We all have our guilty pleasures. 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.
Getting Grand National ready
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.’
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.
The workout involved five gruelling stations, each of two exercises. Included were box jumps, TRX pistol squats, bear crawls and kettlebell swings. And of course 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 in reasonable, I admit to being totally exhausted by the end. Swinging a 15 kg kettlebell and doing my first ever box jumps left my limbs a little bit shaky! That said, I had so much fun!
Jockey fit ambassadors
We 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’.
Working-out with Chelsea royalty
While at the event I also had a chance to catch-up with fellow mum, Binky. 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, but she said that unfortunately there weren’t many opportunities in London. When back in Sussex she did try to ride a little claiming to be a ‘country girl at heart’.
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!).
I also asked her about getting back into exercise post-baby. 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 felt more comfortable and relaxed in her skin. She is amazed at what her body has done in growing and birthing a child. She is also less hung-up on her ‘wobbly bits’ (of which there were none!) than she had been before.
The Mummy Tribe
Talking of her role as a mum, I was also interested to hear more about her business, The Mummy Tribe. The Tribe runs three-day retreats for mums and babies in East Sussex. She emphasised 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. This is something she has also identified in other mothers, and so she was keen to find a way to bring back a greater sense of self in mums. ‘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!
A working mum
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. 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 finished our chat with an Eat/Sweat/Breath quick fire round:
Favourite place to EAT in London: ‘Monty’s on the Fulham Road – they do a delicious curry. I always go for a chicken jalfrezi, saag aloo and pilau rice. Ooh or Koji also on the Fulham Road.’
Favourite place to BREATHE in London: ‘I’m more of a country girl so there aren’t really any places in London I really relax. If I want to relax I go to East Sussex or go on walks on the South Downs.’
Binky Felstead is an ambassador for Great British Racing’s #JockeyFit programme. For more visit gbraci.ng/jockeyfit