Running Through Winter

Running through winter means you need to be prepared for all the elements, especially in BC. There are three key things that I look for when choosing my running gear for winter. All of my running gear needs to be:

1 – Waterproof – because rain is definitely often in the forecast during the winter in BC so you don’t want to be running and feeling completely drenched.

2 – Reflective – because the sun goes down so early every night, reflective stripes or designs on your gear are so crucial so that cars and other pedestrians or cyclists can see you when you’re running.

3 – Warm – because even if the weather doesn’t get to be that cold in BC, it’s still important to pick pieces that will keep you warm especially during your longer runs.

I like shopping for my running gear at Sport Chek because they always have such a great variety of products. I’ve definitely been a big Nike Running fan for the last couple of years. They’ve got great technical pieces that not only fit really nicely but that work well. My latest running finds include the Nike Air Zoom Pegagus 34 Shield Running Shoes, Nike Women Power Epic Lux Flash Running Tights and Nike Women’s Essential Flash Running Jacket. These items will be perfect to keep me dry, visible and warm for the next couple of months training in BC for upcoming races!

Photos by: @Offner

This post was written in collaboration with Sport Chek, but all opinions are my own. 

My 2018 Running Goals

Taking some time to reflect on this past year and some of the running goals that I’ve accomplished.

It wasn’t a perfect year health-wise but was pretty good all-in-all. I was taken out of training for just two months and have been battling a little injury for the last couple of weeks but otherwise, I’m pretty happy with this past year and what I’ve been able to do. I ran my first ever half-marathon in the spring, started trail running, started a run club called RUNDISTRIKT, then PB’ed on my second half-marathon and recently started doing some trail races as well. The last one was just this past weekend in North Vancouver and let me tell you, it’s a whole other ball game. Trail races are no joke! The 13k race I did last weekend was hands down the hardest race I’ve ever done.

So as 2017 draws to an end and I start planning my goals for 2018, I know that trail running and even alpine running are going to be quite high on my list of running goals. Call me crazy but I’ve already started a list of races I’m interested in participating in, a lot of them being out here on the west coast. I love adding some travels to the mix, so whenever possible I make it a destination run as well.

In addition to doing some more trail and alpine races in 2018, I want to compete in my first ever SWIMRUN event. I’ve never been a big cycling enthusiast so having the opportunity to skip that discipline altogether, sounds right up my alley. The first one in British Columbia is happening next August in Victoria. I also hope to have the run club partake in more events and represent them at the races I’ll be doing in the new year.

My one hope for this upcoming year is that I’m as healthy as can be! Injuries are the worst, especially when you have races lined up so I’m putting all the chances on my side to have a successful 2018. Lots of yoga, swimming, cross-training, healthy eats and self-care!

What are your running goals for next year? Will I be seeing you at a race?

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Windproof Jacket (get it here), Hyba Printed Mesh Leggings (get it here), Hyba Colourblock Training T-Shirt (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Fueling my Recovery with CLIF

One’s journey back to any sport after an injury is always a challenging one. It requires patience and a whole lot of dedication to make sure you get back to the same level of conditioning as before and that you become stronger than ever, while also carefully monitoring your injury to make sure everything is on track.

This is my second comeback to running after being injured twice in the past two years, so I’m being extra smart this time around and putting all the chances on my side for a successful recovery. One of the things that is key during training is making sure you fuel your body right. I have always loved bringing along some CLIF snacks with me no matter what adventure I get up to and this is especially true when I go running.

CLIF just released some brand new organic BLOKS that come in 33-calorie cubes that are easy to bring along in my running pouch. These cubes supply me with energy during long runs, sprint workouts at the track or even races. Since I’ve been ramping up my training again, leading up to my next race at the end of October, I’ve been bringing these along. The chews provide the perfect combination of carbohydrates and electrolytes yet without any of the garbage. There are no partially hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no synthetic preservatives and no artificial flavours. CLIF’s new Salted Watermelon Flavour supplies you with even extra sodium that helps counter muscle cramps and gives you even more electrolytes when your body needs it the most. The BLOKS come in 9 different flavours including Tropical Punch, which is also flavoured with caffeine, for those needing that extra little boost.

I have used BLOKS in races before, it was my go-to snack during my first ever race over two years ago at the Nike Women’s 15k in Toronto and I have stuck to this winning formula since. I like that you can easily calculate portions while running and that they aren’t too sweet, so they won’t make you feel nauseous or heavy while running.

Since I’m now training primarily in British Columbia, I’ve been including more and more hikes and trail runs into my regimen. Making use of the beautiful scenery and mountains that are right at my doorstep. For hikes, I always pack CLIF Nut Butter Filled Energy Bar because I know that I’ll want a healthy and filling snack along the way. My favourite flavour is the creamy Peanut Butter bar. These bars are great because they are 100% plant-based (made with nut butter, brown rice and peas), certified organic, non-GMO, contain less than 10g of sugar, and are free of hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavours. They’re the perfect blend of carbohydrates, protein and fat that will keep me going throughout my hikes.

I feel good bringing these products along with me because I know CLIF has my best interest at heart as an athlete. This family and employee-owned company is not only committed to providing the best sports nutrition to their consumers but also committed to supporting the community of athletes and adventure seekers out there through a variety of initiatives.

Now that I’m back, I’m excited to see where my journey will take me while making sure I fuel my body right along the way. #FEEDYOURADVENTURE

For more information on CLIF, visit: http://www.clifbar.ca/

Must-Try Fitness Studios in Vancouver: Movement 108

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Vancouver is filled with so many unique fitness studios. Movement 108 stands out in the city because of its unique approach to group classes and while also providing a very intimate and friendly setting. In addition to their indoor gym classes, they also offer outdoor group classes, a refreshing option for those looking to switch up their workout routine. The space’s founder Aaron de Jong shares the inspiration and philosophy behind Movement 108.

What inspired you to start Movement 108?

The idea that exercise is this mandated portion of our day that can’t be social, interactive or educational really bothered me.  I came from working in the personal training world of ‘punching the clock’ and wanted to create my own space where meeting and connecting with people and moving your body really well could all happen under one roof.

How does the Movement 108 philosophy differ from other fitness studios or workout spots in Vancouver?

We are grounded in movement and strength training.  Often coined as ‘sneaky workouts’.  I’d say that the majority of exercise classes focus on high repetition and high heart rate activities that sacrifice form in the long run.  To get strong, you’ve got to strength train, we can’t just keep going to the same classes or hit the treadmill for longer.  There is a place for everything in the healthy workout schedule but we like to play the piece of moving really well in progressions and strength training really well to feel strong in your body.

What are some of the classes and services that you offer?

We love using bodyweight, Kettlebells and TRX as our tools in our functional training.  Our classes consist of Combo classes which incorporate all those tools, Kettlebell classes which are more strength focused and Metabolic classes which focus on strength and conditioning (high heart rate!).  Those are our mainstays on the schedule and we round out the balance with our stretch recovery classes, run group, hiking group and Strength and strength classes.

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Photo by Britney Gill

How important is community at Movement 108?

It’s hugely important.  More and more in our full lives do we want to connect socially during our sweat times.  It’s the only way to cram it all in!  We love it when people who have made 108 their exercise base integrate themselves into the community.  It all starts from us as instructors connecting and grounding into relationships with one another and then opening that space and opportunity up to anyone that walks in the doors.

Where would you like to see Movement 108 in 5 years time?

That’s a tough one to imagine.  Really our goal is to make basic, consistent movement a mainstay in our communities lives.  That starts by us being consistent in our space and not always jumping to the ‘next thing’.  That being said the idea of a second location within the city has got us thinking.  

For more info on Movement 108, go here.

5 Steps Towards a Healthier Self in 2017

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The new year is just around the corner so I wanted to share a few tips on how to make 2017 your healthiest year yet!

1) Get Inspired. The one thing that got me motivated throughout the year, especially during my injury and throughout the winter, when it was hard to get up before the crack of dawn to go work out or when it got really cold out, was to follow some inspiring people on my social networks. I chose to follow some other ladies that were also leading a healthy lifestyle and doing some of the things I aspired to do in order to motivate myself to get out there. I followed well over 50 inspiring women who were either cross-training, running, cooking healthy meals, meditating, etc. And since I’m guilty of spending a lot of time on my phone and on social media, it was a great way to find inspiration during tougher times.

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2) Set Goals. Make a schedule with short, medium and long term goals throughout the year. Whatever you want to accomplish, you can do it easily if you break it down into smaller easier goals that you can achieve along the way. There’s a great quote that says “Without a goal, you can’t score” and I couldn’t agree more. Set yourself a few goals throughout the year, goals that can be measured, that are specific and that require concrete results and you’ll surprise yourself with what you’ll be able to accomplish.

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3) Visualize. If you want something really badly in life, make sure you visualize it, express it in your every thought and breath. Take 2 minutes each morning when you wake up to visualize your goals. Visualize what you want for yourself, what you want to achieve and how you want to do it. The more you believe in what you visualize, the more it’ll manifest itself and you will get it. It may sound phoney but it really truly works.

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4) Make it fun. Find new buddies to work out with, have people over to make recipes as a group or look up cool new workouts in your area. The only way you’ll become healthier, fitter and happier is if you’re having fun while doing so. Don’t make it a chore, make it something you’re excited about. Break up your routine, keep yourself interested, entertained and you’ll stick with it.

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5) Make yourself your number 1 priority. My injury late this year was a major reminder to make myself my number 1 priority ALWAYS. We often forget to take to take time for ourselves every day and as a result things can happen. I would make up excuses as to why I didn’t need to take the time to stretch pre and post-workout and as a result, I paid for it and had to be out for a longer period of time than if I would have taken those few minutes each day to help myself. There really are no excuses. Make sure to take time for yourself every day in order to make 2017 your healthiest year yet!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Lettered Tank (get it here), Hyba Lettered Leggings (get them here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

PRANA

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I am all about wholesome living and when I find a brand of snacks that shares the same philosophy on healthy eating and living your best life, I am all about it.

If you haven’t heard of PRANA before, they’re one of my latest healthy snack discoveries. This family-owned Canadian company was born out of the love for food and the belief that food can fuel our appetite for life. I couldn’t agree more! I love fueling my body with food and ingredients that will help me become the best version of myself that I can be.

This 100% organic, gluten-free, GMO-free, preservative-free and vegan line of product is the perfect compliment to my active lifestyle. I can enjoy these snacks before and after workouts while feeling guilt-free!

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The PRANA coconut chips are a great post-workout snack and easy to drop into your workout bag in the morning. I also love their PRANA Proactivchia seeds. It is the fusion of two beneficial foods, a « 2 in 1 » solution where you get all the goodness of chia combined with 4 BILLION LIVE probiotics in just one portion. I make homemade chia seed pudding with them. This is one of the only things I can eat before I head out on an early morning training session or run because it isn’t too sweet and filling yet very nutritious. I sometimes even add some of their PRANA Kilimanjaro mix (which is comprised of dark chocolate chunks, almonds, walnuts and salty cashews mixed with sultana raisins and sweet cranberries) in my chia seed pudding to make it even more wholesome.

Not only are their snacks healthy and tasty, the company itself also works on making this planet a better place. They obtained the B Corporation certification in 2015, which is awarded to companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. More companies should follow in their footsteps when creating a business.

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With all of these great products available, I’m excited to see what this family brand will come out with next!

For more info on PRANA, visit: https://www.prana.bio/en_ca/.

Photos by: Offner

This post was written in collaboration with PRANA but all opinions are my own.

5 Questions With: Jenny of Small But Mighty Fitness

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I first met Jenny almost two years ago when I signed up for one of my first ever NTC classes in Toronto. From the very beginning, I was drawn to her infectious smile and personality and great coaching. Jenny’s knowledge and passion for fitness really stood out and made working out fun and a great learning experience. Not too long ago, she launched her own website, brand and fitness classes called Small But Mighty Fitness. It comes as no surprise that she has already been incredibly successful with her new endeavour. I’m excited to have her chat about this new project and the Toronto fitness community on today’s 5 Questions With.

1) What inspired you to start Small But Mighty Fitness?

When I dove into the Toronto fitness scene a number of years ago, I noticed I didn’t really ‘fit’ any of the pre-existing moulds that existed for trainers: I didn’t believe in yelling at or berating my clients (military bootcamp style) for motivation during workouts, I didn’t believe in ‘acting out’ all of the exercises in front of my classes from start to finish as if I was a participant, and I didn’t believe in small muscle group exercises with light weights for a ‘toning’ effect as the best way for women to train. Basically, it seemed to me that many gyms, studios and training professionals were offering Torontonians workouts, rather than training sessions. Whats the difference? A workout is non-specific; it might make you sweat and ‘feel the burn’ but it doesn’t take your unique goals and needs into consideration.There of course is nothing inherently wrong with a general workout, but one could engage in one of these so called general workouts every single day, and never reach their fitness goal due to a lack of specificity of programming. Training on the other hand, by its very name implies working for a purpose; engaging in specific exercises and drills in order to meet your goals and fulfill your needs. There is clarity of purpose and a mindset of striving to achieve something…. whether that is a change in body composition, a double bodyweight back squat, a first pull up, or rehabilitation of an injury depends on the person. 

Another trend I noticed when I started working in the health and fitness industry was that many of the women I first encountered weren’t aware of the many many ways to achieve and define ‘fit-ness’. Many women asked me how often I trained; very few asked me how. There was an assumption among many of those first ladies that I worked with that cardio machines and light dumbbells were the avenues they had to peruse if they wanted to be fit (which was often correlated with being skinny). 

Small but Mighty Fitness was born out of a desire to offer women more. A broader definition of fitness and a wider array of methods (which by the way were also safe, efficient and evidence-based) to achieve it. Most importantly, I was inspired to start Small but Mighty Fitness because I wanted to EMPOWER women to take their health and fitness into their own hands, armed with up-to-date and accurate information, an arsenal of training methods to choose from, and mechanics that would help them to optimize their training and avoid injury.

2) What kinds of classes and services do you offer to the fitness community in Toronto?

For Individuals:

In-Home or Gym-Based Personal Training Services

  • Personal training sessions come in a variety of packages, all of which include an initial consultation leading to the development of a personalized goal-directed training program.
  • Body composition analysis (skinfolds and circumference measurements)
  • Online programming. 

For Communities and Groups:

Yoga classes: Sunday mornings from 10-11 am out of Hook Up Muay Thai

  • Open men and women of all levels. 

Build and Burn: M/W/F 6-7 am at The Underground Dance Centre

  • The Build and Burn Program is focused on empowering women to forge a health and fitness focused Habitus through bodyweight training, community support, and healthy eating habits! It is the perfect program for all those ladies working in the corporate jungle downtown, and is designed so participants can Get Up. Get Moving. Get Nourished and Get to Work!
  • New in August Build and Burners will be able to opt into a breakfast meal plan to be delivered to the studio at the end of class each morning, with each meal designed specifically to aid in recovery from the workout of the day!  
  • The August cycle begins on Wed Aug. 3rd and we still have a few open spots! Grab yours here!

Build Your Own Group:  Clients can put together a small group of friends to be trained at a park, in their backyard or at a local gym.

3) What separates your classes from others in the city?

Programming: I often say that anyone can draft a workout that will destroy all the participants in the class, but few can create session that strategically offers just the right amount of demand to help clients soar toward their goals. Coming from a very strong academic background, my class programming is always evidence-based and relies heavily on functional compound movements that will give participants a lot of ‘bang for their buck’ in addition to being transferable into daily life and sports!

Knowledge Bombs: As I mentioned earlier, one of my main goals is to empower my clients and participants to take their health and fitness into their own hands. Also as a consequence of my academic background, I tend to drop little (sometimes medium sized) packets of knowledge during my classes: whether its the name and function of a muscle, explaining training principles or defining something like ‘fascia’, I always leave my people with something they can take away and incorporate in their health and fitness repertoire!

Atmosphere: Outside of special circumstances like S.E.A.L camp, I’ve never really understood creating a punitive or negative atmosphere during a training session or fitness class. By taking time out of your schedule to train, you’re doing something good for your body and mind, and that is something clients should feel GREAT about! My cueing is positive and focused, I strive to create an atmosphere that is inclusive, encouraging and that empowers my clients to leave it all out of the floor (or field). I tell jokes, sometimes I sing songs, there are often dance parties, and there are always high fives, slaps on the back, smiles and call outs on a job well done! 

4) How important is the community aspect in fitness, especially amongst women?

When it comes to fitness and training, community is unbelievably important; everything from the layout of the physical training space to the energy in the room can impact every single participant in a class. I’ve noticed over the last several years that many women attend their ‘first class’ with a friend, and I think that is because starting a new training program or taking a new class can be daunting. What I was absolutely astounded by over the last few years was how quickly movement turns a group of individuals into a community, which then takes on a life all of its own. Girls who started out attending N+TC once a week now have iMessage and Facebook groups with all of their workout besties and are training together 4 or 5 times a week: helping each other through the tough parts of training sessions, encouraging each other to take on new goals, and of course re-fuelling together post-workout. In the context of fitness and training, community has the power to make every athlete feel included, supported, capable, and accountable, and being a part of a strong fitness community cranks up enjoyment of the session beyond measure. 

5) What is your ultimate goal with Small but Mighty Fitness?

My ultimate career goal is three-fold: (1) To continue working with Nike to offer phenomenal experiences to our athletes, (2) to open my own Sports Medicine Clinic and (3) To be the strength and conditioning coach and Chiropractor for a professional or national-level women’s gymnastics or hockey team. Small but Mighty Fitness is an integral part of this plan, and my goal is to grow it to represent the Training and Rehabilitation ‘department’ of my sports medicine clinic. I’m particularly interested in working with young female athletes to help build sound movement and training practices in order to avoid injury and optimize their sport performance in a way that won’t jeopardize their future health. 

Check Train with Small But Mighty Page to get all the most up-to-date information on each of the services Jenny offers.

#LikeAGirl

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Growing up, I never missed out on an opportunity to be active and play sports. I was the kid that played sports at lunch and every night after school. Whether it was being on the swim team, skipping, skiing, figure skating, karate, playing soccer, volleyball, or even dancing, I was always encouraged to throw myself into sports.

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During a skipping competition in elementary school.

When I hit adolescence, a lot of my friends stopped being active, for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that is quite common. More than half of girls drop out of sports by the time they end puberty. Instead of following in their footsteps, I decided to dedicate myself even more to sports.

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My mom always encouraged me to be active from a very young age.

Sports are without a doubt what helped me deal with all the changes I was experiencing both physically and psychologically. Like many girls, I experienced a drop in confidence during puberty. But, as I began to compete in karate and also dance semi-professionally, I felt stronger both physically and mentally. Both of these activities kept me busy and focused. Every time I would partake in a competition or even perform at a dance show, I felt a big sense of accomplishment. Luckily, I had a mom who encouraged me to pursue my passion for sports and did everything she could to keep me active. Her support and understanding was key in me continuing to pursue athletics well into my adult life.

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First time surfing in Mexico in my late teens.

I am a true believer that being involved in sports growing up is key in building one’s self-esteem and confidence, especially during adolescence. It definitely did for me.

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I’m thrilled to see a brand like Always championing girls’ confidence on a global level and right here in Canada. Via their campaign, they have transformed the simple sentence #LikeAGirl to mean powerful and amazing things. Their mission is to help stop the drop in confidence among girls and they want everyone to show the world how they can Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.

How do you Keep Playing #LikeAGirl? Share a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag to show how you keep playing!

This post was written in collaboration with Always but all opinions are my own.

Fit Summer

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July is here and it’s the perfect time to get your fitness in gear. It’s the perfect month to try new outdoor workouts and change your fitness routine.

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Growing up, I spent most of my summers going to the pool every day and biking around but as soon as I hit adolescence and with having to work a summer job, my fitness level dropped significantly.

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Last year was the first year in my adult life that I really kept my fitness level up, whether it’d be with running, partaking in races, swimming, surfing, biking, etc. This summer I’ve decided to push it one notch further.

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This weekend I’ll be racing my 5th race of the season already, something I would have never thought possible just a year ago. I’m excited for Spartan Race on Saturday and already can’t wait to plan the next one right after that.

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In between races, I’ve been keeping active by biking every day, running several times a week, doing a variety of fitness classes, swimming, etc. How are you staying fit this summer?

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Combo Medium-Impact Sports Bra (get it here), Hyba Combo Compression Short (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Washing Workout Clothes

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With the amount of time I now spend working out every week, I also spend a lot more time washing my workout clothes than I ever did before. I used to throw my workout clothes in with all of my other laundry whenever I did my wash but realized that it often didn’t get the stink out. If I also happened to throw in my husband’s workout clothes in at the same time, the stench was so strong that it would rub off on all of my regular clothes, which was no fun.

I also found myself going to my next workout and only a couple of minutes into it, my clothes would start smelling again. Unbeknownst to me, there is a thing called the “Rebloom” effect, which is quite common for workout gear because they are made from synthetic fabrics. Though great for sports and movement, these fabrics are not so great for odor. I quickly realized that because of these fibers, my workout clothes became odor magnets and would require special care.

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I gave the Tide + Downy Odor Defense Collection a try because I was looking for a way to avoid the “Rebloom” effect at all cost. What is great about the collection is that it cleans the garments right down to the fiber level to make sure the odor is eliminated for good.

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The product is simple to use. The Tide Pods Plus Febreeze Odor Defense is a 4-in-1 laundry detergent pac that removes odors from fabrics while also removing residue and surface stains.

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The Tide Odor Rescue With Febreeze Odor Defense is an in-wash booster that deep cleans the odor and dirt that has gotten trapped in the fibers. All you have to do is add it to your wash along with the pods.

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The final product to add with the detergent at the beginning of the wash cycle is the Downy Fresh Protect With Febreeze Odor Defense. This will not only eliminate the stinky smell from your activewear but will also seal in the odor protection technology so that your clothes feel fresh all day long.

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The products were super easy to use. All I had to do was to put the pods and beads in the water before adding my workout clothes. As soon as I took my clothes out of the washer and dryer, I could automatically smell and feel the difference. No more stench. Now I can confidently go to my workouts and not worry about my clothes “Reblooming” anymore!

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For more information about the Tide + Downy Odor Defense Collection, visit Tide.ca.

tideThis post was written in collaboration with Tide but all opinions are my own.