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Getting fit for performance

Brooke Boland

Improved fitness can give performers a competitive boost but it’s a challenge with an actor’s lifestyle.
Getting fit for performance

Image: unsplash.com

Long hours, erratic work patterns and odd mealtimes make it difficult for many performers to pay attention to the basics of physical health such as a good diet and regular exercise. 

Actor Sarah Carter is one young performer who believes exercise and a healthy routine are keys to her success in a competitive industry

Carter, who recently graduated from the Academy of Film, Theatre, and Television, also works as a fitness model modelling for sports brands and competing in fitness competitions.

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She believes her acting work is very compatible with her interest in fitness.  ‘To be an actor you need to be in a healthy mindset,’ she said.

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Carter hasn’t always been healthy. When she was younger she struggled with an eating disorder. In recovery, she learned to think of fitness not about how she looked but how she felt. 

‘I’m someone who everyone thought was the epitome of health and fitness and I wanted to share that it wasn’t always the way. Just because I looked healthy didn’t mean I was. I lived in Bondi surrounded by people who look aesthetically very pleasing, but it doesn’t mean they are making healthy choices and that they are happy.’

Carter sees other actors struggle with fitting fitness into their busy lives of studying, auditioning, performing and doing part-time work at odd hours to pay the bills.

‘One issue that actors probably have is they often work at clubs and bars late at night and so they don’t feel like they have time in their day for something like fitness,’ said Carter.

She encourages other performers to find a way to fit a fitness routine into their lives.

‘By doing it they will have more energy and they will feel better for themselves. I do the same thing, I don’t want to get up early in the morning, but recently in the last few weeks I’ve been going down to Bondi at 6am [to exercise]. It was hard at first but now it is a lot easier and I have so much more energy during the day, I’m so much more focused.’

As someone with a background in competitive sports, Carter knew about the value of fitness from a young age. But while she was studying an Advanced Diploma of Stage and Screen Acting  she became aware that her future capacity as an actor would also depend on maintaining fitness.

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‘Our last show was Bertolt Brecht’s Roundheads and Peakheads and it is just such a long show. To be able to get through that you need to have endurance. Fitness definitely helps in that regard.’ 

She has found her fitness activity a selling point.  ‘It was interesting how, when I graduated acting school, it was more my fitness stuff that made me unique and was what people wanted from me in castings.’

But she does not believe others should necessarily follow her lead – rather they should find a fitness activity that works for them.

‘It is about finding a physical activity you enjoy rather than trying to do what everyone else is,’ said Carter.

‘People have this idea about “fitness” – that it means going to the gym. I had a roommate, who really struggles with going to the gym and hated it, and I would just say I wouldn’t go to the gym if I hated it; I go because I love it. So I only do fitness stuff that I enjoy and would want to be spending my time doing.’

‘Work out what the activity is and do that, then you’re not going to resent it and just because everyone else goes to the gym doesn’t mean you have to.’

If you are interested in finding out more about the courses on offer at The Academy of Film, Theatre and Television visit http://www.aftt.edu.au/courses 

The Essential Skills Series is brought to you in partnership with the 
Academy of Film, Theatre and Television.

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.

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