Vicky Hallett has been one of The Washington Post's fitness columnists since the exercise column began in 2007. She also edits the Fit section of Express, a Washington Post daily tabloid, and her Guinea Pig feature highlights the latest products tried out by Hallett and her fellow testers. Here are some of her recent finds:
— See-through athletic wear has gotten some bad press lately. But as long as it's not supposed to be covering up your butt, barely there fabric is a selling point. At least it is for the Champion Vapor Tee ($14, Championusa.com), available in nine colors — and only for men. The super lightweight polyester shirt is silky to the touch and does dry rather quickly. And although it can be a tad transparent, that's all the more reason to work out harder.
— The solution for sweltering days? More clothes. Hoodies ($20, Missionathletecare.com), arm sleeves ($44) and other items in Mission's EnduraCool gear line all have the same trick: Soak 'em, wring 'em out, snap the fabric, and the temperature drops. While we liked the chill and the built-in sun protection, our testers didn't look all that cool in the hoodie, which kept slipping off. The tight sleeves were a production to put on, but stayed put.
— The Bowflex UpperCut ($100, Bowflexuppercut.com), which looks like a step stool with resistance bands between the legs, gives push-ups a pick-me-up. Just place your chest on the pad — harder than it sounds for ladies — to pump out more reps and tougher variations than you could do solo, all with perfect form. It's also got some killer core moves. But the best feature is its small size. It'll be easy to store when you get bored of it.
— Stressed about where to stash your driver's license, credit card and ID card when you're off to the gym? Fight unnecessary wallet use with the CardNinja ($20, Cardninja.com), a slim pocket with a powerful adhesive that sticks to the back of almost any phone or case. Like a real ninja, it's barely noticeable. And even without nunchucks, it's good at keeping your stuff safe — we tried shaking our cards out and couldn't.
— Don't get too excited for Tinke ($119, Shop.zensorium.com). That will mess up your breathing and heart rate, which is what the box that plugs into an iPhone is there to test. Place your thumb over the holes and maintain pressure, and the accompanying application reveals your stats. You can also monitor your heart rate variability (a k a stress level) by touching the Tinke while staring at undulating circles. The numbers are cool to see, but the price is too high.
— Don't have a coach at the pool? Bring your own with "Swim Speed Workouts" ($30, Velo Press) by four-time Olympian Sheila Taormina. Her waterproof booklet and instruction cards lay out how to improve your freestyle stroke with drills, resistance tubing moves and detailed workouts aimed at competitive swimmers; novices will need to scale back the difficulty. Our tester (and his masters team) liked that there's a clear purpose for each routine.