Pure Barre On Demand Workout Review

I’m a freelance writer. Which means sometimes I’m commuting to the city and sometimes I’m working at home. When I commute to the city, I spend 3.5 hours a day commuting. And when I work from home, I basically wake up, maybe walk the dog, and start working right away because I can. I never know what type of work situation I’ll be in, so a gym membership is dumb and so is committing to any kind of studio unless I only want to go on Saturdays. Also, my super-affordable, on-the-way-to-daycare bootcamp has moved and become a less-affordable F45 on the other side of town, so… I’ve been classless for a bit.

I needed a new home workout. Yes, I still like the Aaptive training app and my treadmill. But I was hungry for something new, and something that didn’t make me feel like a prisoner sweating alone in my basement. And I need to build strength and get results fast, so I researched on-demand barre classes.

Now, a good little blogger would re-do the research for you and post the costs of different on-demand barre classes here, but I threw away my notes over a month ago and I don’t feel like looking all that shit up again.

All you need to know is the best deal is Pure Barre on demand.

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What you need to know about Pure Barre On Demand:

  • $30/ month
  • Access classes on any device
  • A really good amount of classes in any length you could possibly want: 5 minute, 10-15 minute, 30-40 minute, 40-50 minute and full length 50-60 minute lengths
  • They add new classes all the time

And the classes are taught by a mix of instructors, so if you think one is annoying, you can avoid her. What you can’t avoid is stupid pretzel position, which is incredibly awkward and I really, really, really hate it. But they’re videos, so if you’re a lazy piece of shit like me, you can just say “nope” and skip to a less ridiculous part of the workout.

A lot of the classes are “live” which means recorded live in one of the Pure Barre studios. They look like they’re shot with a nest security cam, which is totally fine by me. I like how it feels like I’m in a real class. There are also more “workout video”-type professionally staged and shot workouts. There’s really a lot of content. It’s pretty great.

Here’s what the two kinds of classes look like:

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A “live” Pure Barre on demand class

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A “legacy DVD” Pure Barre class, available on demand.

 

 

About Barre

Not gonna lie. Barre sucks. It’s painful, awkward, and uncomfortable. And super hard. BUT, I’ve found that it is a really fast way to change your shape and get strong. And that’s what I need right now. I think of it more as physical therapy than a fun workout. Wow, that’s depressing, isn’t it? OK. It’s not that bad. It’s a CHALLENGE. Is that more positive? And I get to do different video every time (so far) so that makes it feel a little more special.

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All barre workouts are based on the same principles from The Lotte Burke Method: proper alignment, a large number of small movements done to failure, then you stretch that muscle group. “Failure” means your legs will not only burn, but they will literally quiver and shake, and that’s the goal. Yup. (“Shake to change” is the mantra in Barre Amped.) And all barre workouts use similar exercises and follow the same patterns (core, arms, legs, butt, abs).

 

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Look at my arm! A result! 

The vibe is a little different from brand to brand, and Pure Barre has the vibe that I like the best, but it’s up to you to see what you like. Pure Barre, for example is a little more casual/city and they work out to a beat. Dailey Method feels slightly more formal, closer to a ballet or yoga studio vibe.

They all have a little bit of equipment involved: light weights, a small inflatable ball, something to use as a “support” (barre substitute), sometimes tubing. Overall, I like doing barre at home better than in the studio because I don’t feel looked at, and most importantly, I don’t have to wear those stupid barre socks that lose their grip and become useless the first time you wash them. I hate working out in socks.

For home workouts you really only need the light weights. A ball is a bonus. I have a barre, which I ordered from Amazon, and it’s fine. But there are some moves where they hold on to the barre and lean back, and for that type of stuff you actually need a counter, so don’t feel like you have to buy a barre. But if you want one, this one’s the one I have. It’s pretty cool except you get a big box on your doorstep that says VITA VIBE. Oh hey neighbors! I promise it’s not a four-foot dildo! Link here, too: https://amzn.to/2qazoQ7

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Vita Vibe 4 foot portable barre

 

Oh, and Pure Barre sells apparel with a lot of good cuts (meaning: long, not skin-tight tanks). I would totally order some if they didn’t have Pure Barre logos on them.

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#2017GoalsAF

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This is a running calendar I bought last year, by I Love To Run. You’re supposed to just X off each day that you ran. And right in the middle it says “You either ran today or you didn’t.” Super simple. Love the idea. Just like Seinfeld and his red Xs on writing days. You either did the thing that gets you what you said you want or you didn’t. You’re either moving towards what you want or you’re not. Do or do not. There is no try.

And there’s nothing like seeing the entire year laid out for you, with the evidence of your effort or lack thereof, for some honesty.

My calendar from last year is pretty pathetic. 55 runs. And it’s filled with many, MANY blank weeks. Vast stretches of nothingness. Now, I didn’t record every workout. Towards the end of the year I started to use a horizontal mark to indicate that I had done some kind of strength training or barre workout. But even if I had been recording those the whole year, it wouldn’t have changed the truth of the year.

The truth of the year was that I didn’t run much. The truth of the year is that there were huge expanses of time when I wasn’t doing anything to work toward my fitness and body goals. The truth of the year was my body was still recovering from carrying a child: my hip hurt, and my lower back got fatigued really quickly, even from walking. I had no core strength anymore to support that back or those hips. And it still felt like all of my organs were going to fall out of my body when I ran or tried to do a jumping jack. And I also had a 1 year old in day care, getting all of the day care colds, which I got, and then combined with allergies to form chronic sinus infections (yay! so cool! you should totally try them!) which meant I was sick for half the year, too.

So I had to take a step back (from where my ego thought I should be) and start where I actually was. Which is completely unAmerican and blows, and was NOT “run most of the days!” I had to do short, easy workouts, and focus on consistency instead of intensity. I did Betty Rocker’s MakeFat Cry challenge, which is all 15 minute workouts. I did the 21 Day Fix workouts, which are around 30 minutes long. (And they were really hard for me! And that made me super sad!) I did one or two segments of barre videos instead of hour long classes. I walked the dog because I couldn’t really run. It was a year of being a beginner even though I’ve been working out for almost 30 years. ARGH! SUCKS!

But you know what? It’s a year later. And now I can run. And now I can go back to bootcamp. And now I can really start building back up to where I was. It’s possible now. And now I can do jumping jacks without feeling like my organs are going to fall out onto the floor. (At least not, like, ALL of them.) And even though I didn’t lose “the baby weight” and actually gained ten pounds on the keto diet (what in the ever loving fuck, right?), I learned from that too. And I’ve pivoted, and I’m losing weight, and I’m probably pretty damn close to knowing exactly how to eat (for me) because now I’ve officially Tried All Of The Things.

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This is my calendar for 2017. It’s blank and I’m excited. I know it’s going to be “better” than last year. And I also know last year WASN’T a failure, because despite the lack of running days, I really did make progress. Invisible, annoying, base-level building progress, but progress nonetheless. And you have to go through progress before you can get to fitness, and you have to go through fitness before you can get to buffness. Which totally sucks and if I was in charge, you would lose 30 pounds every time you ran 3 miles. But I’m not in charge, so 1. progress 2. fitness 3. buffness is the only path there is. ONWARD!

I hope you have a big goal. And have figured out the exact things you need to do to get there. And I hope you get a big calendar. And use it. But I also hope you are kind to yourself, and acknowledge all of the work that happens along the way, you BADASS MOTHER BITCHES!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Aaptiv App Review (aka Skyfit)

Over the last year, you probably saw ads on your socials for a running app called Skyfit that touted itself as “SoulCycle for running.” Well, I tried it out for you and you’re welcome.

What is Aaptiv?

A crappy new name for Skyfit. It’s supposed to be a combination of the words app, adaptive, and active, which it is, but that doesn’t make it a good name. Maybe there was a trademark issue. Maybe they got bought and had to change it. I don’t know, but I mourn their loss. Anyway.

AAPTIV/ The App Formerly Known As Skyfit is an app that gives you a list of running (treadmill and outdoor), strength, eliptical, cycling, and yoga audio workouts. You can filter the workouts by difficulty (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and duration, which is great.

They call(ed) themselves “SoulCycle for running” because the workouts are a music bed/ playlist and a trainer narrating the workout, guiding you throughout (form notes, motivation, form tips, etc.) and sometimes giving you extra motivation tidbits like cueing you to think about a word of the workout or a specific goal. I’m sure SoulCycle is more woo woo / intense than that, but whatever. Great elevator pitch. I bought it.

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Is it just audio, then?

Yep. Just audio. No video of the moves or even photos. Which is fine if you know basic moves (Have you done a burpee? You’re good.) and also takes up less space on your phone and less data on your plan.

Does that work?

Yeah. For the most part. HOWEVER, in the strength training workouts, some of the trainers are not very good at describing moves, and some (the same ones) are not good at setting up the workout in a brief, clear way. At all. It gets really verbose, and then annoying, because this person is still talking and stumbling over her words and the warm up is over and you still don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. It might actually only be one trainer who’s not so great at the talky talk…I should pay attention to who she is so I stop doing her workouts…

The rest of the trainers are fine. Clear. Fairly motivating. Completely adequate.

One weird thing is once you do one of the workouts, you can’t access it again for a week. I guess that’s to make it feel like studio classes or something? Fleeting? In-the moment? Ever-changing? There are plenty of workouts, though, so it’s not a big deal. And they change them out and add new ones.

They also have monthly challenges and 10k, 1/2 marathon, etc. training programs. For example, in December they had a challenge that was a list of mini strength training workouts (about 13 minutes long) you could squeeze in say, in your in-law’s basement between coffee and the beginning of the day’s activities. Some days I did one. Some days I did three back to back. It was just nice to have something to follow so I felt like I got at least a little bit of a real workout in.

What’s good about it?

I like Aaaptiv because I want to run more often, and it makes going for runs easier and more enjoyable. I like that there’s someone telling me what to do, because usually a run (or any unguided workout) is just 20-40 minutes of me fighting the voice in my head that says  “meh…I feel heavy…meh…I don’t wanna…meh…let’s go eat Quest Bars and stare at a wall instead.” With Aaptiv, there’s a trainer’s voice blocking out the bad voice-in-my-head-voice. And I mostly obey the trainer, because even though it’s a pretend recording, I’m a nice midwestern girl, and I don’t want to disappoint the nice lady or man who’s just trying to help me have a good run.

And am I going to maintain a faster-than-jog pace for three minutes (or ever) without a trainer telling me to do it? Hell no.

It also makes just the idea of going for a run less of a THING, because I just press a button and the decisions are made for me. And it makes me feel like I’m running with someone. It even feels a little bit like running with a group. It’s nice. It works. I like it.

Here are three sweaty, red-faced pics from right after Aaaptiv runs that show how I felt after doing them: Alive, sweaty, and somewhat accomplished.

Do the treadmill workouts suck?

Nope. I did one on a treadmill in a basement, with nothing to look at but a shelf full of books and knickknacks, and I felt plenty engaged. Probably because it was all Britney and Xtina songs on that workout, and I love terrible music, but still. Words and music fill your brain hole just as well as, if not better than TV while you’re running.

How are the other ones? The strength and yoga and whatnot?

AAPTIV’S STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUTS are body weight workouts. So basically circuits of lunges, squats, planks, sit-ups, push-ups, burpees…stuff like that. They’re all simple. And some of them are SUPER simple. Like, so simple that I say out loud, repeatedly, “I fucking paid you to tell me to alternate squats and lunges for 20 minutes?” But, you know what? I’m not going to spend 20 minutes doing just squats and lunges WITHOUT someone telling me to do them, so yeah, I guess I do have to pay for exactly that.

AAPTIV’S YOGA WORKOUTS: I’ve only done one yoga workout, but it was fine. I think I might like audio only even better than yoga videos. Maybe.

ELIPTICAL and CYCLE:  Can’t speak to those. I don’t have an eliptical machine, stationary bike, or a gym membership, and spin is not something I enjoy a ton. I may have said I like it in the past, but if I did, I was lying to myself and the world. It’s awkward and uncomfortable in most of the ways and people just need to admit that already.

How much?

Free 7 day trial, then $10 a month, $35 for 3 months, or $50 for a year. When I signed up a few months back, I got a year for $40. Current plans are here:  https://www.aaptiv.com/signup

So, yes or no?

Yes. It’s a step above “just going out for a run” or “just doing some planks and push ups for a minute.” You’ll get a better workout in, even if it’s a 15 minute one. And having someone with you, even if it’s a recording of a trainer with one of those annoying sexy baby raspy voices, gives you a little bit of the peer pressure/ class effect: you’ll push yourself a little bit harder than if you were completely on your own.

Education is Expensive

Hi. Sorry I’ve been MIA for a bit. I’ve had some LIFE THINGS to figure out and still have a few to go. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have a greeting card company, Brain Surgeons & Rocket Scientists, and I was going to go to the big stationery trade show in NYC this year. But then, just when I was having a freakout about how expensive it was going to be, I realized I also needed to get a new car ASAP. Ouch. OOF! The old one-two! I lost a lot of sleep agonizing about both of those things, and I’m just now popping out on the other side. I had to drop out of the show (super sad) and say goodbye to my beloved MINI Cooper S (sobbing out loud sad) and get a “real” car with “four doors” and an “actual back seat.”

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(Side note: Do not for a second think there is anything wrong with a MINI. There’s just no way in earth-bound physics that I would be able to use a rear-facing convertible car seat (non-mom translation: frickin’ huge and you can’t take it in and out) in a two door car. It sucks. I loved my MINI. I held on to it as long as I could. I hope she ends up with a fun new owner who appreciates her as much as I did. Fuck. I’m going to cry again! I can’t help it. I love cars. Especially that one. )

When I signed up for the trade show, I thought I was doing a “just jump and you’ll figure it out” move. Which often works. Just not this time. Perhaps, and I’m just spitballing here, I mean, this could be total crazy talk, but maybe…when you have a child, you can no longer live as flexibly or spontaneously as you did before you had a child. And also, you need a four door car. You idiot.

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So. Lesson learned? Or punishment dealt? All I know is I done messed up. And it was an expensive mistake. So learn from me, folks. Sometimes you actually should look before you leap. Unless you’re in your twenties. Then you need to stop being a chicken shit and go do stuff because you’ll be old before you know it.

And now back to your regularly scheduled obsession with black workout pants and protein bars and such….

 

Pretend Shopping Spree: Olympia Activewear

Olympia Activewear: the coolest sports bras in town by a San Francisco-based designer. Good job, Ms. Kaili Lickle.

Let’s pretend for a second that my boobs aren’t “I have a baby”-sized. And while we’re at it, let’s pretend that my ass isn’t “I have a new baby”-sized either. Here’s what I’d love to wear from Olympia.

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Tough, hardcore and beautiful. Perfect.

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Sporty with a sophisticated softness. Perfect.

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Awesome details on the waistbands and knees.

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Perfect proportions on the trim of the shorts and where the calf fabric starts on the leggings.

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And then this is actually something I could wear IRL.

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Also, cute headband. 🙂

Love love love the Olympia.

New Protein Yums! Brand review: MyProtein

Long story short:  There’s a new protein source in town. It’s called MyProtein. And it is good. If all you need is a thumbs up or thumbs down, then THUMBS UP, I say.  Their shop is here.  And right now you can get 20% off of all protein powders with code POWDER. You’re welcome! MyProtein.com

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Here’s my review:

I have a new baby. I don’t have time. And I’m tired. So my way of getting protein lately (other than a steady stream of grocery store rotisserie chickens) has been eating box after box of protein bars. But I can’t be trusted around those things. A box might last me a week. Or I might take down six bars in a sitting BECAUSE THEY’RE CANDY.

So the other day, while my brain and my finger were fighting over whether or not I should push the “Buy another box of protein bars with 1 click” button on Amazon Prime (on my phone, while feeding the kid), a miracle happened!

Someone from MyProtein contacted me and asked if I’d do a review if they sent me some food stuffs to put in my face. Um. HELL YES I’ll do a review! Perfect timing, psychic angel person from MyProtein! Boom.

Here we go:

MyProtein is a new company, they’re from the UK and distributed in the US from Aurora, Illinois. Of Wayne’s World fame. And a half hour from where I live. (Yay, quick shipping!)

They make protein powders and shakes and supplements and even some gear. The protein products are all low-carb, sugar-free, etc. They also make jerky and peanut butter and snacks, so it’s kind of a no-brainer one stop-shop for quick protein stuff. And I’ve just about reached the maximum number of rotisserie chickens one person should consume in a lifetime, so, YES YES PERFECT THANK YOU! Quick protein!

They sent me some shakes (delicious), some peanut butter (perfect), some jerky (gone in 60 seconds), and some Omega 3 (haven’t touched it yet because I’m still taking plenty of for-the-baby vitamins).

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First of all, points for clean design. A lot of protein/ supplement brands look like a ‘roided up fire monster mated with NASCAR (aka: MMA) or they’re so girlie they look like they belong in the barbie shampoo section. MyProtein products look like they don’t think you’re an idiot. So thanks for that.

Here’s what I got and what I thought:

MyProtein Beef Jerky (original flavor):

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This is the first thing I opened. And by that I mean I ate it immediately after opening my box of goodies from them, because jerky.  It was tasty, not too sweet, and  fresh.

I also got single packet samples of flavored whey protein powder

Strawberry: Yum. Tastes like Strawberry Quick.

Cookies and Cream: A little more “cream” than cookie. Think of it as Double Stuf Oreo flavor.

Salted Caramel: Brilliant idea!!! Tastes like Kraft Caramels. The cubes with the cellophane wrappers from childhood? You know what I’m talking about. Anyway, it’s not super sea-salty. But I’d just add salt to my smoothie to get it there. Yum.

Chocolate Peanut Butter: also tasty. Not fake-y.

But the part I was most pleasantly surprised with? The shaker. Seriously.

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I hate shakers. They’re awkward to drink out of and they’re big and cluttery. But this one has a spout and it is easy to drink out of. This one I will not throw away. They seem to know what they’re doing, these MyProtein people.

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And then, their Peanut Butter. Guess what’s in it? Peanuts.  That’s it. No sugar. No salt. No extra oils. No weird things to keep it at an unnatural consistency. Just a big jug of QUICK PROTEIN STRAIGHT FROM THE EARTH! Usually I can’t keep peanut butter in the house because I’ll eat half a jar in a day. Or an afternoon. But this stuff, because it’s not sweet or salty, you eat what you actually need, and then you’re like, “OK. I’m good.” And you get on with your life. Also, it doesn’t separate much. So, bonus.

They also have this cool thing where you can get plain whey protein, but then buy flavor drops instead of having a huge jug of one flavor. Great idea, right?   10966230-1094305484410114

Overall: I’m impressed. I like the stuff.  And I’m ordering more.

MyProtein. Check em out: MyProtein.com

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Fabletics Breezy Top

FABLETICS = subscription-ish fitness fashion company associated with Kate Hudson’s little ass. You join, and every month you have to buy or skip. They show you outfits based on your shape/style preferences. If that’s your thing, fine. I prefer to shop by piece. But you can do that too.

I have ordered four things from them, but I’m only talking about the Breezy Tank today because it’s my favorite. IMG_5343

This top is cotton-ish, thin, and super-drapey on one side. It’s a long tunic length and asymmetrical.  The left side is longer, has a bigger arm hole, and has more fabric that kind of drapes under the waist. I totally dig it because I like the big-armhole-shows-a-sports-bra thing but I can’t rock too much exposure because I’m not little in the middle right now. (And I have much back.)

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The quality is good, especially for the price. The draping is great. If you get it big enough it won’t be too clingy. (I’m getting better at buying for the size I am, not the size I think I should be…two tricks to that: 1. Telling myself this is a temporary state of affairs and 2. telling myself that I prefer a drapey fit, so I have to size up. You know. For style reasons.)

I’m not sure if it would be flattering on all body types, but I’m stoked for anything drapey and flowy in a new shape. I keep on buying baggy tanks on repeat and it’s getting silly. So FUCK YEAH for the Breezy Tank. Thanks, Kate Hudson’s sort of company!

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Calia by Carrie Underwood

Hey, Aimee, have you heard of Calia by Carrie Underwood?

Yes, of course I have! I pretend-shop for all the workout clothes all the time. Duh. But I haven’t written about it yet because 1. I’ve been busy with the newborn and 2. I checked it out a while back and my take was “Eh. It’s ok. But I’ve seen it all before.” However, it is sort of a big deal: it’s lovely-ish fitness stuff that’s more affordable than Lulu and very accessible. So OK. Fine, Carrie Underwood. Here you go.

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Get it, girl.

Calia by Carrie is a fitness apparel line by Carrie Underwood for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Dick’s is like Sports Authority but nicer. Carrie Underwood is known for American Idol, songs about Jesus and slashing tires, big blonde hair, lots of eye makeup, and really great legs.60553794cd84a631a91fc7988c66827a carrie_underwood2 carrie-underwood-300

She’s a vegetarian and often a vegan. She works out a lot. She tours a lot. (See legs.)  She married some hockey player and just had a baby around the same time I did. And yes, of course, she’s already rocking a mini dress. (LEGS.)

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Post-Baby Carrie

But she’s a celebrity and I’m not, so let’s not compare because I don’t have a staff or a tour or mini dresses to get back into. But lets do be happy that her waist looks (a teeny bit) thicker, as it should, and lets feel better about ourselves (me) that our (my) midsection is still thick four months after baby because 1. I haven’t been able to work out and 2. even Miss Carrie, who can and does, still has it. SWEET!! But lets also give much respect to the legs. THE LEGS. Bless your Barbie-worshiping, singing about Jesus driving metaphorical cars-heart. THE LEGS! Well done, woman.

She built those legs.  She did the “soft teen turns into tiny, ripped, mini-dress rocking super-star” transformation thing that happens a lot with Idol Alumnae (Katharine McPhee, Jennifer Hudson), so I say she is qualified to venture into fitness fashion. And everyone knows country = money, so congratulations, Dick’s Sporting Goods, for jumping on that obvious money train. (Darius Rucker, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Republicans, etc. etc. etc.)

Calia by Carrie Underwood lives here caliastudio.com and the Dick’s site is here. I have no problem with her #staythepath / work in working out / the gym is where you are-type messaging. Totally authentic to what she does, having to train while touring and all. The ads look nice and the pink wash matches the color pallette of the line. Oh wait, I’m not supposed to be a Creative Director right now, I’m supposed to be a fashion blogger. Sorry, I’m both. Once a MadWoman always a MadWoman.

The Clothes

Calia Tops are $30-50-ish. Sweaters are more like $80. Every single piece is something you can find somewhere else: rouched tanks, cocoon cardigans, batwing sweaters, etc. You know, basic, sort of pretty stuff. Which is why I got that meh feeling back when I first checked it out. It’s nothing innovative. It’s nothing new. It’s just a “you gotta have one of each of these kind of pieces because they sell” kind of a thing. Which is exactly appropriate. I guess. But if I had the opportunity to create a line, I’d want to try and introduce at least one iconic piece that had something interesting or different or risky going on. (Like Stella McCartney for adidas, with the chest straps.) She probably couldn’t, even if she wanted to. Big business. Blah blah blah. But that’s how I feel about it. It’s perfectly safe.

Bottoms are $40ish for shorts, $65ish for tights and capris, and they’re so boring they just put me to sleep scrolling through them. Except these. These are kind of interesting. And props for the proportions and flattering seam-lines and wide waist band (good for muffin tops).

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Calia by Carrie Essential Tight Fit Printed Capris $65

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Calia by Carrie Essential Tight Fit Printed Capris $65

Also, there’s just so much heather grey. I love grey. More than people. But heather grey is the worst color for workout pants because it’s super bump-showy and sweat-showy.

There are also some bras, accessories and panties. The balconette bra is interesting, and the accessories are pretty enough. They’re just not necessary. Does Carrie Underwood need to make a yoga mat and a yoga block and a head band (nay, 5 different kinds of headbands) AND underpants? If I have my branding hat on, I say just do a few new things instead of doing everything. Even if everything is great, it’s too much to absorb right off the bat.

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Calia by Carrie Inner Power Heathered Balconette Bra $41

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Calia by Carrie Inner Power Heathered Balconette Bra $41

That being said, I kind of like the fruit infusion water bottle and would totally try the toeless grip socks for Dailey Method, despite the creepy mannequin foot model. Dailey Method socks always slip off of me. Aaaaand I have tingers. Toeless socks are worth a shot. And shit, two pairs for $10 is great. Imma order some of those right now. Carrie wins again.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 9.22.48 AM Calia by Carrie Fruit Infusion Water Bottle $30 and No-Toe No-Heel Grip Bottom Socks $10 for 2 pairs (!)