Happy September, operathletes!! Sorry for the delayed post — we had to take a short hiatus to resolve some technical site issues, as well as enjoy the beautiful summer weather 😉 I spent the summer working hard on both my career in the fitness industry as well as my personal fitness, and as I continue to train, I’ve discovered some truly striking similarities between athletic training and vocal training. Believe it or not, professional athletes and professional musicians have a LOT in common!
Even if your goal isn’t to become an “athlete,” per say, the skills and foundation that you need to succeed in your fitness journey parallel that of a professional athlete. Fortunately, as a musician, these are skills you regularly practice in your music studies. Without this same foundation, you would likely struggle to maintain both your regular vocal practice and fitness routine.
For those of you who feel you aren’t “athletic” and are afraid to take a step into your local gym, take a moment and read this article. You may discover that you’ve already mastered some of the very important skills necessary for being successful in a regular fitness regimen through your musical practice. Here are 10 reasons why you as a vocalist (or musician in general!) are destined to go out and discover your inner operathlete!
1. WE ENJOY A CHALLENGE
I’ve never met a single singer who doesn’t enjoy a good challenge. We all aspire to one day sing the most difficult arias in our fach’s repertoire, so we work hard and diligently to get there. Fitness fanatics have the same love of a good challenge. We seek to lift heavier, run farther, lower our body fat percentage, etc… Reaching our full potential is as difficult as it is intriguing and exciting, so we put our all into it every single day. After all, if it were easy, anyone could do it… Now where’s the fun in that?
2. ROUTINES ARE OUR BEST FRIEND
When you embark in a career in the music industry, you quickly have to establish a regular practice schedule. As your technique and stamina improve, you may increase the amount of time you spend in the practice room, and you adjust the rest of your daily routine to meet the increased demand for practice time. Athletes have to build a similar schedule for their own practice. Swimmers, power lifters, runners, and athletes of all kinds have to establish how many hours a day they need to train for their craft, and they have to establish what they will be working on each day. Sound familiar, vocalists? 😉
3. WE ARE USED TO STEPPING OUTSIDE OUR COMFORT ZONE
Everyone knows the magic happens in that terrifying space outside of our comfort zone. Musicians regularly have to push themselves out of both their emotional and physical comfort zones to achieve greatness in their performance. Athletes are much the same; to lift heavier, or run farther, or move more quickly, athletes have to go so far out of their comfort zone that they similarly test their physical and emotional limits. If they do not push past their perceived limits, they will never challenge their bodies enough to make the physical adaptations necessary to become a better athlete.
4. WE KNOW HOW TO SET SMALL, ATTAINABLE GOALS
One does not simply begin their voice studies with Der Hölle Roche (well…at least I HOPE you didn’t!!). All professional and studying musicians know that you begin with something more attainable, such as a Mozart art song, and work your way up. Same thing goes with voice technique: you begin by learning the fundamentals, such as proper breathing techniques, and work your way up to more advanced vocal technique.
Athletes go through a strikingly similar process, taking their fitness journey one step at a time. The first step for a new runner is not to go out and begin by running a marathon. Instead, smaller goals are set, such as walk-running a mile, then completing a 5k, then completing a 10k race, etc. The ability to set small, attainable goals is truly a skill that needs to be mastered, and both musicians & athletes need to master this skill in order to have success in their craft.
5. WE ENJOY SHOWING OFF
Let’s be honest: we’ve all posted at least one performance video on social media to dazzle our friends and family. Athletes do the same thing! When hitting a new personal-record lifting, or after completing a race, it’s hard not to snap a photo or video to share with your friends and family to boast your accomplishments. Don’t believe me? Here are a few of my favorite shameless bragging posts:
Operathletes lift HEAVY 💪 Somehow managed to keep decent form on set #5 with 145 pounds in the bar 😜🙃🏋🏼 – #operathletic #fitspiration #opera #operasinger #fitoperasinger #fitmusician #fitness #fitfam #strongisthenewskinny #healthyisthenewskinny #girlswholift #exercise #wellness #healthy #musician #musicmajorproblems #nutrition #healthylivingblogs #instafit #strong #fitness #trainharderthanme #fitspo #fitnessfanatic #fitstagram #healthyliving #deadlift #girlswholiftheavy #lifting
Cross train, cross train, cross train!! As a heavy lifter, I love using yoga to improve my flexibility, build strength, better my balance, and calm my mind ☺️ Don't fall into the trap of only participating in one form of exercise — change it up, even if it's scary! – #operathletic #fitspiration #opera #operasinger #fitoperasinger #fitmusician #fitness #fitfam #strongisthenewskinny #healthyisthenewskinny #girlswholift #exercise #wellness #healthy #musician #musicmajorproblems #nutrition #healthylivingblogs #instafit #strong #fitness #trainharderthanme #fitspo #fitnessfanatic #fitstagram #healthyliving #namaste #yoga #yogi #backbend #fullbridge
I've been working for months to conquer the monkey bars. I loved them as a kid, but boy are they tough now!! It took a couple dozen mini-goals to get me to this big accomplishment, but I finally did it! Officially ready for the #SpartanRace! – #operathletic #fitspiration #opera #operasinger #fitoperasinger #fitmusician #fitness #fitfam #strongisthenewskinny #healthyisthenewskinny #girlswholift #exercise #wellness #healthy #musician #musicmajorproblems #nutrition #healthylivingblogs #instafit #strong #fitness #trainharderthanme #fitspo #fitnessfanatic #fitstagram #healthyliving
6. PATIENCE IS OUR VIRTUE
Some days, singing comes easy and it feels like you could sing anything. Other days, it feels like pushing a parked truck up a steep hill. Sometimes we work so hard in the practice room to correct that one difficult passage, just to mess it up in performance despite the effort. On those difficult days, we have to dig deep and be patient with ourselves, acknowledging that we could just be having an off-day and coming up with a game plan to prevent these mistakes in the future, as best we can. Athletes face the same challenge every day. It can be difficult to accept the fact that it is highly unlikely that every single day will be a stellar day performance-wise, but once we become more patient with ourselves, this difficult pill becomes a little easier to swallow.
7. WATER IS OUR BEST FRIEND
This one’s easy: ask a singer if they love water, and ask an athlete if they love water, and you will get a surprisingly consistent answer. I’ve seen more and more singers and athletes carrying around a literal gallon of water to sip on (or shamelessly chug) throughout the day, and I have to admit… It’s a pretty good idea. I will never leave the house without a gallon of water again.
8. WE UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF DILIGENT & CONSISTENT PRACTICE
Performance is one part talent to approximately six parts practice. A wildly talented singer will literally go nowhere if they don’t practice regularly. Same concept goes for athletes: individuals are, in fact, born with a certain athletic capacity. An individual with a high athletic capacity may never know they’re destined for greatness if they do not exercise regularly. The only way to truly find out what you’re capable of, both musically and athletically, is totally reliant on whether or not you consistently put in the work — even on the days that you don’t want to.
9. WEEDING OUT BAD INFORMATION IS A HARD-EARNED SKILL
I feel as though vocalists in particular have to deal with an abnormally large amount of bad information when it comes to voice technique, repertoire choices, fach identification, etc… Over time, we’ve all had to learn (often the hard way) how to weed out the bad information from the good.
There is a surprisingly similar dynamic in the fitness world, largely due to the fact that new research comes out almost weekly that challenges previously held fitness, nutrition, and wellness principles. A perfect example is stretching. Even just a few years ago, it was an accepted practice to perform static stretches before and after exercise. The idea was that performing static stretches before exercise would help with injury prevention during the workout. Come to find out, this is probably the WORST thing you can do before exercising!! Performing static stretches before you exercise can actually increase your risk of injury; instead, a thorough warm-up and a few dynamic stretches are a much better choice for a pre-workout routine, and static stretches should be saved for post-workout.
This kind of conflicting and confusing information runs rampant in the fitness world. From outdated research to fad products claiming one can lose X amount of pounds in an abnormally small time frame, both fitness professionals and fitness enthusiasts have a lot of bogus information to sort through. Older scientific articles and exercise DVD’s can be confusing as well, as they’re often loaded with information based on outdated research. As a result, athletes and musicians both have to perfect their ability to accurately filter out bad information.
10. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BREATH
Singers spend countless hours learning about and practicing proper breathing techniques, as do athletes. From yoga to swimming, the breath plays a crucially important role in many sports and other athletic activities.