The female off-road riding community has no shortage of impressive girls - from creatives, to business owners, to passionate ladies who love life and seek adventure and personal growth. To kick off the New Year, check out this interview with Over And Out's first FAST FRIEND, dirt bike rider and female fitness boss-lady Erika Hurst.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO RIDING?
Ever since I was a little girl I wanted a dirt bike. I thought they were the most badass things ever! But, I never got one and kind of gave up on the idea as I grew up. I ended up getting heavy into off-roading and rock crawling instead.
Then a few years ago, in the midst of a pretty low point in my life, I was seeking something to pull me out of my hole and build me back up again. So I bought my first dirt bike and I have been hooked ever since.
WHAT TYPE OF RIDING DO YOU LIKE THE MOST?
The first time I ever rode in the woods I HATED it. I actually ran over my own leg, and two dudes had to help me pry my boot out of my wheel well. (To this day I still have NO idea how I even managed to do that). I had whiskey throttled straight into a tree and took a handle bar through my helmet and goggles right into my face.
I had only been riding for a couple months and didn’t really have any solid skills or confidence, so it really rattled me. At the time I swore I’d never go in the woods again.
That was three years ago and somehow I keep finding myself pulled back out there and craving trail riding because I know it will not only make me a better rider skill-wise, but also when something scares the shit out of me I know I have to break through that barrier if I want to grow.
Needless to say, woods riding has definitely grown on me. Unfortunately, I don’t get to do it very often because of the strict laws in CT. So I spend most of my seat time on the track – which I love too!
HOW DID YOU GET INTO FITNESS TRAINING?
After high school I gained some weight and became the girl who ran on the treadmill for hours 6-7 days a week and ate as little as possible. I thought this would make me fit, while the need for strength never occurred to me.
I started going to an automotive tech school at the time. I could barely lift a tire and I always had to ask for help breaking bolts. It was hard enough as a woman trying to get hired as a mechanic, but adding a lack of physical capability on top of that I realized I needed to do something about that. So I slowly started spending a little more time in the weight room.
I soaked up every bit of knowledge I could on how to get stronger. When I spent less time self-loathing about my body fat or trying to use the treadmill to burn off every calorie possible, and spent more time finding meaning in pursuing physical capability, treating myself well and eating to support my body, my life completely changed.
I realized this approach was working; I saw and felt incredible changes in my body. And, I felt like it was my duty to share this “secret” with other women, so I switched careers and started school for exercise science and human performance.
TELL US ABOUT HURST STRENGTH!
I wanted to create a gym where women could go to feel empowered, badass and free of judgement. I also believe what we do in the gym should enhance our lives, make us feel badass and should be used as a vehicle towards becoming our best, most capable selves so we can do more rad things outside of the gym.
So that’s what I created with my gym, Hurst Strength. My goal is to change how women view fitness, lead them to feeling more confident in their bodies and help them embrace proper strength training. This is what I work towards doing every day.
I try to let my life be an example for other women and to show I practice what I preach – I don’t spend hours working out, I don’t diet or deprive myself, I continuously chase strength and improved performance so that I can live a more abundant life, and I see food as both fuel and pleasure.
Lifting has also given me the confidence to pursue other endeavors and risks that I would have never had the confidence to do otherwise. I’m constantly asking myself “can I do that?” Which has pushed me to seek out activities like dirtbiking, mountain biking and downhill riding, hiking, snowboarding, the list goes on!
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT FITNESS AND ITS RELATION TO RIDING?
There is absolutely no way I could have developed the skills or endurance to properly ride or handle a dirt bike if I wasn’t strong, functionally fit and didn’t have the body awareness I’ve developed from strength training.
I’d also probably still be pinned underneath my bike in the middle of a track somewhere. Haha!
WHAT FITNESS TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FEMALE RIDERS?
1. Don’t shy away from weights. Women are often convinced they shouldn’t lift weights or should do “toning” exercises with light weight. But a combo of heavy weight and low reps (1-5X) plus moderate weight with slightly higher reps (6-12X) is the most effective.
2. Focus on making the majority of your training program basic compound movements (exercises that recruit multiple muscles at once and carry over to movements we do in real life) Think moves like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows and single leg exercises that build functional core strength.
3. Focus on core strength. Our core needs to be strong and stable enough to prevent unnecessary movement in our midsection. So core training should consist of movements that involve trying to maintain a “neutral” spine under a load or force that is trying to alter that position.
For example, doing a plank where you have to work to resist gravity VS. a crunch where you’re doing a whole lot of unhealthy bending through your spine. Crunches and other typical ab exercises don’t truly train functional core strength that will help protect against injury and prevent lower backaches while riding. Even despite the “burn” you feel.
A common injury in motocross is lumbar trauma from repeated impacts while riding in a flexed (rounded) position. So this rounded posture isn’t something we want to continue training in the gym by doing crunches and sit-ups. It’s best to strengthen the opposite position.
4. Put an emphasis on upper back strength (lots of rows and chin up variations) and grip strength (I love farmer’s carries or simply hanging from a pull up bar, but rowing exercises and deadlifts build a strong grip too.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT RIDING?
Seeing how big of a dirt-stache I have when I take my helmet off, haha!
But seriously, I love the rush, the feeling of accomplishment when you tackle an obstacle or develop a skill you’ve been working on, and the high of finishing a ride with all of your limbs still intact. :P
Riding has become SO much more to me. It’s helped me become infinitely more courageous, resilient and vulnerable. It’s also an awesome ego check! It’s taught me so much about myself.
WHAT'S YOUR SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE FOR GIRLS GETTING INTO RIDING?
Get strong...and then get stronger! Seriously!
@erikahurst @hurststrengthct @overandoutmoto Photos by @s_tribby #fastfriends