When you ask the world’s best riders how they’ve sustained success at the top levels, most would agree with the importance of taking care of your body and overall health. The wear and tear sustained by equestrians is unique—the more intensely we train on the ground for the more time we spend in the saddle, the greater our need to refuel and protect our bodies correctly.
That’s not to say that if we splurge on a large pizza during the horse show weekend or skip the gym when we’re exhausted after the barn that we’ve completely failed in our healthy discipline practices. But if diet and physical training are not something that are part of your athletic routine, you could be missing out. Because let’s be honest—they do help!
So, do yourself a favor and set yourself up for success. If you want to perform like a professional athlete (and who doesn’t, really?), it’s time to break from bad habits and find new ones that will help you become stronger, fitter, and healthier than ever before. We asked Naomi Schroeder—social media maven, health advocate, and German polo player at the top of her game—to serve up some of her favorite nutrition and fitness practices.
NF: As an elite athlete, what value do you put on healthy eating and staying fit?
Naomi Schroeder: I put a really big value on it. I try to eat clean and healthy as much as possible, so lots of fruits and veggies in combination with protein. But if I’m in the mood to have an ice cream or chocolate, I would never say no (I have a weakness for everything with chocolate in it!).
What is your favorite go-to snack?
I love snacking on fruit like bananas, peaches, or apples. Apart from that, I always have rice waffles with dark chocolate with me in case I need some sugar before or after a game.
What is a normal training day for you?
I usually get up between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and I’ll head to the gym in the morning if I don’t have horses to ride. Otherwise, I’ll head to the stables first and afterward, I’ll go and workout. In the afternoon, I usually go back to the stables to either ride, stick and ball, or play a practice. After that, I check on the horses once again before heading home.
What types of exercises keep you in optimum shape for the polo field?
I normally do a combination of different workouts throughout the week, so basically, a mix of cardio and weights. I love doing cycling classes, for example, because it really [helps you to become] fit enough on the field. BodyPump is a whole body workout with weights, which is very helpful as well because in one hour, you can train all different parts and muscles of your body.
In Hamburg, Germany where I live, we have a new gym called URBAN HEROES that does a mix of really exhausting cardio and weights, which I absolutely love. After doing this class, you really know that you’ve done all that you possibly could.
What’s on your workout playlist right now?
I love listening to Argentine music while working out. If I do a really tough workout, I’ll listen to songs from Steve Aoki and other DJ’s.
Can you describe your typical post-workout and riding recovery program?
After riding, I don’t really have a proper recovery process, except eating something with high protein—for example, some chicken with a nice salad. After going to the gym, I usually always drink a protein shake, which helps me recover from muscle soreness.
What Instagram accounts do you follow for healthy recipes?
I also follow some cafes and restaurants that inspire me:
What are you eating on the day of a big match or tournament?
Three hours before playing, I usually have an omelet or scrambles eggs with some avocado toast. If I don’t have time for cooking, I’ll take some Greek yogurt with fresh fruit with me to have [an hour or so] prior to my game.
Do you have any advice for riders looking to eat healthier?
Try to cut out bad carbs and eat the gluten-free version of [things like] bread and pasta. Rice and quinoa are really good sources to get your carbs covered. Apart from that, eat as much fruit as possible or fresh, self-made green juices. I usually have a juice every morning. And meal wise, I would suggest a salad or portion of veggies in combination with chicken, meat or fish.