Getting Fit for the New Year?

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Gyms across the country are preparing for their busiest season of the year, with thousands expected through the doors of fitness centres everywhere come January. Getting fit or losing weight is top of many peopleÔÇÖs New YearÔÇÖs resolution lists, from those that have fallen off the health wagon previously, to those who are trying fitness for the first time. But why leave it until the New Year? If you are really serious about getting fit then there is no reason to delay. Sign up in December when the membership fees are often lower and there are less people crowding. If you havenÔÇÖt done much exercise in the past stepping into a gym for the first time can be a bit scary, but the staff will be on hand to help show you the ropes, and this guide will make sure you have everything you need for your first visit.

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Footwear
One thing you will want to splash out on a little is a good pair of well fitting sports shoes, as exercising with incorrect footwear can cause a lot of damage to your feet. If you only intend to work out at the gym, then buy a pair specifically for gym use, but if you want to take the odd run, or play tennis too, then a multi-purpose pair of trainers is a better idea. If youÔÇÖre heading to the gym as your resolution, then wait until the January sales to get a great pair of trainers for less than retail price.

Swimwear
Find out before you go what facilities your gym has, and decide which of these you will want to use. Some gyms have pools, saunas and steam rooms on site, all of which you will need swimwear for. If you are going to be swimming for exercise rather than for leisure youÔÇÖll need an all-in-one, or a tankini or bikini designed for swimming. To just hang out in the sauna or for a few casual lengths of a pool a normal bikini is fine and can be reused on holidays in the future. Check out George’s range of swimwear for some low cost swimwear options to save cash.

Clothing
You donÔÇÖt need to look like youÔÇÖve just stepped off the catwalk to go to the gym. WhatÔÇÖs important is that you wear breathable fabrics that are close enough to your body to avoid getting caught in any machinery. For classes like Yoga and Pilates you will want to make sure your clothes donÔÇÖt hinder your movements, but are tight enough that you donÔÇÖt accidently expose yourself when contorting. To start with, leggings and a cotton t-shirt will do fine – you can invest in more specialist gear when youÔÇÖve worked out what you like to do as part of your workout.

Extras
You donÔÇÖt need much else for the gym, but do remember to pop a towel and a drink in your bag. Towels are needed not just for swimming, but also for wiping down machines after use, and mopping your forehead when youÔÇÖre working hard. ItÔÇÖs also wise to take a few coins with you, in case you need them for the lockers or you fancy a sports drink after exercising. I find taking a few toiletries such as face-wipes, deodorant and shower gel essential too if you can’t go home to shower right after a work out.

Taking the first step on your journey to fitness is the hardest part, Women’s Fitness has some excellent articles to get you started. Once you get the habit you will wonder how you ever managed without it. Get as much info as you can from your local facilities and choose one that will fit your lifestyles and aspirations. Ask as many questions as you like when youÔÇÖre starting out, and soon others will be asking questions of you ÔÇô like, ÔÇÿhow did you do it?!ÔÇÖ

(Image credit, Gym bag Werd.com)

Size & Style Mega Guide – New Vivienne Westwood Gold Label Shoes

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Top shelf, left – right: Sack boots black, Tracey trainers black, Seditionary boots red, Bondage boots natural, Animal toe courts gold and silver

Middle shelf, left – right: Slave Rocking Horse shoes white, black red; Ballerina Rocking Horse shoes white and black; Golf Rocking Horse shoes white, black and white, black

Bottom shelf, left – right: Clomper Slaves tea garden and brown/brown squiggle; Roman 3-Strap red leather (limited edition), grey suede, black; Clomer Slave mock croc, Regent sandals mock crock

Where do I start? After mentioning the new Gold Label Vivienne Westwood shoes now available at Worlds End, I got a bijillion emails about them. So I figured I best try and make a post with all the info that I have – of course you can call Lisa and the girls at the store for specifics.

New Materials/Colours:

Squiggle printed leather – Brown / brown squiggle; White/ red squiggle; Brown/ navy squiggle

Canvas – Grey, Khaki, Red, Green, Black

Special Prints – Green Mock Croc, Tea Garden

Patent – Black, Red

Kid Leather – Black, Red, Brown, (specials Gold, Silver, White)

Pirate Leather – Brown, Black, Yellow, Red Brick, Grey Suede

Suede – Black, Red, Grey, Brown

All straps will now be ‘aged brown leather’ instead of natural leather

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New* & Classic Styles:

*Clomper – Pirate boot – choice of

*Clomper – Slave sandal – choice of Mock croc, Tea garden (limited edition blue floral print), Squiggle, Canvas

Rocking Horse Shoes – Slave – Relaxed leather – White, Red Black

Rocking Horse Shoes – Ballerina – Kid leathers + White,

Rocking Horse Shoes -Boots – Kid leathers + White

Rocking Horse Shoes -Golf – Kid leathers + White; Relaxed leather – White, Red Black

Roman 3 Strap – Pirate Leather, Canvas

*Pirate Sling Back – Pirate Leather, Canvas, Patent

Pirate Boots – Pirate Leather, Squiggle

Seditionary Boots – Canvas with black leather; *plus special edition green canvas with tan leather

Bondage Boots – Canvas

*Elevated Bondage Boots – Squiggle

Elevated Court shoes – Suede, Patent, Squiggle, Special

*Elevated Regent Slave Sandals – Patent, Squiggle, Special

Bag Boots – Suede

Tracey Trainers – Black / Black patent trim; Natural / multi; *Gold/ Silver

Animal Toe Courts – Suede, Patent, Gold, Silver

*Animal Toe 3 Strap – Canvas

Low 3 Strap – Leather including specials, Suede, Patent

T-Bar – Leather including specials, Suede, Patent

Mary-Jane – Leather including specials, Suede, Patent

Wave bye-bye to – Sack boots, Piped courts, Sunny shoes, Animal Toe Mules, Elevated Gillie, Baby Rocking Horse and all navy blue leather

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Size & Fit

This can obviously only be my personal opinion, but most people I’ve spoken too seem to agree on this. If you can get to the shop then you are best to go try them for yourself, but I know many of you can’t so here you go. I am a UK 5.5 / 38.5 I usually find it hard to get shoes which fit, as most places don’t make half sizes, I also have a wide fitting foot. I am such a fan of Westwood shoes as I find they fit me perfectly in both width and length, as I’m a half size I find the shoes fit me perfectly so those of you who are a standard size may find they run a little big. With that I can tell you I take a 5 in all Gold Label shoes and low / flat boots except the Animal toe boots i.e Bondage boots and Bag boots. I go up to a size 6 and wear a padded insole in the high heel boots as I find the toe separations rub one of my toes, this doesn’t happen in my Animal toe court shoes so I take a 5 in those – I know this doesn’t make any sense since they are in effect the same style but that’s just what I find best! I also take a 5 in pirate boots, I find they fit generously however they can be a little tight where the stitching is around the foot until you break them in, leathers break easier than suede.

The Clomper boots and sandals I find a small fit, they are a nice wide fit due to the Clomper shaped sole however the part where you put you foot in (the vamp) is low down so there isn’t much room to move your foot. In these I go up to a size 6 which fits perfectly.

The Elevated courts are also a small fit, they have a narrow foot but are regular in length. Unfortunately for me this means I can’t wear them, the 5 is painfully tight and they 6 flops off my foot. The problem with court shoes is that you can’t do anything to keep them on your foot, they need to fit perfectly, the Gillie or boots would be better in my case as you can tighten the laces.

Clomper Pirate boots Brown/ Brown

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Mock Croc Clomper Slave Sandals & ElevatedCourts

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The sandals I am trying here are size 7 and the courts size 6, I think you can see that they are both far too big. In the courts I could get my finger down the back of my heel they were so big!

Strap Colour Evolution

Something really interesting is that the straps will now be darker. Usually the straps on Pirate boots and Bondage boots are left natural so they are a pale nude-pink. Over time natural leather will darken and take on a lovely honey coloured patina. Most of you I know are far too impatient to wait for this to happen naturally and want to speed things along, well it seems like Westwood have obliged and are now darkening the leather.

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Here you can see the pale pink of the natural leather straps compared with the new straps on my Pirate Clompers. On the right are straps from fresh natural leather, new version of the straps and two worn in straps one of around 18 months the other a few years.

Anything else you want to know, just ask

Christmas Gifts Made Easy

I have to say I am pretty much a last minute shopper. Unless I see something which would make the absolute perfect gift, I find myself sat a week before Christmas without any gifts, no cards wrote out and I haven’t even began to think about food. So here I am with presents still needed and a whole lack of desire to head out into town whilst it’s so busy. I bring to you the cheats guide to Christmas:

1. GiftGen – This is a cool little website which lets you enter gift requirements such as age, sex, price range and interests. Then it generates a list of suitable gifts. I think it is brilliant, especially when you have people you don’t know all that well such as distant relatives or partners family to buy for.

2. Christmas Shopping List app – There are tons of fun and useful Xmas apps to entertain yourself with such as the Santa Photo Booth. But one really useful app is the simple shopping list, which lets you keep score of who you have to buy for and your budget. Yes you could use a pen and paper or your memo but I’ve borrowed my mums iPad and I’m enjoying the novelty!

3. Gift Wrapping Services – Personally I really quite like wrapping gifts, but after the 5th pair of slippers it can become monotonous. So many stores these days from M&S to Amazon offer free gift wrapping which you may as well take advantage of to save you time and money.

4. Delivery – One thing I always fail on are the Xmas postage dates. Every year I totally forget and the people I won’t be seeing in person end up with their gift sometime in the new year. We don’t even have a post office in our town any more which is beyond inconvenient! Fear not Parcelforce is here to help. You can book online delivery where they even come and pick the parcels up from your house. Absolute lifesaver!!!

There you have it, easy peasy, leaving you more time for merry making.

Do you have any tips to share?

Pearl goes Back to School: Useful Photography Courses for Bloggers

A few weeks ago I decided to put to use a Groupon voucher I had. After stalking Groupon for a while, obsessively checking for new deals each day I thought the best thing to go for would be something that saved me the most money and also take the chance to do something I wouldn’t usually be able to. I toyed with a few offers but when a photography course came up I knew I had to go for it. I’ve never had any professional photography lessons and I hold my hands up, I was struggling to get to grips with my new DSLR. So on a quite Sunday the week before London Fashion Week I found myself in Piccadilly, Manchester at Manchester Photographic (who don’t just have studios in Manchester by the way).

The one day beginners course was just ┬ú29 with Groupon instead of the regular ┬ú90 – suddenly making something out of most peoples price range very affordable. The day was not just educational, but really fun too. I can’t believe how much I learnt. The tutor was very approachable and took time to make sure everyone got some one-on-one time. I had always been a bit suspicious about Groupon, I wondered if you would get a lesser service since you were saving so much money but I would have been happy to pay the full price the course was so good. Manchester Photographic hold lots of other courses and as a blogger I really think it is worth the investment. The courses I think would really benefit bloggers are below but do check out the website to see the full range. Most people on the course I attended were there just to have fun so anyone can go along be it for professional or amateur purposes. If you want to use your skills for blogging or just for getting better holiday snaps.

  • Beginners and Intermediate levels – no point having that fancy camera if you can’t make the most of it!
  • Photoshop – so you can get to grips with post shoot editing and effects
  • Street Safari – all the tricks of shooting street style photography and also a great first step into something that can be rather intimidating
  • Fashion Intro – from creating glamourous images to tackling client briefs, everything to get you started in fashion photography

As for Groupon, it was so easy to use, you just buy the offer you want and they send you a voucher to redeem with the company holding the offer. Ive signed up to receive emails for deals in my area so I don’t have to scour the site everyday, I can just scan an email and see if anything takes my fancy. All sorts of things crops up from weekend breaks, beauty products, eating out and cooking utensils, it is a real mix.

Here are some of the photo’s I took on the course. As you can see just playing around with simple things such as composition and focus make s huge difference to the quality of your photos. For me learning about Aperture and Shutter speed has made the most difference to my photos – creating that beautiful dreamy background effect and capturing action shots without the blur. Also understanding the rules of composition I now understand why some photos work better than others. Getting to put all my new skills to work the next week at LFW was the best part, I’m sure you will agree that my street style and runway shots from this season are so much better, so much so that many have been used for professional purposes outside my blog – keep your eye on my Featured In page!

Have you ever used Groupon? Have you taken a Photography Course?

Would you like a post on photography tips?