Monday, 2 February 2015

Confident when it matters

In my twenties I spent a night at the Tibetan side of Base Camp Everest, with just a sleeping bag optimistically bought in Thailand for a fiver. The observant among you might notice that there's quite a temperature disparity between Bangkok and the North Base Camp. The 'room' I 'slept' in at Rongbuk Monastery (which has an altitude of 16,340 ft) was made of stone, but the walls didn't quite meet, and neither did the door fit the door frame (where's Nick Knowles when you need him). It was bitterly cold outside, and yes, pretty darn cold on the inside too. At that time of year average temperatures can dip to -12℃. I learnt a lot of things on that trip, and one of those things was to GET THE RIGHT KIT.

Fast forward another a few years (okay decades) and you'll rarely catch me under-equipped. If it's cold I'll have base layers, if it's wet I'll be waterproofed and if it's likely to be hot I'll be in sweat-wicking kit before you can say plyometric lunges. Which is why, when Helly Hansen invited me along to preview its new training range at BARREtoned last week, I said 'ja' (which is Norwegian for yes - geddit?). I said 'ja' because, while already well-respected for its professional mountain and sailing ranges, Helly Hansen now offers workout wear specifically designed for women that looks good and is still properly fit for purpose. We're talking Scandinavian style, fused with professional performance. And I didn't even have to set foot in Ikea. 

Photo credit: Antony Potts

Dressed for the barre

Set apart from the range for guys, Helly Hansen's female kit has a feminine silhouette (drawstring waists on running jackets, scoop necklines on vest tops), and seasonal colours and trends. The collection still uses the Lifa flow moisture-management technology, wind-block fabrics, reflective detailing, mesh for breathability and sun protection expertise as required, but adds in the kinds of fashion-forward colours, prints and shapes you want to be seen in. There's also a stunning range of trainers to complete the look. It would've been rude not too - am I right?!

No ifs - or butts!

So, decked out in our super new (and super soft) apparel, we got cracking on the unique exercise class that is Notting Hill's BARREtoned. Originally based on the Lotte Berk Method, this is a full-body workout performed at a ballet barre and on mats, using your own body weight. We're talking small, controlled movements where you concentrate on correct form and active stretching. We're also talking a lot of grimacing and groaning! But if you want sculpted arms, defined thighs and chiseled abs, then you're in the right place, doing the right thing. I know these little moves work because my bum ached the next day. Particularly when I sat down to go to the loo. 

Butt (!) at least I had the right clothes for the class!

Have you had any nightmare experiences with inappropriate workout wear - or through being under prepared for an adventure? Please share in the comment box below. It's not just me - right???


  1. Great, witty piece! Love the anecdote about base camp. I need to invest in new gear. It could make all the difference!

    1. I think it does - if I get cold or wet I get miserable, so am far more likely to not do something. Although the phrase 'all the gear and no idea' is bandied about all the time, I do think it's important to tool up properly so you can give everything a fair chance.

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