Chat with Chukka Wellness
To highlight the necessity for staying fit for polo, Chukka Wellness interviewed a mixture of successful international polo players. Their top nutrition and fitness secrets were revealed along with how they prepare mentally and physically for a big tournament.
This month we spoke to Santiago Araya Jr. who is a member of the well-known Araya family. He splits his time between Argentina and the UK where he is based at Ham Polo Club in Richmond. His main goals for 2020 is to improve his handicap and play in the Camara tournament in Argentina. We asked Santi how he prepares for the busy polo season and how he stays fit and healthy throughout the year.
1. How do you prepare physically and mentally for the polo season and big tournaments?
I work with a Personal Trainer in Argentina to prepare my body for the busy polo seasons. Mentally I try to stay as optimistic as possible especially when unexpected problems occur such as an injury to a horse or myself…
2. Do you have a specific gym routine you follow?
Before each big season I follow a pre-season routine that consists mainly of heavy weight training and lots of stretching in order to avoid injury. During the busy season I change my workout regime to solely functional training and rehab (pool recovery, stretching routine) but I am lucky if I can get to the gym more than 3x a week due to a busy tournament schedule.
3. Is nutrition an important element to your preparations for big tournaments?
I try to eat as healthy as possible throughout the year but during my pre- season training, I add in a post workout protein shake to aid in muscle recovery. I struggle to maintain my weight during the busy season so focus on consuming lots of complex carbohydrates for increased body mass. I love using energy gels during long matches too!
4. What does your post game routine involve?
Every polo player reflects on the game regardless of whether they win or lose but if I have access to a post-match video recording; I like to sit and analyse not only my game but how well the horses performed too! I try to get to the gym the following day to stretch out my body and focus on any tight areas.
5. Do you think fitness is an essential part to becoming a better polo player?
I think that fitness training prepares you not only physically for polo but mentally too. The harder I train, the fitter & stronger I become which makes me more determined on the field. Hiring a trainer was the best thing I did as I now have help with correcting my form during exercises and therefore suffer with less injuries.
6. There is a big focus on health & fitness at high goal level, do you think it should be introduced into medium and low goal too and why?
I think there is already a big focus on fitness in medium and low goal however some teams may have a smaller budget to spend on fitness trainers which may limit them. I recommend the Chukka Wellness 6 Week Pre-Season Programme as it is affordable and covers not only the exercise element but nutrition too!
6. What’s the best bit of advice you could give beginner players?
If you want to become an effective player… understand that it takes hard work and professionalism to get there!