Why you should forget about weights
If you have you ever wondered just how physically demanding those all-action stage show dance routines are, then Euan Doidge has a very simple answer for you: it’s every bit as exhausting as it looks.
Euan, who is starring as Tony in Saturday Night Fever at the Sydney Lyric Theatre, compares every routine to training for an elite sport, telling me that no amount of exercise can properly prepare him for the physical and mental exhaustion that follows every show.
“Performing on stage is like a sport,” he says. “The physical demands are very specific. No matter how hard I work in the gym, when I go on stage for a five-minute number I come off absolutely exhausted.
“Then you add the singing, which is mentally very stressful because your voice needs to be right, and you’re left absolutely shattered.”
That’s not to say their aren’t perks, of course. Training like an elite athlete means you get to eat like one, too. And that means calorie counting takes on a whole new meaning, with Euan trying to consume more food, not less. But again like an athlete, he focuses on fuelling his body with the right foods whenever he can.
“The physical demands of performing on stage means I can eat what I want, because I am working so hard I need all the energy I can get,” he says.
“But to be at my very best, I am very conscious about putting good fuel into my body. Especially protein to help my muscles stay strong and recover.
“I always make sure I have protein on my plate, and I especially love my steak. But I also try to avoid sugar as it doesn’t provide the sustained energy I need.”
While football players talk about getting match fit, getting stage-show fit sounds just as challenging, with Euan training almost every day to keep his energy levels up. And with a career that takes him from town to town, he’s recommends a gym-free style of training.
“Exercise helps with everything,” he says. “It gives me energy, and if I don’t exercise before a show I feel exhausted and grumpy.
“My favourite exercise is the chin-up, because it shows real strength, which is why so many people are afraid to do them.
“In fact, some of the toughest exercises don’t require any weights, so really there is no excuse for not getting stronger and fitter. Simply use your own body and do things at home like push-ups, squats and sit-ups.”
So, lots of hard work, lots of training, and plenty of post-show exhaustion. So what exactly keeps him turning up night after night? That’s an easy answer, too; the looks on the faces of the people in the crowd.
“I get to bring joy and happiness into people’s life for two hours every time I am on stage,” he says. “I know that, despite the fact that they could be having the worst day ever, I can put a smile on their face.
“That’s what I love the most about my job.”
HACKING SUCCESS WITH EUAN DOIDGE
• Passion is everything: “Passion is the ultimate key to success,” Euan says. “No matter what you do in life, you have to be passionate about it. It is what drives you to be the best, and helps you overcome any setbacks or disappointments you may encounter along the way. People who are passionate about what they do in life are truly inspirational, no matter what that passion is.”
• Embrace the hard stuff: “There is nothing more rewarding than working hard and sitting back and seeing the success that comes off the back of it,” Euan says. “Yes, being successful is hard work, but it is so much more rewarding when you have worked hard for something. “It is the key ingredient to success and happiness.”
• The best attitude is gratitude: “Gratitude for the little things in life really hit home for me on a recent trip to Fiji,” Euan says. “The people there were so happy, and it was the simple things in life that they were truly grateful for, like family and friends. I learned it’s not about having material things, but those moments being around the people you love that really matters.”
I find I really struggle to get moving in the morning, especially when it’s cold and dark in winter. Have you got any tips to jump-start the day? Is coffee the solution?
Actually, the worst thing you can do is reach for a coffee first thing in the morning. In fact, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire, as your body is so dehydrated. Instead, reach for a big glass of water to rehydrate yourself, and then supercharge your morning by giving yourself a 30-second blast of cold water at the end of your shower.
Adam MacDougall is a former NRL player and the creator of The Man Shake. Continue the conversation @adammacdougall5