MOT massage

December 3, 2012 at 10:48
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Masssage, yoga and foam rolling helps keep you in touch with your body

When most women, or men for that matter, start to exercise or run,  they often ignore the need for massages. Result? Bang, that niggle turns into a full blown injury and all their plans to get fit fall by the wayside.

But if you follow a good stretching protocol, with a regular Yoga for Runner’s class, foam rolling and sports massage, you can stay on top of your game. It is how the elite do it too.

Even though Jessica Ennis may seem like a machine who never has a  niggle in her life,  she sees her physio, Alison Rose once a week.

‘It’s maintenance and making sure we catch things before they develop ito an injury,’ says Jessica.

Having a mssage can also put your mind at rest and reveal that something you were worried about as being serious is quite common. And it also helps you to engage more with your body, and understand all the cogs that go into making it work efficiently.

Take Jess for instance. She may have a tight hamstring but is it down to her legs? Not according to Alison Rose.

‘Jess might have a tight hamstring that is actually the result of a rib moving out of place because she has been throwing the javelin.’

Of course, we are not all elite athletes and many people put off massages due to cost,which can vary between £25 and £65.

But what is more important? Your health, and ongoing ability to exercise with all the benefits this entails to your mood and health, or four months of exercise followed by a months out due to injury?

We know which we would prefer.

Fancy getting a check up with Jessica’s physio? A full body MoT with Alison Rose costs £95, including treatment and exercises at the Coach House Sports Physiotherapy Clinic

If in Brighton, get in touch for our recommended massage and physio partners.


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Race photos

November 22, 2012 at 4:57
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Performance crew at Spartan Beast

Pictures speak a thousand words. Do you heel strike, are your hands hanging limp, is your foot collapsing as you take off?

All this and more could be divulged from a race photo. So, if you ran the Brighton Brooks 10k this weekend, or any other race nationwide and want the chance to get chance  find out what your race pic says about your running email us your pic in JPeg format and you could get a personalised report from top physio, Tom Goom of Brighton’s The Physio Rooms.

Email with subject Race Photo. If chosen, you must agree to having your race pic posted on our site.


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How to train for an obstacle race

October 28, 2012 at 7:41
Posted by Rachael Woolston



Forget road races or even mud fest challenges, the latest fitness trend is for extreme challenge races,with events like Tough Guy, Grim or Spartan Beast, this last which  incorporates 12 miles of off road running with a reported 50 obstacles.

If you have entered one, or thinking about it , be aware that it requires a different type of training than anything you may have done for a running race.

Here are our essential tips for what to expect and how to train for an extreme challenge race.

1. Running

Depending on the length of the course, you will need to build your endurance to run the distance, but crucially you also need to factor stopping and starting, and having to go up hill and down, usually  through mixed terrain which will include water, mud and sand that will stick to your shoes and clothes  adding additional weight.

How to train: Try a workout that includes one hill sprint followed by 40 wall step ups, followed by a commando crawl of 50 metres. Complete 10 sets. This will get your body used to the feeling of running on jelly legs.

2. Brrr….the chill factor

In the UK, many of these races are scheduled in the winter months, which means the air and water temperature are likely to be bitterly cold. Don’t neglect your cold water training.

Why? Not only does entering cold water knock your breath away, it will increase your breathing rate making you feel out of breath. Moreover, it can lower your muscles ability to produce force by up to 25%, leaving you feeling like a rag doll when you come out of the water.

How to train: Just as your body gets stronger as it adapts to using heavier weights, so your body can adapt to the stresses of cold water training. If you live by the sea, run through the water up to knee height for 10 x 100metres, with 10 push ups, and 10 squats after each sprint.

Also, go into the water up to chest height so you get used to how your body will feel, followed by some sprints.

No sea nearby? Try bath submersion. Sounds mad we know, but you may be glad of it.

3. Strength and conditioning

Many people approach these races as just another running race. They aren’t.

Climbing, crawling, swinging and perhaps even swimming all require you to use all the body’s muscles so don’t just work on your legs.

Train your upper body just as much, particularly if you are a woman who can often neglect upper body training.

How to train: Kettlebell swings, along with pull ups are some of the best all over upper body workouts. Try to combine them with something else, so again you are recreating the kind of conditions you may experience in the race.

To build up your pull up strength, try 5 strict pull ups on the start of every minute for ten minutes. If you can not pull up your own body weight, use a Power Band, and loop it under your foot or knee to assist (consult a professional personal trainer for tuition).


The Fear Factor

Ever found yourself unable to move, or not in control of your body just through fear? It could be simply trying to balance on something, or climbing but whatever it is, you will probably face your fears in an obstacle race.

How to train: Try and do all the things that you know might give you the fear before the race. If you’re scared of heights, try climbing something. Worried about water? Get in the water. But remember, being in a race atmsophere with everyone cheering you on will help carry you through many of your fears.


No matter what, you will finish a race like this feeling fantastic. Pushing outside your comfort zone often creates the biggest physical changes (the fear motivates you to train hard for a start) but also the greatest sense of accomplishment.


N.B Please note that this training is for conditioned athletes used to exericise. If you are a beginner, please contact Fitbitch for a training plan or consult a local personal trainer in your area.

Fitbitch is currently training a team for the Spartan Beast and will be conducting Performance Camps in 2013. Please get in touch if you are interested in obstacle event training for yourself or a corporate team.

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Are you ready to take on the Ennis Challenge?

September 17, 2012 at 1:58
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Looking ab’solutely fantastic

We all love Jessica Ennis, not because she is a champion but because she is such a modest champion. And then of course, there are those abs!

OK, so yes we should be happy with the fantastic figures we have, but who wouldn’t love a tummy as toned as Jessica’s?

Of course it takes hard work as her coach, Toni Minicheillo admits that the Olympic hepthalon champion does 150 sit ups, in five sets of 30 repetitions every single session to create a strong, core that looks this good.

But of course the real secret is that every type of abdominal work is different. Do the same thing and the body gets used to it, shock the body with an exercise it hasn’t done before and the muscles are forced to work harder.

Well, here at Fitbitch boot camp this month, we are undertaking our own challenge with every single one of our campers doing the Ennis challenge six days a week (four sessions in camp, two sessions with personalised homework). So, you can expect some impressive looking, toned torsos from our graduate campers this month.

Want to be in with a chance to do the same thing? If you live in Brighton don’t miss our next camps booking soon (details on  What’s On).

Live outside Brighton? hen don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to hear information about our YouTube channel coming soon along with the 28 Day Ennis Challenge.

Jess Ennis is wearing the new adidas women’s spring summer collection available at from January 2013. She wears Supernova Racer Bra, M10 Short and Techfit Perfect tight

Photograhy: Hamish Wilson



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Protein Supplements: Diet do or don’t?

August 13, 2012 at 10:24
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Last weekend, Fitbitch attended a workshop on cooking with protein powder that was put together by Anna Sward, a PHD graduate with a passion for strength and conditioning exercising, who has turned her hand to cooking with protein powders and blogging about it,

For many men and women, the throught of protein supplements, conjures up muscley men drinking shakes. While this image is still true in many respects, protein is important for both men and women, particularly those looking to get in shape and lose weight.


1. Exercise causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. Protein,  whether from food sources such as eggs and chicken or protein supplements, helps repair these fibres helping the body to create more lean muscle tissue. (Supplments DOS NOT as many people imagine, create muscle fibres by itself).

2. Beacuase protein is harder to digest, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

3. Eating excess carboydrate, which can be in the form of the obvious, such as cakes and chocolate, or in the not so obvious, fruits, alcohol, bread or pasta, and juices causes the excess energy to be stored as fat.

I decided to take Anna’s workshop because I have always steered away from using protein supplements, thinking they are unnecessary and no substitue for ‘real’ protein in for the form of eggs, meat, fish, pulses and nuts. I wanted to find out if I was missing a trick and whether protein powders have a place.

Over the course of five  hours, we made a mixture of protein balls, muffins, cakes, brownines, pizza bases and tortilla wraps, alll  without the use of traditional carbohydrate flours such as wheat.

From the start, I learned that protein comes in many varied  forms from whey to casein, pea protein to vegetable proteins, goat whey to hemp. (You can buy many of these from

All have a distinctive taste, although casein and whey proteins taste fake. Often flavoured with vanilla or chocolate flavourd because they are largely used in shakes, they tend to taste fake and no matter you add, it is impossible to get rid of that taste.

Hemp was a reveleation though. It may look and smell like the henna powder I used to dye my hair pillar box red as a student, but when  combined in food, it lends it an earthy taste, not dissimilar to the purity of a thick dark chocolate.

As for the recipes we tried, none of them have exact ingredients. We were encouraged to mix, and add until we  had the right consistency. It is an approach I favour because it is only when you don’t fear food, and are open to experimentation that you can let it stop controlling you.

But what of the actual outcomes?

Pizza bases? Not  pleasant and that was not just the  one I made, which came out the thikness of a brick.

If you are trying to lose weight, I don’t see why you would want to eat pizza anyway. And if you do, I’ve always used Lebanease lavash bread, as thin as fila so you get hardly any carbs but the taste of  pizza.

The cakes? Protein powders just add a strange, plastic type sheen to cakes and they just don’t taste nice. And I say this, not because I am a sugar addict accustomed to sweet, fatty cakes. For me the plainer and ‘purer’ the better.  If was to have a cake, I’d  use ground almonds, as my protein souce and just eat less of it rather than prtotein powder.

That said, Anna came up witth a neat trick of combinning whey protein with Greek  no fat yoghurt to make frosting. Now, that is worth trying.

For me, the take home recipe I’ll do again were the protein balls and the tortilla wraps.

For the protein balls, I combined whey protiein, ground almonds, coconut flour, nuts and seeds, dates and dessicated coconut in a bowl until it was thick enough to roll into balls. Some, I coated in 90% dark chocolate, others I left au naturel before ‘setting’ in the fridge.  They were delicious and very filling.

Really, you can only eat about two until it you feel like you have eaten a box of chocolates. Perfect if you have a sweet tooth and want your fix without ruining your diet.

My other must-try were Anna’s tortilla wraps. She combined pysllium husk, which  you can get from any health food stores, with egg whites to form a gloopy mixture and fried in a pan like a panckae with coconut fat. It makes a fantastic, completely carb free wrap and if you add spices and herbs it is really nice.

So, have I come round to protein supplements?

Lovely as Anna is, (and I urge you to have a go anyway) No. Natural food sources do the same job, they are cheaper, don’t contain additives, and taste nicer.

That is not to say protein supplementation does  not have it’s place for some people.

I have interviewed professional rugby players and triathletes who HAVE to supplement because the amount of protein they have to eat in order to ensure recovery is so great, they would be practially eating eggs and chicken all day if they didn’t supplement.

Other than that, I would rather stick with natural food.

For further information about Anna’s workshops and recipies visit


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How to get a tummy like an Olympian

August 7, 2012 at 1:35
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Misty May-Treanor shows how a strong core means power and stabilisation Copyright Getty Pics

Watching the Olympics, whether its the sprinting or beach volleyball, you can’t help admiring the flat, toned tummies of the female athletes.

So, how do you get a tummy like Jessica Ennis or any of the other incredible female athletes? Obviously, it requires a great deal of training and these athletes are not doing it for the purpose of looking great but to ensure they are stronger, faster or more powerful in their javelin throw, sprint, spike or whichever sport they play.

But even behind all of that training, it also comes down to eating well.

‘Diet is key as the surface layer of fat covering the abs needs to thin enough for them to show through,’ explains Jessica Ennis’ coach Toni Minichiello. ‘The first rule of six-packs is less food unfortunately.’

If you get that right, try these three exercises which will  not only help tone your tummy but help prevent injury, backache and make you a better runner (or javelin thrower if you fancy trying it out). These are all intermediate exercises and not recommended for beginners.

The Plank

The queen bee of core exercises, if done correctly this helps to flatten the tummy and protect the back. To do correctly, lie on your tummy, and bring your elbows directly under your shoulders, palms facing up. Come on to your feet so your body creates a straight plank, imagining there is an invisible cord pulling you from the crown of your head through to the tail of your spine.

DON’T: Dip your hips and avoid clasping your hands or legs together which just encourages your leg muscles and upper back to take over. This is an intermediate exercise so do not attempt if you are a beginner.

Tuck Sit ups

Lie down flat, legs out straight in front of you and then sit up quickly, drawing your legs up and in as if you are doing a tuck jump. Repeat as fast as possible for 20.

DON’T: use your hands to pull yourself up, or raise your hips off the ground. If you find yourself doing this stop. Also ensure your shins stay parallel with the ground throughout; bringing your heels to your bum is cheating.

Oblique Sit Ups

These work the muscles in the side of the tummy, which help cinch the waist in, and are great for bringing strength to twist and throwing movements, and also help power sprinters and runners.

Lie on your back, legs bent. Drop your knees to the right hand side and now crunch up in small movements ensuring your elbows stay wide in your peripheral vision. Ensure your knees stay down and that you raise up equally rather than lifting just on one side. Do 20 and switch to the other side.

DON’T clasp your hands behind your neck and cause strain on your neck, or flap your arms to come up. Keep your elbows wide and in line with your ears throughout the movement.



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Notes from The O…Rowing Rocks!

August 6, 2012 at 2:18
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Row for rehab, run or the sheer physical enjoyment

One thing  is for sure, Olympics 2012 has got everyone fired up and inspired to exercise.

It is partly because it is amazing to watch the incredible physical feats of endurance, strength, speed or sheer grace that athletes have demonstrated. But let’s be honest, this is mixed in part with admiration and ‘I want one like that’ attitude for their incredibly honed physiques.

The rowing physique is a case in point – who hasn’t watched our women rowers, Kat Copleland, Sophie Hosking, Heather Standing and Helen Glover row to victory this 2012 and not been in admiration of their incredible strength, fitness and honed shoulders, arms and legs?

And while many people tend to assume that rowing only targets the upper body, the legs, core and bum are vital.

‘Your legs do  most of the work,’ explains Anne Richardson, a coach for British Rowing. ‘If you arms ache more than your legs it’s a sign your technique needs attention.’

It means that rowing is a fantastic form of training for runners who are  injured because it works all the major leg muscles and really turns up on the glutes in the bottom. And then there is that cardio burn too.

Small wonder that the numnbers of women over the age of 45 who have taken this up since 2009 have increased by 40%.

If you want to try it yourself visit Explore Rowing, an initiative started by British Rowing in 2010 designed to get more people rowing.


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Notes from The O…Gaining an edge

August 1, 2012 at 12:19
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Mo taking gold at the 5000m at the World Championship in September 2011

This is the start of our daily postings on interesting facts, training or news from Olympics 2012. We can’t compete with the newspapers or newswires on who has won what (besides Twitter is faster than all of that put together) but we will try to bring you fresh insights into the training, the athletes or simply the reality of life in the Olympic village.

First up, what really goes into getting that elusive edge in endurance running as an elite athlete? Mo Farah, our British long distance hopeful for Olympic gold has spent the past few months training at altitude in the Pyrenees.

He is not a lone as many of Britain’s’ endurance athletes follow the same protocol, although the altitude they train in will vary according to their reace date. Farah trained at heights of up to 2,500m in Kenya or Colorado before dropping to 1000 feet at the Pyrenees as the Olympics neared.

Why head up a mountain to train? Because training at altitude increases the mass of red blood cells in the body which helps increase the delivery of oxygen to the muscles. (And if you’re a smoker, that is why long distance running is so much harder).

The downside is that there is a drop off in performance ten days after coming down from altitude with a high in red blood cell production four weeks on. So how is Mo Farah getting around this?

He will be sleeping in an oxygent tent to maintain the benefits until his race. Good luck Mo!

To follow mo on Twitter, @mo_farah.

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How to get an Olympic toned tummy

July 4, 2012 at 1:02
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Even a tummy half as good as this would do us!

With GB Olympics 2012 just around the corner, we’re being flashed with more images of toned mid-riffs than you see at catwalk show. And when it comes to the queen of the washboard abs, it’s got to be heptathlete Jessica Ennis.

Small wonder when she trains for seven events, from sprinting to high jump and hurdles to name a few, not to mention hitting the gym twice a week for strength and conditioning.

While we can’t all do this, we can do one thing that will have a huge impact and which the 26-year old athlete also does. And that is to do with not overeating.

AFter all, you can do all the sit ups, crunches, oblique work that you like but it won’t make any difference if you eat too much as her trainer, Toni Minichiello explains.

‘Diet is key as the surface layer of fat covering the abs needs to think enough for them to show through, says Toni. ‘The first rule of six-packs is less food unfortunately.’

So, next time you take up any new exericise regime, make sure you watch what you eat too, or you could be undoing all your good work.

For food and recipe ideas on our website, use the search button.

You can follow Jessica’s coach @Coach_Toni.

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