3 min read

Gettin' Sweaty (with Exercise)

Isn't it curious that the most critical conversations we could have as actors are generally considered no-go-zones? At the career level, discussions around finances and systematic success are kept hush-hush. At the human level, chats about nutrition and mental health are made to feel awkward and sticky.

The Dojo is committed to opening these Pandora's boxes (responsibly, of course). Airing these "taboo" topics is the first — and therefore most significant — step towards actor empowerment.

Today, we're lifting the lid on the exercise box. Unless it's amazement at a tale of extreme bulking or weight loss, we don't talk about this anywhere near enough — especially considering the monumental impact a wise approach to exercise can have on our lives. A selection of these benefits include:

 ⬆️ Concentration.
 ⬆️ Emotional well-being.
 ⬆️ Weight management.

 ⬇️ Memory loss.
 ⬇️ Mental illness.
 ⬇️ Noncommunicable disease (cancer, diabetes etc.).

As some smart folks have pointed out, if we could ingest exercise as a pill, everyone would be popping them. Yet, 25% of the adult population is leaving these gains on the table.[1]

Important and obvious disclaimer: we aren't medical professionals and don't pretend to play them on the internet (though we may on stage or screen). The following is the result of over 10 years of research and personal experimentation, but every body (in the actual sense) has unique needs and preferences. Use the following as inspiration, not a prescription.

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The foundation

Yes, our bodies are our temples. But temples first need strong foundations.

When it comes to exercise, there are three big stones we want to have in place. Just hitting these three alone can change the game — the more sedentary we are, the more true this will be. But even those of us with magnificent temples already under construction can profit from a regular check-in with each of these elements.

  • Just dance move. A common misconception is that exercise needs to be structured, hard, and take a sizeable chunk out of our day. This ain't so.[2] Any form of movement has value. Simple activities could look like getting off the train or bus a stop earlier on our commute, using a standing desk for periods of our workday, or pottering around the garden on the weekend.
  • Take it outside. Whenever possible, head outdoors to "exercise". There's a host of goodies linked to time spent outside — from increased energy to higher self-esteem to lower levels of depression.[3] During winter, and in countries where there's little sun, we'll also ensure we're getting our recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin D.
  • Cue the sweat. As we acclimatise to more movement into our day (and start to see the sweet, sweet gains), we'll naturally be drawn to explore options beyond taking the stairs or volunteering to vacuum the house. Our best bet here is to choose a higher-intensity activity we enjoy and is within our current realm of ability. Whipping up a sweat indicates that we're getting fitter and dispelling traces of toxins from our bodies.[4]

The temple

With the foundation set, we can turn our attention to the finer details of our divine temple.

As a general rule, health practitioners recommend aiming for 2.5-5 hours of moderate physical activity per week.[5] If we spread this across six days, for example, we're looking at 37.5 minutes per day. Assuming we sleep roughly eight hours per night, we have 960 minutes to play with every time we wake up. Setting aside a mere 37.5 of these is an investment well worth making.

Mixing up where we get these 37.5 minutes is another wise investment. Because we're super nerds and like science-backed frameworks, we use the ten components of fitness as a guide:

  • Endurance & Stamina: e.g. walking, cycling, swimming.
  • Strength & Power: e.g. weight lifting, bodyweight exercises, rowing.
  • Flexibility & Balance: e.g. yoga, gymnastics, dance.
  • Agility & Speed: e.g. skipping, HIIT workouts, circuit training.
  • Coordination & Accuracy: e.g. organised sports, martial arts, qi gong.

Luffy (One Piece) running gif

Y'all know one of the main mottos at the Dojo is "control the controllables". As the industry currently stands, us actors control very little. That's why it's SO freaking empowering to be on lock with the few factors we do.

Eat well. Sleep well. Move well. Have the conversations with your fellow homies.

Our success and well-being are more dependent on these 1%s than we realise.

Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.

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[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity

[2] [3] [5] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/exercise-and-mental-health

[4] https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/is-sweating-good-for-you