Fit on Tour Co-founder Andrea MacNeil

Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive! Podcast Episode 017

This week is an important topic for all of us, in particular, performing artists and industry that spend a lot of time on the road on tour. Andrea MacNeil has had a foot in the live entertainment industry almost her entire life. Her interest in the event world, coupled with an inborn talent for management and innovative thinking, had her working at an early-age with renowned festivals, events, and artists such as Vans Warped Tour, The Tragically Hip, Matthew Good, and Corona SunSets where she led touring groups of 100+ across five continents.

In 2019, Andrea Co-Founded Fit On Tour after spending 10+ years in the industry, on and off the road. Andrea has a strong passion for fitness, which developed after overcoming struggles with her own health & wellness on the road. This passion drives Andrea to help others balance their lives and sustain their careers in the industry.

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FIT ON TOUR WITH ANDREA MACNEIL SHOW NOTES:

Hello and welcome to episode 017 of Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive!

Before I introduce you to this weeks guest, I want to tell you about an amazing show I went to see on Monday by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra called Modern Broadway.  Special guest vocalists were Betsy Wolfe who has starred in Waitress, Falsettos and The Last Five Years and Jeremy Jordan who has performed in Newsies, Bonnie and Clyde and is also known for his role on the CBS series Supergirl. They both did a beautiful job of performing hits from The Book of Mormon, Once, The Baker’s Wife, The Last Five Years, and Newsies, along with songs from such modern classics as Les Misérables, Cats, Miss Saigon, Little Shop of Horrors, and more.

It was a lovely evening and inspired me to want to check out the other shows that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra puts on.  I’ll leave a link in the show notes if you happen to be in Toronto and want to see what’s on.

This week is an important topic for all of us, in particular, performing artists and industry that spend a lot of time on the road on tour. Andrea MacNeil has had a foot in the live entertainment industry almost her entire life. Her interest in the event world, coupled with an inborn talent for management and innovative thinking, had her working at an early-age with renowned festivals, events, and artists such as Vans Warped Tour, The Tragically Hip, Matthew Good, and Corona SunSets where she led touring groups of 100+ across five continents.

In 2019, Andrea Co-Founded Fit On Tour after spending 10+ years in the industry, on and off the road. Andrea has a strong passion for fitness, which developed after overcoming struggles with her own health & wellness on the road. This passion drives Andrea to help others balance their lives and sustain their careers in the industry.

Hello and welcome to episode number 17 of Sing Dance Act Thrive. Before I introduce you to this weeks guest, I want to tell you about an amazing show I went to see on Monday night by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra called Modern Broadway.  Special guest vocalists were Betsy Wolfe who has starred in Waitress, Falsettos and The Last Five Years and and many other Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Jeremy Jordan who has performed in Newsies, Bonnie and Clyde and is also known for his role on the CBS series Supergirl. They both did a beautiful job of performing hits from The Book of Mormon, Once, The Baker’s Wife, The Last Five Years, and Newsies, along with songs from such modern classics Cats, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Little Shop of Horrors, and more. It was a lovely evening and inspired me to want to check out more shows on the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I’ll leave a link in the show notes if you happen to be in Toronto and want to see what’s on.

This week is an important topic for all of us, in particular, performing artists and industry that spend a lot of time on the road on tour. Andrea MacNeil has been in the live entertainment industry almost her entire life. Her interest in the event world, coupled with an inborn talent for management and innovative thinking, had her working at an early-age with renowned festivals, events, and artists such as Vans Warped Tour, The Tragically Hip, Matthew Good, and Corona SunSets where she led touring groups of 100+ across five continents. In 2019, Andrea Co-Founded Fit On Tour after spending 10+ years in the industry, on and off the road. Andrea has a strong passion for fitness, which developed after overcoming struggles with her own health & wellness on the road. This passion drives Andrea to help others balance their lives and sustain their careers in the industry. For detailed show notes and links visit dianefoy.com/017.

Diane Foy:  3:04                                 Hello and welcome to the show.

Andrea MacNeil 3:05                         Hi. Thanks for having me.

Diane Foy  3:06                                  What is Fit On Tour?

Andrea MacNeil  3:10

What is it, so we are a brand new company we are a lifestyle brands and multimedia platform that encourages and promotes health and wellness through informative content, coaching and events. And our focus is primarily on the entertainment industry. So our team is comprised of a bunch of road warriors ourselves, actually, we’ve all kind of spent the last 15 years or so on and off the road working in the industry. And we all kind of went through our different experiences. We’ve been doing the late night after show pizza, the 20 hour work days, the burnout. And you know, we kind of all got to a point where we needed to turn that around for our mental and physical health. So we found a way to do that. And we want to share our learnings and our methods with the rest of the industry. So we created Fit On Tour and here we are.

Diane Foy  3:52                                  So what kind of, is it services that you offer? What is it that you do?

Andrea MacNeil  3:55

For now we are offering digital content online so showing people how you can stay active whether you’re in a hotel room on a tour bus, just in a parking lot, we’re kind of giving informative content that way talking about meal plans, all that kind of stuff and then we’re also going to be launching a coaching program in the coming months where people can reach out to us and have one on one coaching sessions virtually online while they’re on the road, about any meal plans setup or a fitness plan custom to their needs and goals we will be able to provide that to people in the entertainment industry while they are touring.

Diane Foy   4:30                                 Okay, cool. What is your background in the entertainment industry?

Andrea MacNeil  4:33

Yeah, for sure. I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years now and I’ve been a freelancer so my roles varied kind of from project to project but I have been working with Lemon Entertainment for the past 10 years as a live event producer. They have been my primary clients if you will, and Lemon Entertainment services, lots of different clients including Invictus Games, Grey Cup, Chrome Sunsets, Bud Light Sensation, so we are piloting producers essentially when whenever there’s a new music component to any live festival or event we usually get called in as the specialists to organize behind the scenes. And then in addition to that, I’ve played various roles on tours over the last few years I’ve been out on the road with Vans Warped Tour, the Tragically Hip, Matthew Good here it at Isabella’s mean you some kind of bringing all my experiences over those years into Fit on Tour now.

Diane Foy  5:24

Great and you’re participating at Canadian Music Week. What do you do there? I saw you had some events as well.

Andrea MacNeil  5:30

We do yes, Fit on Tour has partnered with Unison Benevolence Fund for three wellness events, where we’ve invited invited artists industry and fans out for a little sweat with us. So we kicked off with the 5K run club yesterday. We started at the Sheraton Hotel which is the host hotel and the ends of the Rivoli. Tomorrow we’re going to do a boot camp style class at Lululemon on Queen Street. And then on Sunday to wind down the week’s festivities, we’re doing a yoga and brunch at the Rivoli. We have an artist named Krista Sad who is playing some tunes with us and Cassandra from Houston is going to lead us through the workout herself. So yeah, the goal of these events are just to promote health and wellness among the hustle and bustle of festival week and also to raise some money for our partners at Unison.

Diane Foy  6:16

Yeah, yeah. Maybe tell us a little bit about Unison I know. But maybe the listeners don’t.

Andrea MacNeil  6:20

Yeah, absolutely. So Unison Benevolent Fund neighborhood organization for quite a while now. And they are doing some great work in our industry. Essentially, they provide counseling and Emergency Relief Services to music people in time of need. So that can be anyone from an artist to a road crew to a manager, anyone who’s kind of working in our industry and needing some support, whether that be financial assistance, if they have to leave a tour due to a health issue or, you know, need to go to the dentist checkup and they don’t have coverage due to the nature of our industry. They’re kind of there to act as a hub to support people in the creative industry. So they’re doing really great, great work, and we’re really happy to be able to support them through Fit on Tour.

Diane Foy  7:01

What got you into learning about fitness and health and wellness? Did you study anything to do with nutrition or health or fitness?

Andrea MacNeil  7:12

I haven’t actually it was just my personal experience that kind of got me to where I am now. So just a little background on how we got started. And my partner Jessica Lemon and I, we have spent the better part of our careers working long side each other in the festival touring and event worlds. And we met about 12 years ago, Jess was constantly on the road. She’s out with Our Lady Peace for a couple years. And anytime she’d come to Toronto, we would meet up, we do a workout, have a dinner. And that was just kind of our thing we did together. And then she scooped me up to join her on tour with Matt Good in 2013. And we’ve been working and traveling together ever since. So the last four years, we spent the majority of our time traveling internationally with a festival called Corona Sunsets. We were on the road probably nine months out of the year, four years straight, from Australia, to China to Colombia and everywhere in between. And while we were living the dream, we also fell into some pretty unhealthy habits ourselves just do the lifestyle of being constantly on the road. We’re working crazy hours over eating, you know, drinking more than we would like like to have been not getting enough sleep and just really struggling to maintain our, our personal lives and our health. So due to that we kind of looked at each other and said, We need to turn this around. And we started to take our health and fitness seriously while we were traveling. So it was late 2017 we started implementing small changes into our festival days. So we would you know hire trainers to come to our festival site for crew workouts are we would run home from the venue at the end of the nights, we were ensuring our crews weren’t working more than 12 hours a day and we just started implementing little changes into our festivals and events that we saw we’re actually making a big change for people’s you know, mental and physical health. So it was just yeah, last year, we were on a project in Australia. And we’re making sure to get exercise in every day, no matter our circumstance or schedule. And, you know, we were in our hotel room best printing, pinteresting hotel furniture, doing ladder drills, front of house to stage or planking in the production office. And we started just posting this stuff online. And the response was incredible. People were really curious what we were doing, how we’re making time what exercises they could be doing on tour. So from there, we just started a Fit on Tour Instagram account, actually, and it sort of just took off from there. So though we aren’t specialist ourselves, we surrounded ourselves with a group of nutritionists, fitness instructors and wellness coaches who who kind of bring the specialty to to our team.

Diane Foy  9:39

Right. Oh, that’s great. Yeah. So what combinations do you see that make it difficult for individuals to stay healthy in the industry?

Andrea MacNeil  9:49

Yeah, for sure. I think there’s a few number one, I think it’s just simply time people are working 15 to 20 hour days sometimes, and there just simply isn’t a moment in their day to think about themselves or get enough sleep. So that was always a big one we struggled with, I’m sure you’ve encountered that as well. And then on top of that kind of just the leadership at the top, I feel like in our industry, it’s never really been encouraged to take breaks or to make time for your health and wellness. There’s there’s kind of this hustle hard mentality that we’re constantly trying to prove ourselves. And we kind of forget about what we need as people when we’re on the job. So I think that has been a bit of an issue as well.

Diane Foy  10:27

Yeah, I think, you know, we’re also passionate in the industry that you know just gunning for that goal. And you want to keep your job on road too if you’re crew and just work, work work. You don’t think oh, I need to take a break just to myself, just to take a little moment, not even just for eating or exercising just to take a mental health moment.

Andrea MacNeil  10:51

That’s it. Yeah, that’s it. Exactly. That’s what we always say if it’s like a 15 minutes smoke break, you know, people can walk outside for a smoke, you will forget to just walk away for 10 minutes watches for themselves. So yeah, I think just you know, making that more common is something that will will help drastically in people’s days.

Diane Foy   11:07                               What do you recommend?

Andrea MacNeil  11:09

Yeah, I think there’s lots of things people can do actually just wrote a blog on our website as my top 10 tips to stay fit on tour, just some practical tips people can do in their day to day. Yeah, one thing I have just started doing, which is absolutely a game changer is buying groceries. And I know that sounds so simple. But food has always been such an issue for me personally, on the road, there’s a box of pizza donuts in front of me, I’m eating it. So I’ve just had everything yeah, you know.

Diane Foy  11:38

I do that too. I forget to get groceries. And then you’re like, Oh, well, I just got to grab something quickly.

Andrea MacNeil  11:42

Exactly. So then you just reach for the quick fix fast foods because they’re there and I get it, it happens to everyone. So whether you’re in a bus or hotel room, a van just preparing yourself, setting your intentions, you know, for the week, and just buying a few healthy snacks has been something that’s helped me and then sleep. In addition to that, finding a hobby that you enjoy and can take on the road with you outside of the job. For me it’s running but you know, being on the road can sometimes be a lonely place, that can be a lot of downtime, some boredom, which can kind of lead you into some bad habits, you know, it’s so easy to just pop down the street to a pub, because you have three hours to go. But if you have a hobby that you can take with you, you know, four o’clock and your three hour break, go go do some yoga, go do some running, it’s a really good way to just disconnect get some exercise in and also, you know, just make that time for yourself. Another one, we talk about finding your balance a lot on Fit on Tour. You know, everyone has different stamina. And people are constantly I feel like trying to fit in, you know, if someone’s staying up till 4am people are feeling like they need to join them. And it’s just about finding out what works for yourself and pacing yourself and listening to your body. You know, if you need to go for a walk instead of taking the runner van to and from the venue, don’t be afraid to let people know that’s what you need to do. Or, like I said, if you need to walk away and go to yoga in the afternoon, instead of joining the crew for lunch, you know, do that for yourself. And don’t be afraid to just stand up for what you need while you’re on the road.

Diane Foy  13:10

Because you do tend to kind of follow the crowd and do what everyone else doing.

Andrea MacNeil  13:13                                  Exactly.

Diane 13:15

It’s the majority of the people are having unhealthy habits, then you just kind of join them. So it takes boundaries.

Andrea MacNeil  13:24

Exactly and I feel like more often than not when I’ve kind of said, hey guys know I’m going to go do this people like oh, interesting. Can I join like there’s people are afraid to sometimes make take the first step. But you’ll be surprised how many people want to join you on the journey if you just speak up and yeah. Those would be my top ones, I think.

Diane Foy  13:41

How can this be something that is common on tour? Does it have to start from the top?

Andrea MacNeil  13:48                      I believe it kind of does.

Diane Foy  13:52

How can things change? Who can be responsible for that to make sure it’s a thing on tour?

Andrea MacNeil  13:59

For sure. I I think that it does start at the top. I mean, you know those some people on the road do find times in their day to make it work. I think there is always that fear that people are, you know, looking at you as if you’re not focused on your job because you’re going for a run. So I think it does stop, start at the top, you know, it’s the beginning of the tour having a tour manager or you know, artists just say like, Hey, guys, we want to encourage you to take time for your mental physical health come let us know what you need. If you want to do some exercise in the day, here’s a good window based on our schedule, it just kind of set the tone so people aren’t afraid and stand away and, kind of just have that open dialogue. Let people know if there’s anything you need. If we can help in any way or, you know, the tour manager can give recommendations of places to go and just just having that open communication that they are supported. And in that journey, I think is a huge step. And I’ll just open some people’s minds, like Oh, I didn’t even think about doing that in my day. Good to know I can.

Diane Foy  14:53

Yeah, I guess someone could also be in charge of with you’re touring different cities, have someone that can research that city and go, hey, there’s like this health club right down the street from our hotel, or there’s this yoga class happening here. That’s just over there. So it’s just kind of if you don’t know, then you’re like, I don’t know where to start.

 

Andrea MacNeil  15:16

Exactly. It’s overwhelming, for sure. And that’s something we want to help it more at Fit on Tour is  to be that central hub for anywhere you’re traveling. We want people to feel they can reach out to us and say hey guys, I’m in Lethbridge, Alberta. Where do I go? What do I do? And we want to kind of be equipped with that information to make it easy for people to stay healthy while touring.

Diane Foy  15:34                                That’s great. That’d be like a good reason.

Andrea MacNeil  15:36

Exactly. Like because it’s daunting getting on Google and trying to find healthy places to eat or where to work out. I mean, it’s hard enough to find the time and actually find places to go can be a whole other challenge. So yeah, we’re hoping to help with that as well. And I think our industry, yeah, I have to say, I think our industry is doing a good job in a lot of ways at the moment in terms of improving.

Diane Foy 15:58

People are talking about it more like even the last year and and this year. Things like Canadian Music Week are having panels about mental health and panels about health and wellness. And that was not even a discussion like even three years ago, right?

Andrea MacNeil  16:17

Yeah, exactly. You know, I agree completely, that the stigma is kind of going away, in my opinion. I mean, even a few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined opening up about some of the things I was going through while being on the road just with, you know, some of the attitudes and stuff. And I feel like that is definitely lightening up, people are feeling more comfortable talking and communicating, which is super, super great to see. And there’s some really good companies and organizations offering support to their artists as well. Royal Mountain Records is a great example of this. Not sure if you’ve heard them, but what they’re doing, but it just kind of introduced their fun to assist the excellence roster with sustaining treatment and mental health for mental health addictions and issues. So.

Diane Foy  16:57                                            Yeah, I did remember reading that. That was great.

Andrea MacNeil  17:03                                  It’s amazing that companies are starting to implement that.

Diane Foy  17:00

Yeah, because that’s a label, you know, starting at at the label, and, and that’s amazing to like, offer that resource. And I think it’s a musician that owns that label. Right?

Andrea MacNeil  17:12                                  It is, if he understands right, he’s been there.

Diane Foy  17:15                                            What other resources are available?

Andrea MacNeil  17:17

Yeah. So like I talked about Unison is an incredible resource, highly recommend you reach out to them. Even if you’re unsure if they can, they can help you, they’ll definitely guide you to the right place. So and equally Music Cares is an organization I primarily run out of the USA. So if you are listening from the US, they are your go to out there. But since we’re like we, we are here to help to guide you send us a message and email if you’re just not sure where to go, just need someone to chat to need some resources, some direction. We’re happy to provide that to you. So never be afraid to reach out to us as well.

Diane Foy  17:51

That’s great. So what’s next? Because I think Fit On Tour’s just starting? You’ve just kind of started?

Andrea MacNeil  18:00

We are just starting yeah, January, we kind of had launch. So we just been focusing on doing some wellness events around just existing festivals. We just popped up at the Juno’s and now Canadian Music Week. And then after this wraps, we’re really focusing on developing our coaching programs which stay tuned, you’ll you’ll find out more about those in kind of months.

Diane Foy  18:20

Yeah, I got into coaching myself. But more so it’s been really interesting for life coaching and then also like because, I’m like marketing like PR, branding, personal branding, things like that. But I’m definitely not the health and wellness expert. So I will send people your way.

Andrea MacNeil  18:40          That’s I will do the same because we are not the experts in that either.

Diane Foy  18:44

Yeah, no, I think coaching is amazing, because it’s it kind of, even if you can find all the information out there that you want, it’s just, you know, exhausting and trying to you don’t know where to start. And even if there’s like a online course it’s like, it’s still not the same as having one person that you can talk to all the time and, and get that feedback that’s personal to you.

Andrea MacNeil  19:09

Yeah, the human connection. And I think, yeah, for us, specifically with the fitness health aspect. Just that accountability is, we’re finding you can’t really get online. You know, people need to be held accountable to their programs and stuff. I mean, I’m the same when I’m training for a run or something. I love to have a coach with me to check in with me and keep me on keep me on track. It helps so much when trying to reach your goals.

Diane Foy  19:30

 

Yeah, it pushes you. Because yeah, you have to be accountable to someone.

Andrea MacNeil  19:35                                              Exactly.

Diane Foy  19:36

Excuses. You know, that’s it. You might get away with an excuse one week, but then the following week there were like, didn’t you use that excuse last week?

Andrea MacNeil  19:45                                              Exactly. There’s only so many excuses.

Diane Foy  19:50                                                        Yeah, cool. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Andrea MacNeil 19:54

No, I think that is all just yeah, stay tuned. Follow us on Instagram at Fit On Tour. We’re going to be rolling out some more content and a YouTube channel shortly. So stay tuned. And don’t be afraid to reach out and just say hello or ask us questions. We’re totally here to chat. That’s amazing.

Diane Foy  20:09

That’s so great. Thank you for joining us. I’ll have links to all your resources and everything would be great. And we’ll keep in touch.

Andrea MacNeil   20:12                                 Yeah, thank you for having me. Awesome. Thank you so much.