Wellness

How Tech Is Changing Your Spin Class

10.18.17
Spin bike

SoulCycle is all about following the beat to disconnect, and smartphones are a no-no in this candlelit, meditative class. But the other indoor cycling brands pedaling alongside it are increasingly focusing on how to bring technology into the spin class experience.

Studios are adding features to bike technology that allow riders to track stats in new ways, more companies are creating systems for at-home live-stream classes, and gyms are even adding gaming tech to classes, turning sweat sessions into virtual reality rides through space.

Here’s what you need to know about the (hilly) landscape and how it may affect your next workout—and all of the others after that.

Next-Gen Spin Bikes

It makes sense that the bikes themselves are the first place technology is having a major impact. Peloton has always been a leader here, with its smooth, silent belt and touchscreen console. Now, popular-chain Flywheel has just announced a new bike it says will offer “new levels of precision and performance,” alongside lots of new online features and a refreshed app that will track performance using bike stats, offer class recommendations, and more. Swerve, another popular New York City-based studio with three locations, also recently debuted a new, self-powered bike. It boasts upgraded power sensors to measure output and a sleek, simplified console to display stats.

Peloton: Spin Class

At-Home Experiences

That’s not to say you’ll have to visit a studio to go for a tech-savvy ride. As leader Peloton continues to sell its bikes and live-streaming platform like it’s hit a serious sprint, Flywheel is entering the at-home spinning space, too. Its new bike will soon be available for purchase along with a streaming content platform, so you can tune into classes with your favorite instructors from your living room (without battling traffic!). Meanwhile, online streaming platform Forte will soon let riders take streaming classes at home on their own stationary bikes, via a partnership with JoyRide.

Riding Beyond Reality

Les Mills The Trip : Spin Class

And if spinning bores you? Tech is here to turn your workout into a wild ride. Les Mills’ The Trip is offered at gyms around the world and involves riding in front of a massive screen, where graphics make you feel like you’re riding in a video game, on pathways through space, for instance, or back on earth, on a winding road. The visuals are so immersive you may find yourself leaning to the right around a turn, and playlists match the speed as you move through the course. Equinox also offers The Pursuit, where technology on each bike is linked to computer graphics on a screen. Instead of riding on a course, digital games are displayed, where you can see your metrics racing against others in the room.

Equinox The Persuit: Spin Class

Finally, VirZoom is using virtual reality technology on an at-home spin bike to let exercisers ride horses and drive race cars while sweating (although the bike itself is decidedly low-tech, and the whole system is built for exercise newbies).

Virzoom: Spin Class

Whether virtual reality catches on or not, using virtual, digital, and physical tech to upgrade spinning seems like it’s likely to be the new reality, overall.

Have you tried any tech-upgraded spin bikes or classes? What did you think? Share your experiences in the comments, below!

Wellness

Dealing with Back Pain? 3 Gadgets That Just Might Help

10.16.17
back pain — lumo lift

Anyone who’s dealt with back pain—chronic or not—knows that it’s no joke. One minute you’re your normal, ambular self. The next you are on the floor, staring down weeks of slow recovery. It’s a humbling experience that can make you acutely aware of how much you took your spine for granted.

My husband recently tweaked his back at the gym, and he’s still feeling it months later. When you get to that place, you’re looking for anything (ANYthing) that can help. New technology is making huge strides when it comes recovery, and even preventative care.  Here, three products to have on your radar, each one designed to help you deal with (or prevent) back pain.

Back pain : Lumo Lift

Lumo

It’s something we all aspire to: perfect posture. But with longer (and longer) hours logged at a desk or in front of a laptop, we’re slouching more than ever, which puts unnecessary strain on our back muscles. The Lumo Lift ($80) is a small, lightweight wearable that’s the ultimate solution to poor posture. Simply wear it near your collarbone (a magnetic clasp secures it discretely in place) and it will gently vibrate every time it notices that you’re starting to slouch. And since the American Chiropractic Association lists good posture as a top method when it comes to preventing neck and back pain, it seems like a pretty good investment long-term.

back pain — quell

Quell Relief

For chronic back pain sufferers: Quell ($249) is a slim and lightweight wearable that you strap around your upper calf. The electrodes in the band stimulate your sensory nerves, sending neural impulses to your brain to trigger a natural response that blocks pain signals 24/7. There’s even an accompanying app that allows you to customize and control each 60-minute therapy session (Quell recommends three of these per day, depending on pain levels) and measure your progress. One note: If you plan to use the device in conjunction with pain meds, it’s worth alerting your doc just to get their sign-off.

back pain — powerdot

Powerdot

This gadget it more about recovering from the pain and soreness of a workout, but I thought I’d include it here because EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) is commonly used as a rehabilitation tool in physical therapy. Powerdot ($249) is a device that uses a tickly-feeling  (read: not painful at all) EMS to activate your muscle fibers—in areas like your shoulders and upper back—so you can recover from workouts faster. To use it, download the app, then select the muscle group you’re looking to target (say, your deltoids if you’re looking to reduce muscle soreness in your shoulders). Attach the pods to your body and, based on the area you selected, impulses are sent that cause your muscles to engage. Worth keeping in mind: To be on the safe side, take a peek at the do’s and don’ts of this form of treatment when setting up the app.

Dealing with back pain or know someone who is (I feel like EVERYONE is!). Share your aches in the comments. 

Family / Saving + Shopping

Amazon Shopping For Teens (with Parent Approval)

10.13.17
Teens Shopping on Amazon

Disclosure: this post is sponsored by Amazon but all opinions are my own.

As my kids get older, I look for ways to empower them to take more ownership the day to day admin of their lives. I really believe that it’s my job to assess, at every age, what my kids can handle themselves, and let them take the reins. Whether it’s cutting their own food at the dinner table, learning how to make their own school lunches, or how to fold and put away their own laundry… there’s a time and a place beyond which they should take over.  The goal, of course, is that by the time they leave my home and go to university, get a job, or launch the next billion-dollar social network (it could happen!) that they are as capable as they can be at taking care of themselves.

While that all seems logical when I type it out, I know a lot of well-intentioned moms who seem to go out of their way to do things for their children long after they can do for themselves. Every need is anticipated, every task is handled, all in the name of being a doting, caring parent. So much so, in fact, that sometimes it makes me doubt my own game plan— I start to wonder if I’m empowering my kids, or just trying to get things off my plate! Yet another part of motherhood that is disorienting, although comparing yourself to others never helps.

This summer, all this went into overdrive when my oldest got his driver’s license and attended a University program for highschoolers. To prepare him for living on his own in a dorm, we got him his first ATM card, then gave him a crash course in how to withdraw money and check his balance. He did his own laundry, kept his own schedule, and had to feed himself three times a day. When he returned home, we got him a gas card and taught him how to fill his tank and pay his bills. We stressed the importance of maintaining his car and keeping his insurance and registration organized. And of course, having a car, along with the freedom it provides, is a daily lesson in getting himself to school on time, finding his way around safely, and running errands for mom every now and then (bonus!).

When Amazon reached out to me about their new program that gives teens access to Amazon through their own login, I was excited to get my teenager enrolled and test it out. It seemed right in alignment with helping him foster some additional independence while taking care of the shopping. We rely heavily on Amazon to buy everything from household items to cleaning supplies, and even shoes, clothes and groceries. I am the one who does all the buying, however, so it would be great for my son to sign on to share some of the purchasing burden of the everyday things he needs (responsibly!).

Teen Shopping on Amazon Teens Shopping on Amazon

Given how much Amazon shopping has become a part of the fabric of our lives, and how critical it is to have early experience with making e-commerce purchases and keeping a budget, I’m all for this program.

How it Works

You invite your teen to your Amazon account by adding him or her to your account as a family member (start here for instructions). You’ll be able to set up the shipping addresses your teen will be able to ship orders to, and which credit card will be charged for your teen’s orders. You’ll also be able to choose how you want to authorize purchases by:

  1. Choosing your teens spending limit. This allows your teen to order whatever they like under a certain dollar amount that you set. If he needs to spend more, the order requires your approval; or
  2. Choosing to manually approve all orders. Get an alert whenever your teen makes an order, which you’ll have two days to approve. Orders won’t be charged until they’re approved by you.

With either option, parents will receive itemized confirmations for every order.

They can also attach a note to each purchase to explain, “I need this for science class,” or “These are those cookies I scarfed at my friend’s house,” or just “PLEEEAZE MOM!”

What He Bought

As part of our trial, Spencer was given $100 to spend any way he likes, and the results were an adorable look into his life and interests. His first purchase: A pre-order of the VERY anticipated Mario Odyssey video game, which will be out later this month. No shocker there, he’s a bit of a Nintendo zealot, and he’s been waiting patiently for the right time to approach the subject of ordering it. Lucky guy got his chance.

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey
$59.99

Next, practicality: a box of the power bars he likes to have after Cross Country practice each afternoon. Good to know he won’t come home starving. GoMacro Bar

GoMacro MacroBar Vegan Protein Bar
$26.92

His last purchase was the cutest: A T-Shirt he wants to wear as part of his Halloween costume (he’s going as a LaCroix can). Now all he need is a lid and some “natural flavor” (whatever that is…) and he’ll be set.

LaCroix TShirt

LaCroix T-Shirt
$10.99

Amazon Shopping for Teens

Extra Perks

Perks for him include getting to take advantage of my Prime Shipping, 2-day delivery on millions of items. He can also use Prime Video: Unlimited access to tens of thousands of movies and TV shows (you can set content restrictions in his account).

All in all, I like the experience — the set-up and settings are easy to understand and put into use, and the flow for approving purchases is simple. I know my daughter is counting down the minutes until she gets her Amazon login, though I may try to stave her off for a while: While my son is a simple guy, my daughter has expensive appetites.

Visit Amazon.com/forteens to get started.

Photographs by Bree McCool 

Thanks to Amazon for partnering on this post, and thank YOU for supporting our sponsors, without whom we couldn’t make all this great content. 

From the Shop

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Organizing

20 stylish things that will help you organize your life and home this fall

10.12.17
Fall Organize

Originally published on Reviewed.com.

When autumn arrives and the heat finally yields, my mind turns to cleaning. Maybe it’s all those leaves falling; maybe it’s because the tidying I did last spring has given way to paper piles and clothing avalanches. Once the kids are back in school, and summer fun has subsided, I can finally find time to focus on getting my home in order.

Here are a few gadgets that will make easy work of cleaning and organizing your home, from top to bottom, this fall.

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Gear

The New Device That Makes Me Want To Cheat On My Smartphone

10.11.17
Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

 This blog post is sponsored by Samsung. All opinions are my own.

Every now and then I get a bit of an itch to roam outside my marriage and experiment a little.

Before you go warning my husband: I’m talking about the marriage between me and my “Digital Significant Other,” AKA my current phone. Let’s just say that my current phone is not an Android, and it’s not a Samsung, and that straying from that union feels a bit foreign. But also kind of titillating, since Samsung has been absolutely killing it with their product features and design lately, and the Android OS has also become cleaner, chicer and more intuitive to interact with.

So when I got the chance to flirt with a new Samsung Galaxy S8+ it felt a bit naughty, but I jumped at the chance. When I test a phone like this I usually stop using my current phone for a while, so I can really feel what it’s like to be in the relationship full-time.

I run most of my life in Google’s cloud apps (Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, etc.), so it really doesn’t take me too long to start dabbling with a new phone. . The Samsung Galaxy S8+ was easy to get set-up; I left my old phone on my desk and my new love interest and I hopped into the car.

Our first stop? Meet the family at the Samsung Studio Pop-Up in Los Angeles, where all of Samsung’s latest and greatest products were on display. Earbuds, a 360º camera, computing docks, portable batteries and more were all full of fantastic features (and what Samsung’s voice assistant, Bixby, is doing is really exciting), but the beautiful designs took me by surprise.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

The Samsung Studio was so interactive, and had such fun experiences, like a virtual reality romp, as well as a stationary bike ride to show off the Samsung fitness app and watch. My favorite was the 360º camera demo, in which I had to enter a chamber surrounded by floating confetti, dance like an idiot with a camera in my hand and then marvel at the virtual reality movie I made.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

As I toured the Pop-Up Studio, Galaxy S8+ in hand, I learned more about its features; as the week went on, I came to appreciate them. Below are a few of the stand outs.

Nice Body

The first thing that struck me about the phone is its crisp Infinity Display— it spills over the edge to give you a really immersive image, which is especially dramatic when you’re streaming content or watching movies.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

Movies, photos, or anything else you’re viewing, look fantastic thanks to the 6.2” display. It’s a bit (ahem) larger than my phone, but still feels great to hold in hand thanks to its slimmer body. I guess size does matter (yes, we’re still talking about a phone).

It doesn’t keep me waiting

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ comes with a traditional cable and brick charger, but the fast-charge wireless dock is a worthy upgrade. Not only was it easy to drop on for a fast charge (no connections necessary), but the upright design kept the phone at a nice angle on my desk so I could see it without hunching over.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

Rugged Physique

If you can survive a week in my purse, jostling around with headphones, keys, water bottles, lip balm and various other gadgets, you’re man enough to be my smartphone. If the Galaxy S8+ was suffering in the depths of my tote, it didn’t show it in the form of any scratches or scuffs, and it was comforting to know that it’s dust and water resistant when I took it to the beach this weekend, or was scrolling Pinterest poolside in my backyard.

Makes Me Look Good

One of the things I loved most about the Galaxy S8 and S8+ was the camera. It made me look way better than I should with its 8mp front-facing selfie camera. The 12mp rear-facing camera performed especially well in low light, yielding a warm, DSLR-like result (the picture below was taken with the Galaxy S8+, though it looks more like a fancy camera snap).

Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Samsung Studio Pop-Up Experience

Only has eyes for me

The Galaxy S8+ can be set to unlock for my eyes only (literally). The iris scan feels very Minority Report, but also a little flirty; gazing into this device several times a day made me feel like my data was being safely guarded by a trusted partner who wasn’t embarrassed when I gave him a long stare. You can set it up to unlock with your fingerprint as well, or a more traditional password.

My week with the Samsung Galaxy S8+ was easy and fun and satisfied my itch to try hanging out with a different phone for a while. I love the design and appreciated its features, making me a little less sure that there’s only one device out there for me. Who knows what the future might bring for me and my current “Digital Significant Other”?

What do you think of the Galaxy S8 and S8+? If you don’t already have one, does it seem like the kind of smartphone you’d leave your main squeeze for?

Be sure to check out the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ and all the other new tech goodies at the Samsung Studio Pop-Up in your city – click here to see all the locations!

Thank you to Samsung for partnering on this post! As always, all opinions are my own. Thank YOU, fabulous reader, for supporting our sponsors— they help us create great content!

Photographs by Bree McCcool

Eat + Entertain

Download these apps to eat healthier and lose weight

10.09.17
healthy eating apps: Sunday Suppers Blog

Many people believe January is the time that everyone heads to the gym to make good on their new year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in shape. In fact, September and October are times of renewal and new beginnings, and that includes being the best time change up your diet and get your workout on. It takes 66 days for a new habit to form and for it to become ingrained as a routine. With the help of technology, you can make eating better and losing weight a part of your everyday life. Here are 5 clean eating apps that will help you lose weight.

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