This Article Appeared in Backstage by Field Expert, Coach Clay Banks —
I make my living primarily as an acting coach. However, when people ask what I do professionally, I generally tell them that I’m a performance coach. You see, alongside acting training, I also dedicate much of my time to helping people with health, fitness, and nutrition. Having spent a majority of my life in the competitive arena, I’ve learned a few things about the advantages of optimum performance and living in “the zone!’
At age 19, I was in contention for junior Mr. America. By 25, I became a top performer for a prestigious New York-based Fortune 500 company. I competed for a spot in “Men’s Health” at forty-five and continue to challenge guys in the gym who are one-third my age. I’ve also managed to retire from an 18-year career as an actor (fully insured with a pension) and I believe the high-level of attention I placed on self-care was a huge factor in achieving that.
Top-level performance, engaging the individual’s entire being (body, soul, spirit) has tremendous benefits far beyond what you may think. When a person is functioning at their peak-performance level, they have access to untold potential that manifests itself in many areas of their life.
As a working actor, you’re automatically functioning in a highly competitive industry. Your best foot must be forward at all times. The level of competition in our industry far exceeds most professions and if you’re not fully-functioning, you’re sure to miss out on opportunities.
Let me ask you: why wouldn’t you want to be your best when you know that’s exactly what industry professionals (agents, managers, casting directors, directors, and producers) are looking for when they interview you?
So let me encourage you to put some attention on a few specific areas of self-care that will either help you get started, re-dedicate yourself to moving forward, or take what you’re presently doing to the next level!
You’ve got to place a personal demand on yourself to be the very best you can be with everything you’re doing regardless of your present set of circumstances. Here are some tools to help you do it:
The 80/20 Principle: This means 80 percent of the time you make good, strong, healthy choices when it comes to food, exercise, and time management. And the other 20 percent, you have room to loosen up a bit. I don’t believe you have to kill yourself to become more healthy and effective.
Thoughts + Visualization: Your thoughts have so much to do with your overall results. When your head is in the game and you’re focused, the rest of you will respond favorably. Our thoughts precede our destination. Visualization plays a tremendous role in yielding positive results. What you continue to think about multiplies.
Attitude: Your attitude about any activity will have a huge impact on the result. An upwardly focused mental attitude will reap huge benefits. For example, if you disregard physical fitness, I’m afraid you’ll be in denial of prolonged good health. If you exercise but dread it, chances are you won’t be doing it correctly, resulting in you not obtaining the sought-after benefits of that exercise. While exercising out of discipline is good, discipline for the sake of discipline is not as effective as working exercise into your lifestyle, making it a part of the enjoyment of who you are and all that you do. When you become truly turned on to your physical fitness, your passion will be activated and you’ll be sure to receive more benefits than I can express in this article alone!
Body: As just mentioned, exercise is an important part of self-care and working out will improve your confidence.
Hydration: I’ve written entire articles and conducted full seminars on the benefits and importance of simply drinking water (weight loss, energy, clear complexion, brighter eyes, better sleep). Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Begin first thing in the morning, keeping in mind that the body can only absorb on average 4 oz. of liquid every 15 minutes. Then take it from there. If you do this consistently and learn to make it a sustainable part of your routine, you’ll notice a positive and amazing impact on the way you look and feel.
Nutrition: Eating is one of those habits that can easily enslave you. I’m not talking about the fact that we all have to eat, I’m talking about what we choose to eat. Breaking a bad habit can feel impossible, but one simple and effective way to create change is to track your diet. One small change is better than no change at all.
Fitness: Do something physical every day! It’s important to keep in mind that not everything will work for everyone. However, you do want to keep yourself active. As a guy with more road in the rearview mirror than in the front windshield, I can more than attest to the fact that it’s much easier to keep up the good work than to try and start it in your third act. Find a fitness plan or at least some physical activities that work for you and maintain consistency. Look for the enjoyment in it and make it a part of your lifestyle.
We’re holistic beings—body, soul, and spirit—and having everything working together is key! Don’t let your past dictate your future. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been doing, it’s about what you are doing and what you’re going to continue to do. You may not be where you want to be but be thankful you’re not where you used to be! Do something good for yourself every day! A stronger you helps to make others stronger too.
You can dive into more on health, fitness, nutrition, and overall life empowerment for the actor on several other posts on Coach Banks’ blog!
Coach Clay Banks speaks regularly on his acting methodology and process (Art of the Craft & Business of the Business) at SAG/AFTRA Headquarters, The American Academy of the Dramatic Arts (AADA), and in his own studio, Clay Banks Studio Int (CBSI) in Burbank Ca.
Clay Banks is a former Fortune 500 business and life empowerment coach, a motivational speaker, and consultant. He owns and is Head Coach at Clay Banks Productions & Studio International (CBSI) where he offers ongoing on-camera acting classes. He’s presently a recurring Master Coach at SAG-AFTRA headquarters as well as a regular guest Master Class Auditioning Coach with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood.