Whether she’s leading a class at Row House or singing and dancing on Broadway, Caley Crawford is always performing.
The actress moved to New York after studying musical theater at the Boston Conservatory and was soon performing in a national tour of “A Chorus Line” and regional productions of the Irvin Berlin musicals “White Christmas” and “Holiday Inn.” She’s making her Broadway debut in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “Holiday Inn,” which opened last week at Studio 54.
Once in NYC, Crawford also fell into fitness, becoming a personal trainer at Equinox then a coach at the CrossFit studio EVF Performance. Now, she’s an instructor at the rowing studio Row House, teaching a few classes a week between performances of “Holiday Inn.”
This month, in honor of the one-year anniversary of Row House’s Chelsea studio, instructors have been leading themed classes based on their interests. Naturally, Crawford put together a Broadway-themed class — something, judging from the popularity of Broadway-themed classes at places like SoulCycle, Crunch and Broadway Bodies, New Yorkers can’t get enough of.
We spoke with Crawford about her dual interests.
What was your fitness training like?
For EVF, I trained for a month just shadowing as well as getting certified. That has a lot of rowing as well. Jumping up to Row House to teach was slightly different, just because it’s more of a boutique fitness environment — you have microphones, it’s more of a show. The workout is really influenced by the music as well. I spent way more time on my playlist, just making sure that the class went really smoothly. You have to prepare the entire 50 minutes, you have to know what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. Once I got that under control and had a system, it became a lot more fun and I got to be a little more spontaneous with it.
What did you put together for the Broadway class?
Lots of upbeat, musical numbers. Mostly the shows I chose from were “In the Heights,” “Hamilton,” “Newsies,” “Book of Mormon,” “School of Rock,” “Dream Girls,” “Hairspray,” “Kinky Boots,” “Rock of Ages,” “Godspell,” “Jersey Boys,” “Rent.” I tried not to repeat too many musicals too much. I also did a little challenge with the class as well — whoever can name the most shows of the songs that I played, their next class will be on me. I had quite a few people who knew quite a bit.
Did you notice if that drew new people?
There were lots of new people, a lot of people that were just big, big, big theater fans. So that was really fun to just have a lot of like-minded people, not only in the sense of enjoying fitness, but also enjoying theater, in the same room. It just brought a totally new and exciting level of energy to the room as well. People would be singing along, it was really fun.
What’s your style as an instructor at Row House?
I think I’m very upbeat, very energized and personal. I definitely try to make a connection with everyone in the room at least once.
What appeals to you about rowing?
It’s super low-impact, which is really, really important in my line of work. I don’t have to worry about banging up my joints at all. And it really does work your entire body, so I always feel like my body is injury-free in a weird way. A lot of performers tend to be very imbalanced — you do the same dance step on the same side every day. I feel [rowing] gives me equilibrium in my muscular system, which is really good. And it also kind of gets you in touch with rhythm, which is a really big part of my class — the rhythm of rowing. It’s almost soulful in a way, it’s very soothing. What yoga does for some people, rowing does for me.
What’s your personal fitness routine like?
I do lots of rowing. Since I stopped CrossFit as much, I wanted to lean out my body a lot. In rowing, it immediately leaned it out. And it still makes me feel strong, which is really good. I still feel like a strong woman, but I don’t necessarily look incredibly beefy. Rowing, whether at Row House or the gym, is a huge part of my workout regimen. Other than that, I’ll do some weight classes to keep up some strength at EVF. But Row House takes priority over everything.
How important is it to be fit for your job? I’d imagine you need a lot of stamina to make it through shows.
It’s important on a physical aspect because our job is to perform. But also, you have to fit into your costumes. You have to be really smart about your lifestyle and working out and making sure you just really stay on top of it. And then obviously one is literally having the stamina to do a show. A lot of performers are scared to work out because they worry they will be too tired to do a show. I actually find that Row House is one of the workouts that energizes me and warms me up enough to do a show, versus really killing me to where I’m limping out of the class. I think it’s super important for stamina and overall health — it’s almost injury prevention. Truthfully, performers that don’t necessarily work out outside of the show often get injured — there’s just so many muscular imbalances in their bodies.
Do you have any food rituals pre- or post-performance?
I do take an Emergen-C every day before the show. Vitamin C is my best friend. I try to eat a light dinner, homemade. I think cooking is one of the best things in terms of health and diet — not only for your wallet, but just knowing what exactly is in your food is really important.
Do you take dancing classes?
I do. The two I usually take are Broadway Dance [Center] and Steps on Broadway. They’re definitely the biggest studios in terms of the number of classes. I’ll take ballet, tap, musical theater, jazz, kind of everything.
And voice lessons?
I do, I have the most amazing voice teacher in the world — her name is Donna Reid. I try to go once a week. Your vocal chords are muscles, too — it’s important to work those out as well.