Barry Conrad: how to keep fit when you’re a nomad My fit life
You may recognise his chiselled jaw and stylish fro from The X Factor, but Barry Conrad has taken giant strides since he first stepped into the spotlight in 2013. He considers himself a bit of a nomad, and has spent the past few years globetrotting and opening for the likes of Craig David and K-Ci & JoJo.
Conrad recently made his musical theatre debut in the critically-acclaimed Violet, and is now gearing for the second leg of yet another show he’s landed a lead role in, Hairspray Arena Spectacular. We caught up with the soulful singer-songwriter and actor to find out how he keeps that fit physique with so much on his plate.
What is your health philosophy? Has it changed in recent years?
You know what, I first got into health/fitness at 15-years-old, and have been hooked ever since. I love the way it makes me feel.
My philosophy’s changed a little, only ’cause I’ve learned more about nutrition and training over time. I believe it’s what you do most of the time, consistently and as a lifestyle, that matters. You won’t find me jumping on fads.
It’s about putting in a little bit every day. Consistency pays off.
What is your daily fitness routine?
I like to mix it up.
It used to be a pretty standard combo of weight and cardio training. Because of my genetics, I gain muscle super quick. That started translating as quite stocky and jock-esque looking on camera though. Nothing wrong with that, but I just wanted to get back to a leaner, more athletic physique.
So during our Sydney season of Violet (the musical) I stopped hitting weights altogether and focused more on bodyweight exercises. Right now, Tim Robards is showing me the ropes a bit in calisthenics land, and I’m giving The Robards Method a crack. Ring, bar and bodyweight training. Real tough stuff but man, so good for functionality and core strength.
Learning lots and shocking my body, which is good.
What’s your favourite exercise?
One of my faves would have to be hill sprints. It’s endorphin heaven, great for the heart and one of the best ways to incinerate fat. Worth the few minutes of hell, for sure!
What do you eat on a general day?
Most of the week I do intermittent fasting. So I’ll start eating around midday and finish my last meal around 8:00pm (within an eight-hour window either way, with the body in fasting state for the other sixteen).
Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a Big Breakfast kinda guy. I’ll load it up with two poached eggs, avocado, spinach, halloumi, and alternate between salmon and bacon depending on how I feel, and ditch the toast. Plenty of protein, fats and veggies in there. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a long black or two.
If I’m on the go, I’ll down a 180 Nutrition Protrein Superfood shake. I’ll blend two scoops of it with kale, spinach, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sometimes banana and still/coconut water. So good. A lot of folks frown on shakes, but trust me, this is good stuff, filling and most importantly natural.
If I’m out at a restaurant or cafe, I’ll grab a hearty grilled chicken salad. I dig a Greek-style salad, with olives, tomato, lettuce and I’ll add beetroot. Make sure it’s loaded with good fats like avocado too. Balsamic dressing (if any) and no croutons.
A good slab of lean meat and veggies makes me happy.
Depending on how I feel, it’s usually steak, fish or chicken for the protein and then plenty of greens and colour on the side. I try and stay away from heavy carbs like potatoes (I don’t shy away from sweet potato though). I’ll usually enjoy a glass of wine (preferably red, as it has less sugar) with dinner as well.
It’s about knowing your body, what your daily output is and what works. Not being extreme, frigid or silly about it. Believe it or not, it is actually possible to live healthy and have a good time doing it!
Almonds are always ace, so I buy a big bag of those that I’ll get through in a week. Cutting a large tomato into thick slices and lathering them with avocado is also good.
What’s your favourite healthy recipe?
A rock-salt, medium rare steak with a plethora of tasty greens. Quick, easy and tasty.
What’s your food splurge?
Wow, tough one! I’m actually the biggest foodie, you don’t even understand. I can’t get past a big beefy burger, chips and any kind of chocolate dessert. I always say if I wasn’t in the entertainment industry, I’d be a professional food taster. Would probably look a little different too (haha).
What upcoming projects are you working on?
At the moment I’m on tour with Hairspray Arena Spectacular and we’re gearing up for shows here in Newcastle, which is exciting.
Other than that, I’m working on new music, doing ambassador duties and generally trying to stay out of trouble.
Keep an eye on my social media for upcoming shows too. I’ll be hitting Brisbane and Melbourne over the next couple months.
Is there a motto that you live by?
“Don’t just exist. Don’t just survive. Live.” A quote I came up with a while back that I’ve never really diverted from. You only get one shot at life, might as well make the most of it.
What gives you the greatest joy – in your music and also in life and what are the most challenging aspects?
What gives me the greatest joy overall is doing what I love and spending time with the people I love.
One of the biggest challenges of what I do professionally is the nomadic lifestyle. On one hand I love it so much. It’s never boring and I love the travel. On the other, it means missing a lot of special occasions and can make maintaining relationships tricky.
In fitness, my challenge is pushing through to that next level when I’m exhausted by everything else. Just making that time and putting in the effort when maybe I don’t feel motivated.
How do you keep your mind centred?
I start each morning taking time to set my mind and focus. It’s easy to wake up and just aimlessly let the day run you, so it’s good to let your mind know who’s boss.
I love podcasts and blogs by people like Lewis Howes, Richard Branson, Michel Issa and Marie Forleo. They’re entrepreneurs with an inspirational edge that I really relate to.
I find if you don’t set your mind, someone or something else will set it for you. Prioritising that personal time early on is key, ’cause it sets you up for a win and changes the trajectory of your day.
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