accessories on sale too (ends November 29). http://www.fitbit.com

FitBook. The best fitness tracker out there, and cute and functional accessories and clothing to support your fit life. Discounted bundles. 60% off the “this is my happy hour” fit mats with code BLACKFRIDAY. Friday only. https://www.getfitbook.com/collections/black-friday-1

FitFam. Virtual races with cute medals. Head to their Eventbrite page for 15% off.

Fit (ish).  Fitness and leisurewear apparel. 50% off and free shipping with code BF2017   https://fitishapparel.com

FitTour. Home-study fitness certifications. The first 100 certifications purchased for $39.99. While supplies last. http://www.fitour.com

Glukos. No coupon necessary to save on running fuel. 40% off, ends Friday.  https://www.glukosenergy.com

GoPro. $50 off the HERO5 black plus a free accessory pack. https://shop.gopro.com/cameras/hero5-black/CHDHX-502-master.htm

Gu Energy. 20% off store wide. https://shop.guenergy.com 

Hammer Nutrition. Friends and family sale. 15% off fuels, 20% off supplements, 30% off clothing, 50% off  clearance.  http://www.hammernutrition.com

Health Warrior. Save 40% on everything with code CHIAHOLIDAYS. I highly recommend the sea salt caramel! http://www.healthwarrior.com 

Hot Shot. Recovery drink. Buy a 12-pack, get a 6-pack free with code HOTDEAL. https://shop.teamhotshot.com

IDEA Health and Fitness Association. 40% off site-wide on Friday only. Some exclusions probably apply, but it seems to cover the main conferences, continuing education for fitness professionals, and merchandise.  http://www.ideafit.com/black-friday

i declare! Charms and jewelry for runners. 30% off the entire site Friday only.  Use code BLACKFRIDAY30 http://www.ideclarecharms.com

ilovetorun. Apparel, gifts, and running challenges on sale. https://ilovetorun.org

Ink ‘n’ Burn. 30% off everything, Friday to Monday. http://www.inknburn.com 

Inside Tracker. Blood testing and recommendations for athletes. Check it out and wait for the pop-up on the website. $200 off the Ultimate plan. https://www.insidetracker.com/

Intelligent Change. The Five Minute Journal (love it! I have the app) and The Productivity Planner. 25%-40% off of your order, based on the number of items you buy. Stock up, or buy for your entire team. Through Monday. https://www.intelligentchange.com/products

Inversion Junkies Apparel. Use code HOLIDAY50 to get 50% off. Expires November 30. https://inversionjunkieapparel.com

JNL Fitness. Workouts by fitness model Jennifer Nicole Lee. 30% off streaming workouts,  coaching, and more with code ITSREDHOT http://www.jnlgym.com

JasYoga.  Yoga for athletes who don’t necessarily “do yoga.”  15% off with code GIFTLOVE and free shipping. Now through November 27. https://www.jasyoga.com

Julep. Nail polish (and makeup) specials, with free shipping on orders over $10. http://www.julep.com/holiday-gifts/black-friday-2017.html

Jumpsport. Save $80 off of an elite trampoline with code JOLLY80.  (Other discount codes available on the website. http://www.jumpsport.com

Kill Cliff. Endurance and recovery drinks,  as well as apparel and accessories. $16 off all 24 packs, 30% off apparel and gear. No code necessary. http://www.killcliff.com

KIND Snacks. Save 25% and get free shipping on orders over $25 with code Snacksgiving. Ends November 27. https://www.kindsnacks.com

Kurma Yoga. Yoga supplies like yoga wheels, mats, and blocks. 20% off with code BLACK.  https://www.kurmayogausa.com/

Lebert Fitness.  $50 off all fitness equipment with code BLACK50.  http://www.lebertfitness.com/Products/Promos/BlackFridaySale.aspx

Life Aid. Nutrition beverages. 25% off everything and 50% off your first month of BevBox monthly delivery service with code BFRIDAY17. Black Friday only. https://www.lifeaidbevco.com

LifeBeam. The Vi trainer–AI run trainer–for $139 (regularly $249). I just bought one of these and I’m loving it. Monitors your pace, heart rate, etc. and integrates with Strava and other platforms. Stream music via Spotify or the app of your choice. http://share.getvi.com/x/lfFSmr (this is an affiliate link; if you use it, we each get a $25 gift card)

Livermore Half Marathon. March 4, 2018 in Livermore, CA. (I’ve run this race at least twice and recommend it for the great after party and the views on the course–check out one of my reviews here). Save $15 with code THANKS through midnight on Monday, November 27th. https://www.motivrunning.com/livermore-halfmarathon/

Lorna Jane. Fitness apparel. 30% off online and in store. https://www.lornajane.com (When you sign up for the email list you get a discount…it’s unclear if this is stackable, but you might try it.)

Lucy. Active wear and yoga clothes for women. Currently 30% off of select tops. It appears the deals may be rotating or changing during the weekend? The email isn’t clear about that…  http://www.lucy.com

Manduka.  Yoga mats, straps, blocks, props, and clothing. 25% off site-wide, some products excluded.  https://www.manduka.com

Melt Method. Self-myofacial release education and tools for pain-free living. Free shipping on orders over $150, and $250 off select trainings. More to come on Monday. http://www.meltmethod.com

Mizuno. Running shoes and more. 25% off and free shipping. Code MIZBFF1120. Exclusions apply.  https://www.mizunousa.com

Motiv. Fitness, heart rate, and sleep tracker wearable that is a ring, not a bracelet or a watch. Save $30 when you order through their instagram link (going directly to the Motiv page doesn’t provide the $30 off). Save $20 when you buy two or more.

Natural Vitality. Vital Calm magnesium supplement, 40% off AND get free shipping with code FBSALE. (It appears code CALM-FALL will give you the same deal). http://naturalvitality.com

Newzill. Compression socks. This post isn’t going to make it in time for today’s deal, which ends at 8pm CST. (Psst! NZTHANKS for 30% off on Friday.) Check them out on Amazon (where today’s deal happened), or at http://www.newzill.com

No Meat Athlete. A bundle of resources for those eating more plants with cookbooks, menus, bodybuilding guides, seminars, a vegan challenge, and more. Special collection only available through Tuesday.

Noli Yoga. Yoga and activewear.  30% off with code BLACKFRIDAY. https://www.noliyoga.com

Nox Gear. Visibility for runners and other people who need to be seen at night. They make the Tracer360 visibility vest. Save $25 and get free shipping.  http://www.noxgear.com/landing/T3BF.html?T8_BF=1

NuuMuu. Dresses  and tees for running and sport. 20% off everything with code THANKYOU. Ends on November 28. https://nuu-muu.com 

Nutcase Helmets. Protect your head. Helmets for cycling, skateboarding, and other things that might crack your skull open. Sale collection: https://nutcasehelmets.com/collections/sale

The Om Collection. Yoga activewear. 30% off with code YOGIAPPROVED30 https://www.theomcollection.com

Oofos. Footwear with OOfoam impact absorption technology. 20% off with code BF20.  https://www.oofos.com/

Orange Mud. Hydration and gear packs for running, transition seat wrap, and other running accessories. 15% off. Use code BF2017 to get a free water bottle and head wrap added to your order. https://www.orangemud.com

Out of Africa. Shea butter body care products–I really, really like their body moisturizers. Save 20% with code THANKSGIVING2017. Expires Monday, November 27. http://www.outofafricashea.com 

Ozone Socks. All sorts of socks. Site-wide sale, no code needed, through Monday only. Save 50-75%! https://www.ozonesocks.com

Powbab. Superfruit baobab chews, body care oil. 25% off purchases through November 27 with code HAPPYFRIDAY. https://www.powbab.com

The Phoenix Marathon. February 24, 2018. Use code BFRIDAY2017 for $20 off the full and half (not valid on the 10k). Expires November 29. I herd a rumor that a bunch of the #RunHeiferRun people will be there… https://thephoenixmarathon.com

Physiclo. Compression gear with resistance built in to challenge your muscles. Save 25% and get a $10 gift card for every $100 spent. Use code BF2017. https://physiclo.com

Pitaya Plus. Dragonfruit products up to 40% before. https://www.pitayaplus.com

PLNT BSD. Apparel for a plant-based life. 20% off everything with the code HappyTurkey at  https://www.plntbsdapparel.com

PopFlex. Cassey Ho’s athletic clothing line. 30% off with code HAPPYFRIDAY and a free magic scarf if you spend $100. https://www.popflexactive.com/

Portland Running Company. Save 15% on all in-stock items, up to 65% off some items, 25% off trail running shoes, and free shipping on all purchases over $50. If you’re in Portland, shop in-store starting Friday and socks are buy one, get one free! Otherwise, use code WINTERWONDER  https://shop.portlandrunningcompany.com/

Pro Compression. Up to 55% off of select styles with code FRIDAY. Put $75 of merchandise in your cart, add the code and press apply. Ends midnight, November 23. https://procompression.com/collections/black-friday-special-collection

Quest.  Through Monday, 20% off orders over $75 but under $250. https://www.questnutrition.com/

Reebok. 50% off the Black Friday collection, 30% off yourreebok custom designs.  https://www.reebok.com/us/black_friday

Revel Race Series. Most merch on sale. https://www.runrevel.com/merch

Road ID.  15% off site-wide. Ends Sunday. https://www.roadid.com

Road Runner Sports. VIP saves 25%, everyone else saves 15%. Through November 23.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Oaxaca, Mexico. April 28, 2018. Technically not a Black Friday deal, but a half marathon for $50? Yeah, baby! 10k $30. While supplies last.  http://www.runrocknroll.com/oaxaca/register/

Roka. Sunglasses, triathlon gear, wetsuits, and more.  Up to 60% off, see website. https://www.roka.com

RooSport. Magnetic pockets for your workout gear. 25% off and free shipping with code Thanks17. http://theroosport.com

Run Far. Run-inspired clothing, 30% off with code BLACKFRIDAY. All proceeds purchased from http://Run-Far.org go to the Sgt. Sean Northcutt scholarship which provides assistance to children of veterans and active service members that have taken their own life as a result of PTSD

Run Gum. Caffeinated gum. Chew a piece or two for an energetic boost–all new formula launches today. 25% off site-wide, plus an extra 5% off the starter bundle. Use code HOLIDAY17 at the website https://rungum.com/pages/2018-black-friday-cyber-monday

Run Heifer Run. Free Heifer Belle with any apparel purchase. http://www.runheiferrun.com

Run Ink Designs. Cool race-specific artwork and runner’s maps. 20% off with no code needed. Ends Monday at midnight. (I got my USA map with half marathon and marathon stickers last year!) https://www.runink.net

Run Smart Online. Workouts designed by a physical therapist for faster running and fewer injuries.  50% off all downloads through Saturday with code RUNSMART50.  https://runsmartonline.com/shop/black-friday-sale

Salomon. Up to 25% off for a limited time on the Salomon website.

Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. May 12, 2018. Save $10 with code THANKS.  Through November 28. https://www.motivrunning.com/santabarbara-wine-country-halfmarathon/

Sara Haley. Workout DVDs and digital downloads. Friday only, get a free baby onesie and a free copy of the Sweat Unlimited DVD with any DVD purchase (while supplies last). http://sarahaley.com

Saucony. 25% off select originals with code FAVORITE25; 30% off select sale styles with code TURKEY30; 40% off full price apparel with code THANKS40. On the Saucony website.

SCW Fitness Education. 20% off all memberships through November 30.  Use code BLACKFRIDAY.  https://scwfit.com/store/product-category/memberships/scw-membership/

Scottsdale Half Marathon & 5k. December 10, 2017. Prices good until Monday, use code THANKS. Half marathon $70, 5k $35.  More information on the races at http://thescottsdalehalfmarathon.com/ Register using athlinks.

She-Fit. Hands down, my favorite sports bra. I wore it once and immediately bought two more. (review forthcoming). Customize the fit! 25% off every bra through Monday. Actually you can save off the entire site, but you want to get this bra first: https://shefit.com/products/shefit-ultimate-sports-bra

Skratch Labs. Hydration, fuel, energy. Get a $100 gift card for $80 with code SKRATCHGIFT. While supplies last. https://www.skratchlabs.com 

SKINS Sportswear. 30% off of everything. https://www.skins.net

SLS3. Compression gear and more. 50% off select styles. Use code BF2017 on Friday only! http://www.slstri.com

Sparkle Skirts.  MONDAY ONLY up to $12 free shipping with code FREESHIP2017 https://sparkleskirts.com

Sparkly Soul. Glittery no-slip headbands with no black elastic in the back. The whole store is 50% off or until the style runs out (limited number of 50% off headbands available). http://www.sparklysoul.com/

Spartan Races. Up to 50% off Spartan gear at the shop; 30% races with code BLACKFRI30 https://shop.spartan.com

SPI Belt. The original small personal belt. I love these, I’ve owned three. 15% off with code HOLIDAY through Monday, November 27. https://spibelt.com

Surf City 10. Save 10% (or $20…I got two different emails with the same code) on your 2018 entry through Monday, November 27th at midnight. Use code THANKS. Races are October 13 & 14, 2018 in Huntington Beach, CA–definitely a surf city! https://www.motivrunning.com/surf-city-10miler

Suunto. 30% off Transverse Alpha http://www.suunto.com  Other models also on sale–the Ambit3 models are down to under $150 (without the HR strap and functionality) and the Quest model is just under $125. This is a great opportunity! http://www.suunto.com/en-US/Product-search/Sale

Sweaty Betty. 25% off of the sweat-wicking leggings until Monday. http://www.sweatybetty.com

Sweet Spot Skirts.  Neat snap-shut skirts to wear over tights and leggings; durable enough for athletic wear, cute enough to stand alone. Double-sided, so you get two designs. They sell some leggings snd such, but the cool item is the skirt. 25% off with code THANKSTOALL2017 through Monday. Small business, owned by women. https://sweetspotskirts.com

Swiftwick. Athletic socks, work socks, dress socks. 20% off site-wide. https://www.swiftwick.com/shop

Thorlos. Save 50% on select sizes and colors of Thorlo Experia socks.  https://www.thorlo.com/blackfriday

Tiux. Compression socks. Up to 60% off with code BF2017. Valid through Sunday. http://shop.tiux.co

Toe Sox. They are socks. With toes. Some have the little sticky bumps that help you in Pilates and barre classes. 30% off site-wide with code HOORAY.  http://www.toesox.com

Todd Durkin. Fitness books, apparel, and wrist bands; coaching and inspiration; and more. Code GIVING20 for 20% off all online purchases. http://toddurkin.com 

Ultima Replenisher. See my review of their hydration products. 15% off their Amazon store today only.

Tentsile. Need a tent? Tentsile makes tents for camping in trees! 20% off all tents through Cyber Monday. Tentsile is donating to save the national forests, too. https://www.tentsile.com

TRX. $50 off all TRX trainers, and 30% off all gear, plus free shipping on all orders. https://store.trxtraining.com

Training Peaks. 25% off of Training Peak Premium annual membership (plan your season, build structured workouts, analyze fitness trends, see progress) with code cyberpremium25; 25% off WKO4 software for cyclists to optimize your training with next level metrics and insights including individualized training levels, optimized interval targeting, and advanced run and pedal metrics with code cyberwko25. https://home.trainingpeaks.com

Trigger Point. Tools for self-myofascial release. The new Vibe roller is my favorite–totally amazing–but the Performance Kit is a must-have. Save 25% on Friday only with code BF25. https://www.tptherapy.com

Vega. Plant based protein powders and other nutrition products. 30% off for Black Friday and a gift until November 26. https://myvega.com

Vegan Proteins. Save 30% on all Clean Machine vegan supplements through Friday, November 24.  Use one of the following codes to support your favorite vegan athlete:
kstcm (Korin Sutton)
jmtcm (Jehina Malik)
mctcm (Mindy Collette)
jctcm (Joe Monk Coleman)
kbstcm (Kileigh Rousey Smith)
nmtcm (Natalie Matthews)
dttcm (Derek Tresize)
jjtcm (John Joseph)
emtcm (Erika Mitchener)
allietcm (Laura Dennis)
cbtcm (Chad Byers)
plantstrong (Fraser & Lauren)
gftv (Jeff Morgan)
Vegan Proteins is also offering discounts on the Clean Machine line stacks. Check them out at http://www.veganproteins.com 

Vi. See entry for LifeBeam, above.

Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. June 2, 2o18. Save $10 with code THANKS through November 28.  https://www.motivrunning.com/virginia-wine-country-halfmarathon

Whoop. Strain, recovery, and sleep tracking device. Think like a Fitbit on steroids. Buy one strap, get one free. (I am not making this up. I need a friend to split this deal with!) Expires November 27. Put two straps in the cart and use code THRIVE.  https://get.whoop.com/products/whoop-strap

Wild Fang. Fashion with a feminist slant, some of which is great workout wear. 25% off site-wide, plus other discounts. http://www.wildfang.com

YogaClub. Subscription box for curated active wear. Save 30% with code YOGIAPPROVED30. https://yogaclub.com

Yoga Download. Streaming yoga subscriptions. Select membership plans 50% off. http://www.yogadownload.com

Yoga International. Streaming yoga practices and classes. First four months for $7.99/month. Black Friday only. https://yogainternational.com/register/digital/9/blackfriday/midnight

Yoga Today. Streaming yoga service. 14-day free trial (all the time). Friday through Monday, 25% off an annual membership with code CYBER25. (Valid for first time members only. Regular price $9.92/month billed annually, or approx. $120)  http://www.yogatoday.com 

YogaU. Save up to 50% off yoga education classes–aimed at teachers, but very useful for the seasoned yoga practitioner. Use code BF40 for an additional $40 off. http://www.YogaUOnline.com 

Yogi Approved. 50% off all yoga classes and packages with code BF50. https://www.yogiapproved.com/yourstudio/

Yoloha. Cork yoga products. Up to 40% off and free shipping, no code needed. 50% off any cork yoga mat bag or strap with a yoga mat purchase, code CARRY50 https://yolohayoga.com

Zumba. Up to 75% off Zumba Wear, daily deals, selected bottoms and tights are buy one get one. https://www.zumba.com/en-US/shop/US/tag/black-friday-week

What did I miss?

Did you find deals for the sweaty life?

It’s that season again! No, I don’t mean the season of shopping for holidays (that’s another post for another time), but the season for Ambassadorship Applications! Before you open every browser window and apply to all the things, pause; should you really apply to that program?

Disclosure: I participate in several ambassador programs, and have worked with others in the past. (You can see them all on my Integrity First page.) No brands, races, or ambassador programs have asked me to write about them. In fact, no one knows I’m writing this post except the people quoted/shown below–they got a preview. Everything here is 100% my opinion–but I’d love to hear yours, too!

What’s an “Ambassador”? If you grew up in the 1970s (or before), you remember tons of television commercial celebrity product endorsements. For some reason, people tended to have a better opinion of something if it had a celebrity endorsement–regardless of the quality of the product. While that is still the truth in some cases, celebrity endorsements are expensive and only available to brands with big dollars to spend. Also, most of us have grown a little jaded. First, we all know that the big brands are paying for “product placement” in movies and on TV (e.g. the Coca-Cola cups on American Idol, always set perfectly so you can read them). Second, many celebrities have started to endorse products and concepts that are not only disproven by science (e.g. that vaccines are a direct cause of autism) but also are potentially dangerous (e.g. pretty much anything any celebrity has recommended you put in your vagina). In recent years, brands and events have turned to their fans to help spread the word about their products and services. In a world where people rely on their friends and social media for information, this makes total sense–aren’t you more likely to try something you know your friend just loves?

While every ambassador program is different, in general ambassadors have specific duties they perform in exchange for free product, a free race entry, swag, and/or other perks. The majority of the ambassador programs I have seen refer to their ambassadors as the ambassador team, but many also have special names for their ambassadors that are associated with their products. For example, the Honey Stinger ambassador team is called The Hive, and the Tailwind ambassadors are Tailwind Trailblazers. Most product ambassadorships last for a calendar year, so November and December have a lot of application deadlines. (Race ambassadorships may follow the race’s “calendar year,” starting a few months after the race and ending on race day.) Some programs continue from year-to-year so once you’re “in” you’re in, though the majority don’t auto-renew–you have to reapply every year.

An ambassador program connected me to everyone here in one way or another

Should You Apply?

Do I love the product/event? If you don’t love it, don’t apply. Period. Ambassador programs only work well if the participants legitimately like (and use!) the product, or are genuinely excited about the race or event (which doesn’t necessarily mean you are a past participant). It’s not just about what the company gets out of it though: it reflects poorly on you to promote a product you’ve never used, or to promote an event you have no intention of doing.

Do I have realistic expectations? Do you know what also reflects poorly on you? Sour grapes if you’re not accepted! Every year I’m shocked to see tweets, blogs, and Facebook posts to the tune of “XYZ didn’t pick me to be an ambassador. Again. They always pick the same people. Whine, whine, gripe. I’m never using XYZ product/running XYZ race again!” While these comments don’t reflect poorly on the product/event/brand, they DO reflect poorly on the post-er.  The majority of ambassador programs have a limited number of spots and far more applications than they have places. If you apply to a program and are not accepted, you have no idea why–and it might not have anything to do with you! Maybe there were a large number of applications from your geographic area, and preference goes to people in other areas. Maybe your strength is on your blog, but they really needed a Snap maven. Maybe your main sport is running, but the brand wants to branch out into other sports. Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit from the team’s perspective. Just like colleges, and jobs, and awards, you don’t get everything you apply to. You’re not entitled to anything 🙂

Am I willing to commit to that product/event for the year? There are really two parts to this. One, it should go without saying that as an ambassador, you do not promote competing products or events. If you are an ambassador for Pro Compression, for example, you should be perfectly happy to NOT be on social media or at events wearing any competing brand (and even give a thought to giving away those other socks). I wrote “it should go without saying,” but I’m saying it because while it SHOULD, it’s one of those “common sense isn’t very common” things. Are you really serving Health Warrior if your social media is filled with Trader Joe’s chia bars?  Two, if you apply for an ambassador program you should be willing and able to fulfill all of the requirements for that program. Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon Ambassadors, for example, are required to work a shift at the information booth during the race expo; Represent Running Ambassadors are required to work a packet pickup (unless they are remote ambassadors). If you’re unwilling or unable, don’t apply.

What are the ambassador program’s requirements? Every program has different requirements. You might be required to post a badge on your blog (if you have one), or to make announcements on social media channels to promote the product/event; create content for the brand’s website such as a photograph, review, or blog post; wear branded gear to events you attend/compete in; work at an expo booth to promote the race; create a post-event review; serve as a leader for a warm-up run; work at the event itself to ensure it runs smoothly; or any number of other things. Sure, life happens, and maybe you committed to an event before you knew you would be seven months pregnant and on bed rest, or nursing a leg broken in a skiing accident, or taking in your brother’s kids for the year, or laid off from your job and unable to travel to the event. Everyone gets that there are unforeseeables that might prevent you from fulfilling your duties and most programs will give you a pass if that’s your situation. As a general rule, you should be confident you can do what the program requires. Read the program description carefully, and make sure you understand the requirements.

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Can I live with all of the ambassador program’s restrictions? Again, it should be a no-brainer that you can agree to not promote competing products. Other restrictions vary widely by program. For example, the Bib Rave Pro Team members can only have a limited number of other ambassadorships. If the event’s sponsor is Adidas, you might be asked to avoid wearing gear with competing logos while you work at the expo. Again, read the program description carefully, and make sure you understand what you can and can’t do. If you can’t abide by the program’s restrictions, don’t apply.

Do I have the time/resources/bandwidth to fulfill the requirements and do a great job? If you have a full-time job and a full life, consider how much time and energy you have to devote to each of the programs you are considering. Even if you can wrap your head around 12 different ambassadorships at once, and somehow not give your blog more badges than a Girl Scout, most of us do not have the time to put into that many ambassador projects in a single year. Be realistic about what your other commitments are and how you will balance them with the programs you hope to work with this year.

Briana (of mat.miles.medals) met Dani, Libby, and Brandi through the Sparkly Soul ambassador program. New friends are one of the benefits of being an ambassador–and you already have something in common.

You WANT to apply, but will you do an awesome job?

Five guaranteed tips to be a rockstar ambassador!

First, Do All The Things. A great ambassador fulfills all of their requirements. Make a checklist and get it done! If you are required to work an expo shift or a promo booth, do the whole shift–seriously, sneaking out early isn’t cool–and if the event is really hard-up for help, consider offering to do another shift. Some things don’t have specifications, such as “help promote the race.” At a minimum, you should help spread the word for the big events (such as pre-registration specials, discount days, etc.), but think of that minimum as a floor, not a ceiling. The ambassadors might only be required to post one Instagram post, but creating two or three wouldn’t be that much more work. Just like in a team sport, as an ambassador you should strive to be an asset to your team.

I have had the honor to be a part of the Represent family for two years. The first year I was a posting fanatic and helped at as many packet pickup as I could. This second year life got in the way and I was only able to volunteer once (as per the requirements) but I felt guilty for not posting about the race events as avidly as I did the prior year. — Ashley of Every Runner Counts

Second, support your teammates! Lots of ambassador programs have some kind of forum they use to communicate. It might be a private Facebook group, a Slack channel, or a dedicated members-only website. Some are chatty, others are quiet, but all exist to help the ambassadors help each other. Every ambassador group has a wide range of people in it who differ in beliefs, sizes, preferences, and experience. When a new runner posts their new 5k PR, don’t ask if they crawled–congratulate them and encourage them to beat it. When someone is disappointed with a race result, don’t roll your eyes and tell them to get over it–say something kind, or keep your mouth (keyboard?) shut. Kindness is FREE, spread that sh*t everywhere.

Third, view every bit of swag and every perk as a gift. Many ambassador programs provide little extras, such as extra products, or gifts from race sponsors. Chances are that you’re not going to like everything–and you don’t have to–but think of everything as a gift and mind your manners. I’m a vegetarian, for example, so I really have no use at all for a bag of KRAVE jerky. I’m not going to eat it (it’s meat), and it’s not authentic for me to give a shout-out or otherwise promote it. If one of my ambassador programs mailed me a box of KRAVE, I wouldn’t mark the box “refused, return to sender” or make a big stink about how inappropriate it was in the ambassador chat group. Instead, I would ask the ambassador wrangler if it would be okay to pass the jerky on to a friend, if I should pass it on to another ambassador, or if the donor/sponsor/brand would prefer I return the package. Bottom line, you don’t have to love and adore every race sponsor or every bit of swag offered to you, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it either.

Remember that it’s an honor to be chosen, and use this opportunity to better get to know the people working for your brand and your fellow ambassadors. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had with the brands (trying new products, etc.). The experience with the people was a perk I didn’t expect going in, and I’ve made some wonderful friendships along the way that will stay with me beyond my time as an ambassador. —Briana of mat.miles.medals.

Fourth, stay positive. Nothing says “bad ambassador” more than talking smack about the brand you’re supposed to be representing! Be honest, but don’t trash the product/event. It’s okay to say you’re disappointed about ABC, or that a new product offering isn’t right for you. Frankly it can seem fake if you always absolutely adore every aspect of the brand/company/race you are representing.

Fifth, give honest feedback. (About the race, or brand, and about the ambassador program.) As an ambassador, you are in a position to hear feedback that the race director or brand does not. As Briana points out, “some brands tap into their ambassadors to get a temperature check of how a concept or idea might be received. Depending on the group, and your comfort level, you can elevate feedback to people who can do something with it. But remember to keep it constructive.” Finally, ambassador programs evolve each year, and the program managers are generally open to hearing about your experiences. What worked and what didn’t? I was frustrated when one race sent us flyers and posters to distribute–two weeks before the race. I loved it when another group moved from Facebook groups to Slack. Sharing your positive experiences, and providing constructive feedback about the not-so-positive ones, will help support the race or the brand by making next year’s program even better.

 

So…Should You Apply?

What’s your experience as a brand ambassador?

Which ambassador programs are currently accepting applications?

Disclosure: this is NOT a sponsored post (no compensation, product, or freebies were offered to entice me to write it), and is neither written nor endorsed by Good Farms. Per usual, the choice of subject matter and all of the opinions here are mine. This is the first of my posts inspired by #ExpoWest 

This weekend was the industry meeting, trade show, and adult trick-or-treating extravaganza known as Natural Products Expo West: a gathering of more than 100,000 people with exhibits/booths for more than 3,000 companies. For 2017, I can’t think of a better find to spotlight than Good Farms. Remember my last post about food waste? I had a lot of conversations around food waste at Expo West (which itself produces quite a bit of waste, but that’s a subject for another time). One of the most promising trends in the natural foods space is using “waste” products instead of putting them in the trash. (All that fancy coconut water people are sipping? Did you ever think about where the rest of the coconut goes?)

Enticed by strawberry juice! Friday morning I made my way to the Arena section, an entire room I missed last year, when I came upon a booth decked out in strawberries with a video slide show. If you know me, you know I’m a total strawberry junkie: I have fond memories of spending a day each summer picking strawberries with my family at Blessed’s Strawberry Farm (“one for the basket, two for me”) and filling the “way back” of the station wagon with berries; when I lived in Oregon I anxiously awaited the annual Burgerville strawberry milkshake season; most recently I wait for the spring farmer’s markets to open so I can buy directly from the farmers. When I saw strawberries, I was drawn like a bee to a blossom and let me tell you–SO worthwhile!

Right,back to the juicy goodness. Good Farms’ cold-pressed, organic strawberry juice is simply wonderful. You can smell the strawberries as the cup nears your face (since the juice is not heated, the volatile organic compounds that create the strawberry’s aroma remain mostly intact). The juice tastes just like biting into a strawberry, minus the pulp and seeds. It is very flavorful–I could see using a few splashes in my fizzy water to make a refreshing mocktail. While I didn’t check the nutrition label, I know it is fruit juice…so I’m glad it comes in 14.5 ounce bottles instead of gallons (as otherwise I’d drain the whole jug much too quickly). If you’d like to get your hands on some, try Costco, Whole Foods, Chick-fil-A, Panera, and meijer. (Note those are the Good Farms partners, not necessarily all of them will have the strawberry juice, which is currently in limited production.)

Boxed berries with a glass of the juice

Ugly reject strawberries make great juice. That’s because there are nothing wrong with the strawberries, which come from organic strawberry farms in Mexico; they simply don’t meet the beauty standards supermarkets set for strawberries. Using these berries instead of treating them like garbage not only results in delicious juice, it also makes sure farmers get paid for their crop, farmworkers can earn a better wage (more sold produce = higher profit = more money to pay wages), and it is a responsible use of the resources that went into farming the berries in the first place (including water, soil/dirt/land, and labor). Finally, it prevents the berries from ending up in a landfill, where they would either remain intact for centuries (as in a standard landfill, where the ever-increasing materials on top deprive those on the lower levels of the air necessary to rot), or decay and produce gases and contribute to climate change (if put onto a dump-style trash pile).

But wait, there’s more! If you’re following along to this point, you may have the same question I had: “Wait, after the strawberries are juiced, what happens to the smushed-up berry parts?” That’s wasted, right? WRONG! At Expo West I had the opportunity to talk to some of the Good Farms project team. The great guys in the booth were kind and patient with all of my questions. They explained that the juice project is currently a small operation–two trucks of berries per week–because it is important to get the process, production, and finished product done well before scaling up. (That way you can scale as time and resources permit, staying true to your original vision.) They are working to connect the farms with secondary markets for the smashed berry parts, such as companies that make all-fruit frozen pops. I imagine those berries would also be useful to companies that make yogurt, smoothies, and dried fruit products.

It’s not just about the strawberries–it’s about the farmers. Every piece of produce has people behind it. In the US, we have typically treated farm workers poorly. While I haven’t studied the socio-economics of why, I imagine the shift from slave labor to poorly paid sharecropper labor (read: racism and the resulting racial and economic inequality) play a role. The framers of the US Constitution were landed, white gentry who definitely thought themselves more valuable and worthy than everyone else (e.g. the First Nations who already lived in the Americas, slaves, indentured servants, women). The Good Farms strawberry farms are in Mexico; in the US the workers who pick strawberries are almost always migrant farm workers, typically without access to education, social services, or medical care. Farm workers tend to move to follow the crops (where the work is), which means children who should be in school may be in multiple schools each school year, every year, making them more likely to fall behind academically and less likely to graduate from high school or pursue higher education. Female farm workers are subject to a high level of sexual harassment and assault, often at the hands of the bosses who are supposed to be protecting them. One report I heard on NPR (morning of 3/13/17) estimated that 45% of the farm workers in California are undocumented, which means they don’t enjoy many of the legal protections that US workers are entitled to, such as minimum wage, rest periods, and meal breaks. It also means that women who are sexually harassed or abused are less likely to seek help for fear of being deported and separated from their children. California only recently (since I moved here in 2008) passed laws mandating access to shade and clean drinking water for farm workers. We’ve got a LONG way to go here.

Good Farms is moving the needle. Good Farms is a stakeholder in the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI). You can read more about EFI on their website, but the basic gist is this: treating workers better (through fair wages and labor practices, access to education, sensible pesticide policies, proper protective equipment and safety protocols) is the right thing to do. EFI goes beyond third-party audits (like when OSHA shows up to spot-check your operation) by creating an on-farm team that is responsible for implementation and maintenance of their program. EFI partners include the United Farm Workers Union and Oxfam America. This is true of all of their farms, not just the strawberry farms. The Good Farms strawberry farms are also fair trade, certified by Fair Trade USA. You probably don’t even consider whether terrorists or slave-labor was involved in producing the food on your plate, but Good Farms does: C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) helps them keep terrorists and terrorism out of the food chain by working with companies to protect and secure cargo, and with CIERTO to create transparent, safe labor contracts and help eliminate slavery. (Maybe you’ve heard about child slave labor used to obtain cacao? Slavery isn’t just a chocolate problem.)

I couldn’t capture the entire slide show, but you get the idea

A few other notables. Good Farms works with Feeding America and other food banks to donate produce instead of wasting it (not just strawberries, of course), to the tune of 350,000 pounds in 2016. They have outside auditing for their organic standards (CCOF) and food safety (PrimusGFS). Good Farms helps their farmers in Mexico by partnering with Mexican social responsibility programs that educate workers on their rights and how to exercise them; they help undocumented Mexicans living in Mexico obtain birth certificates (because without them, you can’t fully participate or exercise your rights–yet many economically disadvantaged Mexicans have never had a birth certificate). Good Farms partnered with Costco to provide disaster relief. With IEEA they provide education to farmworkers, by giving children backpacks with school supplies they reduce barriers to childhood education, and by maintaining websites and consumer outreach they teach us how to eat more vegetables and enjoy them.

Food security is a privilege. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you are a lot like me: safe place to sleep tonight, not worried about where my next meal is coming from, enough income from my relatively-cushy job (where I do not perform manual labor in a hunched-over position like the farm workers in this video on the UFW facebook page) to make discretionary purchases, leisure time to pursue personal interests. I’ve never gone to bed hungry because I have always had access to plenty of food. My parents had access to education and paved the way for my life, where I had even better opportunities. Most of the world is not so lucky. I’m willing to pay a little more for a quality product that improves the lives of those whose work produces the food on my table, because I can.

How about you?