' Adventures with FitNyx: January 2015

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wanna #TakeTheLeap with Me?!

January started off the year with a month of #NoExcuses. It was a great way to kickstart 2015, because it aligned perfectly with my own personal goals, and I feel GREAT about my successes in the past 30 days! But now, it's time for a REAL challenge.

In February, I'm going to #TakeTheLeap, a new yoga challenge from SweatPink! I'm committing to finding time every day - even just five minutes - to stop, relax, and get in touch with my inner yogi. I'm still just a beginner, but even beginners should consider themselves true yogis (and yoginis).

That's why I've volunteered to actually lead this challenge! That's right, your's truly is a YOGA CHALLENGE LEADER! I've chosen to take on this role to set the example: that yoga is about dedication to yourself first and foremost, and that your flexibility or strength doesn't define your success in your yoga practice. You won't be seeing me in fancy handstands or super-bendy intricate poses - I have physical limitations, like many of us do. Instead, I'll be focusing on finding myself through more basic poses, and slowly pushing my boundaries through self growth.

SO! Here's what I want to see: I want to see all of YOU step up to the challenge! #TakeTheLeap with me and learn how to soar right there in your own skin! Take a few minutes every day to breathe. Find a pose in which you can be comfortable, or find a pose that challenges you! Either way, share it with me (@FitNyx on Twitter, @fitnyxblogs on IG), with your friends, or with EVERYONE by tagging #sweatpink #taketheleap and @FitApproach! You can also tag our sponsor, prAna, with #prana or @prana - I'll have more to say about prAna in a couple days, too!

Even if you're not sharing your progress, you can still follow the challenge on social media. I'll be posting a basic or easy intermediate yoga pose to Instagram every day between February 2nd and March 8th. Join in, explore with me, or find more advanced poses by searching #taketheleap to find some of the other leaders' examples.

Can't wait to see you #TakeTheLeap with me this February! SEE YOU MONDAY!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My #NoExcuses Goals for 2015

This month, I've been participating in a Sweat Pink event called #NoExcuses - something of a group New Year's resolution.  The Sweat Pink team has united under the commitment to making 2015 a year of strength, perseverance, and fitness FUN!

But everyone has a slightly different take on what exactly it means to live a life of #NoExcuses.  For me, it's a list of goals, several habits I am working to build in the new year.  So far, I'm making excellent progress, but there's always room for improvement.  Over the course of 2015, I am applying the #NoExcuses mantra to the following pursuits:

Blogging More Consistently - Not necessarily writing a fabulous post every day, but taking the time to write through, well-thought-out posts that are interesting, informative, and relevant.  I want to connect more to my readers by addressing topics that spark conversation, by providing product reviews (and giveaways), and by making myself more accessible in my direct, local community.

Establishing a Group Ex Schedule - I'm already kicking this goal in the butt!  I earned my Zumba instruction license last April, and though I have always managed to find places to teach, my schedule has been wonky to say the least.  At the start of the new year, however, I began a regular schedule of three classes a week, and have made connections and built followings that will open doors to new group ex formats for me to learn and teach.  It's an exciting prospect, and I hope to continue to grow my classes and broaden my repertoire!

Running More Often - Puppy's gonna help with this one!  Last year I went for more training runs that I actually ever expected myself to do on my own, but I was by no means consistent, or even frequent.  That may have worked last year when the goal was just "move more," but this year I have concrete goals towards which I'm working, including PR times for every race distance I've experienced so far.  It's going to take actual training, with some regularity, to make these goals a reality.

Making Time for Myself - Last year's career change was a big step in the right direction: I now have time to teach more classes, train more regularly, raise my puppy, and spent much more quality time with my husband.  But in all of that, I also have to remember to set aside "me time" to keep building my inner strength and to stay in touch with my inner self.  I'll be participating in a yoga challenge in February (more info on that coming soon) to help foster a stronger connection to my own spirit, and I've been making more time for my crafting, a pursuit that makes me feel whole.  This is a big part of my need for #NoExcuses, because it's my personal time that is often sacrificed for other activities, so I will definitely need to work extra hard to stick with my "me time."

Returning to Orienteering - So this is more of a "stretch goal" but it's something I want to find time for nonetheless...  When I was much younger, my dad and I would frequently participate in orienteering challenges in the Cleveland Metroparks.  It's a map and compass reading skill test, in which participants use minimal items to navigate the woods to find waypoint markers.  You have a certain amount of time to locate all the waypoints and make it back to base.  Dad and I LOVED it, and about a month or so ago, I found out that Chicago has an orienteering group as well.  I'm going to find a way to get back into, which will probably mean giving myself an intense refresher in my woodsman skills, but it'll be so much fun to get back in touch with my outdoorsy roots!

If I can cut my habit of making excuses instead of pushing myself for results, I can make 2015 the most amazing year of my life - and I firmly intend to do just that!  WHO'S WITH ME?!

How will YOU make 2015 your year of #NoExcuses?  Has anyone else tried orienteering?  What's your favorite "me time" activity?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Puppy's First Run!

Kaalia was cleared by the vet this week to start running with me - and with today's lovely weather we finally had our first chance!  We made it all the way around the block, and she still had energy so we went down to the end of the street and back at a sprint before heading back inside.  She was incredibly well behaved, no barking at people or chasing after cars, stayed pretty close to me without much pulling at the leash...  I'd say it was a total success!

The only downside was that she STILL seemed to have energy afterwards!  I had to play fetch with her for another 10 minutes before I got her to lie down and take a nap!  Maybe next time we'll go a little farther, get her good and tired so when *I* am tired I can take MY much-needed nap!

Other dog runners - any tips or things to think about as I start to train Kaalia for longer runs?  What are some problems you've run into?  What breed is your furkid, and how far does s/he run with you?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sexism and Fitness Attire

I didn't have a post planned for today, but then I saw this video and article on Yahoo - this post is my thoughts on the topic of sexism in regards to women's fitness attire, and it may be a little choppy (I'm writing it in between tasks at work) but I thought it needed some attention.  I'm quite certain this topic deserves more attention than I'm about to give it, too, but I wanted to get some fresh thoughts out there right away - especially since I've been thinking so much about fitness and appearances lately.

The issue here is that a female tennis player, being interviewed after a big victory, was asked to "do a twirl" to show off her tennis dress.  She was not the only player in the tournament who was asked - in fact, Serena Williams (arguably the most famous tennis player in the world) was also asked to show off her skirt with a little pirouette.  The reporter who asked for the twirl was slammed for his "blatant display of sexism".

First off, I am not really a tennis fan.  I used to play, just a little bit, but I was never very good, and I don't think I could ever sit through a match as a spectator.  I DO, however, absolutely love some of the cute outfits women in tennis wear.  Tennis is a sport in which women can get away with looking absolutely fabulous while still being an absolute BEAST on the court.

I can't even manage to look that good when I go to fancy parties!

And let's not even focus on just tennis.  There's an entire industry built on "looking good while working out" - the days of sweaty-pitted t-shirt and ratty gym shorts are over.  The fitness fashion industry is growing rapidly, and it's for the same reason ANY facet of the fashion industry grows: people (especially women) like to be noticed for the way they look.  I sure do.  Getting a compliment for my outfit always puts a smile on my face, and I guarantee I'm not the only one who feels this way.

So why, when a woman wears a cutesy outfit that is by design meant to be eye-catching is asked to show off that outfit, are we up in arms over sexism?  No, reports aren't asking male tennis players to "do a twirl", but they also aren't wearing outfits that, well, twirl.  Here's the thing about women in sports like tennis: it's an individual sport, you're not in a uniform - you get to CHOOSE what you wear on the court.  You can choose to follow the fashion industry and wear outfits that are designed to be feminine and noticeable, or you can choose to wear something more modest or unisex.  Making that choice can certainly affect the way you are seen when you are in the spotlight - but it's a choice that is on your shoulders.  If you don't want to be noticed for a girly tennis skirt, don't wear a girly tennis skirt.  It isn't really "sexist" for a person to pay attention to the attention-grabbing outfit you pulled out of the closet in the morning.

Of course, there are lines that can be crossed.  Asking her to lift up her skirt and show her undershorts?  That's a little more over the line.  Asking her to twirl in her skirt?  I'm struggling to see the sexism there.  In fact, I sometimes wear twirly skirts for the sole purpose  of getting to twirl in them!  It maybe girly, but it's hardly sexist.

Because all of us stop to pose in the middle of EVERY workout.

What do you guys (and gals) think?  If we're going to build multi-million dollar industries around fitness fashion for women, is it fair to then bash the people who call attention to the fashion aspect of fitness?  Was this reporter crossing the line, or just making a cute play to the fans?  I'd love to hear other opinions on this one!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Runner's Wishlist 3: Top 10 Destination Races

This past weekend, Disney ran their first ever Star Wars race weekend.  My Instagram feed was blowing up with pictures of costumes and excitement, and I spent about 90% of my Sunday feeling super jealous.  I know it'll be difficult to

Most of these locations are known for holding full marathons - I can't yet foresee myself running actual marathons, but many of these destinations seem to have other distance options from 5k to half marathon, so I'm sure I could find something to suit my abilities.  Here's a list of some of the top places in the world I'd like to run, because wishful thinking never hurt anyone...

Walt Disney World, Florida USA
Yup, I'm a sucker for Disney, just like so many others.  But that's why the RunDisney franchise has so much success - they know we were raised on classic animations, and that we'll eat it all up even if they serve it to us raw.  Most specifically, I'm super excited about the new Rebel Challenge: a 10k on Saturday, followed by a half marathon on Sunday.  I know I'm up for those distances, and it would be a great excuse to get the nerdy hubby involved, because Star Wars.

***Update!  Apparently I didn't pay attention and this race is at Disney LAND in California.  I'm down either way, Cali is awesome too!***

Clearly they all know to let the Wookie win.

Machu Pichu, Peru
How awesome would it be to run the Inca Trail and see one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the world while you're at it?  I've had a soft spot in my heart for Machu Pichu for decades, and this would be somewhat of a dream come true.  Unfortunately, the race options are marathon or 30k - but I guess that 30k wouldn't be TOO bad if I can manage half marathons...  At the very least, I'd push myself just for the chance to visit Peru!

The Andes are breathtaking - but the trail can be dangerous.

Great Wall, China
I've been to the Great Wall, but I've never run it.  In fact, I took so long walking the section I visited that my bus almost returned to Beijing without me!  I was determined to make the most of the trip, since I did not anticipate a return trip in the near future.  Now that I know they hold a half marathon along the Wall, I'm moving "return to China" higher up on my to-do list.  Plus, bonus - I already speak the language!  Sorta.  I'm out of practice...

Can't WAIT to go back!

London, England UK
Maybe it's the Dr Who fan in me, but I really want to get to London some day.  There's not much of a specific appeal to which I could point, though the British Museum's vast collection of interesting treasures certainly ranks high on my list of "things I want to see"; maybe it has something to do with feeling like this is a cool city I might actually be able to convince my husband to visit with me (he's not a huge travel fan).  Something like the Royal Parks Half Marathon might be just right for someone like me.

Gorgeous.  Even better when David Tennant is running around, eh?

Rome, Italy
I'm an archaeologist and an art historian who specializes in Central Asian art - which is heavily influenced by Greco-Roman styles.  OF COURSE I want to visit Rome, and see all the art and architecture I spent years studying!  A Rome-Ostia half marathon?  I'm essentially already there.  At least in spirit.  The body will catch up someday!

An archaeologist's vision of heaven.

Athens, Greece
I might as well just copy the Rome paragraph - but I'd have to add the very personal reason I've always had such a fascination with Greek mythology: my name.  Nyx was a Greek goddess, somewhat obscure to be sure, but with a large cult following.  She has an entire page in Hesiod's Theogony describing all the divine beings she brought into the world, including Brightness, Friendship, Dreams, and... a bunch of other less positive-sounding things that I shall choose to exclude to save my reputation, lest I be associated too closely with my namesake!  As far as running is concerned, the Poseidonios Half Marathon would be an ideal choice to start, but there are so many other areas of Greece that host enticing race events, I'm not entirely sure I could pick my favorite!

Plus it's like, where the marathon was invented, or something...

Bangkok, Thailand
As a scholar of Buddhism, I've had a lot of time to learn about Thailand and the breathtaking art produced in its religious community.  To witness these treasures firsthand at the Bangkok races would be an honor.  Plus, it's the perfect excuse to listen to One Night in Bangkok on repeat - not than anyone really needs a reason to play such a fun song...

So lavish and bright...  Seriously stunning artwork and architecture.

Cayman Islands, UK territory
Do I really have to elaborate on this one?  Have you SEEN the pictures of this place?  In fact, why bother waiting for a running excuse, just take me there already!

Should I even bother with words?

Niagara Falls, Canada/US
I chose to end the list on my most likely to happen destination to make me feel better about all the amazing places I can't afford to visit (yet, let's hope).  My family regularly took Niagara Falls vacations, and my parents still drive up for a long weekend when they feel the urge.  I'm sure it would be easy to convince my dad to run one of the shorter distance races with me in the next couple years.  I might even get my husband out there, with minimal objections!

So magical!  And close enough to be practical!

Anytown, USA
That's right, I'm being vague.  That's because I want to run in EVERY state in our great nation!  So far I've raced in Illinois and Ohio - this year I will definitely add Wisconsin, Run Disney will get me Florida, and we'll go from there!  Have a great race in your area that you recommend?  I'll add it to the list!

Where in the world have you run?  Do you have a favorite destination race?  Is there one place you MUST run before you retire your shoes?  Is there ANY chance you want to sponsor me on a trip to one of these amazing places?!  Please?  Pretty please?!?!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Body Image and FitNyx

Last week I posted a review of some KEEPTIGHT clothing items, including a fitted tank top that I hadn't found very wearable.  My problem with the tank top was that it was a little too fitted, and I found my reflection incredibly unflattering.  In my review, I briefly mentioned that my body shape is not what I'd like it to be, and that being able to wear the tank top with confidence is my new "weight loss" goal.  I was proud of myself for having a weight goal that wasn't focused on some elusive number, and thought I was doing the right thing by making my weight issues more about comfort, feel, and appearance than about meeting a meaningless quantity measure.

I also posted a photo of myself wearing the apparel, with the caption "You can really see how clingy the tank top is here.  Please ignore the belly rolls..."

A good friend of mine messaged me later that day and asked if I had time to talk - not just for one or two word responses, but to really talk.  I was a little worried, we are both pretty busy and it's only for serious issues that we ever ask to "really talk."  Had something happened to her?  I made some time for a longer conversation and was surprised when she started to talk about my review.  Specifically, about my photo's caption.

I've never been anywhere close to having a body type that could be considered "fat" - in fact for most of my life, I've been skinny past the point of healthy.  This was largely due to the fact that I was a year-round athlete, playing soccer and lacrosse for up to five teams at a time, usually devoting every spare moment that wasn't needed for school (and sometimes moments that were) to practice or games.  I was "living the dream", eating all the junk food I wanted and never gaining any weight.  I LOST the so-called "freshman 15".  I quickly got used to having a pretty rockin' bod.

Post pinata-bash.  College had some good times.

Then I hit grad school, and sports were no longer an every day focus.  I still found places to play, and usually spent my entire weekend on a soccer field, but I definitely wasn't playing at the same level.  I started to gain weight.  Not tons, just enough that my pants actually stayed up most of the time.  I was staying active enough that I could mitigate some of the weight gain, and I even got very sick for a while which helped me shed all the excess weight (and then some).  But then, life hit me hard, and after a series of events that I will share when the time is right, I ended up struggling to manage my weight.

Despite finally putting on enough pounds to be out of my personal comfort zone, I was never at any point "fat" - but I started to feel very negative about my body image.  My stomach was no longer concave, and in fact was starting to poke out and make my waistband uncomfortable.  Rolls became a frightening reality.  Dresses and tight tops no longer struck me as sleek and sexy when I looked in a mirror.  Sure, I had my husband and my best friend and many others who assured me I still had a good body, but I couldn't see it.  That old saying is so true: we truly are our own worst critics.

Last May, during my second race event.

Finally I hit my turning point a little over a year ago.  Clothes weren't fitting mere weeks after purchase, and I suffered a serious breakdown.  I lost out on a job opportunity because I couldn't stop crying over the clothes that didn't fit to dig for something a little loose and make it to the meeting on time.  I returned everything I had recently purchased, and started sobbing uncontrollably when the cashier asked me the reason for the returns.  I was miserable - but the picture above from my first trail run last year really shows me at about the biggest I've ever been.  To anyone else, I look like I'm in pretty good shape.  But to me, I see only the tummy bulge and the shapeless arms.

I couldn't bear it anymore, I had to do something.  Over the course of the year, I really turned up my dedication to fitness and started to make some diet changes to help me get healthier, fitter, and (hopefully) back to my old body.  So far, I can tell progress has been made, but I am still a long way from my admittedly high expectations.  I still have zero confidence in any of my old dresses, and half my wardrobe sits untouched because I can't stop focusing on my tummy bulge.

Yup, that one.

Why did I tell you all of this?  Because my best friend was upset that I let my overly critical opinions of my body seep into a review that didn't need my self-judgement.  While I may not be drawing thousands of pageviews every day, I do still have quite a few readers who consider me to be fitness-inspirational and readers who consider me to be a good example of a healthy body type.  When these people, who are looking to fitness bloggers for advice, confidence boosts, inspiration, motivation - whatever - come to a blog and see the author body-shaming themself, despite being in pretty good shape...  Well, what are they going to think about themselves?  What example am I setting for readers who are still struggling with their own body-image or weight issues?

Truth be told, none of this had ever occurred to me.  I'm so used to looking in the mirror, getting discouraged, making some commentary to myself, and moving along.  Yes, I'm working on increasing my dedication to fitness, and I'm still trying to make the right changes in my diet, but I'm still hyper conscious of those parts of my body that have grown over the past few years, because I see it every day.  My body-image issues have become so routine that OF COURSE I'm going to make that commentary while I'm writing about the way clothes fit me.

We can do better, self-conscious "skinny" people!

My friend pointed out to me that the offending caption could easily have been written differently while still getting the point across about the shirt's clinginess: I could have pointed out the way the capri waistline was well-defined by the fabric cling, without ever mentioning my "rolls".  According to my friend/critic, the caption referencing my love handles drew her attention to something she hadn't even noticed in the photo because otherwise, she would have only looked at the clothes without passing any kind of judgement on the outfit's model.

There's so much going around these days about "fat shaming", and now there's also a movement against "skinny shaming", but the reality is that most of us really fall somewhere in between.  I'm neither overweight nor underweight, but that doesn't mean I am immune to body-image or weight issues.  And I'm setting a very poor example by "middle shaming" myself on this blog.  We are all working towards the same general goals in the fitness world: to manage our weight and body shape while having as much fun as possible.  With this in mind, I am going to be making a more conscious effort to focus on positives and successes, rather than lingering on my negative perceptions.  I want to set the right example, but I also know that I hinder my own success by holding myself back with negatives.

And I'd like all of you, my faithful audience, to keep me honest!  This blog should have a positive impact on readers.  If you see me getting stuck in a shaming rut, call me out!  Comment sections are there for a reason - healthy debate fosters improvement.  I have an open mind and (despite what my mother and husband believe) can handle some criticism, especially if it's spot-on.  Don't be shy about giving me feedback!

You can start right now - what are YOUR thoughts on "middle shaming"?  Are those of us in the average body range setting the right kind of example?  What can you change in your own approach to the body image discussion that would help make the dialogue a more positive experience all around?

Friday, January 16, 2015

A little teaser - and always worth sharing

I've spent a lot of time this week working on a post that addressed a bad habit I've let creep into my blogging: allowing self-judgement and body-image issues color my posts.  I've been thinking a lot about some criticism I've received lately, and am eager to finally respond publicly.  That post will go live tomorrow morning.

In the meanwhile, I want to share a video that was shared by a close friend, who also happens to be the main source of the aforementioned criticism.  Of all the attempts to "empower women in sports" that have been done of the years, this is by far my favorite.  It helps that said friend decided I am the "foxy" Zumba participant about 35 seconds in, which I found to be quite flattering, if a little silly!

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Fitness Goals MAD LIBS!

As a SweatPink ambassador, I'm pleased to announce my participation in #NoExcuses 2015! You'll be seeing a lot of #NoExcuses posts from me on the blog, on Twitter, and on Instagram - and I'd love to see all my readers participate too! Sign up and tag #NoExcuses as you go through the journey with me!

Today is launch day, and what better way to start a year of #NoExcuses than by laying out your goals and desires? Fill out the MadLibs below to make your OWN commitment to #NoExcuses! Simply replace the underlined parts with your own goals!

  • Hey 2015, it’s me, FitNyx!
  • This year I would like to make my fitness hobby a lifestyle, grow my fitness class schedule, and PR in all my race distances!
  • It would also be super duper awesome if I also met my (non-numbers) weight loss goals this year. It’s not a resolution, though, just a reminder to myself to try and have the best year yet because I know I can do it if I push myself.
  • The thing I am looking forward to most this year is committing to consistency.
  • I’ll use the one thing that truly gets me out of bed in the morning, which is my competitive spirit, to help me get up, get hustling, and get after my #NoExcuses 2015.
  • Speaking of excuses (ahem), my very favorite excuse is the weather and I have used it to get out of running on more than a dozen occasions.
  • I vow to move my body and be more healthy this year even if it means I have to wake up earlier to fit in my run.
  • I will stop blaming my husband for eating the rest of the ANYTHING when everyone knows it was really me.
  • My job is not the reason I make excuses. I will show my job who's boss this year and get my running on!
  • I know that running is better than lounging around.
  • I will reward myself by letting the pressure off my shoulders after I've done my workout.
  • No Excuses 2015 has just begun and already I am imagining myself a winner. I can’t wait to rock a Jazzy Open-Back Tank from Augusta Active. I can’t wait till my sweaty friends are jealous of how fresh, clean, and BRIGHT I am between workouts with help from ShowerPill body wipes. I can see myself rocking a solid bakasana in new Rock the Course Leggings from Actio926 and looking fit and fly while doing it. And of course, I’ll be taking my workouts to the next level and improving my endurance with my new ActivMotion Bar to help me train for my next half marathon race with Sasquatch Racing.
  • Oh, and let’s not forget how amazing my Jazzy Open-Back Tank will smell during my Zumba classes after washing with some WIN Detergent. And lastly, I’ll keep rocking my 2015 with clean eats and nutrition from Beaming with Health!

  • Are you participating in #NoExcuses?  Link your blog or share your related links in the comments!  I'd love to see what everyone's doing!

    Cardio Rhythm starts TONIGHT! There's still time to register!

    It's time for a New Year and a New You!  I'll be teaching a Cardio Rhythm class Monday nights at 7pm in Skokie - a little different from my typical Zumba classes, this session will more prominently feature Indian and Middle Eastern styles like bellydance and bhangra.  I'm so excited to add this class to my schedule!  Let me know if you're interested in joining - and be sure to check out Qunoot Sharafi's Boot Camp classes as well!

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    Product Review: KEEPTIGHT Gear - Complete with discount code and GIVEAWAY!

    In December, an exciting new athletic apparel company launched their first line of beautiful women's workout clothing.  I was incredibly lucky to have found KEEPTIGHT before their launch, and after seeing some very promising concept designs on their Instagram channel, I just had to know more.  I reached out to the company, and soon I was chatting with co-founder and CEO Eric Burke!  The more I learned about KEEPTIGHT's first product line, the more excited I got - I just HAD to try it!

    Well, I am very happy to report that I HAVE had a chance to try some KEEPTIGHT gear, and I'm ready to tell you all about this stuff!

    Disclaimer: The company provided me with sample products to field-test at no cost to me, but I received no other compensation for this review, and all opinions expressed herein are my own.

    I got a whole new outfit, innit pretty?!
    Thanks KEEPTIGHT!

    IronCharger Tank Top

    Since my fitness time is split between running and group exercise, my workout wardrobe is almost entirely sleeveless tanks - I just hate the cap sleeves you see on so many nicer workout tops, because they pull something awful when you're trying to do overhead-arms moves in Zumba classes.  Naturally, the IronCharger tank top seemed like the perfect match for my preferences.  Plus, the IronFiber fabric blend (the "optimal" mix of spandex and polyester, ideal for working out) feels absolutely fabulous to the touch while still providing much-needed support and wicking.

    Despite my obsession with PINK, I actually went for the Nebula (grey with pink lining) color, and I'm wondering if this was the wrong decision.  The tank fits me well enough in a medium, which is my normal size, but I found the fit to be incredibly unflattering to my body type.  It may be the fabric, or it may be an optical illusion from the color of the top, but this tank is unforgiving of the slightest curves.  If you are overly sensitive about clothing that hugs your body, this might not be the tank top for you.  I've instead hung it on the outside of my closet door, and it has become my non-numbers weight loss goal: when I can fit into that tank top without feeling self-conscious, I'll have met my ideal shape/weight.

    I've had better hair days.

    It's worth noting that KEEPTIGHT is a small start-up company, just beginning what is likely to be a long journey.  While the top wasn't right for my body shape (or for my self-consciousness), it's still a beautiful and high-quality product.  KEEPTIGHT produced a very limited first line of products, so they could share their excitement and early designs with the fitness community as soon as possible.  There is so much room to grow!  I'm certain that as KEEPTIGHT develops, they will produce a wider variety of products that will help accommodate the wide range of body types that enjoy keeping active, and I can't wait to try the next line of tops!

    WindBlade Performance Capris

    Much like my pickiness with tops, I'm equally particular about workout bottoms.  I have "soccer thighs" (or thunder thighs if you wanna be more accurate but less polite) and a lot of tight shorts ride up into my crotch - PASS.  So when I looked for bottoms from KEEPTIGHT, I went with the WindBlade capris.  The IronFlex fabric (nylon and spandex) breathes nicely to keep your body cool while pushing hard, and the flat seams help eliminate chafing (score).  There are also two little pockets: a hidden front pocket in the waistband, and a zipper pocket in the back, also along the waistband.

    Unfortunately, I think my body shape struck again with the capris: the mediums fit my waist and upper thighs nicely, but my lower thighs and upper calves were very tight.  That extra tension in the lower portions of the capris kept tugging the waist down with every movement!  It was really awkward to teach a Zumba class with the fear of my pants falling off my butt!  I also worry that the constant brushing-together of my thick thighs will pill the fabric, which happens frequently with my workout bottoms.  The fabric DID breath wonderfully, though, and despite the heat of the room, I kept cool throughout the class and didn't feel like I was sticky with sweat all down my legs afterwards.

    You can really see how clingy the tank
    top is here.  Please ignore the belly rolls...

    Again, KEEPTIGHT is young, and every bit of feedback will help them produce a wider range of products that truly meet our needs.  The capris were definitely well thought-out and just as high-quality as the tank top, so I look forward to checking back in a few months for some new options.

    IronFleece Performance Hoodie

    Okay guys. THIS is the one.  Third time's a charm, apparently: when I pulled on the IronFleece hoodie, I flipped.  Chicago winter has descended with gusto and every ounce of warmth is important these days.  KEEPTIGHT knocked it out of the park with every aspect of this jacket: the fabric is plush and warm but wicks moisture without feeling heavy or wet; the hood is voluminous so you can pull it over a hat for extra warmth; the fit (again a medium) is close to the body but not too tight that you can't wear base layers properly; and the thumb holes are comfortable, with enough padding around the cuff to keep your hands warm even without gloves.  Extra bonuses include a mini-pocket inside one of the regular pockets to keep your music device (and of course a headphone hole on the inside of the jacket to keep the cord from bouncing on your chest all day) and a super-cute zipper that is half pink and half grey.  That last one doesn't make any performance difference, but when I noticed, it made me smile, so I figured I'd mention!

    I've loved the hoodie so much that it has barely left my body since I pull it out of the box.  I have only two concerns about it, and they're pretty minor.  The first is my usual fear that rubbing in the armpits will pill the beautiful fabric, but I haven't noticed any pilling yet (thank goodness) so maybe this new fabric has taken that into consideration.  Honestly, with a design team that has worked for the likes of Oakley, Asics, Burton, and Volcom before, I wouldn't be too surprised if KEEPTIGHT is a step ahead of me on this one!  My second concern is really more of an observation: the first time I pulled the sleeve cuffs up to use the thumb holes, it struck me how thick the cuff fabric was.  It's difficult to hold a pen and write with the sleeves pulled up - but then I realized I don't DO that very often when it's cold enough for me to pull up the sleeves, and the extra padding is really perfect for winter running, so I think I can let it slide.


    Not convinced to try KEEPTIGHT yet?  How about a FREE HOODIE to help you see for yourself?!?!

    That's right, that guy Eric I mentioned?  Turns out he's *awesome* and is letting me give away an IronFleece Performance Hoodie to one lucky reader!  Check out the Rafflecopter below to enter!  And just in case you don't win, you can still get a great deal on your own KEEPTIGHT purchase by using the discount code "FITNYX" to get 15% off your entire order!  Code valid January 7th through February 7th.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Giveaway ends 1/13/2015 at 11:59pm.  Winner will be contacted via email.  Winning entries will be verified before contact.  Must be willing to provide a valid shipping address and phone number when contacted.