Thanks for the feedback and topic suggestions.
The two top contenders were ‘how do you keep fit on the road?’ and “what is tour bus life like?”
So… here goes with healthy lifestyle on the road.
(so much for sex, drugs and rock n roll….)
“So You Thought This Touring Drummer Thing Was Easy?”
I spend months each year touring around the globe as a sophisticated migrant laborer, experiencing snapshots of many countries, cities and cultures.
The upside is that the hotels tend to be good ones. The travel well organized and the road-trips tend to happen in a custom designed band tour-bus.
The price I pay is being away from family, friends and home comforts. It also means many hours at airports, on planes and in hotels.
The time-tested cliche is true: “The 2 hours playing the show is the easy part. The other 22 are more tricky.”
As a performing drummer sustained energy and quick recovery are essential. The first 7 shows on a 40-date North American tour are fine to charge at with raw adrenalin. It’s the remaining 33 that require a bit more endurance. Usually each show is in a different city. This means late nights, early mornings and irregular meal times. Not to mention the odd bout of after-show drinks thrown into the mix 😉
The investment I have made in wellness/ health/ training since I was young has been paying off.
My interest in running and whole-food nutrition started as a kid when I beat asthma into submission through exercise and nourishing food! My thanks go out to Dr Lionel Finnemore – a visionary in the Eastern Cape all those years ago for ‘prescribing’ a running program instead of rest & medication which was the medical fraternity’s position at that time.
Since then things have changed a lot. One example is the growing number of Olympic medalists in swimming who are ‘former’ asthmatics.
A fit and healthy lifestyle means you can play longer and harder on all fronts, avoid illness and in the words of the godfather of soul Mr James Brown scream out loud …
“I FEEL GOOD!”
The long and the short of it is: whatever our lifestyle or activity level, Nutrition, Hydration, Exercise and Relaxation are essential to good health and the ability to hit our daily activities with everything you’ve got. Being healthy is not complicated or expensive – being ill is 🙂
My touring goal is to eat frequent smallish meals each day and to focus on the unrefined & fresh stuff like fruit, wholemeal bread, lean meat and fish.
The best strategy for ‘feel goodness’ is to avoid ‘white carbohydrates’ where possible (for eg. refined white sugar, white flour products, white rice) and deep-fried food. The refined carbs spike your blood sugar for a quick energy burst and then send you crashing down playing havoc with the endocrine system, while the overload of harmful fats from deep frying is well documented. My real secret weapon is a nutritious ‘milkshake’ to start the day, as its almost impossible to get all the good stuff via caterers and bistros. (I do this at home too as an ongoing strategy to ensure muscle growth and vitality).
It must be noted that this is a basic game plan and not an absolute regime. It would be totally nuts to miss out on something as delicious as a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich (personal favorite purveyor is backstage catering @ The Keswick Theater, Glenside Philadelphia!!).
A healthy balance is key.
Question: Drink water when thirsty, or drink water frequently as a strategy?
Answer: Throughout the day. Every day. Not just when you feel run down or thirsty. By then its too late to remedy!
Here are some interesting facts:
- The human body is made up of around 60% water
- As little as 2% percent can affect athletic performance, cause tiredness and dull critical thinking abilities.
- Your lungs expel between two and four cups of water each day through normal breathing – even more on a cold day.
- If you perspire, you expel about two cups of water (which doesn’t include exercise-induced perspiration).
- If your feet sweat, there goes another cup of water.
- If you make half a dozen trips to the bathroom during the day, that’s six cups of water.
Water is crucial to good health. Every system in your body depends on water.
Who knows how much fluid I lose in a 2hr summer festival set….a lot! Water alone is not enough. I’ve tried many isotonic formulas without lasting success and up until recently my emergency antidote was a can of Coke next to my drums for when I started getting light headed – normally after 90 minutes of full on performance. Crazy stuff!
Last year I did a trial endorsement of a product aimed at hydrating the body at the highest level. You mix with water and slug it back during your ‘event’. It’s delicious and has worked incredibly well for me and is now an essential part of my tour planning.
Check this out to illustrate energy-output as a drum set pounder (multiply the 4 min video clip by at least 30 to get to an average non stop show length…)
Training on the Road
My personal survival mechanism is to run and swim daily where time allows. This gives me energy instead of draining it. When I’m home I run 5x per week with two days of recovery where I carry on with light resistance and weight workouts.
Lets close this newsletter with a bit of fun! My On The Road Hotel Room Workout:
Start with stretching – arm windmills, head rolls, shoulder rolls, some basic yoga stretches if you know them.
OK, warmed up? Put a thick hotel towel on the floor as an exercise mat and you’re ready to begin…
- Do 20 standard push ups, then roll over and do 25 abdominal crunches directly into 25 bicycle kicks. Be careful to do this all with maximum flexibility and at a medium pace. Repeat this 2-5 times depending on fitness level.
- Now look for two weighted objects to replace dumbbells – heavy books, dense ornaments etc. With one per hand do 15 to 20 strict slow bicep curls, directly into 5 to 10 shoulder presses. Repeat 2-5 times depending on fitness level.
- Lastly lie on your back with arms stretched out straight behind you, kick your feet over your head so that your toes touch your fingers. If you cant do this at first, persist. After a few days you’ll loosen up and it’ll be no problem. Promise!
Good news is that now you’re ready for a Starbucks Vente with a shot of vanilla and a delicious raisin scone! (if you’re in the USA of course)
Thanks for your interest!