Ever dream about living like a rock star? Partying every night. Screaming groupies everywhere you look. And plenty of available drugs! Well, sorry to disappoint, but the lives of today's top rockers don't quite fit that description anymore. Instead, it's thoughts of protein shakes, squats and lunges, green vegetables, and getting adequate sleep that tend to occupy the minds of MTV's biggest artists.
Yes, the all-nighters, booze, fast cars, and raucous fun that make being a rock star so damn cool are still there-but now they come in moderation, balanced with a good mix of healthy eating, hardcore workouts, and more than a little obsessing about getting that last ab to pop. The bottom line today is that the age of the constantly drunk and high musician simply doesn't match the business-savvy, image-conscious vibe of the modern music world, in which staying fit is important not only for the way it makes you look but also because of the swagger, focus, and energy it gives you to help you handle your career more effectively. After all, no one wants his story to end like some tragic Behind the Music episode.
"Obviously, we've all learned from our heroes," says Adam Levine, 27, lead singer of the rock band Maroon 5. "It's a pretty dark road to go down as far as excess is concerned. So many people have died, and so many people have damaged themselves so badly, it would be silly for us not to learn from their examples." As a result, artists today spend their free time doing everything from lifting to martial arts-and some have even quit drinking and smoking altogether. If it increases their odds of success, they're all for it. And for good reason. The stakes are so much higher than at any time in the past. Not only do musicians have to make great music, but their career longevity hinges on being able to perform consistently, to have a highly marketable image, and, above all, to be able to tour successfully. Once this became the standard, artists had no choice but to use fitness as the guide for their journey.
"People are more likely to go to the gym now, more likely to be on some kind of eating regimen," says R&B singer John Legend, 28. "American culture in general wasn't always like this."
Building That Swagger
Talent is obviously important, but in 2007, it's not the only thing you need to become an industry mogul. Stars such as Diddy, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Timberlake didn't rely on Ivy League educations, old money, or some complicated marketing strategy to become the brands they are today. Rather, it is a mix of talent, dedication, and hard work-in both the studio and the gym-that helps navigate most stars' careers. "Exercise releases endorphins that block signals of pain," says Jason Ferruggia, a performance-enhancement coach in Warren, N.J. "The result is less stress, greater sex drive, more energy and creativity, and an overall feeling of euphoria-factors that make you perform better at almost anything." Take Travis Barker, 31, formerly of Blink-182 and now a part of the new band +44. "If I usually run three miles, and one day I run five, I feel indestructible-like I'm invincible," he says. "Running helps me mentally, so I can plan my day and strategize how I'm gonna knock things out."
Setting goals, fostering creativity, even shaping the ideal rock-star image-it all comes back to fitness. In his days with the band Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, 42, says he was plagued by neck and back problems. But adopting a healthier existence helped the rocker achieve a whole new level of fame, including starting his second millions-selling band, Audioslave; crafting the theme song for last year's Bond flick, Casino Royale; and even upgrading his former navel-gazing, slacker image. "Being hunched over, looking down when I walked, all this fighting against the chemicals I was polluting myself with-once that was gone, once I became fitter, I naturally stood up straighter without even thinking about it," he says. "It was interesting to me that once I cleaned up my lifestyle, somehow that made me stand up straight-and gave me a better attitude."
It's the kind of feeling anybody who has ever worked out regularly and then looked in the mirror and noticed some results can relate to. "The first time you see a change or someone whose opinions you respect says, 'Wow, your arms are looking kind of cut, your chest is poking out, your stomach is looking flatter,' you're gone!" says rapper Nelly, 32. "From there, you wanna start hitting the gym twice a day."
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