FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: November 2016


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Inflatable 5k Santa Run!

When the words 'inflatable' and 'santa' get combined with '5k', it doesn't take a genius to work out that it's probably gonna be a LOT OF FUN.

And alright I know it's still November but I also know that some people have already got their Christmas trees up, and Brighton's Christmas lights are already in place so don't look at me with your Bah Humbug vibes :)

Do  you remember the pure joy you used to feel as a kid when let loose in the soft play? When your mate had their birthday party at Jungle Tumble (Hastings kids will remember this institution) and you gorged on fish fingers, chips and party food afterwards.

There were no fish fingers after the Inflatable Santa Run but there were free chocolate milkshakes, a medal, t shirt and smiles all round.

If you look carefully enough you can see the word I'm saying rhymes with 'fit'.

There were ten giant obstacles to bounce, flip and boing our way around the 5k course - including one called the Leap of Faith at the end - a 5m(?) jump into a perfectly safe pillow of 100% safeness but which nonetheless turned me into a screaming terrified child as per exhibit a) below.

After a lot of deliberation and faffing about, letting far too many fearless kids go before me to show me how to be a grown up, I was finally about to go (maybe) and I BLOODY SLIPPED didn't I.

I slipped and it proper shit me up.

But hey. I made it to the bottom (This Girl Can innit), and we all love a good photo, don't we.

You're welcome :)

UK Running Events put on various inflatable 5ks and fun runs across the country (including one other Santa Run in Ipswich on December 3rd. GO GO GO! 

Disclaimer: I got a last minute free place as a friend couldn't do it. All representations of terrified toddlers in fancy dress my own :)


Have you ever done an inflatable 5k? 

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

10 things I've learnt about yoga

I went to a candlelit yoga class last night at the most gorgeous little studio you'll ever see. Shaped almost like a chapel, with clean white walls rising up to a line of velux windows looking out into the dark November sky, Studio iO is a sanctuary - a real secret haven tucked away from Brighton's busy city streets.

On the floor our mats awaited us - with bolster pillows and blocks to ease our stiff and tired bodies into practice. Next to each mat sat a single candle, giving the room a beautiful warm and inviting glow.

Lavender scented eye pillows soothed our overworked eyes, and devotional chanting and sound healing with kirtan and guided yoga nidra (meditation) fed our souls.

It was the most amazing 90 minutes.

Will from Awaken Heart Yoga (artist name ChidAnand)

If you're not up on the yoga lingo (don't worry, I wasn't until last night), allow the class tutor, (and Brighton's best yoga teacher) Holly Cooper, to explain:

"Kirtan is devotional song, where a leader sings and repeats for the class to respond. Devotional songs are uplifting and leave you with a greater sense of wellbeing, which sounds like what you're feeling."

That was the response to my gushing proclamation of my new-found love for chanting and sound healing in practice. It really was another level. I've never really got into chanting before, probably because I *still*, after all this time of saying how much I love it, don't practice yoga enough to really let go and give it everything.

I will though, I promise. I *will* make time for me every single week.

Holly (right), director of Studio iO and teacher at Holly Cooper Yoga & MyEscape (with Ellie, left)

To ride this wave of post-practice endorphins just that little bit longer, here's my 10 things I love about yoga :)

1. It may not be a priority but it's always there when you need it

Like a friend who lives far away, it's there when life gets too much. When you just need a sit down and a good chat (or chant), yoga's there, ready and waiting, with no judgement and all the time in the world to give to you.

2. Another level of you

It's amazing how much you can journey into your inner self when you truly allow yourself to let go. Ironically it's actually really hard to 'let go' and bring your consciousness back to the present moment and away from your ever-increasing to do lists, but once you do, it's something really special.

After practice you feel cleansed, free, leaving all the weight on your shoulders that you carried into the class behind.

3. It's a grower

That's what she said...

But no, seriously. The first time I ever did yoga I just didn't get it. I was bored and annoyed that I couldn't get into the poses, and wondering why it was all taking so long. I realise now it's about having a good teacher and giving it time, of course. Time in the class, and time to keep going.

We all know I'm working on the 'keep going' part, and I still can't 'get into' the poses either, which brings me on to...

4. It's your own practice 

No one else's, just you. Once you stop worrying about what other people are doing or what you look or sound like you can get on with finding your zen. That's why closing your eyes when you're gyrating around in a hip-opening forward lunge is always a good idea.


5. Progress is sweet

It's also pretty slow, but so, so worth it. When I used to go semi-regularly (i.e. once a week or once a fortnight to free Sweaty Betty free classes) I used to think I was still really crap. I know now, after tonight's demonstration of my no-longer-existent balance, that I have some work to do to build back up to where I was.

Looking back, I was actually very strong, had great balance, could hold the lifting legs in downward dog and side planks etc. pretty well, I just didn't know it.

6. What it feels like to have a body

I know that sounds ridiculous when you put the words together like that but it's true. The only time I ever truly know what it feels like to have a body, to be in my body, is when I'm doing yoga.

I come away every single time feeling more connected to myself than ever before. That existential level of consciousness always fascinates me when I think about who, and what I am.

7. Sun salutations are the absolute shiz

My absolute favourite thing to do, is very, very slowly, bone by bone, roll up my spine from a forward bend after a sun salutation, bringing my head up last. Hands to heart, eyes closed. Ahhhhh.

Makes me all giddy inside.

Warrior Pose also makes me feel invincible.

A photo posted by Tess Agnew (@fitbits_tess) on


8. Humans are awesome

Don't you think it's fascinating that you can go on such a journey just by moving your body in a certain way, or lying completely still on the floor? I'm so glad that somewhere along the line, someone discovered yoga and meditation.

If only we could bottle up these endorphins and share it around the world.

9. It makes you feel strong

I don't know about you, but when I can call Downward Dog a rest and have got my side plank or balance poses down without shaking like a plate of jelly, I feel invincible.

Need to get strong again. Which leads me onto...

10. I need more of it

Here she goes again, she's been to one yoga class in a couple of months, gets all gushy and has come home to write about it.

Yep, that's me. I will make time for it. I will goddammit!

Fancy some candlelit Brighton yoga? Head to to book. (Or hire the studio for your own class). Follow Holly Cooper Yoga on Facebook for daily yoga inspo even if you're not in B town. 

Want a taste of this sound healing yoga shiz? Watch this and visit


What do you love (or loathe) about yoga?

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PS. Step this way for more of my yoga ramblings... 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Setting winter training goals

Oops. The last post I wrote was about pizza and that was nearly two weeks ago. Bad Tess.

Not doing very well at the whole 'fitness blogger' thing at the moment - work's been busy and my weekends have been packed with fun things like weddings, bonfires and drinks out - which basically means that early morning endorphins have mostly been replaced with paracetamol and junk food.

And what about the evenings, I hear you say? Well, I don't know about you, but when I'm busy at work and have lots going on in between, I just can't be arsed with exercise and would rather curl up with a nice hot stew and magazine.

Just realised this is a massive de ja vu -> I wrote practically the same thing exactly this time last year! 

So yes... a line has to be drawn somewhere, and I'm doing it now. As we near the end of November and these gorgeous autumn colours turn to grey it's time to start planning my winter training goals.

1. Make running comfortable again


I keep flirting with this, getting out for 6am sunrise runs, clifftop jaunts and token parkruns, but am not being consistent enough to see results.

Consistency really is key with running - or any type of fitness - I learned that also on yesterday's 30 mile road ride when I had my arse handed to me on the hills.

It's time to make time, no matter how busy I am. Whether I like it or not, there is always at least half an hour in every single day when I don't need to be sat on my arse looking into a screen - working, writing or otherwise.

2. Swap this fat for muscle 

I've deliberately not said 'lose weight' here as I know focusing on that is never a healthy option for me. Before I started my fitness journey I hated my body, and would hide behind baggy clothes and chocolate bars on 'fat days' wondering how to sort myself out.

I know I keep harping on about it, but breaking my collarbone and wrist this year really has put the shitter on my resolve. I'm a creature of habit, with a very addictive personality, and right now I'm in a bit of a hole food and energy-wise, feeding my tiredness with the exact foods that create it. (I'm looking at you, breakfast, lunch and dinner carb-fests).

The carb cuddles have got to go. In come the protein breakfasts and weight training.

3. Build strength back in my shoulder and wrist

It's really easy to follow physio exercises when you have to take your arm carefully out of your sling to do it. Or when you congratulate yourself for managing to do a full arm rotation, or are able to finally lift the kettle after eight weeks of nothing.

I was so good at my physio in the early stages. As soon as the sling came off and I could slip my left arm back into my rucksack without pain again I stopped it dead. Literally haven't done anything since. Same with the wrist, haven't done anything to strengthen it, just threw myself back into work for a ridiculously busy summer and now I'm weak and they both ache one way or another most days.

Note to self: If you must throw yourself over your mountain bike handlebars and shatter your bones, LOOK AFTER YOUR THEM ONCE THEY'RE HEALED FFS.

I'm really looking forward to using the healthcare available at work to fund an reassuringly expensive physio habit over the next few months - for my shoulder, for my wrist, and my running. Tom Goom  - watch out, I'm coming for you.

4. Prioritise sleep

Oh here she goes again. I'm such a broken record with this one. 'Must go to bed at 10', 'OK, maybe 10.30', 'I know, I'll set an alarm to go to bed, that'll work' *immediately hits snooze*.

It's already way gone 11:30pm and I'm still writing so will have a go at this one tomorrow.

God damn my night-owl-ness. Does anyone else suddenly get the urge to DO ALL THE THINGS, WRITE ALL THE BLOGS, READ ALL THE SELF-HELP GUIDES ON HOW TO RELAX as soon as it's time to wind down and, oh I dunno, relax?!


5. Stop making excuses

Stop writing about it, telling people about it, justifying it. Just get it done. Then we can all get on with our lives, can't we?


Sound familiar? Or am I on my own here?! 

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*Bed time. This is the last blog I'll post at midnight I promise!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

REVIEW: MOD Pizza Brighton Marina

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

OK   I know this is a fitness blog, and pizza isn't always the healthiest choice, but you guys know I'm allllll about balance right? So indulge me. I definitely indulged myself the other night, that's for sure :)

When I got an invite to try out new Brighton restaurant MOD Pizza last Saturday I obviously jumped at the chance for some epic pre-long run fuelling. Situated down at the Marina, underneath the block of brand new (and no doubt unaffordable) flats that have just been finished, MOD offers a casual and comfy setting within which to stuff one's face.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
Tess Vangley eh... that's a new one

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

Brighton's full of amazing restaurants, and is of course no stranger to pizzerias - with little indie outfits popping up all over the place, and plenty of wood-fired pizza vans lining the city streets on weekday evenings - you can pretty much get your pepperoni fix from wherever, whenever these days.

MOD is a wee bit different though, I have to say.

If I said it's like Subway for pizza, you'd know what I mean, right? There's a menu to go from but you can basically add as many toppings as you like for one price - £7.47, or go completely mental and make your own concoction.

If you want a double thin crust with a layer of cheese, pesto and tomato sauce sandwiched between the dough, you can have that and as many toppings as you like for £10.47.

I know. It's obscene.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

I had a Sunday long run to fuel for and Chris got the double crust so I got jealous and changed mine for the same when I clocked his being made. I get massive FOMO with food, anyone who's eaten out with me will understand this.

I had the Seasonal MOD, which was pesto, rocket, mozzarella, bacon, artichoke jalapeno and feta, and I added pepperoni to it because I can't live without pepperoni on my pizza. Chris had the Mad Dog and added some bits to it but I was too busy salivating over mine to notice what.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

As   well as the freshly made-to-order pizza there's this amazing thin cheesy garlic bread which we basically destroyed in seconds, and a range of good ales, wines, soft drinks and what looks like slush puppies (on free refill I think - I didn't ask) to wash it down with.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
MOD's offering is simple. There are no starters and the only 'pudding' type thing is a cinnamon version of the thin cheesy garlic bread which I must try on my next visit because everyone knows cinnamon is the absolute tits. They call your name out when your food's ready and you help yourself to drinks and cutlery. 

It's comfy, casual, bright and (I hate this fucking word) - very modern. You can tell it's a chain, but that's OK.

There's colouring in for the kids and it'd make a great pre or post-cinema or bowling bite to eat at the Marina. Would also be nice after a few drinks next door at Spoons if you fancy something that's not just come out of the freezer straight into the microwave.

You'll find another MOD in Leeds that's already open, and one in Leicester Square and Newcastle opening soon.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

Find out more about MOD Pizza at

Oh, and in case you're wondering... I had a lovely long run by the way - fuelled by pizza :) 


What's your favourite food to eat out?

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