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Minimalist Fitness Shoes from New Balance – Barefoot-Wear

Minimalist Fitness Shoes from New Balance – Barefoot-Wear


What It Is: A minimalist cross training shoe for women (Minimus 20v3 Cross Trainer), designed for a variety of activities, such as lifting stuff in the weight room or middle-distance road running. Described on the New Balance website as an “all-purpose shoe for the serious fitness fan.”

This season’s colours: black with pink (bad-ass with a girly edge); grey with blue (subtle and tasteful); yellow with purple (hello, bright!).

What You Might Not Know: These minimalist fitness shoes have a special Vibram® sole, which looks like a honey-comb pattern. The benefit? According to New Balance, the Vibram® soles provide “maximum surface contact” and “multi-directional traction.” I think that means they’re nice and sturdy while protecting you from slipping.

New Balance Vibram

Feelin’ the Love: I’m a sucker for a good minimalist shoe; I think I’ve owned about 5 or 6 pairs so far. There are no in-soles or cushioning in these Minimus models, so if your current shoes have pillowy in-soles, you might feel a little too, er, barefooted at first. (You might acclimatize quickly but New Balance recommends a slow transition to cut down the risk of injury; that’s because they say minimalist footwear could change your running technique and foot strike.) If you’re already used to close-to-barefoot workouts, you should feel right at home in these minimalist fitness kicks.

There’s a four millimetre drop from heel to toe designed to mimic the natural shape of the foot, which I noticed and appreciated. Comfy. The shoes are quite narrow in the heel and much wider in the toe box – a good match for my foot type. Shoes often feel roomy enough around my toes but slide off at the heels, or they’re just right in the heel but crowding my toes. Not so with these shoes. More love: Super lightweight and tons of ventilation.

New Balance Web

If I Could Change One Thing: I’m not sure how true to size these are. I’m usually a size 7-8 in various brands of women’s shoes. I got Size 8B (“B” is New Balance’s standard medium width), which appears to be at least a full size too long and perhaps a wee bit too wide at the front. My toes actually have too much room, causing my forefeet to slide around inside the shoes during exercises with lots of lateral and back-and-forth movement (i.e., most HIIT drills I tried).

Also, the toe box looks a bit bulbous. With my over-sized yellow pair, I couldn’t help feeling like I was wearing lightbulbs on my feet.

Should You Buy These? With the Minimus 20v3 Cross Trainer, New Balance has captured the appeal of a minimalist, lightweight shoe with an overall cute design worthy of a test run. To get the right size, though, try them on if possible before buying in-store or online; $119.


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Leak-Resistant Workout Underwear for Women

Leak-Resistant Workout Underwear for Women


What It Is: More than a workout panty, a pair of NYC-made Dear Kates provides protection against light leaks – like if you pee your pants a little doing jumping jacks or when you want the added comfort of “period underwear” at the gym. Dear Kate is underwear for women with a built-in breathable liner that protects like a panty liner (but without that icky feeling of wearing one that shifts around and doesn’t breathe); athletic styles come in thong and hipster cuts. There’s also the “I Am Strong” Running Bikini.

What You Might Not Know: Dear Kate makes athletic underwear, but they’ve got a lovely line of leak-resistant lingerie, as well. Hazel_Thong_Set_1ae8c612-54eb-42cc-9a87-f6fe05a55d9d_1024x1024

Feelin’ the Love: I own a drawerful of (mostly cotton) workout thongs, but my Hazel Sport Thong with Full Lining feels the most luxurious (body: 76% nylon, 24% lycra; lining: 100% micropolyester). The liner is soft and cushy like there’s something extra in there, but it’s not at all bulky.

I’m blogging here about intimates, so there’s no escaping getting personal. I could jump around all day without leaking urine in my Lulus. But, wouldn’t you know it, my heaviest period days have a knack for falling on vital gym days. Nothing says “added assurance” against small spills like three breathable layers of wicking, stain-releasing and leak-resistant fabric.

Created by a woman with a degree in chemical engineering, this clever undie technology holds its own. As a test, I dribbled a teaspoon of water into the gusset (crotch area) of my Dear Kates. The effect was a slightly damp inner lining, but the moisture didn’t permeate the outer layer. Even if you don’t deal with urinary incontinence, and period overflow isn’t on your mind, you might want to wear light-colored leggings without the worry of crotch-sweat conspicuously seeping through. More points for Dear Kate.

If I Could Change One Thing: I love the sporty look of these silky, black Hazel underwear with colorful trim in either green, yellow or blue (I got blue). But the trim also adds seams around the edges, especially with its detail at the sides (see photos). This takes away from a seamless look when you’re wearing form-fitting workout tights. I’d love to see a seamless workout style from Dear Kate.

As for sizing, they seem true to size. I’m a 0-2 in skirts and pants and size small in other underwear brands. The Dear Kate XS I got is perhaps too snug. These workout underwear are stretchy, so they still feel comfortable, but they do dig into my hips a little; a size up would probably eliminate this problem. Check their sizing chart before you buy.


Should You Buy a Pair? If Dear Kate makes you feel comfortable and confident enough to swing a kettlebell in your undies (as per photo), then go for it! If you’d prefer to cover them up with tights or shorts, I think you’ll still enjoy these added-protection, machine-washable workout underwear for women; $32-36 USD per pair.

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Gluten-Free, Nut-Free All-Natural Chickpea Snacks (oh, and no GMOs)

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What it is: Crispy, crunchy all-natural chickpeas served either in a bag (pop ‘em in your mouth like popcorn) or in a bar-shape (looks like a granola bar’s close cousin). Regardless of how you eat them, you can be certain that they’re: 1) nut-free, 2) gluten-free, 3) full o’ fibre, and 4) good for you.

The Good Bean snacks come in an assortment of flavours. Craving salty? There’s Cracked Pepper, Smoky Chili & Lime, Mesquite BBQ and more. For your sweet tooth, try Sweet Cinnamon or Chocolate. Screen shot 2014-01-22 at 2.23.36 PM

What You Might Not Know: Chickpea connoisseurs say that a quarter-cup of these rolly-polly snacking beans packs as much fibre as two cups of broccoli, as much folate as three cups of spinach and as much protein as an egg! Nutty little chickpea, you have such a nutritious range!

Feelin’ the Love: The good folks at The Good Bean sent me lots of flavors to try out, and they were all tasty. But the one I liked best was Sea Salt! (Yes, I like plain vanilla ice cream, too.)

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Don’t get me wrong – I also happily gobbled up the Cracked Pepper and Smoky Chili & Lime flavours. The Sweet Cinnamon was nice, but when it comes to munching away on chickpeas, I preferred the savoury angle. To me, this healthy food is a more satisfying substitute for less healthy food like, say, chips versus something sweet – like a cookie. I’d take chickpeas over chips (maybe because both are crunchy), but a cinnamony chickpea won’t easily fill a cookie void for me. You know?

Having said that, I see these all-natural roasted chickpeas as more than a swap-in for junk food. They’re an enjoyable way to snack “clean.”

The Good Bean’s version of a granola bar gets a thumbs-up as an option for people who can’t or don’t want to eat nuts or gluten. The best flavour for me (again!) was the simplest: Fruit & Seeds Trail Mix. chickpea

If I Could Change One Thing: These chickpea snacks grew on me quickly, but my first few mouthfuls felt a bit dry. For best results, I suggest breaking into a bag with a glass of water at arm’s reach.

Should You Buy It? If you like eating clean, then yes. The ingredients are simple, and there are no GMOs. Plus, these healthy snacks suit a variety of dietary needs. Pricing is similar to other snack foods; check for stores near you that carry this product. I’ll be asking for them at Whole Foods.

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Fitness Pants That Aren’t See-Through!

Fitness Pants That Aren’t See-Through!


What It Is: A line of fitness clothes, including pants, tights and capris that aren’t see-through in the butt when you squat, Down Dog and bend over! Hallelujah.

What You Might Not Know: The company name is a big tip-off that these clothes are Made in America; L.A. to be exact. And in true L.A. fashion, the company recycles fabric trimmings and sources locally and organically for an eco-friendly touch.

Feelin’ the Love: We’ve all stood behind that woman in a yoga or fitness class (or, eek, in Whole Foods!) who’s sporting the cutest-ever workout tights that also happen to be rather sheer in the rear. Or worse, you are that person.

I’ve ditched a pricey pair of fitness pants from a trendy brand (hi, Lululemon) because I just didn’t feel good about exposing an x-ray view of my thong underwear every time I bent over for a burpee.

I know, call me a prude.

Enter American Fitness Couture. Their fitness pants are made from a super-thick thread count, so, no, they don’t go all see-through when you bend over.  This was a real confidence-booster for me when teaching fitness classes up on a stage, basically under a spotlight. Inversions in yoga class felt a little more carefree, as well.

Another bonus: This fabric washes well as long as you skip the dryer. No fading, no pilling.

If I Could Change One Thing: For these fitness capris and pants to be as opaque as they are, they’ve got to be thicker than your average fitness fabric. It stands to reason, then, that they’re also hotter once you start working up a sweat. I did notice a difference. However, for some women, a little extra heat is a decent tradeoff for keeping their “privates” private.

If you’re ordering online, heads up that the pants might not be true to size (TTS). The capris I have are a size Small (XS or Small are my usual), but I would have appreciated a little more “give” in the thighs and butt. They’re a tad tight, folks. I think this is because the fabric feels a little less stretchy than other fitness pants I own. The label says: 45% cotton, 45% polyester, 10% spandex.

Perhaps I should have gone up a size, except the roll-down waist fits like a dream. The waistband on my 3/4 Length Capri Leggings can be flipped up for more “tummy” control (remember this fabric is thick, so it’s going to hold you in) or folded down if you’re a hipster. Worn either way, the waistband sits perfectly flat against my abs without sliding down or muffin-topping.

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Should You Buy It: Yes, give them a try. After all, wearing peek-a-boo pants is so last year. Cost: Fitness bottoms start at $69 USD;

BTW, American Fitness Couture makes more than just pants. Their yoga tee ($44) is basically just a t-shirt, but the fabric feels like lovely, soft pajamas. And it’s TTS – my usual XS fits just right.

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