Is My Life Bidi Badu?

Apparently the Bidi Badu life is magical, slightly crazy, and always positive and authentic. Is my life Bidi Badu? My partner would definitely say I am slightly crazy (but who doesn’t talk to themselves in funny voices, sing songs from musicals in the shower and twerk whilst making dinner?!) and I try and be as positive and authentic as possible (also in this blog, which reminds me – I received some free clothing from Bidi Badu for this blog post, but I will, as always, give you my honest and unbiased opinion), but is my life magical? There have been, without question, a number of magical moments in my life, including trekking the Inca Trail for days to see Machu Picchu at dawn, sky diving over Fox’s Glacier in New Zealand, and snorkelling with sharks in Thailand. And I am sure I will continue to experience moments of magic in the future. So I think I can confidently say my life is Bidi Badu and I am thus well-placed to provide a review of their sports clothing 🙂

I received a LOT of clothing from Bidi Badu for this blog post: a dress, three tops and matching skorts/shorts, leggings, three t-shirts, and a lightweight jacket! The quality of all the pieces was extremely high, but there was such a wide range of colours and styles that, unsurprisingly, I found some of them suited me and were more to my taste than others. I have thus decided to select the outfits I liked best for this post.

My two favourite outfits come from the new Kilian Kerner collection: the Ambar Tech dress with its flirty white pleated skirt and longer shorts (much needed for such a short dress), and the Karin Tech Tank with its sexy black mesh back and matching Anna Tech Skort.

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

The black Lori Tech Capri leggings are super comfortable and come with a tennis ball holder, so they can be used for both training and matches. The two t-shirts I have matched with the leggings have such a cool fit that I would wear them both on and off the court. I have discussed in previous blog posts my desire to cover up more when playing tennis in the summer, to avoid overexposing my skin to the midday sun, and these leggings and the lightweight pink t-shirt will be great for that purpose.

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

The final look I selected is the coral Bella Tech V-Neck Tee (which just happens to match my nail colour right now) and the Nica Tech 2 in 1 Shorts in the same coral and navy blue. In the height of the Italian summer I wear shorts for anything from running, to fitness training, to tennis lessons, so I am sure to put these to good use.

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

Bidi Badu tennis fashion

I’d love to hear what you think about these outfits in the comments below. And if you are interested to see how these outfits perform on the tennis court, then make sure you follow my Instagram account as I’ll be posting some videos there soon.

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Review: QLIPP Tennis Sensor

During my long tennis career 😉 I have tried a couple of different tennis sensors – my partner has the Babolat POP (which I have already reviewed for this blog) and I have used the Zepp tennis sensor. The Babolat POP has been a great success and my partner uses it for every single training or match. I have not used the Zepp so much as I have the flex mount that sticks out of the end of the racket, and it feels a bit strange to play with – I think I will need to buy the pro mount that will allow me to attach the sensor directly to the end of the racket. Now if, like me, you follow lots of tennis accounts on Instagram, you will have recently noticed a deluge of posts about the QLIPP dampener sensor. It looks like the makers of QLIPP are following the modern trend of using Instagram accounts with a high number of followers to promote products. And I was lucky enough to be one of those Instagram accounts! (Update: they have now also created a discount code for me, and so if you buy a QLIPP sensor with the code “helenqlipp” or directly from this link, you will get a 10% discount.)

The QLIPP tennis sensor is a dampener that collects information about your shots on an application installed on your smart phone. It retails at around 100 US dollars and can be shipped internationally for free. It is a little heavier than typical dampeners, but the extra weight did not bother me, and I liked the dampening effect it gave. Once you have installed the app onto your phone, you need to turn on the sensor, and it should pair automatically (provided you have Bluetooth turned on). You then start the sensor from the app and start playing. I left my phone on the chair at the side of the court, and the sensor did disconnect a couple of times, but in almost all cases it reconnected itself straight away. I recorded 20 minutes of my training, and afterwards I was able to get a summary of the whole session in terms of average speed, sweet-spot and spin power as well as a log of each stroke. It will distinguish flat shots from those with slice or top spin, for both backhand and forehand. In addition to providing information on each session, it also shows your progress across sessions, so you can see whether you are improving on any of the aforementioned parameters. One thing it does not do (as far as I could tell) is allow you to separate training sessions from matches, which would be a useful feature to see whether your performance is affected by those match nerves (well, I already know that this is the case, I just don’t know by how much!)

Another feature it has, and which I tested out, is the possibility to video yourself whilst using the sensor. In addition to being able to see how your footwork and loading affects your speed and accuracy, a good use of this feature is to check whether the sensor is distinguishing correctly between the slices and top-spin shots etc. This is something that is difficult to gauge with other tennis sensors, and you have to just trust that they are working correctly. I did notice that my battery drained quite quickly with this video feature (which I used for 16 minutes in total), so it is not something you would want to use for a whole match or training session.

The final main feature, which I have not yet used, is related to the service. This is something I am really keen on using as I really hope to see an increase in my service speed in the coming months. If I manage to see any improvements, I’ll be sure to share the QLIPP statistics with you here!

Health and Fitness Blogging Summit

Whilst back in the UK for the Easter weekend I decided to attend the Health Bloggers Community Summit at the Hoxton Hotel. I had images in my mind of tens of young female health bloggers (at least 10 years younger than me), all kitted out in leggings and trainers, turmeric latte in hand, talking into their phones or cameras for their Instagram stories or YouTube vlogs. Actually, it didn’t quite live up to the cliché, though it wasn’t far off! Whilst leggings and trainers were indeed de rigueur, it was refreshing to see that most people were too busy listening to the talks and interacting with each other to be staring into their phones and documenting the experience. In all honesty, I was probably one of the more prolific documenters of the day, as you will have seen if you followed my Instagram stories. But if you did not, do not fear, as I am going to share all the juicy details with you in this blog post!

Breakfast

The day started with breakfast offered by Bounce energy balls. We were all invited to make our own bounce ball creations, using ingredients that included yoghurt, bounce balls, raspberries, banana slices, blueberries, coconut, edible flowers…and take a photo to share on social media. If you have ever visited this blog before you will know I am not a food blogger, and I am more interested in what my food tastes likes than what it looks like. I do care about what I eat, and I do try and make sure I consider the nutritional content of my food, but I just don’t have the patience to carefully place my ingredients on the plate, and wait whilst I find the right light to take a photo. So I was never going to win the photo competition. But it did taste good.

Photography Workshop

I then attended the photography workshop led by Anastasia. I did a photography course last year, and I have recently invested in an Olympus pen E-PL7, though mainly for my YouTube videos. So I already knew the basics, but I did come away with a really good piece of advice related to lighting (which I haven’t yet been able to implement, as you will possibly notice from the photo at the top of this post…) I often stand near the window to get natural light for my Instagram photos (yes, those ones where I am dressing up in tennis gear), and half of my body is heavily shadowed. I thought I needed to invest in some studio lights to get rid of this shade, but it turns out that all I need is a large piece of white cardboard to reflect the light! Genius.

High Intensity Interval Training

I had to leave the photography workshop a bit early, as I had signed up for a HIIT session run by fitssi (who I think changed their name the next day to vlique?) I thought I had done a HIIT session before, but it turns out I hadn’t. My exercises (which you can see in some of my YouTube videos) are timed and use body-weight, but there is a lot more attention to form and we have more recovery time between circuits. The HIIT session with fitssi (or vlique?) was all about speed and hardly any rest. It was great cardio, but as you’ll find out if you read on, not everyone in the fitness industry thinks HIIT is the best form of exercise.

Panel Discussions

I managed to attend 3 panel discussions: 1) getting into the wellness industry, 2) how to work with brands and 3) improving the quality of the fitness industry. By far the best panel discussion of the day was the last one, led by Clean Eating Alice (and which you can watch on her Facebook page).  She invited Luke Worthington, (head of trainer education at Third Space, London), Jonathan Lomax (owner of a number of bespoke gyms), and Amy Hopkinson (digital editor at Women’s Health Magazine) to discuss what they liked about the fitness industry, how to achieve fitness goals, failing at fitness, how to recover, fitness trends, and more. The one thing that stuck in my mind from the discussions is that HIIT sessions and doing lots of different exercise classes will not necessarily help you achieve your performance goals, and slow, controlled, carefully executed exercises with correct breathing can be better for both your mind and body. This was good news to me, and provided me with more confidence that my personal trainer is getting me to do the right things, and the fact that I don’t have access to Barry’s Bootcamp classes in Italy (not to mention any names, ahem!) is perhaps not such a bad thing after all.

Reality Check

As I checked my Instagram feed over lunch I came across the following photo, posted by Amy Hopkinson’s boyfriend on Instagram. Amy’s handle on Instagram is wellness_ed and her boyfriend, Ted, has set up an account called wellness_ted.

All fitness and wellness bloggers will at some point or another be guilty of posting clichéd photos and cringy inspirational quotes, and Ted’s posts remind us we have to be able to laugh at ourselves. We need to take a reality check sometimes, and make sure we truly believe in what we are saying, doing and promoting. (And btw, Amy told me she agrees and whilst I’m sure she gave him a bit of a b******ing, her relationship should be safe!)

What to Wear To Play Tennis in the Spring

Although it is still a bit touch and go, the weather has certainly improved in Italy and I have already trained outside at least 3 times (take a look at my YouTube video to catch some clips of me training for the first time outside on clay this year). As we move from winter to spring, my everyday wardrobe starts to lighten up and I begin to replace black and grey with navy blue and white (I know, super adventurous!). I now need to do the same with my tennis wardrobe, and slowly wean myself off the dark hues I have been sporting these past few months, so that come Wimbledon I will be ready to don my tennis whites like a pro!

This task has actually been made very easy, as Tennis Warehouse Europe have just sent me a range of new spring tennis outfits to review, all by an Italian brand called Australian. Living in Italy, I was actually already familiar with this brand – my tennis coach is usually decked out in one of their tracksuits and I bought a black skirt from them last year as a last-minute addition to my wardrobe for tennis camp (it was one of the few tennis items I could find in my small town in the middle of August!) The brand is immediately recognizable from the cool kangaroo logo, and you may remember seeing it on the outfits of the Italian female Fed Cup players.

I decided to make a video of me trying on the outfits for my YouTube channel (see below), as I think that gives you the best impression of what the pieces look like when worn. To be completely honest, I don’t know if I would have picked out these items for myself from the photos alone, but now that I have tried them on, I am so impressed with the quality of the material, the fit and the flattering colours. They are also all very reasonably priced. So my spring tennis wardrobe is now sorted – the only trouble is, I’m now going to have to treat myself to some new tennis shoes to match all these beautiful spring tennis outfits! 😉

If you like this video, please do head over to my YouTube account and subscribe to my channel, so you get notifications of all my upcoming tennis videos.

Racket Box Review: A Monthly Tennis Equipment Service

Racket Box

Racket Box

Earlier this month I received a Racket Box in the post for me to review for my blog. I immediately posted a photo of the goodies inside the box on my Instagram profile (along with a cheeky flash of my legs, which haven’t seen the light of day for quite a few months now!) Since then I have had a chance to try out some of the items in the box, and I wanted to let you know how I got on, and my thoughts on these subscription tennis boxes.

First up, let me list the contents of the racket box that I received:

  • Two tubes of Robin Söderling tennis balls
  • A pack of three white Wilson overgrip
  • A bright yellow Karakal grip
  • A pair of white Asics tech running ankle socks
  • Luxilon Savage Black racket strings
  • A Wilson emoji vibration dampener

Now, I would estimate that the contents of the box, if you were to buy them individually, would cost just under £40 (about  €45), whereas if you sign up for a monthly racket box it costs £29.95 (and a bi-monthly box costs £14.95 per month). Hence, you are certainly saving money by signing up, but is it still worth it?

I have so far tried the Wilson overgrip, the vibration dampener, the tennis balls and the socks. These are obviously all good quality products: I liked the feel of the smooth overgrips; the socks provided great cushioning; the balls, though super stylish, were a bit too hard for my liking; I was pleased to find out via Instagram that Dan Evans has the same emoji dampener 😉

Signing up for a monthly (or bi-monthly) tennis box is certainly an investment that is best suited to regular tennis players. I like the fact that there is an option to receive boxes every two months rather than every month, as monthly boxes might lead to too many products for some players. Those of us that train and play regularly know how useful it is to regularly stock up on tennis balls, strings and overgrips and we are always on the look out for new tennis gadgets and equipment to try out. And by investing in a racket box you are going to be exposed to lots of different tennis products that you might not otherwise have heard of or have access to. The producer of Racket Box also tells me that there may be the possibility in the future to request particular items, such as tennis balls, as this is something you might not want to constantly change.

Have you ever signed up for a tennis box? Let me know your thoughts on these boxes in the comments below.