In order to sing well you must be well. No one should dream of the career of a singer who is not naturally robust. Given, at the outset, good health, it must be your aim to keep fit. That can only be done by taking regular exercise. Walking is good, but walking does not fulfil all requirements. Your exercises must be regulated, and should take the form of physical exercises carried out under the direction of a good teacher. They must be practised daily, for, as in all the arts and practices of life, regularity is the thing that counts.Dame Nellie Melba – Melba Method
I believe that if a Singer is weighing in outside of their BMI (too thin or too fat), or, if they are within their BMI but eat poorly and puff to climb a few stairs, then they should take control of your health and wellbeing. I believe this is a pre-requisite to singing well.
In my view, singing teachers should assist students with a weight problem by pointing out how this could impact on their chances of a career. Some roles suit a plump singer. Others do not.
Here is what Adelina Patti had to say about it…
“Up to forty,” she said, “I stinted myself in nothing. I ate and lived as I chose. After forty, however, I became more strict…[a] severe hygiene and an elaborate toilet before bed are absolutely necessary to any woman who does not want to get fat. That is my only secret of health.”
— Adelina Patti, quoted in ‘The Reign of Patti’ by Herman Klein.
My moment of change happened when I saw myself on a TV interview. I was way too fat! I took control the right way. I lost 22 kgs. That was nearly two decades ago. I am still a healthy weight and still fit because I addressed the weight loss scientifically rather than through a fad diet.
I followed a scientifically proven diet (CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet) and used the scientifically proven Les Mills Body System. I still use Les Mills today. It was really hard work but it was life changing. I use every program Les Mills offer in continual rotation because their Ballet style and Weights program helps my posture, Cardio programs help my weight and fitness and dance helps me in terms of making sure my arms are kept supple (I play a lot of guitar and this also needs fitness to stop injury). Here is a link to a free trial of Les Mills.
Those who have not strong chests will derive benefit from light gymnastic work or good regular calisthenic exercises. Neither, however, must be practised before singing or to such an extent as to induce severe bodily fatigue.Herman Klein, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Hermann Klein Phono-Vocal Method based upon the famous school of Manuel Garcia, Introduction by Daniel James Shigo.
If singers…would exercise the general muscles of their bodies more and their voices less they would do better.Calve quoted in the article ”How They Sing: Three Great Singers and Their Methods—Melba, Calvé, Arnoldson,” The Los Angeles Times, February 25, 1894, page 17, contained in Daniel Shigo’s post “Three Great Singers and Their Methods, Daniel Shigo — April 4, 2020”.
My favourite basic stretch, two cardio workouts, 6 minute abs and skipping routine.
The following basic and gentle stretch is a great 5 minute routine if I have no time for a Les Mills Body Balance Class.
Finally, any exercise that improves the physique will make for better singing. There is probably no other skill in which general fatigue or debility will show more plainly. Of course, pursuits that build the body but endanger the organs involved in singing must be foregone. This applies to swimming, one of the best exercises physically, but injurious to the ear. Any book or article on calisthenics will furnish several technics of strengthening the abdominal muscles, and this is the foundation of breath control, indeed, of singing.Vennard, William. Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic. Carl Fischer. Revised 1967. Paragraph 152.