by Joe Rosko
I grew up as a three-sport athlete in school. My dad made me a make-shift barbell and pretended to have me olympic lifting in his garage at the age of one. Theatre introduced itself to me when I was in the seventh grade. Faith was a big part of my family while growing up. Body, Mind, Spirit. I started Built For The Stage sometime around mid to late 2017. I can't quite put my finger on the exact date because truly, @builtforthestage started at birth. It is something that I feel like I truly was destined to create. Having these rare experiences as an all-state athlete, division-1 college football player (the only one in the nation majoring in Musical Theatre), personal trainer, CrossFit coach/competitor, triathlete, and all while being a professional actor and director gave me the deep knowledge and abilities to truly marry fitness and theatre together. The more gigs I did, the more actors that wanted to train with me. I stepped away from acting for a bit as I concentrated on competing in fitness. But, all the while I continued to work with actors and my passion to help them continued to grow. As the passion grew, the road leading to BFTS neared, and now, here we are.
Built For The Stage is a family of actors located across the globe, with the common goal of bettering their fitness so, that their desire to make art on stage can come to complete fruition. I work with actors in close to 20 Broadway shows, U.S. tours, international productions that transferred from Broadway, regional productions, musical theatre college students, and actors who are auditioning daily seeking the next booking. I am so fortunate to be entrusted with my actor-clients' fitness. I aid them in enhancing not only their aesthetics but, their abilities to do their jobs better on stage. Whether that's simply being durable enough to maneuver a giant gorilla puppet 8 times a week in King Kong without getting injured. Being in good enough condition for a client to sound good singing while performing the Genie's extremely physically demanding song, "Friend Like Me," in Aladdin. Or, helping program single-leg stability to increase turning abilities for dancers. The list goes on. As we say in the business, "Our body is our instrument." However, what we don't say or, give enough recognition to in this business is our minds.
I don't consider myself a trainer but, a coach. For me it gives greater depth to the meaning of my relationship with my clients. It's no secret that being an actor is an extremely tough life to pursue. Through my experiences as an actor myself, to the daily discussions I have with my clients and guests on Built For The Stage Podcast, mental health is a huge issue with actors. Actors are rejected constantly. Actors are closing shows (also known as losing jobs) constantly. I don't care how thick your skin is, this type of lifestyle will take a toll on anyone's psyche. It's my goal to equip my actors to love themselves, love others, all the while loving the pursuit of their goals and dreams. But, regardless of what the current status is with their goals and dreams, that they always love themselves and love others. We must love ourselves whether we are in a show, not in a show, booking a role, not booking a role, etc. The person on the stage with a gig or, the person waiting tables without a gig is the same person! We must truly love ourselves! Not love ourselves only when we are in a show, or when we get our Equity card, or when we are on Broadway. We must love who we are and not what we do. It's not, "I must perform greatly." It's, "I am a great performer." It's not, "I have to book this show." It's, "I am enough with or without this show."
Some of the most rewarding feedback I get from clients is what their new-found fitness has done for them outside of the gym. The gained confidence, the new peace of mind, the newly discovered energy, and the multitudes of other effects that a well built body does for your mind and spirit. My ultimate goal for Built For The Stage is to allow every one of my clients to know that they are enough through empowering them with physical abilities that they never believed they were capable of. And through this physical empowerment, it will in-turn better their mental and spiritual health so, that they can fully allow themselves to succeed in their pursuit of being performers. Whether you feel that your body, mind, or spirit is holding you back from your success, I believe I can help because they all are one in the same. One is nothing without the others. It's my desire to help any actor that I can.