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Top Wellness Tips For DJs, From 8 Experienced DJs

Staying healthy while playing heavy gig schedules

For many DJs, the rigors of club life can often create more problems than we’re prepared to handle. In the most extreme of circumstances, nonstop gigs can reap havoc on one’s career, health, and personal life. In today’s feature, DJTT contributing writer Tom Hricik has compiled wellness tips from eight professional DJs – from Santero to Laidback Luke – to find out how they manage to stay healthy.

Wellness Tips For DJs – From DJs Who Are Always Playing Gigs

Not every DJ has to face the grueling schedule of a touring DJ who plays hundreds of shows a year around the world. But almost every DJ who plays regularly faces similar challenges surrounding wellness, health, exercise, diet, and lifestyle. Today, we’re sharing a lot of advice from professional DJs who have reflected on their own health decisions. Keep reading for the wellness tips!

Editor’s Note: We’ve trimmed some of these responses down for clarity, brevity, and additional editorial reasons. 

Made Monster

  • Years Active As DJs: 19 years
  • Style: Bass Music
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: Yoga + supplementation
  • Listen to their work: Soundcloud

“The key we find to the rigors of the road and in the studio is balance.  The road is always hard and crazy. We end up eating way more junk food, bad airport meals, and of course the partying that can happen at our shows. So we make sure that when we aren’t on the road its the opposite.

I’m personally big on yoga to help ring my body out of all the crap I just put in it. I’m also a fan of taking daily vitamins when we aren’t on the road, especially NAC (it help protects the liver). I eat way healthier when I’m home as well. Lots of spinach is the way to go!”

Santero

  • Years Active As A DJ: 20 years
  • Style: Mixed format
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: Balance with exercise
  • Listen to his work: Soundcloud

“One of the most crucial aspects of how I manage to maintain some semblance of a healthy lifestyle as a DJ is through regular exercise. I run, a lot, and also swim and visit the gym a few times a week. Everyone will have different exercise that they get along with, for me it’s running, with an audiobook or interesting podcast to exercise my mind a little at the same time. I find it meditative, and a great way to signpost the start of the day.

It’s not always been this way. I barely exercised at all through my 20s. And it’s been inconsistent in my 30s until the past few years. But it’s really transformed me. I’ve learned not to rely on motivation, which comes and goes; discipline is the key. And when I exercise, I’m more mindful of what I eat, my mood is infinitely better, I sleep more soundly, and feel more energised through the day. If I skip 4-5 days, I can feel depression and lethargy creep into my life, and I have to get myself out and work up a sweat.

Many claim that they are too busy to exercise – well Arnie pointed out that he managed to find time to work out when Governor of California, so anyone should be able to find a little bit of time!”

Whitney Fierce

  • Years Active As A DJ: 8 years
  • Style: Dream Tech House
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: Moisturize
  • Listen to her work: Soundcloud

“Wellness is especially difficult for a DJ on the road, with timezones and flights a plenty, it’s easy to lose track of yourself and taking care of the body you live in. Though it seems somewhat impossible, getting sleep is one of the most important parts of keeping oneself well, sometimes that means missing an afterparty […]

But, if you can’t stay rested, at least stay moisturized, from the inside and out. That means drinking tons of water, and moisturizing your face, with GOOD stuff. We’re not gonna be pretty forever, but at least we can try.”

Eric Sharp

  • Years Active As A DJ: 12 years
  • Style: House
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: Healthy diet
  • Listen to his work: Soundcloud

“I’m big on basics, and my tips for staying healthy revolve around the basics of eating well and exercising regularly. At home I keep a disciplined cardio routine in place, and am very selective with my diet based in whole foods with as little processing as possible. I avoid refined sugars and caffeine and for me an entirely plant-based diet is very good to my body. I also abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Any time I hit the road, I try and take my health practice with me. I always stop by a health food store en route to the airport to make sure I’ve got some high quality snacks with me just in case. I let promoters know in advance of my healthy diet needs for dinner plans. I also pack a pair of running shoes in my backpack, as most hotels have a gym. It’s remarkable how much 20 minutes on a treadmill will lift my energy – endorphins are a great antidote to a lack of sleep. All in all I find that making my wellness a top priority enables me to stay fit and energized so I’m at my best when I hit the studio or the decks!”

Deville

  • Years Active As A DJ: 18 years
  • Style: Mixed format
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: Adequate rest, meal planning

“Being a person that has food allergies to be mindful of, traveling and staying healthy is extremely challenging. Sacrificing a meal to avoid illness is sometime a choice I have to make because getting sick on the road can make things spiral out of control quickly. Packing healthy snacks and OTC medications is a must when I travel. Other than that, staying rested is the number one priority for me because that’s the foundation of a healthy body and mind for performing.”

Digital Dave

  • Years Active As A DJ: 22 years
  • Style: Mixed format
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: No mixed drinks

“It takes a lot of discipline working year after year in the industry to stay healthy. The best advice I can offer is the hardest to swallow: Avoid as many vices as you can.  

One vice I do still contend with is alcohol […] As I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to cut back on my alcohol consumption, reserving drinking for big club gigs or when I’m out of town. Aside from the obvious effects of alcohol, as your metabolism slows with age, liquid calories can really tack on the lbs. My best advice, if you’re gonna drink, don’t drink every night and don’t go hard every time you drink. […] Life hack: Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots shots. I’m serious. If you’re going to drink, do shots. It eliminates the wasteful calories in mixers and reduces ever dreaded bathroom breaks. 

The hardest part […] is the time after work. I’m always hungry and almost never tired. It’s hard to succumb to sleep with the adrenaline I have going after a set. While I’m far from perfect I try to eat only once or twice a week after gigs. Eating dinner at 8 or 9 p.m. can definitely help fight those 3 a.m. cravings. Going right to sleep I still cannot do. I almost always need an hour to wind down.                                  

Finally, I always make it a point to exercise as much as I can. I try to get in cardio 4-5 days a week and lift 2-3 days a week. Getting to the gym can be hard, especially after nights of drinking. My best advice is do something that you love. Most days my cardio is pick up basketball at my local YMCA. Make your exercise something you love, whether it’s biking, swimming, basketball or running. If you enjoy your exercise, it becomes much less of a chore and something that you look forward to instead. Staying healthy as a DJ really comes down to discipline and being smart. You can party, trust me I’ve gotten my fair share in, just be smart and know your limits.”  

Ean Golden

  • Years Active As A DJ: 20
  • Style: House/Techno
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: Special Tour Tea
  • Listen to their work: Soundcloud

“Hydration is your number one goal when traveling, sweating, and staying up late. Without it, you will feel hungry – eat a lot and end up feeling like ass most of the time. Coconut water is your friend, alcohol is not. If you must drink – keep it limited to one or two drinks and always drink two glasses of water for each shot of booze. Downing a lot of water before you hit the sack will help a lot, and if you really need to down shots all night then take some activated charcoal tablets before going out and all the nasty chemicals wont absorb into your gut. 

Feeling destroyed the morning after a gig, with your immune system tanked? Not surprised! Low sleep, dehydration and a ton of endorphins will do that to the best of us. I rely on a simple recipe every morning to keep the energy up without downing coffee. P.S. this recipe was given to me by Richie Hawtin while we were on tour several times together, and he plays almost 200 gigs a year – so consider the source solid.”

Ean’s wellness tea recipe:

  • sliced raw ginger root 
  • honey 
  • lemon

Laidback Luke

  • Years Active As A DJ: 24 years
  • Style: EDM
  • Biggest Wellness Tip: Picture your schedule

9. No alcohol:Although you’ll feel super happy and powerful on the moment, the next day or the next days can feel super bad. You won’t have the ability to answer emails, nor be productive. Let alone be nice to the people you’re traveling with, or nice to the people you come home to.

8. Stay out of trouble: I pretty much turn down all the requests I get to come join to an afterparty. Sounds horribly boring but truth is, you probably have another show tomorrow and the day after. The people that are after partying don’t!

7. Napping is a life-saver: A DJ on tour sleeps about 4 hours on average. You can supplement this by trying to nap, and if you can’t, learn how to nap, on the plane for instance. My current favorite naps are 30 minutes naps which really energize you without feeling super groggy when you wake up. It’s a skill though, and really helpful to dive into if this seems hard for you.

6. Stay calm, no matter the circumstances: Very simply put: Stress kills. If it’s not now, it’s on the long run. Leave stress behind and see it for what it is. Stress is as big as you want to make it. If you realize that, you’ll see that no matter the situation, you’ll always be in control.

5. If you smoke, quit smoking!: Smoking is a habit! Little disclaimer, I never smoked so for me it’s easier said then done but simply put: Find another habit! Whenever you want to smoke, get a tea : ) Needless to say, breathing is THE most important thing in life. And is essential to controlling stress. If you sabotage your breathing you’re unable to perform your best.

4. Have rituals: If you’re touring a ton, you basically feel like you have no home. It’s a terrible feeling. What helps is to keep your own little rituals that you would do at home. For instance, I’ll always sit in the same spot in the car on tour. Or, I’ll always unpack in a certain way and put everything on a similar spot in any hotel room I get to.

3. Work out!: You might think working out will drain the little energy you have on tour but actually, it will give you energy! Mind you, I rarely go into a work out being all excited about it. And usually doing the workout I’ll be hating it! But the feeling you get after a workout is the best! And think about this: you only need 45 minutes a day to be as lazy as you want for the next 23 hours and 15 minutes. Yet, you’re still in shape!

2. Watch your diet: Working out has no use if you eat like shit. And it’s very tempting at airports and on tour. Key is to know what good foods are, they don’t necessarily need to be salads for instance. I rarely eat salads! Often, I’ll skip the airplane food whenever I fly economy and rather buy something at the airport to have on the plane, if I’m not sleeping on it.

1. Picture your schedule: To overcome stress and pressure, one of my key things of survival is to picture my day or my weekend before it happens. And imagining the things and situations I could come across going into this tour and unraveling it. This way, when it really happens, you’ll be prepared for a lot of things and most of it you already ran through! This way you’ll never be overwhelmed by what’s about to come or happen.

Have your own tips for staying health? Share in the comments below.

  • Yiannis N Papanikolas

    I feel like i am reading Cosmo’s article…….

  • Y’all Snortin

    “P.S. this recipe was given to me by Richie Hawtin while we were on tour several times together, and he plays almost 200 gigs a year – so consider the source solid.”
    Cocaine isa helluva drug

    • SirDukeNickRock

      I believe Ean. He has toured and opened for Richie.

  • Alfredo Santana

    DJ Fozzy – video DJ- sports DJ
    From – Chicago IL
    Places played – Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, NYC, jersey, LA California, Detroit, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Cuba, Italy.
    Years active 32yrs – 1985 till present
    Genre – mixed from old school house to Latin hip hop well you get the picture

    Biggest wellness tip: no drinking on the job ever only drinks I ever take is the one the owner not the promoter but the owner asks me to take with them. Make time to eat well and rest plenty between gigs. Family is my back bone without my wife and kids none of this would ever be possible for me my kids give me plenty of exercise. I also play baseball as a way to keep my mind focused and sharpe. I never let drunk ppl get under my skin as long as they keep there drinks far from my gear I have zero issues

  • jsgwiz

    Good article…this isn’t talked about as much as it should.

    Eating late isn’t terrible if you have the right foods. And actually what the norm for ‘being up late’ to most is not the same for DJs. I wake up later in the morning but I also get to bed between 2 – 4 am. I eat a lot of small meals during the day and my last meal is around 2 -3 am (or whenever I get back home), being a protein shake which slow releases and feeds my body while I’m sleeping. I started DJing 20+ years ago and fitness/diet has kept me in the game physically for sure. -Jeff

  • Agungald

    what can we do to keep our ears healthy beside shielding it?

  • absolutkiss

    Literally zero words about drug abuse? Hm. Stay away from cocaine. It’s terrible for you and those around you, and supports the drug cartels.

  • Big C

    okay buzzfeed.

    Really though – I don’t care for this article. It’s not saying anything people shouldn’t know – except coming from the mouths of other DJs rather than health professionals.

  • Pingback: EXPERIENCED DJS GIVE TIPS ON HOW TO STAY HEALTHY ! - Global Spin 365()

  • Stephen Nawlins

    Years Active as DJ: 2000-Present
    Style: Open Format
    Biggest Wellness Tipps:
    1. As you gonna stand on your legs for hours, wear good shoes either with Gel or Air Soil System or with Suspension System (like Nike Shox for example) with years passing by your knees and your back will be thankful.
    2. If you are a mobile DJ then the ergonomy and weight of the used Setup is important ’cause a certain lenght of your Gig will be building up and down your Setup.
    Remind that building down your System is mostly sometime in the middle of the night after hours of gig behind you. Is it really worthy to build up 4pieces of 100Lbs Subwoofers for a 50-100 People wedding??? Wouldn’t 1 Piece be enough, specially for a wedding???
    Is it worthy to have 3-4h up- and downbuilding time for a Gig that lasts as Long or less???
    3. Attend the Gig Location early, don’t get there only 10min before starting.
    If anything isn’t working for example gear compatibility, you will get into a no needed stress. If you start you Gig stressed then it will never become a great one.
    You still can get a drink at the bar and/or socialize with Party attendees or Patrons if you have time left before playing.
    4. Carry different cables and Adapters to connect your Controller specially when you are first time playing at a Location. (A second pair of Headphones for when yours are breaking during a gig, etc…) this helps minimalizing possible stress factors.
    5. Train some Basic psychologic skills learning how to handle idiots, their requests or comments (Me for example I have a regular Job, I could attend a Training there called “How to handle conflict situations” and could use it so much more every time I am in the Booth, than at my regular Job)….If you can stay cool no matter what Kind of morron is showing up your blood pressure will stay low 😉

  • killmedj

    Wow! That was a great article! But oh boy is it hard stay away from the post gig fun! =/

    • absolutely. I think the lesson in regards to that should be mindful moderation. There are times when I’ve gone to afterhours or parties after a gig that have been very important for myself or our monthly party my crew throws. If I had cut out post-gig fun entirely, many opportunities would have been missed.

      • killmedj

        Absolutely! I have made some poor decisions at after parties and definitely overstayed my welcome =P.
        Thankfully as I’ve gotten older they’ve become a great opportunity to shoot the shit with other DJ’s and producers. we always joke that it’s a shame the gig got in the way of such a great hang!

  • Sandeep Kumar

    Excellent article! 2 more I’d point out are ERGONOMICS & MEDITATION…

    also whoever said “2 Advil BEFORE bed can work wonders at preventing a hangover the next morning…..” is giving horrible advice, it might ease the pain but you’re putting significantly MORE stress on your liver & can cause permanent damage. Both alcohol & Advil (aspirin & ibuprofen also) are hard on your liver so you’re just adding to the damage you caused the night before

  • DJ Joshua Carl

    Great untouched topic fellas.
    Often overlooked!

  • Train your body to nap so you can fall asleep quickly and bank hours of sleep whenever you can. I use an app called Sleep Stream and it’s changed my life.

  • dirkdirgler

    Years Active As A DJ: 1992-present
    Style: Mixed
    Biggest Wellness Tip:Exercise,rest & strong immune system with healthy rabbits

    1.I work out (playing soccer in a team) 4 times a week
    2.I have a habbit of always team up my lunch with a salad and eating my fruits after 3 hours (choose high quality food and no plastic shit..)
    3.I sleep at least 7 hours a day
    4.I try to drink 2 beers max the whole night,don’t mix the shots and drink water
    5.No drugs & smoking
    6.Try not to stress

    That’s much about it..

    • Healthy rabbits?

      • dj Mos dm

        I have to admit having a collection of healthy rabbits on the road with me has helped a lot. They’re an excellent moral buster and stress reliever, nothing like sitting with your family of healthy rabbits after a show. No groupies for me! My healthy rabbits are all i need for company. They’re drama free and you can easily find lettuce and carrot sticks anywhere when on the road. Only down side is the rabbit poo! No matter how healthy your rabbits might be they will always leave their little poo pellets everywhere. So clean up can be a pain, but i will admit they are 100 percent worth it. If you’re a travelling artist i highly suggest getting yourself some healthy rabbits.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b4ae2dfbc660ce8a3da41b52e86fdc5da89dc6b1fa67c4b261bd2407c01f182f.jpg

        • Dinko Simunovic

          Shit i just pissed myself 😀
          I spin more than 15 years, and i don’t give a damn about all that healthy shit. I drink like an animal. I don’t do drugs. I eat shit food everywhere i go. I don’t plan to die healthy. Clubs here are full of cigarete smoke soooo… fuck quitting
          I sleep little, i party, and afterparty and afterafterparty. I sleep when i faint. I wake up on time, i come on time, and i depend on pure adreanaline in club. If the club is right, the night is right. If the club is shit, i drink and make it right.
          If you need to go on diet to do this job, then go find office job. If you need gym for this job, go dj there.
          But tomorrow i’ll buy some good rabbits https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/175fc983f7c3cd3c5d0cb96512fa87da5cb0309f0a673f686f293be325065d8d.jpg

      • dirkdirgler

        Damn that auto correction s@#$%…:-P

      • SirDukeNickRock

        rabbits!

    • Stephen Nawlins

      What if while on Tour the rabbits gets sick???
      Your advice says “Healthy Rabbits” so…then I am not a Vet, how do I know that they are really healthy???
      Do you have tips on how to handle this?

      • dj Mos dm

        I would get the Healthy Rabbits for Dummies: Travelling DJ Edition. I find the answers to all my questions on there!

      • dirkdirgler

        Hahaha!Nice!

    • Joshua Church

      I try not to drink any alcohol while im doing a gig.

    • Stephen Nawlins

      It’s not fair to correct the error you made…this makes all the comments look stupid…and writing Rabbits instead of Habbits is a sweet mistake not a catastrophe.
      So here the printscreen of the original:
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4a25d4d99a38f5971cd150cc90944f97e2466a6a8726c678bd61db3d8d8d6cbd.jpg

      It would be a shame if future Readers wouldn’t understand the comments on your post.
      I blackened the names when I made the printscreen to send it to my DJ friends without embarassing anyone involved.

      • dirkdirgler

        Fixed 😛