It is good to have some appreciable level of fitness when your horse does something extravagant and unexpected like this bit of air time... (Luke Klemm, Camie up. Jay with the video camera.)
It is that time of year when lots of people either a) put on the holiday 7 pounds and just learn to love their new shape or b) put on the holiday 7 pounds and go all manic with the workout resolutions, in this year’s case on January 3rd (Too hung over and/or tired on New Year’s Day and this year January 2nd falls on a Sunday, the resolution killer. Who can start a serious workout program with that much lounging to be done?)
Last winter produced record snow for our part of the world and what started out as character-building in January, turned in to absolute will-shattering, never-ending tedium by mid-February. It was absolutely impossible to ride with no indoor. The horses had confined themselves to the 10′ feet around the barn because that was the only snow they could keep trampled down enough to walk around on. I had to do something, so after I cleaned every closet and rearranged every room in the house out of sheer desperation for activity, Jay and I decided to join the local rec center which has some treadmills and a track, raquetball and basketball courts. It was pretty easy to work out every day. It was a big stress reliever and our bodies actually started to take on a some form of a shape, other than “roundish”.
As spring and summer came, we were plenty active around our place so we dropped our membership and picked it up again a week before Thanksgiving this year when the days started getting pretty short. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to go inside a building and work out when it is light and pretty outside, but when it turns dark early outside, I am attracted to a bright building with people who are actively not hibernating, like a moth to a deck light.
So I started working out and it bummed hard. Of course I was comparing the fitness I had worked into last winter with where I was starting in the fall. I know better than to do that, but I went all momentarily stupid and did it anyway. Active as we were over the summer, apparently the cardiovascular part of the equation is not challenged by mowing pastures and riding horses. Who knew? Jay joined in about a week after I started and hit the same wall. By that time, I was pretty much back on track and, ok, I’m a naughty-bad wifey sometimes, so I’ll own that it was kind of fun to see him struggle as I had that first week. Heh, heh. For better or for worse for sure, honey, but if you are sucking wind and sweating because you procrastinated and I am fairly whizzing along with a light step and glow, I will not stop myself from smiling and cheerfully asking how your workout is going. It’s in the fine print honey, really it is.
And there are days where working out still is a slog for me. Such as, I can definitely feel a drag on my workout if I had more than one beer the day before. Rats! Or too much soda. Double rats! And some days it is hard to get started. “My Ipod is out of charge.” “That dog walk I did today should cover it.” “My socks are downstairs in the dryer.” The answers are “Your Ipod is optional.” “That dog walk was way too easy to be considered exercise.” and “Go downstairs and get them.” Go. Go. Go. Workout. So I do. We try to go every day, but it turns into 5 days a week. Sometimes my teaching gets in the way, sometimes Jay’s work does.
I had no idea, though, that today was going to be a real payoff. Today I got on a client’s horse to help square him up for an exercise they were having a challenge with. I have really long legs and I didn’t feel like messing with her stirrup length, so I just flipped the stirrups over the horse’s withers and rode stirrupless. I did a lot of canter depart work and lots of cantering for about 20 minutes. It never occurred to me while I was riding that I really haven’t ridden much lately because of the footing and the arena project and I am therefore seriously out of riding shape. As I rode, I was so focused on the horse that I didn’t think about that. Then, at the end of the ride, I was sliding off and I thought, “Ho, Nelly, that wasn’t smart, I am going to be really sore. This might even hurt when my feet hit the ground.” And when that is going through your head, it is a long, anxious way down from a 17h thoroughbred.
And nothing. I felt great. Not a twinge anywhere many hours later. And no, I’m not 18 anymore. All that stuff they say is true. Just do it. Or my personal favorite, “Excuses don’t lift up your butt.” You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to train for a marathon, and it doesn’t have to take over your life. My walking program is 33 minutes long. I crank the heck out of the elevation on the treadmill for two minutes, then go back to a level that is easy for me for two minutes. I do a little interval training repertoire that I made up. I keep changing it as my body acclimates. It is totally Camie’s made up fitness plan.
Effective, not terribly pretty... Camie on Derith Vogt's lovely mare, Carolyn
So, if you’ve been thinking about getting in a workout program, go on, do it. Do whatever works for you. Go all crazy fancy, swim on Tuesdays, join a spin class, get all yoga-ed or keep it simple. Like cross country riding, a workout program doesn’t have to always be pretty to be effective.