At Mark Fisher Fitness, we’ve worked with hundreds of actors. We’ve trained everyone from Tony award-winning stars to Broadway gypsies, to actors prepping for pilot season. Furthermore, a large percentage of our team (including yours truly) is made up of former actors. So we’ve got a pretty good handle on what it takes to get actors feeling good about their health and fitness.
Albert Einstein once said, “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.” While everyone’s fitness journey will be different, here are some principles to consider.
1. More isn’t better; better is better. This may be the most persistent myth in fitness. And the more driven and hardworking someone is, the more likely they are to fall in this trap. If something is working, it makes sense doing more will work even better. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Taking two aspirin means no more headache, but taking the whole bottle means no more headaches ever again! It may seem reasonable that doubling your exercise will double your results, but the body can only adapt so quickly. For most people most of the time, three to five hours per week of training is enough.
2. You can’t out-train your diet. Regardless of your goal, nutrition plays a large part in fitness. What we eat determines how we look, feel, and perform. By focusing on a wide variety of non-processed foods, you’ll be off to a great start. Protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats will all be your friends, no matter the goal. But don’t be afraid of carbs if you’re active! If you’re an actor in a place like NYC where you’re always on the go, find some go-to healthy meals. Make a list of spots near work, audition studios, and your apartment so you know where to go in a pinch.
3. Resistance training beats cardio. There’s nothing wrong with traditional forms of cardio like running or the elliptical, but it’s not the most efficient option for most goals. For one thing, most cardio activities use a lot of repetitive, high impact motions. This can lead to overuse injuries over time. And believe it or not, resistance training is actually a better stimulus when the goal is fat loss. Based on your level, this doesn’t have to be traditional “weight training.” Bodyweight exercises that challenge your muscles can be resistance training. For best results, take your joints through a full range of motion and elevate your heart rate. Make sure your program includes at least two days a week of some form of resistance training.
4. Sleep is important. It can be hard to fit in a full night’s sleep when you’re busy. Actors often have to balance late night jobs and early morning auditions. While this is sometimes inevitable, quality sleep is an important part of fitness. If you struggle with quantity, sometimes you have to do your best with the demands of your schedule. But if you can make changes to get more time for sleep, do it. If you struggle with quality, look into creating consistent sleep habits. Avoid working in bed, make sure your room is dark, and look into white noise if your room is near loud noises.
5. What you love matters. As a final thought, what you enjoy should play a part in your fitness choices. The most important thing about any plan is actually executing! When looking for meal choices, don’t settle for things you tolerate. Find foods you love. When looking at exercise options, don’t make yourself crazy about finding the “optimal” choice. You’re far better off doing something that’s “pretty good” but that you actually enjoy.
As you read this list over, how well do you think you’re doing on each point?
Here’s one final tip: Focus on changing one thing at a time. A common mistake is attempting to overhaul your whole life all at once. This is hard to do and may lead to more anxiety than lasting habit change.
Read over this list again and choose one of the five tips you’re going to focus on. Then, spend a whole month devoted to solidifying your new approach. From there, look to layer in better habits over time, and you’ll be well on your way to longterm success!
Want to learn more? Click here to get MyBroadwayBody.com’s free report, “The 5 Most Common Mistakes Performers Make.”
Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!
Mark Fisher is the co-owner of NYC’s Mark Fisher Fitness. With a reputation as the fitness home of choice for the Broadway community, he and MFF have been featured in Forbes, the NY Times, the NY Post, the Huffington Post, and the Wall St. Journal, among others. For more, visit markfisherfitness.com and mybroadwaybody.com. Visit Fisher on Twitter @mfisherfitness.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.