Surfing and Orange Theory Are Molly Mattson’s Fitness Secrets

Originally from Texas, Molly Mattson has been riding hunter/jumper for over 30 years. She moved to Hawaii 12 years ago with the plan to get out of the professional horse world and take advantage of the best surf in the world. Now, Molly owns and operates the clothing company Little War Horse and trains horses. She shared her fitness routine with Heels Down Magazine.


Fitness Wasn’t My Goal When I Started Surfing

I grew up on the Texas coast where most of my childhood friends were skateboarders. I spent the little time I had out of the saddle with my “non-horsey friends”, hanging out and my love of surfing kind of grew from that scene. I now live in the world’s crown jewel of surfing destinations, so it’s part of everyday life here. Riding fitness was definitely not the ultimate goal, it was more my love of the sea and being in nature having fun spending time with my friends.

It can turn into a big exercise in bravery, confidence and getting out of your comfort zone to get that great ride. I feel like it’s so similar to being with horses.

Surfing is very physically and mentally demanding, and it can all translate into my work with horses. Just like riding, when you see someone doing it right it looks so easy, but there’s a lot going on. Stamina, upper and lower body strength, timing, balance, breath control, to name a few things. You have to be so present with the ocean. You need to be aware of where you are. She (Mother Ocean) can turn on you at any moment. Plus, the bigger the wave, the bigger fall, the longer you may be held underwater, so it can turn into a big exercise in bravery, confidence and getting out of your comfort zone to get that great ride. I feel like it’s so similar to being with horses. Enjoy the moment, but be present, be aware, be in your best shape, listen & tune into your horse so you can be ready for anything, especially your best rides. Just like horses, the ocean has a mind of her own. It’s all one with nature kind of stuff.

Orange Theory: For People Who Hate Running

I’m going to be 39 this year, and I can totally tell that everything I eat or drink now is sticking to me. The good and the bad, and it doesn’t really matter how much riding, surfing, etc I do, I needed to up my game. I truly hate cardio. “Running” isn’t even in my vocabulary, only “galloping”. So my main goal was to find something that gets my heart rate way up by doing something I’d never do on my own. It’s working so far, I notice I’m having to push myself more and more because I am reaching my heart rate goals quicker.

I’m really the type that thrives on having a trainer, someone pushing me and motivating me to just get it done no matter how hard.

A fellow equestrian buddy introduced me to Orange Theory. It’s what they call “heart rate based interval training”. I’m not usually big on workout classes, but I’m really the type that thrives on having a trainer, someone pushing me and motivating me to just get it done no matter how hard. Maybe it comes from having actual cavalry captains as my riding instructors when I was a kid. Plus you can see your heart rate on monitors so you can truly see if you are pushing yourself. I don’t like to admit it, but I can be very competitive even just with myself.

Staying Hydrated Is Key

I know people have heard it before, but water is magical. So boring, but I drink way more water now than I ever have and it is probably the biggest energizer with no crash. I also do Chocolate Vegan Lean Shakes from GNC. I also love an Acai bowl, even though they may not be the world’s healthiest option, you still gotta live life right?

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Surfing and Orange Theory Are Molly Mattson’s Fitness Secrets

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