Working Out as a Musician: Is It Important?
Before I entered my undergraduate studies, I wasn’t the most active person out there. Gym class was my least favorite class I had to take growing up. Something about the competitiveness of sports was always unappealing to me (truthfully, it still deters me from playing sports today). When I began my undergraduate studies at UW-Madison, I started to take advantage of the gyms on campus, but I wasn’t consistent with it. This semester, however, I really wanted to take charge of my health, so with the help of a great friend I’ve been consistently going to the gym for over a month now.
What does this have to do with music, you ask? Everything! As a violinist, it is all too common to get pain in the back and left shoulder while playing, and it was something I struggled with for a long time. I remember in a lesson earlier this semester I told my professor that practicing for more than two hours was taxing on my body (especially on days when I have orchestra) and she encouraged me to try to still get three hours of practice in a day. I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this goal, but now, I don’t experience any pain while playing, even on days when I have orchestra!
I never thought being active would be the cure for the pain I used to have, but it has worked like a charm. I’m no trainer, but I recommend every musician be active in some way. CRCE and ARC have a ton of different resources and programs, so you’ll be able to find something you like doing there (or, home workouts are always an option too).
I think it’s important to also be active for the benefits to the mind and other areas of your life, rather than just working out with aesthetics in mind. Especially with women, there is an emphasis on having a flat stomach and generally being thin, but working out can just be something fun to do; it can be a great way to relieve stress, or just think about doing something else besides school or homework or practicing (bonus points if you go with a friend; then it’s also socializing time).
Today I’m the healthiest I have ever been in my life, and I never thought I’d incorporate the gym into my schedule. Now, I can’t envision my life without being active in some way. If I want to play violin for a long, long time, then the gym will be a part of my life as well.