There’s an intense focus on fitness in the world today, and the opera community certainly experiences this. First of all, there is a growing trend amongst singers of doubling their careers as fitness coaches, which is great. However, there’s also the downside that sometimes a focus on body image can become too prominent in casting decisions or in the field at large. So striking a balance can be difficult.
A recent reader request got me thinking about how different fitness routines can help us as singers though. She requested a post on fitness routines for opera singers, and ones that work the core especially.
Since I am not one of the singers out there who doubles as a fitness coach, I decided to reach out to some who are and got some great feedback. Jenny Beauregard with Fit Opera Singer and Bethany Brautigam with The Fit Soprano gave some great suggestions on exercises that can help you with working the core, and how that can help your breathing.
Things to Consider
In discussing exercises with these two wonderful women, I came to the conclusion that considering what makes a core exercise good for singers was a better place to start than simply jumping into specific exercises.
The first thing to keep in mind is that if you’re working your core effectively, you will not accidentally end up with a six pack. Furthermore, you will not harm your breathing mechanism (provided you are doing the exercises correctly and without injury). Bethany points out that, “Even for someone who works in fitness, a six pack is a pretty extreme goal. It’s definitely not easy to attain and you almost have to be working in fitness full time.” Ultimately, she feels it is an unnecessary worry for singers.
Jenny, in turn, points out that the neck is a valid concern for singers when working out. She emphasizes that a good core exercise (or any exercise for that matter) will give you a good workout without causing any neck strain. So with these points in mind, let’s look at the kind of exercises they recommend.
Good Exercises for Working the Core (of Your Breath)
When it comes to good core exercises, which in turn will help your breathing, the common go-to exercise seems to be crunches. However, that’s not what Jenny and Bethany recommend. Instead, they really enjoy a good stand up core exercise.
Bethany also enjoys pilates exercises, which allow for flexibility and strength without too much thought or worry. She notes that one of the key components to pilates is breathing, and that you inhale and exhale with the movements. Talk about powerful for singers and breath control! Plus, I would imagine then that yoga has many core exercises that serve a singer’s breath as well.
Finally, one specific exercise that both Bethany and I really like is the plank. Not only does it work your core with no neck strain, it really provides a complete and measureable workout all around. Plus, it’s an exercise that can be done anywhere, which is really great for when you are on the road.
For specific examples and routines for these kinds of exercises, you can follow Jenny and Bethany and their work. You can also follow Operaversity’s Pinterest board, which shares pins for different kinds of exercises that will work for freedom and strength in the core for all body types.
We also recommend the exercises in this infographic from TakeLessons, which can also be found on the Pinterest board.
Singing is a physical feat, so good health and stamina is necessary. Furthermore, it can help your technique in ways you might not have realized. Just make sure that you consult a professional before doing any physical routine, and that you do this kind of work for you. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with your voice and your body, however it may sound or look. After all, nothing is ultimately more beautiful than confidence.
Do you find that working out helps your singing? What kinds of workouts help your singing specifically? What singers/fitness coaches do you follow?