India Parker-Smith is an all-around sports lady. “Sports have always been my passion in life,” she begins. “I was in every sports team at school and for my county—judo, gymnastics, ballet, riding, netball, swimming, cross country, athletics!” Going physical is her way of life, thus choosing to eventually pursue the road to fitness—for herself and other people.
Enter Chukka Wellness—a fitness hub dedicated to helping polo players become fitter and stronger athletes. India established the business upon discovering the gap in the market when she visited Argentina a year ago. “Someone mentioned there wasn’t much of an emphasis on polo fitness, and at the time, I was looking to make the shift from working with clients in London into a niche,” she tells POLO LADY.
From starting as an Instagram account to growing a community, Chukka Wellness is a steadily rising name in polo fitness. With 1-on-1 online and offline training and team training services, India can reach a global audience looking for a holistic fitness experience targeted to the sport.
“I want it to be known as the ‘go-to’ company for equine health and fitness working with beginner players, high goal players, and everyone in between. If players need to get fit pre-season or recover post-season, Chukka Wellness is the name on their lips!” the trainer exclaims.
Her clientele includes famous polo personalities such as number one female polo player Nina Clarkin, whom she trains weekly via Zoom, and 6-goaler lady players Rebecca Walters and Heloise Wilson-Smith.
Chukka Wellness training is quite simple. The approach covers the three Fs to give an all-around service—Fuel (to stay alert, energized, make quick decisions during play, and focus on body repair post-polo), Flexibility (to reduce the risk of injury and gain more movement in the saddle), and Functionality (to simulate movements of the horse covering the core, balance, upper body strength, and inner thigh strength).
“The sport of polo is strenuous; you need to have a bulletproof body to perform effectively and recover quickly to prolong your playing career,” she enthuses.
When asked about her secret in curating her programs, India says that she adjusts the routine depending on her clients and what they want to achieve. It begins with a consultation, then running through goals, biomechanics, and fitness testing. The hub maps out the long-term plan from there.
The current health pandemic doesn’t stop India from designing new projects in the coming months. She reveals that Chukka Wellness is set to come out with a ‘secret project’ intended for polo clubs in the UK and Europe, as well as relaunch the virtual equine hub, which will be full of fitness resources aimed to help players prepare for their busy seasons. And if the situation permits, they’ll also be flying to Palm Beach next year to host some polo fitness workshops.
“I play polo, so I understand how strenuous it is on the body,” India says. She leaves us with some essential fitness tips for women polo players.
“Set yourself a realistic goal—even if it’s a polo-related goal—then organize how your fitness will complement this goal and help you to achieve it. Eat well. Find a workout buddy. And don’t be too hard on yourself,” she ends.
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Mariel Abanes is the Managing Editor of POLO LADY Magazine.