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!
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.)
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.
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.
“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.”
“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!)
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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/
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/
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.
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.
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 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.
Peleton. I’m told the app is now free for 90 days (thanks, Jennifer!)
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
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: Today I have a guest post from Colleen Cleary. In January this year I put on my brave pants and went out to a fun run where I didn’t know anyone. That’s how I connected with Colleen. If I didn’t already have plane tickets for a non-negotiable event, I’d go to RunAway Girl’s Weekend! When I heard about it, I offered Colleen the opportunity to write a guest post because I think it sounds awesome and I wanted to share with you! All of the words and images below are from Colleen(if I make a little edit, I’ll put it in brackets so you know).
A big thank you to Elizabeth for inviting me to share with all of you about a passion project of mine. As a health coach and distance runner, I created RunAway Girl’s Weekend because I had the desire to bring together women runners for a weekend retreat at a local venue. In the summer of 2018 I was inspired by a visit to Abbey Road Farm in Carlton, Oregon. I immediately knew I had to host an event there and couldn’t wait to invite my BRFs (Best Running Friends).
This weekend celebrates everything beautiful about women’s running. From sharing the challenges of our sport to sharing laughs and stories and finding commonalities as well as a sense of belonging and community. [ERB here: one of the things to love about having a running community? You can engage in your favorite solo sport and be social at the same time. I think I’d love this retreat because Colleen’s about to give you permission to run like a rabbit or a tortoise or just take a long walk to kick off the weekend.]
RunAway Girl’s Weekend happens October 19th & 20th this year and starts with a trail run at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Carlton, Oregon. This year the route takes runners on a one mile warm up loop then uphill for 1.5 miles to a gorgeous view at the top and the joy of running those same 1.5 miles back downhill to the start. It has been confirmed that the running police will not be in attendance this year so participants have the option to complete the one mile warmup only, to repeat the one mile warmup loop, or tackle the entire course. I completely understand and welcome anyone who feels like that they just need a relaxing walk, a combo of walk/run or full out run. [ERB: check out the photos of the area around the Abbey on their website!]
Once finished on the trails, participants can grab some hot coffee or tea & a snack before heading just half a mile to Abbey Road Farm where the rest of the retreat takes place. Samantha Baker WithRadical Wellnessis returning again this year to lead a yoga class on the lawn designed just for runners. The combination of Samantha’s sweet spirit and understanding of runner’s needs won over everyone last year even a couple of yoga skeptics.
The day continues with yummy food and a class taught by Brooke Galster-Boston of Cypress Counseling Services. Brooke has put together a talk with a focus on the pursuit of happiness and how it effects our mental health.
The fun doesn’t end there! There are optional massages, wine tasting and visiting with the adorable farm animals that reside at the farm to also enjoy.
For overnight guests there will be s’mores around the fire pit and a dance party in the ranch house. The next morning everyone will gather for breakfast and an optional group walk.
Spots for this weekend continue to fill up but there are still both overnight and Saturday only options available. Pricing and further details can be found at colleencleary.net/events
For all of you that kindly took the time to read this blog post today you may take $20 off your event fees just by mentioning TrainWithBain at the time of registration!
Want to connect with me further? I hang out on Instagram under my name here, and the event has it’s own page here. I’m also on Facebook and would love to connect with you!!
[ERB: Don’t be intimidated! Colleen is an adult-onset runner too! She’s also a RRCA Certified Running Coach. Can’t make the retreat? You can always sign up for her mailing list to be the first to hear about next year.]
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!)
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.
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!
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.
Disclosure: while this is not a sponsored post, and contains no sponsored content, my ticket to BlogFest—just like everyone else’s—was generously paid for by the BlogFest sponsors. I’m thankful for that. As is my editorial policy, all of the opinions and words below are my own.(Product links are to my Amazon affiliate storefront. You pay nothing extra, I make a few bucks to pay web hosting fees.)
Remember how you looked forward to Christmas as a kid? All the anticipation, special treats, relatives, preparations! That’s how I feel about IDEA World, especially now that BlogFest takes up the first two days. Sometimes the things I wasn’t all that excited about turn out to be the very best things—just like Christmas, BlogFest is full of surprises!
This year, BlogFest hit at a somewhat inopportune time. I have A LOT going on in my “day job,” and some parts of that are extremely stressful. A year after moving to Portland, I’m still not fully settled into my apartment (and I’ve already renewed the lease). My godfather is extremely sick. One of my best friends just lost her mother. I have twenty-five (yes, 25!) drafted but unfinished blog posts, multiple brand new yet unread books on my dresser, a pile of packages that haven’t yet made it to the post office, and a mound of laundry patiently waiting for me. Every time I got closer to finishing something, I hit another set back. For example, I finished the first of five big giveaway posts, only to discover the photos I wanted to use are on my camera, and the battery was dead, and unlike my old camera this one requires a special battery. (Hooray for Amazon Prime.) Even though the thought of travel just depressed me and made me want to stay home so I could continue to dig myself out of the heap, I knew I’d feel better once I actually got to BlogFest.
I chose the last flight from Portland to San Diego on Wednesday night (for day-job-related reasons), and got in quite late. I was so excited to see Briana again that we spent a little more time than we should have catching up, and suddenly it was way past my bedtime. Oops. I didn’t sleep well at all, and just could not pry my body out of bed to get to the morning BlogFest workout on the beach. (As it was, in order to be on time to the opening remarks, we had to check in and get our badges beforehand, and the day started WAY earlier than I usually get to the office.) Despite the fact that the first day was THURSDAY, in my head it was Monday. (Seriously, it has been that kind of week!) The morning workout, presented by sponsor Fit Bodies, Inc., wasn’t something I felt I could do without compromising my commitment to NOT coming down with post-convention crud. I heard the workout was really fun, a simulated workout on the beach (with the “beach” being inside). I did read all about Fit Bodies prior to BlogFest. Essentially it is a way for personal trainers and group ex instructors to have a working vacation at a reduced price; in exchange for teaching a week of classes, fitness professionals can stay at the host resorts for a greatly reduced fee and enjoy all the same amenities as a regular guest. (I will definitely be checking into this for 2019!)
We kicked the day off with a welcome and initial thank you for the speakers. The morning presentation was Petra Kolber. You may not know who she is, but I’ve been following her since back in the days before DVDs. I used to get my VHS exercise tapes from Collage Video, and Petra was a force in the era of “step aerobics” (as well as the subsequent “Hi-Lo” format and beyond), so her name was all over the catalogue (and later, the website). At first I was a wee bit concerned that her topic—”The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely and Unleash Your Joy”—was just a big ol’ ad for her upcoming book (named, of course, The Perfection Detox). Yes, I’m cynical at times, but if you’ve read my prior posts you already knew this… I’m pleased to report that (1) I was totally wrong, and (2) I am so excited for the release of Petra’s book that I want to plan a group participation (free!) #PerfectionDetoxChallenge online. (Head over to my Amazon affiliate page and pre-order her book. Stay tuned for more details.) Petra shared her own history with anxiety and imposter syndrome, and encouraged each of us to STOP being so self-critical. Petra’s message was something I think we all really needed to hear, and it was a welcome shift from the energy that permeated the earlier part of my week.
Moment of transparency: originally I had planned to write a multi-part re-cap based on the three days I attended BlogFest and IDEA World. It suddenly makes MUCH more sense to break things down by topic, so instead of continuing on with Thursday, I’m shifting to talk about the rest of the super content from the BlogFest sessions.
If I was excited to hear from Petra Kolber—who I swear does not look like she is old enough to have been on VHS—I was positively stoked to hear from the first speaker for the afternoon, Sadie Nardini. If you do yoga you may already be familiar with Sadie Nardini. If you work out and hang out on Instagram, you’ve probably seen an ad for one or more of Sadie’s online courses, such as Fit and Fierce over 40 or Yoga Shred. In the yoga world, she’s seen as a bit of a yoga rebel (and not just because she has a fierce blonde mohawk and is in a rock band). Technically, Sadie was there to teach us about creating online content that provides asymmetrical income—the opposite of trading time for money—with a presentation titled “How to Make 6 Figures Online While You Sleep—Even if You Aren’t Tech-Savvy.” The meat-and-potatoes of the presentation outlined how to plan and film online content and create courses. But the underlying message was to quit being afraid of getting it wrong or doing a terrible job, and to go out there and DO that thing. Sadie had a really cool way of demonstrating how who she is on video is simply who she is not-on-video, with just a smattering of being nervous about being on video. (Aren’t we all??) I wish I’d had the chance to go hang out with her at wine o’clock, but I didn’t want to miss the next presentation.
The theme of this year’s BlogFest—which I’ve nicknamed “Stop Beating Yourself Up!”—continued with the BlogFest Keynote on Friday, delivered by Heidi Powell. Heidi spoke frankly about the businesses she runs with her husband, Chris Powell, and taming her own inner self-perfection-demanding critic. She also gave us a unique perspective on how to deal with the haters (you know, the people hiding behind their computers who have nothing better to do than criticize some detail of whatever it is you’ve most recently done). For more detail on the key takeaways on the BlogFest theme, check out Fab Fit Friends. Oh, and also Run Out Of The Box.
BlogFest is a social media conference, so we also had some presentations very specific to the things we do online. Chantal Brodrick came all the way from Australia to talk to us about “The Power of Podcasts,” but then lost her voice! Fortunately she had prepared her slide deck and had a friend deliver her presentation. Even though she couldn’t talk, Chantal still came to see us and help answer questions. No less a celebrity, GiGi Ashworth of Gigi Eats Celebrities gave a talk on video titled “Make Love to the Camera.” If you’re online, you know video is where all the action is right now, and I don’t just mean YouTube. Instagram supports video, as does Facebook (which owns Instagram). Twitter has video all over it. Blogs even have embedded video now, and some of it looks better than what is available on TV! GiGi’s talk was practical and hilarious. If you’ve watched any of her videos online, just imagine her teaching about how not to look ridiculous on camera. Finally, we had a quality presentation by Kristine Beatty, “Actionable Analytics—Beyond Your (Google Analytics) Home Page.” This is probably the technical talk I needed to hear most, since it is the topic I know the least about; sure, I have Google Analytics installed on this blog, but I have no idea what to do with it other than look at page views and bounce rates. I sent Kristine a message right after her presentation (since I’m such a newbie that even some of the terms she used lost me) and I’m definitely planning to use her slide deck and the resources she recommended to learn more.
Overall, the content in this year’s BlogFest was SOLID. Each year has been a little different in terms of how the schedule is organized and which topics and speakers are featured. This year, I’m committing to not beating myself up. Would you like to join me?
Feel free to follow me on Twitterand Instagram, where I’ll be announcing my online book club/offline “Perfection Detox” Challenge when Petra’s book comes out. You can also join my tribe using the form at the bottom of the blog—and I do solemnly promise and swear there will be no spam, ever, and I won’t share your email address without your permission, ever.
Thank you to this year’s BlogFest sponsors. (Curious? Click and learn more!)
Before I go, tell me: how does “perfection” have a hold on your life? What would it be like to live your life in a self-judgment-free zone? I’ll randomly choose a comment to win a sweet prize (which might just include a copy of Petra’s book when it is released in August) on July 31, 2018.
Disclosure: I was able to attend Natural Products Expo West 2018 as Media Support because I am part of the New Hope Blogger Co-op. I paid the going press rate for my conference badge, and received absolutely no compensation (I paid for my hotel, meals, etc.) from New Hope 360, or any other company, in exchange for my attendance or coverage of Expo West. (I only had access to the press room for the blogger happy hour, too.) While I did receive product samples and swag from various exhibitors and companies, ALL opinions are my own. Per my integrity policy, all sponsored content or affiliate links will be clearly disclosed.
Natural Products Expo West—or Expo West as the insiders call it—is the biggest business to business trade show for consumer products in the “natural” and “organic” markets. (“Natural” is in quotes because it has no legal meaning when used to describe a product, or on a product label, in the Untied States. I opted to put “organic” in quotes because there are several organic standards including the USDA organic label and the Oregon Tilth organic certification, and I’m not necessarily referring to any specific organic protocol. Since too many quotation marks are annoying, just assume I put both in quotes from here on out.)
Attendees include grocers and retail outlets seeking the newest innovative products, marketing firms, businesses with products to sell, businesses still in the development stages, and all manner of business support services from importers and exporters to label makers to packaging companies to product formulators to third party testing laboratories and much more. At the same time, and in the same space, there is a big show called Engredea, where businesses and product manufacturers can learn and do business with the companies that make and process ingredients—literally everything that goes into a product from maple syrup to every kind of oil to stabilizers and emulsifiers and sugars and lentil flour and anything else you can imagine (as well as a bunch of stuff you only know about if you work in food production).
The companies that attend cover the entire range of consumer packaged goods brands. There are nationally-known names like General Mills, Kashi, Bob’s Red Mill, Clif Bar, and Now Foods. There are companies you’ve likely seen on Shark Tank, including Chapul (the cricket protein people), Ice Breakers candy, Jackson’s Honest (potato chips and other chip made with coconut oil), and Brazi Bites (Brazilian cheese bread). There are companies you may not have heard of yet, such as The Nutty Gourmet (they make the very best walnut butters ever—in my least humble opinion), Petchup (nutrition supplements for pets in the form of gourmet sauces), and Frill (a creamy and delicious frozen vegan dessert). There are kombuchas, colas, and coffee; food wraps, no-FODMAPs, and maple saps; pastas, pretzels, and probiotics. The products are vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, and carnivore; fresh, frozen, shelf-stable and every other possible form. As a result, you see attendees wearing attire that ranges from full-on lawyerly suits to shorts and Birkenstocks, polyester to organic cotton, tye-die to spandex.
The show currently takes up all of the available convention hall, meeting room, and hotel space at the Anaheim Convention Center and surrounding hotels. There are so many attendees that on Friday night Expo West crashed the Uber app, making hundreds and maybe thousands of people late to business dinners, public relations pitches, and social events. This is despite a sophisticated network of (free) busses to transport attendees from the Convention Center to Angel Stadium (there is nowhere near enough parking at the Convention Center, so many attendees park at Angel Stadium) or to dozens of hotels in the surrounding area. Hotel space near the
Convention Center sells out within minutes—more than 80,000 people attend the show, and companies often reserve blocks of rooms for those working the show on their behalf—and I met people staying as far away as Newport Beach because they couldn’t find any hotel or even an Air BnB that was closer (and not $1,000/night).
Expo West is broken down into several distinct sub-spaces. This year, Hot Products (meaning new or hot on the market, and not meaning “foods that you eat while they are hot” as I mistakenly believed during my first Expo West!) occupied the North Halls. The Arena, Convention Center Halls A through E, and the third floor had exhibitors, including Engredea. Thursday’s Fresh Ideas Marketplace (meaning innovative products, not salad bars and fresh produce as I thought my first year) is housed in a giant white tent near the Marriott. The main plaza between the Hilton and the Marriott had food trucks, multiple exhibitor booths, a stage with live music, and roaming promoters, while the smaller plaza near the North Halls had a few food trucks and additional seating. Finally, a section of the parking lot between the Hilton and Morton’s restaurant had food-truck style Expo exhibitors as well as a few food trucks, and more tables for lunching.
Outside of those spaces, there are also several other things going on in the Convention Center spaces. There is a pitch-slam where new products can pitch to established brands and companies (think Shark Tank, but without the made-for-reality-TV aspects). One of the medium-sized hotel ballrooms hosts a variety of speakers, including the designated keynote speakers. (This year’s speakers included Jennifer Garner.) The smaller conference rooms host educational sessions on topics from the most recent FDA regulations to the exploding market for CBD-based products, new studies regarding sleep and nutrition, and more. Some of these are sponsored by exhibitors, while others are not. In addition to these session, which are open to all attendees, there are also specialized tracks that serve as a business school crash course for entrepreneurs, and more. There is a sort of job fair too. Other on-site events include sponsored breakfasts, daily early morning yoga, private business meetings, and after-hours parties. I have no idea how much of the rest of Anaheim hosts additional, private/invitation-only events (which cover the range from happy hours to multi-course meals, and even branch out into a 5k race!).
Despite the app, website, and printed brochure, it can be overwhelming to navigate Expo West. It isn’t always obvious which hall a given booth is located in, and travel from Hall D to Hall A can take 30 minutes due to pedestrian traffic—even though they are attached to each other. The scale of this event is so enormous that even if you did nothing but walk the show floors’ spaces—something few people do, due to meals, meetings, appointments, lectures, speakers, and other events—you still couldn’t see everything in the show’s four days. This was my third year at Expo West, and I finally feel like I figured out the best way for me to cover the show as a blogger. (Which included: make appointment with brands I wanted to spend time with, make a list of priorities for booth visits, stick to my top product categories, and get to the Fresh Ideas tent BEFORE it opens.) Over the course of several posts, I’m going to share what I saw, tasted, and learned, with the goal to help YOU live YOUR best life now.
Curious about a particular type of product, a brand, or a trend? Drop a comment or shoot me a tweet, and I’ll make sure to cover it in an upcoming post.
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Imagine The Color Run–self-identified as the happiest 5k on the planet–and a yoga studio had a baby. What do you get? Poof! Black light yoga with freebies and confetti! What The Color Run did for the 5k, Soul Pose yoga (a project of the people that brought you The Color Run) does for yoga. Since I had a good time at The Color Run (see the review linked near the top of this post), I figured I’d try Soul Pose, “the happiest yoga on the planet.” Even though I know I’m an over-educated, slightly anal-retentive yoga teacher, who could resist black light yoga with body paint? After all, it’s good to mix it up every now and then. (Note that some of the events are NOT black light yoga, but are held during the day–see the websitefor more information.)
Oh hey, a disclaimer here: if you’re a yoga purist, if you get upset that people call a class that is nothing but poses a “yoga” class, if you object to posture practice without meditation and pranayama, if you want to have a dialogue about the Yoga Sutras or the Pradipika, if you want to use every class to debate whether American yoga is cultural appropriation or a new creature, this isn’t for you. You’ll be miserable. If you can let go of your expectations and think of this as a black light party where you do some physical practice stuff, you could potentially have a good time.
Step One: Get On The List. I can’t remember where I first heard of Soul Pose yoga, but I added myself to the mailing list and started following them on Twitter so I could be the first to hear about when there would be a Soul Pose near me. I read the website, which promises that Soul Pose is for everyone, even if you “have never set foot on a mat.” Once the date for the Portland session was published, I waited for registration to open.
Step Two: Register! Registration for a Soul Pose event includes a yoga mat, a sweat towel embroidered with the Soul Pose logo, a “namaste” bracelet, a confetti pack, and access to paints before the session. (More on these perks later.) During the first week of registration (September for a December event) there were also extra gifts, depending on which day you registered. I’m a bit of a sucker for hoodies, so I registered the day the gift was a zip-up Soul Pose hoodie. My co-worker T wanted a mat bag, so she registered on a different day. We had a choice of four different sessions in Portland (8:30, 11:30, 2:30, 5:30), which is something of a yoga mecca–seriously, there are as many places to do yoga here as there are in San Francisco, which is ground zero for yoga in the United States. Registration was around $20 plus a registration fee from Active.com (but since I am an Active Advantage member, those fees were waived as a perk of Active Advantage membership). Pro Tip: If you run any races that use the Active.com platform, it’s probably going to work out in your favor to join Active Advantage. The annual membership is like $70, but includes a refund of registration processing fees for events that use the Active platform (up to $10 per event), a refund of the cost of your fifth event of the year, a free pair of Pro Compression socks (value $50), the opportunity to win free race entries and monthly gear giveaways, and more.
Step Three: Hurry Up And Wait. Then, the wait. In between registration and the event, Soul Pose sent out a couple of offers, like a Black Friday/Cyber Monday special. In addition to the events, you can also purchase Soul Pose gear, from my hoodie to yoga blocks to water bottles and other clothing and props. I think I got a reminder email, and just before the event there was an email with an event guide, basically laying out what to expect, when and where to arrive, etc.
The Happy Day! While lots of event guides advise you to arrive early, and it seemed a little extreme to arrive an hour early to check-in for a yoga class, I managed to get my butt (and a minimal amount of stuff–the Event Guide told participants to bring a water bottle and not much else, due to space limitations) on MAX early enough to arrive about an hour early. There was a HUGE line, stretching well outside the venue and it was cold. (Portland-cold, not Midwest-winter-cold, but still.) Given the space they rented, they could have arranged the line so more of it was inside if they had shifted the footprint of various booths. While waiting I checked out the line. It was largely composed of stereotypical American yoginis–thin, female, white, well-dressed–including a higher-than-average number of containers of kombucha. I saw exactly zero men. I did see some not-thin yoginis which made me feel better (I think yoga is for every body, not just waifs), and some moms who had brought their kids. The line did keep moving, and once I got to the front it was one quick scan of my ticket (scanner = iPad mini, ticket = email on my iPhone) and I was handed my hoodie, towel, and bracelet; with a quick “your mat will be waiting inside” and a welcome, it was off to find the paint.
Body Paint Was Limited: Bummer. I wish I had known that there wouldn’t be very many paint markers, and that many of them would already have run dry or dry-ish after the first session. The white should have really popped under the black lights, but it was so dry that I had to kinda stab myself with the marker to make it paint, and the color was washed out. The green one worked pretty well, but two of the markers I grabbed were so dry that they didn’t produce any paint at all–and there had only been one session before the one I attended. Pro Tip: Plan ahead, especially if you are in a later session. Buy a set of day-glo poster paints and some brushes, and bring them with you. (Poster paint is non-toxic and washes off with soap and water. The day-glo colors super pop under black light. You could paint yourself at home, but you run the risk of smearing it, or having it dry and flake off before you arrive.)
Venue: Adequate, Not Great. Soul Pose took place at the Portland Expo Center. Initially I was pretty excited, as I was thinking about all of the external bits: plenty of parking, easy access to public transit, big indoor space. I hadn’t thought about the yoga practice itself. While the room was big enough–our “sold out” session had room for at least another 50-75 people in it–it wasn’t a great space for yoga. The biggest issue for me is that the floors are the kind of polished concrete that you find in every convention center and were not at all compatible with the “yoga mats.” I had to put that in quotes because yoga mats ordinarily have a slight component of padding, and a somewhat serious component of traction. This is why yoga mats used to be called “sticky mats,” and why many modern yoga mats are made of, or surfaced with, rubber. Unfortunately, the Soul Pose mats are very lightweight, stiff, thin foam. They have no traction at all and slid on the polished floor. During the practice my mat also puckered up when I stepped my foot from place to place. Pro Tip: Skip the Soul Pose mat entirely. Bring your own mat. If you’re afraid your body paint will mess up your mat–and it might–or you want to paint your Soul Pose mat, bring a regular yoga mat to put under your Soul Pose mat. It’s likely going to make the balancing poses harder due to the squishiness of the Soul Pose mat, but it will keep your mat from sliding around.
Another thing that bears mentioning: the temperature. It was cold inside that expo room, and the room had a polished cement floor (which you touched during parts of the practice). Cold! The organizers should have warmed the room up better, whether by space heaters or the heating system, as even a “warm-up” doesn’t keep the body warm when the ambient temperature is cold. I get that it is hard to manage temperatures in rooms filled with people, as I’ve been to a million and one conferences and convention centers, but I hadn’t expected the bare room and the cold floor. Oops. Pro Tip: wear long tights/pants and light layers. If I had known the room in advance, I would have brought toe-less socks and arm warmers to start class. I probably would have done the entire class in long sleeves if I’d had the option.
The Rig: Festive and Theatrical. While I found it a little weird to make a human tunnel to “run in” the instructor (like a football team running a cheerleader gauntlet on the way into the stadium), but whatever, okay. There was a small, round elevated stage for the instructor; when we entered the room the mats were arranged in circles around the stage. There were white party lights strung from the stage to several points outside the circle of yoga mats, and multiple black light sources that hit most of the yoga mats with almost full coverage. Honestly, it was kind of a fun set-up for the instructor (versus rows of mats with the instructor in the front) and the black lights did their job. Pro Tip: wanna glow? Wear white or day-glo colored clothing. Make sure your body paint is solidly colored-in, too. Other good options are things that have lights, or those snap bracelet glow-sticks. Need extra help or an example of the poses? Get as close to the stage in the center as you can.
Instruction: NOT For Beginners. I only went to one of the four sessions, and each had a different instructor. I’m likely biased because I’m an instructor myself. I don’t know how many people were in the room, but it was definitely over 100. There was one instructor, and one assistant. This was inadequate coverage for the number of people in the room who needed help. When I say “needed help,” I don’t mean “man, their poses were lame.” What I mean is that I observed several things that were potentially catastrophically unsafe (like “do it this way, and you’re 80% likely to sprain that joint”) and that a tiny bit of assistance could have made much safer–and much more comfortable!–for the participants and their knees and ankles. (Especially since the mats were all sliding on the floor.)
There was no instruction as to how to get from one pose to the next, which concerns me as an instructor because most yoga injuries that are not catastrophic (think falling on your head), or long-term-misuse injuries happen during transitions. For example, to safely transition from a right-sided Warrior I to a Warrior II (and avoid tweaking a knee, etc.) you not only turn your hips to the left, but also step your left foot towards the right long-side of the mat (which gives your pelvis the room to move). It’s important to keep your right knee over your right ankle (as if you let it slide further forward and you lose your balance while moving that back/left foot, you could mess up that knee). Yet the instructor just said “Open up to Warrior II.” There was no instruction on the things that tend to bother beginners the most, such as what to do if your wrists are sore from so many downward-facing dogs. There was no instruction on where to point your toes, which is one of the most basic points for any pose. (For example, I saw a dozen people doing a right-foot-forward Warrior I pose where the right foot was turned in such that the right toes were pointing to the left corner of the mat or rotated even further.) I was also confused when the instructor talked us into what she called “Pyramid Pose” because that’s what I did–following her instructions to face both feet towards the front of the mat–and everyone around me was doing a wide-legged forward bend!
My guess is that the instructors (all of whom were drawn from the local CorePower studio chain) had only done the CorePower 200-hour training, had no specific teacher training on how to teach basic yoga to beginners (honestly, this topic is almost completely ignored in most 200-hour teacher training programs), and lacked extensive experience teaching to raw beginners. I’d love to see Soul Pose run a continuing education class for teachers who want to teach for Soul Pose, focused exclusively on clear instruction for those who have “never set foot on a mat” as their advertising said this would be a great experience for them, yet didn’t cater to that level of inexperience at all.
Pro Tip: don’t expect to be taught how to do yoga at Soul Pose. Ask a more experienced friend to come with you, or at least to review some of the basic yoga poses before you go: downward-facing dog, cat-cow breathing, warrior I and II.
Instructor Positives! The instructor did a good job creating a chill atmosphere. She reminded everyone to have fun and enjoy the practice, which was definitely keeping with the “happiest yoga on Earth” vibe. Everyone was reminded to take child’s pose whenever they wanted to, and there were a significant number of breaks where we stood in mountain pose (tadasana) to breathe, which is kinda refreshing. Also, unlike the “spiritual sandwich” model of yoga class–you know, something heart-felt and mushy at the beginning and the end without much besides posing in between–our instructor did a good job of weaving positive messages throughout the class. She had a great personality for teaching, and seemed genuinely grateful for the opportunity to teach with Soul Pose. Pro Tip: show up with an open heart and an attitude of gratitude!
If you’re an experienced yoga practitioner, and don’t need much in the way of alignment instruction, you’re going to be fine. I can’t say you’ll be challenged or get an “intensely physical class” as promised by the website, but you’ll likely get your sweat on and have a good time.
The “Block Party.” The Event Guide and the emails mentioned a Block Party, which I figured was going to be like a typical “yoga mall” with vendors trying to sell everything under the sun that might be tangentially related to a (western) yoga (posing only) practice. Instead, it was a curious mix of sponsors and other vendors. There was a Soul Pose boutique (selling the same things that are on the website), a vendor selling what I think were Christmas ornaments, and one with yoga-themed headbands. The Bakery on Main had gluten-free granola to sample. La Croix handed out ice-cold cans of La Croix (and I’m a huge fan!). White Claw hard seltzer (yes, that does mean alcoholic) was there sampling their three current flavors. Overall it was very low-key.
If Soul Pose asked me for tips: I’d advise them to (1) pick a venue where the floor had carpeting (like a hotel ballroom) or a texture to keep the mats from slipping; (2) bring in another 10 assistants per session who have experience working with first-time-yoga-class-attendees; and (3) select a teacher who is skilled in teaching to beginners and not just in keeping the vibe. Also, why are you calling the bracelet a “namaste” bracelet when it’s like a Pura Vidastyle bracelet that says “Soul Pose” (not “namaste”) on it? Oh, and a coat rack would have been really helpful too–December in Portland is chilly!
Would I do it again? Sure! Who doesn’t want to drop a squat into malasana and then throw confetti?? (Okay, so it was a wee bit annoying to be picking confetti out of my bra after class, but hey–the risk-reward analysis says when in doubt, throw the confetti.) I’m pretty sure this was the first Soul Pose yoga event in Portland, so just like an inaugural race there are some kinks to work out. Next time, I’m taking my own pro-tips (see above) and especially my own body paint.
Happy 2017!! After a holiday season filled with parties, errands, travel, and year-end work-related projects, starting the new year strong can seem like a challenge in itself–what’s the plan? What workout will you do? What will you eat? While I definitely recommend having a plan, sometimes it can be easier to start out with a ready-made plan.
If you’re ready but not sure where to start, here are a few challenges to start your year. This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just what has come across my desk, and it isn’t in any particular order. Some challenges are free, others have a fee; some are just for January, others you can join at any time. There are challenges based on running, yoga, pilates, group ex, or solo workouts. Pick a challenge and get a jump on it!
Note: NONE of the links below are affiliate links.
Details:FREE. This is a challenge for everyone, at any level, to get more engaged and help build fitness and a support community. Follow SweatPink on twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget the hashtags. If you are a SweatPink ambassador, be sure to login to the FitApproach website. (If you’re a blogger or active on social media, why not apply to be a SweatPink ambassador?)
January 1-8: #IAMEMPOWERED Sweat Pink Community Kickoff!
January 9-13: #EB2017Goals #IAMEMPOWERED healthy cooking with Eggland’s Best!
January 16-20: #BuildYourBestBody #IAMEMPOWERED fitness challenge with Hedstrom Fitness!
January 21-31: #IAMEMPOWERED #FFYHIITYOGA 10 days of HIIT Yoga challenge with Flex & Flow Yoga!
Details: start with a FREE 30-day trial to Daily Burn. (Using this link also gets you 25% off the next month of Daily Burn, and 25% off a Spartan Race.) This is a new collaboration presenting home-based workouts based on the SGX, Spartan’s official training philosophy. There are variations for beginning, intermediate, and advanced fitness levels, and membership also gives you access to all of the Daily Burn videos. (Note: I’m in love with the yoga hip sequence!)
Details: Sign up to get the month of January for FREE. Once you have signed up, you get to choose a challenge. There are options for a variety of fitness levels. For every workout completed, grokker will make a donation to charity. (After January, a grokker subscription is $14.99/month starting on February 2, 2017; you can cancel at any time).
Details: $99 for the 30 Day Transformation Kit (your choice of Buti Yoga DVD set, meal plan, and samples of Golden Ratio protein [not vegetarian/vegan] with a discount code if you decide to buy a canister; one month free streaming access). There are DVD options for beginners and experienced Buti practitioners–check the website for details. Buti is awarding prizes: a ticket to a Buti retreat (not including transportation) and a year-long digital subscription. To enter, finish the 30 days by February 15 and share your transformation story with Buti. Also: Bizzie Gold is running a separate Sustainable Transformation Group that kicks off on January 4.
Details:FREE. Six months of workouts and an optional Facebook group. Their description: “Strong, Fast, and Fit” —a six-part program with multiple, progressive, adaptable-to-you workouts and detailed coaching. This is appropriate for all levels.
Details: Sign up to run 2,017 miles (solo or with friends—you can sign up and find or create a team later.) The Basic Registration costs $25 and gives you access to monthly challenged hosted by Kara Goucher, weekly prize giveaways, access to a Facebook group for support, and a Mileage Tracker, among other things. Optional swag includes a Run The Year 2017 medal, monthly challenged poster, Milestone yearbook, and Run the Year 2017 shirt. (Wear the shirt to events to meet other participants!)
Details: There are two options this year. One, run/walk 1000 miles. Two, run/walk/exercise 100 days. Registration costs vary, depending on which package you choose, and includes an activity tracker (this one allows you to import from apps and trackers like MapMyRun and Strava). There is also a social component, so you can celebrate your progress and cheer on your friends.
Details: POP Pilates creator Cassey Ho has a variety of FREE pilates challenges that target different muscle groups. If you’re looking for year-long motivation, sign up for her email list–each month you will unlock a different workout calendar, using videos available online.
Details: FREE with optional subscription. YogaDownload describes the challenge: “The challenge is free to join and available to all YogaDownload members, but you can get the most out of the challenge by signing up for one of our memberships which you can order at a discounted price [codes on the website, pricing starts at $12/month]. You’ll get daily emails with your yoga classes, inspiration, an amazing suite of wellness prizes you can win and be supported by a strong community of likeminded practitioners sharing this experience from all over the world.”
Details: this is a guided challenge that starts January 9 (so you’ve got time to plan and get ready!) This four week challenge includes 5 workouts/week, a guided meal plan, and access to the wellness experts (including barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln and Dr. Frank Lipman) in the B3 online community. There is a recommended workout schedule, but you have access to new workouts each week, plus the barre3 online library. Options: do the challenge at your local barre3 studio, OR online. (Subscription prices: $29/monthly, $162 for 6 months; $300/year [$25/month]).
Details:FREE. From the website, “It’s a New Year! Let’s use this fresh start to re-affirm our yoga practice. Join us for a brand new 30 for 30 Challenge, where you will receive all the motivation you need to reboot or revitalize your practice. Sign up today and receive a hand-picked 30-minute class each day for the next 30 days, delivered directly to your inbox. These half-hour classes feature a wide variety of teachers, styles, and sequences, and are sure to keep you motivated and inspired to practice each day.” You can stream online, or through the mobile app. Also: Yoga International is hosting a six month meditation challenge for YI members. (There is a free 30-day trial membership available.)
Details: You’ve probably seen the BeachBody Challenge as part of infomercials for the workouts. Forget the DVDs. BeachBody has a “New Year’s Special” on their streaming service (which is available online and through devices such as Roku); you can get an entire year for under $100. For those doing the math, that’s $8.33/month, aka cheaper than a Planet Fitness membership. That includes access to all existing workouts, and the new ones as they drop. (Entry to the challenge is free and optional.) I am no longer a BeachBody coach, but I’d be happy to answer your questions.
If you prefer to get your workouts live, there are a ton of options. (I’m willing to bet your local gym or fitness studio is hosting a January challenge, at a minimum!) Here are a few that I know about that are happening nationwide:
FlyWheel is hosting a “FLY into 2017: New Year, Real Results 4-Week Challenge.” The challenge includes 5 weekly credits for Flywheel and/or FlyBarre classes (20 credits total, and the expire at the end of the program!), Early Booking, nutrition plan, home workouts to supplement your studio classes, and community support. (The link is my referral link–it lets FlyWheel know I sent you.)
OrangeTheory studios are hosting “The Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge.” To learn more about it, visit your local OrangeTheory or fill out this form onlinefor more details. (If you go, tell them I sent you?)
2017 Road Running Challenges
Prefer to challenge yourself via running events? Check out the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series! Try a “Remix Challenge” by running two events in the same weekend (e.g. a 5k Saturday and a 10k or half on Sunday). My 2016 Rock ‘n’ Blog discount code is good on some 2017 races, so give it a try (code: TRAINWITHBAIN). In California, you can earn some mega-bling through the California Half and Full Series races. Run 4, 7, 10, 15, or 20 series races to score that sweet challenge medal–the more you run, the bigger the bling!
There are plenty of other challenges out there. Are you signed up for a challenge? Did I miss your favorite? Let me know!
Update! Many of the sales, deals, discounts, and codes are good through Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. I’ve made notes where I was able to verify the information; if there is no note about expiration, it might have just been a Friday thing.
Note: exactly ZERO of these are sponsored promotions, and exactly ZERO of the links below are affiliate links. (If that changes, I’ll make a note by the specific product or link.) Inclusion of a product/race/service on this list isn’t an endorsement, though I have reviewed many of these products. The information below comes from email sent to me, twitter, and instagram. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know!
2XU–verified still active Saturday
40% off site-wide
Selected products up to 70% off www.2xu.com
Seasick Events: Coast to Crest and Carmel Valley Trail
The Coast to Crest race is set for May 6, 2017 while the Carmel Valley trail race is set for Sept 9th, 2017. Registration for 40% off, this weekend only. Register for both events at once and receive 25% off automatically, AND if you include the code “HOLIDAY” you will receive an additional 15% off… A TOTAL OF 40% OFF*!! (Registering for one event saves 15% off that event.) www.seasickevents.com
25% off all races with code HOLIDAY
Sale on gear & apparel www.spartan.com
Willamantic Classic–MONDAY ONLY
$6 off any distance with code CYBER
Introducing the Hop TWO It Relay option for the Half Marathon!
Two person teams, with the handoff at the Jillson Square midpoint of the race, convenient one stop parking, running, AND cheering plus fun team finisher medals. $55 on Cyber Monday, price goes up to $60 after. http://www.willimanticathleticclub.org/Willimantic_Classic.html
Energy Bits.–now through Monday
20% off with code BAIN
$5 shipping to the U.S. for up to five bags of bits http://www.energybits.com
Enjoy Life Foods (great for those with allergies!)–to 11/28!
10% off site-wide, 20% off orders $50+, 30% off orders $65+ code THANKFUL http://shop.enjoylifefoods.com/
Free ultra gel sampler kit with order, use code WS16E
15% off fuels
20% off supplements and accessories
30% off clothing
50% off clearance http://www.hammernutrition.com/
(Not an affiliate link, but if you want to tell them I sent you, I would LOVE that.)
Vegan Proteins–valid through MONDAY!
50% off all Plant Fusion proteins, code CYBER50
Free variety pack with any Protes purchase (no code)
2 Free Badass Cookies when you buy a box
Buy a $100 gift card, get $15 gift card free (good until 12/31) http://www.veganproteins.com
Kurgo (gear for your four-legged buddy!)
40% off everything with code CYBERSALE through 11/29 www.kurgo.com
Orange Mud–new codes valid through SUNDAY 15% off everything Free headwrap with purchase Free shipping (USA) or $10 shipping Code: BKFDY
10% off $100+ with code SB10
15% off $150+ with code SB15
20% off $250+ with code SB20
25% off $350+ with code SB25
30% off $500+ with code SB30 www.orangemud.com
Run Ink–through Sunday!
20% off the USA Race Chart with code INSTATURKEY www.runink.net
Disclosure: I received an original Buff® for testing purposes because I am a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. It’s a great way to help race directors see what is working and what needs improvement, and to help other runners find out what a race is really like.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Buff®
Okay, maybe you already knew this. If you’ve been paying attention to my blog, or have seen me at any races, then you probably know about my love affair with Buff® products. I use the UV half Buff® as a hat liner when running, which keeps my bangs out of my face and covers my ears (which never seen to get sunblock on them for some reason). I’ve used UV Buff® in the full size as a hat replacement/”do-rag,” to keep my neck warm during the pre-race chill in Arizona and Nevada, as a sweat mopper during races, and as a combination hat liner and ice holder during the 2016 Buffalo Marathon. As I started to figure out just how useful Buff® is–and how each variety (e.g. UV, infinity scarf, merino wool) is multifunctional–I could kick myself for not grabbing a drawerfull earlier. Given the chance to score a Buff® I will always be interested, and I’ve purchased quite a few for myself, friends, and family. Since I love Buff® products so much, I’m thrilled that BibRave and Buff® have an ongoing partnership!
Betcha didn’t know that! (Okay, local to me…) While the parent company (Original Buff®, S.A.) is in Spain, Buff® Inc. (the U.S. subsidiary company) is located in Sonoma County, northern California! No wonder they are a sponsor of the Levi’s Granfondo in Santa Rosa.
Don’t be a Pirate.
Buff® is a Brand Name that Indicates The Real Deal. Just like Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Clinique, and Nike, the term Buff® is a registered trademark. (Through the magic of WordPress I have found the ® symbol!) Unfortunately, just like you can buy knock-off Fendi and Gucci out of some dude’s trunk in many cities, there are imitation/fake/imposter Buff® products out there. (Note that it is absolutely 100% fine to sell a multi-functional headgear, headwrap, tube, etc. but calling it a “buff” when it is not a Buff® is misleading and a violation of trademark law.) For example, at least two race series I know of advertise that runners get a race-themed “buff” with registration, and the Marathon Maniacs and the Half Fanatics sell a club logo “buff” in their member stores. This isn’t just bad news for Buff®, it’s bad news for you.
First, you’re not getting a real Buff® when you buy these products, but you’re probably paying the same price–or more! When I order a Buff® or am promised a Buff®, I expect the real deal. The real original Buff® is made from a soft technical fabric that dries quickly, wicks sweat away from you, and is treated with Polygiene to prevent the build up of bacteria in the product. (The UV version blocks at least 93% of harmful UV rays, there is a reflective Buff® for low-light safety, and Insectshield® has a built-in repellent that lasts through 70 washes.) The fabric has been tested and is warranted to meet several international standards including Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (which prohibits the use of certain types of chemicals that are known to be harmful to humans or the planet). Fake “buff” products–at least every single one I have seen–are generally made of cheaper fabric that holds the heat in, doesn’t dry quickly, and has no UV protection.
Second, you’re hurting Buff® when you buy fakes. Genuine Buff® products are reasonably priced, and there are great sales (be sure to get on the mailing list!). There is no reason for any race or club to offer a fake “buff” because Buff® offers custom products (here’s the U.S. site!) and has a low minimum order requirement (25 pieces!). Buff also supports numerous international charities with custom designs, including UNICEF, Walking With The Wounded, and World Horse Welfare. (In the U.S., charity designs include The Breast Cancer Fund, and Buff® USA sponsors the Marine Corps Marathon.)
Last year I bought a super cute Buff® headband after trying it out at a race expo. (Most headbands go shooting off of my head like a slingshot. Insert joke about having a big head here.) My intent was to use it during yoga and group ex classes to help keep sweat from my head/hair off of my face. My body is very efficient at cooling itself, which is to say I sweat A LOT during workouts. It did a great job of keeping my bangs from dripping sweat into my eyes, and further did a great job of keeping adjacent hair from sticking to my face, but there was still the issue of my ponytail whacking me in the face during sun salutations.
In addition to my large melon, I have baby-fine, stick-straight hair with zero texture. If you put a clip barrette into my hair, it will slowly slide right out–same with most hair elastics (unless applied super duper tightly)–and the giant claw-clips tend to wobble unless held in place with something else (like a shower cap) and are impractical for yoga classes. During this round of BibRave testing, I opted for a full Buff® from the National Geographic collection. (The design I picked was so awesome that it is now sold out.) At first I tried wearing it foulard/do-rag style (see the “How to Wear” video on the Buff® website). While that kept more sweat off of my face and kept all of my hair from sticking to my face, it had the unfortunate effect of letting my ponytail turn into a giant dreadlock.
So I messed around with it more, and came up with a solution. It’s not in the video on the website, so here’s how to do it:
Pull Buff® over head and all the way down onto neck, pattern side out. (Like the neckerchief in the video)
Pull top edge of Buff® up over head (temporarily covering face) until bottom edge of Buff hits chin. Ponytail should be inside (not below the bottom edge). (This is like foulard/do-rag in the video.)
Scrunch and/or roll bottom edge of Buff® up to hairline; multiple layers of fabric should be at the hairline. (I put it behind my ears, which I know looks dorky, but my goal was “effective sweat and hair control” and not “fashion statement.”)
Grab ponytail and twist a few times, making a faux bun right next to head; using one hand to hold ponytail, grab free edges of Buff® with the other hand. (It helps to bend over a little bit while you do this.)
Grip opposite sides of Buff® (it’s a tube, so anything approximate will do) and tie a single, firm overhand knot.
BOOM! Hair and sweat control in one! I used this method in multiple deep-flow style yoga classes that included inversions and plenty of movement, as well as a Lagree Method class. Gravity was no match for this baby.