Some, like Madonna, take a personal trainer and they exercise as much as they can between gigs. Others, such as Ellie Golding, visit gyms and trainers on the road. But pop stars take their health more seriously these days because touring is often their main stream of revenue; cancelling gigs can prove very expensive.
There’s also the pressure and desire to be at the top of your game – singers like Rhianna and Beyonce can’t just stand there and sing. They’re expected to be kinetic at all times. Often a show can be the physical equivalent of a two-hour HIIT session (high intensity interval training), which is exhausting. So, for example, I’ve trained Olly Murs for his UK and European tours, and a big part of his performance involves singing and dancing, mixed with periods of crowd interaction. In those moments Olly has to be sharp. If he’s still puffing once a song’s finished, he’ll lose that rapport with his audience. The connection is gone.
Murs displays the results of 12 weeks' work with Solly (photo: Rob Solly)
We’ve worked on his recovery - the ability to bring his heart rate down in a short period. I got him to train through shuttle runs; we’ve done drills on an agility ladder, boxing sessions, plyometrics (explosive exercises like jump squats or clap press ups) which raise the heart rate. I've introduced a training mask, which alters the body’s respiratory mechanics and improves the muscles he engages when breathing, as well as his endurance. Everything was designed to bring his recovery time down.
With arena or stadium tours, an artist will travel with a catering company so they can work with either the chefs, or their trainer (sometimes both). This ensures they're eating nutritionally dense food that matches their energy requirements. The standard of this catering is high so they still taste great.
To the biggest artists now, the days or drinking and drugging their way through a tour have diminished. Someone like Adele will take a personal trainer and touring gym on the road with her instead. She’s not doing it so she runs the 100m like Usain Bolt. It’s there because she’s a professional. She’s doing it so she can deliver a great show.