Fitness: THE 10 BEST WORKOUT HEADPHONES

Audio is a harsh mistress when it comes to workout headphones. Some companies make earbuds and headphones that can take a beating, but they sound like coins being thrown down an aluminum drainpipe, suffer from volume issues, and reduce your cardio-pumping bass beats down to something the little drummer boy would be ashamed of. On the other hand, you can get some incredible audio out of certain headphones which will short circuit at the first drop of sweat or suddenly slip off your head, slap you in the face, and not only ruin your workout but leave you brain damaged. Don’t let these poor imitators into your life.

Workout headphones need to walk a tougher line than your average noise-cancelling headphones in that they must be comfortable yet bombproof. You should get great sound quality that can pump you up and let Eye of the Tiger help get your knees high, but they also need to be something that doesn’t bloody well embarrass you whenever you take a run past the yoga studio just as class is letting out. To do all of this and more, we’ve found the 10 best workout headphones.

SKULLCANDY FIX

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Pro: Affordable
Con: Awkward controls

Best Bargain: First off, these look badass. The Skullcandy skull logo either in silver on black, white, red, or chrome is as metal as a Slayer concert without being garish. Besides looking good, the sound quality is excellent compared with most workout headphones that bear a much heavier price tag. These are especially good for those who like to get their cardio with some drum and bass or EDM because they have a hidden bass port that thumps out those sweet beats without needing to be backed by a huge driver. Naturally, they won’t keep the die-hard audiophile happy, unless that same music lover loves having more money, but for the average bass lover who just needs something that works, this is it. The Fix doesn’t use a specially designed contour or exterior molding to keep their hold, rather they seem to just fit perfectly for staying in place even during more rigorous activity. Sounds distort if you crank them, but you shouldn’t be doing that anyhow. The in-line controls only truly work with iOS devices, so Android users won’t get the full range of operation. Ultimately, it is the controls that are the biggest downfall, since the remote hangs out of sight, and since all the buttons feel alike, expect to lower the volume rather than pausing or activate the phone when trying to play.

AFTERSHOKZ SPORTZ M2

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Pro: Neither an in-ear nor on-ear design
Con: Hard to find best placement

Ambiance: In-ear headphones can block out sound and many people find them uncomfortable. On-ear and over-ear headphones often can’t stay in place when you exercise. In an attempt to strike a balance between these two extremes, Aftershokz created an workout headphone that is neither an on-ear nor an earbud yet somehow the best of both. These hook around the top of your ear to a neckband that stays in place passably, though if you go over hill and dale rather than sticking to flat roads or gym workouts, then these will probably jitterbug away from their optimal placement. They rest on your cheek bones and project into your ear so they aren’t truly resting on your ear canal, stopping external noise from seeping in. The sound goes right to your inner ear which offers better clarity since it is passing through bone, rather than air in a new stereophonic technology that you’re likely to see much more of in the future. The biggest trouble here is finding the sweet spot on your face to get ideal sound clarity.

RELAYS BY SOL REPUBLIC

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Pro: Very hard to damage
Con: No noise cancelling

Most for the Money: It’s tough to get true out-of-the-box use from workout headphones. Typically you need to adjust and tweak, trying different tips on the earbuds, moving the mount further around behind your ear, or just getting them to stay put without chafing. The Relays suffer from no such issues. They slide in perfectly on the first time and ensure that you’re not going to be spending half of your workout trying to get them to stop moving around. If you like to pump or do yoga with a little sound in your skull, the Bluetooth capability means you won’t be contending with a cord, yet still receiving near corded quality. The sound isn’t dazzling, but certainly keeps pace with most corded models, and the convenience is well worth the minor drop in true sound acuity. The larger backing dampens noise, but doesn’t truly cancel it. As to abuse, these do it all: water, sweat, impacts, and being yanked out of your gym bag over and over. Sol even replaces lost or damaged tips at no cost should they go rogue.

LG FR74 HEART RATE MONITOR EARPHONES

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Pro: Takes over many fitness tracker roles
Con: Neither an impressive tracker, nor impressive headphones

The More You Know: Landing somewhere between interesting niche product and middle child of technology is the FR74 heart rate monitoring headphones from LG. These are one of the few devices that begin to bridge the gap between fitness trackers and workout headphones in that they provide accurate data at a glance without the need to add in extra weight or more wearable gadgets. The headphones monitor distance, calories burned, number of steps, direction, and pulse rate, all of which is sent to a small medallion-shaped box where it is processed and sent to your smartphone or other device. The headphones themselves are held in place by a flexible cord that goes over your ear and can be wrapped snugly for a tighter fit. The hi-fi sound that these produce is good, but given the limited space where large quantities of data is being parsed, the drivers don’t have the room to be amazing. Overall, if you want a hybrid fitness tracker and headphone set, this is an affordable innovation that is worth trying, even if only as an experiment.

YURBUDS INSPIRE LIMITED EDITION

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Pro: Lifetime warranty
Con: Terrible microphone

The Immovable Object: We’re going to admit it right up front: These don’t sound the best. Good, but they won’t give you an eargasm. They aren’t the most comfortable. Again, very comfortable, but not like giving your ears a massage. What these accomplish better than anything else is sticking to their guns. They stay in place through your pop and lock routine. They don’t move when you cliff dive. They stick around as you throw your own private headbanger’s ball. The cords are kevlar that is tough and doesn’t catch or snag, but rather lays flat while the silicone tips dig in to the curve of your ear and never let go. Complemented by a 15.4mm dynamic driver, complete waterproofing, and a lifetime warranty against abuse, and you’ve got something to crow about. The directed tips channel sound deeper into your ear, which allows you to reduce the volume and keep more battery life in your mobile devices.

PLANTRONICS BACKBEAT FIT

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Pro: Highly visible in low light
Con: Cord length cannot be adjusted

City Slick: During a run, it should be just you and the road or the trail, but the world doesn’t work like that. Most people have to get their training in wherever they can, and that means dealing with traffic, with the city, with other runners, cyclists, and whatever other impediments crop up. To do this, you can’t have your ears completely blocked, plugged up by your workout headphones. The BackBeat Fit aims to give you high grade wireless audio quality without deafening you to the outside world. The silicone backer wraps around your ear to hold the headphones in place during strenuous activity, be it P90X, lifting, or tackling trails on your mountain bike. The cord can’t be adjusted, which can annoy distance runners as it feels a little sloppy, but the simple controls are responsive and work for anybody. Call quality is very clear, as is most music, though the open style will bleed sound in noisy environments. Especially impressive is the armband and included carrying case. A P2i coating keeps sweat and rain from bringing ruin to the Fit.

JAYBIRD BLUEBUDS X

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Pro: Very light
Con: Tricky remote

Immortal: Runners in the Century Club who like long marathons and lots of them will fall desperately in love with the BlueBuds X. Ordinarily Bluetooth wireless headphones are a mite touch and go, with a lot more touching than going, but these are exceptional. First off, they are only 4.5 ounces, making them very light. The battery lasts for 8 solid hours per charge, so there’s no need to lug around spares or have a wire slapping against you when you feel like taking a jog to check the weather 50 miles away. Nanotech waterproofing from Liquitech allows them to fight off both your macho sweat and whatever the sky decides to throw at you. USA Triathlon has adopted these as their official headphones, and you know the good people who sanction the Ironman wouldn’t tell you lies. The bass is very good, with fairly crisp and clean mids and highs to back it up. The behind the neck remote is a little touchy, and the over/under fit either works great or fails horribly.

BOSE SIE2I SPORT

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Pro: Soft, ergonomic fit
Con: Unimpressive sound quality

Complete Comfort: Bose is universally known in the audio industry for their incredible sound. In this case, the sound is secondary to the shocking comfort that comes from the SIE2I. The silicone earpieces are buttery soft and fit in the ear canal comfortably for long-term wear. You might not fully forget you have them on, but you’ll come pretty close. They have the ability to let in some ambient noise, which is preferable for outdoor exercise, though if you use a noisy gym it could irritate you pretty quickly. The design is ergonomic, using additional soft holders to conform to the interior of your ear rather than sitting over the top of it or curling around the back, resulting in a more natural hold. Oddly enough, where the SIE2I falls short is on their sound quality. It isn’t bad per se, but for the price it isn’t up to Bose’s usual standards. They also lack a carrying case and the comfortable materials are subject to breaking if treated roughly. Thankfully, Bose backs them with an outstanding warranty.

BOWERS & WILKINS C5

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Pro: Beautiful sound
Con: Sound bleed

Beautiful Noise: B&W ordinarily don’t get out of bed for trivial nonsense like workout headphones. They’re too busy making AirPlay speakers that can blow the doors off of brick buildings, but they decided to slum it, and the results are impressive. The C5s bear what B&W call a “Micro Porous Filter” system which projects outward more like a true speaker than a simple headphone. The result is much richer, deeper, more impressive audio quality that also tends to reach people around you. They’re held in place by a loop over your ear that is comfortable and fully pliable so you can adjust it to suit your very special needs. The loop and the sound blocking seal are a single piece that conforms to your whole ear similar to custom made pieces designed to give you a better hold and keep the sound going where it is supposed to. The sound that comes out is smooth and supple, so whatever poison you like to pour in your ear, it will sound amazing. Unfortunately, they are iOS dependent, leaving anyone not in the Apple camp with only the most basic controls.

MONSTER ISPORT FREEDOM

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Pro: Powerful Bluetooth reception
Con: Will cause some ear sweat

Big Noise: The entire Monster iSport line is, without exception, very good, so if you like the Strive or the Victory, by all means, buy them. What we liked about the Freedom should be clear just by looking at them: They are on-ear headphones for peaking your pump, rather than sticking with the pack and only making in-ear workout headphones. Inside are 40mm drivers that give you plenty of sound, though you’re going to be able to find plenty of similar styles with bigger, better, badder sounds, though none as rugged. The body is made of rubber and plastic that can practically be put through the dishwasher (don’t do that) while also allowing the headband to get completely squashed and still bounce back. Completely Bluetooth enabled, they work with any smartphone or mp3 player and have excellent reception, even outside. Using the tried-and-true control method of putting the remote on the outside of the earphone in a method reminiscent of Beats by Dre, they’re easy to control. The fit is snug against your head so even if you’re doing a bouncy stair-a-thon up the Freedom Tower, they’ll stick with you.

10 Reasons to Shop at Whole Foods Market

The story goes that after borrowing $45,000 from friends and opening their very first health food store in Austin in 1978, the Whole Foods Market® founders lived in that store for a little while, because they got evicted from their apartment for storing food in it. Today, Whole Foods Market® has one of the best brand images out there, a loyal fan base, is ranked #218 on the Fortune 500 list, and has revenues of $12.9 billion in 2013. What can I say? I wouldn’t mind living at a Whole Foods Market store for a while. 🙂

I am one of many loyal Whole Foods Market customers who want minimally processed products free of certain artificial ingredients, and don’t want foods that contain nitrates, harmful pesticides, artificial colors, antibiotics, and hormones. In this blog post, I am going to dig a little bit deeper why exactly I choose to shop at Whole Foods Market. I admire Whole Foods Market not only because of the high quality standard they set for their products, but also because I respect their values and philosophy about life.

10 Reasons why I choose to shop at Whole Foods Market:

1. Whole Foods Market sells the highest quality organic products. It’s very important to me what I put in my body as food and fuel. I also care about what I feed people I love. None of us have a spare body, so we better take really good care of what we have; high quality, natural, organic food is a huge part of it. Also, Whole Foods Market will never sell you products with bleached or bromated flour. In fact, they publish a whole list of ingredients prohibited in their food.

2. Whole Foods Market educates people about healthy eating. We have to be conscious shoppers. It’s worth our time to educate ourselves about all the harmful additives and chemicals we could potentially be putting in our bodies by making wrong food choices. And, that ties in with the next thing I like about Whole Foods Market: their initiatives for promoting health through healthy eating education. Their high quality organic produce speaks for itself. Whole Foods Market constantly updates their website and provides helpful links about the basics of organic foods, healthy eating, a comprehensive food guide on lots of ingredients, to name just a few. Many educational resources (recipes, cooking tips, local initiatives, etc.) are regularly posted to the Whole Foods Market Facebook page and their Twitter account.

3. Whole Foods Market cares about my needs as a customer. What initially attracted me to Whole Foods Market years ago was 1) their bulk foods section, 2) their amazing selection of cheeses, and 3) the pasta of all shapes and sizes. By offering a LARGE VARIETY OF healthy and organic products, introducing new brands that we were unaware of before, Whole Foods Market does the homework for me, the shopper, by having all types of natural and organic products in one place, and I don’t have to make a lot of stops driving from one natural store to another, one farmers market to another, or spend hours on the Internet looking for these kinds of products. Whole Foods Market also makes this whole “organic foods” shopping experience very attractive and sexy via welcoming store designs and friendly, educated staff. And, I just love their ever-expanding 365 Everyday Value brand, which offers more and more organic, natural products at amazingly affordable prices! Another Whole Foods Market resource not to overlook is their extensive recipe collection, including recipes via Pinterest and Facebook. They even publish video recipes on the Whole Foods Market YouTube channel!

4. Whole Foods Market commits to GMO labeling of all its food products by 2018. I care about whether or not my food has GMOs, and Whole Foods Market is the first national grocery chain that committed to label all food products in its US and Canadian stores to indicate whether they contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) by 2018 – while it’s not even required by law! That will make Whole Foods Market a pioneer in GMO labeling among the national grocery chains.

5. Whole Foods Market has the highest quality standards for both farmed and wild-caught seafood. I love seafood and have quite a few fish and shellfish recipes on my blog and on a dedicated Seafood Recipes Pinterest Board. Fish is such an important part of our diets, as it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats, which are important for our cardiovascular health, for tissue inflammation, and many other health benefits. Whole Foods Market sells 2 types of seafood: wild-caught and farmed. Their wild-caught fish is rated for sustainability (taking into account overfishing or harming other marine life). Their farmed seafood standards are the highest in the industry: antibiotics, growth hormones, preservatives like sulfites and phosphates, genetically-modified seafood, and land animal by-products in feed are all prohibited.

6. All meat sold at Whole Foods Market meat counter is from animals raised without hormones and antibiotics. I like the peace of mind of knowing that the beef, poultry, or pork that I buy are from animals raised without hormones, antibiotics, and that Whole Foods Market standards prohibit animals’ byproducts in the animals’ feed.

7. Gluten-Free foods selection. Not only does Whole Foods Market have some of the largest gluten-free offerings, the whole idea behind Whole Foods Market (wholesome ingredients, without artificial additives), and its transparent labeling system makes it very easy for a gluten-free person to shop there not being afraid of getting “glutened.” The only other comparable stores that I shop for gluten-free products are online marketplaces. Whole Foods Market even publishes a constantly updated list online of all gluten-free products for each particular store which makes shopping even easier.

8. Whole Foods Market loves local, like I do. Whole Foods Market supports local farmers by expanding and creating new markets for organic products. It also supports local producers via loan programs.

9. Whole Foods Market supports hard-working people both in local communities and globally. Local impact. Several times a year, each Whole Foods Market store holds 5% days, where 5% of that day’s net sales goes to support local education, local hospitals, or local non-profits. Just a few quick searches, and I found that these 5% days supported children hospitals, cancer centers, parks and conservation, botanical gardens, the list goes on and on. Global Impact. I happened to have lived in and traveled to several countries with emerging economies, and I have a great deal of respect and compassion for those amazingly hard-working people. Whole Foods Market has a whole program of providing micro-credits to the people in emerging economies via their Whole Planet Foundation. In fact, the global director for this foundation, Steve Wanta, is a former Peace Corps volunteer, and he spends his time travelling extensively all over the world covering as many as 18 countries a year to help regular people develop their businesses via micro-credits. What a cool and impactful job that guy has! The foundation really makes the difference, helps real people, and many of their stories are really touching.

10. Whole Foods Market cares about environment. I believe that people, animals, nature – we are all intrinsically connected; we do not exist in a vacuum. To Whole Foods Market, it’s important where the food comes from and what happens to it along the way. Whole Foods Market sets an example in its use of wind power, solar power, company-wide recycling programs, green buildings for their stores, etc. Whole Foods Market currently ranks fifth on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Top 50 List, as well as third on its Top 20 Retail List. For more information visit Whole Foods Market: Values Matter.

The Perfect Explanation to Why We Hate Crossfitters

Doing Crossfit is a giveaway that you are a huge douche-bag.

You guys want to know how to be able to tell if someone does Crossfit? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

In fact, they will make sure to tell you within seconds of meeting you, and then they’ll proceed to talk about Crossfit and nothing else. This just happened to me on my lunch break: I was going to ask for no onions on my sandwich but cool, you flip tires in your spare time; now I know. Thanks, and I’ll take my sandwich to go.

I don’t know when exactly it happened but Crossfit is a big thing now. Crossfit studios are popping up everywhere. Anywhere that fitness is remotely a thing, there’s a least three different Crossfit studios around. If you live in a big city or on a college campus, forget about it. Left and right, here and there, POP! POP! Nothing ruins a nice morning stroll than a group of girthy people running behind you carrying tires above their head while moaning and groaning with veins popping out of their necks. Like, I’m just trying to get myself a Skinny Vanilla Latte and you’re ruining it for me. (I wonder if Crossfitters order a Bulky Vanilla Latte, sub espresso, add protein.)

Crossfit is for sure a cult and nothing else. Here, I’ll prove it to you. Have you ever met someone who just dabbles in a little Crossfit? No. Everyone you meet that does Crossfit is a little something like this:

(while clenching fists, thrusting, bouncing and probably spitting)

“YEAH I DO CROSSFIT! TRAIN EVERYDAY MAN! IRON PLAYGROUND! I LOVE IT! WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT PALEO DIET?! HASHTAG PALEO. HASHTAG CROSSFIT. CROSSFIT IS A LIFESTYLE. IT’S MY LIFE. CROSSFIT, F YEAH.”

(…just a mild preview for you.)

Look, I totally comprehend how it’s a ‘manly’ thing to do Crossfit and have that ridiculous body but if you’re showing up to a cookout primarily for the protein and not the cleavage and sundresses, you are not a real man. You’re just a random guy with aggressive veins eating too much chicken.

If you’re a girl who is really into Crossfit, then…my advice to you is to ditch the Crossfit studio and walk next door to the Yoga studio. Guys want to see you in tree pose, not literally picking up a tree.

I have a feeling that it’s a rule in the Crossfit community that once you leave Crossfit, you go and tell everyone you know that you went to Crossfit (either before or after you try to convince them to participate in the paleo diet.) Speaking of the paleo diet, um, please go away. It’s cool if you want to eat like a caveman, whatever, do you your thing. You want to know what would be even cooler? Not talking about it all the damn time. If you paleo people keep professing your obsessions for ‘caveman’ life, then I’m pretty sure you will end up living an actual caveman life and no one will want to be around you. Get back in your cave and shut the fuck up about your weighed out meat and nuts!

Tony Hawk Takes the World’s First Hoverboard for a Ride

In a new video by The RIDE Channel, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk takes the Hendo Hover (previously) for a spin, riding the real-life hoverboard on a small copper half-pipe specially designed for the technology. Hawk doesn’t exactly master the board right away, but he does put on a good show of it, almost pulling off an infamously difficult skating trick in the process.

That was my first 1080.

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VetiGel, A Plant-Based Gel That Can Stop Bleeding in 20 Seconds When Applied to a Wound

VetiGel is a gel created by Brooklyn-based biotech startup Suneris that is made from plant-based polymers that are able to stop bleeding in 20 seconds when applied to a wound, working in congress with the human body’s natural healing processes. Bloomberg interviewed Suneris CEO/NYU student Joe Landolina about the product, which is still in the testing phase.

We extract pieces of the cell walls out of the plant, kind of like LEGO blocks. When applied to a wound, these LEGO blocks reassemble with whatever you put them next to.

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10 HEALTH BENEFITS OF BACON!

Almost everyone loves bacon. It’s ridiculously awesome. And many people have very mixed views about whether bacon is actually good or bad for you. It’s not defined as completely healthy, but does have some amazing health benefits if you have it just about once a week.

HERE ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BACON:

  1. It’s packed with protein that helps regulate your energy level’s. And keep you feeling full. Plus protein in general boost’s your Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and Dopamine levels. Which will lead you to feel happy and energetic. No wonder it’s so addictive.
  2. Helps to lower your blood pressure as well as your blood sugar.
  3. Can help ease the symptom’s that come along with Diabetes.
  4. Helps to prevent Stroke’s, Heart Disease and Heart Attacks.
  5. Contains Choline that improves your memory and IQ. It also help’s reduce the symptoms that come with Alzheimer’s Disease.
  6. Can help you feel happy and reduce your stress levels.
  7. Contains high amount’s of: Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Protein, Niacin, Vitamins B12, B6 and Thiamine.
  8. Contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids which help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
  9. Is used as a treatment for Salt Depletion (Hyponatremia).
  10. Helps prevent Anemia.

So don’t believe the hype that bacon is the worst thing you could possibly ingest, and go out and grab yourself a handful of salty, pork goodness!