Get Ugly: Cardio & Singing!

jessie j

I went running today!

For those of you who don’t know me, this is a very big deal.

Here’s the ugly truth; I am one of those folks who tend to shy away from cardio, especially running,  instead opting to remain firmly in the “yeah, yeah, I know it’s good for me BUT” camp.

And in all fairness, I do have a fairly legit BUT.  (no pun intended)

Asthma.

Cold air, cold/flu and physical activity: these are my triggers.

(Physical activity as a trigger—my legit “out”!)

And though my condition was more severe as a child, with time it has gotten much better, flair-ups an irregular occurrence. My doctor agrees.

Trouble is, what was once quite literally my “get out of gym” pass during childhood now became my “I’m not even setting foot in the gym, let alone moving my body” pass in adulthood.

Yeah, I milked it.

And most people let me off the proverbial hook. With every head-tilt and empathetic “Mmm” my story got stronger and stronger. I began to believe that I was permanently excused from cardio, because, well, I wasn’t built for it. I was exempt, special.

(*Ahem … did you also catch how my asthma has gotten better with age, but my cardio hasn’t?)

I was in a rut.

Today, however, this entire drama came to a screeching halt.

(Remember how I said I went running?!)

Here’s what happened: During my regular bimonthly health-kick, I had expressed to a newfound friend how I needed to get back into shape, how I needed some cardio in my life. I went on and on about how good cardio is for singers, and that I was flirting with the idea of running. But, yada, yada, yada… my asthma. The ol’ faithful out.

Her response was not what I expected.

“Wanna go for a run?”

Huh?!

Where was the head-tilt? The pitful “mmmm”? Was she smiling at me?

It was then that I realized this gal was serious.

Who me? I wondered if maybe she forgot my “condition.” Surely if I remind her she’ll renege on the offer, right? I mean, she’s an actual RUNNER for goodness sakes! I’d just slow her down—or worse, end both our day in the hospital!!

I resided to retell my “legit out” story, but before I could fill her in, out it popped—“Yes!”

Huh?!?!

Did I just say “yes”?

As you can imagine, the internal conversation promptly began.

“YES?! What the heck are you getting into here?! You don’t RUN! You CAN’T run!!! You have to back out of this!!! YOU. DON’T. RUN. PERIOD!!!!”

Funny story: turns out I do.

And today, I did. I actually completed a real-life, legit run-run, not walk-run. (WHAT?!) That’s right, over 2 kms of beautiful waterside British Columbia trail steeped in forested hills (and with only a couple quick walking breaks, I might add).

And, the best part?  I DIDN’T DIE!!!

(Okay, let’s be clear: I didn’t think I’d actually die, but I sure had to work through some nasty mental and physical panic en route. But hey, no asthma flair-ups!)

The next best part?

  • Post-run euphoria. *Sigh*
  • The satisfaction of completing a run. #proudmama.
  • And a newfound (yet familiar) connection to my body, especially my lungs. My breath was deep and effortless. No forcing or pushing, or gasping. Light, easy, fun—as my friend’s motto goes.

We’ve heard this before—that cardio is excellent for singers—but until you experience it for yourself, it’s easy to rationalize away its importance.

And boy, is it important!

Singers + cardio = HOLY MOLY!!!! Gimme a Whitney Houston tune to belt post-run—no problem!

Don’t just take my word for it. Try it for yourself: do 10 jumping jacks in place, and then breathe deeply. Good right? Now try singing an “Ah”, any note. Soooo good, right?

Remember, your body is your instrument. (I’m speaking to myself now.) Ensuring your heart and lungs are working efficiently through cardio is just good practice. Plus it helps with endurance for those long practice/performance sessions.

So let’s wrap this up with 4 takeaways, shall we?

  • Get ugly, singers! Cardio is great for the singers’ body. Gets the blood pumping, 02 flowing, and heart and lungs working efficiently, among other perks.
  • Opt for some cardio pre-practice (even a few jumping jacks, sun salutations). Really opens up the voice.
  • It’s good to check in with those lingering limiting beliefs. You may not need ‘em anymore. (Of course, always consult your doctor when it pertains to your health.)
  • Surround yourself with people that see your greatness, not your limitations. And heck, go for a run together. #thanksfriend

 

Until next time, keep singing. And hey, maybe I’ll see you on the trail sometime. 😉

 

(P.S. There’s actually a trend called “Cardio Singing.” I wouldn’t kid you. Beyonce does it.)

 

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