Jessica and Alison reconnected in the locker room of a cycling studio, and shortly thereafter, over breakfast, the Inside/Out adventure was born. Jessica spends several hours a week working out, but horseback riding is where her true passion and skills are fully expressed.
She has been riding for 30 years, and each week she makes a pilgrimage to take in the fresh air of the Bois du Boulogne, with the Frank Gehry designed Fondation Vuitton as a backdrop. She could talk about it for hours...
Inside/Out: What was you 1st sport or physical activity?
Jessica: Ballet. But I wasn’t really made for this. I was more of a tomboy and too shy to be comfortable in a bubble gum pink leotard and embroidered wrap top. I was happy to have a nice “coup de pied”and I kept some of the postural tips. When I start to slouch, I can still hear my teacher shrieking “stand up straight”! Then I started gymnastics which I liked so much more. I needed more movement.
I/O: What was your “gateway” activity?
J: Horseback riding. A love that goes back to my childhood. The more I ride, the more I understand that perfection is unattainable and that we have to content ourselves with fleeting moments of grace. As a result, it’s a sport that allows for a lifetime of learning and progress, without getting bored or frustrated.
I/O: Do you have a favorite sports or fitness star?
J: Nadia Comaneci! I saw the movie 10 times. And, of course, Pierre Durand et Jappeloup. A rider - horse duo that all riders of my age remember. A tiny horse not at all fit for competition and jumps, who threw off his cavalier in the 1984 Olympic Games and then brought the gold in the following competitions. I love outsiders.
I/O: A sports-related memory?
J: My 1st 10K run. I never would have thought I could do this! I have asthma and every time I would try to run I would get a pain in my side after 20 minutes. Then I started training with the Nike Paris Running Club. I had the good fortune to get tips from Renaud Longuèvre, a coach who trains top athletes and who Pascal Monfort had the brilliant idea of bringing in for a team of beginners. He taught us how to breathe, how to hold our arms and how to land on our feet correctly. After just a few sessions, I learned to do distance. It’s really important to have a good coach or at least some good advice.
I/O: Does getting out of your comfort zone in sports help you confront challenges in your daily life?
J: Absolutely. Working out in the morning helps me shake off my late night hard thoughts and kick off my day with calm and confidence.
I/O: How do you find a work/life balance?
J: Each September, I like to set up an ideal schedule. Plugging in 3-4 hours of sports and then arranging the rest around that. It allows me to manage my time well, to have a balanced week and eliminate frustration. This is especially helpful when my workload becomes intense.
I/O: A mantra or motto?
J: Everybody's an athlete. A saying from my Nike days. I like this way of thinking. Again, even the underdogs can win!
I/O: Define sports for a Parisienne? Have you witnessed a shift lately in regard to this?
J: We used to be in a love/hate relationship. Sports were something that we had to check off a to do list in order to feel we had had a perfect week, but we had a lot of trouble sticking with it. It was also a ticket to eating more indulgently. Today, I feel that sports are both practiced out of pleasure and need. There are more and more girls waking up in the wee hours – every other day still – in order to maintain a well-rounded workout schedule : cardio to burn and shape, yoga for the mind… While before it was more something we tried to fit in at lunch or after work to get over a hangover. Sports are now part of the cultural sphere and this upgrade leads them to being integrated in the social calendar of the Parisian woman.
I/O: What about the Parisienne attitude for to activewear?
J: Girls are finally walking around the streets of Paris in workout gear like sports bras and performance trainers. For years they were camouflaging themselves under trench coats; wearing miserable grey sweatpants and Converse tennis shoes. I think that the Stella McCartney x Adidas collaboration was a game changer.
I/O: All black or rainbow bright?
J: Black with a few accents in colors like blue or gray. I think for me this comes from dressage, where you have to be subdued in order to complement the discrete colors of the horse. On the other hand, when I go for a trail, I’m much more expressive with my uniform because the idea of discipline is less of a focus. This is also all very French, bien sûr. The idea is to not call so much attention to oneself.
I/O: Define the French Touch in regard to sports?
J: To bring some sense into things. Create a social connection, too. And also clothing that is primarily black and gray.
Top: Nike Dri-FIT Knit. Pad and Half Pad: Guibert.
I/O: Thoughts on new feminism? Do you think that women who support each other can go further together?
J: Absolutely! Feminism movements are spreading. And today, they're lead by a new form of expression: more fun, more pop. Empowerment changes the tone. But there is a lack of real engagement. We don't yet how to take action. It's our challenge to change the game.
I/O: Have you ever made friends through sports or other wellness pursuits?
J: Often, yes. It’s pretty intimate to share all of this, it brings people together. Alison and I reconnected in the locker room at Dynamo Cycling – we’d been out of touch for years. From there we set a breakfast date and the Inside/Out adventure was born.
Top : Nike Dry-FIT Knit. Gloves, Spurs Protections, Bag : Guibert. Scarf: Ginette NY x Guibert.
I/O: Do sports help you feel that you are part of a community?
J: Totally! We struggle, we dig in, we talk about our little injuries and share personal stories. We see each other without a filter. Social differences and age differences are blurred. We meet in a common effort, sweating. Together. It is unusual enough to connect us. And social networks help support and extend this kind of sports community. Where in the past, we had to wait a week to see each other again. Now we can all stay connected, students and coaches, without having to wait for the next physical meet up.
TIPS AND ADDRESSES
1 tip: Arrive a bit early. To have the time to prepare and also to avoid the temptation of bailing on class! I hate arriving after a class has begun. I think it’s a flashback from ballet, where the teacher would humiliate you if you were even 30 seconds late. Horseback riding is similar... as it was originally teached by military men. If I know I am going to be even 1 minute late, I prefer not to go at all.
1 coach: Clotilde Chaumet for her motivational speaches, playlists and moves. Lorette Barron for her benevolent teaching style and sense of humor.
1 power song: "The Final Countdown" at the end of a 10K. Super cheesy but totally epic when crossing the finish line!
1 app: My Fitness Pal that gives you a good idea of nutrition facts. Sometimes you think you're eating something with very low supply of calories and you're actually killing all your efforts!
1 piece of garment: All my Nike x Guyakusou pieces. Six years in, this collaboration is still spot on. I also like a gold old thick gray hooded sweatshirt to stay warm after a workout.
1 blog: The Healthy Warriors Instagram page.
1 boutique: Guibert, for riders. An Parisian house that combines authenticity with modernity.
1 beverage: Iced Oolong tea.
1 trip: An equestrian trip to Mongolia for Nadaam or to the dunes of the Sahara. Among the most memorable moments of my life so far (www.cheval-daventure.com)
1 person we should interviewer: Charlotte Casiraghi, who is a very experienced show jumping rider or Laetitia Hotte for her work on woman body.
Thanks to Société d'Équitation de Paris.