Emma-Jayne Wilson is a leading female jockey, having won more than 1,300 races in her career.
The 35-year-old competed in her first race on 21 August 2004. The next day, she raced again and won, which really set the tone for the rest of her award-winning career.
Wilson began riding aged nine and knew from a young age that she wanted to race professionally.
“Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to race,” she previously told HuffPost UK.
“I love horses, that’s where it stems from. For me, it was taking my two biggest loves of being in a competition and horses and putting them together. It just seemed like the natural thing to do.”
Growing up, Canadian-born Wilson played American football for 15 years and rugby through high school, but as she began racing more competitively, the risk of injury was too high to continue those sports.
Wilson has won numerous awards over her career, last year she was named one of the most influential women in sport by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).
We caught up with her ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup to talk fitness, food and motivation.
My Journey 🌍
What do you credit to your success in your fitness journey?
“Motivation - I feel that without the right motivation things just don’t get done. For me, the dream of being a jockey was the beginning, but now the motivation has turned into becoming the best that I can be - that pushes me through the long days and tough workouts.”
What’s one of the most memorable moments in your career and why?
“I remember the first race that I ever rode like it was yesterday. It was the last race on a Friday afternoon, it had rained all day, but the sun had peeked out- making the track a glistening, muddy mess. I was on a horse named Flying Sharon. She finished last. It may not have been very memorable to anyone else, but it meant everything to me... I had finally done it, I was a jockey.”
Was there ever a low point where you wanted to throw the towel and how did you get past it?
“There have been times when politics have played more of a role than I wish they did - as an athlete, politics are the farthest thing from my mind when it comes to winning races and it disappoints me to have to acknowledge them.”
My Training 💪
Talk us through your week in fitness.
“During the racing season my days consist of working with the horses in the morning and then competing in racing during the afternoon. In the morning, I will be getting on as many as 5-6 horses and putting them through their weekly race-like drills. In the afternoon, I will compete in as many as 10 races on the card.
“During my off season I will work out four or five times a week - consisting of hot yoga, Crossfit, and sessions on a mechanical race horse.”
What’s your favourite type of workout and why?
“I really enjoy my Crossfit sessions. My trainer, Matt, not only creates very gruelling work outs, he designs them to be very balanced for my strengths and weaknesses.”
Do you have rest days?
“My wife just gave birth to twins in February - so I’m not sure if you can call my off days ‘rest days’! But that is how I happily spend my days off.”
My Food 🍳
What do you eat throughout the week to complement your training schedule?
“As a jockey my diet is fairly strict. For breakfast I usually have three or four scrambled eggs and very strong coffee. Lunch is light on race days - apples with peanut butter and some yogurt. I will also snack through the afternoon on things like almonds or granola. For dinner, I like to stick to basic proteins (chicken, lean beef, fish) with steamed vegetables and rice.”
What are your pre and post-workout snacks?
“I have a great hemp and brown rice protein powder I use for post workout smoothies, and a really good electrolyte that I rely on. I’ll often grab a handful of almonds, or a home-made trail mix of pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, nuts, etc.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about food?
“I am very consciences and ‘aware’ of the ingredients in the food I eat and how they contribute to fluctuations in my weight day to day. I eat very clean food with limited salt - I really notice an increase in my weight when I have had very processed or salty food.
“As a lean sport athlete - eating a ‘low fat, high protein’ diet - I’ve also learned a lot about good fats and required supplementation.”
My Motivation 🙌
Do you have a motivational mantra that keeps you going?
“I don’t have a ‘Mantra’ per se - but something that I like as a reminder to work hard is my Eclipse Award for Champion Apprentice. It is a symbol of the lofty goals I set for myself and succeeded. I keep it on a high shelf in my living room and it looks down on me as a constant reminder to work hard.”
Do you always have fitness goals you are aiming for?
“As a professional athlete it is my job to be in peak fitness and performance for the racing season (April -December).
“Once the season is finished I like to take some time off, but some of my most intense and effective work outs come in the months leading up to opening day.”
What’s your ultimate workout track and why?
“Work Bitch - by Britney Spears - the lyrics are a great reminder that you have to work hard to get reach your goals “You want a hot body? You want a Maserati? You better work, Bitch. Don’t stop now, just be the Champion. Work it hard, like it’s you profession.”
Wilson is competing in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday 12 August.
‘Fit Fix’ is a weekly dose of fitspiration from leading athletes and fitness fanatics. Each week we chat to stars about their weekly workouts, the food they eat and what keeps them going.