Each time I have a lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, I ask what's the one thing that I really need to focus on. Knowing that my sitting trot still needs work, she (jokingly) suggested I ride without stirrups. Since I never do anything half-assed, I took her suggestion to heart and pulled my stirrups off my saddle.
Simply crossing them over Speedy's withers made it too easy to drop them back down. Yanking them off meant I had to tough it out, and I have. For several weeks I've been running through all of the movements at Second Level including the medium trot and counter canter without stirrups.
The two things I am focusing on are 1) letting my legs hang without gripping, and 2) resting on my seat bones. I can't say yet whether it's helping, but I figure it can't hurt.
As a fifth grade teacher, I am required by law to teach 100 minutes of P.E. each week. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we play a game. This week it's been Quarter Football - it's football without a ball! On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we run and exercise.
During yesterday's exercises, I was explaining, like I always do, why we need to be fit. And then because I couldn't help it, I showed the kids how each exercise helps me be a better rider.
Almost every exercise we do focuses on core strength and balance. Front and back flamingos are a perfect example. In the flamingo, you hold one leg up while trying to stand perfectly still as you count to ten.
One of their favorite exercises is standing on a tight rope. In this balance exercise, you place one foot directly in front of the other, bend your knees slightly, stretch your arms out for balance, and close your eyes. Then we count to ten. It is is MUCH harder than you'd think!
The butterfly stretch is a favorite of mine, especially if I've just had a hard rider or maybe done some bareback work.
The list of exercises varies from day to day; I let the kids pick. We also do curl-ups, planks, cherry pickers, trunk lifts (think of a seal raising it's neck), and a variety of arm stretches. I lead the exercises from the front, and do each one with the kids.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are my favorite P.E. days, but the kids prefer game day. If they all had ponies at home, think how much more fun P.E. would be. There would be no end to the riding exercises we could do!
If this isn't an over-done topic, I don't know what is. Every equestrian magazine in the world does a rider fitness article at least once a year, probably even more. It's an issue we all face and (I think) hate equally. Even so, here I go ...
My weight goes up and down every few years. It's not like I get really heavy, but I am definitely two sizes more than I'd like, and on a 5'3" frame, that means tubby. Carrying that extra weight is frustrating because both my husband and I already maintain a very healthy lifestyle. There's not a lot I can just cut out to easily drop five to ten pounds. We live an active lifestyle and eat really well: no fast food, no sodas, no coffee, I eat a healthy protein breakfast every day, I pack a lunch, and I cook dinner nightly.
The only way for me to drop some weight is to move more. Like everyone else, I already use all of the minutes in my twenty-four day. I leave for work around 6:00 a.m. and get home from the barn around 6:00 p.m. I cook dinner, spend an hour or two with my husband and the dogs, and then it's off to bed. That means that if I want to increase my exercise, I have to do it at 4:30 a.m. So that's what I am doing.
I got back on the treadmill in mid-January and have been slowly increasing my speed and distance. my goal is always to keep my average pace at 6 miles per hour, a 10-minute mile. In the beginning, I ran for 15 minutes, slowly bumping up my speed until I was running at least one 10-minute mile during the time frame.
I am now up to 2 miles in a shade under 20 minutes. I just reached that goal today (yesterday I did it in 20:15). Next week, I'll be running ten miles a week (I run five days a week). I know I am getting fitter, and I am definitely feeling stronger through my core, but the pounds aren't coming off. No matter what the scale says, I am certain my horses appreciate a fitter rider.
Do you have a fitness routine that is outside of the barn? Gym? Home? Walk the dog? Just don't tell me it's running 20 miles a week - thinking about the 10 is already depressing!
While I might not belong to Club Skinny, I've certainly lost a few pounds and inches since the end of summer. I needed to. I had let myself get a little chunky and wasn't feeling my best. Most of my colleagues and friends think I am pretty thin now, but I know what lurks under my waist band!
Funny story: I went to a CAbi party the other night, hosted by my friend, Shelly, a CAbi consultant. As we were all trying on clothes, I whined about my little fat belly that was pooching out under a cute top I was trying on. Shelly teased me about being worried about my "muffin top" while laughingly claiming that I had nothing on her; she had the whole bakery!
Don't we all feel that way - like bakery owners? Why can't we all own the liquor store instead with our rock hard six packs?
I've already written about getting my OH MY GOD! weight back to a reasonable level here, here, and here. After my last consultation with my nutrition/exercise expert (friend, Lori), I quit weighing myself and instead paid more attention to how I looked and felt. I have gained a couple of pounds, but I know those are muscle pounds (yeah, yeah … that's what everyone says).
My clothes are fitting better than ever, and I feel really healthy. My energy level is astounding: I get up at 4:45 a.m., exercise, work a full day, ride and mess with two horses daily, cook dinner, and keep our life organized and running. But most importantly, I am just genuinely happy!
My workout routine consists of a slew of exercises designed to strengthen my core and back while also improving my balance. Each morning I do a 60 second plank, several sets of exercises with my resistance band to tone my ams, diamond pushups, 100 jumping jacks, a pilates core exercise where I lie on my back holding my legs up while paddling my arms (don't know the name), and then I get on the treadmill for at least 5 minutes. I repeat the jumping jacks in the evening as well as 5 - 20 more minutes on the treadmill.
The last morning exercise I do is done while brushing my teeth. This one has done a lot to help me find my balance and to lower my center of gravity. I call it my Toothbrush Exercise. To do the exercise, you cross one leg on top of your knee and crouch slightly. I hold the pose for 90 seconds while I brush my bottom teeth with my electric toothbrush. I then return both feet to the ground for 30 seconds. When my tooth brush next beeps, I cross the other leg for another 90 seconds. For the final 30 seconds I return both feet to the ground again.
The whole thing takes four minutes; my toothbrush beeps every 30 seconds and shuts off at 2 minutes so I run through the cycle twice. I spend only three minutes strengthening my core, butt, thighs, and calves, but it is really helping. The bonus is that my dentist loves how clean my teeth are!
I obviously need to spend more time with my resistance bands; those arms don't look as firm as I thought! Things just don't stay as tight and firm in your 40s as they do when you're in your 20s (said with a deep sigh and a shake of the head).
Here's what I looked like last summer … Speaking of which, those exercise bands are calling my name!
Next time I'll share how my Nike Fuel Band inspires me to MOVE!