To help with this challenge and provide inspiration when it comes to health and fitness, three Cape Town-based jockeys provided some insight into how to lose weight and remain fit under the pressure of meeting goals.
In addition to being as physically fit and athletic as possible, jockeys need to have remarkable balance and strength to stay on a horse moving at up to 70 km/h. For the horse to be able to perform its best, jockeys also need to ensure that their weight remains around 52kgs and ensure that they reach this goal in time for race days.
Taking health and fitness to the finish line.
Aldo Domeyer, Richard Fourie, and Grant van Niekerk are among the top riders in the country and the top three in the Western Cape.
Each has recently raced in the prestigious L'Ormarins King's Plate Racing Festival and is now preparing for the World Sports Betting Cape Town Met, which will take place on January 28 at the upgraded Hollywoodbets Kenilworth racecourse.
To compete more successfully in the The L'Ormarins King's Plate Racing Festival, Domeyer had to make sure he weighed 58kg. Domeyer typically weighs 60kg, making him one of the heavier riders in racing, but he works hard to lose weight ahead of competitions.
“To lose weight, you need to combine healthy eating and exercise, and it is essential to be disciplined with both. You need to focus on what your body needs and not what you want.
“For example, I don’t like fish, but when it comes to crunch time, I eat a lot of fish and only drink water. Sometimes I will add other types of protein, such as red meat, when I need more energy,” said Domeyer.
Exercise is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep illnesses at bay. However, for some people, it's more than that. It is a way of life.
In comparison to a typical fitness routine, a professional athlete's exercise programme is harder and more rigorous.
Following a customised workout schedule, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding junk food and alcohol are all necessary for developing an athletic physique.
Domeyer’s preferred mode of exercise is running.
“I run about 10km to 21km, and sometimes the shorter length will feel harder. It’s mind over matter, and you need to remind yourself that this is something you need to and can do, and then ensure that you exercise no matter what,” said the jockey.
As a lightweight jockey, Richard Fourie said since he travels extensively, keeping his weight down can be tricky.
“While I’m often tempted by the fast-food outlets at the airport, I typically eat light snacks and small meals throughout the day.”
Studies have shown that horse riding can increase strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, mental toughness, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness for those who want to incorporate it into their fitness regimes.
Grant van Niekerk, another lightweight, admits that by taking a sabbatical from the sport, he picked up a few kilos.
“I do a lot of cardio because I need to lose weight and not gain muscle. I prefer cycling, as it puts less pressure on my joints. To slim down quickly, I eat mainly chicken and salad as well as drink smoothies.”
He gives the following advice to anyone thinking about becoming a jockey, "Always work hard and do everything with confidence. If your efforts fall short of what others expect, it shouldn't matter because you can only do your best.“
Domeyer, who is the former Western Cape Champion jockey said that being a jockey is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. “It’s something you live for, and you have to be willing to make the sacrifices that come with it.”
When it comes to the ‘new year, new you’ mentality, not only are these pointers relevant to the jockey lifestyle, but also to anyone who wants to successfully reach a goal.