A Most Unconventional Core Workout

I’ve been sitting on this one for quite a bit, having photographed this assignment back in August, but it was easily one of my favorites of the summer. The Wall Street Journal has a weekly feature called, “What’s Your Workout,” which features a variety of working folks who do unconventional things to work out. Last year, I photographed Major League Lacrosse player Jordan Burke’s Harvard Stadium workout (which, frankly, doesn’t seem all that unconventional when you consider in my Wednesday morning routine), so I had an idea of the concept when the folks at the Journal got in touch about their latest subject.

Phyllis LeBlanc is the President and CEO at Harbor Sweets, a local chocolate company up in Salem, Mass. With a job like that, she has to be pretty disciplined with her health and fitness. For Phyllis, the answer was competitive horse dressage, which was a natural match for a lifelong rider. Having no knowledge of the sport, I chatted up coach Cindi Wylie during Phyllis’ session about what exactly it was I was photographing. She likens horse dressage to skiing, as the rider’s ability to maintain control of the 1,200-pound animal comes from solid core strength with subtle movements and quick reflexes.

It was a fascinating look into a completely foreign world to me — one of the best perks of this job! Be sure to read more about Phyllis’ story at the WSJ site before it gets put behind the paywall.

08/27/2013 -- GEORGETOWN, Mass. -- Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, paces her dressage horse Chiron through a workout as her trainer Cindi Wylie checks her form at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. LeBlanc, who has 30 years of experience as a competitive dressage rider, says she finds comfort in the process of preparing a dressage horse. Riding involves core and leg strength, as well as fine motor control to maintain control of the horse, which Wylie compares to skiing. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 — GEORGETOWN, Mass. — Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, paces her dressage horse Chiron through a workout as her trainer Cindi Wylie checks her form at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. LeBlanc, who has 30 years of experience as a competitive dressage rider, says she finds comfort in the process of preparing a dressage horse. Riding involves core and leg strength, as well as fine motor control to maintain control of the horse, which Wylie compares to skiing. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 -- GEORGETOWN, Mass. -- Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, wraps her dressage horse Chiron in polo wraps for support before a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. LeBlanc, who has 30 years of experience as a competitive dressage rider, says she finds comfort in the process of preparing a dressage horse. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 — GEORGETOWN, Mass. — Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, wraps her dressage horse Chiron in polo wraps for support before a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. LeBlanc, who has 30 years of experience as a competitive dressage rider, says she finds comfort in the process of preparing a dressage horse. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 -- GEORGETOWN, Mass. -- Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, puts away her riding equipment in her locker after a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. LeBlanc, who has 30 years of experience as a competitive dressage rider, says she finds comfort in the process of preparing a dressage horse.  (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 — GEORGETOWN, Mass. — Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, puts away her riding equipment in her locker after a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. LeBlanc, who has 30 years of experience as a competitive dressage rider, says she finds comfort in the process of preparing a dressage horse. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 -- GEORGETOWN, Mass. -- Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, checks her form in the mirror while pacing her dressage horse Chiron through a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013.(Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 — GEORGETOWN, Mass. — Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, checks her form in the mirror while pacing her dressage horse Chiron through a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 -- GEORGETOWN, Mass. -- Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, talks to her dressage horse Chiron after a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 — GEORGETOWN, Mass. — Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, talks to her dressage horse Chiron after a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 -- GEORGETOWN, Mass. -- Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, cleans the shoes of her dressage horse Chiron after a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 — GEORGETOWN, Mass. — Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, cleans the shoes of her dressage horse Chiron after a workout at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 -- GEORGETOWN, Mass. -- Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, poses for a portrait with her dressage horse Chiron at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

08/27/2013 — GEORGETOWN, Mass. — Phyllis LeBlanc, President and CEO of Salem, Mass.-based chocolate company Harbor Sweets, poses for a portrait with her dressage horse Chiron at Quarterline Dressage in Georgetown, Mass., on Aug. 27, 2013. (Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal)

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