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Sunday, 5 October 2014

September Delights

September Delights Blonde Girl Beach Fitness Health Juice Fruit

I've had a jam-packed month where I've worked hard and played hard. I have a feeling the next few months will be filled more with work rather than play though as I've just started my third and final year of university (apologies if my posts become a little more sporadic than usual!). I still have lots of exciting content that I'm looking forward to sharing with you though, and I always love to hear what you'd like to see more of on The Blonde Ethos. In the meantime though, here are my September highlights...

+ Started training with a brilliant PT at Six3Nine. I’ve learned so much and even managed to do my first handstand since I was about 12! Keep your eyes peeled for more on this front...

+ Attended the launch of the new Epson Sensewear range and have been testing out the Pulsense activity tracker. Can’t wait to give you my verdict!

+ Made plenty of cinema trips – I find it’s such a good way to zone out.

+ Discovered the most incredible Almond Milk at the launch of Raw Press Juice Bar.

+ Took an inspiring trip to Italy with Technogym, which you can read all about here.

+ Played HintHunt with LV=. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something different to do in London! You can read the LV= blog post on the event, here.

+ Enjoyed a divine facial at the Amida Spa at Chelsea Harbour Club. More on that soon!

+ Went for a active catch up with one of my girlfriends where we walked and talked for miles on a lovely evening.

+ Spent a couple of days in Brighton for my birthday with my family and boyfriend, where we saw Alt-J. They were absolutely incredible.

What were the highlights of your month?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A/W Activewear Lust List

A/W14 Activewear Wishlist Monochrome SportsLuxe

As we are heading into Autumn, I've been looking at updating my workout wardrobe. As I wear trainers almost everyday, and not just in the gym, I'm considering investing in some more monochrome styles now that I'm back at university (these are a little too attention-getting for a lecture hall). Also top of my list are the gorgeous Urban Warrior print compression pieces from Vie Active, as well as a sportsluxe jacket to see me through the cooler months.

Leggings - Vie Active @ Hip&Healthy - £85
Sports Bra - Vie Active @ Hip&Healthy - £56
Trainers - Nike @ JD Sports - £85
Trainers - Nike @ JD Sports - £70
Jacket - Monreal London - £240
Sports Bra - Michi NY @ Fashercise - £95
Tank - The Upside @ Net-a-Porter - £60
Sports Bra - Nike - £30

What's on your A/W activewear lust list?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Perfect Sports Bra + My Fabletics Experience

Fabletics Koia Sports Bra Blonde Fitness Girl
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Fabletics Koia Sports Bra Back Blonde Fitness Girl
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Fabletics Koia Sports Bra Logo
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I remember being intrigued by Fabletics when the activewear retailer launched State-side, mainly because the brand's co-founder is the loveable, active and bubbly Kate Hudson. So, I'm really excited that they launched in the UK this summer; not least because their expansion across-the-pond lead to one of my favourite fit-fashion discoveries.

The Perfect Sports Bra for Smaller Boobs

Introducing my new favourite sports bra: the Fabletics Koia. I'm going to launch straight in here by stating the obvious: I'm not very curvy. I find it notoriously hard to find a good fitting, supportive sports bra (because, yes, even girls who are smaller up top still require support) that isn't completely unflattering. If ever I have discussed this problem with a girl suffering from the opposite issue, my complaints have generally been met with a rolling of the eyes. I'm not complaining about my figure, let me make that clear, but I honestly struggle to find good-fitting gym tops. I've previously spent hours in stores such as lululemon, trying style after style, only to be met with annoying gaping from one angle or another, so I was especially dubious when it came to ordering online.

Thankfully though, Kate Hudson and her team have embraced what she refers to as "the most challenging aspect of the process of designing activewear": taking every body type into consideration. The Koia Sports Bra boasts four-way stretch and moisture wicking properties, but the features that really sold it to me were the removable cups that ensure it maintains a flattering shape and the unique cut; a complimentary V-neck and unusual cut-out back. I love this soft heather grey/mint julep colourway but I can't wait to add some other shades to my collection too.

The Fabletics VIP Service

One of the things that attracted me to Fabletics was hearing that you could get your hands on an entire 2- or 3- piece gym outfit for as little at £22. To be honest, usually this would have put me off as I would have assumed the quality to be sub-standard, but the at the time, I was at an event where lots of other fitness fanatics were flaunting Fabletics' perfectly-fitting, stylish designs, which survived a gruelling few rounds of circuit training.

So, how do you get high-quality, hip activewear with such an appealing price tag? The answer is to sign up to the site's VIP membership. Complete outfits for VIP Members start from only £44, a saving of up to 40%, but your first item, which can be one of these outfits or one of the stylish separates, is half price! As part of the membership, your account will be debited £44 each month, enough to buy you an entire outfit, customised based on your lifestyle quiz. What I love though, is that there's never any obligation to buy (I've skipped a couple of months myself), and there's also the option to check out as a regular customer (although, minus the perks).

Fabletics Activewear High Intensity Print Clash

My Fabletics Experience

Unfortunately, I didn't benefit from the aforementioned half price item on my first order. Well, I did, until that item had to be returned. My initial order was for the Gaviota Capri Pants, Lima Capri Pants and the Koia Sports Bra. The latter of the two were described as being the same colour way: the high intensity print. However, when they arrived it was clear that the prints were not the same. The fundamental pattern was identical but while the trousers had a green-hue to the print and stitching, the bra was more purple, red and pink based with dark edging. The fabrics were similar, but not similar enough, and wearing the two together made me feel a little jester-like. 

As for the Gaviota Capri Pants, I simply needed to exchange for a size up because the mesh panels, which I adored, didn't benefit from the same amount of stretch as the rest of the fabric. However, after a couple of incidents of the courier not showing up to collect my return, and a two-week wait for Fabletics to confirm receipt of my items, I decided to arrange a refund instead (by that time, I had decided that I'd prefer more ankle-length options to see me through the colder months). If Fabletics were to release a full-length version of these pants for winter, I know that I, and some of my fitness friends, would be ecstatic! In the meantime though, I'm eyeing up the Cobalt Koia...

Although I've had a mixed experience with Fabletics so far, I'm still a VIP member and enjoy checking back for new styles. I'd love to know if you've tried any Fabletics kit yet, and what experience you've had?

*Photography by Cantara (Gymbags and Gladrags)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Technogym: The Ultimate Wellness Experience

Technogym Wellness Village Experience Trip Natalie
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Chances are if you’re a regular gym-goer, you have at some point experienced using Technogym equipment. The gym that I regularly train at is fully kitted out in their iconic grey and yellow products, and while I have always appreciated that the equipment is pretty advanced, in years of sweaty workouts it had never crossed my mind what might go on behind-the-scenes of the cables, plates and treadmill belts.  I certainly didn’t expect to find what I did when I got a privileged peek into Technogym's HQ in Cesena, Italy; a campus to rival Google’s, full of healthy, happy employees and complete with a fitness lover’s playground. I learnt that just like the business they do, their vision for wellness is on a global scale.

A Design Destination

The stunning 150,000m² Technogym Village, opened in 2012, was designed by Antonio Citterio, Patricia Viel and Partners, one of Italy’s most internationally renowned architecture studios and is inspired by the concept of eco-sustainability. The world’s first wellness campus is home to the T-Factory, science and R&D facilities, university and conference centre, and the zero-miles T-Restaurant, as well as an avant-garde gym; a showroom slash job-perk.

Technogym Wellness Village View
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Technogym Wellness Village Valley Cesena

Technogym Wellness Village Factory

Technogym Wellness Village Science Research Innovation

Technogym Product Design

Perhaps the most obvious thing to talk about is Technogym's state-of-the-art fitness equipment. After all, as a world leading supplier and six-time official supplier of the Olympic Games, it's what they're best known for. The design of Technogym's equipment has come a long way since the founder, Nerio Alessandri (who I had the delight of meeting), developed the Hack Squat, Technogym's first ever piece of equipment, in his garage, aged 22. Since then, several international prizes have been awarded to the company, including the prestigious Red Dot Design Award.

Design is crucial to Alessandri's vision for the company, which is to get the world moving. While Technogym's numerous equipment ranges each have different purposes and aesthetics, the majority of their products appear a world away from the metal-on-metal contraptions typical of gyms when the company was founded. The quintessentially Italian, sleek design of Technogym’s equipment aims to make them easy to use, safe, comfortable, and overall appealing to gym users. Using design, Technogym aims to make exercising less intimidating to the general population, in a bid to get the world moving more.

Technogym Wellness Village Gym Showroom Natalie
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Technogym Wellness Village Gym Showroom Natalie Omnia
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Technogym Wellness Village Gym Showroom Excite

Technogym Wellness Village Gym Showroom Artis

Technogym Wellness Village Gym Showroom Design

The Workouts

Of course, we wouldn't have truly embraced the wellness experience without being put through our paces with some of Technogym’s trainers, allowing us to try out the vast array of equipment at our disposal.

Thankfully, after a 4am alarm-call and a very early flight, our first workout at the Technogym Village was an energising and reviving round of outdoor circuit training on the T-Lake using Technogym's functional training line, ARKE.

Technogym Arke Circuit Training Personal Trainer

Technogym Arke Circuit Training Natalie

Technogym Arke Circuit Training Natalie

We also enjoyed using Technogym's newest, ultra-sleek line, ARTIS for some cardio training, explored the many exercise possibilities using the OMNIA (meaning "all things" in Latin) structure, and partnered up to create an effective resistance workout on the KINESIS.

Technogym Wellness Village Gym Workout Kinesis Natalie
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Technogym Wellness Village Gym Workout Asics
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Corporate Wellness

As if such a beautiful location and world-class fitness suite wasn't enough, there are many other benefits to being an employee of The Wellness Company; mutual benefits to both the employees and the company, in fact. Technogym invests a lot in the wellness of their staff, believing that every $1 invested creates a return of between $2-$20 in productivity. Technogym employees benefit from annual medical screenings in the T-Wellness Centre and extended lunch breaks that mean they have the opportunity to get active (a game of basketball on the Technogym courts, anyone?) and enjoy a nourishing meal. The offices at Technogym HQ are furnished with Wellness Balls to promote 'Active Sitting', and break stations are equipped with vending machines packed with healthy snacks and bikes to encourage even just 10 minutes of activity a day. However, it sounds like the staff don't need much encouraging as I hear that the employees can get quite competitive trying to out-'MOVE' each other.
Note: 'MOVES' are Technogym's unit of activity measurement - more info here.

I absolutely love the concept of corporate wellness and would love to see it applied more widely across businesses in the UK. As the workplace is where people spend most of their time, it seems the ideal place to implement strategies to improve wellbeing.

Technogym HQ Cesena Office Wellness Ball Active Sitting
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Technogym HQ Cesena Office Wellness Ball

Technogym HQ Cesena Office Wellness Village Lift Elevator

Technogym Wellness Village Architecture Stairs Lighting

T-Restaurant

As I mentioned, staff are encouraged to eat well, to maintain good health and to keep them alert and efficient throughout the day. All meals are balanced, made with locally-sourced ingredients, including organic options, and I can attest to the fact that they are also completely delicious. The Wellness Lifestyle Pyramid covering an entire wall serves as an everyday reminder to Technogym employees and guests that quality of life can be improved by regular physical activity, correct nutrition and a positive mental attitude. The decorated walls also help to educate diners on the best way to nourish their bodies with a special emphasis on eating local and seasonal produce.

Technogym Wellness Village Restaurant

Technogym Wellness Lifestyle Pyramid Movement Nutrition

Technogym Wellness Restaurant Wall Spring Summer Food Nutrition

Wellness Valley Project: A Blueprint For Global Wellbeing

As part of the wellness experience we were lucky enough to discover the unique local culture and cuisine (especially at La Sanglovesa and MarĂ©, which I highly recommend stopping by if you visit the area). In fact, we were particularly lucky because we were in a very unique region of Italy; the Wellness Valley, Romagna.

Feeling that he was fortunate to have grown up in a community that educated him, Nerio Alessandri decided that he wanted to give back to the local community and so in 2002, set the challenge to turn this picturesque region into the first international wellness district by investing in the region's human, historical, artistic, natural and food capital. Years later, the Romagna region ranks highly for quality of life as many activities are in place to educate the local community about living a healthy lifestyle. While the elderly are encouraged to exercise on the beaches, around 35,000 children in the region have access to play-based classes where they learn about food and movement. The hope is that they will pass on their knowledge to future generations.

Motivating people to move more and adopt a wellness lifestyle is seen by Technogym as their social responsibility. Their belief, and that of the Wellness Foundation (a non-profit organisation), is that wellness is a social and economic opportunity; for governments it means reduced health costs, for businesses it means increased productivity and reduced absences, and for individuals it means a happier lifestyle. Most people see Technogym, The Wellness Company, providing the opportunities for gym-goers to get fit, but little do they know, Technogym are creating a blueprint for global sustainable development. So, next time you jump onto a treadmill to try to drop a couple of lbs, try to think of the bigger picture: WELLNESS.

Wellness Experience Grand Hotel da Vinci Cesenatico Luxury

Wellness Experience Beach Sea Cesenatico

Thank you, Technogym, for an unforgettably inspiring trip! 

Technogym Wellness Experience Village Workout Arke Training

Wearing: Bra - Pure Simple Sport at JD*, Top - Under Armour, Leggings - Lululemon*, Training Shoes - Nike*
Wearing: Technogym T-shirt*, Capri Tights - Asics*, Running Shoes - Asics*

*Photography by Technogym
**Photography by Cantara (Gymbags and Gladrags)