For a musician, going on tour isn’t all about partying. Life on the road — or in the air, if on a global tour — can be extremely draining, both mentally and physically. For example, if on tour for upwards of six months, this type of travel can really take a long term toll on their bodies, especially combined with other possible factors like working long hours, poor sleep, or a poor diet.
To stay in their best shape for gigs, musicians need to make sure they find some semblance of a routine while touring, and not be tempted into eating junk food constantly or neglecting regular exercise. But it’s also important for them to find ways to de-stress, relax, and stay entertained in their free time — when they have it, which isn’t often when there’s press, practicing, and other responsibilities to handle. Still, here are just a few of the ways that many musicians spend their free time when on the road:
Sticking to an Exercise Routine
This is one of the most important aspects for a musician when on a tour, no matter how long the tour is. Even if a musician doesn’t have to follow a dance routine on stage or move like Jagger, just being on stage under hot lights and playing for hours can be physically exhausting. The better shape that a musician is in, the better he’ll feel when frequently placed under these demands, and the better he’ll play. Following an exercise routine when on tour can also help to relieve the stressors that often come with touring, such as adapting to the nomad lifestyle or meeting all of the many press responsibilities.
As for the types of exercises that musicians do on the road, it might depend on if they have access to a gym or not. They might lift weights, run, do cardio or yoga, bike, or play a sport that they enjoy with bandmates or their crew. Some musicians might even travel with a personal trainer, which would help them to stick to a routine and make sure that they’re doing the best exercises and eating right to stay in shape while traveling.
Making Time for Entertainment and Relaxation
For some excitement between gigs, many rockers love to play poker or casino classics. This can be a great way to pass the time when spending long hours on the road traveling. Thanks to the ever-connected digital age, there are a wide variety of poker games available online, including some of the most popular casino games, so it’s easy to stay entertained while on the road, even if musicians’ can’t get a group together to play a game in person.
The Eagles in particular were well known for their long and intense poker games when on tour, with Glenn Frey going so far as to invent a variation he dubbed Eagler Poker (which inspired the famous poker scene in “Almost Famous”). Other well known musicians who play poker include Alice In Chains’s Jerry Cantrell, Steve Albini, Guns n’ Roses’s Slash, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, and Anthrax’s Scott Ian.
Seeing the Sights
Although many musicians get to travel the world, they don’t always get to actually visit the locations they’re touring. But sometimes, once everything else has been taken care of, musicians might have time to see the sights wherever they’re currently at for their tour. While this might be harder for lesser known musicians to make time for, mega successful rock stars or the like might be able to request that a few hours be dedicated to seeing the sights on their schedule.
Still, a lot of this depends on the general schedule for their tour, the venue they’re playing at in each city, and where they’re staying in the city. If they’re playing at the O2 Arena, for example, it would be very easy for them to get around the city to check out some museums or historical sights. But this might not be possible if the venue is located 30 minutes to an hour away from any desired sights.
There’s no doubt that touring can be rough on a musician. But finding time to exercise or do fun activities in their free time can significantly reduce the strain of touring and help them to stay in their best shape.