Getting Jockey Fit for Grand National weekend

Launched to coincide with the weekend of the Grand National (Saturday, 6 April), Jockey Fit is a fun but intensive workout, designed to showcase the elite levels of fitness required by jockeys.

We all have our guilty pleasures and if the names Binky Felstead or Rupert Campbell-Black mean anything to you, you will have a clue as to two of mine! For those of you less au fait with Made in Chelsea and/or the toe-curlingly cringy novels of Jilly Cooper about the machinations of the horseracing and polo-playing elite, perhaps the promise of an exclusive, jockey-inspired workout at the boutique UN1T gym in London Bridge, which included the chance to ‘ride the Grand National course’ on a mechanical horse, will help to explain why I jumped on the chance to attend the inaugural session of Great British Racing’s new Jockey Fit programme this week.

Riding the equiciser

Launched to coincide with the weekend of the Grand National (Saturday, 6 April), Jockey Fit is a fun but intensive workout, designed to showcase the elite levels of fitness required by jockeys. As Penny Maltby-Payne, PR Manager at Great British Racing noted:

‘It’s a gruelling class that will help us promote the sheer level of athleticism of modern-day jockeys, a level of athleticism very often underestimated.’

Superman holds and sit-ups with medicine balls

Comprising a high intensity circuit routine that targets four of the key physical facets relied upon in horse racing – quads, cardio, balance and core strength – Jockey Fit was created by GBR in partnership with Cheltenham Festival winner Lizzie Kelly and UN1T personal trainer Gary Williams.

Fitness influencer Chessie King

The workout itself involved five gruelling stations, each of two exercises, which included box jumps, TRX pistol squats, bear crawls and kettlebell swings, not to mention the aforementioned mechanical horse, called an equiciser, thrown in at the end! We performed each exercise for 40 seconds, with 20 seconds rest in between sets, and did 3 reps of each. While I like to think I’m getting back into shape post-baby (at least I hope so with the London Marathon looming large now!) I have to admit to being totally exhausted by the end. Swinging a 15kg kettlebell and doing my first ever box jumps left my limbs a little bit shaky to say the least! That said, I had so much fun and I definitely worked harder than I would have done had I been on my own – this felt like the epitome of a smart workout!

Skipping 40 seconds, followed by 40 seconds bear crawls

Bloggers and reporters at the event were joined by Jockey Fit ambassador and Made in Chelsea star Binky Felstead, fitness sensation Chessie King and professional jockey Lizzie Kelly. Following the workout Chessie observed:

‘I’ve done a lot of HIIT variations but this one is something else! The 45-minute session was more than enough to make my legs and core burn’.

Stretching at the end of the session
We train as 1!

While at the event I also had a chance to catch-up with fellow mum, Binky, who you may also recognise as the cover girl for April’s Women’s Health magazine. Having seen her put through the Jockey Fit paces while barely breaking a sweat, there is no doubt that this is a mum of is on top of her fitness game! I asked her if she still did much horse riding herself, but she said that unfortunately there weren’t many opportunities in London, although when back in Sussex she did try to ride a little – ‘I’m a country girl at heart’, she remarked. I spoke to her about how the Jockey Fit workout compared to her normal exercise regime, which she said is a similarly efficient 45 minute to an hour HIIT session. She normally trains with a PT and uses the Fiit app (a company for which she is also an ambassador), which enables her to workout at home. She exercises each morning, which perpetuates a virtuous circle of feeling good and making healthy eating choices. I did query how she was able to fit this in around her daughter, India, and she conceded that while it was easier on the two days when India is at nursery, she also uses the Bubble babysitting app to help on the other days (this app is a wonder and if you haven’t yet discovered it, it’s worth checking out!).

Me and Binky

I also asked her about getting back into exercise post-baby, and she advised starting slowly and seeing a women’s health physio before hitting the high-impact cardio. When I raised the question of how having a baby had changed her relationship with her body she said that she certainly felt more comfortable and relaxed in her skin, that she was amazed at what her body had done in growing and birthing a child and that she was less hung-up on her ‘wobbly bits’ (of which there were none!) than she had been before.  

Talking of her role as a mum, I was also interested to hear more about her business, The Mummy Tribe, which runs three-day retreats for mums and babies in East Sussex. She was keen to emphasise how these retreats go beyond just a spa experience, including talks and workshops on weaning, mental health and general wellbeing. She noted that how, after the birth of her daughter, she underwent a certain loss of identity, something she had identified in other mothers (and something which I said I related to), and so she was keen to find a way to bring back a greater sense of self in mums like herself:

‘It’s amazing how just having your nails done, getting a blow dry and a spray tan can completely change the way you feel about yourself’.

I was interested to hear how involved she had been in the ins and outs of the retreats – the general look and feel, organising the workshops, programming the workouts, selecting the menus etc. – and she insisted that she as heavily involved in all elements and attended all of the retreats, sourcing speakers from word-of-mouth recommendations as well as from Instagram. She also flagged that a new, one-day retreat at a venue closer to London was on the horizon – I will certainly be keeping an eye out for this!

If The Mummy Tribe wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she is also launching a jewellery range, which will be promoted under her given name, Alexandra Felstead, and I asked if this was a shift away from the ‘Binky’ brand to something new. She shrugged this off, insisting that she would always be Binky, and that while the jewellery was something a bit more ‘grown-up’ it only represents part of who she is. When I suggested that she might be regarded as a business woman or an entrepreneur she actually laughed – ‘I’m a woman in business I guess’ she conceded, ‘I’m a working mum, but I couldn’t call myself a business woman without sniggering’. Still, she is a working mum with lots of irons in the fire and one I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on for future initiatives.

‘I’m a woman in business I guess […] I’m a working mum, but I couldn’t call myself a business woman without sniggering’.

Binky with the equiciser

Binky Felstead is an ambassador for Great British Racing’s #JockeyFitprogramme. To see jockeys in action, watch The Randox Health Grand National Festival live on ITV from 4-6th April. For more visit gbraci.ng/jockeyfit

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