Some of you may have noticed that over the past year or so, I have shrunk a little bit. Last year when I sent Presto off for professional training, it really and truly hit me that this horse was going to demand a lot more of me physically, and that if I didn’t get serious about my fitness, I was going to struggle to ride him.
At that point I was at what was probably my highest weight, or close to it, and while I wasn’t as concerned about that part (weight is just a number – I don’t even own a scale), what did concern me is that I was also certainly not at anywhere near my fittest point either. I used to do triathlons and bike racing (back when I had one horse and had time for other very time/resource/energy consuming hobbies) and I knew for a fact, if I was being honest with myself, that I was a stronger fitter rider then. But ya know, I’m also a bit of a recluse and absolutely ABHOR working out in a gym, so I just got myself an amazon spin bike and went to work.
While that worked great to help peel some of the excess weight off, what I was missing was the strength aspect. Especially a strength program geared specifically towards me and my body and my own personal struggles. I found some stuff on the internet (Google is a double edged sword) to try to make up that part of things, which is, uh, how I ended up tweaking the shit out of my back and landing myself in an Airrosti physical therapy program. Whoops.
All of this is to say that, having done it perhaps not the best way, there are things I would change if I could go back and start that journey all over again. One big thing in particular: I would get a coach to help guide me through a personalized program. I am the queen of winging it, but sometimes that just ain’t the way. I will say, back when I started all this, I did look at a few different coaches and online programs, but none of them really grabbed me. First and foremost because if I was going to be coached by someone, I wanted it to be someone who rides and really understands the specific issues/challenges we face. But I knew that I didn’t want to buy one of the self-guided programs, because part of my problem has always been form and I wanted a coach, not a cookie-cutter program. The only other coach I knew then was a big online one that I found to be extremely intimidating and just… didn’t feel like I would mesh with. I wanted someone that was approachable, relatable, and real.
Enter: Laura Crump Anderson of Hidden Heights Fitness. Man on man do I wish I had known about her back then, I feel like my whole journey would have been so much better-executed and I probably would have seen results a lot faster (and, uh, perhaps not murdered my back in the process). If you’re not familiar with Laura, she’s written a book of exercises specifically geared towards riders, she’s got a blog series with Eventing Nation, and she’s actually a rider herself. And not one of those stiff, serious, extremely intense, perfectly coiffed and outfitted uber-thin blonde ladies that seem to instantly make me uncomfortable (no offense to them of course, it’s just not my vibe). She’s approachable, friendly, very knowledgeable, low-key, and easy to talk to. In all the sports I’ve done and various fitness coaches I’ve worked with, I’ve found those to be some of the hardest qualities to find. Laura has worked with some top riders too, including Stephen Bradley and Jan Byyny.
She does her sessions and consultations via Zoom, which is obviously super convenient, and has a pretty flexible schedule so that you can fit something in around the rest of your life responsibilities. She also allows you to book by individual sessions, which I REALLY LIKE, because you’re not required to pony up some kind of ridiculous amount of money up front or worry about losing out if something comes up in your life and you have to take a week or two away. It’s nice to have the option of just booking one or two session to try things out before committing to dropping a lot of money. Her prices for one on one personal training are really reasonable too, with individual sessions starting at $75 and package pricing getting that price down to as low as $55/per.
For those of you who aren’t following her yet on facebook, she launched a new video series last week called “Strong in the Saddle”, which spotlights an exercise each week that she finds to be particularly helpful for riders. I’ve been enjoying following along and doing the exercises she suggests, and in this week’s video she also announced a really exciting giveaway for a free one on one Zoom session with her! All you have to do to enter is comment on her latest Strong in the Saddle video, plus you can get an additional entry by sharing the post as well.
I can’t say enough good things about Laura, so if you’ve been thinking about trying to improve your riding fitness, I can’t recommend her enough!