When it comes to health and fitness, there are a lot of niche styles and brands vying to get our hard-earned money.
Do you go for the hardcore CrossFit route, do you pick yoga or barre classes? What the heck is Orangetheory?
There are pros and cons to everything, including different styles of fitness groups. We’ll examine some of these trending options: Crossfit, Orangetheory, and barre, to see which styles benefit (or hinder) the equestrian lifestyle.
To a large extent, I usually recommend people find something they enjoy doing, and then maintain some form of variety in their workout routines. Group fitness clubs are an excellent way to build a community and maintain accountability when it comes to intense fitness training.
Some love it, some judge it. I truly do see the value in the basics of what CrossFit offers. Higher intensity, largely functional movements in a community type setting sounds great! However, CrossFit does tend to take functional movement and powerlifting basics and press fast-forward on teaching appropriate skills and intensity coaching.
If you already have experience in proper lifting techniques, know your limits and how to progress appropriately, and want to add some spice into your workouts, CrossFit could be a sound choice. If you’re new to lifting any level of weights, have a history of injury or pain, and/or are unsure of where your appropriate progressions are, I would suggest working one-on-one with a coach first before jumping into the box.
Orangetheory recently emerged on the workout scene as a high-intensity training gym membership facility. Its name comes from its purpose: to keep heart rates in the “orange zone” during each and every workout. This, out of all the options we’re discussing today, may be the best choice for equestrian athletes. Because our systems require short bursts of high performance, Orangetheory’s high-intensity group coaching can be quite functional. The workouts vary from class-to-class or day-to-day, but they are structured around cardio.
Working at higher intensities across variable movements is a great way to train the whole body through cardio and strength techniques, as well as keep the mind engaged. The potential con to this is similar to that with CrossFit. If you are a beginner to group workouts, don’t know your limits, or have a history of a medical condition or pain, seek out one-on-one coaching first, or consider a more low-key option.
Do your research, know your body, and try it out before buying in.
Barre (think companies like Pure Barre) is another workout lifestyle brand which borrows skills from other sports and uses them to create fitness for the masses. Pulling from dance training, barre classes utilize a mix of pilates, yoga, and calisthenics training combined with ballet-specific conditioning work. This would also be high on my list as an appropriate option for an equestrian looking for a fitness routine. Barre has a strong focus on core work, all-around leg work, balance, and body control. These are all necessary skills for riders to use in the saddle, too.
When it comes to group fitness lifestyle brands, one of the biggest aspects to be aware of is finding good instruction. A talented, knowledgeable instructor can make a big difference. More often the not, the athletes with injuries who walk through my clinic door haven’t been coached correctly. Poor form and too much intensity too soon is often overlooked. A good instructor will take time to focus on the basics, offer up appropriate adaptations and progression alternatives, and be able to notice if someone is pushing themselves in the wrong direction. You should never feel like you have to push hard to keep up. Classes and group workouts shouldn’t feel like a competition.
Do your research, know your body, and try it out before buying in. All brands should offer trial periods or free classes, which are great opportunities to see what you enjoy and what challenges you in the right ways.