Gorgeous actress and health and fitness fan, Gretel Scarlett, is currently playing the lead role of Sandy in Grease the musical. After electrifying audiences in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore, Grease is back in Australian shores for the Perth and Adelaide Seasons.
With a gruelling eight shows a week, Gretel knows how important it is to lead a well-balanced healthy lifestyle to keep up with her gruelling schedule. A vegetarian and dedicated Yogi, Gretel talks to Coogeecat about staying in perfect shape to play Sandy.
How long have you been passionate about your health and fitness?
I’ve been a very fit and healthy person for most of my life, and growing up with a dance background has always kept me on top of my physical fitness. However, around five years ago, my body realised how much decent meals and healthy food was what I responded best to. My digestive system and body improved beyond words by eliminating gluten and unnatural sugars.
How did that help your performance?
I now feel that my body utilises my food to create energy. I have a lot of nuts, dried fruits, agave, cacao, chia seeds, green smoothies, fresh juices, salads and grains. They are slow releasing energy and it helps me through an eight-show week and I very rarely feel tired. Eating this way helps keep my immune system in peak condition.
Is playing Sandy in Grease a physical role?
Sandy doesn’t dance as much as the rest of the cast, but I’ve done years of dancing in others musicals throughout Australia like Wicked and Mamma Mia, so I’m not complaining. However, more than physical, it’s a demanding role vocally. The songs sit in a difficult spot for most females to sing, so I have to keep myself in top vocal condition; plus I have to move, dance and sing at the same time. So I am not allowed to sound puffed out or unfit. It all goes hand in hand really.
Take us through a usual week in regards to fitness/yoga/workouts?
My mind cannot deal with gyms. So I keep far away from them. I try to keep my mind, body and soul all happy at once.
Monday is my rest day. I don’t talk. I take my pen and paper everywhere and it’s a day of walking and exploring the new city I am performing in. Not too much exertion.
The rest of week are all performing days. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday are two-show days, so I just rely on the fitness and workout of the show. Grease is quite a high intensity show, especially the finale megamix sequence; and I do that in a red patent leather Nine West stiletto!
Each day, before warm up, I do a sequence of ashtanga yoga poses or a basic ballet barre in my Dressing room. I cannot sing without a ‘salute to the sun’! I keep up my flexibility with a few stretches and do some abdominal exercises, to keep the core in shape. But mostly during show season, the show is my fitness and it’s all about complementing it with good food.
Out of season, I’ll get myself to my favourite pilates reformer teacher in Carlton, Sydney, Tamara Rogelja, who mixes reformer with ballet. It’s a ridiculous work out!!
Do you feel a lot of pressure to stay in shape with your profession?
I personally think that kind of pressure isn’t too prominent in the Music Theatre industry. I am naturally thin and athletic, so I usually rely on healthy eating and the workout of the show to keep me fitting in the black tight leather Sandy outfit! I definitely don’t think about it too much and it’s never really been a pressure that’s placed on me.
What’s a typical eating plan for you?
I eat three meals a day with lots of snacks in between. I get ‘h-angry’ if I don’t have food every couple of hours. I’m vegetarian, so don’t be surprised that my meals don’t consist of meat. I’ll have breakfast (brunch, as we work a little later than most), which is usually something like poached eggs on toast with haloumi and my green barley grass drink. Lunch (which I call Linner) that is something like a spinach wrap with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, avocado, carrot, havarti cheese, a dressing and some pearl barley. Then a late dinner after the show, which is usually something like steamed or stir fried veggies with tofu and rice or quinoa. In between those meals I have lots of vegan treats I make, like nut fig balls (filled with agave, goji berries and coconut butter), Larabars (which are my show snack of dried fruits), sweet potato crisps, coyo (coconut yoghurt), a green smoothie too.
What motivates you to workout and eat right when you just don’t feel like it?
I believe if my body is tired, I must let it rest. I will never push it to over use. But if it’s just a will power mind set, you need to have a lifestyle choice. I’ve never chosen my food or fitness based on “wanting to lose weight” or “wanting to impress someone else”. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s long term goals and knowing that a little bit of hard work every day, will go a long way.
Do you have a daily mantra?
You are in control of the choices you make. Allow them to be choices that your body will thank you for.
Please share a smoothie recipe with us.
My current favourite:
Blueberries (approx 6)
Raspberries (approx 5)
Banana (a half)
Green Kale (handful +)
Baby Spinach (handful +)
Agave Syrup (teaspoon)
You can also add cashews and almonds etc to give it a breakfast vibe.
Ends. Interview by Kelli Armstrong.