Riding Isn’t Enough: Alexa Ehlers On Why Crossfit Makes Her Stronger

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Alexa Ehlers is a 23-year-old eventer living in Lexington, Kentucky. She is currently running and managing her family’s equestrian facility, Clear View Equestrian Center. She is currently the University of Kentucky’s 2017 IDA team coach. 

Crossfit Works What Riding Doesn’t

I didn’t want to be a Crossfit groupie, but I needed a supplemental workout to be stronger for my 2* horse, who’s pretty wild. Riding 7 horses a day wasn’t enough [of a workout]. I needed something to make my core stronger.

My friends came in town and tired this gym, Crossfit Maximums, and loved it. I found a Groupon for it that included 4 weeks of beginner Crossfit. It teaches you all the basics and all the skills, with a huge focus on activating your core. I thought, “This is exactly what I needed for riding.” Everything I was doing was making my riding stronger. And since the classes already incorporate yoga into the beginning and end, I get everything I need out of my Crossfit workouts.

Other girls from the barn and girls I coach have even started joining the same gym. They’ve realized that it’s made a big difference in their riding now that they’re getting more control of their bodies.

Keeping A Schedule Is The Key To Success

I’m a perfectionist, so it’s really good to get in the gym and take that time to work on me and getting better on my own. It’s helped me just be able to focus on me and what I’m doing. That’s why keeping a schedule is so important. I even notice I ride better after a workout. If I’m competing locally, and the timing works out, I go to a 5:30 am CrossFit class and then head to the show.

But if I’m traveling or can’t make it to the gym, there are a few stretches I do to warm up and cool down. A few years ago, I broke my transverse process, L2, L3, and L4 so I don’t use my back the way I should. To help with this, I do the “dead bug”. You lay on your back and put your hands and feet in the air, and focus on keeping your back straight. Then you lower opposite legs and hands — right leg down with left arm down. You have to focus on keeping your back flat on the ground.

After The Workout

I make my own smoothies at home! I try and cook at home as much as I can, actually. My favorite smoothie to make is just ice, spinach,  a lot of peanut butter, and soy milk in a blender. Mentally, sometimes it’s hard not to take on everyone else’s problems. So you have to focus on your own stuff first. For me, when working out isn’t enough, I read Winning In Mind and I feel better and more focused.

Nicole is a writer for Heels Down Media. If she's not writing or editing, she's either running, doing yoga, or at the barn working on becoming a better, stronger dressage rider.

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