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  • Writer's picturekmbleekman

Trudy's Journey

Trudy started working with me 2 years ago in January 2021. She had come across my coaching as a friend of hers had worked with me and decided to bite the bullet and get in touch herself. The horses were starting their preseason eventing prep, and she was aiming to be out competing eventing through the 2021 season with her ultimate goal being to make the step up to Intermediate.

Since the New Year, she had started to make some small changes to her fitness routine and had got herself back running consistently which was a great start. She had enjoyed being back in an exercise routine but had no idea what to do next and had no plan or focus with her training. She wanted to make sure that any time she put to exercising was actually going to lead to her seeing an improvement in her riding and through the horses performance but she had no idea what were the best things to be doing or how to get herself there.

She wanted to educate herself and learn how best to train her body and understand how to use it effectively both when riding & training so that in the long run she would have the knowledge to be able to continue training herself safely & effectively & understand why she was doing certain exercises & movements.

Having dislocated her shoulder a few years prior she was still having ongoing issues with the shoulder joint including serious pain most days & a lack of mobility & strength in that shoulder. It was affecting her daily life as well as her riding, but she was unsure as to what strength work she should be doing to help strengthen herself again without doing any further damage. Despite having had physio on the shoulder over the years she was finding it would “blow up" or she'd end up damaging it again.

Having worked closely with a physio for many years, she was aware that her body could be stronger and wanted to get herself into the best physical shape she could to allow the horses to really excel through the season. Having the horses at home, meant that Trudy was doing all of the yard work herself as well, so it was important that her programme was functional to her daily life as well as her riding to keep her safe when she was mucking out, handling young horses, heavy lifting, throwing bales around etc! Being in her early 50s, she had been through the changes of menopause & was finding energy levels were low, she was carrying a little bit more weight than she would like & just wanted to generally feel stronger & better in herself & more self-confident!

One other big thing that was holding her back with her riding was her belief and self-confidence. The step up to intermediate is always a big one, and she was worried about the size and width of the fences. She knew that she wasn't as strong through her lower leg as she could be and equally knew that her endurance & aerobic fitness wasn't as good as it should be, and was worried about running out of puff & energy towards the end of a course. She knew having those more technical courses, harder lines, bigger fences & longer times was going to be hard work so wanted to make sure she was at her fittest so that she could fully support the horses & help them all the way to the end!

Alongside her physical goals to support her riding, she also wanted to feel better in her physique and own body. She joked at the start that she'd love a beach body and a great six-pack but I knew equally she wanted to look lean and strong & feel confident in herself.

Having had her shoulder injury, we started training using simple movement patterns & exercises using very light resistance & loads such as exercise bands and light weights. It was all about getting her mobility improved and introducing new movement patterns, but making sure that we slowly incorporated progressive overload into her programme to allow her to gain strength & see progress but without overdoing it or overloading her shoulder. When we first began working together, Trudy struggled with many of the movement patterns, including being able to squat. Fast forward a couple of years and her form and technique is one of the best I've had the pleasure of working with! She now has full understanding of what every exercise should look like, how to control her body to work through a full range of motion but keep her form safe and what muscles she should be able to feel working when doing certain exercises. This is a great example of how consistency over time with your training allows you to go from complete beginner to experienced & knowledgeable trainee!

It was definitely a step out of her comfort zone starting to introduce strength training into her life but together we came up with a routine that suited her lifestyle. She had a small gym space in one of her spare stables and with a couple bits of cardio kit, some weights and some bands we had plenty to get working with!

To begin with, she trained 3 times a week and added in some extra running and cardio sessions as she could & time would allow. She was also doing Pilates which very nicely complimented the strength work she was doing within my programme. Our main focus with her training was improving her posterior chain strength so that she could build a stronger seat, increasing her aerobic capacity so that she had better stamina and endurance and had the ability to resist fatigue for longer both when riding & in her own exercise.

A large part of her physical programme also focused on single arm and leg exercises as with her having had previous injuries she wasn't as balanced as she could be. This helped hugely to make her more symmetrical both on and off the horse, but we also focused a lot of her training on functional core movements to make sure she had the core strength she needed to ride most effectively & support her back to make sure she had no back pain after a hard cross country course or a long day driving!

We worked together for over two years and last year Trudy decided she was ready to go it alone. She has continued to regularly train from home & has kept in her exercise routine & now she has the knowledge & change in mindset she's been able to continue to progress working by herself. It's important to remember that this transformation has taken time and Trudy has been one of the most consistent clients I've ever had the pleasure of working with when it comes to getting her training done week in, week out.

As well as focusing on the training and physical side of things, we did a big amount of work on her mindset to help her build a more resilient and positive approach towards her riding and fitness journey. My focus when coaching is all about making small changes to your current habits and behaviours which comes down to mindset, as this allows you to sustain these results in the long run & this is what has allowed Trudy to sustain hers! It was the same approach with her nutrition, and we just made some small changes to improve the quality of her diet so that she was fuellling her body as needed, could reduce her body fat a little and maintain muscle mass and feel full of energy and strength! I think you'll agree from the photo she certainly did that.

Trudy's transformation is one of my favourites & it was an absolute privilege to work with a rider who is so dedicated and committed to the journey both for herself & her horses. It was great to help show Trudy that even though her body had gone through some changes, she could still have a physique that she was proud of, feel physically strong in herself and ride at her best. In Trudy's words, this is how she found the programme & her coaching experience;

"My goal was to improve my riding but it has helped me in so many other aspects that I hadn’t even thought about. I was suffering from shoulder pain following a dislocation a few years ago & since training I’ve become much stronger in my core & I'm more aware of how I use my body now when riding.

My shoulder feels great & causes me no issues or underlying pain anymore! Katie has been really supportive without being in your face.

My diet has changed and this wasn’t even on my radar it’s just changed naturally. Now I’m feeling fitter my self-esteem is so much better as well. I feel more confident about my appearance & not worrying what others might think!

If you’re thinking about starting I would say absolutely do it! Being answerable for my training has been such a big change - if I wanted to take a short cut I was only letting myself down. My training & the sessions are totally tailored to me and the feedback I give her so if you don’t do something it won’t improve as you can’t tell her about something you haven’t done. The training is structured around my life & specific to your individual needs. It’s not just your physical appearance that benefits!

I know if I tried to do this on my own it wouldn't have worked. Being able to put a tick in the box each day I’ve completed a workout was very satisfying. Having to video some of my exercises also gives great feedback on how you are doing and how you can improve. I’m not at my final destination yet (don’t think there is one) there is always something that can be improved and improving small things leads to a bigger overall improvement."

I cannot wait to see what Trudy achieves in 2023 & I wish you the best of luck for the 2023 season! If Trudy's story resonates with you & you'd like to start to get yourself feeling fitter, stronger & riding better then please get in touch! Email me via the contact page & let's have a chat about how I may be able to help. I know it's not easy to step out of your comfort zone but this is a true example of just how far that can take you!

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