Our Back on Track squad challenge during the fourth week was to step outside our comfort zone, and I decided to try a hip hop dance workout. I thought a dance workout would work on many things riders need: strength, endurance, balance, coordination, and memory.

I’d always wanted to try a class since I do like to dance, but admittedly am not very good. I don’t think long, lanky bodies are usually the most coordinated! At a recent wedding, the bride’s mother commented that I was a “great dancer,” but I’m pretty sure she just meant “enthusiastic dancer.”

I Googled a workout class from YouTube, since the gym where I am a member doesn’t have a class of that type, and because I didn’t want to drive anywhere for a class. THANK GOODNESS! No one needed to see the tangle of limbs four beats behind that was me dancing.

I couldn’t believe how hard it was, not only physically but mentally. Remembering all the steps and getting my body to move in those ways was very tough!

These correlate directly with riding difficulties too. Remembering my course usually isn’t difficult since I do hunters, but remembering all the things I need to do – outside leg here, more pace, deeper in this corner, don’t let him look at that cow mooing by the side of the ring – can often be a challenge. Getting your body to do precisely what you want is a struggle a lot of riders can relate to. I have one toe that turns out too much, and if I am not concentrating on that toe all the time, it creeps back out.

Improving my body control with out of the saddle work outs can only improve my position and effectiveness in the saddle. As someone who lives 40 miles from my barn, I can only get out to ride three times a week, so anything I can do to help my riding the other four days is a huge bonus. This workout also really highlighted areas I can improve on, mainly strength and coordination, which means I can now focus on those areas. For now, I will continue to supplement my workouts with a dance class, but for now, only in the privacy of my own home!

Written by Back On Track Fitness Challenge Recruit Nicole Tidwell.