The Show Biz Workout

The no-equipment needed, do-anywhere, pre show warm-up workout

Although working out barefoot on a lawn in the sun is probably the best scenario, this workout can be done anywhere with about a 6 foot radius of open space. This road-tested workout is a combination of routines used by some theater and dance groups as pre show warmups. In some groups, even the techs do the warmup. It is highly recommended to learn the exercises with the videos in slow motion before trying to blast through at full speed.

  1.       The Time-step

One of tap-dance’s most basic moves, the single time-step is a sort of paradiddle for the feet. There are many variations. Start slow and work up the tempo. Here is the time-step taught by Shelby Kaufman:

Shelby Kaufman
  1.       Chairman Mao’s 4 minute workout

          A favorite warm-up of the legendary San Francisco Mime Troupe, Humboldt County’s Dell Arte Players and other political theater groups. These exercises were supposedly designed by Mao Tse Tung for the Chinese people to enjoy better health. The official video commences with a minute of marching in place (or the time-step) before the exercises start at 1:07:

Scott Dorough


  1.       The Shim Sham

This versatile dance routine is as old as the hills and was a staple for the Cotton Club dancers. The main moves consist of four 8 bar patterns which work over any 32 bar song. A KEY note is that the dance starts on the last beat (4) of the preceding bar. Here it is demonstrated with profound swing by the late, great dancer-choreographer Frankie Manning (who actually flubs a step!) with Erin Stevens (who is flawless):

  1.       Tai Chi 24 move Yang style

There are many tai chi styles, this is perhaps one of the more accessible:



 This entire workout, once learned, can be done at full speed in about 15 minutes and will prepare you for anything showbiz can throw at you.

  A. Heimer can be reached at [email protected]