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It was about time I shared this crazy story.

Some of you may know me as the founder of CheerConditioning.Academy. Part of this job is keeping fit to make fitness videos for the cheerleading community, even though I have only recently come back to it after taking a 2 year break from the physical stuff.

I usually write our articles about what drills can help cheerleaders and coaches achieve better results, but this week I wanted to make the message much more personal. This is the story of how being fit, literally saved my life. TWICE, within the space of 3 weeks.

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Minutes before this nutter decided it was time to train for the Kentucky Derby

When I was on honeymoon a few months ago, the horse I was riding on safari had a "moment" and bolted for 1.5km at a speed of 50km/h. This went on for about 5 minutes. I tried everything to stop it, but nothing worked and it could have ended in disaster.. thankfully, all of the core training I do for cheerleading meant I was able to keep my stability despite finding myself on a horse that thought he was in the Kentucky Derby.

The horse was about to drag me though the bushes when I realised that I needed to do something drastic to avoid something horrible. My only option was to throw myself off, knowing very well that I was going to break a lot of bones. If I was lucky, my back and neck might not get battered.

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a regular rider, and I am non a stuntwoman! ..and sadly this horse was also a dressage horse and completely inappropriate for tourist safari rides - the entire situation was a shambles.

So as I saw the words "The End" slowly starting to appear in this beautiful scenery, I made the split decision to throw myself off, trying to remember all of the things I knew about falling: don't get tangled, relax, breathe out, protect your head, roll. All at once. I basically TWIST CRADLED OUT and flopped, away from the direction the horse was going, to avoid getting trampled. Avoiding rocks. Miraculously, I came out of it with only a badass scrape and bruise on my arm. I couldn’t quite believe it but I managed to avoid disaster.

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After 3 weeks later, lots of yoga and some physiotherapy to help my muscles relax after the impact - my husband, Charlie (our rescue pup) and I went on a hike on the local mountain, as we usually do on the weekends.

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Seems innocent enough. Sadly, little did we know what was waiting for us at the top. Let's just say we had another freak accident and we had to sprint through the bushes away from danger, running down through the steep hills and rocks. Even though I was falling downhill as I was running I was able to pick myself up again and keep running.

This time, what saved me was my speed reaction, my ability to continue running and falling safely and just keep going. In the madness we also lost our puppy, because he bolted and we thought we would never see him again.. Thankfully, Charlie is a clever pup and he managed to find his way back down to the carpark!!! We had a real Disney moment there when he ran into my arms, after thinking we had lost each other forever.

There were tears of joy and relief...

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3 months have passed since my debut into "married life" and I certainly did not expect it to be this eventful. 😳

The last few months and the Christmas holidays have given me time to reflect and come to some conclusions that I wanted to share with you all:

  • You never know what’s around the corner, but if you treat your body in the way that it was meant to, keep it active, strong and resilient - in the face of danger it can do things you never thought were possible.

  • Staying fit should not be a cult: anything, in extremes - is never good for you. Living a little, finding balance, is key. It’s not all or nothing: do what you can, but remember to do the things you want too because before you know it, you may not even be around to enjoy them.

  • Training strength and aesthetics might get you Instagram followers, but training resilience is the most powerful tool that you can have. You can’t avoid injury altogether, but you can definitely minimise it.

  • Do sports: whether it's cheerleading, boxing, football.. (maybe not horse riding!) because sports keep you REACTIVE and keep challenging your body with the unexpected.

I am eternally grateful for the role that fitness plays in my life, and my biggest wish is to help more people find joy and health through staying active. Please feel free to join me on Instagram @jessicaZ00 if you want to join me on this journey whether you're into cheerleading or not. I’m currently working on some new videos for Youtube, Instagram and members of the CheerConditioning.Academy and looking forward to sharing some new workout videos for 2018.. and not just for cheerleaders!

Yours in #BodyBeforeSkill


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