The Healthy Steadicam Operator

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Health and physical conditioning is a critical part of our job, but frequently taken for granted. I minimized it’s value for years. I made excuses like “I’m a Steadicam op… I get my exercise at work,” or (as I visited craft services) “I burn so many calories working… I need the extra energy.”

Well guess what… That’s just not true!

Fact is, if you are staying trim without the gym it’s most likely a combination of healthy diet and high metabolism. If you’re not staying trim there are a bunch of reasons to make a change.

First up is common sense… You lift every pound you carry with every step you take. So simple math says that if you are 20lbs overweight (doesn’t seem like much) and you are executing a shot that involves climbing stairs (let’s say 10 steps for ease of calculation) then you lift an extra 200 pounds per take that you otherwise could have avoided. Now multiply that by 10 takes… And you’ve literally just lifted an extra ton of weight to get that shot… And your day is just starting! So every pound you loose means less energy expended with every step and will instantly boost your endurance… Period.

So if we agree on the logic above them we can agree that the more unnecessary weight you carry the more likely you are to be injured working. That’s not to say you are more clumsy… It’s just simple logic. Less endurance means more fatigue (relatively speaking), and more fatigue means you are more likely to stumble. Since we earn our livings on our feet its important not to get hurt.

Now let’s look at stress on the body. Let’s face it… Most of us aren’t doing any kind of warm up before we start shooting. And we are most likely not stretching properly on the job. So we are already making it hard on ourselves, but being in good physical condition will give you more limber muscles, more strength and make you less prone to injury. It will also prepare our heart better for those brief but intense demands we place on it. Being overweight just adds stress to an already stressed muscle.

Finally, last but definitely not least is how we look doing our job. Fact is when we operate Steadicam there are a lot of eyes on us. It’s one of those professions that just draws attention. Even today after 30+ years people are fascinated by Garrett Browns invention. So with all those eyes on you the last thing you want is those extra 20 pounds hanging over your straps on your vest or harness… Especially if you make it to the behind the scenes video.

So how do you go about this revolution? My best suggestion is to reinvest some of your earnings into professional help. Hire a trainer and/or nutritionist. This introduces accountability into the equation which is as valuable as the professional guidance itself. I can tell you first hand that there’s no magic bullet. I tried portion control only, diet only and exercise only… Nothing works by itself. You have to do it all. In general I recommend:

Three square meals… No snacking!
Reduce or Eliminate Wheat & Dairy intake.
Eat small, early dinners.
Exercise at least three days a week.

Let me know what worked for you. Leave your comments here! Steadicam

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