Wheeler had been on the road with musicals for the past 13 years. Eating out every night and hitting the gym infrequently, he soon realized he wasn't the man he was before.
The 32-year-old dropped 35 pounds and is now obsessed with making it easier for the whole troupe to stay in shape and hoist their bodies around the massive barricade set piece, which Wheeler describes as "a giant jungle gym."
That's why he and a few cast members organized an in-house boot camp they bring to a gym in whatever town they happen to be touring in. They call it Guns at the Barricade and, of course, the exercises are set to the music and participants are encouraged to sing along.
The "guns," in this case, are your arms, Wheeler said. But the class is a total-body workout that won't leave any muscle feeling abandoned. The exercises are standard boot-camp fare -- jumping jacks, burpees, push-ups, lunges -- with an emphasis on moves connected to choreography in the production. So the squat presses are performed with body bars, a decent stand-in for the prop rifles used onstage.
"Les Miserables" isn't coming to town, but you can turn to YouTube, where Florida fitness instructor Sean Vigue posted "The Les Miserables Workout" last year.
"It's me singing, some scenes with my parents, and there's a workout in there," said Vigue of the humorous eight-minute video inspired by his favorite musical. Although he's never been in "Les Miserables," the 38-year-old can't stop himself from belting out the sound track, so he came up with a few moves based on the characters.
For example, because Inspector Javert raises his arms a lot to assert his authority, Vigue created the Javert Pendulum: Lift your right arm up, lift your left leg back, and lean over until your torso is parallel to the ground, then come up without letting your foot touch the ground. To make it harder, just add music.
"If you're singing while you're exercising, your breathing is where it needs to be," Vigue said.
There are four moves altogether, but if that's not enough at the end of the day, Vigue is prepared with additional theatrics. He's also filmed and posted a "Sweeney Todd Boot Camp," and a "Phantom of the Opera" video is in the works.
Where to watch
Find Florida fitness instructor Sean Vigue's"The Les Miserables Workout" at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn5rtOHxVAQ.
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