This article appears in the March 2011 issue of LouisvilleMagazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
As told by Jockey Mike Smith, 44 . . .
Jockeys just call it “the box.” We have a steam room and a sauna — a wet room and a dry room, whichever you prefer. I’d say you could fit up to 10 of us in there at once. How hot does it get? Up to 120 degrees, maybe hotter.
My goal is to be 116 pounds. If you have to pull a lot of weight, it doesn’t feel so good in the box after a while. Let’s say you have to pull a pound: You can go in there, jump around real quick and you’re out of there in 15 minutes. The most I’ve had to pull is four or five pounds, which is about an hour in the box. To prevent yourself from overheating, you step outside and get under a cold shower. Some people are blessed and don’t have to get in very much, and some riders, unfortunately, have to get in the box quite a bit. I’m an in-between guy.
You sweat like you’ve never sweated. If you’re sweating out a pound, well that’s a pound of sweat. A pound is a pound any way you look at it. Throughout the years your body gets used to whatever you train it for, even though I’m sure it’s very unhealthy.
— As told to JM