Ask country star Brett Eldredge about his favorite things to do when not performing, and he’ll give you an earnest earful about hiking off the beaten path with his dog, Edgar. The singer is currently on the second leg of his The Long Way Tour, and while he loves being on stage surrounded by fans, he cherishes his downtime, too. And given the amount of time he’s had to spend on the road of late, the 32-year-old has developed an array of clever strategies to prevent “eating right” and “staying in shape” from becoming logistical impossibilities. Fortunately, it turns out that performing can be a workout all by itself.
GQ: With so much travel and so many obligations, when do you find time to sneak in your workouts?
Brett Eldredge: Back home in Illinois, I have a trainer—my best friend from college—and he’s amazing. We’ll go run five miles with Edgar on country roads, and we’ll do different intervals of sprints. On the road, it can be harder, but I still do a lot of hiking with my dog. Sometimes I’ll find a gym and get a day pass. Or, if we’re in the middle of a desert, we’ll just go crazy and do random stuff—like, we bring parachutes for sprints, and jump ropes, and things like that. I’d say I train roughly five days a week.
I'm a very spontaneous person, especially on the road. I have to see different things. When I first started my career, I would always be trapped in my bubble of the tour bus, and I wouldn’t venture out as much. But I started to wonder, What am I doing with my life other than just playing a show? I needed to go see the world.
Mentally, it's a huge thing to be able to get after it in the gym. Even on days when I don't feel like I can do it, I remember that being active gives me more energy. It makes me more prepared for my show, which makes me better for everyone around me. too.
These workouts really happen…anytime, anywhere?
Usually, I do them first thing in the morning, no matter where I am. I’ll get up, do my journaling and meditation, have my protein shake, have some pre-workout, and get it done.
I also love getting my team and the crew involved whenever I can, instead of just playing Mario Kart on the bus—which we do plenty of. Lately we’ve been all about dodgeball, which is... a pretty intense cardio workout!
Talk to me about your diet.
Mornings are usually light: like, a smoothie with Vega protein powder. For lunch, I’m down to grill some chicken, or just try to find something with greens and not a crazy amount of carbs. Sometimes you don't have a whole lot of choices because you're in the middle of nowhere. But I keep it so that we're not overloading the carbs.
I'll do a main dinner a couple hours before the show, so I'm not feeling like I need to burp while singing. Afterwards, I usually have another shake or something. I’ve worn a FitBit or an Apple Watch on stage before, and sometimes it’ll tell me I’ve burned 500 or 600 calories in an hour and 15 minutes of singing.
You mentioned meditation.
Coming from the very town of Paris, Illinois—in the middle of nowhere—you don't know anything about meditating. Like, your perception of meditation is that you're sitting on the floor and making these noises, and then you start...floating, or something.
Then I started reading about it. When I was worried about how much was on my plate, and trying to figure out how to juggle it all, I leaned into meditation. I was like, There's got to be some way to make this all feel like it's going to be alright. Once I started practicing mindfulness, things felt easier. So I started getting the apps.
Okay, which apps?
I love 10 Percent Happier. It has video that goes along with it, and it's mindfulness for fidgety skeptics—or at least, that’s what they call it. It’s for people who don't really believe this stuff can actually work. I use it in the back of the bus, and I’ve made it a part of my routine. It’s a huge piece to the puzzle of how I keep my shit together.
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In your Instagram profile you have a line that says “Stay weird.” How do you stay weird?
I watched the Tony Robbins documentary on Netflix, and he does this crazy thing: he has a trampoline on the side of the stage. He goes on it, does a few jumps, does this crazy spin, and then goes right on stage. He’s just feeding off the energy.
So then, I started this ritual of a pre-show dance party on the bus. We’ll play some music—a lot of 80s songs, but everything is fair game—and then everyone showcases their most ridiculous dance moves. You get your blood flowing, you get your adrenaline rolling, and then I’m excited. It makes me not as worried about stuff as I get going on stage. It’s all about having fun. I’m with the band, and we’re all dancing.
What’s your song of choice?
“Power of Love” by Huey Lewis. I loved hearing his voice, and I love that song. You can dance like a goof to it.
What does sleep look like for you?
Yeah, that’s been a struggle, and something I’m working on constantly. When you’re rolling down the road on a bus at 67 miles per hour, or hitting bumps and construction in New York City, it’s hard to sleep. Some people love to sleep on the road. Some people love sleeping on the bus. I’m not one of them. I've had to learn, Okay, how do I stop myself from falling asleep in front of 30,000 people?
It just depends on the night. One thing I’ve started doing is journaling before I go to bed. It’s a gratitude journal, where I write about the things I’m thankful for. This helps, because I’m a huge critic of myself. Once I do that, I feel like I’ve set the tone to wind down enough to go to sleep.
Do you drink?
Yeah, a little. [laughs] But the thing is, you want to give your best show, and so you can't go up there hung over. I've only had a couple of shows in my life for which I could say I was hung over, and you'll never forget how awful that feels in the moment. I can have a little fun on Saturday night—a few beers before or during a set. But I try to keep it together. I want to be the best version of myself for my fans. I know that a lot of people are saving all year for that ticket.
There's a lot that goes into it, you know? Some people think you just go out and live this crazy lifestyle, partying all the time. But that’s not me. You get off stage and play Mario Kart on the bus, trying to wind down. The next day, you're training during the morning. Then you do a sound check and make sure everything sounds right, and then you do a show. Then you go on a hike.
I think it's different for every artist. But for me, everything goes much more smoothly when I’m taking care of my body. And that’s how I enjoy life a lot more.