It’s not always as easy as it may seem to stay healthy on tour. With all the excitement of getting out there and playing shows, health and fitness is rarely the first thing on your mind. But before you head out for a string of gigs, knowing how to stay healthy on tour is extremely important. Your health and well-being will directly affect your stamina, ability to perform, and ultimately dictates the experience you give to your fans each night.
Eating right is the first big challenge you’ll face while attempting to stay healthy on tour. In fact, the vast majority of up and coming indie bands, and even many newly established major label acts, spend the better part of a month or more living on the “club promoters diet.” This usually consists of pizza, beer, soda, and chips!
Contrary to popular belief, most artist riders (list of demands) are not followed or adhered to at all. Once you are at the venue and ready to play the gig you are often stuck with whatever they offer. So if you’ve planned to stay healthy on tour by listing a Vegan meatloaf on your rider, don’t expect it to be there waiting for you backstage. To stay healthy on tour you must always have a backup plan.
Although you get plenty of exercise on stage, it’s important to maintain a daily regimen of keeping the body in top performance shape. Stretching, hitting the hotel pool or gym, or even jamming on your days off, can keep you in prime performance shape and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness from the previous gig.
Keeping the body loose, limber, and your musical chops maintained like a well-oiled machine will give you a huge edge when it comes time to hit the stage.
As a longtime touring musician and vegetarian myself, I have experienced first hand the many obstacles of staying healthy on tour and maintaining the same lifestyle choices you may be akin to at home. But think of it this way, your career depends on your ability to always be your best. So here are the top 5 things you can do to stay healthy on tour.
To Stay Healthy On Tour: Plan Ahead
Whether you are rolling in style on a bus or cruising the states in a van, you’re most likely going to have some place to stash some road goodies and things like that unless you plan on living from truck stop to truck stop.
Nuts, seeds, apples, and bananas are some great healthy snacks to enjoy when you’re stuck on a long ride, and you can always bring a surplus of your favorite protein or energy bars. A juicer is always a great thing to bring along too and you can get fresh fruits and veggies at markets along the route and press enough for a day or two.
If you have a specialized diet and require gluten free, vegan, or vegetarian options you can Google those kinds of businesses in each city ahead of time or use one of the many apps available (like Happy Cow) to find restaurants or markets that cater to these dietary needs.
Although I stated that most promoters rule out many of your requests, it never hurts to let them know ahead of time if someone in the band or crew is vegetarian or vegan. As more people become conscious of their health and what they eat, the greater the possibility that the promoter or someone from the venue just might come through or at least steer you in the right direction.
If you have a gym membership with a chain company (ie: YMCA, Bally’s, 24hr Fitness, etc) you can gather a list of their locations along your route from their website. Also many times you can Google the closest gym to the venue or hotel then call and tell them your band is in town for a show, you heard great things about their gym, and ask if you can get a guest pass for the day. Sometimes they are so stoked to have you come in they will give you a pass good for a few days and may even find you a ride to and from as well, so it never hurts to call ahead and ask.
Planning ahead also includes prevention so anything you can bring that will help prevent sickness or ill health can save you allot of headaches later. Vitamin supplements like Vitamin C, D3, or a Multivitamin, along with herbs like Echinacea and Goldenseal, can help prevent colds and flu. Where things like B12, and St John’s Wort, can help reduce stress and anxiety and Valerian Root provides a much healthier alternative to prescription or over the counter sleep aids.
Other simple things like hand sanitizer to use after meet and greets, a box of tissues to wipe off surfaces in hotels and dressing rooms, and a can of Lysol or similar disinfectant may be handy to spray across bedding or bathrooms in your bus or hotel room.
To Stay Healthy On Tour: Stay Active
Although there is usually not much down time on tour (unless you have a day off) it’s a great practice to stay active and engaged. It could be easy to sleep the day away or lay in a hotel room all afternoon having a Netflix marathon, but the real adventures of the road are not on demand but in demand!
Get up and walk to the nearest coffee shop for breakfast, or explore the town and see the sights. By getting out and engaging in the culture and cuisine of each city, you come to appreciate the vast beauty and uniqueness of each new place you visit. I often enjoyed finding old book shops, music stores, and novelty shops where I’d often find things I would never see back home.
Being away from loved ones and family can be tough on the road and getting out and living life, as opposed to staying in bed or being a hermit, can really help ease the pain of separation.
Take some photos or video or do a daily journal, blog, or video series chronicling your adventures on the road. Share these precious moments or experiences with your friends and family, or post them on social media for your fans to enjoy. These kinds of activities will help you stay connected to the people that support you on your journey and also provide a great way to build a more personal connection with your fans and followers.
Imagine the pride you would feel if your favorite artist posted a photo next to your local monument or a place you frequently visit.
To Stay Healthy On Tour: Rest & Repose
On the flip side is the need for rest and repose. Creating a little time to recharge your battery and collect yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually, is just as important as eating right and staying active.
It’s easy to get burned out part way through a tour run and it’s important to recognize when fatigue and stress is starting to get the best of you and address it immediately.
Meditating or journaling (for personal reflection) are great ways to decompress from the rigors of the road. Sitting in silence can really help you get back to your center and quiet the activity of the mind. Sometimes just focusing on the rhythm of your breath can help you get back to a feeling of peace or comfort.
Reading or studying a subject that is really close to your heart can also be a great escape from the pressures of the road and may even give you some new wisdom or inspiration that brings comfort to the soul.
To Stay Healthy On Tour: Hydrate to Feel Great
It’s kind of a no-brainer, but staying properly hydrated can really go a long way when you are putting your body through so many challenges each day.
This indeed means drinking lots of water and or fresh pressed fruit juices etc.
With most of us increasing our intake of coffee, alcoholic beverages, and things of this nature, alongside sweating profusely at every gig, it’s easy for dehydration to creep in and drop you to the floor mid-show.
Many bands or gigs are sponsored by or are provided with a surplus of energy drinks (ie: Monster, Rockstar, etc.) and although they may seem healthy when you see words on the label like vitamins or natural ingredients, they are terrible for your body and should be avoided. These are formulated to give you a quick energy burst but then the can cause a huge sugar crash and are very rough on the liver and kidneys. So stick to water, fruit juice, decaffeinated teas, and things of that nature.
To Stay Healthy On Tour: Pace Yourself and Use Common Sense
For a musician, every night can seem like a weekend party. In fact, your fans might be showing up to a Tuesday night gig, but they have waited all year for you to come play their town and they might wanna live it up as if it were a Friday night. Often this can mean people buying you drinks after a show or after parties where people wanna have a good time with the members of the band and crew.
These are fun times and can certainly be a great way to build new friendships with the people that support you. Just keep in mind that tomorrow you have another city to explore, new things to discover and a great show to put on for a brand new room full of people.
So go easy and not overboard when enjoying these late night festivities and also be aware of the presence you have when you imbibe a few cocktails post show as you never want that diehard fan to write you off because you said something rude or inappropriate because you drank too much.
So by planning ahead, balancing rest and activity, staying properly hydrated, and using good ‘ole common sense, you’ll stay healthy on tour and be as strong as an ox, ready to rock day after day!
Do you have any secret tricks for staying healthy on tour? Let me know in the comments section!