Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Singer as an Athlete

Our family joined a gym in late February.  The Peanut needed swim lessons and there are two decent family-oriented gyms in the area with indoor pools.  The one we joined gets consistent rave reviews about their children's programming so while the other gym got better reviews for the adult classes, we went with the one with the better swim instructor.  Of course scheduling is always a challenge around here, so the nanny needs to take The Peanut to her swim lesson on Monday when I'm teaching.  This means we had to go whole-hog and buy the family membership so the nanny could have her name on the account too.  Not one to let stuff go to waste, I've been availing myself of the membership as well.  I work out with a personal trainer when I can afford it.  I take classes.  I do the machines.  I'm even getting brave enough to venture into the weight room all by myself without my personal trainer in tow.  I even have an app that helps me track what I'm doing for weights (in addition to the SparkPeople app which I've used off and on for awhile).  I'm slowly turning into a gym rat.

The results have been positive so far.  I've dropped a pants size.  I fit into my skinny jeans which are really the only pair of jeans I own right now that fit me nicely.  My clothes are getting big on me.  I have muscle lines on my arms.  So what they say is true - you will lose weight if you exercise.  But what I've been most fascinated by in this process is how my chosen profession helps me at the gym.  Sadly, it doesn't help me bench press an extra 10 pounds, but what it does do for me is almost just as good.

I've discovered I'm good at three things:  flexibility (which has nothing to do with singing; I just do a lot of yoga); breathing; and anything abdominal.  When I do work out with my trainer, I think she puts me on the treadmill or elliptical and cranks it up to shut me up.  I've sorely disappointed her several times by still being able to crab at her about whatever form of torture she has on tap for me for the day.   The abdominals are kind of weird.  Going into this, I was having lower back pain because I felt like my core was weak.  I know that my core is not just my abdominals, but they do play a huge part in it.  From the get go, it has taken a lot to challenge me in this department (which is completely not the case for any other muscle group).  Now that I've been at this for a couple of months, I am actively looking for stuff that makes me feel the burn.  I've found a few specific exercises and classes that do challenge me and I make them the priority.  I suspect next time I meet with the trainer, if I mention it, she'll come up with some new form of torture to add to my repertoire.

I do look forward to continuing this journey.  The results happened quicker than I expected them to.  And here's where the athlete helps the singer -- the more fit I am, the better I feel as singer.  My lines are longer.  The breath control is the best it's been in years.  The concert I did this past Sunday didn't wear me out.  For years, I've told my students to go do something active -- even just go for a walk.  Aside from yoga, I didn't consistently take my own advice.  I'm happy to report that this has changed over the last few months - this singer needs a few more track suits because the gym rat is here to stay.

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