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Octane Fitness Zero Runner

Zero Runner
I first started to hear about the Zero Runner from Octane Fitness about one year and 2 or 3 months ago. I was immediately captivated by the concept and idea of the machine and I started to mention it online a lot. When I ran the Boston Marathon I was hoping to find Octane at the expo so I could get the chance to try it, I knew they had debuted it at the expo the prior year. But I didn’t spend much time at the expo and didn’t find them.

But then in the summer, I got a bonus at work for being named the employee of the year and I used that to cover part of the cost to buy a Zero Runner ZR7. Let me repeat that…. I put my bonus toward purchasing a Zero Runner myself.* The Zero Runner was so handy to have during the summer months when I couldn’t get outside to run due to the heat. I put in lots of miles on it during those months.

A on the Zero Runner
My kiddo thinks the Zero Runner is fun too, and it’s a great upper body workout holding her on it!

Then I started the Runner’s World challenge to do a streak of at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Every additional day when I wouldn’t have normally run to complete this streak, I ran on the Zero Runner. And then I just kept going with my streak and I did 118 days (stopping due to some glute pain, general fatigue).

Here are my favorite things about my ZR7:

  • Quiet, I can use it when my kid is asleep without worrying about waking anyone up. There isn’t a motor in this thing.
  • No impact
  • Very close to running outside motion
  • You actually use your own muscles to move it (see no motor) so it’s a good workout.
  • Solid, well-built machine.

That said, there were some oddities:

  • The foot pedals seem a tiny bit too far apart.
  • The handles make for an arm motion that is NOT like where you hold your hands when running outside.
  • App quirks… which I will get into in a minute.
ZeroRunner ZR8
The ZeroRunner ZR8 (at Pacific Fitness Equipment in Las Vegas)

So when Octane asked me if I wanted to go try out a new ZR8 at a local fitness equipment store, I was excited to take the opportunity. I took my lunch hour and drove over to Pacific Fitness Equipment here in Las Vegas. (They are, incidentally, the place where I bought my ZR7!) They were all ready for me to hop on and give it a test. Here are the ZR8 improvements that resonated with me the most:

  • Foot pedals are closer together!
  • Lower grip handles that make for a 3rd option for your hand placement. These new handles are lower and allow for a motion that more closely mimics what you do with your arms when running. The thing I noticed the most about these are that you engage your core a lot more when using them, which is a good thing.
  • The leg joints are a different color. (Okay, that doesn’t matter… just something to notice!)
  • The legs are engineered differently and are a lighter weight aluminum than the original, which makes the movement even easier.
  • The price! The Zero Runner is not a cheap machine and the ZR8 is about $1000 MORE than the ZR7.

Still… It would be awesome to upgrade, but I can’t justify the cost of another $1000 when the ZR7 is pretty amazing.

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The latest addition to the Zero Runner family that was announced is the ZR8000, the commercial model made for gyms. So if you have a gym membership, give your gym manager a link to this machine and encourage them to buy some for the gym! Then you can try one for the cost of your monthly gym membership that you already pay!

On to the apps… there are two apps for the Zero Runner. The iOS app talks to your Zero Runner via Bluetooth and allows you to setup a training program for how often you want to run it, start a workout that is based on time/distance, or do a circuit-training program where it walks you through cardio time on the machine with strength intervals using the included Cross Circuit resistance bands hooked onto the 7 different attachment points on the machine. The iOS app can keep track of your whole history so you’ll know exactly how many miles you’ve put in on your machine over the lifetime of ownership. There are some quirks in the user experience of the app where things could be designed a little better, but overall it’s effective.

The other app is part of the Garmin Connect IQ store and it’s supposed to let you start a run inside on your Zero Runner and then pause your Garmin and continue it outside. (Or vice versa). I was super excited to try this functionality. HOWEVER… when I tested a Garmin Vivoactive for a couple of weeks I never got the app to work right. And when I upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner 235 earlier this year, it doesn’t work because that’s not listed as a supported device because they haven’t updated the app. I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope they update it, make it available to all Connect IQ devices and just make it work in general because that is my biggest disappointment in this. I kind of purchased a new Garmin with the assumption that all Connect IQ devices would be supported. Not the case.

Still, I love my Zero Runner and aside from setting up the time for me to visit Pacific Fitness Equipment to test the ZR8, Octane has never paid me anything to write this. This is a 100% honest review based on my own experiences. Although, if they wanted to send me a t-shirt or something, I’d accept that! 😉

Visit Pacific Fitness Equipment

10830 W Charleston Blvd
Ste 130
Las Vegas, NV 89135

*I got a pretty grumpy message after one social media post about a Zero Runner workout where the person said something about how it’s so unfair that “bloggers get all the free stuff” and how we “flaunt it in everyone’s face.” Yes, some bloggers get some pretty huge perks but they usually have to do work to promote the brand online to earn that. And in the case of this, I was just posting about a product I like.

Epsoak Epsom Salts – San Francisco Salt Company

Do you soak in Epsom salts? I was recently sent some Epsoak, Epsom salts from the San Francisco Salt Company, so I gave it a shot.
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Epsom salts are not salt, it’s magnesium sulfate. And based on some things you read online, it’s veritable witchcraft the amazing things it can help with! Here are the purported benefits one can get from Epsom salts:

  • Ease stress and improve sleep and concentration
  • Muscles and nerves function properly
  • Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes
  • Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improve oxygen use
  • Flush toxins
  • Improve absorption of nutrients
  • Form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins

Epsoak comes in 3 varieties:

  • Sleep: Epsom salts with lavender essential oil to encourage deeper sleep
  • Muscle Soak: Epsom salts with eucalyptus and peppermint for soothing muscle pain
  • Epsoak: just plain old Epsom salts

epsoak epsom salts san francisco salt company review

I took a soak in the tub with Muscle Soak Epsom salts and I did find that it was relaxing. I could feel an added buoyancy to the water, which was nice. (Have you heard of float centers? They have float chambers and apparently people lay in them for a while to relax. They have A LOT of Epsom salts in the water in these tanks. You can also float in the Great Salt Lake due to the high mineral content… but floating there is stinky.) The scent was nice, not too strong and overpowering but enough that you could definitely tell it was there. I emerged from my soak feeling calmed down, but taking the time to relax in the tub can almost always do that. Provided you can block out the “ambient” sounds of spouse/kid/dog. The sore spot I’ve had in my hip/glute/IT band/leg in general felt better… but it wasn’t magically healed.

You can also use Epsom salts as a scrub, so I tried that. I mixed some into a bowl with some oil and used that in the shower. It’s a great exfoliant, but so far I’ve not ever experienced magical release from muscle knots by targeted application of an Epsom product.

So do Epsom salts work? This is one of those areas that I feel is kind of gray. Some people swear by them, some people dismiss them entirely. I think there can absolutely be placebo effect in play. If you’re hopeful and optimistic, outcomes are usually going to be better. (That’s why I tell myself “You’re not going to get sick.” whenever my daughter comes home with a cold. I’m sure that 50% of the time when I don’t catch whatever she had it’s all due to positive thoughts! LOL!)

That said, I have purchased a little milk carton-y thing of Epsom salts in the past at the drugstore and the contents were super compressed and almost had to be chiseled out. Maybe I got a dud. But that wasn’t the case with the San Francisco Salt Company’s product. Epsoak poured out of the bag easily. I liked them all well enough to use again, although I can’t say with any certainty that it was healing physical ailments. But it was definitely relaxing and that’s worth looking at in itself. I don’t find very many moments to just relax and be these days.

PS – They also have gourmet culinary salts for sale. If you’ve never sprinkled fancy salt on a salad or sandwich, you’re missing out. I’ve not tried these, but they sound good.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Diva Bandz – Non-slip Adjustable Sport Headbands

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I used to wear hats or visors when I ran. I probably should do that to protect my “aging skin”, but I count on sunblock to do the job for me. A hat smushes your hair down way too much and, as much as I hate to admit it, there are days where I run on my lunch hour and I don’t have time to wash my hair. I rinse off in the shower so I don’t stink, blast the hair dryer at the sweaty roots and try to work myself into a semblance of presentable to go sit at my desk once more! So… headbands are what I have been using as my default for the past few years.

Nicole at Diva Bandz reached out to me recently and asked if I would like to try one of their non-slip, adjustable performance headbands. I was definitely game, the best thing about switching from hats to headbands is they’re smaller so you can keep a larger variety on hand and switch things up more often!

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Diva Bandz are similar to another popular headband brand on the market. There are a lot of different options for patterns/prints with an elasticized strap that goes at the nape. But in their quest to build the best workout headbands, they have added a slider to make the size adjustable. You can either extend the band to bigger than what you need and slide it to the appropriate snugness once in place or you can just adjust it and leave it at that for every time you pull it on/off. The pretty ribbon part of the headband doesn’t stretch, all your stretch comes from the black part that rests at the bottom.

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Note, on the packaging it says to hand wash and hang dry. I do have a tendency to just throw my headbands into my workout clothes laundry, so this is a small adjustment to my modus operandi. I wouldn’t say that’s a deal breaker for me, though. Fortunately, handwashing a headband is way easier than handwashing a sweater!

The site says the bands fit most head sizes, ages 2 and up. I just wanted to share a pic of my 3.5-year-old wearing the headband. She won’t actually wear a headband around all day and leave it in, but she did leave this on for about an hour while playing around the house. (Maybe I should have stuck stuff on her head when she was a baby so she got used to hair accoutrements!) It’s a little big when adjusted down to the smallest size, but she also doesn’t have much hair to add extra bulk in the way!

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The other best thing about Diva Bandz (aside from the adjustability) is how they’re made. They’re made here in the United States by professional seamstresses who are work-at-home/stay-at-home moms. I like that it’s providing an opportunity for women who choose to stay at home with their children a way to make extra income. (If you’ve got those skills and want to work for Diva Bandz, take a look at the info on joining their team.)

The Diva Bandz headbands sell for about $15 each and there are a lot of fun prints. I want to order the skull print!

Want to win one of your own to try? Just use the Rafflecopter widget embedded here to earn entries by following various social media accounts, tweeting about it or leaving a comment.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open until March 31, 2016 and is open to residents of the US. Prize is one headband and winner will be selected from random drawing from entrants who submit entries via the Rafflecopter widget. Entries must be recorded in the widget to be in the running for the prize.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt

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Recently I got the Dual Pocket Running Belt from SLS3 to test. I have tried their compression calf sleeves (and totally recommend them! They’re great!) so I was happy to give this a try. They’ve been expanding their running belt offerings lately. You can get an SLS3 run belt to hold your iphone, to hold your bib number, to hold hydration bottles… their collection has grown a lot. But I haven’t tried all of them and the focus here is the dual pocket belt.

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Pros:

  • Affordable: The belt retails at $29.90 but the SLS3 Amazon store has it listed for just $16.90 (43% Off).*
  • Adjustable: With buckles on each side of the pockets, this fitness belt can be adjusted quite a bit. I’ve encountered belts with the adjusters on one side only, so I appreciated that the fit on this one could be personalized a lot more.
  • Water Resistance: Not only is the pocket lined so your sweat won’t soak through to ruin your things, the zipper is waterproof for any kind of weather.
  • Capacity: You can fit quite a bit of stuff into the pockets. From larger smartphones to tons of gels to whatever else you may want to carry with you, odds are you’ll be able to fit it in there. I ran with about 6 gels and a phone shoved in there and it all fit fine. (And it was a 3-mile run… just to test it. The things I do for you guys! LOL!)

sls3-run-belt-3.jpgCons:

  • Bounce: It says it’s supposed to be bounce-free, but either I don’t know how to load it up to prevent bounce or I don’t know where to position it. But my default instinct is to wear this lower on the hips. And when I start running, it bounces up to my waist and since my waist is smaller than my hips, it bounces around there. Maybe I’m just supposed to give up on the notion of wearing it lower on the hips.
  • Not Original: There are a few belts of this nature on the market. So there is still competition in this area. However, I do think what sets them apart is how cost-effective all of their belts are across the styles.

So not only are they well priced, but they gave me a code so that you can order ANYTHING off their entire store at slstri.com for 40% off! (Compression sleeves, shorts, capris, running belt, etc.) Just use code BLOG40 to get the discount.

And what’s better than a discount? Free!!! Want to win the belt? They’ve offered up a giveaway and you can enter here!

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Prices as of this posting.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.