FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: September 2016


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

BHF 2016 London to Brighton vlog

FitBits | Tess Agnew BHF 2016 London to Brighton off road bike ride

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I'm SO EXCITED to share my very first vlog with you guys - mainly because it means I can actually stop bloody editing it now (these things take AGES, I haven't edited video since uni!).

Last weekend me and Chris dusted off the trusty hardtails for the totally epic and awesome British Heart Foundation London to Brighton Off-Road Bike Ride 2016​.

75 miles of riverside paths, old railways, woodland trails and winding singletrack; through maize fields, alongside roads, under and over bridges and up, up, up the absolute monstrosity that is Beeding Hill, right at the end, just to keep the old legs and lungs working.

FitBits | Tess Agnew BHF 2016 London to Brighton off road bike ride

It was wicked. A real adventure. Bit too much road at the start for me personally, but I guess London's not got the benefit of being just 10 minutes' ride away from the countryside like we have in lovely Brighton.

I think I only saw maybe seven or eight female riders, which is both awesome, and a shame. Awesome because they, like me, are out there showing the boys how it's done. And a shame, because there really should be more of us doing it!

Come on girls, on yer bikes! These boys aren't so bad really...

I'm really keen to know what you reckon to the vlog guys, please let me know in the comments below :)

Apologies for some of the sound levels being all over the place - blame the headwind! 

**If you're reading this on mobile from Bloglovin and can't see the video below 
(helpful, Bloglovin!), here's the link:**


Let me know what you think of the vlog either here 
or on YouTube :) 

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Friday, 23 September 2016

Ready to ride: BHF London to Brighton off roader

You may have seen over the past few weeks I've been getting a regular dose of the green stuff out on the wheels, and it's not been without good reason.

Tomorrow morning (bloody bright and early, I might add - need to get to bed basically right now), me and Chris will be joining a bunch of riders from the Brighton MTB FB group in a minibus to the startline of the British Heart Foundation London to Brighton off road ride.

We'll be riding 75 miles of hills, trails and tracks on our trusty Specialized hardtails, fuelled by a cocktail of flapjacks, electrolytes and (hopefully) smiles.

I've finally decided to listen to everyone's advice and take the hardtail over the full sus as it's a better bike for the job - quicker, lighter (hopefully, haven't actually checked and not going to for fear of further indecision at this 11th hour), and everyone's telling me, more efficient.

Since getting back on the bike after my accident we've been doing a fair bit of riding up on the Downs, at Stanmer Park and in Wales and FoD, along with some good road rides too, so we're as ready as we can be, given the time. I had to cancel so many events this year due to my collarbone break so I'm determined to see this one through.

Catch up on our South Downs Way Bank Holiday adventures here:

Eastbourne to Brighton / Petersfield to Amberley / Amberley to Devil's Dyke

and read up on our tour of the mtb trails in Wales here.

I'm really excited about this adventure - we've never ridden this far off road in one go, and have actually never taken part in any official mountain bike event as of yet, or ridden from London to Brighton in any capacity, off road or otherwise. So it'll be a completely new experience.

I'm really excited about the feed stations. Like a little bit too excited. I'm excited about the atmosphere and camaraderie of everyone in it together, on a common mission. I'm excited about mid-ride cups of hot tea and homemade cake and flapjacks. And at the end, a nice cold beer.

Will always ride for beer.

BHF are lending me a GoPro to film our ride with too, which I'm mega excited about, so expect my very first vlog coming your way soon after. I'll warn you now though - I've never used a GoPro before, nor done any proper editing since uni, many moons ago, so I can't promise it'll be great, but let's have a go and see.

Right, best get to bed, the 4am alarm is set and a tired husband is waiting for me to stop writing...

See you on the other side!


Have you done any off road events? 

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Thursday, 15 September 2016

REVIEW: Karkoa Smartbag 40 - the ultimate fitness rucksack

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

You know when your mum packs you off for your first day of high school with the whole of WH Smith and enough PE kit to clothe a rugby team on your back? 

Yeah, that. 

Say hello to 12 year old Tess, still 4ft 10 and shorter than your child, with her massive bag full of fitness goodies to kickstart the day on a wave of endorphins. The Smartbag 40 is one of many in a range of intelligent, practical (and some of which massive) sportsbags made by French company Karkoa, now launching in the UK. 
FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

This 40L badboy puts Hermoine Granger's magic bag to shame, with an undetectable extension charm of its own to put everything in its right place.  

The multiple compartments, surprise pockets and detachable wash bags are designed for people on the go. How many times have you been for a morning swim or to the gym and gone straight to work with a sweaty, smelly kit taking up your bag space? Well this bag separates it all out for you so you don't have to get to the office smelling like the boxing gloves you've just been using.

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

 FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

The Smartbag 40 has it all - a dedicated compartment for your trainers (with removable false bottom) and insulated bottle holder to keep your drink cold. A removable waterproof bag keeps your wet swimsuit, towel or sweaty gym kit separate from your laptop and neatly folded work clothes (also in their own compartment). 

It's got a few smaller pockets on the outside of the bag for your phone, keys and other small bits you need to get at quickly, and a chest strap helps keep it comfortable when cycling or walking to the gym. 

It's also cabin size so it'll fit as hand luggage when flying, which is ace.  

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40
It won't fit a yoga mat though... 

Over the past few weeks me and my massive magic bag have been getting to know each other en route to work via outdoor fitness classes with Brighton women's bootcamp Fitbitch (read more on that here). It's also come with me on a tour of Wales' mountain bike trails, and passed with flying colours. 

I cycle to work and wanted something comfortable on my back, as my current rucksack is too small for the one million items that I seem to cram into it when exercising in the morning. The chest strap on the Smartbag is much appreciated, although, for me, it could do with a second strap around the waist to give it more support, but that might be because it's always so jam packed and heavy when I use it. 

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40

I often pack my laptop, work clothes, towel and wash stuff, deodorant etc. and makeup, a couple of notepads, pencil case, lunch and a heavy D-Lock with me on the way to bootcamp, and sometimes even my foam roller or yoga mat so I never travel light. 

Because it's so massive and I pack the world into it, it's always pretty heavy and not 100% comfortable for cycling more than 15ish minutes. 

I could've gone for one of the smaller Smartbags (25L) but then I definitely wouldn't have fit everything in, and although I really like the look of the Plume 20, it's not suitable for cycling, so I'll stick to a trusty rucksack like I have done since school age. (This is why I don't have handbags and wear skirts and heels to work - blame the bike) :) 

FitBits | fitness rucksack review Karkoa Smartbag 40
All hail the chest strap!

The quality of the bag seems to be really good and well made, so in all, a really decent, intelligent and practical sports bag for active people on the go. One thing I would change though is another strap for support when cycling, and also maybe another smaller pocket on the outside for keys etc. 

I'd mayyyyybe also add a loop in to keep the bike lock on the outside rather than having to open the whole bag each time you want to lock up, but that's just personal preference based on my previous rucksack. 

At €89, it's not cheap, but I'd say pretty worth it if you're gymming or bootcamping a lot pre and post-work and are looking for a flexible, well-thought-out solution. 

Check out Karkoa's range of bags on their website.

*DISCLAIMER: I was provided the Smartbag 40 in return for writing about it. All opinions and comparisons of myself and 12 year old children my own.


How do you pack your bag for the gym / workouts? 

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Finding my fit with Fitbitch bootcamp

I'm no stranger to early morning bootcamp - after all, it's how I started my fitness journey, five years ago. What started as a last-ditch attempt to lose weight (for no real reason other than I just wanted to look thinner), soon turned into a full on love affair with morning workouts.

I loved the group atmosphere, the fact that I didn't have to think about what I was doing and just do what I was told, and of course, the results. I got fit pretty quickly and started to actually feel good about myself, all the while forgetting the original reason of starting: to look slimmer and achieve that 'perfect' body.

Somewhere along the way, fitness became fun, and it didn't matter what I looked like any more.

if you're interested).

Over the past few weeks I've been finding my fitness mojo again with the help of Fitbitch Bootcamp in Brighton, who put on a range of fitness and running classes on just for women.  

And as you know, being This Girl Can Sussex Ambassador means I'm all up for finding fun ways to get more women active :) (btw stay tuned for more TGC fun over the coming weeks, me and Active Sussex have got some sick plans, yo). 

Founded by PT, journalist and women's fitness champion, Rachael Woolston, Fitbitch run a range of camp locations and personalised courses across Brighton, Worthing and Lewes. 

There's everything from one-week Body Blitz camps to four-week body transformation courses, obstacle training, running courses (learn to run 5 or 10k, smash your PB or build up your mileage) and even Girls Run the World trips to places and running races around the world. 

Check out the courses on offer here


One week Body Blitz (aka kick up the backside)

In August, I did the one-week Body Blitz camp, to kickstart me into morning workouts again after my mountain bike accident. I've been back on the bike for nearly a couple of months now but still trying to claw back my overall fitness with running and HIIT training, so this is the kick up the backside I needed.

Body Blitz camps run on specific dates with daily bootcamp classes from Monday to Friday, costing £60 for the week including the Fitbitch eating plan. Most clients on this camp lose between 3-4lb - I did the camp without the food plan and still lost 2lb when I weighed myself seven days apart. 

Although for me, I'm not too bothered about actual number on the scale, more fat loss, muscle growth and getting back to fitness, which comes hand in hand with the numbers on the scale going down a bit. 

The sessions I went to ran from 7-7:45am down at Hove Lawns, and included boxing circuits, resistance sprint training, beach running, bodyweight and kettlebell drills. 

My shoulder and wrist wouldn't initially let me do some of the exercises like press ups and kettlebell swings, but I'm working on this now building strength back up slowly. 

It was good to stick a pair of boxing gloves back on again too, although a bit strange to go back to a boxercise approach rather than 'proper' boxing, and training for a fight. Next year I'll get back in that ring dammit!

Having a lie down, obviously

I'm just glad to get back on the morning workouts - I always feel better when I start the day with a sweat. It sets me right up, I feel more energised, alert, productive at work and am generally just a happier person if I can sail into the day ahead on a wave of endorphins.

The Body Blitz course is a great one for beginners or those returning to fitness from injury or a break. Having to get up nice and early to join the (friendly and supportive) group means you can't just hit the snooze button again, and the sessions are fun and different every day so you don't get bored. 


Four week Reboot - (aka sorting it aaaaat!) 

I'll be working with Fitbitch more in the coming weeks so stay tuned to find out more about their other courses. 

Last week I started the four-week Reboot course, which includes three one-hour sessions per week, a Fitbitch healthy eating plan and a one-to-one personal assessment of biomechanics, posture and goals worth £50.

This course costs £140 (cheaper for early bird), and promises real results. You also get some very sexy before shots taken so you can properly see the changes in your body shape at the end of the course. I'll spare you these just for now, but my stats were:

Weight: 61.5kg
Body fat: 37.2(!!)
Muscle mass: 22.6
Water: 46.4
BMI: 28.4
Progress! Now able to swing a kettlebell again, just not single hand ones yet :)

Over the last week since starting Reboot, I've got right back into proper training (Fitbitch and otherwise), found my morning mojo, eaten mostly healthy, cut caffeine and break the cycle of sugar-dependency that I was so deep into (after three days of intense headaches), and felt pretty amazing tbh. 

I've started building strength back up in my shoulder and wrist, and started running again after weeks and weeks of telling everyone else and myself that I can't possibly run at the moment, my body won't let me.

It will, Tess. You have to actually do that thing called GO FOR A RUN.
What healthy looks like

My training has looked like this:

MON: Bootcamp - boxing drills
TUE: Bootcamp - kettlebells & core
WED: Lunchtime spin class
THU: PM 13 mile cycle ride (early morning meeting in London meant I missed bootcamp boooo)
SAT: 6 mile run
SUN: run later on hopefully

I'm really excited about really finding my fit again, and getting my head back in the zone.

Unfortunately though, over this weekend I've had some bad family news so have had a bit of a slip eating-wise (massive comfort eater over here), and it means I'm probably gonna have to miss bootcamp next week, but I'm gonna try and keep active to clear my head and eat as healthily as I can so I don't lose the progress I've made.

I guess that's when running turns into therapy isn't it, when you need it the most?

Find out more about Fitbitch bootcamps, courses, classes and personalised service on their website and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages

*DISCLAIMER: I was provided bootcamp classes in exchange for writing about my experience - all opinions (and hopefully results!) my own :) 


How do you find your fitness mojo when it goes walkies? Do you like group workouts?

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