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Pilates for Sports Series: Horse Racing

Interview by Barend Vorster, Smartfit client and a multiple award-winning jockey.

April 2016


I have been doing Pilates and Strengthen, Stretch and Condition training at SmartFit and working with Marina for two years.  I am a professional race horse jockey.  It is an intense sport that demands a high level of fitness. My training enables me to sustain that level.

I ride 5-6 days per week. I race two days per week – 8 or 9 races per day.  The other days I spend 4-5 hours per day exercising the horses.  Here in Singapore the weather is quite hot so it is very taxing physically.

Working with Marina at SmartFit has most definitely helped me succeed with this rigorous schedule.  Even though riding keeps me fit, my focused and intense training at SmartFit supports my performance and enables me to keep up with the demands of the sport.  Before taking up this training regimen, I was always tired and stiff after a weekend of racing, and it would take several days to recover.  My recovery time is much shorter now and I feel much better after racing.

Balance, Endurance

On a horse, stability, balance, strength and endurance are all important.  In a race you need to be in stride with the horse.  You actually push the horse with a steady motion.  You have to be as “slim line” as possible, you have to be able to be in motion with the horse, in a certain position for a long period of time.  For me, Pilates has enabled me to maintain that edge and positon for a longer period of time and this has been a real benefit to me.


Injuries for a jockey are very common.  You are riding at full speed on a large animal.  A pull or a jerk happens and can cause injury.  With a high level of fitness, injuries are not as serious or as common.

My Racing Performance

In the two years that I have been doing this training, I have seen definite improvements in my performance in racing. At a younger age, most jockeys are strong and recover faster and don’t see the need to do additional exercise. At my age, I need to work on my strength, flexibility and balance to sustain and improve my performance. With Pilates I have sustained my level of performance and am at the highest level of racing in my career, I am getting the best horses and races of my career and best chances to succeed.  I see a great return on the time and investment I make in Pilates in my performance and income.

Marina and SmartFit Studio

Marina is a very special person and instructor.  She is not just a fitness coach or instructor, although she has that background as well.  She has an expert level of anatomy and physiology, she is very attentive and particular, almost perfectionist.  She has worked with me enough that she knows exactly where to work on my body and at what level of intensity.  This is very important to me.  Anyone can lift weights or work out and it will be helpful, but I need that focus and the precision. It is very beneficial to me.

Also, Marina is a teacher.  I am learning posture and how to maintain posture and precise movement.  Because of her teaching I am more self-aware. I can self-correct and improve.

Pilates is for Everyone

I have recommended a friend who has come and worked with Marina for a year.

My wife has taken up Pilates at Smartfit too.  She enjoys it, and talks about it with me a lot!  She doesn’t need to be at the level I need, but she keeps herself in shape as a busy mother.

I have an in-law who is 78 years old who is highly mobile, strong, flexible and lives a really fully life, more than her peers.  This is due to her steady practice of Pilates.  It is a lifetime thing for her and it will be for me too.