It's a blog I'm not sure I've ever done before. Actually I think I may have done - once.
And in fact that's the one I remembered when Matalan asked me to have a look at their new ranges in store and see what I thought. Being January, the one thing I knew I should try out was their gymwear.
I have flirted with exercise all my life. Don't get me wrong, I do do it but I'm not one of those people who are a gym junkie. The opposite. To me, it's a necessary evil. And I know, from numerous conversations with people over the years, I am not alone. However I will acquiesce that I do feel better when I've done it (as far as I'm concerned that's because I'm pleased it's over with but according to others, it's the adrenalin. Whichever, I DO feel better).
And I know I look better if I continue with it. Let's face it. Gravity is not our friend. He (as it couldn't possibly be a she) is a mean, sag inducing, dimple giving, elasticity zapping git that has a go at all of us. But exercise is his nemesis.
So I made the decision to up my game. It coincides handily with being given an Apple watch for Christmas (ok seriously - I never thought I'd get remotely hooked on beating my daily targets but I cannot be the only person who has been known to go up and down the stairs willingly and for no reason to get their step count up?) and trying out the Matalan activewear.
One thing is for sure. As with everything we wear - if we feel better wearing it, our mood is improved. If we look better wearing it, we're more likely to put it on. And once it's on - well, you may as well go and do something in it.
What am I looking for in activewear? I'm not going to lie - it's the price. To me - spending money on gym clothes is up there normally, with getting the boiler fixed. So when you can get a couple of amazing sets for pretty much the price of a takeaway, I am definitely listening.
However, I also want it to be flattering. Actually, scrap that. It has to be flattering. If I put it on and feel rubbish, frankly I'm not inclined to keep it on and I am certainly not going to "get active" in it. The stretch has to excellent. And speaking of stretch, when we're talking performance, it also ticks the boxes for fabric that has moisture wicking and is anti-bacterial.
So starting from the bottoms up. I am going to be breaking myself in gently with an increase in my Pilates. For which I wear two sorts of bottoms but first up are the ones that I have been living with every morning and evening.
Joggers. If anyone has seen me on the milk run (in the car at the moment - it's probably about 3km away..) to the garage, then you will have spied me in these. Absolutely perfect for Pilates, Yoga, Power Walking and general sofa surfing (which should be a sport).
Souluxe Relax Fit Active Trousers £14
With the matching top (obvs...).
Souluxe Hoodie £14
But what makes this that bit different is the back detail. Someone in the garage did actually comment on it the other morning.
But getting down to the serious business, these are fantastic. When I say flattering - almost tempted to wear them out out. All trousers should be made out of this fabric.
Souluxe Sports Leggings £12 (I got the Medium which is a large 10)
Also bought these ones.
As they have a matching top. Which is an outdoor top for when I start running. When. I WILL. Which alas I can't find online. I think it's new in - they definitely had them instore.
Souluxe Sports Leggings £16
And then the tops.
First up - a must. Even with my fried eggs.
Souluxe Crop Bra Vest Top £7
Ok.. .you may want to scroll swiftly past this - especially if you're eating...
BUT I wanted to show that the leggings are all superbly high waisted - even on a tallie like me (these are a Small) and the top is fantastically fitting. This is a Medium.
There is no body building career for me any time soon - that's for sure. Not exactly abs of steel. But maybe I'll do another in a couple of months to see the improvement? We all have to start somewhere...
And to go over the top. This is simply perfect. Hides the muffin without being an all over saggy tee. Genius.
Souluxe Active 2 in 1 T-shirt £10
Seriously, head to foot in Matalan here. Honestly, it is as good as any of the more expensive brands I have tried (and then refused to buy...).
Then whilst I was choosing things, well obviously I was going to get the shoes to match. As the 12yr old said "they are lush". Which is praise indeed, seeing as she's a "brand only" girl usually. "Can I have a pair?". Hell yes, for £15 you can, as opposed to the branded equivalent which is significantly more. I'm not sure you'd want to run a marathon in these, but for my couch to 5k, these are perfect. When I say comfortable - think slippers and as light as a feather. Plus they match my outfit. Win win.
Souluxe Knitted Trainers £15
The other thing I have to give a mention to, is their homeware. The number of gems that I have picked up from here over the years - candlesticks, bathroom accessories (over the door bath hooks in black and white enamel which I won't mention in any more detail as they no longer stock them), blankets and cushions.
From their current range, I picked these for the 8yr old's bedroom. That tricky age (particularly being number 3), when you don't want baby things and your mean mother refuses to buy you cartoon bedding (in my defence he has a double bed and all character bedding is for single beds. Do not disabuse me of this notion...) it's hard to get something that's cool.
Except - errr hello. Cue moaning from the 10yr old that he wants new bedding and "new pillows" (cushions to me and you - I couldn't be more proud) and a new lamp. The cable knit cushions by the way, which I found in store are identical to some significantly more expensive ones that the 10yr old has in navy. In fact, one of his cushions cost the same price as the four cushions and the fleece throw. Speaking of the fleece throw - think cotton wool. It would be like being wrapped up in angel's wings.
All links shoppable below apart from the cable knit grey cushions (SORRY!)
Giraffe Cushion £10
Elephant Cushion £10
Cable Knit Cushion £18 each (not online - instore only)
Grey and white striped duvet set £25
LED & Light £15 (online only)
Lots of these I ordered through the Matalan website, but as I'm putting together a page for their website, I popped into a store today. And managed to come home with this.
Slogan Jumper £16
It comes up big, so I sized down to a small. Perfect for my love of all things monochrome. Plus, what you can't see is the quality of the embroidery of the white lettering. 50% cotton. For £16. Amazing.
So I am now sorted for activewear (if you'd like to see it in action - well, actionish... there is a tiny video over on Instagram @doesmybumlook40) And not that I do hang about all day in it, but I would be more than happy to in these sets. Are you a designer gymwear girl (and by that I mean any of the more expensive high street brands) or can I convert you to a less costly way of kitting yourself out at the gym.
And if anyone else is thinking of starting couch to 5k, I will be starting after the 26th (my birthday and I want to start WHEN I am 44. Oh my lord, that's painful writing that down), let me know as I will be charting my progress over on Instastories (complete in my new gym gear).
Finishing as per usual with outfit from today.
Black trousers - M&S
Black thermal polo neck - M&S
Je Ne Regrette Rien Jumper - Orwell + Austen
Black patent trainers - Woden
Mustard coat - Warehouse
Spent all day working and doing research (and Pilates). I am now off for a dog walk IN THE DARK (weeps) but tomorrow, a lovely day in London which I will be reporting back on later. Wish me luck on my first evening exercise venture (dog walking, in the dark - I have too many steps to make up today to not go out. Darned Apple watch.....)