It’s the new year, which means gym memberships and boot camp sign-ups are at an annual high – but, as personal trainer and event rider Laura Crump Anderson explains, learning how to set longer-term, slower, more consistent goals will be the key to success in your fitness journey:
One of the questions I frequently get is “how long is your program?” The answer is not an easy one. For some people, all that’s needed is one session to confirm that they’re headed in the correct direction. For others, they intend to work with me until I retire, and then I will transfer them to another highly-qualified exercise professional. I don’t offer 6-week programs or boot camps (which are great for learning a new skill, but that’s not what I do). I help riders discover and tend to their inner athlete. For some, I’m a highly qualified accountability partner that makes sure they’re exercising for a least 30 minutes once a week.
I’m all for a great six-week program or boot camp that jump starts change — I have participated in them and learned from them, and have even written some for the riders I know personally, trust, and believe they have good form and won’t end up injured. It’s a big bonus if I don’t have worry about them sticking with the program! I know they’ll do it and I’ll be able to check in with them when it’s done and see their progress.
The Reason I Exercise
The number one reason I exercise is because I love to ride. If I’m not exercising, I’m in pain. Doing my barn every day is not targeted enough exercise to create the physiological adaptations that keep me pain-free, and so to be riding and not be in pain I must exercise — end of story.
I am not a gym rat; I didn’t get my degree in kinesiology with a concentration in exercise science because I love it. I did it because Physical Therapy and exercise made the biggest difference in my muscular skeletal pain.
The second biggest reason I exercise is for my mental health. I have bipolar disorder, and have recently been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I don’t want to be around the version of myself who is not exercising at least once week. Usually for me, though, I’m exercising twice a week because I only have one horse. I need to be doing something more physically intense once every three days, to release the neurotransmitters that keep my anxiety at bay. However, when I was a working student and riding 4-10 horses a day, High Intensity Exercise once a week was enough.
For me, exercising is like brushing my teeth. I do it to be healthy, not to be entertained.
Start the New Year with Motivation — Consistency Makes Habits
I’m not opposed to New Year’s resolutions, and I have gotten into the habit of setting themes for each year. My theme for 2022 was “Put Things Away”, and my theme for 2023 is “Create”.
However, there are some real and concrete ways to usher in the new year that get people going with a lot of motivation. This is exciting, but the key to success is consistency — not the Big Bang of action when you first get inspired to start. When you fall off the wagon (Not IF), get back on as quickly as you can — this is where you will see the most success. Unpacking the way to set a goal properly is a book, not a blog post, but my personal favorite book for setting goals is Girl, Stop Apologizing By Rachel Hollis. You don’t have to be a woman to appreciate the content.
One Exercise To Jump Start Your 2023
- Keep your feet flat (even pressure heel to toe)
- Squat down as low as you can without pain in your knees or hips
- When you come up try and keep your knees aligned with your pinky toes (do not let your knees buckle in or bow out)
Laura Crump Anderson is a certified as a personal trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine and is a Registered 200 Hour Teacher with the Yoga Alliance. She specializes in working with riders of all ages and disciplines through her business, Hidden Heights Fitness, and is also the author of Ultimate Exercise Routines for Riders. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science, and has evented through Training level. Read more of her fitness columns here.