Britain’s Fittest Farmer is now open for entries and the Farmers Weekly team has been impressed with the standard of applications in the short time since the competition launched.
The search is now on to find one man and one woman to crown Britain’s Fittest Farmers, with a £1,000 cash prize for each champion.
So far about 50 farmers and workers in the wider agricultural industry have showed off their commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
We’ve had people from all parts of the UK apply – from Cornwall in the South West to South Lanarkshire in Scotland; from County Tyrone in the west of Northern Ireland to Lincolnshire in East Anglia.
It’s also great to see contestants across a wide range of ages and farm jobs keen to get involved – from herdsmen to contractors, daffodil growers to sheep shearers.
We’ve picked a handful of the best entries so far to inspire more farmers to get involved. Apply now on the Britain’s Fittest Farmer website, where you’ll also be able to view all of the contestants who have applied so far.
Devon hill farmer’s son Isaac grew up on the edge of Dartmoor and now works as a shearer in the UK and New Zealand. He also does some fencing contract work, so it’s fair to say his is a physically demanding job.
His main hobby is show shearing, having competed in many events in England, Wales and New Zealand. He says his motivation for keeping fit comes from knowing champion shearers such as Matt Smith and Johnny Roberts.
“They have all achieved great things in shearing. Fitness has helped them and that motivates me,” says 24-year-old Isaac.
Running around the moors and working out at the gym or at home form part of his exercise regime.
“In New Zealand, I stay in a remote area so I go for runs and I improvise a gym in the old shearing shed, doing pull-ups from the beams, press-ups, and using old car wheels and wool bag frames for weights and dip bars.
“I think a lot of farmers don’t have the time to drive in to town and find a gym, so running or a home gym can be a good cheap option. Also, my job helps with fitness and the extra fitness helps with the job so it’s a win-win” he says.
He finds working out regularly helps relieve stress too. “Farmers are concentrating on looking after their farm, sometimes they can overlook themselves. If I eat well and exercise I feel good about myself and I can cope with problems at work with a better attitude,” he adds.
Farming mum Jenny leads a busy life, keeping sheep while juggling part-time secretarial work, horse-riding and raising her daughter.
The 37-year-old from Wiltshire attends CrossFit classes twice a week and often embarks on walks to improve her all-round fitness. As a horse-lover, she also rides twice a week to prepare for endurance competitions.
Jenny finds that meeting new people from all walks of life at CrossFit creates a great support network
She enjoys going to her local shoot and working her two gundogs during the shooting season, too.
About the competition
Britain’s Fittest Farmer is a competition designed to encourage a vital discussion about the physical and mental health of the nation’s farmers in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
So, if you can outrun a fleeing flock of sheep or do press-ups in the milking parlour, you could be just the person Farmers Weekly is looking for.
As farming becomes less active and more mechanised and office-based, it’s more important than ever to make sure Britain’s farmers are getting the exercise they need to stay fit and healthy.
Farming can also be an isolated job, which is why it is also vital for farmers to focus on their mental health and wellbeing so they can keep their business in tip-top condition.
The competition closes at 11.59pm on 17 April 2020 – see the Britain’s Fittest Farmer page for full details, terms and conditions.
Entrants must be aged 18 or over and be working in farming or the wider agriculture industry.
Twenty-six-year-old Jack from Tiverton in Devon makes sure he gets a gym session in five or six times each week.
He has worked with his dad on the family sheep farm since he was a boy, and still has a keen interest in agriculture, alongside running his own home maintenance business.
“I like to keep in shape and go to the gym regularly each week,” says Jack. “I also have a dog called Woody who I take for walks and runs. I’m a sporty person and enjoy most sports, especially rugby – I’m a massive Exeter Chiefs fan.”
He says making time to socialise with friends is his way of maintaining positive mental health, along with routine trips to his gym.
South Yorkshire young farmer Eleanor is a very active person and big on cycling and life outdoors.
As assistant farm manager on her family’s arable farm, the 25-year-old has plenty on her plate – including doing pesticide applications, cultivation work, fertiliser application and drilling, as well as keeping on top of where the business is headed long-term.
“I have always had an interest and passion for the outdoors and agriculture,” she says. She does Taekwondo martial arts training several times a week and hits the gym regularly for weights and cardio training.
“In the summer, I also enjoy getting out on my road bike, hiking with friends, and of course I have a trusty companion to walk everyday too – Molly, my fox-red Labrador is my right-hand woman and certainly gives me a run for my money when it comes to long walks and cross-country running.”
“I understand that looking after your mental health, especially in farming is of paramount importance,” she says. “The days are long, the breakdowns unbearable, and the bleak non-existence of a social life in harvest takes its toll.
“I use physical exercise to aid my emotional wellbeing. I have always found the release of exercise endorphins to have a lasting positive effect on my mental health.”
Estates manager James lives on the family dairy farm in the Peak District, where they bottle milk and cream from their 140 cows to sell to local restaurants and shops.
“Although I have my separate career, my weekends and holidays are spent farming and generally being involved in agriculture,” says the 30-year-old.
“Fitness is a big part of my life, I go to the gym six or seven times a week, I walk, and I’m also an avid mountain biker. I find mountain biking and the gym a perfect way to wind down.”
He’s climbed the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales and competed in a 25km cross country run for charity.
Emily’s fitness journey kick-started after she had her second baby. She’s a second-generation Duchy of Cornwall tenant, and at present the Duchy’s only female tenant.
Having worked on the mainly arable farm in Somerset since her early 20s, she took on the 130ha tenancy from her dad three years ago.
She also manages a two-hectare vineyard with her husband, which they planted on the farm in 2014 and harvested the first vintage last year.
“After giving birth to my second child in 2014, I started a local bootcamp to get fit, there I was introduced to kettlebells which triggered an obsession,” she says.
“I train very regularly, predominantly with kettlebells, to stay fit and increase my strength and mobility which was pretty poor.”
All of her training is done at home on the farm three to five times a week. In September 2018 Emily was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer and managed to keep active throughout her treatment.
“The strength I have found through kettlebells transfers to everyday life on the farm, my mobility and strength now in my 40s is far better than it ever was in my 20s.
“My days flit from doing 12 hours sat on a tractor to gruelling, long and physical days on the vineyard, I am able to manage this by staying fit and I believe that staying strong prevents injuries and the fitness attributes to my overall energy levels.”
Britain’s Fittest Farmer: Our sponsor and partners
Tough, rugged, agile – the new INEOS Grenadier 4X4 will share plenty of traits exhibited by the winner of Britain’s Fittest Farmer. That’s why we’re so pleased to be sponsoring this rural British physical challenge.
As an uncompromising, no frills, off-road vehicle, the Grenadier will provide all the capability, durability and reliability you need to tackle the toughest tasks on the farm. That’s why we see ourselves as the ideal partner for this true test of grit, endurance and strength.
For more information on Grenadier, pay a visit to their website.
Farm Fitness: Partner
Farm Fitness has rapidly become a burning beacon on the UK fitness scene, attracting spectators and participants from all over the country to come and take a swing at its almost alchemic blend of modified strongman, functional bodybuilding, calisthenics and blistering cardio efforts.
The gym, founded by farmer’s son Tom Kemp, was voted one of the best gyms in the world and ‘coolest outdoor space’ by Men’s Health (PDF)
Tom has blended his farming background with his love of training to create a raw and exciting outdoor environment for people of all strengths and abilities to get fit.
The Farming Community Network: Partner
The Farming Community Network (FCN) is a voluntary organisation and charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times.
The charity has helped thousands of people deal with a variety of issues, including financial difficulties, animal disease, mental health and family disputes.
Volunteers provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who seeks help, regardless of whether the issue is personal or business-related. FCN also runs a confidential national helpline and e-helpline.