Star of Mamma Mia, Chris Buchanan talks to TP about getting "Show Fit"

My interest in fitness initially stemmed from a need to find some stress relief from my VCE high school studies.
I found that the perfect outlet was sweating out that stress in the gym, learning about resistance training (weights) and how it can benefit the body.

The more I trained, the more my body started to change shape. The better shape my body took, the more confidence I developed. During my university years that followed, I found that I could apply what I had learned about fitness to my other growing interest – musical theatre.

The first role I took on that required me to be in good physical shape was ‘Lewis’ in CLOC’s production of Pippin. I trained hard in the gym for a good 3-4 months, and found that this was a sufficient amount of time to change my physical appearance – knowledge that has been incredibly valuable as an actor.

Since that time in 2003 I have performed several roles that have required me to change my body shape. Each of these projects have increased my interest in health and fitness, so much so that in 2009 I chose to study a Certificate III&IV in Fitness and am now a part-time Personal Trainer and full-time advocate of a healthy lifestyle. It goes without saying that I have faced and continue to face the obstacles that most people struggle with – being time poor, problem areas of my body, motivation, the temptation of unhealthy foods – the list goes on! However I’ve found that if you’re committed enough to your goals, and can eat well 80% of the time, you are likely to achieve good results.

If you ask any stage performer, I think you will find a unanimous answer to the question "How do you have the energy to perform show after show?" Most actors, dancers and singers would say that you need to be ‘show-fit’. Put simply, this means you need to be physically fit enough to withstand the physical and mental demands of your stage role(s). It is therefore incredibly important to get as fit as you can outside the theatre. Here are my tips for getting into good shape as a performer…

5 Helpful Hints for gym training

Let me preface this by stating that these guidelines are not just for males or gym junkies.
These hints apply to women just as much as the boys, so listen up!

1. Set goals for yourself – A goal weight on the scales, specific body areas you want to target, decreased stress levels, increased strength, or just looking good on stage – your goals can be anything you want. BUT, you need to have at least one! Having a goal(s) and knowing what results you want should be an immediate priority before you even step into the gym.

2. Be Realistic – Look at your weekly timetable objectively, and fit in workouts around your commitments. You really only require 3 gym sessions a week to get results, providing you are training properly, which brings me to my next point…

3. Make It Count!! – Don’t waste the time you spend in the gym. You are there to get results, so train hard! The harder you train, the faster you get results, and the less time you will need to be in the gym sweating it out.

4. Leave your mobile phone ALONE – Of course there are exceptions here, for example if you require your phone on you to take urgent work-related calls. But for most of us, mobile phones are just a distraction when working out. You have voicemail, yes? Call them back later. Texts can wait too. Leave your phone in your locker, you won’t miss it for 30-45 minutes, I promise!

5. Get a training partner – If you can, train with a friend, colleague, or personal trainer. The reason for this is twofold: (1) It is a safe way to exercise as your partner can ‘spot’ you and ensure you are performing exercises correctly, and (2) a partner will often motivate and push you further than you could push yourself.