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Sorry to disappoint menfolk everywhere, but I am of the grey and holey underwear persuasion. Generally speaking, 90% of my undies have been turned varying shades of blue and pink in the wash, have no elastication left and are designed for sport and comfort rather than aesthetics. And then when I do buy nice lingerie, I can’t be arsed washing them properly.

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Off surfing again this weekend. This means natty hoodies, baggy tracksuit bottoms, mismatched bikinis, ridonculous booties, bruising, seaweed hair, sunburnt hands, runny noses, panda eyes, hangovers, carbs and most importantly, an inherited surfboard. A board that is slightly chipped, imprinted with dead flies and layered in sand and sexwax. Surfing the Irish Way. So imagine my shock and horror when I spotted this trend. A Chanel Surboard. Chanel, as in Coco, as in logomania, as in squillons of squids, as in serious luxury industry. Making surfboards. Surely this is wrong?

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Yesterday I was involved in a Herculean Fashion Battle. I was the Samson in Samson V Goliath, I was the Chelsea in the Chelsea V AC Milan, I was the Scratchy in Itchy V Scratchy. What was this unholy clash? It was Jennie V TK Max. Previously I have discussed the hair-raising, nail-biting, loveless, joyless, rollercoaster that is the Pennys Binge (or PB as I shall now refer to it). But nothing could have prepared me for the TK Max experience.

TK Max Death Ray

I was at the tail-end of a modest (almost polite) shopping trip with the Mother in Arklow’s Bridgewater Shopping Centre. It is widely acknowledged that Arklow is not the fashion capital of Ireland, never mind Wicklow, and it was only an ambling, sociable excursion with the prime goal being some eatin’ and some chattin’ on a homeward-bound detour.

That was until the luminous, vibrating TK Max sign bathed us in its holy, reddish glow. After a few conflicted seconds, physically weighing up the bloated shopping bags in our hands and the deflating cash balances in our minds, we greedily ‘nipped’ inside, like the guilty bingers that we were. And what befell our eyes? Nothing. If anyone has ever stepped inside a TK Max you will agree that it is a very anti-climactic moment. It is a gaping, white canyon with bare metal rails abandoned in disregard across the floor. A few half-hearted displays shout about ‘serious bargains’ or ‘xxx-treme discount’, but ultimately it’s like the ravaged skeletons of buildings you see in end-of-the-world films*.

Surprisingly, this is the exact ploy that hooks you. I was overwhelmed by the sheer apathy of the environment and I had made my mind up that I would not be a TK Max customer. I casually strolled up to the ‘Absolute Last Clearance Super Discount Below Cost Price’ rail and started flicking. And then I saw a top for €4. And then another one. And then a DKNY top for €7. And here was a Nike Sports Bra for €3 – and this was only the Casual Top rail. I suddenly spied the Evening Top rail, The Day Dress rail, the Evening Dress Rail, Casual Jackets, Activewear, Jeans, Trousers…it was endless. The system was all making sense – I felt like I had just discovered Pi on a broken abacus. So I grabbed a trolley (I was wondering why they had trollies in TK Max – I thought it was a little undignified…but the penny finally dropped) and started ripping things off hangers and dumping into the trolley. Ooh yes, I’ll have that cropped jacket please. Yes I already have a few cropped jackets, yes it’s white and sequinned, but it’s only €9. I could wear it with the black jumpsuit, with the pink bubble dress, I could wear it on the date on Friday, I could wear it for lunch with the girls tomorrow. And what about this dress? It’s actually hideous, but maybe hideous in a good way? In an ironic way? It is Calvin Klein after all and it’s only €15 and in fact, I could wear it with the cropped white sequinned jacket, so I should probably buy it, just in case I can’t find anything to wear with my white jacket. And a parka – I should probably get a parka. I don’t need one, I don’t particularly want one, but it’s only €40.

And on and on this vicious merry-go-round. Maybe I should get these tracksuit bottoms. I have loads, but you can never have enough right? And what about a cap? A Billabong cap? I don’t wear caps, but it could be good for jogging? And the beach? I mean Billabong is all about the beach and if they have a whole section devoted to caps, I should probably have one. And they have reduced yoga mats and skipping ropes. In fact, they have a whole discounted sports equipment section. I am training to be a personal trainer…maybe I should just buy an entire home-gym now? I mean, look at those savings. It’s almost irresponsible not to buy these resistance bands and ergonomic ladies dumbbells.

In a fit of panic, I start accessing this most incoherent shopping bounty in my trolley and realise that I cannot afford all this. So I try to locate my mother for some straight-talking. And then I spot her. She too, looked drugged, and was brandishing a clutch of skirts, bikinis, underwear and…resistance bands. A yelp doesn’t even begin to cover what came out of my mouth. So with unprecedented strength of mind, I abandoned the trolley and walked straight toward her. ‘ I need out’. I’d like to say she frogmarched me right outta there, but nope, I was left in charge of buying someone a present and told we’d be on our way ‘in a few minutes’. I thought if I had a specific goal it might lessen the evil TK Max grasp. That was not to be the case. This time I drifted back to my mother with an even more extensive array of tops and dresses, and because I had passed the previously unseen underwear section on the way, I was also laden down with an arsenal of briefs. Most entirely unsuitable, but in the spirit of massive discounts, all were considered fair game. Then we started to queue and I spotted the kitchen utensils.

Two hours later we departed TK Max. I had acquired a slightly-too-big sports top (only €4!), a(nother) lace top, a garlic crusher and a fairly innocuous bra. My mother had claimed resistance bands, a nautical dress for the youngest sister, a t-shirt, a bikini (that we debated for ages. Was it really worth €12? Would you buy it if it wasn’t discounted? Is the bikini even necessary? All futile questions. The decision was made once the massive red discount sticker was spotted) and some slightly suspect Tommy Hilfiger swimming shorts for my father. Slightly suspect in that they were a) probably too small, b) looked like boxers, c) were suspiciously similar to a pair my father already owns, and d) above the threshold of what we considered a discount.

This may seem like a harmless bounty, but I must stress that I am BROKE. We had already purchased a few things beforehand and our mission was simply to find food. Two hours later TK Max chewed us up and spat us out. And I had to exert more self control than I ever had in my life. I don’t need a second lace top, a bra, a sports top or a garlic crusher. It was just TK’s way of asserting his dominance in the Extraordinary League of Shopping.

* 28 Days Later comes to mind here. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they used TK Max as one of their locations…

here’s a tip. cycling shorts are back. with a vengeance. last seen in bananarama videos and at mother redcaps flea market in 1988 (also a regular feature on the tour de france circuit), cycling shorts are going to be busting a move all over spring/summer 2010. and you know what? i think i’m in. i’ll tell you why. people automatically recoil in horror at the mere thoughts of fluoro, shiny, skin-tight shorts and i concur. but people, we gotta remember, these historical cycling shorts are a) historical, b) historically paraded about as a key fashion statement and c) historically used for power walking (the sport of the 80’s). the crucial difference with the modern incarnation is that they are accessory and not focus. they can go under skirts, under shorts, under dresses. they shall preserve a bit of modesty, whilst flashing some leg (tights neglect to do this). they come lacey, they come floral, they come in subtle nude tones. they are altogether more subserviant in the greater fashion scheme of things. louis vuitton, prada, louise goldin, DKNY and topshop unique have all given their blessing. and the leggings joke was starting to wear a bit thin non?

Prada

Prada

Louis Vuitton

Afro optional. I’d say optional.

Louis Vuitton

Topshop Unique

Louise Goldin

Louise Goldin

DKNY

Put your hands up in the air if you have been shamed and disgraced by a cold and draconian overlord in the Ryanair queue, demanding you pay extra for baggage. Standing over you, brandishing the metal luggage contraption, features frozen in pure hate (hate for you? hate for the uniform? hate for o’leary? hate for the luggage rack? who knows. it might be mild incontinence) barking at you that your bag is too big/too long/too colourful/too old-fashioned to board this Ryanair flight without crossing his palm with some sheckles. And as you stand there, with the anger ringing in your ears and the flush creeping over your features, desperately shuffling things around about your baggage, you concede defeat and pay the damn €40.

Put your hands in the air also if you have schlepped an archaic and grotty gym bag around with you only to face a daily barrage of problems? The handle snaps, your shampoo leaks into the gaping black hole of the bag; a bag devoid of handy separating functions to prevent this exact kind of accident? Your runners don’t fit and so you carry them separately – but one day you leave them at home (thus missing your spinning class), another day you leave them at the gym (thus worrying somebody might lift them. they are the latest pair of aerodynamic-superair-max-triax-hero with inbuilt bouncability and GPS tracking technology) In fact, you might say that this bag stands in the way of you and Rihanna’s physique.

Well fear no more, I have found the perfect remedy: LeSportsac. Every size, every colour, every discernible taste. In fact, where have you been all my life? They have handy little zippered sub-pockets to hold everything but the kitchen sink and have excellent strap support.
Ryanair – 0.
Style – 1.

for all you fashion-forward surfers prepare yourselves for a serious surf-style collaboration. Cynthia Rowley got together with Roxy to create 40 high-end pieces for surfer chicks. collection includes cossies, graphic-print dresses, hoodies and pencil skirts…the latter of which im sure makes more sense in the workroom than on the beach? its fun to think that a big name designer (with a minor surfing obsession) has created an action wardrobe for the beach. especially when, emerging from the sea, concussed from the surfboard, with mucus coming out of every orifice, seaweed glued to your face, and your whole body a mighty bruise, you can look  like you’ve stepped off the catwalk. thanks cynthia.

2009_10_roxy

roxy2

roxy3

roxy4

i wrote some time ago about the issues around gym gear and general gym styling. i favoured the too-short, paint splattered tracksuit bottoms, with over-sized man’s t-shirt and scraped back greasy hair. well now with a personal trainer course upon me (this weekend) the style stakes have upped considerably. im quite sure i won’t be allowed into the personal trainer fraternity without the requisite lycra and compression enhancement, porous fibre optics. i have managed to solve my problem by combining it with a mission to purchase some designer-for-high-street goods. behold: christopher kane for topshop – blingin’ gym gear. sorted.

ckhoody

ckjoggings

There is quite a large fence in the work-out-wear world and there is no straddling of that fence. You sit distinctly on either side. One side belongs to those that feel make-up is essential: full-on face paint is accompanied by long flowing locks, skin-tight gym gear…as revealing as possible. Undoubtedly the tops are aero-dynamic and the cropped leggings absorb sweat and aid performance. That is not my side. I pole vaulted myself right over to the other team. We wear vintage school t-shirts (vintage because you last possessed them playing badminton at 14), tatty, baggy O’Neills and whatever hoody you happen to find, even if it’s your dads. Mismatched socks and sweaty, naked faces finish off the look. Bonus points if you happen across a pair of Nike rip-off tracksuit bottoms. But I think I do the same job as the gleaming lyrca brigade. I’m just not going to attract the hot gym guy.

Lycra Queen?

Lycra Queen?

Bag Lady Gym Chic?

Bag Lady Gym Chic?

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