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Backstage Experts

5 Steps to Getting Ready for a Movement-Heavy Show

5 Steps to Getting Ready for a Movement-Heavy Show
Photo Source: Unsplash

Congratulations! You were just cast in an incredibly movement-heavy show. The only problem? Your day job has been eating up so much of your time that you don't even remember what a kettlebell looks like. Fret not! Here are some easy ways get back in shape quickly before opening night!

1.  Know where you're starting from.
It sounds pretty simple, but knowing where your body and mind are at can play a huge role in the progress you make. Do you have any injuries or limitations? In order to create a program that will get you performance ready, it’s important to know what your body can and can’t do, structuring your workouts to work around any limitations.

In my work with the cast of “Messenger #1,” we were working with a few knee and back limitations. Still looking to incorporate full range of motion and high-intensity activity, I offered some modifications and alternative exercises to accommodate the whole team.

2. Know where you want to go.
What are your goals? Is the show heavily cardiovascular (running all around the stage, jumping on things, sprinting up and down aisles or steps)? Or is it more strength- and flexibility-based (picking up heavy objects or other people, holding static postures that challenge range of motion for a long time)? Discerning goals will help focus your training and break down your action plan into smaller, more achievable mini goals.

Working with the actors of “Messenger #1,” I focused on creating a plan that integrated moments of high cardiovascular intensity with slower-paced strength exercises. The show centers around the life of messengers in Ancient Greece, which means the actors perform intense plyometric exercises during the show and moments later, deliver monologues or jump into scenes, so our goal is to build cardiovascular stamina through interval training.

READ: 6 Great Fitness Techniques for Actors

3. Warm up, workout, cool down.
When it feels like the pressure is on, many of us want to aggressively pursue our goals. That's awesome, but your body needs time to adapt to the stress you're putting on it. Remember the importance of the warmup and the cool down. You wouldn't belt your face off without warming up your voice and the same goes for your body.

If you want to start rehearsal off with a warm-up circuit that will prep you for the physical work ahead, check out the routing and video at the end of this article. And make sure to build recovery days into your action plan. Break up your training schedule chewable bits.

A great outline for your week looks like:

  • Monday, Wednesday ,Friday: Upper body + core + 30 mins of cardio + stretch/cool down
  • Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: Lower body + core + 30 mins of cardio + stretch/cool down
  • Sunday: Rest, meditation, or active recovery with slow flow yoga

You can do this all in one session, or divvy up the cardio in the morning and strength circuit at night.

4. Fuel yourself.
Just as important as how you train your body is the fuel you put into it. Especially with intense rehearsal schedules, it can be tempting to reach for the most convenient meal. Get rid of the processed, prepackaged food and focus on eating lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.

When I talk about fuel, I also mean sleep. Think of sleep as the ultimate refueling station for body, voice, and mind. When you don't get enough sleep—a minimum of 6.5 hours—your body cannot complete the vital processes of recovering from the physical and mental stresses of the day. Do yourself a favor and get more sleep than you normally would as you start to up your training. Your body will thank you.

READ: 4 Superfoods to Eat Before an Audition

5. Consistency is key.
Schedule your workouts in like you do an acting classes or auditions. Make them a priority. At the end of the day, you have to put in consistent work to see results. Make a big batch of healthy meals and snacks at the beginning of the week. It's not the end of the world if you miss a day of training or need the double cheeseburger one night, life happens. Just get yourself back on track. You can do it!

“Messenger #1” warm-up routine: 

  • Squats, 15-20 reps
  • Walkouts with push up, 10 reps
  • Yogi Burpees, 10 reps
  • Sumo Jacks 20, reps
  • Squat progression, 10 reps each

Kristin Calabria is a New York-based actor and fitness professional. She received her BFA in Acting from Boston University and studied film at Prague Film School. On stage, she has worked on “Café Collections,” Ti Jean and His Brothers, and the devised piece The Consensus Project. She also consults on movement heavy plays like Messenger #1. Kristin starred in the web series Not So Common Sense and the animated series Middle SchooLOL. She teaches yoga, boxing, and strength training throughout Manhattan, leads fitness retreats around the world and does print work for companies like Reebok, Box and Flow, and SurfYogaBeer. You can find her on Instagram @kstarcalabs

Now that you know how to warm up, check out our theater audition listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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