By Trudy Horsting
Color guard, percussion, and winds are all very strenuous activities. They require incredible physical endurance and strength in addition to talent and performance ability.
Learning how to train for the physical component of these activities is challenging with everything else that needs to be accomplished during rehearsals. Some question if conditioning should be present during rehearsals at all? Should it instead be managed by performers on their own?
The answer to these questions depends on quite a few things. First, the age of the group is an essential consideration. If someone is teaching a younger group, part of their training will need to incorporate the importance of physical fitness and taking care of one's body. The second consideration is how many hours the group spends at rehearsal each week. If they are limited in time and rehearsal space, as many are, there isn't much wiggle room to add additional exercises. The third consideration is the current level of physical fitness of the group each year. Some groups already have an established exercise program, making it much easier to incorporate the additional technique into the schedule.
Everyone wants to perform a show without having stamina and endurance issues. The problem is that building these in a program takes time, and many organizations don't have that in excess.
If they start each rehearsal with a long run followed by a HIIT session, how productive will the rest of the 3-hour block be? Even the most active individuals have a limit to their stamina, and the team needs to conserve energy for the most intensive rehearsal time (cleaning, training, writing, etc.).
Many groups implement more physical training at the beginning of the season for this reason. By the time competitions begin, conditioning becomes much less common to see. In some ways, this is great because it sets expectations for the season. It improves endurance when some of the most strenuous rehearsals are in full swing, and it ensures that your group is ready for high-intensity rehearsals to come.
However, a downside is that this sets an expectation to condition only during rehearsals and not outside of it. When the training stops as the season progresses, then it stops in totality.
Below are three strategies I've found that help foster motivation to exercise outside of rehearsals. Implementing these doesn't eliminate the need to condition during rehearsals, but it could certainly help to minimize the intensity.
3 Strategies to Implement:
Workout Classes Outside of Rehearsal:
Rehearsal time is precious, and one way to improve physical fitness outside of rehearsal is to hold optional exercise classes for those who want to attend.
It can be hard to start working out if someone has never done it before. Understanding the most effective way to target muscle groups while following safety procedures is something learned over time. You don't need to be a certified fitness instructor to implement this for your performers. It can be as simple as a 30-minute circuit of exercises you feel comfortable demonstrating and doing with them.
Facebook Groups for Accountability:
The entire purpose of a Facebook group is to provide a space for information and, in this case, accountability. Joining can be optional but having other people to support a group's fitness goals makes it much easier to continue throughout the season. Every time someone posts a workout in the group, it gets met with likes, comments, and other forms of support.
Extending an Invitation:
A final strategy is simply inviting others to work out with you. Often, this stems from leadership within the program, but it doesn't always have to. Sometimes all that's needed is a bit of companionship.
There's no final solution for establishing fitness expectations in a program, and the program's needs can vary from year to year. It's important to remember that every group is different, and the approach to fitness may change as time goes by. Regardless, the strategies above are a great way to start forming your own exercise goals and tackle the age-old dilemma of stamina and endurance in the marching arts.