A Week In The Life Of… Mike Schwartz

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Yes, we are running with something a little different this week.

  1. Offering up a feature with someone who is not an Australian/NZ-based industry worker
  2. Offering up a feature on a job that pretty much no-one would ever think of as falling under a music industry banner.

But fit it does. And we’re running it because this guy will be speaking at Australian Music Week in November and will most probably pack out the room…

With over twelve years of professional writing, recording and touring experience, Mike Schwartz is a Canadian drummer that just happens to know how to move well, eat well and inspire a creative and productive mindset. He has worked as a fitness professional for his music industry colleagues and developed something of a name as a leader of physical and mental well-being in the music industry. With the release of his first book, “The Musician’s Guide To Surviving The Rock Star Lifestyle”, Mike has delivered educational seminars, workshops, and keynotes regarding the topic on major stages like Canadian Music Week and BreakOut West. Also working one on one with artists and industry alike, Mike’s skills and education help to inspire creative flow and top performance. He’s excited to make his first ever Australian visit when he presents Musician Health and Wellness at the 2018 Australian Music Week 7-9 November in Cronulla Beach, Sydney.

Job Description In My Own Words

I have the sweetest job ever! I get to combine my passion of health and wellness with my passion of music. As a “Lifestyle Tech” of the music industry, I get to coach musicians all over the world on their physical and mental well-being so that they can stay healthy and creative and have the best performance each time they step out on stage. I’m a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Spin Instructor and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. I work with artists either in person or remotely via Skype to implement healthy alternatives to lifestyle challenges that they may experience. I help meal prep, manage stress and I get to kick your favourite rock stars butts in the gym and make sure they don’t pull a groin when they rip those sweet high kicks!

On top of that, the movement, nutrition and mindset coaching that I teach significantly improves the amount of awesome they experience in their day to day lives, so it’s a super fulfilling gig to know that I’m making a positive impact in another individual’s life.

Monday

5:05am wake up for a typical morning of 3 or 4 clients. Coffee’s brewing, I get out for a quick walk with Darwin, my pooch and I get on the highway towards PushFit Studio, the private studio I work from, about 25km north of my home in Hamilton, Ontario. Full disclosure – my client roster consists of a mix of music industry professionals and some regular 9-5 general population that also hold full time day jobs (because no full time musician ever would be waking up THAT early… most are just getting to bed by then…). The early morning crowd that still work 9-5 like to get their workout in before the work day starts, so it’s important for me as a professional to have a schedule to facilitate early morning coaching at least three days per week. Monday is the top of the week and when folks are most motivated to crush it in the gym after the weekend shenanigans and debauchery. I make sure I’m available and rearing to go!

After the morning rush, I rip back home, take care of Darwin, relax a bit and eat lunch, schedule in my own workout (no later than 2pm) and gear up for a group fitness class or two in the late afternoon. Life of the split shift.

Tuesday

Today was a later start for me than yesterday. Regardless, I ensure I’m in bed at the same time each night to be my best each day and now I’m up and ready to rock with a few hours to spare before heading in to the training studio. It’s a good time to get grounded and get my pooch, Darwin out for an early morning run! I take a look at my day and see that I have a few one on one private sessions mixed in with a small group fitness class and a couple semi-private sessions today. That’s where I coach 2-4 people each with their own individual programs together. It’s a more affordable way to get my professional service. When the afternoon rolls around I am booked into a lifestyle consultation. That’s an hour long appointment via Skype or in person where I get to know a prospective client and recommend lifestyle changes and explain how my services will help them achieve their lifestyle goals. It’s super cool to have the opportunity to be a coach and guide people towards a healthy lifestyle. It never gets old. Especially when dealing with musicians. The way I think of it, if they get to a happier place in their lives, their productivity increases. More great music for all of us!

Wednesday

Hump day, right? This is the middle of the week for most of us. However, my week often has no “weekend”. This Wednesday is much the same. See, my role has caught the attention of the industry… so I’m fielding a lot of invitations from all around the world to come speak, host workshops or participate on panels to educate other musicians about musician specific health and wellness. In between coaching sessions today, I hit the email hard and reached out to see what the progress was on a few offers I have out there right now. Two I’m especially interested in are actually related to my involvement in Artist Development Bootcamp programs hosted by Canada’s Music Incubator (CMI). After my panel discussion of Musician Health at Canadian Music Week this spring, they asked to come in and provide my coaching to artists in their development program, AE West back in my hometown of Calgary. I’m in the middle of a game of email tag with the Director of Programs at the National Music Centre to see what their ideas are for us collaborating on this project to maximize the benefit for the artists in the program. Exciting stuff!

Thursday

Thursday morning is media day. I mean, every day is – but I really like to pump up the artists I work with to showcase their dedication to health and wellness. It may not seem like much to some people, but for me it’s key to spreading the word across the music community. I use my Instagram account to post highlights, content and the workouts or meals of the artists that are working with me. I like to show off what my clients are doing, because it is impressive when anyone takes control of their life. This week I decided to showcase a current artist/industry member that’s been killin’ it, Ben Nixon. After lunch and my workout, I’m sitting down for a FaceTime follow up coaching call with Ben Nixon of Mossy Rock Productions. Ben and I have been working together for nearly a year now, first in person when we were both located in Calgary, AB and since online through remote coaching. He’s absolutely crushed his goals of increasing energy while lessening pain and stiffness so now it’s time to figure out where he wants to go next. We organize his goals and time frame to suit his schedule to make realistic gains over the course of the next three months. Once I wrap that call up I make time to take Darwin out for a big walk. I meal prep, research some shoulder mobility techniques, practice drums and head to bed. I’m pretty zonked. I’m gearing up for this weekend with a big Round Table Seminar at the Canadian Country Music Awards on Saturday. I’m excited to be a part of this huge event.

Friday

This was a rare Friday night off. Typically on Fridays and Saturdays I’m at a venue running a band through their performance warm up. Stretching, workout, mindfulness, meditations and breathing drills. It’s my responsibility to ensure that their schedule is optimized for their performance. This Friday I decided to settle in and take care of myself before the CCMA event tomorrow.

One of my favourite tours this past summer saw me working with Little Destroyer on their support role on Mother Mother’s 10 Year Anniversary “O My Heart” Tour. I was responsible for all of their pre-performance ritual. Stretch routine, pre-show warm up, and imagery, you name it! Just simple stress resiliency techniques to get them all loose to kick it on stage. It’s my job to make sure the artists are warmed up and ready to go for every show. But so much of that starts long before soundcheck. It’s my job to ensure an artist’s touring schedule is well balanced to meet the demands of the tour. I ensure the artist stays fresh, eats well and that media appearances, meet and greets and all the chaos of the road and pressures from management and the label is manageable. I’m kind of like the bouncer of a club, ensuring my artists’ are treated like humans, not automated robots.

Challenges and Accomplishments of the Week

This week was particularly awesome! It’s so powerful when you connect with a new client or get to reset the focus of a current client and are able to give them resources to help them stay pumped to be fit and eat well. Empowering artists to live healthier shows up tenfold in their performance and it’s an amazing feeling to be a part of. Also, being invited as the specialist in a field to a major music awards show is truly humbling. I still get goosebumps when I get to speak about this stuff on stage.

Highlights of the Job

It’s incredibly fulfilling when you hear “That was the best I’ve ever felt on stage before! Thank you.” I never get sick of hearing that. When you see the look of accomplishment on their face and slap a high five when they finish a set of squats or push-ups it’s hard to top that. Once they get out of their own way and realize their capabilities, whether it’s doing a few more repetitions in the gym than last week, or them just getting to bed on time. Whatever it is, they’re forever grateful for your constant (and annoyingly cheerful) kicks in the butt. The slices of pizza are that much more rewarding when it’s not what you live off of.

Another huge perk is getting to go to more shows. I’m a musician myself, and big time music lover, so touring with other great artists and being in the scene is a huge plus. You get to meet so many people.

Lowlights of the Job

The daily grind associated with motivating people can be tiresome. Not to mention dealing with the emotional instability of most creatives. The stuff you discuss can get really heavy, and sometimes you feel as though you’re a therapist. If you have trouble separating yourself from work, this will take a toll on you.

Often you can feel as though you’re the “bad cop” in coaching poor behaviours out of the artists. They’ve been doing something a certain way for so long, It’s hard for them to see the benefits of your polite persistence and well-timed reminders to put the beer down.

Also, sometimes you get to have crucial conversations with management in order to shine the human light on them and remind them that they’re creating too much stress on their artist. So if you don’t dig confrontation, this may not be the right role for you. You have to stand tall for the sake of you artist’s health and wellness.

Words of Wisdom for people considering your field

First off, listen. I think that’s just sound life advice. Observe. Research. Pay attention to the small things. Always be open to learning. So much of what I do as a Lifestyle Tech is people-centric and all the theory in textbooks on kinesiology and behavioural science means squat if you don’t know how to effectively communicate it.

Secondly, you must live the lifestyle in order to effectively lead others. Focus on progress over perfection; being 1% better than you were yesterday. If you want to really be effective and a positive influence in someone else life, you must first take care of yourself. Get in touch with me and I will make sure you are given the best opportunity to succeed in this industry.

If you love learning about industry professions as much as us, check out the WITLO archives

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