10 Reasons why Vocalists are Primed for Athleticism

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:

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.


With love,
Kendra Signature with Photo

Active Rest Day Ideas for Summer

Woman exploring calm tropical bay with limestone mountains by kaThe sun is shining, the birds are chirping, kids are out of school, and the humidity occasionally becomes unbearable — yep, that means it’s officially summer! Many love the summer for its beautiful weather and happy vibes, but I love it most for the variety of fun activities available for active rest days. Not sure what an active rest day is? Let me elaborate.

Rest days are the (very necessary) day or days of the week where you take it easy and let your body recover. Contrary to popular believe, hitting the gym every single day is not a fantastic display of dedication; it’s a fantastic way to sabotage your own progress. Rest is key to any and every individual’s fitness routine because in order for your muscles to become stronger, they must have the time to repair and recover.

Friends doing yoga together with their teacher at the beachThis concept is especially notable in strength training; has anyone ever advised you to either A) avoid working out the same muscle group on consecutive days, or B) avoid strength training muscles that are still sore from a previous workout? That advise is definitely worth taking! If you work the same muscle group, such as the pectoralis muscles in your chest (ahem: men) or the various muscles in your legs (ahem: ladies) over and over again without giving them a break, they will never recover and grow stronger. By working a muscle group that has not fully recovered, you’re essentially undoing your previous workout, as your body has to start from square 1 in recovery again.

With this in mind, rest days are obviously crucially important in a well-balanced exercise routine. However, that doesn’t mean you have to–or should–spend an entire day lying in bed, binge-watching Netflix (although we aren’t judging you if you do every so often). Active recovery, as opposed to passive recovery (a complete break from exercise), may help prime your body’s metabolic pathways of recovery. Additionally, active rest days may help brighten one’s mood and help with healthy diet adherence.

Back StretchingBefore you choose an active rest day activity, take your current fitness level into mind. For example, a marathon runner may find a light, 2-mile jog to be the perfect form of active rest, while the same activity would be a full workout to a new exerciser. As a general rule, exercise qualifies as active recovery if you feel better after exercising compared to before you started, so you should listen to your own body when determining what will be the perfect active rest activity for you. Keep in mind that active rest typically involves performing light exercises (often swimming or cycling) that stimulate the recovery process without imposing undue stress on the injured body part.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite activities for active rest days — enjoy, operathletes!


Young Man Traveler with backpack relaxing outdoor1. TAKE A HIKE

Grab your bug spray, SPF, and water bottle, Google some excellent (and safe) hiking trails near you, and enjoy a hike on a beautiful day! Bring a couple of friends for a fun adventure and a little added safety. Don’t forget to research each trail and remind yourself of nature-related safety precautions and procedures before you take your trip. Perhaps you could do a little Geocaching while you’re at it as well?

2. GO FOR A BIKE RIDE

Bike riding is a fantastic rest day activity for both urban and suburban folk, and everyone in between. Enjoy a ride through the city, down a boardwalk, alongside of a river, or wherever the wind takes you. Don’t forget your helmet & a water bottle!

3. GO KAYAKING / CANOEING

Yoga Class, Group of People Relaxing and Doing Yoga. Child's PosSoak up the sun and enjoy Mother Nature by taking a trip down your local river or on a nearby lake. Although they don’t look ‘cool,’ keep your life vests on, folks 😉

4. TAKE A YOGA CLASS

Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar, Bikram… With so many different denominations of Yoga and a large repertoire of poses, the possibilities for practicing Yoga are truly limitless! Bonus: Yoga breathing technique utilizes diaphragmatic breathing, making it a particularly excellent choice for singers.

5. STRETCH IT OUT

Have you read our recent article on stretching? Grab a yoga mat or a blanket, play some soothing music, and enjoy a good full-body stretch session.

Sup Beautiful Girl Yoga Meditation056. TAKE A PADDLE BOARDING CLASS

Paddle boarding seems to be on the rise lately, for good reason! Obviously you can simply paddle board and enjoy the scenery wherever you are, but there’s been a recent influx of Yoga and Pilates classes on paddle boards. Sounds like a little slice of Heaven to us!

7. ENJOY A SWIM

Swim a few laps, do a few tricks in the deep end of your local pool, or just lie back and enjoy a good float. Any of the above sound like an active rest day well-spent to us!

8. GO ROCK CLIMBING

Young woman practicing rock-climbing on a rock wall indoorsArguably one of my favorite ways to spend an active rest day: indoor rock climbing. Before you go climb away, remember that you should always climb in a safe and supervised environment with well-trained and educated staff. Most indoor rock climbing gyms offer beginners classes and equipment rentals at a low cost. Always do your research before visiting a climbing gym so you can find the best–and safest–option for you!

9. VISIT AN INDOOR TRAMPOLINE PARK

Definitely my favorite way to spend an active rest day: at an indoor trampoline park. Embrace your inner child and jump away! Be sure to educate yourself on safe jumping techniques before rushing into your local trampoline park. Note that these places are usually swarming with small children, so bringing an adult friend with you is usually a must. You can also keep an eye out for adult-only jumping events at your local indoor trampoline park, to avoid crushing a small child in the process! (Don’t worry regardless, as everyone has to sign a waiver before they jump 😉 )


With love,
Kendra Signature with Photo

Stretching 101

One of the most important components of a healthy and well-balanced exercise regimen is systematically overlooked by the vast majority of exercisers: stretching. Not only can stretching prevent injuries that could keep you out of the gym for weeks or months on end, but it also helps correct poor posture by lengthening tight, shortened muscles, and increases blood and nutrient flow to muscles which can help prevent muscle soreness.

Singers who do not regularly stretch after their workouts are often (unintentionally) promoting postural imbalances that could hinder deep and free breathing, among other consequences. Stretching is clearly important for the general public, but for singers, it becomes an even more crucial part of their exercise regimen.

So, when should you stretch? Frankly, the exercise science community is a bit divided on this topic, but those who are in favor of stretching post-workout seem to be winning. Obviously, before beginning a workout, one should properly warm up their body through practice moves and dynamic stretching (another topic for another day), but scientists are finding that full-blown, static stretching session before your workout may actually hinder athletic performance and promote injury.

Attractive female athlete stretching on yoga mat in gym.Young anThat said, arguably the best answer for singers wondering when they should stretch is listen to your body. If the muscles you plan on using in a workout are feeling super tight, then I say go ahead and stretch them out, and/or use a foam roller to iron out the tension (again, another topic for another day). If the muscles you’re planning on working are sore from a previous workout, wait until they have properly repaired themselves and the soreness is gone before you work them again. Instead, work another muscle group that day and get your stretching in!

Now that we’ve covered stretching basics, here are some of my favorite stretches for virtually all of the major muscles in the body. I teach a one-hour class with these stretches; in the class, we hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds, and repeat each stretch two times. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults stretch 2-3 days per week, and hold each stretch for 15-60 seconds for 2-4 repetitions. Throughout your stretching session, use your fantastic singer breath to help fuel your efforts by imagining that you’re breathing into the area of tension (ie, the muscles your stretching) and exhaling that tension out of your body. Every exhalation should help you get a little deeper into the stretch.


Warm-up

Warm-up move: Start with this light warmup. Inhale while bringing your hands overhead, and exhale while you bring your hands back to the starting position. I usually repeat this motion 5-10 times to warm up the body a bit.

Stretches: Biceps
Bicep stretch

Front of upper arm (Bicep) stretch: With your palms facing the back wall, point your thumbs down and reach back behind you. You will feel this stretch in your biceps, which are notoriously difficult to stretch. Be sure to actively reach behind you for the duration of the stretch; if you stop feeling the slight pull in your biceps, reach back further.

Tricep Stretch
Tricep stretch

Back of upper arm (Tricep) stretch: Stretch your triceps by bringing one arm behind your head, and pull that elbow toward your head with the opposite hand.

Chest (Pectoralis Major) Stretch
Pectoralis stretch

Chest (Pectoralis) stretch: Interlace your fingers behind your rear-end and reach down and back with your hands. For a further stretch, utilize costal breathing by directing your breath into your upper chest (as opposed to diaphragmatic breathing, where you inhale and allow your belly to move).

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Trapezius & Rhomboid stretch

Upper Back (Trapezius, Rhomboid) stretch: Interlace your fingers in front of you and reach forward with your hands. Allow your shoulders to roll forward and maintain extended elbows throughout the stretch.

Neck stretch
Scalene stretch

Neck (Scalene) stretch: Place one hand on your head and gently apply downward pressure. Reach down and out with your other hand. Do not be aggressive with this stretch; perform this stretch lightly and consistently.

Shoulder (Deltoid) stretch
Deltoid stretch

Shoulder (Deltoid) stretch: Take one hand and place it on your opposite side. Make a “chicken wing” with the other arm, and lean your head toward the “chicken wing.” This stretch will also stretch your neck (sternocleidomastoid) a bit.

Middle/Lower Back (Middle/Lower Trapezius, Erector Spinae) stretch
Middle/Lower Trapezius & Erector Spinae stretch

Middle/Lower Back (Middle/Lower Trapezius, Erector Spinae) stretch: Bring your hands behind your thighs and arch your back up toward the sky. Be sure not to let your hands slip apart!

Calf (Gastrocnemius) stretch
Gastrocnemius stretch

Calf (Gastrocnemius) stretch: Separate legs to a wide V stance and bend the front knee, while keeping the back leg straight. Point both feet in the direction to which you’re facing. This will stretch the major muscle in the calf, the gastrocnemius, in the back of the lower leg. If you need a lighter stretch, bring your back leg forward a bit to make a narrower V; if you need a deeper stretch, bring the back leg back farther to make a wider V.

Deep calf stretch
Soleus stretch

Deep Calf (Soleus) stretch: From the previous position, bring the back leg forward to make a narrow V and bend both knees slightly. This will stretch the flat muscle underneath the gastrocnemius in the calf, called the soleus. You will feel this stretch originate at the Achilles tendon on the back of the rear foot and extend up the back of the leg. Feel free to adjust until you find the ‘sweet spot.’

Hip Stretch
Adductor & Glute stretch

Hip (Adductor, Glute) stretch: Starting with your legs wider than shoulder width apart, squat down and place your elbows on your inner thighs (note: be sure that your elbows are not placed on your knees, but rather, are on the meaty part of your inner thigh). Press out with your elbows to get a powerful and challenging stretch!

Standing Hamstring Stretch
Standing Hamstring stretch

Standing Back of Thigh (Hamstring) stretch: This is a three phase stretch. Starting with your legs in a wide V, hinge at the hips and reach for the ground. Be sure to keep your legs straight, as bending your knees will cause you to lose the hamstring stretch. Hold, then heel-toe your feet closer together to make a narrower V, and reach down and hold once more. Finally, heel-toe your feet all the way together and reach down toward your toes.

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Seated Hamstring stretch

Seated Back of Thigh (Hamstring) stretch, pt. 1: Like the previous stretch, you can perform this sequence in three phases: narrow V, wider V, and widest V. To get a nice side stretch, reach one hand overhead and grab your foot with the other arm. Then fold over the leg and reach your forehead toward your big toe. Repeat on the other side, and repeat both sides in all three positions.

Back of Thigh (Hamstring) stretch
Seated Hamstring stretch

Seated Back of Thigh (Hamstring) stretch, pt. 2: From the previous position, reach your hands forward and aim to get your forehead toward the ground. Don’t forget to use every exhale to get you even a centimeter deeper into the stretch! Perform this stretch in all three phases of the previous stretch (narrow V, wider V, widest V).

Cat-Camel Motion
Cat-Camel Motion

Cat-Camel Motion: Notice that I didn’t call this one a stretch. The goal here is not to see who can arch their back farther in either direction. Instead, this motion is intended to help relieve lower back pain. Many of my group fitness clients suffer with lower back pain on a regular basis, so I always throw this one into my stretch classes. Slowly arch your back between the two positions, and aim to make the motion between the two positions as fluid as possible.

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Variations on Child Pose

Variations on Child Pose (Lower Back, Latissimus Dorsi, Posterior Deltoid, Teres m.m., Side Obliques): Start in the seated position with knees together, then bend over and reach forward. Utilize diaphragmatic breathing to get a powerful lower back stretch; since your belly is on your legs and thus can’t move very much, you will have to release into your lower back to take in a deep breath. Amazing how we can use the singer’s breath to enhance a stretch! Hold, then walk hands to one side while keeping the lower body stable to get a powerful side stretch. Repeat on opposite side.

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‘Cobra’ stretch

‘Cobra’ stretch (Abdominal wall): Start lying down, and place your hands flat on the ground below your shoulders. Press up and extend your arms to stretch your abdominal wall. For an further stretch, utilize diaphragmatic breathing in this position. If this stretch is too intense, feel free to bend your elbows.

Front of Thigh (Hip Flexor) stretch
Hip Flexor stretch

Front of Thigh (Hip Flexor) stretch: Begin with one leg in front of you at a 90° angle, back leg on the ground behind you. In this lunge position, lean toward your front knee. If this feels good, come up to a full lunge by bringing the back knee off the floor. Be sure to keep that back leg straight! In either position, squeeze your glutes for a further hip flexor stretch.

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Single Hamstring stretch

Single Back of Thigh (Hamstring) stretch: Starting with one leg extended in front of you and the opposite knee on the ground, lean back toward your back heel to get a powerful single leg hamstring stretch in the extended leg.

Single Back of Thigh (Hamstring) stretch
‘Pigeon’ stretch

‘Pigeon’ stretch (Hip Flexor, Glute, Piriformis): This is probably my favorite stretch of all time! Start by bringing one leg across your body; your lower leg should be perpendicular to the rest of your body. You can either stay up on your hands, come down to your forearms, or reach your hands out in front of you.

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Seated ‘Figure 4’ stretch

Seated ‘Figure 4’ stretch (Glute, Piriformis): Starting in the seated position with both legs out straight, cross one leg over the other and wrap the opposite arm across that knee. Lightly reach behind with your other arm to get a powerful glute stretch.

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Lying ‘Figure 4’ stretch

Lying ‘Figure 4’ stretch (Glute, Piriformis): The lying Figure 4 stretch is merely a variation on the previous stretch. Start lying flat on your back, and bring one ankle to the opposite knee.  Wrap your hands below that same knee and pull back on your thigh, bringing your legs off of the floor.

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Adductor stretch

Inner Thigh (Adductor) stretch: Start in the seated position with your feet together. Inhale, then fold over as you exhale. Aim to get your head as close to your feet as possible.

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Quadricep stretch

Front of leg (Quadricep) stretch: Lie on one side and grab the ankle of the top leg. Pull your heel towards your butt and hold.

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Latissimus Dorsi, Oblique stretch

Lying Trunk Twist (Latissimus Dorsi, Oblique) stretch: Lie flat on your back with your hands out to either side of you and your legs up, knees in a 90° angle. Rotate your legs to one side of your body. Try to keep your knees together (as opposed to letting the top knee sink backwards) and try to keep both shoulders on the floor, or as close to the floor as you can get them. Hold, then rotate knees to the other side.


With love,
Kendra Signature with Photo

Thank you Dr. Julian Rivera for your contributions, and shout out to MultiSport Fitness for allowing OPERATHLETIC to use their beautiful facility for photos.

Beachbody: A Singer’s Story and Reviews

OPERATHLETIC is thrilled to have Ellen Broen, Beachbody coach & founder of OPERAfit, contribute to the blog! For this article, we asked her to rank her top 5 choices for Beachbody programs for the busy traveling singer — and as an active singer who is constantly on the road herself, she has some fantastic input on this subject! Thank you, Ellen, for being a part of OPERATHLETIC!  [Disclaimer: OPERATHLETIC does not endorse / sell any weight loss products]

With love,
Kendra Signature with Photo

 

 


beach body

At a certain point in my singing career, as many of you have probably also experienced, the stress of it all really got to me. As an avid emotional eater, acid reflux sufferer, and gym unenthusiast, I struggled with my weight and feeling good in my skin and body. To combat my overeating, I thought my solution was plunking myself on a treadmill until my calorie counter ticked away enough calories on My Fitness Pal for me to feel less guilty about it. To wipe out the reflux and ensuing swelling of my vocal folds, I look medications and over-­the-­counters to “handle it.” Almost every singer I knew was on Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, or something next­level like me, so I thought it was just a new normal for my life.

Enter: BeachbodyÂź. I know, the name is not appealing to me either. I am well aware that all you need to have a “beach body” is to take your body to the beach. I agree! BUT, stay with me here. It starts out as one of those stereotypical stories where I saw a friend of mine had used one of those at­-home fitness programs and posted her before/after photos. It was pretty remarkable what she’d accomplished, and hell! I wanted that too! So I signed up for one of the programs and gave it a go – after all, I’d tried going to the gym, seeing a personal trainer, seeing a nutritionist, dieting, acai berry cleanses, fiber hunger­-suppressant pills, and all that’s in between… So why not try one of those programs!?

Ellen Broen Before & After
Ellen Broen Before & After

I am not exaggerating when I say that program unlocked a whole new world of understanding, empowerment, and confidence. Yes, through an at-­home fitness program. But it’s NOT just a fitness program, y’all! It gave me the ticket to a whole new lifestyle, where I understood how to eat to feel my absolute best, how to exercise consistently (even if I’m on the road for a program or gig), and how to not give up when it gets hard.

Here’s the deal with Beachbody. There’s really nothing WRONG with the products, it’s just that advertisements and marketing, critics and culture, and even our own negative self-­talk tell us over and over again that we need to lose weight to look a certain way, get a certain part, “be better.” So I totally feel you on the revulsion towards “weight loss products.”

And I hate to be that person (and also sort of love it), but I will be. This is different.

When I experienced that “whole new world” Aladdin moment in my own life with one of these products, something clicked and I just wanted MORE! So I tried other programs by Beachbody, kept drinking their superfoods shake called “Shakeology,” held myself accountable with friends in a community where we helped each other not give up, and over time I had changed three things:

1. MY MINDSET.

When I really experienced what power I got from being strong and active while eating foods that fueled that lifestyle, I started feeling more powerful and positive towards my singing career. I felt more grounded and connected than I ever had. I felt confident in my body on stage and off. I applied the discipline I was using for my workouts to my practicing schedule. I dropped my judgment and jealousy of other people who seemed to “have it together,” and instead I was happy for them and exuding my own happiness with myself.

2. MY HEALTH.

I am not alone when I say this (and some of you may not believe me), Shakeology’s superfoods changed my life. After a couple months of drinking this shake that was made of fruits, vegetables, plant­-based proteins you don’t encounter in most American stores, and packed a punch of 23 vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, adaptogenic herbs (lowers your stress levels), probiotics, and fiber – without ANYTHING artificial – I really did notice an immediate difference in my mental acuity, productivity, energy levels, digestive comfort, and overall vibrancy and mood. It inspired me to ask questions to my doctors and nutritionist about the ingredients, and took me down the path to finding healing for my reflux through my nutrition and these superfoods. I now take NO medications and feel better than I ever have. My reflux is gone because I learned how to change the SOURCE of the problem, and not just suppress the symptoms.

3.  MY ACCOUNTABILITY.

Don’t be fooled — I’m no super human with the fortitude to stay committed to this stuff all on my own. The key to my success was 100% the people I did my program with through my online community. We shared our struggles on the hard days, and the successes on the kick­ass days, and it made the whole process FUN! We read books together to guide our inner transformation as well as our outer, and we posted our accountability posts every night. Every morning I woke up to comments and likes on my posts from other people who had experienced the same thing as me, who asked me for my recipe or offered another they had found, who were my cheerleaders when I totally fell off the wagon and wanted to hide my “failure.” How could I give up when my team wanted me to succeed even more than ME??

So, to me, Beachbody gave me more than some workouts from home and a shake. It gave me control, community, healing, energy, and knowledge. I now am a coach for my own team of other musicians who come at this from the same place I did, and I named it OPERAfit–because you know what? We ARE.

Now, for the meat and potatoes of what you’re looking for. What programs do I recommend for my fellow singers; and how can you look them up, down, and sideways to decide if they’re something you want to try?

Here you go!


1. 21 DAY FIX

This is the program that changed it all for me. You get a no­brainer, simple system to balance out your nutrition through some nifty color­-coded containers. You get the superfoods for 1­ month to try out (I HIGHLY recommend chocolate [no joke, it’s like a Wendy’s Frosty] or cafe latte). You get a different workout for each day that is 30 minutes, warm up to cool down, and offers modifications for everything so ANY fitness level can get a really awesome workout. With workouts from upper/lower body, to cardio, to Pilates, to yoga, so it keeps things interesting. And you get our OPERAfit team through that link. ​*minimal equipment necessary* Click here to order and join Team OPERAfit!

2. PiYo

This is one I do when I am at a YAP or stressed during a performance week. It’s a combination of Pilates and yoga, so you get the low­impact strength­building of Pilates with the stretching and breath focus of yoga. Again, you get the superfoods and our OPERAfit team, but there is a different nutrition plan. If you want to mix the 21 day fix portion containers and this program, email me and I can show you how to add it on. *​no equipment necessary*  Click here to order and join Team OPERAfit!

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3. CIZE

This one is fun! If you hate working out, this one is ALL hip­hop dance routines set to top 40 songs. Again, a great one when you’re stressed and just want to funwind (lol, just made that up) or pump up your jams! Also doesn’t come with a great nutrition program, so shoot me an email for how to add on the containers. *​no equipment necessary*  Click here to order and join Team OPERAfit!

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4. HAMMER AND CHISEL

Brand new program made by a combination of the trainer from 21 day fix and her style of workouts (the “chisel”), plus a body builder male trainer (the “hammer”). This is a lifting, low­cardio program, so if you’re an intermediate or advanced gym­goer, this might be something to try! It comes with the 21 day fix nutrition/portion container thing, but has different plans for different goals. You can follow it to lose weight, maintain and tone, or bulk up (lookin at you, guys!). *​hand weights + exercise ball necessary*  Click here to order and join Team OPERAfit!

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5. INSANITY MAX:30

This is a hardie, but a goodie. For those of you familiar with the original Insanity program, it’s the same trainer. This one is just 30 minutes, start to finish, and an intense cardio/calisthenics workout. If I don’t have any equipment with me, and I really want a great sweaty workout, this is gold. A little pricier and doesn’t include the portion containers (email me!), but gives you a 60­-day calendar of TONS of different workouts, and it’s really the best cardio workout I’ve ever done. *​no equipment necessary*  Click here to order and join Team OPERAfit!

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So there you have it! If you have more questions about these programs or the OPERAfit community, email me at OPERAfit.EllenBroen@gmail.com.  Click our logo below to support us on Facebook or to message me!

OPERATION Fitness


Craft your strength… Strengthen your craft!
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Avoiding the “Holiday 15”

Holiday Survival Guide

The holiday season is notorious for unintentional weight gain; but that’s to be expected when there are holiday cookies at every corner for nearly two months straight. Finding the balance between indulgence and blatant overeating isn’t an easy task, which can make the holidays extremely frustrating for the health-conscious individual.

Fortunately, there’s no need to dread the holiday season. Despite popular belief, it is possible to lead a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the holiday season, pecan pie and all! It takes a bit of patience, a lot of planning, and dedication to yourself, but you can make it through the holidays unscathed!

Use this holiday survival guide to help you enjoy your holiday season, operathletes!


1. GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP

The first step to surviving the holidays without packing on the pounds is as simple as getting some shut-eye!  A lack of sleep correlates with weight gain, so ensure that you’re meeting the sleep recommendations set forth by the National Sleep Foundation for your age bracket.

2. STAY ACTIVE

The holidays can be hectic, but sticking to a regular exercise regimen will not only prevent excessive weight gain, but will also help reduce your overall stress level, which can ultimately help prevent “stress eating.” Avoid using exercise as a punishment for an imperfect diet choice — instead, earn your cheat meals by kicking your own booty at the gym on a regular basis 😉

3. STAY HYDRATED

Most people are regularly under-hydrated.  Ensuring that you are well-hydrated is a crucial part of your overall health, but it can also help prevent “boredom eating.” If you’re ever unsure as to whether or not you’re truly hungry or if it’s just the boredom talking, grab a glass of water! You may find that you were simply thirsty.

4. LIMIT “CHEATING” TO DESIGNATED “CHEAT DAYS”

The use of the word “cheat” in this context refers to meals that are outside of one’s regularly healthy diet. During the holidays, it’s extremely easy to unintentionally make every day a “cheat day.” Designate your cheat days (such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve), and outside of those special occasions, stick to a healthy diet rich in green veggies, delicious fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. By planning your “cheat days” ahead of time, you will be able to monitor your eating before & after the holiday, and frankly, your special days will likely feel like a more satisfying treat!

5. BE PICKY ABOUT & ENJOY YOUR “CHEAT MEALS”

If you eat ham on a regular basis, why would you binge out on ham on cheat day??  Go ahead and treat yo’self to those delicious goodies you don’t have on a regular basis, like turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, et cetera!  In my own experience, I’ve noticed that one of the biggest mistakes I can make is punishing myself during a cheat meal by depriving myself of what I really want, or after a cheat meal by filling my mind with regret for going “off plan.” Although it’s easier said than done, avoid the urge to punish yourself for a cheat meal; instead, do the work you need to in your exercise and diet regimen on a day-to-day basis, decide that you’ve earned this cheat, have what you want, and enjoy every last bite.

6. PACE YOURSELF

Pace yourself throughout your meal, but also throughout the entire day. Avoid the urge to starve yourself so you’ll be “empty” enough for the big meal, and savor every bite so you don’t accidentally stuff yourself sick! It’s okay to eat more than you usually do during your cheat meal, but there’s little worse than eating so much so quickly that your body punishes you for your splurge! Instead, eat only to a comfortable level.

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7. STRIVE FOR BALANCE, NOT PERFECTION

So you’re juggling healthy eating, exercise, proper hydration, and adequate sleep habits on top of your everyday life. Let’s face it: you’re not always going to be able to balance them perfectly, and that’s okay! You’re only human, you can only do so much. Some days will be better than others. Instead of punishing yourself for those slip-ups, put your time and energy into getting back on track as soon as possible.

8. CONSUME SUGAR SPARINGLY

Sugar is extremely addicting. The more you have, the more you’ll want. This isn’t to say you can’t have that piece of pecan pie; but if you can, limit your dessert plate to just one sugar-filled item.  Just know that the more sugar you have on cheat day, the more you’ll have to practice your self-control the following day, when you’re back on track with your healthy eating.

9. ALWAYS USE A PLATE

Snacking straight out of the cookie jar is a recipe for disaster. This form of snacking without a definitive limit is even more dangerous if you do it in front of the TV or while you Netflix, like most people do. Instead, make yourself a small plate, put the rest of the goodies away, and enjoy your little plate.

10. LIMIT THE LEFTOVERS

This one is pretty easy to understand at its core: the more temptation you have lying around the house, the more tempted you’ll be to fall off the horse. With all the cookies, candies, pies, and leftovers hanging around, an individual who may usually cheat once or twice during the week may suddenly find themselves cheating on a daily basis! If you’re the host, try to divvy out leftovers to your guests so you have little left to “take care of” (which we all know is code for “eat, yourself”).  If you’re the guest, don’t take home several tubs of leftovers.  Perhaps prepare one little meal for lunch the next day in one to-go container, then leave the rest.


With love,

Kendra Signature with Photo