Churchill Downs jockeys have a new place to train – and that includes the ones preparing for the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
A partnership between Planet Fitness Louisville and Churchill Downs Racetrack renovated the fitness area in Jockeys’ Room into the Jockey Fitness Club presented by Planet Fitness. The approximately 400-square-foot room features new cardio and strength equipment identical to equipment found in the eight Louisville, Southern Indiana and Eilizabethtown Planet Fitness clubs.
"The jockeys universally love it,” Planet Fitness Louisville Director of Marketing Ken Horn tells Club Industry. “It’s hard for me to say how drastic the change is. It’s gone from a place you would completely avoid to a place you want to go.”
The room also features a spring-loaded horse body with a Planet Fitness branded saddlecloth to help the jockeys train.
"Most people see you riding a horse and they think you're riding, or that you're sitting and you're not doing anything," jockey Corey Lanerie told WDRB-TV (video below). "We're actually not sitting on the horse at all. We're up on our toes. So your legs have to be really strong, and your core has to be really strong for balance. So this equipment helps out a lot."
Horn says Churchill Downs wanted to improve jockey facilities and saw Planet Fitness Louisville as a good partner.
In January, Planet Fitness Louisville opened the 14,000-square-foot Central Station club two blocks from the track. Churchill Downs is located in a lower- to middle-class neighborhood bordering the University of Louisville.
“They (Planet Fitness) took it as an opportunity to build some brand awareness in the neighborhood and for the folks who frequent Churchill Downs,” Horn says. “We were more than happy to help. Churchill Downs is an iconic brand in the city, and worldwide for that matter.”
Could the Central Station members find themselves riding an exercise bike next to Lanerie or three-time Derby champion Calvin Borel?
It’s possible. Every Churchill Downs jockey received a complimentary membership to the club as part of the partnership.
“Physical fitness is vital to these athletes as they meet the day-to-day rigors of thoroughbred racing. Giving them access to first-class fitness facilities is very important to us,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said in a statement.