EXP Core Review (Fitness fashion from Express)

Hey, guess who else has a new fitness wear line.  Express. Yep, that Express. It’s called EXP Core Performance, and they sent me an outfit to review, so I happily shall. Someone wants to send me clothes? YAASSS!

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Hello, EXP Core Performance.

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What they have: Workout Clothes for Women. A whole line of workout leggings,  workout tops, sports bras, and jackets.They say they’re “sexy, stylish, and built for maximum performance.” Oh. You wanna go after VSX Victoria’s Secret Sport? Ok. I hear you. Go for it.

They let me pick out from a selection of a few different pants and tops, and I chose these leggings because 1. I have too many crops right now and 2. HOLY SHIT CRAZY BUTTERFLY PATTERN I LOVE IT. And I chose the black top, obviously, because that’s what I wear. Black tops. And the lovely folks at EXP Core Performance sent me a sports bra to wear under it, too. Sweet!Outfit math expFullSizeRender

The workout leggings kind of rule. Ombre Animal Print EXP Core Compression Legging $69.90. And I’m not just saying that because I didn’t have to pay for them. The pattern is really fun, and it’s the first big, all-over pattern like this that has been flattering on my shape. ( Pear / T-Rex / Thunder-thighs.) The white at the bottom definitely helps because white looks bigger, so the effect is almost the same as if I were wearing bootcut/flared yoga pants. They balance out the thunder thighs. And the pattern at the top (read: the pattern across my ass) is dark and keeps the eye moving, so we’re good there, too. The only drawback is that this fabric is white with a print on it, so the inside of the pants are white, which means when the fabric stretches, it gets lighter because you’re seeing a little bit of that white come through. The black becomes dark grey when it is stretched across my thighs. So. Shopping tip: pay attention to the color of the inside of your workout pants. It’s not a deal breaker in this case, though. I think they still look good.FullSizeRender_2

But more importantly, they make me feel good. I feel like an olympic skier in them. They are edgy and obnoxious and you can’t really wear them and sit on the couch, because look at them! They are ACTION PANTS MADE FOR ACTION! Right?

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The tech and specs:

Fabric: They’re a slippery, almost bathing suit-type material, like Onzie leggings. Which means they wick well, and you could probably use them for bikram yoga or even swimming if you wanted to. Surfing? Maybe. But only if you get them really tight. There’s no drawstring. The fabric is not thick, and  that’s usually a deal breaker for me,  because: cellulite. But the pattern does the camouflaging that I usually count on a thicker fabric to do, so NBD.

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Fit: They have a high rise with a wide waistband, so that’s perfect. Everybody seems to be catching on to that now. As they should be. There’s no reason for anybody to have to have a muffin top. Hooray progress! Also, there’s a waistband key pocket, which is mandatory. I’m between sizes right now, so I ordered the higher size. So they’re not “performance” tight on me. (Except for on the thighs because everything is.)  But despite that, they didn’t slide down during a long walk, and they stayed in place pretty well during burpees and bouncing in a HIIT workout.

I’m impressed, Express. These are thoughtfully designed. Respect.

The workout top is a soft, drapey cotton.  Black EXP Core Strappy Tank $34.90. It’s loose enough and long enough, with some showy interest in the back. What more could you want? You might think “eh, it’s fine” when you look at it online, but it’s the kind of easy-to-wear piece you (I) will probably reach for first again and again. No brainer.

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The sports bra looks basic at first sight, too. (Mesh Back EXP Core Sports Bra $49) But the material actually has an almost shiny, leather-look, so it’s different and edgy, without being slutty.  The scoop of the neck and the width of the straps are flattering. It’s not too low cut,  and it covers the upper boob/ armpit fat. They know what they’re doing over there. And you know I don’t say that shit lightly. Of course, this is a “for looks” bra, not a “for running” bra. There’s no padding, and no special support structure. But it’s pretty slick looking. Oh yeah, and the back has mesh panels, too.FullSizeRender_3

EVERYTHING I got was thoughtfully designed. I’m pleasantly surprised, and actually pretty stoked. This EXP stuff is really flattering. For real.

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Seriously, you guys. When I saw Express in my email, I thought “I have not even looked in the window of that store since college.” And I’m 38. I shouldn’t be in there. But workout wear is for everybody, and EXP Core is a nice find. And you can order online so you don’t have to go in there and stand next to a size 00 seventeen year-old who hasn’t even put on her beer weight yet.

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Thumbs up for EXP Core.

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Workout Review: Heaven and Hell Bootcamp

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Gotta love Groupon.

This year I also took advantage of a Groupon for a local boot camp called Heaven and Hell. I’ve never done a boot camp before. And frankly, I used to think boot camp sounded terrifying and miserable and always took place outside before dawn in the rain with someone yelling at you. I am not a “no pain no gain” person. I am an “I have to enjoy it or else I won’t go” fitness person. But luckily, I was totally wrong about boot camp.

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About Heaven and Hell.

Heaven and Hell describes itself as “functional group training.” I never really understood what “functional fitness” meant, but I am getting the impression it means “moving your body and some weight around in all sorts of different directions.“ This class takes place in a strip mall (I live in the burbs, so that’s where everything is), in an open room, with every piece of fitness equipment you could dream of. Like…medicine balls, heavy balls, battle ropes, bosu trainers, sand bags, stability balls, kettle bells, dumbells, weighted bars, bands, rebounding step thingies, regular steps, plyo benches, giant tires, TRX, chin up bars, jump ropes, mini balance pods, weighted mini balls, slider disk thingies, and probably ten other things I’m not remembering. Basically, it’s a fitness playground. And it’s hella fun.

What it is, is circuit training. The instructor creates 7-12 ish different exercises (depending on class size), demos them at the beginning, and then you do each one for a certain amount of time, or you do two timed-sets with a mini break, and then you move to the next exercise. You usually go around 3 or 4 times in the 45 minute class, with a core training session (planks, pilates, on your back ab work) in the middle or at the end.

Results?

It’s great. You can’t get bored. If an exercise sucks, it’s only going to last like a minute and you only have to do it a few times. 45 minutes is the perfect class length. There are all sorts of people in there, so there’s always someone struggling more than you and always someone going turbo to look up to. I love it love it love it. You gain good cardio fitness, get some good core results, and your arms and shoulders get results because of the push ups and whatnot.

Between Dailey Method and Heaven and Hell Boot camp this summer, I was really having a great time, looking forward to all of my classes, enjoying feeling fitter and fitter, and getting visible results. I mean, look at my arms in this picture! That’s not from “lifting.” That’s from all sorts of different fun types of moves and equipment and body resistance stuff.

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Courtesy of Kelly Allison Photography. KellyAllisonPhoto.com

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Look, ma! An Ab! ONE AB.

AND, at one point, before everything went to shit and I stopped going to both, I swear I was starting to see more than just that one oblique I could always see if I sucked in hard and leaned over to the side.

 

CONCLUSION

Three word review for Heaven and Hell Bootcamp: Fitness. Playground. Fun.

I don’t have many pictures from bootcamp, but I tended to take happy sweaty selfies afterward, so that tells you something.

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Workout Review: The Dailey Method

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I’m going to review the three workouts I’ve been doing the most this year. Starting today with The Dailey Method. First, here’s a little bit of my history with going to fitness classes. If you don’t give a rat, just skip down to the review I won’t hate you. 🙂 Long story short: I used to hate classes, but now I dig ’em. Note: being a bit pre-fit makes a huge difference in how pleasant or un- they can be.

MY HISTORY WITH TAKING FITNESS CLASSES: 

In the past I’ve been pretty anti-class. I tried some at Crunch in San Francisco, and they just made me feel fat and gross because everyone else was all skinny and fit and rocking full WorkOutFits. This was ten years ago, when I was still wearing mesh basketball shorts and before I ran a marathon. Before then, I was very into home workout videos/DVDs. And before that I did home workouts that were on TV, like Body By Gilad. I was an original Firm believer. Knew about Beach Body back when they sent out a paper catalog, did Tae Bo, all of that jazz. Then I went to the gym to do the stairmaster, treadmill, elipser, and use the weight machines. A little Body for Life. Then I got more into running. Then P90X and then I tried classes again: some spin and some yoga and some Zumba.

Spin was tolerable because it was dark so it was easier to block out the skinny bitches and avoid comparison. Zumba I started doing when I moved out to the burbs, and it was full of old biddies so I felt like a rockstar. Yoga usually draws all types so it’s generally non-threatening. FYI, the spin class I used to take in the burbs was in glaring full yellow light, with a boom box of country music, and it took place literally on a basketball court, during a basketball skills clinic for five year olds. For real. Not quite the same as the dark, cool, techno experience at Crunch in San Francisco. But highly entertaining nonetheless. Anyway, that’s my history with classes.

ENTER GROUPON…

In the last year or so, I snapped up a Groupon for Dailey Method and gave it a shot. I have a lot of friends who did it in SF (where it’s from) and loved it. (I just never had the time to do it, or anything at all for that matter, when I lived there.) And I have the Physique 57 DVDs and so I kind of had an idea of what it would be like.

SO WHAT IS DAILEY METHOD LIKE?

Friggin’ hard. That’s what it’s like. If you’re not strong already, it’s frustrating and painful. And even if you are in shape, it’s still going to be awkward at some point because you’re getting into all sorts of weird positions and then you’re going to be pulsing. Yep. Pulsing. Gross.

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IT’S HARD. HARD!

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Also? Dailey Method doesn’t count for hardly any steps according to my UP 24. 😦 Bullshit.

But it’s also FANTASTIC. This is a rich lady sport, so the studio is clean, and bright, and colorful and feels kind of like a spa. It’s a lovely place to be. Everyone is paying out the wazoo to be there, so everyone takes it seriously, focuses on their own shit, and generally brings it in the fitness fashion department.

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I kinda love it!

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There are people of all shapes and sizes and ages and even stages of pregnancy. My favorite classmate is a proud breast cancer survivor in her late 60s who rocks the brightest tights I’ve ever seen. Every. Single. Class. She lost 30 lbs doing Dailey and didn’t change anything else in her life. She kicks all of the ass.

There’s a lot of emphasis on getting into proper position/ alignment first and then working. You work a muscle with light weights or body weight and high reps until you’re burning and shaking, and swearing under your breath. I’m serious. Shaking is a good thing in Dailey Method. It’s not the end, it’s the midpoint. Then when you think you’re going to collapse because you no longer have legs, just jelly sticks, or that flames will literally start shooting out of your quads and melt your stretch pants, you do some more. Then you stretch that muscle.

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There are a lot of planks and on-your-toes squats and plies and sometimes there’s a shitty terrible awkward position like pretzel sometimes there’s not. There’s always something that sucks to do but builds rock hard thighs FAST. And there is always a ton of core work.

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RESULTS?

Yes. I definitely got results from doing The Dailey Method, and I never went more than 3 times a week. I also bought both DVDs and use those when I need to. My results looked like this: a general “tightening” of my whole torso, everything sucked in and shrunk. My thighs got BIGGER because I was growing strong quads and my butt got smaller. My arms got tighter. And the “bottom butt” or “second butt” or “pooh bear butt” or the “butt under the butt” went away.

COST? 

Dailey Method is very expensive (at least $150 for a monthly pass). But if you frame it as a hobby instead of a gym, then it’s easier to wrap your head around. $150/4 weeks = $37.50 a week. How much do you spend on lunch? Or on random shit you don’t need at Target? Just sayin’. It can be done. And it’s much more valuable than a lot of other crap I unthinkingly spend money on.

IN CONCLUSION:

THREE WORD REVIEW of THE DAILEY METHOD: Hurts. So. Good.

I’ll review the Boot Camp I went to next. Coming soon.

Here are some pictures from my Dailey Days.

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They’ve got home videos too.

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Dailey Method: work up a sweat standing still.

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Barre stretches feel good.

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My favorite exercise. Standing leg hold.

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