Yeah, that’s right. I’m calling you out!

All of us music teachers who give so much to our jobs and neglect our physical fitness and well-being. You know who you are.

Let me tell you a true story, and I hope this friend forgives me for sharing.

So a friend of mine from college, let’s call him Prince Phillip. [Name has been changed to conceal his true identity and save him from embarrassment], was overweight. He was [and still is] a total awesome instrumentalist and teacher and one day he decided he was going to work really hard and get skinny and do a marathon.

So he did.

He stopped drinking Slurpees every day, started eating right, lost a bunch of weight, ran his marathon…ran SEVERAL marathons…it was truly inspirational!

Fast forward 6 years and the Slurpees [and the weight] are back.


Because that kind of thing is unsustainable for most of us!

My own journey was similar. I realized one day I’d let myself go a little too far…and I’d gained 25 pounds to prove it. So I started working out. I started racing triathlons. I dropped 30 pounds. I ran a half marathon.

Then I started teaching again. Went through a divorce. And it all came back.

But guess what? Over the last year I’ve been losing the weight and getting in shape again. Not specifically for the weight loss, or for a race, or to prove anything, but just because I want it to be part of my life.

So I’ve made it part of my life. And when it’s an important part of your life, you create ways for it to be sustainable.

I’ll be honest, it was actually a TED Talk that shifted my way of thinking:

So your call to action today is this: you know you need to be taking care of your body. If you aren’t you can’t really be giving the way that you should. It’s hard to keep up with elementary kids playing ‘Cut the Cake’ or a full hour of conducting a concert or hauling bases around or just giving away your energy in general, if you don’t make fitness a priority.

Thus, I submit to you my recommendations for how you, too, can stay reasonably fit without spending any time in the gym.

WHAT TO DO: While-Your-Working Workouts

WHY: This doesn’t take any special equipment. It doesn’t take any additional time. You don’t have to change your clothes. All it takes is a little conscious effort.

HOW: Here are some of the ‘mini’ workouts you can try right in your school or classroom.

○ Chair touches: pretend like you’re doing to sit down on a chair, but right when your bum hits, you stand back up. Do this 8-10 times 3-4 times per day.

○ Calf Raises: any time you find yourself waiting for 30 seconds, just raise up on your toes. Do it as many times as you can while you’re waiting.

○ Take the Stairs: if you have a school with stairs, take them as often as you can. Repeat as much as you can in the time you have.

○ Dance: for non-instrument classes, one of my favorite activities to help students establish pulse is to do some kind of dancing/movement to the beat. Pick any song you want and just change the motion of your feet or hands every phrase. Or project ‘Just Dance’ up on the wall and get down with your bad self for 3-4 minutes every class. You don’t even have to wait for a class. Just turn some music on and jump around! YOU CAN EVEN USE MY PLAYLIST.

○ Yoga stretches: learn some yoga stretches you can do whilst standing. CHECK OUT MY YOGA VIDEO HERE.

○ The ever popular push-up. Want a little challenge? Check out the Push-Up App! I LOVE push-ups because they not only strengthen your upper body- you know, that part of you that is waving around with a baton in it’s hands most of the day- but also your core. And, as you know, core strength is everything!

○ Become a ‘gym’ rat! This was one of my favorite things as a middle-school teacher: we had a full weight room. So 3 times a week I would tape a note on my door at the end of school: “Ms. Jones is in the weight room”. I’d spend 30 minutes or more on the recumbent bike machine, or doing a circuit of the machines. I’d read. I’d even listen to playing tests! *Sigh* I miss those days…

For more fitness ideas, check out my list of fitness apps I ♥! Just enter your email address to access the download:

Essential Fitness Apps for Busy Music Educators

WHAT TO DO: Run on the Track

WHY: Most schools have a track right there, available to you before or after school. I recommend after, and I know you’re probably like, “But Elisa! I don’t have TIME or ENERGY after school!” But guess what? You will feel SOOOO much better. You will have more energy every time you do.

HOW TO DO IT: Pack your running clothes the night before into your school bag. Pack a snack, too. I recommend a protein drink. You can drink it pretty close to when you run and it will give you energy without any gross feelings like a meal would. Then when the bell rings, wrap up what you need to do in your room/office, put a sign on your door that says, “If you need to talk to me, I’m out on the track”. Change your clothes and go do it!

Not sure how to get started if you’ve never been a runner? Scroll down and get the download with my list of apps!


WHAT TO DO: Commute by Bike.

WHY: I know this isn’t an option for a lot of us. We have instruments to haul around. We have to travel from school to school. It would take us too long. There’s no accessible route…. the excuses can be endless. But this is the BEST WAY I’ve found to integrate a workout into the day. It takes a little bit of planning, and you certainly don’t have to do it every day, but trust me here, on the days you DO commute you will be a much more calm, focused, and energetic teacher.

HOW TO DO IT: Get a bike if you don’t already have one. And a helmet. And a backpack. And lights. Big, bright, flashing rear lights and a headlamp that’s brighter than car headlights. Pack up your backpack the night before. Include a change of clothes, some baby wipes, and your toiletries. Pack snacks and water. Download a podcast to listen to while you ride [keep your left ear free to listen to traffic]. Use to find a good route and estimate travel time. Then add 15 minutes in case you’re slow, have to wait for lights, and have time to change when you get there.

I made a video about my own bike community experience and that will be ready for you shortly. Why not click over to YouTube and subscribe so you get notified when it’s up and ready for you!? CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

Honestly, I can’t say enough about how vital it is to incorporate regular exercise into your routine.

○ It helps control your weight.

○ It combats health conditions and disease

○ It improves your mood

○ It boosts your energy

○ It helps you feel more balanced

Don’t believe me? Read this from the Mayo Clinic.

And like I said, this isn’t just me preaching. I practice what I preach. You can even follow what I do by subscribing to my Strava feed.

Keeping fit is easily one of the best things you can do to not only improve your own mental health, but also your stamina, your mental clarity, and your longevity- both in life and in your career as a professional music educator!

Keep it simple. Keep it easy. Use one of the apps that I use and can recommend- no matter what your fitness level or your goals! Just enter your email address below to access the download:

Essential Fitness Apps for Busy Music Educators

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