December 14, 2011

Rider Fitness

Let's talk about rider fitness.  I'm genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say about this one, regardless of who you are, so comment away!  I want to know what makes people tick and why they do or don't work out.  No judging whatsoever here, just genuine curiosity.

I'm currently in the best shape of my life, and it's having such a dramatic effect on my riding that I make time, no matter what my schedule is like, to work out, and hard.  There's no super secret method to my motivation, besides not ignoring my alarm clock when it goes off at 5:40am on days that I ride.  I just want it that badly.  I look at the strength I've gained, and I decide at every workout that I don't want to lose it.  That's not to say I'm perfect; I had three days in a row off last week, and I definitely like my beer and bread!  But knowing that it's not helping me achieve my goal makes it easier to ignore it...most of the time.

It's not always been easy.  I've been a lifelong team sport athlete, so without a coach, I understand fully the feeling of walking into a gym alone and going, "...why am I here and what is all this for?"  Put simply, I have always needed a coach to kick my ass, and I still do.  It wasn't until I started doing Crossfit, did six weeks of personal training, and really learned why I do what I do in the gym that it all clicked for me, and I became officially addicted.
Six months ago


So what prevents you from working out?  Really, get to the bottom of it.  Don't say lack of time, because there's always an excuse buried deeper than 'lack of time'.  Fear of being ridiculed?  Not knowing what to do?  Subconscious peer pressure to fit in with friends?  I'm here to tell you: the rewards, especially in riding, are SO WORTH IT!  My trainer tells me to ride from my core, and I CAN, because I have a core!  She says "Ride stronger," and I know what that means, because I have the muscles to back me up when I ask my body to do it.

That's what fitness comes down to for me: having the knowledge that I can ask my body to do ANYTHING, and it will be there for me.  Run a 5k?  Sure.  Deadlift 145 pounds (I weigh 103)?  Absolutely.  Ride my horse from my core instead of my legs/hands?  Definitely!  Part of it is the Crossfit goal, which is creating functional strength for all areas of your life, but the other parts are being fit and accepting the temporary discomfort that working out provides.  Let me tell you: it's worth it!

So talk to me.  Why don't you work out?  If you do work out, how has it affected your riding?  If you don't, what would make it easier and less intimidating?  I'm not just trolling for comment love here, this is the one issue I feel genuinely passionate about in the equestrian world, and I want to know how you feel.

(I would like to add an asterisk: working out doesn't have much of anything to do with weight loss, only getting fit.  Weight loss is a whole other post that centers primarily around diet - and trust me, I've been there too!)


  1. You look great - you can really see some ab definition in the second pic.

    Working out - that is a strangely complex subject. I'm really chubby right now and it totally affects everything - including riding...

    Why don't I work out as much as I should? *sigh* I don't really know. I have lots of time and lots of equipment and enough $$ for a gym membership if I chose to.

    I'm not a very social person - hanging out at gyms or even doing crossfit doesn't really appeal to me. I do best when working out 1-2x/week with a trainer and then filling in the blanks on my own.

    I worry that I'm not doing enough reps/sets or the intensity is too high/low or not enough of x/y/z exercise for x/y/z muscle group. Cardio? No cardio? Paleo/primal this or that? Ugh. That kind of whiny worry often sidelines me enough that I don't workout at all for fear of doing something wrong...which sounds really silly when typed out in a small paragraph here... lol

    The good news is that I've started working with a trainer again and hope to make it stick this time. I like feeling strong and I know it can only help my riding, which is important to me.

    Phew! Sorry for the long comment...

  2. Laura, love it! Way to go for picking it back up. You touched on something I believe in but totally forgot to mention in my post, which is that you've got to find the thing that works for YOU, whatever that 'thing' is, regardless of what everyone else is doing.

    I think your feelings on doing it "right" on the gym are more common than us perfectionists think. I'm so afraid of doing it wrong, which is part of the reason Crossfit, with it's essentially 1:4trainer/athlete ratio, works really well for me; lots of personal attention. But I understand that the group stuff doesn't work for anything.

    Good luck with it, you've got a workout supporter here always!