Sunday, January 23, 2011

On a Different Note

Although the main subject of this blog is (and always will be) horses, lately I have felt an inclination to post more about fitness and my struggle to become and stay fit. One of my big reasons for desiring to stay fit is to facilitate my life with horses, so I think adding the subject into this blog will work.

First let me say I am not a big fan of working out for working out's sake. Although I have (at various points in my life) been avid about cycling, fencing, yoga, and swimming for a few years at a time, none of these activities has ever outlasted the circumstances that first led me to take it up. Horseback-riding has been my one consistent life-long physical activity, and any equestrian knows it is actually pretty easy to ride without getting a great workout.

Two years ago this March, my husband (who does love working out) bought himself a 35 pound kettlebell. After watching him use it a handful of times I got curious and bought myself a 15 pounder. Since then I have continued to use these weights consistently, with only one break after my foot was injured on our long trek across Scotland. Currently I can use a 35 pound kettlebell for twenty minutes before I'm exhausted. (Or at least that's where I was at before I got sick two weeks ago. The illness has set me back.)

The top three things I love about kettlebells:
  1. An adequate workout takes 10-15 minutes. That's it! As one of my favorite parts of the day is happy hour (when Brian and I sit down with a good beer and start relaxing), I don't allow myself to start my beer until I've done my workout. Even at 5:30 after a long day, I can always manage 10 minutes.
  2. Because these weights are so heavy, you can reach fatigue in fewer repetitions. This leads to lean muscle that is strong but not bulky.
  3. You can work nearly your entire body with just two exercises. I got the majority of my strength from simply doing turkish get-ups one day and swings the next.
Most of all, though, I love being strong. Before my foot injury I had reached a point where I was significantly stronger than I'd ever been in my life and it had a positive effect on everything, from the way I unloaded groceries from the car to how well I could sit a trot. My balance and hand-eye coordination were also improved. With the time off to heal I lost a lot of that, but I'm on the road to getting there again now (or will be as soon as I'm not sick anymore).


  1. "it is actually pretty easy to ride without getting a great workout" --I've been trying to put a fair amount of effort into working on myself when I ride, sometimes even more than working on the horse. This seems to result in a pretty fair least, I usually come away from it a bit sore.

    I'm with you though, I can't do gyms or "working out just to work out". I do pilates several times a week, but that's about as close as I get.

  2. I worked out at Curves for 2 years & I am so bored with it. I am currently on hiatus from it & not sure I will go back. Looking for something new. I borrowed a Jillian Michel workout from a friend, but these kettleballs peek my interest. Will check out the links you referred us to. I need to do something.... fast!

  3. Erica: I agree you definitely can get a workout when riding, and particularly riding bareback well requires a lot of muscles.

    Tammy: I'd definitely encourage you to check out the kettlebells! The little ones are inexpensive. Just make sure to start small and go slow. I was shocked at how quickly they can make you sore. Also consider taking a video of yourself every now and then to make sure you have your posture right. Doing the exercises wrong can cause problems. Good luck!


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