Tips For The Rider Who Hates To Go To The Gym

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You’re headed home from tucking Buster into bed with a belly full of hay, when your friend asks you to join her at the gym for a workout. You look at her as if she has sprouted three heads. “Uh, no, nope, nada, not going to happen!” Your friend pleads with you to give a workout a try. “You know fitness is important to us riders!” she states matter-of-factly. She rattles off some of the benefits of exercise:

  • Mood booster, stress-reliever
  • Decreases your risk of certain illness/disease
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Boosts your energy levels
  • Improves brain health, memory, heart health, and bone health
  • Builds lean muscle and decreases body fat – helps to maintain healthy weight
  • Improves your sex life

Why do you ‘think’ you hate working out?  Let’s look at two of the top common excuses:

I hate working out because…

1. It takes too much time.

Many people think effective workouts have to be 60 minutes or longer. No way! You don’t have to work out for a certain number of minutes or hours in order to get fit, be fit, or enjoy fitness. My top tips:

Related: These 7 Muscle Groups Can Make or Break Your Riding Performance

Set a manageable time limit. Something that is going to work for you, your schedule, your lifestyle. If that means a 5, 10, 15, or 20 minute workout – great! It all starts by creating a habit, then building on that habit.

Use compound exercises. This means picking exercises that work more than one muscle group. Think inchworm push-ups, burpees with a bicep curl and back row, or squats to reverse lunges.

Put it all together! Set your timer for 10-15 minutes. Choose 3-5 of your favourite compound exercises. Perform 10-15 repetitions of each, and continue the cycle until your timer goes off. Efficient and effective! Repeat 3 days per week.

2. I hate the gym. It smells, it’s too big, it’s expensive, it’s intimidating…

Guess what?  You don’t EVER have to step foot into a gym. Really, never EVER! There are thousands of exercise alternatives using minimal equipment that you can do far, far away from the smelly grunting hulks at the gym! Here are some great tips on working out away from the gym:

Build a basic, budget-friendly home ‘gym.’  This requires minimal equipment: resistance bands, a few dumbbells, and a stability ball.  That’s it – nothing fancy, but enough when combined with bodyweight exercises to get a fantastic workout in!

Use technology!  There are some great fitness apps that you can use to find a workout you love to do in the comfort of your own home.  In fact, you can even ask Google Home or Alexa to find you a workout! Check out these popular fitness apps: Nike+ Training Club, Workout Trainer, Fitbit Coach, Yoga Studio.

Take your workout outdoors! Hit up your local walking, running, or hiking paths.  See a park bench on your way? Stop and do 10 triceps dips, 10 push-ups, 10 step-ups, and 10 bench squats…then continue on your way.

Pick an activity or class you enjoy.  This could be swimming, spinning, yoga, pilates, barre, Orange Theory, or anything else that doesn’t make you feel like poking your eyeballs out just by thinking about it!  Do what feels good.

What other excuses may be preventing you from fitting fitness into your lifestyle?

3. I’m not fit enough to start exercising yet.

Being a beginner is the BEST time to start a fitness program!  Did you know beginners can increase their strength by as much as 50% (range of 15-70%) in only 8 weeks after starting a regular strength training program!

4. I get bored too easily.

This relates back to excuse #1 &2.  Pick a manageable time frame, and find an activity you enjoy to reduce your chances of getting bored.

Entertain yourself with a rocking music playlist, watching Netflix, or listening to your favourite podcast.

Find a workout buddy.  Your workout buddy not only helps the time pass quickly, they also keep you accountable to your workout! Skip the gym, grab your barn mate, and run through a quick workout in the arena or barn aisle!

5. I can’t get motivated to workout.

This is where you need to find your ‘why.’ It is important to realize that you have to find your own motivation to succeed.  What is holding you back? Visualize the benefits of building your fitness levels; visualize your outcome just as you would your training and showing rounds.

Set small, realistic goals.  This may be as simple as working out for 10 minutes a day for 3 out of 7 days.  Have your goals clearly visible, revisit or revise them often.

Reward yourself!  Perhaps a new workout outfit or riding apparel!

Make yourself accountable to your workout buddy!  Have a friendly competition – whoever misses a workout has to buy the other a coffee, bottle of wine, or has to ride the next lesson without stirrups! Ouch!

Remember you ARE an athlete.  Your sport requires discipline both mentally and physically.  So pack up your excuses and dump them in the manure pile. You ARE up for the challenge of becoming the best athlete you can be!

Written by Meryl Wheeler 

Meryl Wheeler is a former equestrian athlete who has a passion for physical fitness and health. As a Certified Athletic Therapist and adult educator, she brings her knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and injury prevention to create effective online strength and conditioning programs designed to help clients realize the power, opportunity, and potential they have to reach their own health and wellness goals. To learn more or learn how to enter Meryl’s 6-week Ride Strong fitness program, follow her on Facebook and Instagram

Written by Editorial Staff

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