Show Stopping Shape

How five local performers stay fit and healthy

By Jeff Howard

few weeks ago, I competed in Let’s Dance Louisville. Though I didn’t win, I did get a score of all nines and played a part in raising a ton of money for Feed My Neighbor. During the process of learning the ballroom dance I performed that night, I discovered that dancing truly is a wonderful workout. My dance partner Jessica Fields was an amazing, dynamic taskmaster. We met over the course of a few months and she would patiently lead me through the movements. It started to make me think about other artists and what they do in terms of fitness. I reached out to various performers to find out how they get ready for their performances, and I was reminded that these individuals are true athletes.

Photo by O’Neil Arnold.

Teddy Abrams

Louisville Orchestra Music Director

You may have seen Teddy Abrams on a Sunday in your neighborhood completing a 10-mile bik ride. He is a dedicated cyclist who rides his bicycle everywhere for both his basic transportation and his fitness. He has never gotten his driver’s license because he loves the freedom cycling gives him. Teddy enjoys the exercise as well as the environmental contribution, but more importantly, it gives him mental clarity.

You can also imagine the aerobic advantages of conducting an orchestra for hours every day. It’s well known in this industry that conductors tend to live healthy lives because of the demands of the profession. Have you ever held your hand up overhead or moved them in circular movement for 10 minutes? Imagine an hour and a half. Teddy does this five days a week and completes about a five-mile ride every day.

Photo by Erik Branch.

Shannon Burton

Model and Actress

“I have to make sure I am my best version of me – to the best of my ability – every day,” says Burton. “With the way this industry works, I can get an audition or casting call and have to walk, film or shoot that day, the next or within a few days.”

Shannon informed me that her typical week includes at least three days of full body circuit weight training with 20-30 minutes of cardio. She does the basics that she believes give you the most bang for your buck, including squats, lunges, deadlifts, shoulder presses, pushups and crunches. She loves a hot yoga session or two to get in a good sweat.

Shannon also emphasizes the importance of eating well in addition to exercising.

“You can spend hours in the gym doing ab workouts galore, killing it on cardio and weight training like there’s no tomorrow, but if you go home and eat garbage, you will never reach your fitness goals,” she says. “Fuel your body with healthy foods – fresh veggies, lean meats and fish – and drink tons of water. However, do not deprive yourself of your favorite things every once in a while!”

Remy Sisk (left) and friends at OrangeTheory Fitness.

Remy Sisk

Acting Against Cancer Executive Director

have had the pleasure of knowing Remy for a long time. I was always impressed with the productions he has produced, and who can forget him in the annual production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Remy is looking more and more fit all the time, so I had to find out what he is doing to stay in such great shape.

Remy frequents OrangeTheory Fitness, where you will find him four to five times a week. He was hooked after his first 45-minute workout, and he loves that you get everything you need in that 45 minutes.

“I am a firm believer that you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to achieve your fitness goals but rather work smartly,” he says.

A key part to his success is the accountability factor since you sign up before each class and if you don’t show up, you have to pay a nominal fee. What is most enjoyable, he says, is the community that he has found at OrangeTheory. 

Photo by Sam English.

Mikelle Bruzina

Louisville Ballet Senior Ballet Mistress

According to Senior Ballet Mistress Mikelle Bruzina, the Louisville Ballet, under the direction of Robert Curran, has a group of physical therapists who design programs for each dancer to help them strengthen what they need to strengthen and maintain a good shape while emphasizing injury prevention. With the summer season upon us, the dancers will increase their reps with the lower body and focus on strength training for the upper body.

Mikelle says that many of the dancers have associations with Pilates and yoga and freely share these talents. When I asked what the dancers do to help with muscle fatigue and soreness, she said that they love ice and compression devices for the lower body.

Perhaps most interestingly, Mikelle informed me that she and Robert have seen that the face of ballet is changing.

“There’s a diversity, versatility and physicality that’s happening,” Mikelle says. “Where in the past, everyone had to look the same, it’s now open to everyone and every body type.”

Photos by Danielle Martin.

Natasha Lynn Foley

Opera Singer

Performer Natasha Lynn Foley loves to do hot yoga at Bend and Zen, where you will find her three to four days a week. She also has picked up ballroom dancing. She started her journey with me during Let’s Dance Louisville and won the Judges’ Award with her partner Damian Pataluna. When she’s on the road for a performance, she will grab a workout at a gym or stay in her hotel doing the BeachBody Workout. She emphasizes that she is always trying new things and enjoys  mixing it up.

“The body gets used to one thing, so you need to change it up,” she says. “But the bottom line is to be consistent. Whatever form of fitness makes you happy, do it constantly and try new things.”

Natasha also prioritizes eating well before a big performance.

“Diets are hard to stick to, so (eat) everything in moderation,” she says. “Choose foods that are green and colorful, and stay away from processed and fast foods.” V