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Let's Get Physical: Six Musicians With Athletic Hobbies

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Let's Get Physical: Six Musicians With Athletic Hobbies

Let’s be honest: “Rock star” and “healthy living” rarely fit in the same sentence. Some performers manage to maintain the illusion of health during their glory years, but if Axl Rose is any indicator, the hard living will, at some point, catch up to you.

Look closer, though, and you’ll find a small pocket of successful musicians who also happen to be pretty fit and healthy, and they almost always have an athletic hobby of some sort that they’re passionate about. Check out these six rockin’ dudes who also love to get physical in their personal time.

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6. Ben Gibbard
Athletic Hobby: Long distance running
In 2008, the talented Death Cab for Cutie frontman and the singing half of indietronic duo The Postal Service decided to get his life—and particularly his drinking—under control. He put down the bottle, picked up some running shoes and hasn’t looked back since. Earlier this year he completed the L.A. Marathon (his first) in friendly competition with Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea, clocking in a respectable time of 3 hours and 56 minutes. His wife Zooey Deschanel even snapped a picture of the now-svelte musician during the event.

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5. Mike Malinin
Athletic Hobby: Ultra-marathons
I like to think that if Ben Gibbard (at least when it comes to being a running musician) was some sort of pokemon, his final evolution would be the ultra-marathon-devouring beast that is Mike Malinin, drummer for the Goo Goo dolls. A truly prolific runner, Malinin has completed several marathons, 50K runs, 50-milers, and even 100-mile races. The picture above is from the 2009 Malibu Triathlon, where as part of “Team Goo Goo Dolls”, Malinin ran alongside swimmer Ken Dawson and cyclist Tom Hodge to take home fifth place at the age of 42. He looks more fit than most people half his age.

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4. Boyd Tinsley
Athletic Hobby: Tennis
Watching the Dave Matthews Band live or even just in a music video, it’s hard to miss their incredibly buff and amazingly talented violinist, Boyd Tinsley. How does Tinsley stay so awesomely fit? He’s a tennis fanatic. Not only does he play (quite fiercely) in celebrity matches, he hosts his own tournament—the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic, a stop on the USTA women’s professional tour, held in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. The games are even played on his very own Boyd Tinsely Courts at the Boars Head Inn, which also hosts matches for the University of Virginia’s tennis teams.

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3. Bruce Dickinson
Athletic Hobby: Fencing
Lead vocalist of heavy metal legends Iron Maiden since 1981, true polymath Bruce Dickinson also happens to be a highly accomplished fencer (in addition to being a songwriter, airline pilot, broadcaster, author, screenwriter, actor and marketing director). While his glory days in the sport have since passed (he was ranked 7th in all of Great Britain for foil during the 1988-89 season), it’s amazing to think his peak fencing years were almost a decade into his tenure as singer for one of the most iconic heavy metal bands. As for why he chose to resume what was originally a grade-school sport that had been put on hold, he gave Sports Illustrated this response: “I wanted to get back into fencing to do something outside rock ‘n’ roll. I didn’t want to reach 40 and have to say all I’d done was look out the window of a tour bus and get drunk.”

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2. Win Butler
Athletic Hobby: Basketball
What’s better than being the frontman of the one of the most critically acclaimed, award-winning indie bands of the past decade? Being the frontman and having head turning b-ball skills. Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler absolutely loves basketball. He regularly plays in a number of local Montreal leagues alongside weekly pick up games. Most recently, his surprising skills and genuine love of the sport came to everyone’s attention after the Pop Montreal POP vs Jock charity basketball game, an event he helped organize. There were skilled college players on both teams, and yet Win still managed to shine. Check out more awesome pictures and a local summary of the event here.

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1. Henry Rollins
Athletic Hobby: Weightlifting
The outspoken and widely talented Henry Rollins, best known for fronting the iconic hardcore punk band Black Flag from 1981 to the band’s breakup in 1986, is a dedicated weightlifter. Now, lots of musicians (particularly rappers) lift weights to look good on stage, but Rollins’ lifting is on an entirely different level. This is a man who thinks intensely about everything he does—weightlifting is a way of life for him, and his 1994 treatise on the subject, Iron and Soul, is one of the most inspiring pieces of writing on discipline and self-improvement we’ve come across:

“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”

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