Stuff We Love: Coach Nicole's Fit Summer Picks

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The heat is on! But as much as we can complain about it, I am loving every minute of this summer. How about you? I've been enjoying just the right amount of busy-ness and relaxation, and I'm not letting the high temperatures get in the way of my fun—or my fitness.
Here are some of the fitness products, apparel, foods and otherwise healthy pursuits that I can't get enough of this season. Hopefully some of them will help YOU stay on track, too!
BOSU Ballast Ball
The Ballast Ball isn't new—I've had my eye on it for a few years. It's a stability ball that contains a weighted material. What's awesome about it is that it adds a lot of versatility to exercises that use the ball. When you lift it, the added weight increases the challenge. When you move it about, the material inside moves, too, creating momentum and instability that makes exercises harder. And even better: You can do all kinds of new exercises with it because it doesn't roll away when it's on the floor. For example:  Stand in front of it, then sit down onto it, roll back, perform a sit up, stand back up—and the ball won't even move. It's great for core work and more! This is the only stability ball I ever want to use now that I have one. Ballast Ball image from
Purple Biking Shorts with Ruffles
When I saw these Lululemon Velo Vixen cycling shorts (sizes 2-12), I could not resist. I'm a sucker for ruffles on workout clothes (swoon). But I also loved the bright purple color and the length—not too short, not too long. I purchased these in both colors and I have been riding my bike and Spinning in these shorts like crazy. The fit is amazing and they make me feel cute—unlike most other cycling shorts that tend to be far from flattering. They're on sale now (about $30 off!) so grab them while they last! Photo from

Perhaps one of my favorite things about summer, I can't eat enough berries. They are a staple in my diet as long as they are in season (and therefore also available at low prices). I've been eating a heaping bowl of mixed berries every day for the last few weeks. Now's a great time, too, to stock up while they're fresh (and cheap) and freeze them to enjoy in smoothies, baked goods and more all winter long.
I'm a bit late to the game compared to a lot of people, but I just started using Spotify! You know how much I love finding new workout songs and sharing them with you. Well, I spend more money than I'd like purchasing songs for my classes and my workouts. So I switched from buying individual songs to a Premium Spotify membership, which lets me listen on-demand to any song I want (and create playlists)—without even needing an internet connection. I'm spending about as much as I used to on music (roughly $10/month), but I get access to every song imaginable! There are free and lower-cost subscriptions available as well, but I see this as a great way to change up your workout music without spending a lot of money.
I eat an avocado almost every day—especially in the summer. I crave their creamy, delicious texture and they add a great flavor to my cooler summer meals. I love to make my own guacamole, but when I'm too busy, I've been purchasing the 100-calorie packs of Wholly Guacamole from the grocery store. Aside from being portion controlled, the best part about these is that you can eat what you want without worrying about the rest of your batch turning brown.

All spring, I biked to work one day a week. It's been a little too hot for my liking these last few months, but I haven't given up on cycling—I've just brought it indoors. Spinning (and indoor cycling classes) are perfect when the weather isn't cooperative. You get a solid workout led by a qualified instructor that's set to motivating music. It's much better than skipping your bike ride or jumping on a stationary bike all by yourself (boring). Give it a try this summer! Air conditioning + biking + motivation = One great workout. Here are more reasons to try a Spinning class.

Trails Over Treadmills
If the heat is forcing you to skip your walks or runs outside, I encourage you to take to the trails. Trail running is a staple in my workout plan during the spring and summer months. My four-legged running buddy loves it, too! Our favorite trail is tree lined and very shady. It's several degrees cooler on the trail than it is on the sidewalk, so we both can run longer and more comfortably. Here are even more reasons to give the trail a try!

Moving Comfort Workout Pants
Ever since Moving Comfort sent SparkPeople a big box of workout swag (enter our Moving Comfort clothing giveaway here) I have been practically LIVING in the Urban Gym Capris (sizes XS-XL). I have them in both colors and I can't even count the number of times people have complemented these pants. They are so cute and functional. I even wear them about when I'm not working out!  Those little ties at the sides might as well be ruffles as far as I'm concerned. (No wonder I <3 them!)

Brooks Running Shoes
When it comes to running shoes, I'm a Brooks girl. I've worn their shoes (happily, speedily, and injury-free) for several years and through four half marathons to date (number five coming this fall). I run my long distances in the Brooks Adrenaline shoes; I hit the trails in the Brooks Cascadia shoes; and I just had a chance to try three new pairs of Brooks shoes. When the company sent me a few new pairs to try, I was over the moon. The Brooks PureConnect shoe ($90) is easy on the eyes, and it fits my foot like a glove. It is lightweight, cool and minimal, yet oh so comfortable. Of course, the most important thing in selecting a running shoe is making sure it fits YOU and your goals. I always recommend that you get fitted at a specialty running store to find the best shoe for you.
Sweat-Activated Workout Clothes
It's hot. And your workouts are extra sweaty. What better way to embrace the sweat than by wearing sweat-activated clothing? A company called ViewSport makes these cool workout shirts that reveal a hidden message when you sweat. It's a fun and unique way to motivate yourself to push harder (and remind yourself that sweating isn't always a bad thing). An exerciser next to me was wearing one of these shirts in a recent workout class and I was intrigued. I kept looking at her shirt, waiting for the full message to become clear. And by the time the class was over, there it was! It's like a little reward for your hard work. Love it!

For more of my favorite picks all year long, be sure to follow SparkPeople on Pinterest (click the red button at the bottom of this post) and check out the board "Coach Nicole's Picks" while you're there.

What are you digging this summer? What's good in your life? Share your favorite fit and healthy things about this season in the comments below!

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I do love berries! Report
Thanks Coach Nicole
I appreciate the info. Report
This blog is very interesting, must buy some of these items and try, especially the shoes. Report
Spotify................Love it!!!!!! Report
I've been a Brooks girl for about 10 years now, but they've changed something in the Addiction line that starts cramping my foot after a half-hour. Boo! Report
Love my Brooks but I use Pandora (free), iHeart (free), or XM (paid subscription. Report
It would have been nice if one of these clothing items was offered in a plus size for those that aren't down to misses sizes yet... Report
@MOOKBALL: I wish! These are products I use in my own life and recommend. I get paid nothing to share my opinion--I'm just trying to help others find new things that can work for them. Report
With the exception of the berries this is all advertising. Hope you get well paid for all this hype! Report
I discovered Spotify at about the same time I started my weight loss journey. I've been able to find a lot of amazing music for absolutely free, and I'll have that going on my computer instead of having the TV on, and have "dancing breaks" when I'm spending time on the computer.

I'm also a HUGE spinning fan, though I've had some issues with my wrists, due to me putting too much pressure on them while on the bike, so I've taken a small hiatus from that for a bit. Hopefully, I'll be back to spinning SOON.

Berries? No question. YUM! Brooks? You're talking to a New Balance girl here. Have never had an issue with their footwear, and especially with long and wide feet, the New Balance store here in Memphis has ALWAYS had my size in the running shoes that give me the help with my flat feet and pronation issues that I have. Report
Great list! Personally, I prefer Rhapsody over Spotify. I think their selection is a little larger, or at least it suits my listening profile better. I've used it for years. Report
Brooks isn't a brand of running shoe that fits me, as I only wear NEW BALANCE which is roomy enough for me. Love those shoes.
LOL, I have to admit that while I might not buy one, those sweat-activated shirts amuse me with the possibilities. Report
I just got an iPhone. After I downloaded Sparkpeople's mobile app, I downloaded the Map My Run+ App. It tracks your workout with GPS and gives you your time and speed. I love it!!! Report
I LOVE those shoes! Love anything purple! I'll have to look into Spotify though...I have Pandora and I love it, but I'll look. Report
Just bought my first pair of Brooks last week. As soon as my Achilles tendonitis gets better (about another week my podiatrists says), I plan to start breaking them in! Report
My boyfriend and I are both hooked on Spotify! Having all that music at your fingertips really does motivate you to run/walk. Report
Extra great list! I can use all of this information, and it was motivating as well.
Thanks for putting together the list. I'm off to click the links and learn more.
I'm hooked on Striiv and Fitbit. Yes, I own two pedometers. LOL! When I got my Fitbit, I was averaging about 3,000-4,000 steps a day. Got it up to 7,000-8,000. My Striiv is pushing me even further and I've had more days over 10,000 than when I just had my Fitbit alone. And I'm hooked on the MyLand game. Leveling up and earning points for activity is surprisingly motivating! Report
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