FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: October 2016


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

How to make fitness fun

Let's be honest. Exercise isn't actually fun.

When you first start out (or come back from a break), it's harder than anything in the world, ever. If you're motivated enough to actually haul yourself out of bed or pull on your trainers after work you're hardly rewarded with a flood of endorphins straight off. More like a kick to the kidneys and pang of longing for the warm, loving embrace of the duvet that you left high and dry that morning.

Everything's all stiff and horrible. You can't breathe, your knees hurt, you've already got cramp and you're sweating out of your eyes.

It's probably your soul, leaving in protest, tbh.


So  yeah. Exercise isn't always much fun at all. What is fun though - hanging out with friends, meeting new people, playing a new sport, discovering new run/ride routes, seeing things you never saw were there before, even though you've lived in the same place for years.

Experiencing beauty on a whole new level.

Being a kid again. Playing. Pushing yourself to the limit. Or sitting back and relaxing with it. Clearing your head. Or working through the things that have been troubling you as you run or ride.

There are so many reasons to exercise.

Side note: And so many ways to keep fit in Brighton. 
Have a gander at this post if you're in the area and looking for something to do. 

I still feel like I'm on a fitness comeback since my very clever mountain bike accident. I'm not anywhere near back to my normal fitness - especially with running, as I haven't ran consistently for months and have been 100% in bed with sugar instead, so let's just say there's a lot more Tess to love right now.

But anyway, it's time to have another go at sorting it aaaat. A proper go. I've had a great couple of months getting back on it exercise-wise, and am finally getting organised / working on the food, so thought I'd share how I'm making exercise fun to reignite my mojo right now:

Buddy up 

Make exercise something you want to do, something you can't afford to miss out on.

I usually do this by getting involved with as many running, cycling, triathlon and other training groups as I can, which basically means everywhere I go - every single run, ride or class I do - I usually know someone.

It makes every session a catch up with friends; a shared experience. A common goal.

It's also harder to slack off when you're surrounded by others too.

Get it done. Have a chat. Eat cake. Repeat.*

*Maybe less of the cake if you don't want to be in the hole I've got myself into...

Follow a trail

Last weekend I joined a group of Brighton runners (many from my local parkrun) to follow an art trail around the city created by the Marletts Hospice.

Snowdogs By The Sea is a public art trail of 45 giant Snowdog sculptures (and 20 puppies), inspired by the much-loved Christmas animation, The Snowman. Each of the dogs is decorated by a local artist, with specific themes and sentiments running throughout. The 20 puppies are created by local schools and can be found in the local museums and libraries. (Yes, we ran into the library... quietly!)

The run was organised by the amazing Lucy who painstakingly mapped out a 10k(ish) route which led us to about 25 Snowdogs. Every time we got to one there were loads of people doing exactly the same thing - other runners, walkers, and families with children. 

What a great way to fit some exercise in!

Disguising your run like this into something fun and getting all cultured along the way certainly makes it more interesting than another aimless plod around your normal route. 

*The Snowdog Trail is on until 27th November, when they'll be auctioned off to raise money for the Martletts Hospice. Find out more about the trail, download the map and mobile app, and donate on the Snowdogs By The Sea website

 Say no to adulting 

I really can't stress this enough. Adulting is hard and should be done sparingly.

I've never heard such unashamed joy come from a group of grown adults as I did when we went mountain biking last Saturday.

As the gorgeous morning mist settled on the playing fields and rose up into Stanmer woods, I joined my lovely BTRS family for some playtime riding the singletrack.

Side note: If you like singletrack riding you might want a read of: 

It was a mixed ability group - some had never ridden these kind of trails before, let alone ridden Stanmer specifically, so it was a completely new experience for them. 

Before the fun ensued - breaking BTRS rule no.1: NO SMILING!

You know when you're a kid and you're in the woods with your friends, your parents have given up trying to make you come home for dinner and you're all screaming at the top of your lungs, having the time of your lives?

That was us.

We were whooping and laughing our way down the trails, getting excited to make it over obstacles; determined for another go when we couldn't quite do it first time. Gagging to do it again, and again, and again.

That's why we ride our bikes. That single moment.  

I wish I could bottle up that joy and give it to anyone who's having a shit time.

My point is - get outside and play. It'll light up your soul and cleanse you of any stresses.

Make a new playlist

People will have mixed opinions about this one but I for one am a sucker for a lovely new playlist, especially when running long (if not in a group) to keep me going.

As well as the lovely liquid dnb beats of Etherwood, chilled vibes of Radiohead and epic singalong that can only be found on a Biffy Clyro album (you haven't seen me singing along the Undercliff yet?!), I also like to listen to podcasts. Last marathon season I planned to listen to Serial but I binge-listened to the whole series in four runs when it basically took over my life. 

Although every time I run or ride past certain spots on my routes now I remember details about how Hae Min Lee's body was found, which is nice, but we'll gloss over that. 

Buy a new album. Set your iPod to shuffle - live dangerously. Or carefully curate a strategic new playlist to get you through those miles - whatever keeps you going dude.


How do you keep your training fun? 

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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

5 reasons to love autumn running

I don't really like running in the summer. It's too hot, I don't tend to have any big races to train for (read - can't be arsed), and I'm usually pretty busy with far too many adventures on the bike(s).

Autumn though. Ain't it spesh. 

For me, running season really kicks off when the temperature changes and the headband or snood comes out to play. When it's too cold to cycle to work without a jacket is usually when my thoughts turn to whether I should start thinking about a spring marathon. 

Spoiler: I should, and I am. 

Obligatory Brighton sunrise shot - taken on a strategically timed pre-work plod last week! :) 

I had one marathon-free year this year, after deciding to say no to marathon training after last year's epic Brighton Marathon PB, and to be honest, in terms of fitness goals and planned events, 2016 can DO ONE. 

I had so much planned but various health / stress issues and my excellent decision to go and break myself put a stop to most of it, so I'm hungry for another 26.2 challenge to realign my chakras. Or something. 

Last week I started base-building before marathon training kicks off in a few weeks. I want to get my body used to regular running again, and be nice and strong for when it matters. I'm not gonna lie, it wasn't very impressed with me throwing it into four runs last week including one off-road duathlon, but if it knows what's good for it, it'll shut up and get the work done. 


Autumn running rules. FACT. Here's why:

It's all yours  

It's pitch black and dead silent. The air is crisp, and roads are eerily quiet as you step out your front door. All you can hear is the sound of your feet pounding the pavement (and those of your friends and other runners if they're in on the secret too), and your breathing from beneath your snood. 

For a few precious moments, before the city wakes and the streets come to life, you've got the whole place to yourself. 

In the summer a COD run (crack of dawn) means getting out for 5am, which let's be honest, is more than a little obscene. The shorter days in autumn mean it's much easier to reward yourself for your efforts with a gorgeous morning sunrise or sunset.

I check the weather app and purposefully set my alarm to catch it sometimes, sailing into the office on a wave of Vitamin D and good vibes.


Play it cool 

Alright this photo's a bit past autumn, but YAY FOR WINTER TRAINING!

I'm a sucker for crisp, autumnal mornings where your face aches from the cold. We're not quite there yet but I can feel it coming. 

Cooler weather means cooler kit. Snuggly base layers, fun headbands, the essential snood - not forgetting gloves (although we're not quite there yet). 

I always run better in the cold. I've never been one for shorts - there are only two occasions that get the pins a good airing - physio, and cycling. 

Autumn is when I can crack out all my favourite kit and basically wear it all at once. 

Trail adventures

Is  there anything more beautiful than a crunchy carpet of green, orange and red through the woods? 

Anything more exhilarating than the smack round the chops that only a blustery, rainy run up on the South Downs can bring?

Anything more fun than a ploddy, playtime run through mud puddles, winding trails and up and over hills? 

No, I didn't think so either. 

Target practice

For me, autumn is all about setting running goals. Faster 10ks, a parkrun PB, spring marathon build up, getting strong - setting myself targets to give my running a purpose. 

I don't always meet all of my goals (the sub-25 5k and sub-50 10k still eludes me), but I have a great time being motivated enough to try.  

Plus, the reward of a post-run brunch, boiling hot bath*, legs up the wall and chill/blog writing time is too much of a pull to hit that snooze button :) 

The law of bath and pjs 

How to win at marathon recovery - spa day at Ashdown Park!

It's the actual law that if you get up early on the weekend to catch the sunrise or brave the elements for a battering if the weather's bad, you must be bathed* and back in bed-mode within one hour of returning from your run. 

You must stay in bed-mode for the remainder of the day, watching box sets, writing blogs, furiously shovelling warm, comforting food into your face, and humble bragging** on social media about how excellent you are. 

*Anyone else like their baths so hot they need to strategically lower themselves in over a 5 minute period amidst a flurry of obscenities? 
**Humble brags must include photos from awesome run. Strava links recommended.**


Which season is your favourite to train in? 
Do you retreat to the gym when the weather gets cold or do you get outside with gusto?

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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Women's Sport Week 2016 - Getting active in Brighton

FitBits | Women's Sport Week - getting active in Brighton | Brighton fitness blog

It's Women's Sport Week! 

Time to celebrate all the brilliant, inspiring, epic and awesome sportswomen and girls who are getting out there and getting active, from grassroots to elite level. And if you're looking for a way to start exercising, why not find a WSW16 session near you, or join a local club or group for a run or ride? 

From 3-9 October, all over the country there are hundreds of free and discounted taster sessions and classes being put on by gyms, clubs, fitness groups and more.

You can find your nearest event on the Women In Sport website, and learn more about the objectives of Women's Sport Week here

Getting active in Brighton

In Brighton in particular there are literally so many ways to get active - it's no secret that I regard the city as one massive playground of fun and games. For me, being active is as much a social thing as it is a personal choice for my own health and wellbeing. 

I'm part of so many amazing groups and have met so many brilliant people through fitness that it's really just one big catch up every time I head out for a run, ride or session. 

And that's the key - find something you love doing, with people who inspire and encourage you to keep doing it. (Or distract you from the pain with the promise of good chat, post-session cake and tea). 

It's just a case of biting the bullet and getting along to that first session - once you've done the hard bit, the rest will follow!

The below are not all women-specific sessions unless specified, but don't let that put you off - us girls can show the boys how it's done! Most of these ideas are very cheap or free to do too, so get stuck in! 

Bootcamp / PT

Fitbitch - Fun, varied, full body ladies fitness bootcamp, running courses and transformation courses. Check out what's on offer and book at

FitBits | Women's Sport Week - getting active in Brighton | Brighton fitness blog

PT - I've worked with Brighton PT Amy Jordan at Love Life Fitness a fair bit and she always makes me work harder than I would normally (or want to!) to get real results. Check out the below video I made for Active Sussex and WSW16 with Amy and visit to get in touch. 

bfit - this is where I really learned to love exercise. These bootcamp classes got me hooked from the start. Loud music and a fun, high intensity workout - what's not to love? 
Book now at

Transform PT - Ah, where it all began. After starting Weight Watchers and plateauing with my weight loss I bought a four-week Groupon of three bootcamp classes a week. Best thing I ever did as somewhere along the line I actually started liking it! Check out Rob's services and sessions at

Running, Swimming & Cycling

BTRS - an amazing triathlon training group with weekly run, swim and cycle sessions that you can do all or dip in and out of for minimal cost, organised by the most supportive, encouraging, inclusive and kindest person you'll ever meet, Kurt Charnock. You'll achieve things you never thought possible and make lifelong friends along the way. 

Come and join the family!! 

FitBits | Women's Sport Week - getting active in Brighton | Brighton fitness blog
post 6:30am intervals with the BTRS crew

BOSH Run - an awesome Facebook community of runners, many of whom are in Brighton and meet up for regular runs and at races etc. 

Join the BOSH Facebook group

parkrun - of course it wouldn't be right to not mention parkrun in this post, and in Brighton we're lucky enough to have a choice of four free weekly timed 5ks every single Saturday to keep us on our toes (or heels, whichever your running style). 

Take your pick:
Preston Park / Hove Park / Hove Prom / Bevendean Down 

Synchronised swimming - Yep, you heard me. The Brighton Dolphins Synchronised Swimming Team train three times a week at Prince Regents Swimming Complex in town. I had a go, check out the video below and read the full blog post here.  

n+1 - free weekly road rideouts from the n+1 cycle hub at Brighton Station, every Wednesday 6:45pm. Not many girls on these rides but they're a really friendly bunch and it's great to get out for a lovely hilly road ride with the boys - come along!

Brighton MTB - Facebook group of Brighton mountain bikers who hit the trails for regular weekly rides. I've yet to get out on a ride with these lot, need to get proper lights for some winter adventures in the woods! (although I am a little hesitant about riding in the dark as don't wanna fall and re-break my collarbone!)

FitBits | Women's Sport Week - getting active in Brighton - n+1 rideout
Reppin' the ladies with the n+1 crew 


Brighton She Shredders - Weekly girls-only skateboarding sessions at the newly refurbed Brighton Youth Centre indoor skatepark. I'm gagging to get back here and have booked onto the next bout of adult skateboarding lessons, fingers crossed for the final all-clear from the hospital on my shoulder and wrist before getting back on the board. If ever there was a risk of falling - skateboarding is it! 

Check out the video we made with This Girl Can and Active Sussex when I went for my first session last year (and read the full blog post here).



Sweaty Betty - I'm a sucker for freebies, and the free SB yoga class in store on Mondays with Sarah Williams (previously the lovely Holly Cooper) is a god send. If you can get in, that is. Book early at

FitBits | Women's Sport Week - getting active in Brighton | Brighton fitness blog

Studio iO - If you're looking for a clean, peaceful space of calm to soothe your withered mind and build your strong body as you practice, head to Studio iO for a range of different classes. They also do yoga retreats too. Namaste. 


What's your favourite way to keep active? 
Do you like the social aspect of exercise or are you a lone endorphin fiend?

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