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.
- 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!”
- 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!”
- 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.”
- 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!”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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
- 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.