As an actor, your ability to physically embody your character is one of the most important skills you can have. The way you move and the idiosyncrasies of your physicality can make or break a performance. Therefore, it is of fundamental importance that you keep your body in good working order, so that it can cope with the demands of any performance you do.
When you go for a role, you will be up against many actors who fit your exact same casting. The decision of who gets hired doesn’t necessarily just boil down to who is the best actor, but who has the right skills for the job. We’re going to look at fun ways to keep fit, whilst adding some relevant skills to your acting CV and open doors to a whole range of new castings and more work.
Even if you have absolutely no interest in becoming a dancer, having at least rudimentary dance skills on your acting CV is going to be a big plus and will help with all aspects of your movement.
Joining a dance studio and playing for classes in bulk can work out as cheaper than a gym membership with a more focused fitness goal in mind. You can try Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Salsa. Whichever your preference – you’ll be looking at improved cardio-fitness and a more toned body as well as new skills to bump up your Spotlight page!
As someone who’s naturally afraid of dance, unless done so drunkenly or knowingly ironically, dance classes have helped me immensely in learning to follow simple choreography, rhythm, and also just enjoying it. There will always be someone who’s better than you, and someone worse than you, so embrace the awkward and dance. Pricewise it can range hugely from smaller to larger studios, and again it can work out cheaper if you sign up for membership. Pricing on average seem to be from £8-16 dependent on where you go.
At some point in your career, chances are you’re going to need to shoot a fight scene. Self-defence classes like karate, taekwondo and jiu jitsu are a great way of strengthening the body whilst learning valuable combat skills.
These classes tend to be run in a formal, disciplined way which can only be of benefit for actors. They can help build confidence, self-esteem, and make your stage fighting more authentic and exciting.
Fencing and sword work classes help to build strength for upper and lower body as well as training your core. Unless you approach it from a stage-combat level (and even then) it can work out as quite expensive. These classes can be booked as part of a bootcamp/mastercalss series and work out as more cost effective. They are immensely fun and really beneficial if you’re working your way towards gaining your stage combat certificate. They tend to be best to book in bulk which brings the average cost of a lesson to £12-18.
It’s always best to ask a stage combat choreographer/teacher to recommend classes, however there are several useful guides here:
Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyassa, Broga, Bikram. There seem to be an ever growing number of different Yoga classes. You can find the level that suits you, find your way through the series of movements and understand what your body needs from class to class.
More importantly, Yoga builds up your strength and co-ordination, markedly improving your control over your body. This is an essential skill to have as an actor, as the way you move and your physicality is one of the most important parts of portraying any character.
Yoga allows your body to work in a way that is gentle to, and helpful for, the care of your back. It’s less focused on immediate results and more about finding your way through postures and over time seeing the changes in your own body. Again there are studios you can join, personally, I would recommend testing out several studios first and making use of their really good value introductory courses which can range from £15 upwards for two weeks and seeing how you get on.
Alternatively the average drop in price for classes is about £8-15
You can see a list of the top 10 Yoga studios in London here.
As with any class – the best thing you can do is to try as many as possible to find an exercise/ gym/ class/teacher that suits you and your needs best. Try out free/discounted introductory classes and trial periods as much as possible before signing up to anything on a long contract.
Think about how you like to approach the physical practice of your own warm up style before choosing these classes. Moreover once you’ve found something that you enjoy and that you feel works well for you physically – keep doing it! As with anything the key to achieving and maintaining results is consistent effort and practise.
Exercising regularly can aid digestion, sleep pattern, energy levels, stress and anxiety levels, depression, self-esteem and confidence so the most important thing to do is to find what works for you and stick at it!