On Two Wheels with Decathlon and B’Twin

I used to be a regular cycle commuter a few years ago. My little single speed bike took me from Islington to Waterloo station every day when I was studying for my post-grad degree, and for plenty of summer rides around London. As my knee injury got progressively got worse over the years, my poor bike became more of an ornament in my back yard, looking rather sorry for itself. In the last year or so, I’ve been keen to get back on two wheels, and when I joined forces with Decathlon, it seemed a great opportunity to take a look at a new road bike from their B’Twin range.

I’m not about to cycle mega long distances, or tackle the hills of Surrey, so a fairly basic road bike is all I wanted. I took a look at the wide range of bikes available at Decathlon, and settled on the beautiful, Triban 500 Road Bike, in pillar-box red. The colour had nothing to do with my choice…sort of. Here’s how I’ve been getting on with it.

decathlon, road bike, btwin, fitness, cycling

Photo Credit – Elle Linton

My new bike arrived just a couple of weeks after surgery, so all I could do was look at it until I was given approval to gently start with static training. Immediately I treated myself to a small turbo trainer (Amazon) and got to know my new wheels. It wasn’t long before my knee was strong enough to cycle properly, first around my block a few times, then down to Shoreditch to meet Elle from Keep It SimpElle – thanks for the photos! Since then I’ve been cycling to work once or twice a week, and enjoying life on two wheels again!

If you’re looking for bike specifics, here they are:
With a carbon forks and alloy frame, the Triban 500 is a mere 10.5kg and designed for short to moderate distances. 24 gears is more than I know what to do with, but I’ve found the perfect set up for my commute, with the occasional shift down for one or two short but feisty hills in North London. Once I found the right seat and handle bar height, which always takes a couple of goes in my opinion, I’ve found it to be a really comfortable ride, with no pain in my lower back. If I fancied an upgrade, I might opt for a slightly softer saddle, or simply invest in some padded shorts.

My old bike was custom built around a vintage frame (how hipster of me) so until getting the road bike, I’d never ridden with brakes on hoods on the handlebars. I actually love this riding position now as it’s a much nicer angle for the wrists and I found I get less impact though the joints as I go over bumps. Something important for me to think about with my joint condition.

decathlon, road bike, btwin, fitness, cycling

Photo Credit – Elle Linton

Thanks to Decathlon for helping me out with the purchase of my bike. Although I’d just had knee surgery, when I collected the bike in store (with the help of a friend and his car) staff were attentive and willing to help with the set up and finer details. Any time I need help with the bike, be it maintenance, equipment, or general queries, the team at Decathlon are always on hand to help. Add in their lifetime guarantee and free safety check, and I’m a happy commuter!

Stay tuned for a post on the cycling essentials coming soon, and in the meantime, perhaps get out on two wheels yourself!

decathlon, road bike, btwin, fitness, cycling

Photo Credit – Elle Linton

I am part of the Decathlon Blogger’s Community, they offered me a voucher towards the cost of the B’Twin Triban 500 (full value £349.99) in exchange for a series of posts. All views my own.

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Review – Champneys Health Spa

Nothing says indulgence and relaxation more than fluffy bathrobes, relaxing music and the scent of aromatic oils floating through the corridors. Step into one of Champneys four spa resorts and you’ll be greeted by each of these things, as guests potter through the hotel and spa in flip flops and bathrobes, zen’d out from an undoubtedly sumptuous massage, with the echoes of panpipes and birdsong in the background. I am a lover of spa treatments, having been lucky enough to visit the original Sanctuary Day Spa in Covent Garden, and a Champneys Spa, with my Mum a few years ago. Escaping life for a day or two is wonderful, and throw in a massage or facial and you’ll be lucky if I can string a sentence together afterward!champneys, spa, health, review

Having not had a relaxing massage for a while, and having no clue as to what to ask for my birthday this year, I decided that a spa day was a great idea. I get a discount on stays at Champneys with my Vitality Health Insurance, and my lovely Mum covered the treatment costs as her gift to me. So on a dreary weekend in April, I took myself off to Champneys Henlow for a 1-night spa break.

My Stay

Set among woodland, the River Hiz and sprawling fields, where once there was an old monastery, now stands an imposing Manor House, home to Champneys Henlow. The entrance is as grand as the building itself with a sweeping driveway, complete with a fountain.

champneys, spa, health, review

I treated myself to a room upgrade, so my superior room had a little outdoor space with a gorgeous view of the weir. I was greeted with a large, comfy bed, a standard fluffy white robe, and a little selection of Champneys products in the bathroom. Although the room was large and very well stocked with everything I needed, the decor did feel a little tired and run down. The whole place is undergoing a regeneration, so perhaps the rooms are on the ‘to do’ list.

Included in the price of the room is three meals a day; a sit down dinner, a continental breakfast and buffet lunch. There are ‘light diet’ options for those who want it, but everything follows the Champneys philosophy of healthy, delicious and beautiful food.

My one small complaint with the food is that although there are pointers everywhere to allergens and special diets, I did find that with an almond and soy allergy, my choices were slightly limited. When I asked whether a dessert could be prepared without the soy cream, I was told that everything was already pre-prepared and it couldn’t be done (perhaps it was naive of me to think that a dessert could be made to order). I also struggled at breakfast, as the porridge and yogurt options were also soy or almond, with dairy milk only available for cereals. I fully appreciate the need for a wide range of milk options, but I definitely found it a bit restricted.

My Relaxation

When it comes to relaxing, the possibilities are endless at Champneys Henlow. I made a bee-line for the pool area with hot tubs, sauna, steam room, and of course a large pool for getting those laps in (what am I saying, I think I swam about 4 lengths). Next to the pool are a rows of comfy day beds, adorned with cushions, for whiling away the hours with a good book.

champneys, spa, health, review

Elsewhere you can find a large conservatory with beautiful riverside views, a cosy library, and a cafe with views over the pool. Plenty of space to have a nap, catch up with your girlfriends, or soak up the relaxing atmosphere.

As part of my spa break, I had 2 hours of treatments booked, a 1 hour full body massage, and a 1 hour body wrap with facial. Both were absolutely blissful, but I have to give an extra special mention to my masseuse, whose name escapes me. Having not long has knee surgery, my body is full of imbalances, tight spots and niggles, add to that the hypermobile joints, I sometimes worry with inexperienced massage therapists that they’re not sure how to protect my unstable joints while still getting deep into the tissue (I’ve almost had my shoulder pop out of it’s socket mid-massage before). Here, I had nothing to worry about, he took time to assess my imbalances, working on the secondary problems that have arisen since surgery, and I felt perfectly safe as he held my shoulders in place while releasing deep underneath my scapula. I’ve honestly never had a more detailed, beneficial massage and I felt amazing.

champneys, spa, health, review

Whether you want to escape the city for a day, or have a long weekend of pampering, Champneys comes highly recommended in my books. I left feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and ready to face some new challenges. So next time you’re looking for a birthday treat for your, or a loved one, why not have a look at their website?

This post is in no way sponsored by Champneys. All views my own.

Review | VerveLife

It’s not often an event involves an escape room, but a little while ago, I was invited to just that for the launch of VerveLife from Motorola! OK, it wasn’t quite an escape room, more like being locked in a tent and given clues as to the whereabouts of the key to the padlock. Whatever you want to call it, myself and a bunch of bloggers and journalists had a great time working through the clues and breaking the code to escape. At the centre of these clues were the products themselves, forcing us to get hands on with each product and learn how they worked.

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitness

First up we had the VerveOnes. Undoubtedly the most discreet earphones I’ve ever come across, these simply pop in your ear and connect to your device via bluetooth. They come in a cute little holder that carries enough charge for 12 hours of music. You can even make and receive calls (and snapchat of course) with these as they contain a microphone, although if you’ve got hair that covers your ears, it looks even more like you’re talking to yourself than normal!!

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitness

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitness

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitness

Easy to chuck in your bag, I’ve been carrying these around for weeks now. No knotted wires, no getting tangled with your earphone wire, these are super convenient with great sound quality. I recommend! If you opt for VerveOnes+, you get the addition of water and sweat protection as well.

I’ve been doubly lucky, and have had the VerveLoop+ to try in recent weeks too. Also working with bluetooth connectivity, these have just one wire that loops around your neck and controls on one side for volume and track skipping etc.

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitness

I’m seriously impressed with the battery life on these, I’ve hardly charged them at all! The sound quality is also great, as is the built-in microphone. Personally, I prefer having the loop around my neck, so if I need to take them off to order a coffee etc. I don’t have to worry about putting them down and losing them, which knowing me, I will one day with my VerveOnes+.

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitness

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitness

vervelife, earphones, technology, fitnessAlso available is VerveRider+, similar to the Loop, but with a magnetic collar to keep the earbuds in place if you remove them. Great for cycling or running or generally being on the move.

VerveLife isn’t just about earphones however, next in the pipeline is VerveCam+, an action camera that you can lifestream to youtube with! I’m going to be seriously tempted to add that to my VerveLife collection when it’s released. Link it with your smartphone to see through the 138 degree viewfinder and take it swimming with the 25m depth waterproof housing which comes included. Compact and light, this will be the next big thing in the action cam market.

VerveLife gifted me the VerveOnes+ and VerveLoop+ in return for this post. All words my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.

Fit Find | Best’s Bootcamp

From Barry’s to 1Rebel and now Best’s Bootcamp, a new high intensity studio seems to open up in London every other week these days! That’s not a bad thing, demand is obviously high and people love to have a choice and to try new things along their fitness journey. What makes these studios great is that each one has a team of specialist instructors primed and ready to kick Londoners’ butts, not to mention to increasing importance of having luxury changing facilities, making the pre-work, or lunchtime session more accessible to city workers.

bests bootcamp, bootcamp, fitness, london

The newest member of the bootcamp tribe is Best’s Bootcamp, nestled behind Charing Cross station. Being an area of London not known for having an array boutique fitness studios, Best’s have struck gold here with a great location and a fabulous studio space. Although I missed the blogger event, I had a chance to check it out for myself not long after it first opened. I not only had a quiet class….but there was just me and one other guy (incidentally, a personal trainer) in there! Talk about pressure. Did I push myself that bit further? Undoubtedly. Let’s just say it brought out my slightly competitive side.

bests bootcamp, bootcamp, fitness, london

The Workout

In a format becoming familiar in the London fitness scene, Best’s classes consist of combining floor drills with treadmill work; a double hit for strength training and cardio. If you know me as a blogger, you’ll know running is not something I can do, so I chose a double-floor option, more about that later. Best’s uses state of the art FreeMotion treadmills with preset speeds, so no faffing around with settings, just push a number and go. Not only that, but once you hit the floor, Instructor Cam streams what the trainer is asking of the group to various screens around the room. No more straining your neck to see what’s next, or trying to hear over the music, just gaze at a nearby screen, 3-2-1 and GO! Team that with music from their in-house DJ and high energy instructors, and you’ve got everything you need to hit your fitness goals.

bests bootcamp, bootcamp, fitness, london

As I mentioned, I did a double-floor class with just one other guy. My trainer was Rusty (in name, not in nature) who, after checking that I knew what I was getting in to with double-floor, happily put us through our paces, with no let up. Each day, although still a full body workout, has a certain focus, either Push & Abs, Pull & Abs, or Full Body. I went on a Pull & Abs day, and with this focus, we combined kettlebell drills, with weights, leg work and a killer ab series. 50 minutes later, I was spent, and looking forward to my pre-booked protein shake and cool, lavender scented towel.

The Space

Darkened room, flashing lights and thumping music, Best’s is no different from any other bootcamp studio. The changing area is equipped with everything you need to return to the world outside looking not too dishevelled, although nothing could help the bright red face of mine! A welcoming reception area greets you as you walk in, with friendly staff and some fitness apparel to nose through. Shakes and smoothies are available on request, and can be ready and waiting for when you emerge, jelly-legged, from the studio. It’s a great space and classes are filling up fast!

bests bootcamp, bootcamp, fitness, london

So if you fancy shaking up your week and getting some decent cardio in, give Best’s a try! There are various class packs to choose from, and you can take your first class for just £10 (normally £20). Give it a go, and let me know how you get on!

I tried a Best’s Bootcamp class for free thanks to Action PR. All photos courtesy of Action PR. All words my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.

Review – Sudio Earphones

You only have to walk down a busy street in London and it seems that the majority of people have earphones in. Not only are they listening to their favourite tunes, but using them to make phone calls as well, and thus creating the generation of people who look like they’re talking to themselves. I’ve never been one of those people though, mainly because I never remember to charge my bluetooth earphones, and my normal ones don’t have a microphone. That’s all changed now however, thanks to Sudio and their Vasa earphones.

sudio sweden, earphones, review

I use earphones pretty much everyday to and from work. I’m often on a busy 6am train which always seems to be full of people who don’t blow their noses, so to block out the sounds of sniffing (vom), I prefer to listen to music instead. On my way home music helps me wind down and stops me from over-analysing moments from the day. Not forgetting of course, the need for music while working out in the gym!

A new pair of earphones is always welcome, so when Sudio offered some earphones for me to try, I gratefully accepted. My current set were cheap and not great quality, and my over the head ones good, but bulky.

sudio sweden, earphones, review

Arriving in a swish box, these crisp white earphones, with gorgeous rose gold detailing came complete with a wire clip, leather carry case, and ear buds in 5 different sizes. I straight away put one of my favourite songs on my phone and plugged them in. Sudio promised the best sound quality, and I can confirm it’s impressive. The sound is pristine, clear and full. I like a bit of bass in my jazz favourites and in rock classics, but hate when it sounds tinny, and these earphones did not disappoint.

sudio sweden, earphones, review

Being a bit of a Snapchat newbie, I’m not so comfortable walking down the street, arm outstretched, talking into my phone, so having earphones with a microphone makes that a bit easier for me. The mic quality is great, no complaints there, and they pick up outside noise such wind and cars a lot less than using no microphone at all. They also have the standard volume and pause/answer call buttons too.

I’m a big fan of these, the wire is thick and doesn’t get tangled even when I forget the case and throw them in my bag. I love the rose gold detailing too, it just makes them a bit different from the bog-standard set of earphones. The one thing I would say though is that using the small wire clip is recommended, as without it, the weight of the microphone flops around a bit, especially if you’re running.

sudio sweden, earphones, review

If you’re in need of a new set of earphones, I highly recommend Sudio! They not only do wired, but wireless too, in black, white, blue, pink. With so many earbud options, you’ll certainly find one that fits snugly and doesn’t fall out mid-workout. You can even use my special code danceflowlift15 for 15% discount! Check out the full range here.

I was given a complimentary pair of earphones in return for a review. All words my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.

Review | Zipvit

You can’t go far in the health and fitness world these days without the mention of supplements and their importance. Supplement companies battle for the attention of those who want to boost their diet with extra vitamins and minerals, but it’s not always clear what their benefits are. Most of what the body needs can be sourced from food, but sometimes it’s the quantity or availability of that food that makes it hard to get the recommended allowance of these micronutrients. The important thing about micronutrients is that they cannot be produced by the body and therefore must come from food or supplementation.

There are many companies that provide a combination of daily nutrients in a handy strip or package that Natalie at The Blonde Ethos has summarised in such great detail, I have nothing to add. If however, you’re in a position to require a unique combination of micronutrients, sourcing each different supplement separately is the next option.

zipvit, supplements, fitness

I do my best to get my vitamins from food before considering supplements, but I know that it’s not always possible, and there are certain things that I definitely lack. Zipvit are a family run company that provides a wide range of supplements including vitamins, protein, fish oils and more, so when they offered to send me some to try, I thought it a great excuse to review what my body needs this winter.

Zipvit Omega 3 Fish Oil

Hands up who simply loves a spoonful of fish oil in the morning? Not many I guess, however Omega 3 Fish Oil is essential for heart, brain and eye function. Rich in fatty acids DHA and EPA, fish oil is a supplement I’d recommend to everyone. Zipvit has a range of fish oil supplements in soft shell capsules for easy ingestion. Their best seller, Omega 3 1000mg, contains high levels of DHA and EPA, Vitamin E and is free from any preservatives or additives. They even have a combination of Omega 3, 6 & 9 in a plant based oil as a vegan option.

zipvit, supplements, fitness

Zipvit Calcium and Magnesium

As someone with and active career and bone demineralisation, supplements help sustain and protect my bone density. I already have a Vitamin D supplement, but Zipvit does have a super strength 5000IU Vitamin D ‘sunshine’ supplement, which I’ll be getting once my current supply runs out.

zipvit, supplements, fitness

For bone and joint health, there are many options, but calcium goes without saying. Completely obsolete unless the body has enough Vitamin D to absorb the calcium, taking a supplement along with weight wearing exercise helps maintain bone density once it reaches its peak around your mid-30s.

Magnesium is a great supplement to aid the recovery and reduce muscle fatigue. If you don’t have time for the occasional magnesium salt bath, then this is a great supplement for you. To make things easier, Zipvit have combined 400mg calcium and 200mg magnesium into one handy pill!

The handy thing about Zipvit is that instead of a space wasting plastic bottle that rattles around in your bag, supplements come in a sensible zip-locked bag. Easy for travelling, or slipping into your work bag.

zipvit, supplements, fitness

ZipVit Glucosamine + Joint Patch

When I’ve been teaching all week, my joints get pretty sore and achy. Zipvit have developed a patch containing a blend of six essential oils to soothe that soreness. Directly applied to the skin, the deep penetrating oils and joint supporting glucosamine provides immediate relief and lasts for up to 12 hours. I’ve been using them on overworked shoulders and love the cooling feel on application. In the morning, my shoulder definitely felt less stiff and the muscles less tight.

zipvit, supplements, joint pain, fitness

Zipvit guarantees the lowest prices in the UK, but with my discount code you can get even more of a treat! Perhaps you need an immune system boost this winter, or just an excuse to try some new supplements. use the code DFL10 for 10% off your order!

Zipvit send me some complimentary supplements to try. All opinions my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.