Pilates: the answer to rider fitness?

Pilates is an extremely popular form of exercise in the general population with many equestrian athletes incorporating it into their weekly fitness routine. However, Pilates is nothing new, it was first created in 1920’s America by Joseph and Clara Pilates when they opened their ‘Body Conditioning Gym’.


This blog will explore what Pilates is, how it can benefit you as an equestrian athlete and whether Pilates is the answer to rider fitness.


What are Pilates?

Pilates promotes a connection between mental and physical health by combining breathing and a connection with your body with a series dynamic movement. There are a range of styles of Pilates using equipment such a reformer. However, do not be put off, as most Pilates is most commonly performed with an exercise matt and no expensive equipment.

One of the best things about Pilates is that they are accessible for all ages and experience levels. So whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro there will always be a routine that will suit you.


What are the benefits of Pilates?

Pilates has a range of benefits that include improving, posture, balance, coordination, and muscle tone. All qualities required by equestrian athletes to work in harmony with their equine partner.


How often should equestrian athletes complete Pilates?

To feel a benefit of Pilates it Is recommended that you complete Pilates twice a week. These sessions should be at least 30 minutes in length.


Where can you try Pilates for free?

Equestrian Pilates are very popular, with companies offering equestrian specific programmes. However, any form of Pilates will provide you with a generic level of flexibility, strength, balance and improvement to your posture.


Julie Driver Pilates

Julie specialises in Equestrian Pilates and supports the talented riders on the Windrush Equestrian Foundation programme. Her social media and website has information on exercises for equestrian athletes.


Move with Nicole

Nicole is an Australian Pilates instructor who has a range of videos on her YouTube channel of varying length and experience level. The classes are free and easy to follow from the comfort of your front room.




Is Pilates the only type of physical preparation you should be doing out the saddle as an equestrian athlete?

Put simply no. Pilates is ONE type of physical preparation as an equestrian athlete you should be completing. Pilates has benefits as discussed at the start of the blog however it will not target the development of the cardio-respiratory system (your heart and lungs) which is vital for transporting blood around the body during exercise (riding). Riders must take a rounded approach to their physical preparation therefore they should also participate in cardiovascular exercise, such as running or cycling along with Pilates or other weight-based training activity.


About the Author

Hi, my name is Rosa. I am a Sport Scientist and work with elite athletes in an University setting. I have an MSc from Loughborough University in Exercise Physiology and have researched equestrian athletes. I use scientific research to help produce my content so you can be sure that what I am producing is factually and scientifically correct! If you want to know about me and my journey to this point please have a look at my About page.

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