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Actress needs more than veggies to fuel high-octane performance

J. Elaine Marcos, who plays Cynthia in the Mirvish production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, is seen here performig her workout routine at Good Life Fitness in Toronto.

Tim Fraser/Globe and Mail

Power Crunch gets expert feedback on a different workout routine every week. This week, actor J. Elaine Marcos, who plays Cynthia in the Mirvish production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical just ended its run in Canada, but Burlington, Ont.-born J. Elaine Marcos, who plays Cynthia, will continue the show on Broadway. Dancing and acting in musicals is very physically demanding. Now Ms. Marco would like to up her nutritional game to keep performing at her best.

We asked Meg Sharp, executive director of personal training at the Cambridge Group of Clubs in Toronto, to weigh in on Ms. Marcos's current regimen.

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My goal

"To maintain my weight, to keep stamina up for two hours in eight shows a week, and improve stretching."

My workout

"In addition to the show itself, I do Bikram yoga four times a week, which I started in 2001. It's a 90-minute class that encompasses everything I need: strength, stretch and calm. I do stationary biking three times a week for 40 minutes. Before the show, I do about 15 minutes of stretching and Pilates.

My lifestyle

"When people are having a holiday, that's when I work more. When the weekend comes, that's when I have more shows. When people are leaving their desk at 6, that's when I start my day, so I have late nights and late mornings. I have TV and film auditions during the day.

"Eating well is tricky, because I wear such tight-fitting clothing, so I usually stick to salad and vegetables. I have no restrictions other than no dairy and keeping to low carbs. The more raw foods I eat, the more energy I have and they help with digestion because if I'm going to be dancing I don't want to use my energy to digest food."

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My motivation

"Since my body and mind are my instruments that allow me to consistently work and do what I love to do, I take care of myself. I have to be present, and exercising makes me happy."

My anthem

"When I bike, I listen to Amy Winehouse, Black Eyed Peas and Joss Stone."

My challenge

"Calming my mind. Living in New York, I feel that state of mind: I gotta succeed at all costs and try to get the next job that'll propel my career. You feel if you don't do anything pro-active, you'll miss out."

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The critique

Foods for stamina

Meg Sharp says raw vegetables are incredibly nutritious, but not optimal stamina-boosting foods. "Preperformance, I recommend reducing the volume of vegetables J. Elaine consumes and suggest she switch to protein-rich foods such as hummus and/or raw unsalted almonds or seeds. During her performance, J. Elaine should consume easily digestible carbohydrates - a small handful of granola, some raisins or dried blueberries, as she will need about 200 calories. After every performance or workout, chickpea or lentil soup, or half a turkey sandwich, or vanilla soymilk or almond butter with a quarter whole grain bagel would do the trick."

Three massages for dancers

"I recommend J. Elaine take a day off and get regular massages to reduce inflammation," Ms. Sharp says, "because well-rested muscles will ensure she is ready for every encore." Sports massage treats injuries, and neuromuscular massage uses pressure-point release to alleviate muscle spasms - both techniques are discouraged before a performance as muscles can be temporarily weakened and cramp. "But Swedish massage's slow pace and light touch is ideal to warm and stretch muscle without undue stress."

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