If you’re an engineer or producer, you probably spend way too much time in the studio hunched over a workstation or console and eating junky food.  Getting a break, let alone getting out of your chair can be a rare occurrence. These bad habits could lead to obesity, high blood pressure, poor posture, aches n’ pains, general poor health or even worse, a need for surgery to fix serious issues like tendonitis.  With the holidays, high calorie feasts and winter right around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to post this blog.

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s hard to turn away from a session.  I’m sitting in front of my studio, The Rattle Room’s SSL right now and I love this view.  But the years spent hunched over my gear and lack of exercise started to take a toll on me.  I knew I needed to make some changes and fix my aching back and shoulders.  Physical and mental self-abuse comes with the territory of “living the dream”, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage.

I now try and take care of myself by swimming laps, going to the gym and staying active in general.  But after grinding a 16-hour day, getting out of bed early the next morning to hit the gym, isn’t going to happen.  Most of us probably got less then 5 hours of sleep last night and it’s time to head back to the studio.  The last thing on our minds is getting in a good cardio burn; in fact you’re probably more focused on figuring out a way to mainline that extra large coffee into your veins right now.

Professional fitness trainer Ray Rivera Jr. from Fitness is Art in Burbank, California helped me design a simple routine to keep studio dwellers feeling a little better.  Ray put together a set of exercises and stretches you can do sitting in your chair between takes or during a short break.  These movements may seem simple or ineffective at first glance, but I have been using this routine in my studio for a while now and it has made a vast improvement in my posture, how I look and more importantly how I feel.

 Before starting, read these tips from our trainer Ray regarding all of these exercises;
–       Slowly apply pressure to stretches.
–       Never bounce while stretching, ease in and hold stretch, then release slowly.
–       Breathe slow and steady, never holding your breath.
–       Look away from the direction you are stretching.
–       Don’t force it, if you ever feel pain or stress… Stop!
–       Focus on your form and how the muscles feel.
–       Cramping from exercise is sometimes normal, but usually means you need water.

Hand Finger Stretch-


-Complete 3 times on each hand, holding for 15 secs each time.
-Sitting up in a chair, with your back and shoulders flat against the chair back.
-Place your left hand out in front of you, elbow locked, palm facing away from you.
-Reach out with your right hand and place your left fingers against your right palm and slowly pull back with your right hand.

Cross Arm Shoulder Stretch-

crossarm stretch

-Still seated, grab your left shoulder with your right arm going across the front of your chest/neck and turn your head to the left (always look away from the stretch).
-Bring your left arm up and place your left forearm against the back of your right elbow.
-Slowly apply pressure to back of elbow (stretching your right arm and shoulder across the front of your body.  Don’t bounce!
-Hold for 15 secs, repeat 3 times and switch arms.

Neck Stretch-

neck stretch

-Still seated, let your right arm hang down and grab the seat bottom or place your right hand under your butt.
-Using your left arm, reach up and over your head and place the fingertips on your left hand on your right temple above the ear.
-Keeping your hand flat, apply pressure and slowly pull your head down to your left shoulder.
-Alternating sides, complete 3 times per side @ 15 secs each, breathing deep and slow!



Shoulder Shrugs-

shoulder shrugs

-Still seated, look in a forward direction.
-Pull your shoulder blades back together with your arms hanging down to the side.
-Stick your chest up and out slightly.
-Slowly pull your shoulders up toward the sky, breathe slow and deep!
-Hold this position for 15secs and repeat 3 times.
-If it burns or stresses your muscles, try holding for only 7 secs each time.

Seated Rows-

seated rows

-Pull your shoulder blades back together with your arms out to the side, elbows bent.
-Your forearms should be at armpit height.
-Slowly pull your arms/elbows back, breathe slow and deep!
-Stick your chest up and out slightly as you reach the end of your backward movement
-Hold this position for 15secs and repeat 3 times.
-If it burns or stresses your muscles, try holding for only 7 secs each time.


Seated Crunches-

seated crunches
-You can perform these on a couch or deeper chair with a firm back.  If that isn’t available, seated on the floor with your back leaning against the wall.
-Scoot your butt forward/away from back of chair by 4-6 inches and lean backwards against chair back.
-Place your hands near your ears, sticking out your elbows straight ahead.
-Pull both knees towards your chest until you tap your elbows with your knees.  Extend legs back out equally and repeat.
-Legs should never touch the ground to keep tension on the ab muscles.
-Squeeze your knees together to increase the muscle engagement.
-Do this movement for 30 secs-1 min then repeat 2 more times.

Shoulder Rolls-

shoulder rolls

-Do this stretch last and use slow movement.
-Let your arms hang down to the side
-Rotate your shoulders evenly in circle motion for about a minute
-Pause for a moment and repeat 2 more times.

So there you have it, a quick routine to keep your body a little healthier while in the studio!  Try completing this workout 4-5 times a week and in less then a month you should notice several physical and mental benefits such as, a less tense back, arms, hands and a more alert mind.  Take care of yourself and each other… Happy Mixing – Jaron

IMG_6524-retouchedAbout the Author –
Jaron Luksa is an accomplished sound engineer, producer and tour manager.  He is the Founder and Owner of The Rattle Room, a brand new private professional recording studio located in Burbank, CA.  Besides music and the recording arts, Jaron likes to stay active with fitness, sports and swimming.  In his spare time, he loves to travel and experience life on the edge, such as swimming with great white sharks.  Follow him on twitter and facebook or instagram.

About the Contributing Author-   
Ray Rivera Jr. is ISSA and internationally certified as a fitness instructor and Co-Owner of Fitness Is Art, a private training facility.  He specializes in advanced self defense conditioning and training.