FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: 2018

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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

An Isle of Purbeck mtb adventure!

FitBits_Mountain biking on the Isle of Purbeck - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

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Here's a general rule: if you want a happy Tess, put her on a bike in the countryside, let her raz around the woods, or take on the trails. There's literally nothing better than the freedom and space that mountain biking gives me. It's my drug and I want more now, please.

There are no secrets here, everyone knows I love cycling. If you follow me on InstagramTwitter or Facebook, you'll know I proper full on love riding my mountain bike and am always on the hunt for new adventures.

So when Marmalade MTB advertised another Isle of Purbeck day trip in the middle of this glorious heatwave I knew we had to go. Me and Chris were camping in the van when I saw it pop up on Instagram and I booked it there and then on my phone.

FitBits _ Mountain biking on the Isle of Purbeck - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

The mini-adventure starts at the Boatyard Cafe in Poole for breakfast before boarding the ferry for the short crossing. It's the shortest boat crossing I've ever been on actually, at only five or ten minutes, and it took me to the most wonderful, happy-giving place you could ever ride your bike.

The boat (which takes cars, bikes, humans, maybe pets?) docks beside a gorgeous sandy beach - the kind that makes you go 'wow' if like me, you've only ever seen one for real a few times in your life. We slathered on the suncream and cycled up the road onto a bridleway that would take us high up into the Purbeck Hills.

FitBits _ Mountain biking on the Isle of Purbeck - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

The heat was immense so we took a wee shortcut across the heath to begin the climb and limit time out in the open. It was at this point, after a bit of faffing adjusting my gears that we realised my cable had snapped and I could only get into my smaller ring. Luckily, this was the right ring to be stuck in, for all those lovely hills.

FitBits _ Mountain biking on the Isle of Purbeck - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

The climbs were brilliant, by the way. I know I'm not the only cyclist to love a good climb - toughing it out to the top makes the descents all the more worth it, apart from anything else. For me though it's more than that, I actually enjoy riding the hills. The sweat that drips into your eyes, the breath you can't get into your lungs, the burn in your legs as you try to keep a good rhythm.

I'm feeling really strong on the bike at the moment - well, mountain bike anyway, need to get stronger on the road as it's only six weeks to VeloSouth - more on that later!

FitBits _ Mountain biking on the Isle of Purbeck - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Riding into the sea... 

So yeah, these climbs. Up onto the wide open plains of Purbeck with views out to sea from most sides. A glorious descent down to Corfe Castle to shovel in scones and snacks before smashing the climb back up and along to Old Harry Rocks. Beautiful Old Harry.

The words 'wow', 'stunning' and 'amazing' escaped my lips at every twist and turn on this ride. My legs felt strong, my lungs were full and so was my heart. I felt like I flew up the hills and soaked it all up on the descents.

The views were phenomenal and we stopped numerous times for photos and communal 'wow's' - something I was particularly happy for as I never get photos of me on the bike, and it's nice to have other people taking them as well as me!

FitBits _ Mountain biking on the Isle of Purbeck - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

FitBits _ Mountain biking on the Isle of Purbeck - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

After marvelling at Old Harry we descended back down to Poole and jumped on the boat for a post-ride beer right back where we started, on the very same table we had sausage sandwiches only a few hours before.

I don't know if it was the weather, the company, the strength in my legs, the scenery, or all of it combined, but it really was an incredible trip and such a mini adventure. One I'd never think to do on our own, not just because we wouldn't know the route but because we wouldn't think to drive two or more hours for a ride in a day.

But why not? It's totally doable and now we're looking at other places to ride for similar adventures.

I'm pretty sure we'll be back to Purbeck not just to ride but also to see the Castle and sit on that gorgeous beach. What else is there to see/do in that area?


Watch the video:



If you fancy a taste of these endorphins, find out more about the trip and other rides from the marvellous Marmalade MTB. 


* Disclaimer: We paid for our places on this incredible trip and it was worth every penny - book yours here








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Sunday, 29 July 2018

BMXercise at Lee Valley VeloPark

FitBits | BMXercise at Lee Valley VeloPark - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Earlier this month, for nearly two whole hours, I got to be 12 years old again. It was absolutely bloody brilliant and I can't wait to do it again.

Thanks to delayed trains it took me pretty much the same amount of time to get there from Brighton, and I arrived late and sweaty from the hot tube ride and 20minute power walk in the sun to Lee Valley VeloPark from Stratford station. (Why do I always forget how far these places are?!)

Luckily I wasn't *too* late to still get stuck in. The BMXercise session I joined is part of a series of events put on by Access Sport as part of its BMX Legacy Programme. Following on from the success of the London 2012 Games, the programme offers low cost youth and women's BMX sessions at tracks across London and now Bristol too, giving participants the chance to get fit, learn new bike skills, make new friends and gain confidence in a fun and inclusive setting.

My kind of fun! 


I was greeted by the lovely Harriet from Access Sport, who found me a full face helmet, bike and gloves to wear, all of which are available for hire at the VeloPark. This was to be my first experience of a full face helmet - and I'm not gonna lie, it did make me feel a little bit badass.

Being a regular mountain biker, I see riders in full face get up all the time, but they're usually doing the gnarly stuff I'm too scared to do, like the beasty black trails at Bike Park Wales and Forest of Dean. Which has got me thinking ahead to when my second full face helmet ride will be: back at Bike Park Wales next month for the Drop Zone course. It's about time me and Chris stepped it up a gear to finally learn how to do drops properly, and what better way to spend our fourth wedding anniversary mastering the art?

It's all part of my summer cycling goals, and I promise not to come home with any broken bones this time. Ain't nobody got time fo' that!

FitBits | BMXercise at Lee Valley VeloPark top of the starting ramp - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

So anyway, there I was, face fully in said helmet, on a mega light racing BMX with just one brake (who knew?), following Harriet out to the pump track.

It's the same track used for the London 2012 Olympics, but has been remodelled for public use so anyone can have a go, with the most notable change being the reduction of the starting ramp to a more public-friendly level (although I'd 100% LOVE to drop in on the Olympic one!).

FitBits | BMXercise at Lee Valley VeloPark - Tess Agnew fitness blogger


There were two groups - one beginner, and one intermediate. I used to ride BMX growing up and as a teenager so had ridden pump tracks before, and along with my mountain biking experience I decided to join the intermediate group.


Pump, pump pump it up! 


With BMX, it's all about moving your body with the bike - so lots of pumping, leaning, and super-fast turns of the pedals when you get a chance to keep momentum. Pumping is a skill I need to master for mountain biking too so I was glad to get some practice.

We started on the flat practicing pumping on the bike to turn side to side without pedalling - so a mini squat each time, sitting back and pushing your legs whilst turning the handlebars to change direction.

FitBits | BMXercise at Lee Valley VeloPark - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Once we'd got pumping on the flat nailed we headed onto the starting ramp to have a go at dropping in and pumping up the first jump. It was at this point, when I got a real sense of how big the track actually was, seeing the height of the starting ramp and how tall the next one was, that I wondered if I'd been a bit overzealous of joining the intermediate group! The beginner group were practicing on lower parts of the track and on the flat just next to us.

I'd ridden pump tracks before but never any this big, and I know from riding singletrack that the ups and downs can really throw you up into the air if you go fast enough, especially if there's a lip on the ramps. We all took turns to drop in and before it was my go I was pretty nervous.

It's a thing I get with mountain biking when riding a new section or route. If I've never done something before, my body doesn't know how it feels to do it, so I get scared. There's still a few sections of singletrack in Wales and the Surrey Hills that I still 'can't' do because my brain won't let my body find out how it feels to do them. It's a funny thing, fear, but something I work on with every ride.

Time to play

FitBits | BMXercise at Lee Valley VeloPark - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

As soon as I rode down the BMX starting ramp and pumped up onto the first jump the fear soon went away, and after that, well - I felt like a kid again and couldn't get enough of that track, not even when I stacked it after misjudging a landing on a little jump whilst everyone looked on!

We took turns to drop in, pump to reach the top of the first ramp and turn around to pump as far back up the starting ramp as we could. The brilliant instructor Kelly was really good at explaining the best technique and how to move, suggesting to feather the brake on the way down (that means lightly touch the brakes on and off to slow you down), and pump at the bottom of the ramp to have enough oomph to get to the top.

After that we practiced jumping on the flat to get both wheels off the air. Like mountain biking, it's all about getting your feet in the right position on the flat pedals to bring the back of the bike up as well as the front. When it was time to test our jump skills on the track I went first to try a mini jump at the top of the first hill and promptly stacked it as I apparently decided to twist my handlebars whilst in the air. (Why?! God knows.) But it's OK, I got straight back up and was happy to give a demonstration on how not to do it - taking one for the team and all that...

A few more practice runs to pump and keep momentum on the first few ramps and then we had the rest of the session to ride the whole track and learn how to ride off from the gates. This is where the fun really started. We went off in pairs and in threes around the track, learning tips on how to look after momentum to pump round and ride more efficiently on the berms.

Riders ready, watch the gate! 


Some of us had a go on starting from the starting gates - which is brilliant by the way, and makes you feel like a proper badass BMX racer! I was thankful for all my trackstand practice I've been getting on the mountain bike as basically you need to push the bike up against the gate and stand on the pedals in a trackstand until it's dropped and you can pedal off.

The gate very handily talks to you and the traffic lights go from red to amber and then green when it's time to go. I was too busy concentrating on staying up right to really push off from the gate so didn't get the fast start but had the best time trying to catch up round the course.

BMX racing always looks really fast on TV but I've got a new-found respect for just how fast it really is now that I've had a go myself and realise how important pumping, pedalling and body position on the bike is for keeping momentum and driving you forward around the track.

FitBits | BMXercise at Lee Valley VeloPark - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

It was a hot day and we all had to wear long sleeved tops as a requirement so I spent the rest of the session in a sweaty mess as I razzed around the track time and time again trying to master each section.

I 100% want to do it again and am gutted I don't live nearer because if I did you wouldn't be able to keep me away! As far as I can tell we don't have a BMX track in Brighton but I've seen a few Facebook groups trying to start clubs and build one so will keep an ear out for news.

I'm gonna bring Chris up to the VeloPark track so he can have a go too, maybe after we do our Velodrome track taster for double the fun! BMX bikes and kit are available for hire from the Park and you can join any of the skills sessions on weekends throughout the year from beginner basics right through to manuals, jumping and more advanced racing skills.

The BMXercise sessions run are women-specific and fitness focussed, running throughout the year at different tracks around London and Bristol. They're geared up for beginners so if you've never ridden before don't be afraid to just turn up. I promise that whatever level you are, as soon as you get on that track you'll have the best time!

Find out more about BMXercise on the Active Sport website and all the bike-shaped fun available at Lee Valley VeloPark. 

*This post was not in collaboration with BMXercise - I paid (a very affordable price) for my place on this session and loved every minute! 


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Sunday, 22 July 2018

Escape to the sky - yoga on the i360

What if I fall? 
Oh but my darling, what if you fly? 

Yoga in the sky on the i360 with MyEscape and Nine Lives Yoga - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Pretty pleased with my excellent cycling tan :) 
I have a thing with opening paragraphs. Sometimes, I just can't find the words, and spend far too long trying, stuck in a cycle of writing-deleting-rewriting. This post is one of those occasions. How do I find the words to explain how utterly amazing it was to do sun salutations 162m above the ground with panoramic views out to sea? 

How do I describe the smile that crept on my face as I lifted my arms to the sky and rose up towards the clouds with them? 

Is there a way to make whoever's reading this know how invincible I felt in Warrior pose up there in that sky? 

Yoga in the sky on the i360 with MyEscape and Nine Lives Yoga - Tess Agnew fitness blogger doing Warrior pose

More to the point, is anyone actually reading this?! Never thought about that one, did you Tess. (If you are reading this btw, thank you, please do let me know! 😂)

Elevated, expanded, all-encompassing


Yesterday morning I experienced something really special. I mean, yoga always makes me feel pretty spesh to be fair, but every now and then it turns it up a notch to send me riding a wave so high it takes hours to come back down. 

I took part in the first of a very special series of yoga events on the British Airways i360. Like many of my friends and other attendees at today's session, I hadn't been for a 'flight' until today, so was excited to see what it's like. And what better way to experience it than a strong and blissful yoga practice?!

For me, the location of my practice really drives how I feel. I can create more space in my body and mind if the studio I'm practicing in has that space to give me - and I mean that metaphorically as well as physically. Some of the best yoga sessions I've done have been outside, in a wide open space, like on the beach, with the sound of the waves crashing in and the sun on my back. Equally, I've had the most empowering sessions in tiny gorgeous Brighton yoga studios with roofs shaped like chapels. 

But never up in the clouds with sky high panoramic views of my beloved Brighton. 

Yoga in the sky on the i360 with MyEscape and Nine Lives Yoga - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
More of this in my life, please :) 

Escape to the Sky is a collaboration between Brighton yoga warriors MyEscape, Nine Lives Yoga and Holly Cooper Yoga, sponsored by Sweaty Betty Brighton, Positivitea and Yoga Clicks.These amazing sessions will be happening monthly starting August 25 (Bank Holiday weekend) and cost £25. Along with the sky high yoga classes there'll be brunch events and a series of special events including hen dos, yoga raves, day retreats and corporate wellbeing packages. 

That's right, kids. YOGA RAVE. Sign me up! 

Yoga in the sky on the i360 with MyEscape and Nine Lives Yoga

This is just what this city needs. There's such an amazing wellbeing movement and community, with so much yoga, meditation and pilates classes in Brighton, but what was missing is this next-level experience. London, we see your rooftop yoga, and we raise you yoga in the sky! 

I honestly cannot describe to you the feeling of looking out to sea from that high up whilst immersed in my practice. Focusing on the glistening horizon and balancing so strong for Tree I could close my eyes and stay there. 

Yoga in the sky on the i360 with MyEscape and Nine Lives Yoga - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
It really was an experience to remember and if you're in Brighton - or visiting for the Bank Holiday - I urge you to come and get your feel good vibes right now! 

Sadly I can't make it as I'll be throwing myself down the mountain bike trails at Bike Park Wales but you can have my spot and I'll see you for the September one! 

Register your interest for the next Escape To The Sky, and follow MyEscape and Nine Lives Yoga on Facebook to stay up to date with news. 

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Monday, 16 July 2018

7 self care tips you need in your life

FitBits | 7 self care tips  - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

What does self care mean to you? Is it fuelling your body on a healthy diet of vegetables and lean protein, or finding an extra five minutes in your morning to meditate or sit down with a coffee before work? Is it saluting the sun at a beachside yoga class, or treating yourself to a walk to the office in the sunshine?

Or, is it grunting your way through a peanut butter and caramel cupcake after a hot and heady day at the office? So much grunting. That cake was GOOOOOD.

FitBits | 7 self care tips - eat cake - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Deckchairs and emergency sugar fixes - solves all sorts of bad moods 

For me, self care (or self love, being kind to yourself, whatever you want to call it), is many things. It's waking up early on a weekend to ride my bike, or sweating from my eyes at the gym for a banging lunchtime PT session. It's treating myself to a daily cycle commute on my beautiful road bike instead of lugging my heavy mountain bike round town (with double D-lock protection so this baby doesn't get nicked like the last one). And it's hanging out with the hockey girls on the pitch for another evening summer league match.

Read why being part of a team gives me all the feels

FitBits | 7 self care tips - join a sports team - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
The Southwick Hockey massif

But it's not all about physical activity. Sometimes I do actually slow down too, you know, and do things like booking an emergency floatation when things get a bit hectic, or swapping the Friday night pub visit for an evening round the campfire with my favourite.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I stop talking about how much I need to go to yoga and actually make it to a class or home practice. So for me, conscious self care - the kind where I'm actively aware that I need to do it rather than rushing around training all the time which comes naturally to me - is giving myself the greatest gift of all. Time.

FitBits | 7 self care tips - go camping - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
FACT: Stress is caused by not doing enough camping. 


The busy curse


The problem is I've never been great at doing it. I've always been that 'busy' person, 100 things on the go, with apparently little time to breathe. I live in my calendar, and my phone is my personal organiser for everything from my work schedule and appointments to fitness, fun, family and faffing about. EVERYTHING goes in my calendar, even tiny little reminders to buy milk or call mum or book the dentist. If it's not in there, it gets forgotten, end of, and don't even talk to me about the to do lists I've got going on in different notepads, apps and devices.

This past few weeks have been busy as I've been doing an amazing free Digital Accelerator course to learn the Adobe Suite and Wordpress to make myself a nice shiny new website for my freelance copywriting. The course itself is full time Monday to Thursday 10-5, with a study day on Friday and I've been fitting client work around this along with my usual fitness escapades (hockey, weight training, cycling and not enough yoga I can tell you!)

Whilst I'm loving the course and learning new design skills that will 100% benefit me in the future (and this blog too as I finally migrate to Wordpress), what I'm not loving is being stuck in a stuffy classroom during this heatwave, with 30 hot computers and sweaty bodies. I left the classroom today in a right old stress because I'd not been able to find a good Wordpress theme for my portfolio site (anyone got any tips please let me know!), and had trouble translating the horrific user experience that is the backend of 123-reg to set up my new site.

It's the first time I've been stressed at work in ages, actually, but it got me thinking about self care and how to step out of my funk so as not to let it drag me down for the whole evening.

So with that in mind, here's seven self care techniques you can use to reclaim that sense of calm. 


1. Eat cake

FitBits | 7 self care tips - eat cake - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
I honestly cannot put into words how good that cake was 

Or whatever else is your go-to comfort food. When I left the classroom today - early because I was in such a foul mood - I had the sole intention of locating the most badass, beautiful sugar fix I could find, and I'm glad to say I succeeded, thanks to Cloud 9 on London Road, Brighton. 

I rushed there so hard that when I got to the counter I had no idea what to order and spent 10minutes faffing about before realising the only sensible thing to do was to go for the peanut butter caramel cupcake. I'm not kidding, that was probably the best decision I've made all month. It was DIVINE. And just what I needed. No guilt, no scouring Pinterest for depressing infographics on how much exercise it'd take to work it off - just sit back, slow down and grunt appreciatively to myself for five sensational mouthfuls. 


2. Practice yoga 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - practice yoga - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Obviously. When your body is tight and your mind is frazzled, yoga is THE ONE and it gets me every time.

Read about that time I practiced yoga in the sky

I've been saying I need to do more of it for years, but have I made more time? No. Why? God knows. Probably that 'busy' curse again. Which leads me to the next point...


3. Turn your phone off 

This one's really hard for me, and something I need to work on for sure. I can't remember the last time I turned my phone off, can you?

I used to leave it outside the bedroom at night so at least I would get out of bed before checking my emails in the morning but I've slipped back into putting it under my pillow as I sleep. Mainly to not annoy Chris when my alarm goes off for 6am PT and he's getting up at 7. 

Now it's back to being permanently attached to me like a drip and it's gotta change. I've got better things to do than aimlessly scroll social media. 

4. Read or write something on paper

FitBits | 7 self care tips - read newspapers - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I've always loved physical print. It must be the writer in me. Since I was a kid I've always had a thing about magazines or kept diaries, but recently I've let myself forget the joy of putting pen to paper and turning a page. The only time I really make time to read a magazine now is when flying, and that's because the Internet isn't available. How sad is that? 

On the weekends I sometimes buy a paper and then promptly sit on my phone next to it, but this Saturday I actually managed to read the whole thing and it was really quite nice. Admittedly, I did get my phone out to take a photo, but for a whole hour I was engrossed, and that's what I miss. 

So I'm gonna stop saying I don't have time to read and make time. Watch this space! 


5. Book a wellbeing day 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - Anahata health clinic - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

A few weeks ago I went to a wellbeing day at Anahata Health Clinic in Brighton, and after a yoga class had an amazing and much-needed deep tissue massage. Why is it we never realise how much tension we carry around with us until someone tries to massage it out? My therapist Raquel did a blinding job for the hour and I floated away all loose and lovely, vowing to never let my shoulders get that tight again.

The Anahata clinic itself is hard to miss, with its bright red and yellow exterior complete with dragons to - in founder Deborah's own words -  'keep the bad stuff away'. The vibe and energy of Anahata is one of a relaxed home and comfort, focused on community and low cost treatments and classes. Like most converted corner terrace houses, it's deceivingly big on the inside and houses five treatment rooms, two movement studios, and 50 therapists offering therapies such as acupuncture, massage, reiki, life coaching and more.

To make wellbeing accessible for all, therapists offer low cost sessions throughout the week, with a 60 minute massage available for just £25 on Wednesdays with Raquel, for example.

Find out more about Anahata their website. 


6. Have a float 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - floatation therapy Float Spa Hove - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I've been harping on about floatation for over a year now. If you haven't tried it, you really must. It's quite the experience. For me, it's the only way I can truly shut down my body and mind and I always come out of it feeling refreshed and renewed. I don't think there's any other situation where you can fully surrender your entire body like that and just... be. Once the body lets go, it's easier for the mind to follow...
Read about the first time I tried floatation, and what happened when I did the three-day float challenge after injuring myself running. 

7. Eat good food 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - eat good food - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

OK so this kinda contradicts the whole 'eat cake' point, but if you do that one 20% of the time and this one 80% of the time you'll be just fine. When I came out of the F45 Challenge - read about my 8 week transformation here - I was feeling so lean and strong. I'd lost 4kg of weight and 2% body fat. I'm now trying to apply the principles of the plan into every day life but still enjoy some treats, but need to remember that they are just that - treats. To be honest, I'm kind of failing a little bit on the food front while I've been so busy but I'm sorting it aaaaaaaat, right? It's an ongoing journey for me, with some takeaway-shaped bumps in the road that I'm trying to get organised enough to swerve...




However you show your body and mind a bit of love, make sure you do it often. We're on the go so much nowadays it can seem really hard to just stop, but all you really have to do is unplug for a little while. The notifications, messages and bombardment of information will all still be there when you get back from your self care sabbatical. 

So go on, take some time to treat yourself. You deserve it. 

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Monday, 2 July 2018

The F45 Challenge and me - results!


I wore short shorts for only the second or third time in my life on Friday. Do you know how liberating that was?! I actually had to buy a new pair because the high waisted shorts I'd refused to throw out over the past couple of years incase I could get back into them are now too big for me! The other day I went shopping with my mum and bought a crop top to wear with my short shorts. A bloody crop top guys! This is insane.

Check out the cyclist tan on these legs 😂

Fitter, happier, more productive

I'm learning to embrace a fitter, stronger, slightly leaner me, (or as Thom York would say, fitter, happier, more productive...) after finishing the eight week F45 challenge from 23 April to 17 June. I say 'slightly' leaner because I could've been more disciplined, could've followed the plan a bit more to the nose, but I needed it to be sustainable so did it my way.

For me, this was only ever a kickstart to a longterm goal of finding my discipline again with my food habits. I think I've found it - I just need to keep hold of it now. Isn't that the hardest bloody thing? I can train all day long, I love exercising, but I also love eating all the food, all the time, and find it very easy to revert back to my old ways of convenience foods and daily sugar fixes.

The fullest, healthiest fridge there ever was  :)
The best goddamn breakfast of the whole 8 weeks - coconut overnight oats 😍


What this challenge has reminded me is how to nourish my body with what I put into it, and what I can get out of it if I do that bit right. It's all a work in progress but it's taught me a few things:
  • Working out so hard you sweat from your eyes makes you feel AMAZING. 
  • A watched F45 timer never stops (see Insta vid below) 
  • I don't need bread as much as I thought I did. In fact I've practically given it up without realising. 
  • Black americanos are actually quite nice - and my daily one or two flat whites are a thing of the past! 
  • I can keep myself fuller for longer if I eat enough protein (a definite work in progress and room for improvement here...)
  • Cashew nuts and coconut milk in smoothies is AMAZING. 
  • A low GI diet is my friend - my energy levels are so much better and balanced throughout the day. 
  • I need to keep taking my magnesium supplement for muscle recovery and good sleep.
  • I need more yoga in my life. 

Oh, and one more thing: 
  • I bloody love F45!


What is F45 anyway?  


It's bloody brilliant, is what it is. If you've been following me on InstaTwitter or Facebook, you'll have seen my posts about the challenge. It's basically eight weeks of training at the brilliant F45 studio by Brighton station with a full nutrition plan designed to lose fat and build lean muscle. For those not in the know, F45 is a fitness phenomenon hailing from Australia that's taken the UK by storm. It's functional training, for 45 minute sessions (hence F, 45).


There are multiple classes throughout the day, 6, 7 and 9.30am, 12.30pm and three in the evening between 5.30-7.30, and you work through each exercise in the pods in pairs. The sessions are HARRRRD AF and leave you sweating from your eyes and drenched in endorphins and post-workout high fives.

The HIIT sessions are relentless and brilliant and everything I needed in my life after getting nice and strong while weight training with my awesome PT. The F45 strength sessions are great too, but I focused on the HIIT as I was already lifting heavy with Pete.
Read 7 reasons why I love training with a PT here. 

Team training, life changing


I've always been a sucker for group exercise. It's how I got into fitness when I discovered how much fun Zumba and group bootcamp classes could be. The Brighton Central F45 studio has only been open for six months and everyone's achieved so much already. It has the most supportive, progressive family vibe. It's one thing exercising on your own, pushing yourself to do just one more rep, run that little bit further, lift that little bit heavier. But when you've got your tribe right next to you doing exactly the same, pushing their boundaries, sweating from their eyes too, and the PTs walking around helping those struggling, checking form and keeping you motivated, it's just SO MUCH BETTER.

Add to that the banging music (especially on a Saturday when they have a LIVE DJ pumping out the house tunes!!!), and you might just have yourself the best workout set up ever. It's pretty hard not to give your all when everything's in line like that, so you really do get the best from yourself.

The challenge - how did it go?


 

So the eight week challenge. How did I find it, how did I do? Not gonna lie, I found it difficult. But then if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing, right? The first two weeks are meant to be the hardest, the 'detox' weeks (hate that word). No sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, no starchy carbs - lots of lean meat, vegetables and a fuck ton of water. Once I got over the coffee and sugar hangover I actually felt my best in those first two weeks. I wasn't hungry at all and felt really strong in all of my sessions, including PT when I squatted 65kg for the first time.

It was all going so well until week four when I went mountain biking in Wales and ate ALL THE CARBS to fuel an amazing couple of days' riding (blog and video coming soon btw). When we were back I had three days straight back on the plan and training hard and then went on holiday to Spain for nearly a week, and that's where the wheels fell off a bit, of course. (Show me anyone who follows a healthy eating plan on holiday, 'cause apparently it aint me...)

This is what happens when you order a cappuccino in Spain 😂😂

I did plan to stay active though, but those plans of running and cycling in the hills were reverted to chill time when Chris got pickpocketed on the day we arrived in Barcelona and dislocated his shoulder. Luckily nothing was taken as he noticed and stopped them - although in hindsight we would've rather lost a wallet than sustained an injury.

So instead of an active holiday we spent it sitting about in the sun drinking beer and eating tapas - and to be honest it was a glorious and much-needed break. When we got back I went straight back to training and got right back on the food plan and within a couple of days was feeling fit and strong again. It's about balance, see, and it has to work for your lifestyle. I've swapped meals where it hasn't worked with me adding food to my heavy bags on the cycle commute to Worthing. I've had meals out (but been very mindful of what I've put in my gob and chosen lean meats and lots of veg where possible). I've even had chocolate and a few puddings along the way at family parties (goddamn the summer!), but I've followed the principles and made it sustainable for me.


One thing I'm very proud of is going to a family party and not touching a drop of alcohol, even though there was a FREE BAR all night. Yes, I had the birthday cake and all the food, but no alcohol, which meant no hangover craving shit food and ruining the whole weekend, so YAY me. And one thing I know I definitely need to work on is my protein intake as I actually lost a tiny bit of muscle mass too which I wasn't expecting. It's probably because I've not been refuelling as well as I should've done - er... Tess, that's why you need to follow the food plan properly, duh... - so yeah, a lesson learned there me thinks.


Results!


The results of this challenge attempt? I've lost 2% body fat and 4kg of weight, down a dress size, nearly two, depending where you shop, and am comfy in shorts for the first time EVERRRR so I'm happy with that! In case you're wondering, my training during those eight weeks typically looked like this (not including cycle commutes round town and occasionally to Worthing):

MON: F45 HIIT class
TUE: PT weight training AM / occasional hockey summer league match
WED: F45 HIIT class AM / hockey training PM
THU: PT weight training
FRI: rest 
SAT: F45 Hollywood class (1hr hybrid of HIIT / strength training with LIVE DJ - BEST WORKOUT EVERRRRRRRRR!)
SUN: Cycle ride

Not keen on putting my bum on the internet but hey, I'm proud that it's smaller :)
I think if I'd have done more F45 classes, or actually just been more disciplined with the food, who am I kidding, I might've got better results. Some people lost a huge amount of body fat, the female winner lost nearly 9kg and ate only one day off plan instead of my week or two so you can see that it really does work if you put everything you have into it!

But the thing with me (as I'm sure you know, if you read this blog regularly or follow me on social), is I don't just do one thing. I like to dip my fingers in many fitness pies, finding lots of different ways to stay active, challenge myself and have fun along the way. I wouldn't want to give up my hockey, or my cycling, and definitely not my weight training because that's totally my fave at the mo. I don't want to give up the HIIT though either and I definitely want to keep progressing towards my longterm goals of a leaner, fitter, stronger me, so I'm gonna have to look at this calendar of mine and fit it all in somehow... I usually find a way, don't I.  😉

The next challenge starts on 16th July and the lovely lot at F45 Brighton Central are GIVING TWO PLACES AWAY. Find out more and enter on the Facebook page and try it out for yourself with a FREE two week trial! (Warning, you *will* get hooked!)





*Disclaimer: I was invited to take part in the F45 Challenge to share my experience with you. All fat loss, self confidence, fitness and love for the amazing training and family at F45 are my own, promise!


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Have you tried F45? 

Do you find staying on track with your food as hard as me?!   

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