How Working Out Helps Performing Artists

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I don’t know many (actually any) people who have performed on tour for a Broadway show, had a hit pop single, and worked as a personal trainer. So when I was introduced to Rebecca Miller Tau in New York last month, I was anxious to learn more about her experience. I was particularly interested in whether a relationship exists between the performing arts and fitness. She was kind enough to share her thoughts with me. I’m happy that I am able to share them with our readers.

Rebecca has been a performer her entire life. “When I was two years old, my parents put me in a dance class and from there I never stopped,” she said. She quickly expanded to voice lessons, community theater, and paid performances. She later attended college at Penn State, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater, which combines acting, dancing, and vocals.

After school, Rebecca earned a role in the ensemble cast of the first National Tour of The Wedding Singer, a Broadway show based on Adam Sandler’s hit movie. In this musical, Rebecca played several roles, including Cyndi Lauper and (for those familiar with Sandler’s work) “the lady with the sideburns.”

Rebecca began to write and record pop music under the recording name BEX. Her first song, Life of the Party, made it onto the top 50 pop charts. This was a big deal for an independent artist competing with musicians backed by large and well-funded record labels. The song was featured in the Nickelodeon movie Fun Size, which included comedians Johnny Knoxville and Chelsea Handler.

Exercise played an important role in Rebecca’s life throughout her diverse performance experiences. “I would just always be in the gym,” she recalled. “I started working with a trainer when my music was coming out. I gained a lot of knowledge about body mechanics and how to fuel my body. I loved it so much, I took a job as a trainer at Rich Barretta Private Training, an exclusive private gym.” At Rich Baretta, Rebecca was around top trainers and athletes, including David Blaine, the self-described endurance artist, who creates illusions using his body.

Rebecca learned about the importance of controlling her body to optimize her performance while acting, dancing, or singing. In an industry that is physically demanding – her music video shoots alone lasted 18 hours a day, according to Rebecca – it is critical to staying healthy and fit. Rebecca employed an exercise routine that she says helped her avoid injury, made her body look “how I wanted it to,” and, perhaps most interestingly, perform at her best.

Although performers like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake seem to effortlessly sing and dance on stage, a lot of preparation and training go into the fitness component of these elaborate performances.

One area relates to core strength. Rebecca stated, “Strengthening the muscles around the rib cage is really important. When you breathe in and your rib cage expands, you’ve got to create a strong breath that you can use.” She would strengthen her core while training for performances by doing a range of bodyweight exercises, focusing on traditional planks and side planks. Even the act of singing itself works the core. “When you’re practicing singing,” she said, “you don’t even realize how much you’re working out your core, but you are.”

Running around the stage, performing elaborate and synchronized dance moves, and singing are not easy to do simultaneously or sequentially. “No one wants to see someone singing or dancing who looks exhausted and running out of breath,” Rebecca said. There’s an enormous amount of training that goes into the act of breathing. “You always breathe through your mouth as a dancer,” she said. “It’s the quickest way to get air when you need it. You breathe pretty high up, just above the heart.” However, singing requires a different breathing technique: “Your breath needs to come from down low. It needs to be grounded and you need to be very relaxed,” explained Rebecca. The trickiest part is switching between these two very different breathing methods and there’s a lot that goes into practicing exactly when and how one breathes during each performance. And, of course, as Rebecca said, “you need to make it look really easy.”

Today, Rebecca continues to focus her efforts on the performing arts as the founder of Event Music Concierge, a company that matches clients who need performers for special events.

We'd love to hear from you. What do you think about Rebecca’s experience? Comment below or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness, or tweet us at @flytefitness.

Be Flyte Fit,

Jeremy Greenberg
Co-Founder & CEO
Flyte Fitness

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