Olympus PEN E-PL7 For Fitness Bloggers #LoveMyPen

Last year (September I believe) I decided to purchase the Olympus PEN E-PL7 - it was being heavily touted as THE go to camera for (fashion) bloggers mainly due to the capability of the screen being able to slip for the perfect selfie. I feel I start a lot of posts saying this, but, as you know, I'm not a fashion blogger, but I did see something in this PEN that could be for me. 

My love of photography started from a very young age though. My first camera was a chunky Canon which took film in those days. I have stacks and stacks of photo albums documenting me growing up due to always owning a camera. When phones came out with cameras it just meant I got to carry one less thing yet document even more. I always had a point and shoot for holidays though...

Previously, photography was not an art in my eyes though. It was just a way to remember things that had happened in the past. Then along came the likes of Instagram and I saw pictures in a different way. I started to see a different perspective. I (invested and) updated my blog design then realised that my photos didn't live up to my new outlook...

Here's how I've been working with the PEN for my (Health, Food and) Fitness Blog...

1. Don't Waste Your Money If You Won't Get Out Of Auto 
When I first got the PEN, I used auto mode and thought my images were stunning. Then I realised that I had no control over how my images were turning out and had no idea how to get the images that I could see in my minds eye. So I took things into my own hands and started by organising #ThePhoto101 workshop which took place in August 2015. Led by Eulanda Shead, we spent a few hours learning about how our cameras worked outside of auto mode...

I then signed up for a foundation course in photography (leading to Diploma in Photography, should I choose) with the institute of photography. It's online, so I can dip in and out when I like, brush up the skills I have already gained and also learn a few new ones! 

2. Don't Forget All Your Equipment 
Shortly after purchasing the PEN, I bought the 45mm lens. This lens creates the most stunning images with all the bokeh (background blur) a girl (or guy... most likely just blogger) could desire! 

I also have / would love:
- a tripod 
- a bracket (so I can use the flip down screen on the tripod and see myself when recording videos / taking photos) 
- a padded (and stylish) camera pouch / lens pouch 

 3. Pancake Lens vs Standard Lens
When the conversation comes up in groups about the PEN, this question is asked a lot. Should you buy the (cheaper) standard kit lens or get the (more expensive) pancake lens?? Well, for the real fashion bloggers in the house, it seems the pancake lens wins as it makes the camera fit in your handbag perfectly. I tried the whole tiny handbag thing and erm, well, it doesn't work for me in a day to day reality. I can usually be found lugging around a huge bag. But still, I love the pancake lens purely for aesthetics. 

4. Taking Action Shots 
I found this epic setting on the PEN where the camera takes a series of shots in a row allowing you to take great action shots and capture just. the. right. moment. you do end up with a lot of images but just refer back to my point about getting a large capacity SD card. 

5. Keep Learning 
Check out the stylonylon blog for heaps of photography posts specifically for the Olympus PEN. I recently followed her 15 tips & tricks and have been loving the Super Control Panel which allows me quicker access to all the settings when I'm in the moment! 

6. My Favourites 
I love the 1:1 image aspect which is perfect for instagram. The flip down screen for selfies. The removable flash (which I barely use due to knowing how to use the camera settings). The stylish accessories available. And the fact there is still so much more to discover (i.e the PEN has an array of built in filters which look epic! Just need to find time to play around with them...) 

What camera do you use for blogging?! Are you considering purchasing the Olympus PEN E-PL7?! ...any questions you'd like ask?!

Elle :)

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p.s this post contains affiliate links in line with my privacy policy. When you use these links, I get a small amount for referring you, it costs you nothing but it helps me to fund this little corner of the internet ;) 


Keep This Mantra In Mind To Get The Most From Every Workout

Each week when I teach, someone comes to me before we start class to share that this is their first time attending. I reassure them that they will survive, based on my past experience! I find that during my Friday evening class, this comes us the most. I talk to them, and tell them that the hardest part was done - showing up - and all they now need to do is...

Grey Tech Full Leggings, £24 || Khaki Tech Vest, £10 || both from NX Sport at Next 

In my classes, we usually use time as a basis for drills. This allows the super "fit" to surge ahead at their own speed and allows the less familiar to find the right form and do as much as they can. Sometimes, your head is telling you that you can't finish the last 20 seconds. But you tell your head right back that you can. My mantra is class is that no matter how slow you need to go, or if you need to hold a static position (i.e plank instead of burpees, squat hold instead of squat jumps) ...this has far more benefit than sinking to your knees and doing nothing... 

I think I always get worried about the results people are after - at the end of the day, their results are actually down to how hard they work when they train, what training they do and what they eat. As opposed to the 45 minutes they spend working up a sweat with me once a week! 


Kit To Hit The Gym In

Onto more glamorous things; my workout / gym outfit! These pieces are part of the new range for 2016 from NX Sport (check out my NX Sport running outfit here). This get up I use for teaching when I wanna look smart but not wear black and also not pretend like Spring is anywhere in sight!). 

One thing I also have to bear in mind when I choose an outfit to teach in, is that for a lot of the time, all eyes are on me. When I do demonstrations of every single move my dignity is literally put on the line!! So leggings with a waist that stays up, flattering lines and vests long enough to keep me covered are winners. Therefore, this outfit is a winner. 

Both are made from moisture wicking fabrics and the leggings comes with essential features such as the zipped back pocket, high vis detailing (for wearing outdoors / running in low light). The vest is long enough to pull down over your hips but will also stay in place if you like it a little higher. 

Looking for some gym inspiration?!

So, before you go, I'm keen to know what mantra's you use to get yourself through your workouts?!

Elle :) 

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p.s incase you're wondering, this post is not sponsored / I was not paid but I was provided with the kit. But you know me, all opinions are my very own ;) 

p.p.s Before I go, just wanna say thank you to Georgina of Fitcetera who took all the awesome photo's in this post! 


Behind The Screen: January 2016 Report

Somehow, we're already into February, so it's my opportunity to take you Behind The Screen to see what tools I use to create my content and what's been going on during the month preceding this report.

I'm also using this post as an opportunity to discus a topical issue in blogging each month and this month, I'm talking about bloggers being offered "exposure" as payment!

January 2016

Advertising Income: £7.07 

Affiliate Income: £5.92 

Collaborative & Sponsored Posts: £0 

Other Work & Consulting: £80 

Costs / Outgoings: £unrecorded 

Total January Page Views: 4784

Yay for January! Although I was in a crazy place re exercise (read: Dear 2016), I managed to keep up with the blog posting 13 times and hitting my goal of 3x per week. I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to share, the imagery I was using and the added value of my posts.

All of my stats and total page views saw an increase from December (see Decembers report here) which I think may be due to social sharing and the value of the posts. 

One post I shared was Your 6 Day Countdown Guide To Pre Race Preparation - which is actually a post I wrote a couple years back but I changed the format and updated the imagery. I also posted it just in time for the London Winter Run and it's a post that is applicable for any and every race in our calendars. This post gave me content to share each an every day with the related tasks and I myself really enjoyed the format! 

I was lucky enough in January to be able to collaborate with Next for the launch of their new sportswear range (read: Sport'n Style: New Year, New Gear with NX Sport) which they kindly shared on Twitter and Instagram. They also shared my post of tips for starting a new blog on their bloggers network. 

The top post for the month had to be my review of The Body Coach's new Book - Lean in 15. I picked up the book on Amazon and loved it! I shared a quick and easy read round up of my thoughts on his recipes and at just £7 for the book I think (and hope?!) I helped a few people to make a decision either way! 

Topical: Is "exposure" a fair payment for bloggers?

Probably once per day, an email lands in my inbox which asks me to write a blog post about "X" in return for "Y" brand sharing my post on their social media channels. These people, then demand to know the stats of my blog (which are actually available through my media kit or these monthly posts if they bothered to check) and never actually disclose what they are offering me! ...I saw an image recently about dancers being asked to work for free so I adapted it for bloggers...

I'm currently (technically) a full time personal trainer / blogger so my time is precious! It seems that sometimes it's even difficult to get travel expenses out of those who want you to travel in, around and out of London to events. Over the past months, I've learnt to say no when what I'm being offered is not acceptable - 2 spin classes for a ton of IG posts, tweets and a blog post?! No siree! 

This was one of the reasons I started the London Bloggers Community - to allow us to be able to communicate with each other, share opportunities and openly know whats going on to help keep things fair and ensure we are valued (and know our own value!). 

What's your take on "exposure" as payment?! 

So... anything I've missed that you'd be interested to know?! 

Do you track your stats monthly?! 

Elle :) 

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3 Lessons I Learnt Again During The London Winter Run 2016 #MyMoments

The London Winter Run has been in my diary for the best part of 12 months. Yet, somehow, I have failed to run outdoors for over 6 months, haven't run the distance in longer and none of this once spurred me on (enough) to get training. 

On the morning of Sunday 31st January, I woke up around 6am and had all the best reasons to stay in bed. My tubes were not working so travel consisted of rail replacement buses, trains and multiple tubes. I had a sore throat. My feet were tired after 8 hours standing on them for work the previous day. I was tired. But you know what, I made a commitment, and I'm a woman of my word (or at last trying to be!). 

Lesson 1: The Long Term Reward Is Much Greater Than Instant Gratification 

In this case, my instant gratification came each time I chose not to run outdoors and enjoyed an evening tucked up warm indoors. Those moments felt great when they took place but they didn't benefit me on race day. I've been here so many times, where I spend a lot of time in the moment (of the race) kicking myself about not having put the training in. I know how good it feels to run with weeks or months of training behind me...

The Solution: Put your training schedule in your diary. Even if you don't stick to it 100% do something. Something could be just 1km or a run round the block ...then chances are you'll continue for longer seeing as you're in the swing of things. Results will come after you practice just "showing up". 

Lesson 2: Mind Over Matter 

It's so cliche, but oh so true! I put mind over matter for the race and opted to go GPS free and follow how my body felt. I used the mantra "one foot in front of the other" to keep myself going. I walked when I needed to, I sped up when I could. 

The Solution: Remember why you are running. If you're aiming for a PB, write down your target pace for each milestone and track yourself using a GPS. If you're running for fun, make sure you do just that! Ditch the music, ditch the GPS and soak up the atmosphere! 

Lesson 3: The Power Of The People 

I ran the first 3km or so with Lily of Lily Lipstick; then I felt I had a little more in the tank so I picked up the pace as much as I could. Once I got to 7km though, it was feeling tough (expectedly so, huh, with no training!). At that point, a guy ran up next to me (I'm walking) and said "keep going, we've only got 3km to go!" ...he literally was all I needed! I got back into my stride and ended up next to him... I liked his pace too, so I stuck with him. Then he said to me "I like your pace!" and I said "I'm sticking to your pace!" ...so we realised we were sticking together to the end! Chatting to Richard (don't quote me on his name!) for the next 3km was enough to take my mind off the challenge of finishing the race... We talked about everything - previous running, races, future races, travelling to the races, training, not training, friends... and before I knew it, WE WERE DONE!! 

The Solution: There's always that one person who seems to hold a steady pace so just stick to them! ...or as I've done in the past, get a friend (miss you Bethan!) to pace you to a particular time! 

The Finer Details: The route changed significantly from 2015; they most definitely would've mentioned it, I just didn't read any of the pre race bumph. The route no longer took in the river Thames (which I kinda missed) and instead went through the City after starting at Trafalgar Square. No idea how the waves worked in reality - I started in wave two I think and this may have affected the amount of "snow" on the course. Supporter numbers were low, but who would wanna be out there when it was cold and raining?! The supporters that were on the route were full of energy though and I high fived numerous tiny people! 

One water station at approx 4km ...another would've been just perfect (as per last year). I didn't need the toilet but I didn't notice any queues at the portaloos on the route. Everyone running was super friendly, not a moany sod in sight! Lots of extra polar bears and penguins on the course and at the finish ...but not enough snow, snow zones... nothing that stood out. I did however see pictures of photo op areas etc which I missed!

The end lacked countdown signs, bar one 500m to go sign which felt like a mile! 

But eventually, after crossing the finish line, I got my bling... (and some water / coconut water but not a banana or snack in sight?!) ...oh and then the walk from the finish line to the bag drop area... it was so long, I became disorientated and couldn't even work out where I was!! 

Did you run the London Winter Run?! How did you find it?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s Huge Thanks to Human Race for my place in the London Winter Run. Also a shout out to to Nuffield Health Covent Garden for putting us up before and after the race.  All opinions are my own :) some photos though are not - they are from SportCam! 


Kitchen Empties #2 - The Snack Edition

I follow a few beauty bloggers / make up artists and one of my favourite style of posts they do is their "empties" where they chat about all the products that have finished in their beauty cabinet. I'm not a beauty blogger, and even so, I don't have enough "smellies" to create such a post ...but what I do, do, is eat a lot of food. A LOT. So I decided to save some my my kitchen empties and share them with you if I especially loved them. Here is #2... also known as the bottom of my gym bag. 

Wild Thing Organic Paleo Bars* 
So these bars carry the tag of being organic, gluten free, paleo, vegan and raw. That's a lot to live up to when you add tasty, right?! But they did. They come in 4 different flavours -  Berries and Seeds, Coconut and Chia, Cacao and Almond or Nuts and Seeds with Coconut and Chia being my personal favourite. I used them as mid morning / mid afternoon snacks on days I was feeling particularly ravenous! They all come in under 200kcal and as a Whole30 fan, I would keep these on hand! 

Aduna Baobab / Moringa Bars* 
I was lucky enough to spend an evening with Aduna a couple weeks ago when they launched their new Super Cacao. In my goody bag, amongst other things, I got these two bars made using Baobab and Moringa. These bars are also 100% organic and raw! I loved the tanginess of the Baobab bar as it was mixed with pineapple, apple juice, almonds, dates and raisins. I'm currently busy getting creative in the kitchen using their Super Cacaoit's the first cacao powder with an EU-approved claim for heart health!

Squirrel Sisters Cacao Brownies* 
I was lucky enough to meet the Squirrel Sisters themselves at the same Aduna event I mentioned above and received a packet of their Cacao Brownies in my goody bag. I opened them out of curiosity one evening and found the packet contained two bars. I thought to myself, I'll just eat one to try it, and when I did, it was so damn good, I ate the other! I now need to get my hands on the two other just as delightful sounding flavours to try.... You can find them at Planet Organic here (and they're on offer at the moment!)

The Protein Works Luxe Flapjack* 
This one is a treat, no matter how much protein you put in it! A square of oaty, chewy milk chocolate pistachio yumminess. But you need to remember it's still 273kcal / 18.4g protein / 34.2g carbs. So realistically, this isn't an eat every day kinda treat. I do however love all the protein snacks you can find on TPW site (and you would've seen a few featured here on KISE).

FireStar Energy* 
These little sachets contain a crystal form of caffeine to provide you with energy to keep yourself alert whatever it is you might be doing! You literally just tear open the sachet and pour it onto your tongue! I tried a cherry favour and a mint flavour with both tasting like sweets yet only being 10kcal! There are also two types - 2 hours and 4 hours - the amount of time they sustain you for. What I like about them is that I never felt "high" nor did I have any "come downs" (yes, caffeine is a drug in my life!). I used a 4 hour sachet when I was falling asleep after eating lunch and sitting in lectures; it made the world of difference. I also used them before classes, taking them 30 minutes in advance to allow myself to feel the benefits! If you want to find out more info, you can check out their website - http://www.firestarenergy.com/

What snacks have been keeping you fuelled lately?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s products with a *, I received complimentary either for review or just by chance (like in a goody bag, which I probably have said!) but as always all opinions are my very own! ...and the biggest testament to these products are that I ate them and finished them! lol ;) x
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