The Broadway Workout
by CJ Pawlikowski
photography by Conner Peirson
featuring Bryce Charles
In a world of luxury gyms, many people associate fitness with lavishness, expense, a “perfect” body, a six-pack, a thigh gap, and every other over-glorified trait. However, for the Broadway community, fitness and health are central to a career, not simply aesthetics. Performers push their bodies to extremes eight shows a week. We’re expected to bulk, trim, maintain, and still do the tap number with a smile across our face. “Athlete” and “actor” can be used interchangeably, therefore a healthy lifestyle is essential in our line of work.
So, what makes a performer’s workout regime so unique? Not only do we strive to be the fittest versions of ourselves, we also need our bodies to perform eight shows a week for months on end. I often say performing in The Book of Mormon is like a 90-minute kickboxing class or running a 5K. And that doesn’t even compare to shows like Newsies or The Lion King, which demand an entirely different level of dexterity and athleticism. It’s about finding the perfect balance of joint and muscular health, aesthetics, building muscle fiber and maintaining mobility. And it’s this balance that makes our training method valuable to anyone regardless of profession.
Below is a quick morning workout to get your blood flowing. You can do this in your bedroom, in your hotel gym, or on the A-Train if you’re feeling particularly bold that day. We want to engage your entire body so you can start your day connected head-to-toe and in-touch with your breath. Perform each exercise nonstop for 30 seconds and then continue to the next. Move through the entire workout three to five times or until you’re able to riff like Leslie Odom Jr., or successfully outlast your play-off music like Bette Midler.
Whole Body Morning Workout
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself to about chair height while maintaining a natural arch in your back. Make sure your knees track in line with your toes as you lower.Squeeze your glutes as you accelerate back to neutral.
2. Alternating Standard and Wide Pushups
For standard pushups, place your hands about shoulder-width apart. As you lower your body, keep your elbows tucked-in, parallel to your torso. For wide pushups, place your hands an additional hands-width apart on each side and lower down. Alternate between normal and wide.
3. Jump Squats (with Knee-Ups)
From a standard squatting position, propel yourself up and bring your knees to your chest. Keep your torso upright, with a natural arch in your back. Land in plié, and repeat. Use your arms to maintain momentum and rhythm.
Keep your movement slow and controlled as you move through each crunch. Make sure to keep your core engaged.
5. Supine Tri-Dip
Supine simply means “face up.” Sit up and place your hands behind you with your finger tips facing forward. Lift yourself off the ground, and keep your arms parallel to your body as you lower yourself to the ground and back up. Repeat.
CJ Pawlikowski is a Broadway performer and National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer. He’s been on tour with The Book of Mormon since 2015.