Emily Dolan Davies, Why Working Out And Being A Musician Go Hand In Hand
I used to HATE exercise… turns out it’s pretty useful for musicians… who knew?! A lot of people actually. I’ve known that doing exercise wouldn’t just be great for me as a general human, but also as a musician, yet over the years I’ve managed to avoid doing it regularly. I’d go through fads for maybe a month or 2 every year, then take the other 10 off! I used to enjoy a bit of running outside, but inevitably one of 3 things would happen:
I would get injured
I would get bored
It would get cold!
It’s only recently I’ve started weight training and this has changed my whole approach to lots of different types of exercise and it’s benefits, and if you’re a musician, check it out the extra added bonuses we get!
The amount of benefits from starting weight training are truly endless for me! I try to really challenge myself and lift various weights so I’m doing no more than 8-10 reps in a set and 3 sets… not to the point of exhaustion but definitely feeling the burn… sometimes more the blaze! I do all aspects of my body too, arms, legs, chest, back, shoulders, and core. Here’s just a few of the benefits I’ve had from it
The obvious: Carrying Gear!! I might do some gigs where I have the luxury of other lovely people loading my gear, or even help loading my gear, but the reality is most of the time (just like everyone else) I’m loading it alone, and what used to happen is I’d just about struggle with it all out of my car and lug it around (on wheels whenever possible)! However, now, it’s so much easier! I’m able to lift the hardware case completely alone (I treat it like a bar bell lift) and I actually enjoy it cause I know it’s just a little bit of extra training in my day! Very satisfying!
Posture! I have had horrendous posture all of my giggling life… I thought it was just from lugging gear, and from the nature in which I play the drums: Like the hunchback of Notre Damme (I’m convinced it makes my groove deeper)! Since starting weight training, I’ve realised it’s more than that! I had hardly any core muscles!!!! Now I can hold myself up tall and strong, but still be able to hunch over when I want without causing any adverse effects… speaking of which…
Injury Prevention. This is a bigg’un! We can’t afford to have our backs go in the middle of a tour! That just doesn’t help anyone! I’ve had it happen to me once on one gig… never again… that was the worst! I used to also have major problems with my shoulders hurting whilst playing. That was from a mix of a few different things, but now with a few extra muscles involved, it’s no problem at all!
Tour Recovery It could be a 4 month tour, or a weeks touring, it all takes a toll on your body with irregular sleep, all the travelling and that’s before you even get to playing a gig! I’ve found that now, I need hardly any recovery time once I’m back home 🙂
Age Prevention! Lets face it, we’re mostly Peter Pans here… look at what we do! I hit things for a living for crying out loud! Ludicrous!
Helping support other types of exercise such as:
Like I said earlier, I used to really not enjoy running (for any reason I could find)! Now because of the weight training, my legs are stronger and so I can run faster for longer and get to reap these benefits:
Stamina! Now I don’t care what kind of music you’re playing, or even how long for, we all need stamina! Performing can be an exhausting ordeal physically, mentally and emotionally. The way I see it, If I can run at a decent speed for an hour and a half every day, gigging for an hour and a half will be a doddle, and it means I get to perform and enjoy every note played (not just by me).
Learning Time! This is a practise I started a long, long, loooooong time ago! If I had a song/set/back-catalogue to learn, I’d walk. For hours. No really, hours! When I was learning Tricky’s music, I was living in South London and spent 7 hours walking up and down the River Thames listening to his music and soaking it up. It’s always the best thing I can do to learn songs (if I have the luxury of time that is!).
Thinking/Creative Time! This is also a great thing whenever I feel overwhelmed by stuff (work, lack thereof, what to eat for dinner etc) I go for a run, preferably outside (same for walking) and just think. This is a great practise for problem solving, thinking creatively, and it’s also how I conceived a lot of the ideas for my show Feathers and Cogs.
Seeing New Places Whether you’re on tour or on holiday, running around the area local to where you’re staying is one of the best ways to see a place. I have to be careful though… my sense of direction is not the best, and I have been known to get lost on more than one occasion doing this.
This is something I’ve gotten into most recently, but I’m loving this for a few reasons:
Transport! What’s better than travelling somewhere and getting fit at the same time!?! Lot’s of chocolate cake, that’s what! And you can eat that cause of all the extra exercising you do from riding your bike around instead of jumping in the car!
Free! I don’t know about any other musicians… Actually yes I do! Sometimes we’re broke! My bike has now given me the freedom to be able to go to travel around without any expense (aside from the initial actual cost of the bike), apart from energy, and that’s fine by me cause I have stamina (see above)! It means I can go to the shop to buy my 1 can of baked beans for the week, or the gym, without having to pay for parking and petrol, AND it means I get some of my cardio done for the day! Like I said I’m a newbie to the bike thing, so I’m sure I’ll find many more benefits to that!
The best thing about it all though hands down for me and a lot of other musicians I know (it seems to be a very common trait) is that doing exercise ultimately means:
I know that most musicians reading this will relate. We are on the whole part all foodies! We love it! And it feels great to know that not only can you eat a lot of what you want, but rather than feeding your fat, a lot of the time you’re feeding the muscle which will just enhance all the above points.