Ok, ok- I know. What a cliche: talking about activewear and exercise in January. But in my defence- my new years resolution started way back in November and was less a “New Year’s” resolution as just a “give myself a shake and sort my life out” moment.
Back in November I was feeling miserable, really miserable. I know the shorter days tends to make everyone retreat a bit but generally I’ve not really been a S.A.D sufferer but this year I really felt the winter. I felt so lethargic, low in mood and kind of aimless. Maybe it was a combination of things but I couldn’t shake that feeling of ‘agh’. But I also knew that I had lost some of the good habits I had been keeping- and one of those things was exercise. Last December (having felt the same way) I got myself an accountability partner and we worked out 3 times a week on Zoom together. We fell off the bandwagon together after Ramadan and I just didn’t/couldn’t carve out that time for myself afterwards. But November 2021 rolled around and I knew I had to heed the words of Taylor Swift and shake it off.
So, after a bit of Googling and remembering your guys recommendations I decided to download the FIIT app. Unlike a lot of popular programmes out there (like SWEAT etc) I couldn’t really find many online reviews for your regular person (and by that I mean someone who hasn’t got chiselled abs or undergone a radical transformation) so I thought, alongside a quick review of the activewear I made I’d share a bit about FIIT. So here’s a little review of my leggings, sports bra projects and the FIIT app (specifically the Base Fiit and Base Fiit 2 programmes).
Sewing my own activewear
This is going to sound silly but I’ve been meaning to sew my own activewear for ages. I’ve done it in the past but not more recently, and definitely not made myself a sports bra. Luckily I have Melissa’s “Sew Your Own Activewear” book on my shelf and some remnants of Spoonflower** Sport Lycra from my swimming costume. But I kept thinking that I would make it for myself as a ‘reward’ for finishing x, y, z programme or reaching a milestone. In the end I though- forget this! What am I waiting for?! I’m just gonna make them. And you know what? I’m a twit. It literally took me no time. I made each in an evening and it was so quick and simple. But more than that- they fit and they make me feel GREAT. So yeah, I’m over the ‘reward’ thing- I’m just gonna make them as and when I need a set.
Basic Block Close Fit Legging
Sizes: XXS- XL (Hips 35.5″ – 48″)
I’ve done an overview review of Melissa’s book before (which you can find here) but at the time I was heavily pregnant and never got to test it out. If you don’t know Melissa already, she really is the guru when it comes to sewing activewear. So I knew I was in good hands making her pattern.
I went with the basic block of the close fit leggings- I wanted something quick and easy to make. It’s only four pattern pieces too- woohoo! I made a Small size. She recommends going with the basic block first off so that you can check the fit. There’s also a helpful double page spread of fit issues and solutions for you to work through if you need to. Fair warning though- this whole book is built off blocks, with you having to pattern cut and create your unique patterns following the instructions. This is great if you’re interested in learning the process behind pattern cutting but might not be for you if you just want to cut a pattern and go. It’s definitely more involved but making the basic block was easy enough- I just shortened them slightly to fit my fabric (which was odd shapes etc) and added seam allowance.
I’ve done so many circuit and interval training sessions in them and they’ve worked a treat! The adjustments I’d make next time are: slimming down/tapering the ankle a bit more (personal preference of skin tight leggings around my ankles- I have like a 1-2cm gap on these near my ankles). And I think I might try a wider waistband, like the Yoga pants in the book- but without the pocket. The great thing about making your own activewear is that you can personalise it for yourself. I know I’ll be working out at home so a pocket isn’t necessary (shock horror- did I just say that I don’t need a pocket?!) The other thing I might do is add a gusset- my last RTW pair have them and I think it would work well with the range of movements I’m doing (there are some Yoga stretches involved).
If you want to take a deep dive into sewing active wear it’s a great book to have- but like I said, be ready to be involved in the pattern making. She does have some great ready to go patterns too (I’ve made a few of these in the past too!) You might also want to look at her new ebook for beginners?
Although there is a sports bra pattern in the book, this time I did want something quick and easy. Luckily I came across this blog post on Spoonflower which highlights 5 different Sports Bra patterns to sew up. I was drawn to the simple looking Ultimate Sports Bra and it was free! Win-Win.
The size range is from 30-50″ bust (M-3XL) so I cut a Medium (30-35″)- my bust being 35″. This was everything I wanted in a sports bra. I did have to cut the back piece as two as I didn’t have a big enough piece of fabric for the whole piece. The main and most glaring issue was also mentioned in the Spoonflower blog post- the facing doesn’t fit. It’s a bit annoying but since I’ve now made it, I’ve recut the facing pattern piece. But yeah- a bit annoying but hey-ho, it’s free! And it wasn’t an impossible thing to fix myself. Just be warned so you don’t sit there scratching your head. The other thing I changed was that i actually used my fold over elastic (FOE) flat for the band. I find this much more comfortable (something I noticed after making underwear).
Sewing FOE seems to be easier now that I’ve had a bit of practice. I actually sewed this in one pass but if you’re new to it, definitely sew in two parts. I used my IDT foot (which is like a built in walking foot on the Pfaff*) and a stretch needle. It went so smoothly! If you’re planning to sew it, make sure you test your stitch and make adjustments. I find the 3 length and 3.5 width zig zag worked for me.
The big question is…did it work? Anyone with a chest size over 30″ who’s ever jumped even once without the right bra knows the importance of good support! And I’m please report it works. It works really well actually…. for me that is. I add that caveat because I used to be a lot smaller chested pre-baby (think A cups) and that whole issue of support wasn’t really something I had to think about. I’m now nearly 4 years post-partum and I’ve definitely dropped down a few bra sizes, so while I’m still larger than I was pre-baby (when I worked out a lot more), I’m still smaller than I was a few years back. So I can’t really speak for anyone with a larger chest. But for me, it works. The only other thing I would change going forward (the first being the newly cut facing) is that I might cut the elastic a little bigger for the arms and necks. It’s a super snug fit but I find it digs a little. Maybe I need to make a L size but I like the support it gives my bust at the Medium so will see.
Just a quick note on the Spoonflower Sports Lycra! I really like the weight of it for activewear. I prefer slightly thicker fabrics which I find give a bit of compression and support, and this does the trick. It’s got a 88% polyester and 12% Lycra construction, a 4-way stretch with a good stretch recovery. I’m in love with the prints featured in the blog post and will definitely be ordering some more! If you do plan to order- just be aware that the pattern is printed onto a white base so prints with dark colours/background will show the white if under a lot of stretch. But if you want more details here’s a link to the info page on their website. You can also use my discount code: POMEGRANATE20
My Fiit journey so far
As I’ve already mentioned, this was an App that was recommended to me by quite a lot of you guys but at the time I was pretty happy with the Nike Training app and it’s free workouts (I love Betina’s beginner programme). More recently I was getting a bit bored and not really feeling like I could get to the end of even their beginner training programme- which is actually quite demotivating! Cue the Fiit App…
I work out at home- I’ve tried gyms and classes but exercising at home is what works best for me. I find I’m much more likely to fit in a workout if I just need to roll out a mat and pick up my weights rather than driving anywhere. These days I tend to work out in the morning while R is having her breakfast or before work (on my WFH days).
Over the many many years that I’ve been working out at home I’ve developed a bit of a checklist of things my perfect app/programme would have. And having had R, I’ve realised that realistically I can probably manage 3-4 workouts a week but they need to be a max of 30min. I used to be a die hard SWEAT/BBG fan (I had the old school PDF printed out!) but it’s just too much for my joints now. I know Kayla has developed a lot of new programmes but I personally haven’t enjoyed the app as much when trying the free trials.
Things I look for are:
- Short workouts (30min max)
- Warm up and cool down included (otherwise I won’t do it properly!)
- Live videos- rather than the BBG pdf, I prefer following a trainer and matching reps/exercises
- I prefer set programmes/plans rather than dipping in and out of classes (takes the thinking out of things)
- Trainers who talk through clearly (aren’t annoying) and give countdowns with sets
- Some sort of timer
All pretty simple, but surprisingly hard to find. BUT I have to say, I’m loving Fiit. I got it on the Black Friday 2 week trial and kept it on. It’s pretty much ticked all of those boxes. The trainers I’ve encountered are so much fun and genuinely (sorry to be a cliché) get me smiling even when I feel like I’m dying. They really talk you through the moves, encouraging you when you need it and count you in and out of sections. There’s a helpful timeline at the bottom which shows how the workout is split (rests and intervals) and a digital timer which countdowns the actual set of exercises. There’s also a label which shows which exercise is coming which is great.
I started with the Base Fiit 4 week programme which was great- a mix of circuits and intervals with low impact work (no equipment needed). It really built up at a manageable pace, challenging me where I needed it. I also really like that there is a full stretch session included (an extra 10min) which is great to end the week with. I went straight into Base Fiit 2 which is the follow on and again, really enjoyed this. It’s definitely hard, and steps you up again but it’s just what I needed. Even Taufiq has been joining in- which if you knew him, is really something. He never joins me, and if he does, its very reluctantly and never to be repeated. But he’s stuck with me so far (where our timetables overlap) and even- shock horror- did a workout at 9pm on his own to catch up with me. When I asked what was different about this app he said he didn’t know, he “just enjoys it”. So there you go. 5* reviewer he is.
My main goal for working out is for my mental health and physical health- I feel more energetic when I’m exercising and I want to be able to keep up with R in the park. In fact my goal last year was to be able to lift and carry her on my shoulders, which I can now do (although struggling as she gets bigger!! It’s also wonderful role modelling- R gets involved and gets upset if I’ve exercised without her.
“Results” wise- I don’t really weigh myself because I personally don’t find it helpful but I have definitely noticed the improvement in my ability to keep up with the routines. I feel stronger and I have definitely toned up- my clothes are fitting more comfortably. But mainly, I feel like I’ve come so far from November. I really do feel like a different person and I’m excited to see where the rest of the year takes me.
Now I’m at the end of the Base Fiit 2 programme I’m looking at which one to go for next! I’m actually spoilt for choice but am looking at the Super Fiit, Real Strength or Build (which uses weights). There is also an entire postnatal section which is split into 4 stages (Fiit Mum) which are 6 weeks each and build up from early postnatal (focus on stretches and Yoga based classes), building up to more strength work. And they’ve all been made to be 25-30min classes- prefect to squeeze in with a young one. I wish I had this around in my post-natal stages! I’m actually tempted to maybe try the last stage of that but I would need to pick up a few more bits of equipment so I’ll stick with the others for now.
Anyway, that’s all I wanted to share today. (I swear I always say it’s a quick share and still manage to write paragraphs and paragraphs!) Hopefully you find that helpful and inspired to whip yourself up some activewear or even get moving with some exercise. It’s been a nice reminder for me that sewing activewear isn’t that hard and neither is exercising (if I put my mind to it…)
Hopefully I can keep going with both of these things! Let me know if you have any fave patterns that I should check out, or if you’re a fellow member of the FiitFam!
*Pfaff machine on loan as a Pfaff Ambassador
**Spoonflower fabric from old collab/2021 Ambassador