9 ways horse riding prepares (and doesn’t prepare) you for when you join a gym

  • While mucking out, lugging water buckets and riding without stirrups certainly develops your fitness levels to some point, there’s certainly no shame in wanting to go even further to ensure your cardiovascular health (and your abs) are on point once the summer season gets underway. One way of achieving this might be to join up to your local gym.

    Here are nine things horsey guys and girls will be prepared for — and also might be shocked at — when they first embark on a new fitness programme at the gym…

    1. You get the need to have the latest gear

    As in the equestrian world, looking the part is half the game (fake it till you make it, eh). While horse owners know the importance of a matching rug and head collar, gym goers are obsessed with having the latest seamless leggings and co-ordinated trainers. You understand that if your outfit is on point and you’re feeling good, you’re sure to smash your workout — either on or off a horse.

    2. You understand the principle of good form

    Your PT will already be pretty damn impressed with your ability to shift weights nearly twice as heavy as most gym newbies, but they are also shocked at your attentiveness when it comes to nailing that perfect squat technique. As your riding trainer drills into you every session — straight back, look up, push through your heels and you can’t go wrong.

    3. You’re not shy about getting stuck in

    With a vast amount of scary looking machines and even scarier pro-gym goers with gleaming muscles and ripped stomachs, it’s no wonder that many are intimated when they first step foot into a gym. Many horse riders will be all to familiar with sharing a collecting ring with those we call ‘the pros’ and the effort we go to when trying not to crash into one while we warm up before a class. But as with horse shows, we’re all here for the same reason, so get stuck in — just try not to drop a weight on that bodybuilder’s foot.

    4. You don’t need a workout buddy to get motivated

    You spend your days leaving the house at 6am to head over to the yard to get a quick ride in before work, and you often don’t see a soul until you get to the office. You’re very, very content with just your horse as company on the weekends and you do eight hour drives alone to far flung competition venues multiple times a year. So you certainly don’t need a mate to motivate you to go for an hour-long workout.

    5. You will get super-competitive in workout classes

    It can be hard to leave that competitive nature at the door, so if the girl on your left manages 20 kettle bell swings in one minute, you’ll do 25, naturally.

    6. Sweat doesn’t gross you out

    If you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right. You’re accustomed to getting down and dirty and covered in mud at the stables, so you’re certainly not going to baulk at a little bit of sweat in the gym.

    7. You might be shocked at the diet recommendations your trainer suggests

    When required to write down your current diet so your trainer can offer some nutritional advice, you’re both shocked and bemused when he suggests switching to six small meals a day made up of a mixture of lean proteins, organic vegetables and supplements. One: who has the time, and two: if anyone will be getting special supplements, it will be your horse — his health always comes first.

    Continued below…

    8. You don’t really understand ‘gym selfies’

    Aren’t you meant to post the picture on social media in the final stages of the transformation, in our case, complete with perfect plaits, white socks and a red rosette? Keep the training pictures for your own progress and show your Facebook friends the final product.

    9. Aches and pains are all part of the fun

    Sore today, strong tomorrow. Fall off today, get back on and have another go tomorrow. Basically the same principles.

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