THE LAST PERSON you’d expect pumping the stair master at your local “Y” would be Tori Amos, but lo and behold, there she was in all her sweat and glory one recent afternoon in New York.
Dressed in severe hiking boots, her “moon boots” as she calls them, and standard gray sweats, she was as intense as her emotionally-charged music. And like her music, especially her new sophomore effort on Atlantic, Under The Pink, she didn’t waste any moves. These days she splits time between her base in London and her family in the States; she undoubtedly needs to be in shape. Look for her tour to begin at the end of February.
Where you always into fitness or is this a new thing for you?
I trained in New Mexico when I was writing and recording this new record. I worked with a trainer for about six-months and the whole concept was based on my road commitment. When I’m on the road I sit alone at the piano. No other musicians. I did 250 cities last time and because there’s no drummer that I can turn around and say, “take it, Eddie,” to catch your breath, you’re just kinda there. We were at 7,000 feet in the desert and we figured if we could increase my stamina at that altitude that wherever I went it would be easier. I had a really hard time when I played in Denver, and when I’d go to higher elevations.
As far as having enough wind during each song or stamina throughout the entire performance?
Both. The stamina through the show is really unbelievable because after the first three numbers you’re ready to quit. And I’m usually drenched. I mean, I have to sit correctly just to support my diaphragm so I can sing and play at the same time. If you’ve seen me play you know I sit with one leg back and my left foot’s on the sustain pedal, this way the whole trunk of my body is supported. I’ve got power to play. So by the end of the last tour I was beyond exhausted. And I’m 30! Not that that’s old, but to carry the hours that I carry, and I’m off caffeine…. I had to make a move. I just couldn’t keep putting eight cappuccinos in my body one more day to stay awake. It was making my heart beat irregularly. It’s got to be completely real and not a fake stimulus. Using drugs to get through a tour isn’t the answer, either. I realized you’re very much an athlete. My performances are really athletic and yet, last time out, I wasn’t in condition.
When you were training with your trainer did she let you listen to music?
No. No music. Complete focus. We would do an hour-and-a-half workout. We would meet three times a week then I would come in and do aerobics two times a week. And in the hour-and-a-half–it was circuit training–in between, we’d do a twenty-minute aerobic thing three times between four circuits. We didn’t do arms because I have a bad shoulder injury that I’ve had for years because of the way I play. Lifting weights would really damage the nerves. I did tone the arms slightly only because I practice for a couple of hours a day.
What about working out on the road? It’s got to be pretty bleak in some of the hotels.
It’s rough. I try to walk a lot. Jogging is very hard on my body. You know, there’s just no way around your health. I had to go through some health scares this past year and I just have to stay up on it; women have to stay up on it. You need to release the stress in some way. The demands on the road are incredible. You’re up at seven, in bed at two. You’ve got to get up really early to get into the next town to do radio and interviews. So you do about seven interviews a day, then a sound check, then the show. Then you do signings after you’ve talked to your fans after the shows, coz that’s why you’re there. It’s a commitment and if you’re not physically able, you just can’t do it. And so my body was reacting to it in a very stressful way. I’d always dabbled in exercise but I didn’t make the commitment until I got off the road. Towards the end I was crawling and didn’t have the strength nor the desire to do it again. I love to perform but the love of it isn’t going to get you through 250 cities. You may love to run marathons but by the seventh mile, knowing you have nineteen more to go, reality sets in.
How about nutrition? Are you eating differently these days?
For this tour, I’ll eat different than the last. I had protein everyday; filet steak everyday. It was the only thing I could put in my stomach, everything else made me sick. And I wasn’t about to eat brown rice. I needed the iron. I’m iron-deficient. If we have the money, we’d like to have a great macrobiotic cook on the road this time with a fish-protein diet. Most of these towns in the world have limited food selections so it does make it difficult. It’s not like Los Angeles or New York.
When you do get to listen to music when you work out ,what’s you first choice?
Zeppelin. Robert [Plant] gets me going. I think all girls, when we were ten years old, wanted to give it up to Robert. And Jimmy Page, too. He’s amazing. As a piano player I’d listen to guitarists because I didn’t want to steal from other piano players. I mean, you could steal a little; there’s only 12 notes.
What Zep songs in particular really get your heart rate pumping?
‘Black Dog’ or ‘Immigrant Song’. And ‘Battle of Evermore’ for my slow-down and stretch period.
How about Tori Amos songs?
Couldn’t work out to them. Good for mountain biking music maybe. I’m totally into it. Not in London, but in New Mexico where the trails are dirty and muddy. I like a muddy bike.
Any parting words of healthy wisdom for our readers?
Yeah, where’s dinner?
© Mark Petracca, Entertainment Weekly, 1993