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ActiVeman Focus and Thermolean

ActiVeman Focus and Thermolean

Not long ago I told you that, in an unusual mid-life crisis, my other half was embarking on the Zero to Hero white collar boxing programme – a hyper-intensive 10 week training programme culminating in a spectacular fight night. To help him along he was trying out some cool new ActiVeman supplements from BioSynergy - Focus   (£19.99) – a “daily supplement to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system and ensure you maintain your focus as the combination of omega 3 & 6 (DHA & EPA) supports brain function” and Thermolean  (£29.99) – a “daily supplement containing a unique blend of ingredients which not only improve energy levels but improve your metabolism.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching his progress, it is the massive difference between “fit” and “fighting fit”. He needed to be in the best possible shape – ideally lean as a whippet, but much more muscular. Already pretty healthy at home, he didn’t make many changes to his diet other than ditching alcohol and watching the sugar, and his initial weight loss was slow but steady.

I confess I was a bit dubious about how a few capsules could help in such a short space of time, but was open to anything (legal) that might give him a helping hand as he arrived home, week after week, sporting bruises, black eyes and sore ribs. Anyway, I am happy to report that my very own Hero (and official ex-Zero) was delighted with the products.

He started taking the supplements just around the time I would have expected his weight loss to plateau, but to my huge surprise it dropped steadily – and more quickly – after he started to take it, to the point that I noticed a definite change in his physique in the last few weeks before the fight. Ladies, he looked hawt.

He also reported that his energy levels were consistently high, despite training seven days a week, sometimes twice a day, including some unpleasantly early mornings. It was exhausting to watch, but he just kept going like the famous battery-powered bunny – even after the fight was over and the adrenaline should have drained away.

Of the two products, the one that impressed him most was the Thermolean and he plans to buy some more now that he’s finished the jar. And the good news is that he can – the whole ActiVeman range is range is now available from Boots.

As for the fight, although he lost on points, he put up a fearsome fight. After three bruising rounds he was still buzzing and wasn’t even out of breath. He may have been smaller than his opponent, but there’s a lot of truth in the saying that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Creaking ribs aside, there’s life (and, I’m afraid to say, fighting spirit) in the old dog yet.

And if you want to know more about Zero to Hero (and to see my own Hero sparring in training), here’s a cheeky video:


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For non-rowers watching this year’s Boat Race, I imagine it’s all a bit confusing, with talk of ejector crabs, blades, and straying into other crews’ water, so thought I’d do my best to explain.

The first thing to understand is that to get the fastest bit of water, both crews try their damnedest to get as close as they can to the middle of the river where the fastest stream is. If they stray into each other’s water they’ll get a warning from the umpire. They risk being disqualified if they ignore that warning, especially if the other crew objects and is disadvantaged by the incursion.

In this instance, when the incident with Cambridge’s no. 2 man happened, Cambridge had just been given a warning that they had strayed into Oxford’s water.

It seems that just after this, there was a clash of blades (ie oars) between no. 7 in the Oxford boat and no. 2 in the Cambridge boat (Luke Juckett), during which Luke’s blade was flipped over. When it hit the water, it looks as though it went in upside down and at a bad angle and was forced in deep, which caused him to “catch a crab” – ie when your oar flips up and back. This was a really bad crab – nearly an “ejector crab” when the rower can be thrown out of the boat altogether.

I’m no elite rower, but I know a few things about catching crabs, and believe me when I say that will have hurt. A lot.

I also know a thing or two about losing a race. I know how it feels when you become aware early on in the race that you’ve precious little chance of winning, but you have to keep powering on, stroke after miserable, painful stroke. And I know how it feels to have a race taken away from you by an umpire’s decision (even when it’s the right one).

Cambridge challenged the result at the end, but were told firmly that it was they who had strayed into Oxford’s water.

I’m an Oxford girl through and through, but I feel deeply for all nine of the Cambridge crew. That was a horrible race for them all. All credit to Luke Juckett for recovering from the crab so quickly, and to the rest of the crew for carrying on manfully.

And people, this is what rowing is like. It’s a magnificent sport, but it can inflict pain right into your soul.

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'Simply messing about in boats' ... EH Shepard's illustration of Ratty and Mole. Photograph: EH Shepard/PA

‘Simply messing about in boats’ … EH Shepard’s illustration of Ratty and Mole. Photograph: EH Shepard/PA

It’s the time of year that makes it all worthwhile. All those cold outings with frozen fingers and icy blades. The endless ergs. The floods and clean-ups and more floods and more clean-ups. The biting wind. The dark mornings. The thought that there are so many warmer things you could be doing.

And then suddenly it’s the spring. The clocks have changed and… hurrah! The evening rowing season begins.

Even on a evening like yesterday, with Siberian smog hanging in the air and soft rain soaking through every layer, it was still glorious. The water was glassy-smooth and my hands were warm. The swans did one of their spectacular fly-pasts and I even, fleetingly, saw a kingfisher (eyes in the boat!)

For all my tough talk through the winter, this is why I row.

I row because I love the feeling of gliding over the water. I row because the sight of the buds opening and the cattle grazing on the riverbank gives my heart a lift every time, even when the balance is all over the place and my hands are ripped to shreds. I row because on a warm evening, to quote Ratty in Wind in the Willows, “there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Of course – and I hasten to say this in case my coach is reading – there will be strictly no “messing about” in our boats. The Monmouth women’s squad means business, and with the British Masters Champs only weeks away there’s work to be done. That means we will be a strictly faff-free zone.

Happily I love a good sprint – another reason to be cheerful. So then…

Come forward to row… attention… go!



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Mystery document

Mystery document

Much has been said about how it came to pass that the Monmouth RC men’s Vet C crew came to win the Vets’ Head this year. Some have gone so far as to suggest that their victory might not have been solely the result of their innate strength and talent, but was attributable to an act of God.

In a startling turn of events, I can reveal that this remarkable feat was, in fact, foretold in scripture. A document has come into my possession in circumstances that will remain shrouded in mystery. All I can say is that the man who presented it to me gave his name only as Mustafa Beer. The parchment itself was hard to decipher, but eventually gave up its secrets. In generations to come, scholars will wonder at its contents.

The reading is taken from the book of Mark, Chapter Eight, starting at the 21st verse.

21  Through the winter the men and women toiled. And there were great floods and all the land was covered in waters from the river like the floods of the Nile. And the peoples of the club were unable to toil anymore.
22  And when the waters receded, there was an unholy mess, and the peoples set about their tasks with brushes and shovels. And all was as new. And they trained again, even in the land of Belgium, to the East.
23  Then there came the day of reckoning, when the eight of the Good Lady Elizabeth was to be chosen. And the men toiled and sweated and cursed upon their machines, and Mark, the 8th Disciple, chose the other seven.
24  And, as is the way, there was much consternation as to his choice and there followed a flurry of texts and emails.
25  But the Disciples set about their task.
26  Mark sat at the feet of the Good Lady with the Disciples in a line behind him. And they moved her across the waters, sometimes together, but usually like an drunk spider.
27 And  the Lady Elizabeth spoke in strange tongues, teaching them the commandments:
1  Spread the work.
2  Front wheel drive.
3  Battle paddle.
4  Eyes to the horizon etc.
28  And soon it came to the day before the Great Race on the Great River, to the East, in London.
29  But the people were perplexed, for the tide was to be from the West.
30  And Jonathan, the 3rd disciple and barrister at the Temple said: “This is fucking ridiculous”. And they all agreed.
31  And the next day, James, the first disciple, and Mark, went in search of their appointed number, which was to be be 21.
32  But the number was not in its place. The disciples hunted high and low, whilst the women of the club had a hissy fit, as their trestles were missing. The men were sore afraid of them, though they pretended to be cool.
33  And so they were appointed with new numbers, thanks be to God.
34  And on the day of the race, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and beating of breasts, as the rowers and organisers contemplated the tides.
35  And then all the boats from far and wide, in many splendid colours, started the race.
36  And suddenly the Lady Elizabeth could not speak, as if struck down by the Holy Spirit. This struck fear into her disciples, as they thought it an omen from God.
37  Her cox box had packed up.
38  And the boat started out in last position, as was foretold by their number.
39  And the men raced hard, as they had learnt the commandments. Though they sorely missed the voice of their cox.
40  And as soon as the race was finished, and he had stopped throwing up, James was taken to the land of Egypt, as if he did not go, he feared crucifixion, and his parts being crushed by stones.
41  And the race was won, as was foretold in the Parable of the Tides:


Here endeth the lesson.

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March - almost perfect

March – almost perfect

So, then. March turned out to be the month when the Sit Up Challenge 2014 really became a proper challenge. Until then I’d been a bit impatient, longing for it to be a bit more, well, challenging. And now it is.

The month started well and I was still complacent… until about a week in when I put my back out. Not great if you’re trying to do 70-odd sit-ups every day. I worked out that I could still manage trunk curls without making things worse. Did they still count as sit-ups? Well, it was trunk curls or nothing, so I decided they did.

Wilson in happier days

Wilson in happier days

So far so good, except that fate intervened further. Our beloved family dog, Wilson, who’d been ill for a while, deteriorated rapidly and on the evening of 17th March we had to do a mercy dash to the vet to have him put to sleep – one of the most difficult calls we’ve ever had to make.

The next day, 18th (or in sit-up terms, day 77) went by in a bit of a blur. Bereft and sad, I became clumsy and forgetful. I kept dropping things. I went to London without the keys to the flat I was staying in. And I forgot to do my sit-ups for the first time this year.

Technically this means I’m out of the challenge, as it’s an all-or-nothing kinda thing, but I’m keeping it going nonetheless. If I can make it to the end of the year – which I now realise is far more of a challenge than I’d originally thought – it’ll still be an achievement. I can’t deny that I rather like the effect it’s having on my midriff, too.

Day 77

Day 77

Of course it’s hard, being a perfectionist, to focus on the 30 days crossed off – I can’t help noticing the one day that’s not. But I guess that’s the nature of a challenge. When it doesn’t go so well, you stop looking at the bigger picture and take it a day at a time.

So. Eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty-nine, ninety, NINETY-ONE. That’s today’s done, anyway.



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Time was that Girl on the River was quite the Girl about Town. More than a decade of living and working in our fair capital city meant that I knew the tube map like the back of my hand and could scowl at strangers with the best of them.

11 years have passed since I officially became a country bumpkin, though, and as the years have flown by I have lost my urban edge. When I visit the city I make rookie errors like making eye contact without just cause. I have even been known to indulge in alarming behaviour like smiling and saying hello to people. As you can imagine, then, a trip to the Smoke is full of excitement, danger and glamour.

And so it was with the Vets’ Head, which was additionally thrilling as it was my First Time. I was one of four Tideway Virgins (and novices) in my crew, and with various injuries over the last few months it had been touch and go whether I’d be able to row at all. To say I was excited is a massive understatement.

It didn’t disappoint. Of course it helped that we were blessed with Mediterranean weather – not the norm for this event. Last year the Head was cancelled because it was just too cold to be safe, and only the day before, the Head of the River Race had been called off half way through because the crews were being tossed about on the water as though they were on the high seas (some were even sinking).

As for the race itself, I can’t remember much about it. The first half passed in a haze of excitement. I vaguely remember the metallic green of Hammersmith Bridge, and I do recall passing one crew (gasp) and being passed by another (sob). All I recall of the second half is that it was long and hard. I wasn’t aware of landmarks or other crews or anything other than the need to keep taking stroke after stroke, to keep the pressure on, to keep the pace going.

And then it was over and I’d actually done it. So our performance was slightly disappointing (we’d hoped to place in the top 10 in our category and only made 15th) and the results, we’re told, were skewed by a strong flood tide, which meant that the later you set off, the greater your advantage. But, whatever. The photos show that with just a km to go we were still looking pretty tidy, and we all survived in one piece (kind of - everything aches today). I had an absolute blast with the fabulous ladies of the Monmouth women’s squad. And for the first time ever Monmouth fielded two women’s eights – not bad for a small, provincial club – so in our own, modest way we made club history.

I’d say that was something to write home about.

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Matthew "The Thriller" Hall

Matthew “The Thriller” Hall

Some guys buy a sports car. Others take a lover. Quite a lot get into triathlon. Most content themselves with drinking for Britain.

When it came to his own midlife crisis, though, none of those was quite exciting enough for my husband. After all, he’d survived 21 years of marriage to me – he’d proved he could take on a challenge.

And so it was that he signed up for his first ever boxing bout with the brilliantly-named white collar boxing outfit, Zero to Hero. Just three weeks from now he’ll be stepping into the ring as Matthew “The Thriller” Hall (equally brilliantly named – not only does he write thrillers but it’s a nice homage to his all-time hero, Mohammed Ali, he of the Thrilla in Manila).

If that weren’t challenge enough, he’s raising money for the fantastic children’s ward at Nevill Hall hospital in Abergavenny, where our son spent a week last year. He’s currently a long way off the fundraising target, incidentally ;)

Now, this is all very – well – thrilling, but there’s one tiny thing I haven’t mentioned. Since this is – by his own admission – a bit of a midlife crisis, it makes him considerably older than all of the guys he’s training with and a hefty 15 years older than his opponent. So he’s going to need all the help he can get.

ActiVeman Focus and Thermolean

ActiVeman Focus and Thermolean

Step up ActiVeman, a brand new range of supplements by Bio Synergy designed for (as the name suggests) active men. When I told them of my own active man’s requirements (and about the two black eyes he was sporting after some scary sparring sessions), they came up with two supplements for him. One is Focus   (£19.99) – a “daily supplement to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system and ensure you maintain your focus as the combination of omega 3 & 6 (DHA & EPA) supports brain function”. The other is Thermolean  (£29.99) – a “daily supplement containing a unique blend of ingredients which not only improve energy levels but improve your metabolism.”

The products come in super-desirable packaging – cool little tins that look like batteries – and are in manageable capsules. He’s been taking them for a couple of weeks and so far is delighted. He’s lost some weight, which was definitely part of the plan, and has managed huge amounts of training (including some killer sessions involving a 5.30 a.m. alarm call) without showing the exhaustion you might expect at this stage. Who can say if it’s directly attributable to the capsules, but he’s pretty sure they’re helping.

I will, of course, report back after Fight Night and let you know how he got on. In the meantime, if you have a spare tuppence, the children’s ward would be absolutely delighted. And if it’s the supplements you’re after, they are coming soon from Boots and online.

Be a hero and donate to Matthew’s cause here.




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The Vesta Vets’ Head

The veteran's toolkit

The veteran’s toolkit

The smell of Deep Heat is filling the air, and up and down the country men and women of a certain age are popping ibuprofen like it’s going out of style. This can mean only one thing. It’s time for the Vesta Vets’ Head – rowed on the Tideway in London. A bit like the Boat Race but slower (much, much slower in most cases) and with quite a lot of grey hair.

This time last year I excitedly posted that I was about to row the Tideway for the first time, but sadly it wasn’t to be – the Vets’ Head was cancelled due to arctic conditions. A year on, against the odds, I’m hoping, finally, to lose my Tideway virginity this weekend.

I say against the odds because, in true veteran style, I have put my back out and have lost two weeks’ precious training time hobbling around like a geriatric (which I’m assuredly not. Honest. We’re a youthful Vet C). It’s getting much better and I managed an outing on the river this weekends. I shall, however, be trussed up like an oven-ready chicken in an attractive stretchy back brace (which has the added advantage of keeping my exposed bow-seat back protected against the harsh elements of the Thames).

I’m told that I won’t be alone in winging it like this. One not-very-old-timer (a far from elderly 30-something) and Tideway veteran assured me that “64% of competitors have a ‘niggle’ and close to 83% will have popped a paracetamol or applied Deep Heat”, so I’ll be in good company.

Anyway, look out for me on Sunday and give us a shout if you see any Monmouth people. I’ll be the bow monkey in crew 174. You can’t miss me – I’ll be strapped up to my eyebrows. And if in doubt, just follow the stench of Deep Heat.



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Claire Connon

At the Home International Regatta

Most people, when faced with a lifetime in a wheelchair and a dependence on intravenous feeding, would resign themselves to a life of relative inactivity. They certainly wouldn’t contemplate a sport as demanding as rowing.

Claire Connon, however, is not most people.

Far from bowing out of sport, and despite suffering from what she describes as a “list of medical craziness”, she has embarked on a plan to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. And far from feeling sorry for herself, she describes herself as blessed.

Claire’s story starts nine years ago at Cambridge University, when she had everything going for her. She was in her second year at Robinson College studying Geography, and had been invited to trial for the Cambridge University Boat Club. She had a great social life, and alongside rowing and studying fitted in diving, badminton and hockey. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

The life Claire had made for herself wasn’t to last, though. One day she was walking down the road when, out of the blue, she felt as though the plug had been pulled on her energy. She staggered home and collapsed on the bed, waiting for the feeling to pass. It didn’t. Diagnosed with post-viral M.E., she managed to continue her studies by dropping all her other activities.

Gradually, though, Claire became aware that her symptoms weren’t entirely consistent with M.E.. Eventually she was diagnosed with a genetic condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). She is now a full time wheelchair user and her condition means that she cannot digest food properly which initially led to severe malnutrition. Two years ago she achieved a breakthrough when she was put on Total Parenteral Nutrition, or TPN, which involves a piece of tubing inserted into her chest and connected with her heart. Each night a mixture of of glucose, vitamins, minerals and other essentials is pumped into her body.

Of all the things that Claire missed about her former life, the greatest was rowing. She was distraught when her mother suggested getting rid of her rowing kit – life without rowing was just too painful to contemplate. Happily, getting her nutrition via TPN gave Claire the energy to contemplate taking up her beloved sport again and she is now a Trunk and Arms adaptive rower. Determined to compete, despite the lack of para-rowing categories in most events, she entered the Home International Regatta last year, despite being the only entrant, and rowed 1k on her own, with full commentary.

For someone as determined as Claire, competing without competition is no fun, and she has now set her sights on the world of elite para-rowing. She plans to trial for GB later in the year.

There’s just one thing, though. Sheer grit, determination and optimism – all of which Claire has in spades – are not enough. To compete, Claire needs a boat, and at the moment she is borrowing one that she needs to return. So she needs to raise some money – £3,000 to be precise. This sum is, needless to say, just the tip of the iceberg. To make a real go of it, she’ll also need to pay for blades, a seat, seat pads, lights, racking fees and club membership, so the actual sum she needs is considerably higher.

That’s why Claire has launched her Make a Champ campaign. Have a read – I defy you to remain unmoved by Claire’s drive to become the world’s first intravenously-fed athlete to compete in the Paralympics. And next time you’re feeling down, remember what Claire told me just this afternoon:

“I want people to know that you can go through hell and it isn’t always the end. I have a better life now.  I love the quote, ‘If they tell you what you want to do is impossible, they don’t know you.’ “


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Boobs! Breasts! Knockers! Higgly jigglies!

Oh, for heavens’ sake! You there, sniggering at the back. See me at the end.

Oo-er, don’t be shy! Get a sports bra. © the Rank Organization

Oo-er, don’t be shy! Get a sports bra.
© the Rank Organization

Seriously, though, why is everyone so shy about talking about sports bras? When I sent an email on the subject to my female clubmates – not normally known for being the quiet, retiring types – there was consternation that our menfolk were going to – *gasp* – discover our bra sizes.

Even GB kit-providers seem to be squeamish about it; sports bras are rarely included in the women’s GB rowing kit (which frankly is a marketing opportunity missed).

But, look. It’s an important subject – 44% of women who exercise regularly don’t wear a sports bra, and they should – so if you’re uncomfortable with boob-talk, you might want to look away now.

Still with me? Good.

So, why is it so important? Well, rowing might not involve impact and bouncing like running does, but it still involves moving, repetition and stretching. Breast tissue is only supported by skin and Cooper’s ligaments, which are pretty fragile. Repetitive or extreme movements put strain on these ligaments and can stretch them permanently. The result? Yup, you guessed it. Saggy granny-boobs. And nothing you can do will bring them northwards again.

Importantly, contrary to popular belief, this happens to the flat-chested amongst us, too. You might not end up with boobs grazing your knees, but you’ll still have what comedian Jenny Eclair once vividly described as envelope flaps. Mmmmmm, attractive.

So I think we can agree that if you’re going to row hard, you should wear a sports bra (and frankly, even if you’re not convinced by the science, you probably don’t want to get your nice, everyday bras all sweaty anyway). The question is, which one? Well, the requirements are a bit different from runners’ needs. As I said, there’s not the same problem with bounce so you don’t need a high level of support, but you do want plenty of “give” in the shoulder so you don’t chafe.

One other thing. Even if you think you know what bra size you are, it’s worth getting properly fitted. Our bodies change over time and you might find you’ve been wearing the wrong size without realising it.

I put the rower’s requirements to a number of sports bra makers to see what they could come up with. Here are the results.

Best for looks

Also available in white and 'desert' ie skin colour

Also available in white and ‘desert’ ie skin colour

The Anita Active Momentum Sports Bra 5529 is undeniably fabulous. All mesh and shiny fabric, it’s by far the best-looking sports bra I’ve seen. It’s designed to provide maximum support, so if you want to wear it for running as well, you can, and it has flat seams and seamless cups to avoid chafing.

I wore this for one of the endless, long erg sessions that made up this winter’s training. It doesn’t come in a AA cup and even with the size that was prescribed for me when I was officially fitted, it was a little too big in the cup for me (TMI?)

It was extremely comfortable, though, and I had no chafing. If it had been a perfect fit I think it would have shot up to the top of my personal leaderboard.

Anita, incidentally, has been around for about 125 years and specialises in sports, mastectomy, maternity and large cup sizes; they also just won Post Surgery brand of the year for their mastectomy range.

The Anita Active Momentum Sports Bra 5529 is available in cups A-H, 30-46, from a variety of stores – please check on the store locator for your local stockist. RRP £49.00.

Best for the small-chested

Jessica Max Sports Bra

Also available in white

The Jessica Max Sports Bra top is a hand-made sports bra specifically designed for those who don’t have much on top (including those who’ve had a mastectomy). Unusually for a sports bra, it has gel-filled cups to provide cleavage. If I’m honest, it had never occurred to me that anyone would worry about this sort of thing when they were doing sport, but I’m aware that I may well be out of step with a lot of the world. If you feel self-conscious about your flat-chestedness when you exercise then this is definitely the bra for you.

I confess I was a bit dubious about this bra when it arrived. It’s quite substantial, and because of the gel pads it initially feels as though it is flattening your boobs rather than supporting them – at least that was my impression, though with a bit of wriggling and adjusting it felt much more comfortable. It’s nicely made, with a mesh interior to absorb sweat and a racer back with no fastenings – you pull it on over your head, which I rather like. Good for sit-ups, too – no hooks and eyes to dig into your back.

I put it to the test in one of my biggest challenges over the winter – the dreaded 60 minute erg session. I reckoned that if it could survive that it could survive anything. I’m pleased to report that after a minute or two I really didn’t notice I was wearing it. I experienced no chafing at all and it felt comfortable throughout. That, to my mind, is impressive in a long, tough, endurance session.

The only thing I would say is that it might get a bit sweaty in hotter temperatures. I was working out in a very cold shed. I haven’t yet had an opportunity – more’s the pity – to test it in warmer conditions.

The Jessica Max Sports Bra Top is available from Max Cleavage in a range of sizes (plenty of AA sizes) and may be made to order. From £34.99.

Best for the well-endowed

Displaying AA4004 (1).jpg

Also available in black

The Freya Active Moulded Crop Top only starts at a 34B so sadly I had to ask a couple of shipmates to try the ones sent to me and report on the results.

This sports bra is a serious bit of kit. According to the manufacturers it, “offers full coverage complete with odour management fabric and mesh panels for cool comfort”. Research carried out by Portsmouth University showed that strain was reduced to 1%, pain by 97% and independent movement by 92%.

In laywoman’s language, this means, as my clubmate said, “it really holds you in” and would be ideal if you wanted to wear it for circuits or running as well – in fact, one of my testers wore it for running as well as erging and said it provided good support and felt comfortable, especially as it’s underwired.

Other feedback:

  • it’s cut high enough that you can comfortably wear a heart monitor with it.
  • There’s an extra clip which did add more support but my tester found this made it uncomfortable so left it undone.
  • There was general agreement that this was a good-looking bra.

One of my testers said that it chafed her a bit after she wore it for a head race; the other didn’t find this, so perhaps it was just a question of fit.

This bra is £40 from Freya Lingerie.

I should also add here that Freya sent me some Capri pants to try out while I was at it (happily they did come in my size) and they got an unequivocal thumbs up. Comfortable, nice-looking and sufficiently thick to avoid showing the person in the seat behind you what colour knickers you’re wearing. Not usually a problem for a bow-monkey like me, but good to know.

Best all-rounder

Shock Absorber bra

Available in a range of styles and sizes

No round-up of sports bras would be complete without mentioning the Shock Absorber range. They couldn’t provide me with one specifically for review purposes, but I have a handful of Shock Absorber sports bras that have done sterling service over the years. My all-time favourite, with the fasteners at the side, was discontinued, but the others are still pretty good. The labels are too faded now to tell which models I have, but over the years they have seen me through rowing, erging, running, circuits, bootcamp, boxercise, zumba, yoga, weights, Tabata… if it’s sporty, I’ve done it in a Shock Absorber bra.

They tick all the boxes – good support, comfortable, non-chafing – just a good, old friend that you throw on and forget about. They are maybe not the best-looking in the world – one of mine has wrinkles that won’t shift and won’t win any prizes for prettiness – but I still come back to it every time as it does the job.

Check out the Shock Absorber website to find the right one for you. They come in a large range of shapes, sizes, styles and prices.

So there you have it. No excuses, girls, for wearing your everyday bra for rowing. And if you’re still giggling, you can write out these lines in tonight’s detention.

I must wear a sports bra for rowing.

I must wear a sports bra for rowing.

I must wear a sports bra for rowing.

I must wear a sports bra for rowing.

I must wear a sports bra for rowing.




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