Can exercise make you a better VO?
Anybody and everyone will say the same thing over and over: exercise is good for you! You know it’s true. It has many, many MANY benefits for the body, the mind and I’m going to share how it’s helped me in voice over.
Breathing for example. We all have to breathe in order to live, but to do hours of voice over you need to understand the right way to breathe by using the diaphragm instead of the chest. It’s also a common necessity for classically trained singers when performing live concerts or stage musicals. However, those not interested in voice lessons can learn to breathe correctly by practicing yoga. As someone who also teaches yoga I can attest to this.
Yoga promotes better breathing, balance, flexibility and strength. When doing animation or video game voice overs sometimes the body must be in motion even if the player only hears your voice. If the character is in motion you need to sound like you’re in motion. For those who want to act with motion capture technology, being in good shape is essential. You could be asked to run, do somersaults, choreographed fight scenes, etc., over and over until the director has the best footage for animating.
Martial arts is fabulous for breathing, as well as learning to protect yourself in real life and understanding how to take a punch, a kick, a slap, or handling weapons. I often promote Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art, as a style worth time and money to learn because the training is intense and realistic when it comes to defending yourself from danger. I don’t mean zombies, or supernatural enemies, but real life. It took me 7 years to achieve my black belt and it was one of the best investments I ever made. You’re taught how to get out of choke holds, bear hugs, knife attacks, gun attacks, ground attacks, stick or pipe attacks, and much more. Lots of video games are first-person shooters. Can you create five different ways to sound like you’ve been punched or kicked? How about exertion sounds such as lifting something heavy, reacting to a gunshot wound, holding a heavy rifle or sword and having to fight with it? Then there’s the fact that you’ll need to be comfortable doing all the above while standing in a booth for 3-4 hours — or possibly 6!
Or if you don’t want to take lessons in martial arts, try dancing. If you hope to be in musicals someday then it’s another must. Few musicals don’t include dancing of some sort. While I’ve yet to hear about a VO or motion capture session involving dancing and speaking at the same time, it’s still part of performing arts and great for singers. Broadway performers often make great voice actors due to their ability to be animated when speaking as well as singing. Before celebrities came aboard to voice characters in animated Disney Films, stage actors and singers like Jodi Benson (Ariel in The Little Mermaid), Paige O’Hara (Belle in Beauty and the Beast), Richard White (Gaston in Beauty and the Beast), Susan Egan (Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway and Meghara in Hercules) and others voice iconic characters doing the speaking and singing. To be stage performers they had to be in good shape, have flexible vocal chords and excellent breath control.
And you don’t like the idea of any kind of exercise class then you have no excuse not to go for a walk or jog. Get used to being on your feet for an hour or two and practice getting your lungs nice and strong.
In an article with The Times of India (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/music/news/Beyonce-to-fight-childhood-obesity/articleshow/8888356.cms), Beyoncé revealed her training regimen from her early days, stating, “My father, who was also my manager, made me run a mile while singing so I would be able to perform on stage without becoming exhausted.”
Running may not be the most fun thing to do but Beyoncé has a strong point. The exercise kept her in shape, improved her ability to use awesome breath control when singing and moving, and her energy is all over the place.
If weather is unpleasant, then get on your computer and use YouTube exercise videos. There’s an abundant amount of them! Start with 30 minutes a day till you feel you can do 45 minutes, then an hour.
Now, forgive me if I’m blunt here, but if nothing mentioned in this blog inspires you to move to keep you voice and body healthy, then you’re either depressed or lazy. If you’re depressed, please don’t think you’re alone and believe there are ways to get help. If you’re lazy, that’s a choice. Just don’t expect opportunities to come your way. This is not a business for people who are lazy. Neither will do you any good in building success as a voice over. You MUST take care of yourself. No one will do it for you. If you ever want to compete with the amazing talent already out there, then you have to do the work and keep at it.
Are you a member of a gym? See if they offer yoga or martial arts classes.
Not interested in a gym? Try finding a studio dedicated to yoga, Pilates or martial arts.
If you can’t get to a gym, a yoga studio or a martial arts center or don’t have the money to join them guess what? You have Youtube! And there’s no more excuses to use from here because you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t have internet or access to it.
However when it comes to martial arts I don’t recommend learning through YouTube or any online videos. It’s best you take lessons in person with a mentor who’s certified to teach.
But with yoga fear not, here are some good sites I’ve come to appreciate when it comes to exercise and inspiration. Good luck on your journey!