Whether you are gearing up for some big barrel races or just trying to maintain your strength and energy with a full course load, working out will help you achieve your goals. Certified personal trainer Heather Bertone Sanders shared some tips on how to kick off your fitness routine, no matter how busy you are.

Find your soulmate workout. Hate running? Don’t go running. Heather says what’s most important is finding an activity that you love, because you’ll be more likely to stick with it. If traditional weight lifting and cardio isn’t for you, check out a class like barre, yoga, kickboxing, pilates or cycling or try a bootcamp. jashleyrunning 3

Choose an exercise buddy. Find yourself an accountability partner that will go to those workout classes with you or will meet you for a morning run. Make sure it’s someone who won’t tempt you to forgo your workout to go get a beer. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up to work out is a great motivator.

Get on top of your nutrition. Heather follows the 80/20 rule, meaning she believes 80 percent of your fitness results are due to diet, so eat well 80 percent of the time. You can indulge 20 percent of the time, but don’t overdo it. You can never out-exercise a bad diet.

Keep a food journal. Heather says keeping a physical food journal—not just an app on your phone—is a great way to really pay attention to what you eat. She says we often underestimate how many calories we’re eating, and a food journal will help you learn where you can improve your diet. You can find plenty of options on Amazon or other bookstores, online or brick-and-mortar.

Strengthen your core. If there’s one part of your body you should focus on as a rider, Heather says your core is it. It’s not just your abs—it’s your abs, back, glutes and even hamstrings. Strengthening this area will help you keep up with your horse’s quick movements, and it’ll also reduce lower back injuries. Incorporate bridges, plank exercises and ab exercises that require standing, which will also improve your balance.

Increase your water intake. It can be tough to swallow the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day. To jumpstart your day, Heather recommends drinking 16 ounces of water before your morning coffee. Try adding fresh fruit or veggies like watermelon, pineapple or cucumber to your water to make it more palatable. Heather enjoys sparkling water with these additions. Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you must use sweetener, Heather recommends Stevia. Carry a refillable water bottle with you to remind you to drink water, help measure your water intake and reduce plastic waste from unnecessary bottled water.


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