A Creative Marching Band Demands a Creative Workout

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A Creative Marching Band Demands a Creative Workout

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LaDonte Lotts dreamed of joining Southern University’s band, the Human Jukebox, in his high school days. Now he helps choreograph the dances they perform during halftime shows at Southern football games.

LaDonte Lotts dreamed of joining Southern University’s band, the Human Jukebox, in his high school days. Now he helps choreograph the dances they perform during halftime shows at Southern football games.


Photo:

Daymon Gardner for The Wall Street Journal

The popular image of band camp invokes a group of socially awkward students fumbling around in the hopes of creating a cohesive unit.

That’s not how

LaDonte Lotts

does band camp. The 22-year-old senior at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., has been spreading his version of marching-band preparation to middle and high schools across the South since he was a freshman.

Students perform tightly choreographed dances to hip-hop and R&B songs, interspersed with jumping jacks and other fitness elements that prepare them to march around a football field with heavy instruments for several minutes. It’s a style he developed that he says combines Zumba with Louisiana culture. He likes to describe the workouts as an experience “where we get lit while we get fit.”

Mr. Lotts, a 22-year-old senior, demonstrates his dance-infused workout routine.

Mr. Lotts, a 22-year-old senior, demonstrates his dance-infused workout routine.


Photo:

Daymon Gardner for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Lotts also uses these workouts, which he broadcasts on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, to stay in shape himself. He plays the trumpet in Southern’s highly acclaimed band, the Human Jukebox, which requires enough ab strength and endurance to blow into a horn while marching in formation. Mr. Lotts also helps choreograph the dances the band performs at halftime shows, including during the big game against rival Grambling State University, known as the Bayou Classic, on Nov. 25.

All of this keeps Mr. Lotts busy. In addition to taking his workout lessons on the road with his performing arts company ELEV8N Brand LLC, he teaches weekly classes to students at Southern. But it’s worth it, he says, because he’s living out his high school dream. After he saw the Human Jukebox perform for the first time as a ninth grader, he recalls, “I just fell in love. I knew this is where I wanted to go.”

Mr. Lotts says he’s been preparing since childhood to become an ambassador of dance-infused fitness routines. His mom would sit him down in their Houston home to watch performances by

Michael Jackson

when he was young. He’d also pay attention to her weekly dance-themed CIZE workouts. “I used to have to re-perform it for her, and if it wasn’t right, I had to watch it again,” he says.

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Mr. Lotts performing a routine with a group of high school students. Mr. Lotts brings his creative fitness routine to middle schools and high schools across the south.

The Workout

Mr. Lotts begins his day at 5:45 a.m. with about an hour of his cardio workout. This includes what he describes as all of the moves you would see in a middle school gym class: high knee lifts, butt kicks, jumping jacks and the like, interspersed with dance moves and set to music. “It wakes me up,” Mr. Lotts says.

At about 8 a.m. Mr. Lotts heads to class at Southern, where he’s studying business management and therapeutic recreation. Two afternoons a week, Mr. Lotts does CrossFit style workouts—running up and down stadium stairs and doing mixed martial arts, hurdles and other exercises—for about 90 minutes. He mostly avoids weights. “I’m a very little guy, so I just stick with push-ups and sit-ups,” he says. Mr. Lotts estimates he’s 5-foot-10 and weighs 150 pounds.

During football season, Mr. Lotts heads to band practice from the late afternoon to well into the night, sometimes not leaving until 12:30 or 1 a.m., he says. If his section has downtime, Mr. Lotts will do exercises, like burpees or lunges, while he waits for direction.

“I have to do my crunches,” he says. “That builds up your endurance for you blowing into your horn. You want to make sure that airflow is perfect.”

Mr. Lotts finds time for homework typically late at night and often after band practice. He likes to study when everything is quiet.

Mr. Lotts tries to have fun with his workouts, which he brings to middle and high schools around the South. His tagline for the experience: ‘Where we get lit while we get fit.’

Mr. Lotts tries to have fun with his workouts, which he brings to middle and high schools around the South. His tagline for the experience: ‘Where we get lit while we get fit.’


Photo:

Daymon Gardner for The Wall Street Journal

The Gear

Mr. Lotts says he usually goes on a shopping spree every one to two months to buy new workout gear. He estimates he’ll spend roughly each time $300 on shorts, shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, running tights and other dry-fit clothes. Mr. Lotts says he wears a range of brands, including New Balance, Puma, Adidas,

Nike

and Reebok. But what’s most important is maintaining variety for viewers of his workout routines, he says.

“You always want to have fresh gear,” he said. “People don’t like to see you in the same thing.”

Every other week Mr. Lotts will also incorporate another piece of equipment into his workout: a weight vest, which he received as a gift. It can cost anywhere from about $20 to more than $100. “It makes the workout more intense,” he says of the vest.

Mr. Lotts performed with the Southern University band during the Honda Battle of the Bands at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in 2015.

Mr. Lotts performed with the Southern University band during the Honda Battle of the Bands at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in 2015.


Photo:

National Show Band Association

The Diet

Since Mr. Lotts stays active, he tries not to obsess over his diet. His favorite meal, which he says he eats at least twice a week, is a turkey patty on a ciabatta roll with white cheddar cheese.

“That’s the way I stay happy,” he says.

Other staples include pasta and Caesar salad with baked chicken. And when Mr. Lotts celebrates a cheat day, he enjoys chicken fingers.

The Playlist

For his workout and dance routines, Mr. Lotts is partial to artists like Boosie Badazz. As a member of the Human Jukebox, he tries to stay on top of a variety of music styles, while the band strives to live up to its name. Recent performances included music ranging from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“When it comes down to a playlist and a song that they’re going to play, you just never know,” he says.

Tell us about your fitness routine at workout@wsj.com

By | 2017-11-18T14:45:29+00:00 November 18th, 2017|0 Comments

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