Olympic Games Rio 2016

RIO 2016

“I feel like what we do is an Olympic sport. When you’re in those audition rooms – what I like to call the fluorescent light interrogation rooms – and you feel like, “I don’t know what’s coming next” or, “OMG, I’m going to shit my pants” that means you’re going for the gold and not for the bronze or the silver today.”  – Meditation & Creavitity with Mark Price

Tonight marks the beginning of Olympic Games Rio 2016, with the Opening Ceremony to take place at 7:00 PM EST. The athletes competing in the Olympic Games prepare day in and day out for their chance for triumph on the biggest stage of the world. I’m super excited. Watching the Olympics is a reminder of the potential for greatness that exists in all of us, and these athletes are living examples of that greatness made manifest. Here’s some inspiring quotes from all time greats to get you pumped for Rio.

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self discipline and effort.” – Jesse Owens, American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1936 games. 

“The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” – Bobby Knight, led the U.S. national team to a gold medal in the Olympic Games as coach of the 1984 basketball team.

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” – Mark Spitz, American former competition swimmer, nine-time Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in seven events.rio.jpg

I believe acting, dance and vocal training require the same dedication, discipline and determination that Olympic training calls for. To perform at the highest level, we must treat our bodies, voices and minds with discipline and care. A brilliant example of this kind of rigorous training is the inimitable Cynthia Erivo, Tony Award Winner for her performance in Broadway’s The Color Purple. Cynthia is greatness. Her performance is the culmination of years and years of preparation and technique that all looks effortless onstage. I’d venture that Cynthia prepares her work the same way Olympic athletes prepare for their chance at the gold. An essential element in this preparation, is, of course, the warm-up.

Too often, athletes show up late to a workout and just dive in on the fast swimming, running or riding with no warm-up. I know I’ve done that too many times to count. Others are pinched for time, trying to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule, so they skip the warm-up, figuring the main set of the workout is more important anyway. The same is true of auditioning. In my interview with Mark Price, he says, “Many people think, ‘I’m not going to warm up because that’s 40 minutes – 40 minutes where I can go do that errand, return that quick phone call and post at least 3 pictures to Instagram, so you know I’m not going to do it’, I’m going to do these other things and make it feel like there’s a big sense of accomplishment.” If I’m pressed for time, I’ll forego a proper warmup and muscle my way through the high notes. I’ll convince myself that what I’m doing in the time beforehand is more important than a warm-up, and that I’m already warm enough after a few lip trills. The same thing happens when I jump on the treadmill without a stretch. I’m not giving my body the time it needs to prepare for the task at hand.

Let’s examine the benefits of a proper warm-up. Much of the following is extracted from Gale Bernhardt’s article “The Real Reason You Should Warm Up”  for active.com. Ms. Bernhardt was USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics.

Enhanced Performance

Relaxed, sitting down and reading this blog post produces a relatively low 15 to 20-percent blood flow to skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) are closed. After just 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow increases to approx. 75-percent and the capillaries open.

Along with more blood flow comes higher muscle temperature. The hemoglobin in the blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, equals better performance.

Preventing Injury

There have been studies on sudden (no warm-up), high-intensity exercise and its effects on the heart. “One particular study had 44 men (free of overt symptoms of coronary artery disease) run on a treadmill at high intensity for 10 to 15 seconds without any warm-up. Electrocardiogram (ECG) data showed that 70 percent of the subjects displayed abnormal ECG changes that were attributed to low blood supply to the heart muscle. Yikes!” (Bernhardt).

The “abnormal changes were not related to age or fitness level,” but to the absence of warm-up. (Bernhardt).

To investigate the benefit of a warm-up, “22 of the men with abnormal results did a jog-in-place at a moderate intensity for two minutes before getting on the treadmill for another test of high-intensity running. With that small two-minute warm-up, 10 of the men now showed normal ECG tracings and 10 showed improved tracings. Only two of the subjects still showed significant abnormalities.” (Bernhardt).

Mental Preparation

Part of a warm-up process includes getting your mind right for the activity ahead. How do Olympic athletes keep their cool under the pressure of the world’s biggest stage? How can performers stay grounded under the pressure of final callbacks? Mentally preparing for the upcoming event is proven to improve performance. Many athletes utilize visualization, meditation practices, and flow mindset to perform at the top of their game. The Broadway Warm-Up encourages performers to do the same, by implementing time for self-love and visualization within the warm-up regimen. Celebrate small victories, celebrate accomplishments and set goals for the future with intention, clarity and tangible steps to achieve them.

In summary, in order to perform at your best, take time for an adequate warm-up. Treat your career with the same respect, professionalism and responsibility with which Olympic athletes treat theirs. Go for gold. Check out The Broadway Warm-Up to start today.


Johnny Shea
Blogger-In-Chief, The Broadway Warm-Up

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