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Farm Fit versus Gym Fit

Published: 4/12/2011
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

I used to be an athlete.
I’d run and lift weights. For a few years there, I was even on a soccer team.
This winter, I signed up for a gym membership with my teenage sons. I vowed to lift, take yoga classes, run on the treadmill and use the other cardio machines.
And I did.
For about two weeks.
Quicker than a dieter’s collapse, I reverted to the habits acquired over the past 10 years:
-- Take long, daily woods walks with the dogs.
-- Clean the stalls, take care of the barn, and work with the horses.
-- Maybe stretch during a television show, if I get to it.

My entrenched lifestyle got me thinking about Farm Fit and Gym Fit. I have friends in both camps.

Which one are you?

Farm Fit:
  • 100 bales of hay to move? No problem.
  • Fence post holes to dig? No problem.
  • Load of grain delivered? Cake.
  • A cardio workout is running after the horses or beating them to the open gate. Gasp!
  • Aerobics classes? I did them back when leggings were in.
  • Run a mile or play tennis with my son? Lord help me.

Gym Fit:
  • 30 minutes on the treadmill, with two percent incline at seven minute miles. No problem.
  • Six sets of crunches. Six sets of lunges. No problem.
  • Aerobics class yesterday. And will again tomorrow.
  • Move aforementioned bales of hay? Give me a conditioning plan and I'll do it next month.

Farm Fit Attitude:
  • I worked hard today because there was a lot of work to do.
  • I weigh xxx pounds. I fit into the same pair of jeans I bought 10 years ago. That was the last time I weighed myself.
  • Sweats are what you change into when you're done barn work for the day.
  • I wore shorts twice last summer. It was embarrassing. Plus, why change when you need to wear pants for nearly every chore?
Gym Fit Attitude:
  • I worked hard today because it was Monday, Wednesday or Friday and I always work hard on those days.
  • I weigh xxx pounds. I know because I stepped on the scale this morning, like I do every morning.
  • Sweats are what you wear when you work out.
  • Summertime, I live in shorts. I love to show off my tan and shape.

View Reader Comments:

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4/12/2011 Missy
Thanks for the laugh! I've often pondered that same question. Used to be the one that people said spandex hung loose on. Too much gym time. Played softball, surfed, field hockey but nothing is the workout that farm work is. The beauty is you HAVE to do the farm work, not skip a day at the gym, if you don't feel like going. I'll take hay bales and water buckets over Nautilus machines any day!
4/13/2011 Leisha
Cute story,I recently had to give up my gym membership and was feeling bad about it, but I realized that I do still work out every day. I have noticed little differnce in my shape cause if you scoop poop, lug a 16lb saddle, ride, lift grain bags or catch a horse that does not want to be caught, it's all the same!
4/13/2011 susan
my farm is my gym, just more fun and more satisfying at the end of the day.
4/14/2011 Julie
I definitely have the "farm fit" attitude. I never weigh myself, but know I'm losing weight when I have to hit Goodwill for new jeans :) I love it when I get finished a lesson and my high school students are complaining about sore quads, thighs and abs when I don't have a problem at all. Plus, I can pick up, load, unload, and stack 100 bales by myself, if need be. Not too shabby!!
10/23/2011 Christine Giguere
And at 52 years old with 2 full tendon tears and blown rotator cuff I can still lug water buckets, carry 80 pounds like it was nothing, throw a saddle up on a horse like a 16 year old, out toss 100 bales of hay over a 24 year old whining for a break! Hey, you can bet I would'nt trade my years of a lifetime horse people membership for any gym card that collects dust in most wallets! My gym is cheaper and I have stuck to it over 45 years LOL now let's compare that dedication to the last person who says "I just got a new gym membership, I am going to go everyday" be lucky if they go a horse, cheaper addiction to maintain and stay in shape, lasts longer too
3/5/2015 Christine
Loved this article! I was a sports kid, too. My grandmother (who, along with my grandad, were both raised on farms) signed me up for every and anything. Swimming, soccer, gymnastics, dance, "figurative" ballet... that one was interesting... Tennis, you name it. Don't get me wrong, I was so lucky to have those opportunitues, and love both of my grandparents very much. I have almost always been considered to be fit. However, I tried the whole gym workout thing. Yoga was fun, but lasted a mere 3 months. Why go to the gym when I could be working? Well, I recently spent 18 months working on a boarding farm, 30+ horses of various styles. I have never been more fit in my life!

"Anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh