Introducing new team member: Heather Sansom

I am so excited to tell you that for the next 6 months I will be working with Heather from EquiFitt.

Heather will be my fitness coach, helping to prepare my body for the rigors of this competition.  What is even more exciting, is we will be doing most of our work online through skype!  It is very cool that I will be able to do most of my exercises from home or at the barn (and can do the same for you!).

Her qualifications are seemingly endless, just take a look at her full bio:

Heather Sansom,

MA, PhD researcher, certified fitness and riding coach.

 Equestrian Fitness Leader

HeatherSansom-16Since starting her rider fitness coaching practice Equifitt.com in 2007, Heather has been a leader in North America in rider biomechanics and conditioning, educating and sharing knowledge through conference speaking, over 100 articles published in equestrian magazines, and her popular and unique rider fitness ebooks.  She has spoken internationally and nationally for provincial and national equestrian federations and Pony Club.  She is available for speaking and workshops for youth and adults.

Heather is a certified Personal Trainer, Centered Riding® Instructor and Equine Canada Competition Coach (English disciplines), and was formerly responsible for directing the Canadian national equestrian coaching, riding and long term athlete development programs.  She has also taught fitness for riders at the University of Guelph, Kemptville, and uses her expertise in core training to teach a course for people with back injuries in a physiotherapy centre.  A lifelong rider, she has trained in Dressage to Level 4, and has done fitness coaching for some of Canada’s Olympic and listed riders, and riders of all ages.

Equifitt Riders are Regular People with Extraordinary Dreams

While some clients have been elite athletes, most Equifitt riders are adults looking to get the most out of their ride by using their body better.  Heather believes that we all owe it to our horses to bring our own self-carriage and balance to our ride.  She also believes that all riders have more ability than they are tapping into, and can improve their riding experience with their equine team-mate, whether he is a backyard horse or a high performance horse.  Riding better means more safety and less wear/compensation for your horse, gets you closer to your personal goals, and makes your experience more fun.  Caring for your own physical needs means riding better, and riding longer in life.  We all want to be working with our horses as long as we can, and we want to do our best for them.

Making Coaching Accessible Anywhere Through Skype:

You Can Get a Fitness Coach Without Leaving Your House

Heather regularly does personal program design and fitness coaching with riders around the world through Skype.  This helps riders get training that is specifically targeted to their riding needs, from their home, and often at a fraction of the cost of hiring a personal trainer at a local gym.  (To find out more, contact Heather at personaltraining@equifitt.com or by posting a question on the Equifitt.com Facebook page.)

 No Gimmicks, Just Solid (and effective) Training:

Heather insists that the Equifitt training approach is not a branded gimmick, but a balanced approach to meeting the conditioning and movement pattern needs of riders.

“I have found that as a personal training, you really have to also be a rider, and have an excellent eye or feel for biomechanics in order to work with riders most effectively.  I once took polo lessons myself so that I could help a client.  Even as a rider, there were aspects of his training needs that I thought I understood…but when I took the polo lessons I realized I was missing about 30% of what I needed to know to make his program the best it could be. 

Trainers that don’t ride often have misconceptions about muscles used and movement patterns of riding, and this makes the training less targeted. I also find that fitness trainers with experience in one discipline- say hunter/jumper, really do not have as solid an inside understanding of the training needs for other disciplines.  That is why I went through learning to jump even though I am primarily a dressage rider.  I have also conditioning endurance horses, done a little gaming, and done some basic cross-country work.  All of this has helped me build successful training programs for riders in different disciplines.

Most riders I know have a really packed schedule and need to be efficient with their training, so aligning it to their riding accomplishes several things and helps.  Also, there are some training modes that would help almost any rider, but there is no ‘magic bullet’ or gimmick system that suits all riders. 

Just like their training programs for their horses, a riders’ training program is more effective when it is really tailored to their individual needs, time constraints, preferences, and the discipline they ride and goals they have.  We have a real marketing focused culture where people like to promote gimmicks or branded formulas. But basic biomechanics, solid foundations and athlete-centred training aren’t a gimmick. They just work.” Heather Sansom

She uses best practices and solid training techniques, as well as her own exercises and exercise combinations which she has developed over time and through experience working with riders.  Programs are holistic, taking all aspects of the riders health and fitness goals into account, and can be adjusted to include equipment and activities they have access too, though most riders are pressed for time and appreciate programs they can easily do from  home or barn.

Equifitt Riders Come in All Shapes and Abilities:

Do the Most You Can with What You Have

With a focus on integrated core training and functional movement, Heather has worked with numerous riders with special considerations such as joint replacement, injury recovery or other conditions or disabilities as a complement or extension of their physio-therapy activities.

The Equifitt vision and mission are to contribute meaningfully to excellence in equestrian sport by helping riders improve the conditions for riding at their best- good fitness, a supple and athletic body, effective movement patterns and good biomechanics.  Balanced training for better riding really means you and your horse have more fun reaching your goals and improving your performance.

Where to Get Free and Really Cheap Help with Your Fitness for Riding:

Free rider fitness information is available by signing up for the Equifitt newsletter (http://www.equifitt.com/resources.html ), ‘liking’ Equifitt.com on Facebook, or looking for some of Heather’s Equifitt YouTube videos.

Unique Equestrian Fitness Ebooks available at: http://www.equifitt.com/resources.html

“The Complete Core Workout for Riders”

 “Handy Stretching Guide for Riders”

 “Gentle Workout for Mature Riders”

“Fit to Ride: Collected Equestrian Fitness Tips and Articles Volume I”

“Fit to Ride: Collected Equestrian Fitness Tips and Articles Volume II”

Other Unique Fitness ebooks available at: http://www.equifitt.com/fitness.html

“Killer Core Workout for Runners”* *

**Proceeds support the Canadian non-profit www.ryanswell.ca , bringing sanitary water to thousands of people around the world in desperate need.

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