Welcome to Tiny Theatre Tips, a series of brief posts sharing tips and advice for your theatre life! Enjoy!
Tiny Theatre Tips #4: Fitness For Actors
Disclaimer: I am not a fitness trainer or medical professional. It is strongly recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise or fitness program!
Acting is an incredibly physical undertaking. Frequent rehearsals (often late into the night) and multiple performances each week can take a toll on your body. Not to mention actors often have to perform highly physical acts — anything from singing and dancing to stage combat and stunt work to tumbling, running, jumping, squatting, leaping, and many other feats of physicality. And of course, actors need to fit into their costumes, which could be tight, short, transparent, a combination of all three, or even less (hello, Rocky Horror Show).
It’s important for actors to be physically fit; not just to look good onstage and to fit into their costumes (both of which are vital!), but also to be able to maintain the stamina to complete their shows each day, and to feel good. There is nothing worse than feeling crummy and having to drag yourself through a rehearsal — everything just feels that much more difficult. Or worse, trying to power through a performance when you’re feeling less than your best. Staying physically fit can help actors to look and feel their best each day.
What kind of exercise is best for actors? That depends on the actor, and the role they are playing! Dancers and stage combatants need to practice their craft (generally through classes and/or private training). Depending on what kind of role you are playing, you will need to look the part. An actor playing a professional wrestler would have to have a very different physique than an actor portraying a cancer patient, or an elderly person, or an animal. Your director can advise exactly what sort of look they think the character would have, and a physician or personal trainer can devise a fitness plan to help you achieve the look you want.
However, I believe any actor can benefit from a combination of cardiovascular exercise (running, swimming, biking, rollerblading and so on) to improve stamina, as well as strength training (don’t worry, you won’t turn into The Rock if you lift weights!) with some yoga thrown in for good measure (I think EVERYONE can benefit from yoga), to help maintain a healthy body and active lifestyle. Even 15 minutes a day is better than nothing!
Exercise is proven to make you feel better, relieve stress, and help you sleep better. I don’t see any downsides!
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