Winner of Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2021 women’s category, 33-year-old Erica Robison, is preparing for the 2022 competition and aiming to hold on to her crown.
But she says her main competitor is herself and her own performance: “Everyone who takes part in BFF has the same attitude.
“We all just want to do our best individually and see everyone else also do well. Ultimately, I’ll feel like I’ll only be competing with myself and trying to do better than I did last year.”
The 33-year-old fitness instructor and personal trainer from Cumbria is already well into her training program for the event.
See also: Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2022 opens for entries
She is working on speed, stamina, strength and endurance, while also devoting time to “engine work”.
“That basically means pushing yourself past what you think is your limit. Not in every session, but you need to have one or two sessions a week where you’re going flat out.”
Farmer’s daughter Erica is a big believer in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. “That’s where dreams come true,” she says.
She does seven or eight fitness sessions a week, either leading classes or grabbing time between them.
She’s also been boxing, taking part in a couple of charity fights, and had her first fight in the “unlicensed” class (one step down from “amateur”) in April, which she won.
“I got a boxing coach last year and learned so much from him, but tragically he passed away recently,” she says.
“I’d previously said I’d stop after that fight, but in some ways as a mark of respect to him – because he made me believe in myself – I feel like I want to carry on, so have signed up to fight again in December.
“I’ll need to ‘take’ him into the ring with me again then.”
Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2022: How to enter
- There are three categories to choose from: Men under 40, women under 40 and a new mixed over 40s category
- Upload an image or video of you staying physically fit on farm to fwi.co.uk/britains-fittest-farmer, where you’ll also find all the competition information, including key dates and terms and conditions
- Tell us a bit about how you champion mental wellbeing in your life
- Make sure you leave your contact details so we can get in touch
Women’s boxing is popular at the Thai boxing gym in Carlisle where Erica works.
“When people leave, you can see the difference in them. The stress has gone from them by punching and kicking the bag in a controlled way.
I always shout at them: ‘Leave everything on the bag and then walk out the gym.’ They leave as the best version of themselves. Exercise makes you feel limitless.
“Fitness is a way of pushing your body to the limit, and it’s a brilliant way of meeting new people.”
For anyone planning to compete in the BFF qualifiers, Erica advises that spending time on stretching and mobility sessions is important.
“It’s actually the atmosphere that attracts me to BFFs, as much as the competition itself. Not every event – or indeed gym or fitness center – is as friendly.
“But we’ve all got a connection to farming, and we all appreciate how physical fitness is important for your mental health.
“I’ve made some really good friends at it, both among the other competitors and the team from Farm Fitness.”
It’s all a far cry from a few years ago, when she took no pleasure from exercise.
“I avoided sports at school – I was always the sick-note kid when it was PE, but after I had kids of my own and put some weight on, I decided to go to a running club.
“I don’t run seriously these days, I only do it now to clear my head, because I hurt my knee on a trail run last year. But if I’m feeling my head is too busy, I’ll put my earphones in and go and smash two miles.
“It’s a good time to process what’s going on in my life – people need to take time to process things more.”
But what does she think her chances are of taking home the trophy a second time?
“I figured that as James Arney has won the male category two years in a row, I ought to at least see if I could give it a go in the female category.”