There are many joys of the acting profession. Night after night you pour out your heart on stage to a mute, sedentary audience. On good nights, they come alive. If they are welcoming and responsive, it gets you going. You treasure those claps and shouts, those moments of loving recognition. You seem to have endless energy and commitment when it happens. But whatever is out there, faceless in the seats, you are a pro, trained and conditioned to perform repeatedly–the same material, music, or dance, for the run of a show. This is heaven to an unemployed thespian and you cherish such roles. When you get them, you hope they last forever.
It is magic to be on stage and acting is thus much more than a daily craft that is routine. It takes talent to be sure, but it is also a way of life. Adjustments have to be made: burnout can be the enemy of any art. You have to pace yourself and watch levels of fatigue. Sometimes there is no turning back if it gets out of hand. It helps to eat well, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and work out. The more fit you are, the more stamina during performance. The more you can have other interests, the more focused on your career you will be. It pays to have contrast and variation in your life.
One way actors of all kinds relax and unwind is water recreation. I don’t just mean swirling about in a Jacuzzi for a few heated minutes. I am talking about a big Olympic size pool maybe with lanes and a diving board, or perhaps doing what a lot of the stars seem to be doing, which is taking up the new sport of stand up paddle boarding. It is beyond pleasure and enters the realm of real sport. Consider it a challenge as well as a stress release recourse. For relaxation, it rivals a nice glass of wine any time.
Swimming vigorously helps weight loss of course, and it lubricates joints and muscles. Dancers, in particular, get a heavy workout and need the therapeutic services of water. Without some relief, they feel that they just can’t go on. Water is innately soothing and a universal principle of health. It also clears the mind and frees it from too much reflection on those negative reviews! You hope there aren’t many. But if there are, you can have a pure escape from your usual craft, and thus water sports are advised.
Fitness trainers and physicians know the many benefits. They prescribe water recreation widely, so the positive aspects they tout are now being passed on here to you. In addition to all of the above reasons to indulge, you can adapt yourself to a new schedule and routine. Since actors generally perform at night, or occasionally on week-end for matinees, they have the mornings free for a refreshing clear-the-head swim. They can go to a public outdoor facility or an indoor gym as they desire. Each has its attributes. Often, groups of actors from the same play will go together and indulge in water volleyball or polo for a bit of team spirit.
Camaraderie thus can be added to the list of reasons to swim. We have the physical reasons—weight loss and fitness—and we have the mental ones—freedom from anxiety and stress. We have body conditioning, joint lubrication, and just plain fun. Swimming or any form of water recreation is a real mood booster. It’s a far healthier practice than drinking or drugs. You can get hooked on it, too.
Schedules are hectic in the theater business, with long, sleepless nights. You are so keyed up post-show and you need to relax. A quick night swim is not out of the question. So many actors stay up after a show, drinking too much coffee and smoking too many cigarettes as they rehash the good and bad of the performance. What is notable here is that people who love swimming soon become more vigilant about their general health and will cease negative habits even apart from their water recreation time.
Water activity seems to be a panacea for theater people and it can extend to directors, wardrobe mistresses, lighting crew members, and more. Everyone can literally get into the act. It is something to look forward to during off season as well when you start to become restless as you anticipate new jobs. You have to have something to do with your time. If you are no reader, not a big music buff, or hate the gym, the answer is clear.