For Rush’s Geddy Lee, touring means training
Saturday night at the Forum, Canadian rock trio Rush takes its Los Angeles fans on a trip back through time. It’s often said that the band makes a big sound for having only three members, and for more than four decades 62-year-old lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee’s double duties have been straining the limits of machine and man.
Lee never wanted to show his age on the lighted stage, and the only way to make one’s body similarly reverse the flow of time is to move it. The rocker has long been a fan of fitness, but more for the results than the workouts. To keep his body from becoming an old machine, Geddy must regularly fire up the willing engine.
How did fitness start out for you?
I was a pretty bookish kid, mostly a couch-potato loner. I wasn’t an athlete but got turned on to tennis in my early teens and became quite fanatical about it. Alex (Lifeson, Rush guitarist) and I played a lot; it was handy because we were on the road together, and we would always bring our tennis gear.
But I found that when I’m prepping for a tour and working out and playing tennis, it puts undue stress on my elbow. Two tours ago I started getting tendinitis and decided the one thing I could give up when touring is tennis, so I stopped playing and everything is fine now.
I understand tendinitis wasn’t the only tennis misadventure you’ve experienced.
It was the day after a tour about six years ago and I called my buddies to play some doubles, and I tore my meniscus in my knee within 20 minutes. I had surgery that repaired it, and the rehab went well and the knee is fine now. I was due to have some surgery on my other knee, but I opted instead to fix it through training. I have a great relationship with my trainer, and we worked hard to strengthen my lower body and the rest of my leg.
How was it that you started working with a trainer?
I began working with a trainer about 20 years ago because I started having back problems on tour. I have to balance on my left leg while playing pedals with my right foot and holding a heavy bass and crooking my neck to sing. So I was putting undue stress on one side of my back, and my trainer determined there was an uneven level of strength, so we started working on that to even things out.
Can you describe your regimen for me?
I train quite hard four times a week. I have an elaborate stretch routine that I begin every session with, doing 30 minutes of stretching and mat work and foam rolling to get ready. Then it’s 30 minutes of upper body one day and 30 minutes lower body another day. I lift weights and use my own body weight. Also, one day a week I do Pilates, and it’s been good for my core. When I started Pilates I was getting pains in areas I didn’t know I had muscles.
I have to say I don’t enjoy training. For me it’s a necessary evil because I’m an active person whether I’m preparing for a tour or not. My wife and I do a lot of travel and walking and biking, and I refuse to give into the ravages of time.
What effect has this training had on your performances?
It’s been night and day for the stage performances. Working out has been such a benefit to my life in general, but on stage I have much more energy and flexibility to do the activity I like to do on stage. And, more importantly, at the end of a show I’m not completely done in like I used to be.
Fell is a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist and owner of bodyforwife.com.