By William Donaruma
A production day, week, month is a marathon, not a sprint and most of us have to carry a lot of stuff. Whether you move anvil cases of camera gear, sandbags, 10Ks or carry a clipboard you are on your feet for 12 hours a day. Those of us on the independent docs have to carry everything ourselves through airports and various landscapes and terrain. That’s no easy task to be physically and mentally prepared. Who has time for the gym versus the short walk to the craft service table? Well, you don’t need a gym and working out is just more work. Excited? Not so fast. I rarely go to a gym, except to meet a pal for some powerlifting on occasion, but I “train” regularly. And at 50, I need to be able to carry my gear, shoot hand-held and go on long hauls across some rough terrain all for the love of the job (and my wife!).
You don’t have to be a fitness nut so much as be aware of your durability, flexibility and stamina. I see a lot of kids getting into production who treat their bodies like an amusement park and won’t be long for the game. I set goals to train for endurance events, like the GORUCK Tough 12 hour challenge and Spartan Beast races with a couple of friends. The residual is that I am prepared to lug 65 lbs of gear across an Irish landscape or through the streets of Rome. A friend of mine, Sean O’Shea, is the first AC on This is Us and before he starts his 12 hour plus day he runs 6 miles. Here is his motivation. “The job requires physical and mental toughness to be able to not only perform at a high level under sometimes adverse situations, but as well under the strain of long hours. The discipline my morning run provides me with helps me stay focused throughout the day knowing I have already achieved at a high level before we even clocked in for the day.” That is knowing and focusing on the “why” you are training. Here are a few things you can do to start working up to a more comfortable health level and maintaining it for your own longevity.
One of the first things I started doing was rucking; carrying weight in a backpack. You can burn 3x the calories on a 30 minute walk with just 10% of your bodyweight. Grab a sandbag from the grip truck and throw it in a pack for a portion of the day or go for a rucking walk when you get home. It will clear your head and give you some quality time alone or with your partner/spouse. It will also help you stand up straight, improving posture and putting less stress on your spine by not leaning forward. Use your own body weight and do the basics; push ups (lots of them), air squats, step ups, lunges, sit ups and pull ups. Tally how many you can do during the day or even the course of the production itself. I did 22,000 over the course of 12 weeks as part of a challenge. Just those moves will strengthen your ligaments and tendons to handle a stack of c-stands. Start by doing 5 sets of push ups, sit ups and air squats every minute on the minute and work your way up to 20 reps every minute. That’s only 15 minutes of your day! No excuses.
So grab an apple box and do some step ups. Challenge your crew to a push up tally. Go to the hardware store and get a bag of play sand and a bucket to carry around your yard. And let’s not forget 30 minutes of yoga at least once a week to keep yourself limber, durable and calm. All it takes is all you’ve got and the only easy day was yesterday.