Secret Jocks: Canadian Musicians Reveal Their Favourite Sporting Activities

Show & Tell

Louise Burns, Amanda Rheaume, Tennyson King and more share their fitness activities

Photo: Shawn Laidlaw

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 17, 2022

Hollywood has taught us to believe that jocks and artists are warring cliques — but speaking to Canadian musicians tells a very different story. There are many beloved artists who, when they're not on a stage or in the studio, spend their time on the rink or in the gym.

From the roots rock songwriter with a lifelong love of curling to the metal vocalist who uses weightlifting as a way to stay in shape for live shows, we asked some Canadian artists to share their favourite sporting activities.

Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy

Photo courtesy of the artist

Metal vocalist Alissa White-Gluz describes her performances with Arch Enemy as "incredibly physically demanding" — which is part of the reason why she's an at-home weightlifting enthusiast. "These PowerBlocks and Vegan Monster Protein are exactly what I use on tour as well, since they are so portable," she explains. "This allows me to have a lot of consistency between my on-tour and off-tour workouts and I am able to target all my muscle groups just as well as I would in a full gym. I started weightlifting 25 years ago in an attempt to improve my karate training, then went on to work in a gym, and I haven't stopped training since!"


Photo courtesy of the artist

When Rashid St. James isn't mixing pop with hip-hop, R&B and everything in between under the name BOYFRN, he can often be found running. He runs 10 kilometres nearly every day, and does half marathons on the weekend if he has time. "I started running to help deal with anxiety and it turned into a passion," he says. "I feel when you're running you don't have time or energy to focus on anything else but getting your breathing into a stable synchronized rhythm that naturally brings your mind to a calm state. Now, if I don't run for three days, it doesn't feel right. Especially during these lockdowns, outside the studio it really is my peace." Look out for the project Kissing Mirrors this spring.

Louise Burns

Photo: Shawn Laidlaw

When she's not working as a songwriter and producer in Vancouver, Portraits pop artist Louise Burns loves to get out of town to go surfing in Tofino on Vancouver Island or the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. Not that she's good at it, mind you. "I like to get out in the water and get tossed around," she tells Exclaim! "It's humbling, because I am truly terrible at it — but on the occasion where I do catch a wave, it's one of the best feelings in the world."

Hannah Epperson
Ultimate frisbee

Photo: VC Ultimate

Violinist and songwriter Hannah Epperson went all the way to the world championships on the Canadian national team. "Ultimate is a unique team sport in that it is played without referees, so the spectacular responsibility of fair play is placed on the players," she tells Exclaim! She retired from playing the sport competitively in 2017, following a world championship game where the sport's central tenet of "the basic joy of play" fell by the wayside. "I'm back to barefoot hucking on Wreck beach for now, but I've still got cleats in the closet," she says.

Tennyson King
Scuba diving

Photo: Cesar Barbosa

The folk pop of Tennyson King's recent album Good Company has a chilled out, beach-ready vibe, so it's only appropriate that he likes the mellow surroundings of scuba diving. "I love exploring the underwater world," the Hong Kong-born, Canada-based singer-songwriter tells Exclaim! "It's so peaceful and foreign to us down there, with so many living things that we don't even know exist. It's also a place where I feel like I don't have total control or it's a challenge to stay in control mentally and physically, which is a type of adrenaline that I enjoy. I always try to squeeze in a dive somewhere between tours, especially when I'm touring out in the oceanic side of the world."

Liz Lokre

Photo: Amelia Stauss 

Toronto pop artist Liz Lokre has been practicing yoga for a few years, but it became an increasingly important part of her life during the pandemic. "Once I started practicing daily I noticed the benefits beyond just the physical," she reflects. "I think it's made me an overall more grounded person and taught me a lot about breathing through discomfort. As my teachers say, how you are on your mat extends to how you are off your mat." 

Amanda Rheaume

Photo: Sean Sisk 

Folksinger Amanda Rheaume played hockey throughout her teens, but gave it up when she moved to Toronto for school in music. That changed in 2014, when she got involved in the Juno Cup, an annual ice hockey game involving Canadian musicians. She reflects, "I love the sounds of hockey — the sharp steel slicing the ice, the wood stick hitting the frozen rubber puck, the wind of your fellow player whipping by." Her new album, The Spaces in Between (due May 27), explores Métis history and experience.

Mike Tod
Sheepdog trialing

Photo: Opal Retzer

Yes, it's a sport, which Vancouver Island folk musician Mike Tod has done competitively since 2020. The sport involves training a border collie to guide sheep through obstacles. "I worked and trialed with a nine-year-old, long-haired border collie named Coal," he tells Exclaim! "I was fascinated by the relationship and bond that took place between the dog, sheep and myself. My new life goal is to win the World Stock Dog Championship at the Calgary Stampede."

Skye Wallace

Photo courtesy of the artist

Skye Wallace grew up around a curling rink, as her grandpa managed the Whitby Curling Club, and she spent part of her childhood living by it. She explains, "Because I've moved so much in my life, the curling club has been a constant: it's where my parents had their wedding reception, where I spent countless hours with my grandpa and the rest of the family when I was growing up, where I started learning to curl at about 7 years old, and even where I've played a few shows as a musician." She took a step back from the sport in her teens, but has continued to play occasionally over the years, including when she was the songwriter in residence at the Dawson City Music Festival. She recently made her Six Shooter Records debut with the roots rock single "Truth Be Told."

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