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Fitness away from home – The elastic band

Ok, I am going to dive straight into this but first, I would like to apologise for the slight “neglect” of the fitness section. Here’s hoping you going to see my fitness side a bit more regularly.

It is the holiday season and some of you may have already booked holidays overseas or somewhere far away from homes. Or should I say far away from your beloved gyms. Anyway it’s a fact that our visit to the gym increases a lot just before we head off to a holiday (especially a beach holiday) to make sure we look our best.

Whiles some ladies may opt for that special diet that will work wonders in no time, the guys cannot stay away from the gym, in our quest to convert a one pack into six packs. Guys you know exactly what I am talking about. You have been sitting on that couch 360 days in a year eating crisps, whiles knocking back the six packs from the corner shop. All of a sudden, you have an epiphany to swap the six packs from the store for the one on your abs. It’s a lot to ask from your body don’t you think? Anyway this is not a post on how to work out a miracle abs before holiday. This is about maintaining the fitness levels you already have with the use of “The Elastic band”.

The elastic band is very useful fitness tool/equipment that is massively underrated by many. If used well, it could be your best workout partner. It is one of the best toning and strength building equipment out there. It also helps with increasing muscle mass, endurance and reduces body fat. The elastic band provides training by increasing the resistance as the band is stretched.

Its portable and versatile nature means you can fit it anywhere including your hand luggage, bags or even pocket if you so desire (but please don’t put it in your pocket). Basically you can take it on holiday using next to no space at all. I can carry on about the huge benefits of the elastic band but I’d rather keep this post relatively short. So now that you have no excuse to work out on holiday using the elastic band, AugustChild and I have put together a few routines to show you some of the things you can use it for.

  1. Bicep Curl

With one foot forward and the other slightly apart and behind, pass the elastic underneath your front foot making sure the elastic is properly balanced. Firmly step on the elastic to prevent it coming undone. With a nice grip in both hands, pull the elastic towards your chest as you would when using dumbbells. Do as many reps as possible

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2. Tricep

Find a strong and firmly fitted bar or surface that is at least the same height as you and wrap the elastic around it so you are facing it. With slightly bended knees and a straight back, pull firmly but gently downwards as you would with a cable extension at the gym.

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3. Lunges – with elastic in front

Do lunges as you normally would but with the elastic stretched in front of your chest. With stretched back leg, go down with your front let whiles pulling the elastic across your chest as shown in the picture. Make sure to keep the movement as one motion.

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4. Lunges – with elastic at the back

Perform the same action as in number 3 above but only this time the elastic should be on your upper back. So you would pull across your back with arms stretched wide

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5. Overhead Tricep extensions

Wrap the elastic around an object above you making sure it is behind you. Gently pull over your head in a forward motion. Go back to the start and repeat several times.

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6. Side pull-downs

Again with the elastic tied to a strong object overhead, pull the elastic firmly but cautiously down towards one side and then back to the start. Repeat this several times before swapping to the other side.

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7. Push ups

Push ups are just amazing. By themselves they work out several muscle groups including chest, arms, shoulders, back and neck simultaneously. They are part of an exercise regimen that helps strength the upper body and shoulder with stability to the torso. Push ups are self-sufficient and do not require any equipment or elastic.

In normal push ups, you lower your body towards the ground with arms apart and then push back to the start. Repeat several times and rest.

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Yoga push ups on the other hand words slightly differently. There are three stages in one a push up. The start where you create an arch with your body with your bum sticking upwards, the middle where your body is in a parallel position with the ground, and end where your torso is higher from the ground compared to the rest of your body. You connect all three in one go.

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Phew! Typing this makes me feel like I have been working out some muscles. Sideye. Please pack one of these bad boys into your travel luggage as you head off somewhere exotic. I hope you continue using it at your local park when you get back from your holiday.

Anyway I hope the above helped and gave your insight into using elastics but please speak to your gym instructor for a detailed explanation especially if you have not done this before. The above steps works for me, hopefully they will for you too.

Top 5 men’s footwear for the summer

Before the summer ends, I thought I should put together a quick list of footwear every gentleman should be wearing right now. If you are here and are thinking you are going to see trainers/sneakers and the likes then I suggest you close your browser and walk away now. Simply put, you are in the wrong place. 5, 4, 3, 2……..1. By the way that was me counting. Are you still here? Phew, thank goodness you stayed. I appreciate that. Right let’s get straight into it.

One thing men sometimes find challenging when it comes to putting a look together is finding the right pair of footwear to go with the rest of the outfit especially during the summer months. I mean I have seen guys pulling all the stops from the right type of blazer to the right length of chinos only to look further down to discover a disappointing pair of footwear. Let’s be honest guys, we have it much easier than the ladies. For the most part, we don’t even have to worry about squished up toes or the prospect of walking on six inch heels. Do you agree? Please say yes otherwise I seriously worry about the kind of shoes you have been wearing. Errmmmm anyway as I was saying, we have it easy so really and truly there are two main things we need to consider when shopping for footwear for the season. Practicality and functionality in relation to the weather, in this case hot weather, and looks in relation to the rest of what you wear it with. With this in mind, here are my top 5 picks for this season.

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  1. Penny Loafers

The fact that its summer does not mean you cannot or shouldn’t dress smart. These Penny Loafers from Tommy Hilfiger are perfect for the office and evening out afterwards. They are versatile enough to be worn sockless and classy enough for a night out requiring a tie.

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2. Boat Shoes

Boat shoes are a man’s best friend when it comes to pairing with chinos. No other footwear goes better with chinos. You can get these from Tommy Hilfiger.

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3. Slip on

Some may refer to these as monkfish shoes but I’d rather just call them slip ons. These are very light weight and comfortable which means you shouldn’t miss your trainers/sneakers at all. I bought these last year from Russell and Bromley.

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4. Tasselled loafers

These black tasselled loafers made by Bass have served me very well. I get a complement every time I wear these and are one of my favourites.

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5. Suede Loafers

Suede shoes in general commands a sense of maturity from the wearer as they require extra care and attention for their upkeep. I went for a more casual option with these blue Northern cobblers. They are colourful enough for the season.

There you have it, my top 5 pick for the season. Leave a comment below if you disagree or want to add to the above.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in handcrafted shoes that will last you for a long time and get people talking for all the right reasons, then head over to gracill and get yourself a pair of these bad boys. Gracill is a growing shoe brand which means you satisfying their customers is very important. This company is headed by a friend of mine which means I can personally vouch for them. Check them out and see what you think.

Shorts: the Long and short of it

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You know what, I think my short wearing game is getting better (even if I have to say so myself) with every passing summer since forever. And I am not talking about wearing shorts just to pop round to the corner shop neither and I will explain if you give me a minute.

To some, the idea of wearing shorts automatically conjures scenes of strolling along the seaside on a hot holiday with a beer in hand. If I am honest, I know people who do not even contemplate the notion of wear shorts at all beyond their front door. Some may even see shorts as a less worthy investment due to their seasonal nature or their alleged lack of versatility. It’s like saying it’s a pair of shorts and that’s that. To many, the thought of looking like a schoolboy is a massive turn off and to be honest, you will look like a school boy if you do not know how to dress shorts, which is kind of why I have put together this article.

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So before you go all snobbish over a pair of shorts for fear of making you look like a schoolboy, hear me out whiles I remind you that shorts have been and are still part of an array of official uniforms for different professions such as the military and police for practical and functional purposes. And we all know that police and army are as professional as it gets when it comes to uniforms. Police officers in many British colonies (especially those in hot regions) in the 50s wore Khaki shorts as part of their uniforms and two such examples were Hong Kong and Sierra Leone. Even now, there are parts of the world where shorts are worn by police officers on beach and bike patrol.

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In fashion, apart from Pharrel Williams who wore shorts with a bow tie to the Oscars in 2014, other notable men who dress up and make short wearing effortlessly cool are Sam Lambert (half of art comes first), and Nick Wooster.

What I am trying to explain above is that shorts can be used outside of sports and recreational purposes for grown men. Did I hit a cord with you? Is that a yes or a nah?

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Anyway now that we have established that shorts are not just for school boys and strolling along the beach, let’s see how we can put this look together.

I have used shorts in various capacities but for best results here is what you need to do to push the envelope and stand out.

Pair your shorts with a nice dress shirt, dress belt, pair of loafers (preferable penny loafers), and depending on the occasion and weather, a blazer. As you can see in some of the images, I have used a tie and a bow tie for some added integrity.

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Just before you go out and splurge on all kinds of short, here are a few things to consider:

Stick with chinos or Khakis
Avoid baggy
Avoid patterns and stick with solid colours
Runaway from cargo shorts and stick with classic cut

Not only is this a cool look which will set you apart from the crowd, it is the most practical way of dressing for hot weather whiles still maintaining looking dapper. Did I hear you say this look is what casual Fridays at work are made for right? Errmmm I will let you go through the painstaking task of reading you HR manual.

Oh and when you decide to don you spanking new pair of shorts trying to look all fly, please do yourself a favour and moisturise your legs.

 

Summer essential: The ethical t-shirt by Run and Fell

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T-shirts! What’s there to say about t-shirts that has not already been said? It’s a t-shirt, it’s a t-shirt, and a t-shirt! Those were my exact thoughts when I got the invitation to the launch of Run and Fell a t-shirt brand opening a pop-up store in Chelsea, London.

I was convinced there was nothing new for me to learn and write about when it comes to t-shirts. In fact the Style and fashion aspect to my blog is focused on the dapper and dandy look which has no place for t-shirts. Well at least that was what I thought before I read the entire invitation which went on to state the uniqueness of this brand. Simply put, I was wrong.

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The unique concept behind the pop-up store involves directly connecting the customer with the manufacturing process. Customers are becoming increasingly aware and discerning when it comes to the ethics of the Fashion industry. The “big idea” for the RUN&FELL pop-up is to promote ethical garment production, and to enable customers to engage with and explore elements of the production process first hand” said Naomi Jackson (designer and owner of Run and Fell) in her email to me. I don’t know about you but this got my attention. Run and Fell seem to have stepped away from the usual manic consumerism everyone is used to where items of clothing are churn out with little or no regard for the process or the material used to create them. I mean we have all heard of the chaotic and sometimes dangerous conditions (branded sweatshop) in which many items of clothing were made from around the world. Run and Fell’s ethos couldn’t have been further away from this. Phew, what a breath of fresh air. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am sure you would have heard of other brands promoting the ethical side of their business but for a brand to actually be so keen as to draw their customers into the intricate process of how the garment is produced is commendable. To me, this demonstrates care and pride in the product.

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Another aspect of Run and Fell that really spoke to me is the fact that the brand is proudly and unapologetically British. Many brands have in the past spent millions on repackaging their products as foreign before going back to the country of origin to give them a luxurious or exotic feel. Run and Fell does not only fly the British flag, it also proudly incorporate the local spirit and history of Manchester  “our roots are threaded deep into the creative heart of the cotton city, “Cottonopolis” itself” as stated in their story.

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Speaking to Naomi during the evening of the Launch, it was obvious that Run and Fell is not just another brand aiming to make a few quid from the sale of a few t-shirt but was committed to creating a piece of garment she truly believed in. The passion and standards she spoke with was in line with the physical product I had in my hand. The texture was one of quality whiles the designs channelled originality and creativity.

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Run and Fell is a great example of a sustainable ethical garment brand with an attitude of substance and integrity over everything else.

Listen, its summer and everyone needs a t-shirt so head over to Run and Fell’s online store and make yourself a purchase you will be happy with.

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Stylist – Digital Curator – Blogger