For many of us, music is so important that our favorite songs have formed the soundtrack to our lives, but Kitt Wakeley has taken his love of music even further by composing his own, very personal scores. M&F caught up with the Grammy Nominated musician and gym enthusiast to find out how he’s found harmony through music and fitness, and we soon discovered that the emotional highs and lows in his personal life have brought some serious success through artistic and physical expression.
Award winning composer, songwriter, and musician, Kitt Wakeley tours the world and collaborates with the likes of Joe Satriani and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, but he’s just as happy performing at the squat rack as he is onstage. For Wakeley, the gym has long been a tranquil space where he can escape the pressures of writing the next big hit, in order to take time out from showbiz and work on his physical and mental health. “The gym is a safe space,” says Wakeley. “You’re navigating the actual production of a project, and all the people that are involved, travelling to London or LA, or wherever, and you’re on edge as to if it will be successful and then you have the shows. So, that hour or hour-and-a-half in the gym is a chance to hit ‘Pause’ and embrace some me time. The gym is a great place to hit reset each day.”
Kitt Wakeley Finds Harmony Through Music and Fitness
Critics have called Wakeley’s 2021 concept album “Symphony of Sinners & Saints,” which features epic tracks such as “Conflicted,” a masterpiece. The peaks and troughs in his compositions offer listeners both a moment to reflect, and a chance to seize the beat and utilize the tracks for a perfect workout playlist. “Symphony of Sinners & Saints” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Crossover, and Classical charts but success was not necessarily an easy route for Wakeley, who was put into the Oklahoma foster care system along with his sister when he was just 5 years old. The siblings were then separated for almost 40 years before incredibly finding each other via Facebook. At one point, he’d been told that his sister, Tasha, had passed away in a car accident only to discover that she’d been living just one mile away.
In a remarkable turn of events, Wakeley and his wife Melissa adopted three siblings to make sure that they could never be separated in the way that he was with his sister, and the emotion of such an uplifting story has influenced works such as the track “Adoption Story” in ways that he could never imagine. The tune itself is now Grammy nominated for “Best Classical Compendium” and was recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios where the likes of The Beatles and Aretha Franklin have graced the mixing desk.
“Adoption Story” is a magical ride of a tune that emotes feelings of innocence and hope, and encourages us to believe that even the darkest of stories can have bright, happy endings. “Music is such an escape,” says Wakeley. “And I equate that right there with my fitness world. They give you an outlet to express things when sometimes you don’t have the words.” And, with a total of seven children, this musician needs to be fitter than ever before in order to stay in the groove. Fortunately, his fitness lifestyle provides the answer.
The composer says that when he is developing demos, he loves to take his work into the gym as a workout playlist. “If they are more aggressive, more euphoric, I’ll crank it up and if it’s giving me a vibe of enthusiasm, or motivation, I know that I am on the right track. Believe it or not, inadvertently, I’ve been on the treadmill listening to the more tranquil stuff, and I’ve been getting a vibe, and have been pretty pleased with the direction that the project is headed in. I have a lot of friends in the gym that listen to my aggressive songs, and then I have a lot of friends in the music business that talk to me about maybe starting to go to the gym. I think both things start to work in tandem and benefit off one another.”
Kitt Wakeley Refrains From Missing Gym Sessions
Hitting the gym provides a way for Wakeley to break up the sedentary moments in his life, such as sitting at a desk while working on his music, and fitness sessions also prepare him for those energetic moments when he is performing on stage and needs to dialled-in the entire time. “Afterwards, you are just wiped out,” he shares. Even the studio recording process can last several hours, so this composer must keep his heart rate down and stay the course. “You don’t wanna mess up. You don’t wanna disappoint your peers. I’m amazed at how much that takes it out of me physically and I’m very blessed that I workout and take good care of myself.”
Wakeley is a bona fide gym warrior, and likes to fit a session in at least five days each week. These sessions tend to be focused and don’t need to take all day, but he has been known to frequent the gym for an entire month without a rest day. “Every day, I hit a major body part,” says the maestro. “Something of a compound movement, whether it’s chest, shoulders, legs, or whatever. Then, after that, I do 45 minutes of high-intensity interval training. So, I’m able to get in that big, heavy, lower reps and then afterwards I can get in that conditioning, and it works really well for me.” It’s just as well that Wakeley has strong arms, because further awards and trophies are surely on the way.