Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio - Pilates Gets You Fitter Than You Think
Working on our trot. He's starting to offer some passagy-trot which is fantastic and his mediums and extendeds are getting lovely.

Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio – Pilates Gets You Fitter Than You Think

If you missed the other learnings and are interested in checking those out, here they are.

Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio – The Beginning
Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio – The Born Non-Athlete
Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio – Changing Posture
Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio – Injury, Emergencies and Keeping Your Seat
Ride Advanced Physio Clinic – September 2022
Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio – A Year of Pilates

So I’ve been pretty quiet this year on Decidedly Equestrian.  As mentioned in a blog post earlier this year, things are a changing around here and I’ve been putting some focus into other places.  That includes my personal fitness!  After the winter from hell (at least by California standards) I went out and joined OrangeTheory at the end of March.  I want to be clear that this is not an advertisement for OrangeTheory (which is awesome and I recommend it if you like having a scheduled class to motivate you).  I’m solidly talking about Pilates today…but it’s relevant to this whole thing today.

So…I joined OrangeTheory…why?  Well I’m turning 39 in a few months.  I’ve never finished losing all the weight or “getting my body back” after having Derby.  There are things that are weaker on my body.  I didn’t feel like I was getting enough cardio with just riding and walks around the neighborhood (and chasing Derby around the house).  I liked what Pilates had done for my body awareness, but it wasn’t quite giving me the fitness boost I wanted…and wasn’t making visual physical changes the way I was hoping.  Enter these crazy OrangeTheory classes.  I was scared going in.  I won’t lie.  I wasn’t sure I’d like them.  I wasn’t sure I was fit enough to do them.  Turns out…I was…miracle of miracles!

Well the cool thing about the way the class is structured is really you can go at your own pace/weights without pressure (like some damaging boot camp type classes I’ve done before where I injured myself).  So for me it works out as I’m not hurting myself…but still pushing myself.  Again…not an advertisement for OrangeTheory…but I’m getting to my point.  Hold on.

A standard class at OrangeTheory.

First class I went in and went all out.  37 splat points…that is 37 minutes in the Orange or Red heart rate zone (so 84%+ of my max heart rate).  Your aim for class is 12…or more…I actually had no trouble completing the class (as I thought I might).  I also was dramatically and extremely sore in one particular location…my quads.  Why?  I’m a dressage rider…I don’t use those…lol. Everything else though was shockingly fine!

Here’s where the Pilates comes in.  I was ONLY sore on my quads.  My butt was great…even with the butt/leg heavy first class.  Moving forward into other classes…I noticed myself crushing the core exercises with ease (or going…”crunches are stupid and useless, let me throw in some Pilates exercise I’ve learned instead here”).  I looked around at all of these extremely fit people that were flying running on the treadmill and lifting stupid heavy weights…struggling to do the basic core exercises in this class.  I still see that in class.  Every time.  Wow.  The core work of each class is literally my rest break.  Why?  I can only point to the Pilates.  It’s not the riding I’m doing.  I mean…in the past things that involved core weren’t easy to me and I rode a lot more.  Planks…ugh.  Push ups…holy hell no!  Bear rows…wtf?!

Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio - Pilates Gets You Fitter Than You Think
Lead Change Enthusiasm

But now they’re simple.  I’m doing push ups.  I have never done push ups with much success.  I can do Bear rows all day…  Plank Bird Dogs?  Yup, those are fine.  Crunches…totally useless and stupid and easy.  I’m flabbergasted.  Honestly.

Even my cardio was much better than I thought.  Having never used a rowing machine, (evidently I was born to do that…because I think it’s fun) I’m somehow pretty fast at it already.  Turns out one of the things that helps you become a good rower is a strong core!  How about that?

I have slowed down on my Pilates only work the last month due to just being so freaking busy…and exhausted…from doing these other classes, but I have continued to add in Pilates work during my OrangeTheory when I feel I’m not being challenged by what they’re presenting.  I need to dive back in and add it back at least two days a week of focus…because as my foray into the gym has gone this time…Pilates makes everything easier.

Pilates for Riders – Ride Advanced Physio - Pilates Gets You Fitter Than You Think
Mid Change. As you can see Jax is enthusiastic. Things aren’t always smooth in the changes. Thank goodness for all these Pilates so I don’t throw out my back!

Why?  1. Body awareness and feeling when muscles are engaging or not engaging correctly.  I know now it takes about 5 minutes for me to warm up my legs/glutes on the tredmill to be able to move correctly and use the right muscles.  Before Pilates I never understood what was happening…and now I know exactly to the second when my glutes fire up and things start going easier.  2. Base strength and support for your core helps you keep better form and posture.  If you have a strong support base in your body, isolation exercises become easier and full body exercises become more correct in form. 3.  All the reasons I’ve said before with my riding blogs still stand as excellent reasons to add Pilates to your fitness plan for riding.

If you’re interested in making some big changes in your riding (and life) for a small financial and time investment (and by small I mean…15-20 minutes a workout…and $50 a month…quick and painless even during these expensive times (and certainly a LOT less expensive than OrangeTheory…it’s a bargain), I highly suggest you give Ride Advanced Physio Pilates for Riders Program a chance for a few months and see what it can do for your riding and your general health and body awareness.  It might be the single best thing I’ve done to improve my riding and general fitness…ever.