Pilates, cowboys and horse riding: Perfect partners or a load of bull?
It’s been a chilly week in Barcelona and London, although I know it’s all relative as some of you will be experiencing much colder temperatures. There were even some snow flurries today in Barcelona, which is probably contrary to what most people expect.
Contrary thoughts and expectations are the theme of my blog today, along with of course Pilates.
I was reading an interesting article this week. Let me tell you the story…
Two hours before he was scheduled to do battle with a 1,900-pound bull named Blurred, Matt Dunsmore was searching for bliss. A professional bull rider from Elk River, Minn., Duns¬more was competing in the World’s Toughest Rodeo tour stop over the weekend at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. He found a quiet corner tucked underneath the stands, and there, amid the solitude, he went through his yoga routine. The yoga was a must, he explained later, because he had missed his Pilates class.
Not the typical view of a rodeo rider perhaps. Not what we would expect of a cowboy? Dunsmore explained “We take this seriously as a sport. We’re athletes. I don’t smoke, I watch what I eat, and I work out every day. The yoga is for stretching my muscles and helping me focus. The Pilates builds core strength and hones my balance.”
We all know that Pilates can help strengthen the core muscles that riders use, and it will restore the body’s balance. Whilst Pilates helps with many sports and everyday life, the fact that its benefits include improved posture and muscle tone as well as increased stability for the pelvis and shoulders, makes it essential for the rider.
Improved core stability will mean less work for the rider’s back and improved independent movement of limbs without unbalancing the torso. The rider’s I have worked with in the UK and in Barcelona and Ibiza on our Barcelona Bienestar horse-riding holidays learn to concentrate and to breathe more deeply which can help control their heart-rate, and their flexibility will also increase. They achieve better harmony with their horse, removing imbalances that are commonly transferred between the horse and rider. Their balance improves helping with jumping, as does their coordination and stamina.
Pilates is also an excellent way to avoid common associated injuries such as shoulder and back pain, and groin strains, or to recover from injury more quickly. Most commons injuries are caused by falls or during stable duties. About 80% of injuries occur while riding, and these respond very well to Pilates as it improves balance and postural awareness which help to reduce the risk of falling. Pilates can also help to improve spatial awareness which means that the rider can react more quickly when faced with the unpredictability of their horse.
I want to give Dunsmore the final word today, after only lasting 2 seconds on his bull : “I’ll go home and lick my wounds and come back tomorrow,” he vowed. “My philosophy is that if I’m not chasing something, I’m not living.”
Chris Hunt is an international Pilates and functional training presenter and educator based in London and Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength. He also created Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. He organises Pilates events, retreats, fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona and Ibiza. For more information about training with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris Hunt, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? You can also subscribe by completing the form on the this BLOG to receive articles and special offers straight to your inbox.
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