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Blog: Blog2
  • Writer's picturekmbleekman

Welcome to ERF, I'm Katie

Welcome to my blog if you haven’t already visited the site! Usually, on the blog, I’ll try and bring you a post weekly about a topic that you need more information on or something that I believe will help you to find a solution to the fitness, riding and health problems you’re currently struggling with. Typically they tend to be centred around exercise, mobility, nutrition, mindset & lifestyle areas. Oh & horses!

This week I wanted to do something a little bit different & introduce myself. As a coach, I love to build very personal relationships with each & every one of my clients & I know it's always useful for you to get to know a bit more about me too! For a lot of my riders, their number 1 priority is finding a coach who is the right personality & energy match for them and actually gets them.

And I totally agree with this as a coach. There has to be good energy and a healthy dose of likeability for the coaching partnership to work; if you're working with someone who has completely different values & energy to you it will be hard to be on the same page!

So who am I?

My name is Katie, I’m 30 and I currently live in Devon. I'm the founder & head coach of Event Rider Fitness which I launched during the Covid pandemic back in 2020. I live on my family's stud farm where my sisters and parents work full-time breeding, competing and training showjumping and eventing horses. These days I don’t compete at the moment but it is definitely something I’d like to get back to doing soon! Horses are pretty much all we breathe & sleep here! Literally.

You can find me out hunting during the winter and I still ride most days schooling or hacking out. I now work solely online as a fitness coach helping riders all around the world achieve their goals and better their riding performance.

I was part of the silver medal-winning team at the Pony Europeans & have evented myself up to 3* International level. Across the years I have struggled with my own body image & suffered with eating issues & this has led me to do what I do today! As a 5ft9 15 year old girl I was incredibly self-conscious & that led to me doing all the wrong things. I've been through a big journey myself & now I want to show others how to do that for themselves! I've learnt from why mistakes in my teens & twenties about what NOT to do & I want to share that with you now so whatever your age you don't make the same mistakes for the next 10 or 30 years!

For my own training, I currently go to the gym twice a week. As it's Summer I'm training for triathlons, now I don't compete the horses anymore I have more time & I absolutely love doing something else competitive. It also keeps me focused! I run twice, ride my bike 2 or 3 times and swim twice a week too. It's busy!

Triathlon has really been a game changer to get me enjoying training again. Previously I ran 6 marathons but to be honest, the last time I did one which was 2 years ago I got to the point where it became very monotonous & at the minute it’s not something I would do again. I always preach to my clients to only do training you actually enjoy and that’s definitely something I’m following through myself these days!

When I’m not training or at home on the farm you can find me out with my dog Zip, I love going for long walks with him exploring our Devon countryside & beaches and also going out socialising with friends. Travelling is something I love to do as well and with more time I’d love to do & see more of the world.

So how did I become a trainer?

From a really young age, I’ve always been very sporty and active. At school, I was the kid that did most team sports from hockey to rounders, cross country running and summer athletics. Alongside competing the horses when I was younger I absolutely loved pushing myself and being competitive in any sport. When I finished school I decided to go on and do my A-levels and after those were complete I spent about a year doing a bit of grooming, riding out racehorses whilst trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I fell out of touch a bit with my sports & found it quite hard moving from school to college where there weren't so many team sports open to you unless you did that specific course. After this I dabbled in a bit of fitness here or there but nothing consistent.

I ended up moving to Suffolk and I got a job working in an office & also running trade stands for the shop. The brand sold Equestrian clothing such as Animo, Tattini, Kingsland and we travelled all over the UK with the tradestand. I even got the opportunity to go to America, it was a great time. Hard work but good fun! After a few years, I decided to make a move to an e-commerce role and it was the worst move I made!

After about 5 months in my new job I realised it just wasn’t for me, I was dreading going to work every day and that is not who I am. Sitting behind a desk from 8-5, 5 days a week was just not for me so I decided enough was enough and I resigned & decided it was time to make a change.

I returned to Devon & at the time it felt a little like my life was going backward returning home but I needed that time whilst I decided what I was going to turn my hand to next. So being unsure what I wanted to do I decided to start freelance grooming for the 2016 year & see what happened.

Having my HGV licence too proved a bonus & I ended up working all over Europe grooming for both event riders and showjumpers. That 1-year grooming hiatus turned into a 3-year spell culminating with a trip to Jakarta for the Asian games. It was an incredible experience and I loved every minute of grooming and what I did but I knew deep down right from the moment I went into the grooming it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever! Horses have never been what I've wanted to do full time as my career so I needed to find my true passion.

Just before I started grooming I’d been talking with a riding friend and they had said to me what do you want to do for your career and I said no idea. They suddenly said to me well you love your fitness & sports don't you, so why don't you think about being a personal trainer?

At first, I thought, "Nah no way that’s not for me, I couldn't do that" and then I thought about it for a bit & thought actually that sounds really cool. In my head, I was thinking how cool would it be going to work if what I did was turn up at the gym, give people awesome workouts and help them to get fitter and healthier every day. That would be so much fun! Which it is but not always just playing in a gym.

From that moment I was sold so I embarked on my PT coach qualifications and completed the theory whilst I was still grooming. In the back of my head I thought worst-case scenario if I don't enjoy it I'll earn enough money to pay the qualification back & move on. Anyone who has horses knows combining things takes a long time so it took me quite a while to complete my qualifications but in 2018 once I was fully qualified as a PT I then turned my hand to fitness fully.

I was still freelance grooming & living in Gloucestershire so I started looking for part-time training roles to fit in around the horses to give me experience. I initially started in a womens only boutique HIIT gym which was an awesome way to introduce me to group classes and then I picked up a job at an independent gym near Cirencester where we did a lot of small group PT sessions and one-to-one personal training. It was really a game changer for me, working alongside other extremely experienced & knowledgeable trainers I learned so much and gained a wealth of experience.

I absolutely love my job, the clients who I worked with here were absolute legends and I had the best time when I was at work. Sadly Covid hit in March 2020 and I made the decision to return back to Devon before we got locked down as not knowing how long it would be for I decided I'd rather be at home on the farm with the dogs and horses than stuck in a house for weeks on end. Very lucky to have that option & something I am very grateful for through the whole pandemic.

Sadly through Covid, the gym I was primarily working at didn’t make it through the pandemic. The move to zoom & closing the gym wasn’t a positive outcome but when this all happened I immediately started thinking about how could I build my rider training platform & start my own coaching business. That's now 3 years ago!

Right from the moment I decided to become a trainer that is what I’d always wanted to do, focus on riding as my specific training niche & help other Equestrians but I hadn't found the way to do that yet. A lot of riders struggle to see how to make their training specific to their riding and benefit what they are doing in the saddle so I wanted to show riders of all levels and disciplines how to train themselves, the difference their fitness could make to their riding & how to boost their performance & make it worth their time. For as long as I can remember this has always been what I wanted to do as a PT & coach & combine my love of riding & fitness.

So that is how Event Rider Fitness, the online coaching community and programme was born and now I coach riders all over the world from my online app showing them how to make the changes I have! The majority of my current clients are in their late 40's-mid 60's but I have a whole host of clients some full time riders, polo players, Mums who event around their family life, beginners to riding & it's so much fun helping such a variety of riders across all sports.

How did I get into fitness?

So as I said earlier I’ve always been very sporty, at school I was always the kid in teams playing hockey, running and doing athletics. I loved PE especially cross country running.

When I left school I was a little bit lost without any team sports and sadly my focus turned the wrong direction. Having been a very tall 16-year-old riding ponies I was always very conscious of weight & how heavy I was & that led to struggling with eating issues in order to manage my weight.

I think realistically looking back I have always had a very negative body image and it’s something I have to work on every day forever but at the time I exercised for all the wrong reasons & being skinny was my driver. I used exercise as a punishment and a way to simply burn calories rather than making myself stronger and fitter for the better.

It wasn’t coming from a healthy place and I used to run for hours on end. When I started to get better and not struggle with eating issues anymore I found quite quickly that I fell out of exercise altogether.

I think I knew what I was doing was wrong and not exercising for the right focus so I almost went the other way and did nothing at all! I've been through a big journey over the past few years as you can see!

For those years when I lived in Suffolk I toyed with a few classes here and there, would go on an occasional run, I did actually run a marathon in that time as well but they were all things I did occasionally not consistently. I didn't find anything I massively loved either so it was easy to palm it off.

When I then started training for my PT qualifications I knew I had to practice what I preach and I had to practice movement patterns, using machines & weights in the gym and being confident in that space so I got myself training regularly in the gym both taking part in classes as I found that a good way to get me in with zero excuses and also have camaraderie because I definitely was intimidated by going into the gym at this point.

Initially, when I worked in my 2 gyms I wouldn’t train there for about a year because I was too nervous to train in front of the other trainers in case people thought what I was doing was wrong or silly, that’s not something I worry about anymore but it took time to gain confidence & be sure in my practice. Now I have that confidence in what I am doing and I tend to normally work with a coach as well so that I have focus and someone else’s opinion, (I've found I've learned so much through other coaches) and direction I train regularly in & out of the gym & I've stayed to get strong. It's now something I do every day because I love it.

The focus these days is to train to be my best for competition performance but also enjoy pushing my body physically so I feel good mentally, whether that’s a triathlon or something like Britain’s fattest farmer which I have coming up later in the year and to be as strong & fit as I possibly can for everything I want to do from training, riding, farm life and feel my best! Also it's a win being stronger & fitter as it makes everyday life easier.

So what do I actually do day to day as a coach?

This is a question I get asked quite often and even though most people know what online coaching or online fitness programmes entail they don’t actually know exactly how it works or what a coach does day to day!

It’s a variety of being a business owner, a fitness coach, a mentor, the head of marketing and many other job roles! So at the start of every day, I have to think about what hat I am wearing. The most important part of my coaching programme is my client communication so every Monday and Friday I spend the day checking in with clients following their week or weekend and we go through what’s going well, what they need to be working on and any challenges they may be facing. The process of this weekly check-in is to make sure my riders have what they need, are making the correct rate of progress, have my support and if things need changing we do so to make sure they're continually progressing!

As well as check ins I provide clients with feedback on every workout, I answer any messages or questions they have through the week and give them video feedback on things like food diaries and exercise videos so if they want to check their technique or movement we do that too.

My whole ethos & coaching values are about educating my clients so they are empowered with knowledge, know what they are doing & have the confidence to go away & do this for themselves in the long term.

Alongside that, I have to be proactive in putting the feelers out for new clients on a regular basis as most riders will get to a point in their journey where they feel they can go it alone and that is the whole point of my coaching process! A bit like learning to drive. I want to provide riders with the knowledge and confidence through the programme so they know they can go and do it alone and actually sustain their results & routine once and for all. So talking to new riders, posting on social media, and spreading the word are all things I do on the daily as well!

I love coaching and helping riders to be the very best versions of themselves that they can possibly be and the client communication part is definitely my favourite role of the job. Checking in with everybody at the end of every week and hearing their wins is something I absolutely love to do & see them celebrating their successes! When you help someone to achieve a goal or milestone they've been struggling with for some time there's no job satisfaction like that!

Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of who I am, what I do, how I got into my fitness, why I became a coach and how my coaching programme works. I like to work with people who are like-minded and a good match on energy and vibe so if you potentially think I might be a good fit for you as your coach feel free to drop me a message. I'm always happy to chat, very talkative actually.

I hope that’s useful to know and any questions let me know! Good luck on your own fitness journey & with your horses for the rest of the season.


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