--Photo by williamcho
Taiko is a physical activity and therefore requires an appropriate level of fitness that suits your playing style. Of course, the better shape you're in, the better your taiko playing will be. Running, working out, eating healthy, getting rest- all the basics. You'll look better, play faster, play louder and for longer.
Run and Workout
How fit you get depends entirely on you and the style of your group. If you're a casual player (a couple practices a month plus the occasional show), then perhaps the rigorous regimens of groups like Ondekoza and Kodo won't be necessary.
If you're an amateur group and you take your taiko pretty seriously, then the more you exercise the better. Have a regular running routine and workout. You don't need a gym for exercise. Start with pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups to keep the body fat low and keep yourself looking in shape. The better your body looks, the better your shows will be.
If you want to get real serious, then do as the pros like Ondekoza do. Run 10k in the morning, run another 10k in the afternoon, eat only as necessary (low-fat, low-sodium, low-carbs), and have a daily workout routine for all muscle groups. And vary your running. It's easy to get used to casually running 10k. You can switch things up by increasing the speed, and choosing certain distances in your running course where you sprint. Instead of 10k, do 20k. Or do 5k at a much faster speed. Mix in stair runs and uphills. The variations are endless.
Regardless of how much taiko you play, stretching is invaluable. Stretch before and after your runs/workout, as well as your practices and performances. It'll prevent injury, speed up recovery time, and also make you more flexible. Flexibility will give you a much wider range of movements for your taiko playing.
There are some opposing theories about pre-run stretching (see article below), but at the end of the day, do whatever seems best fit for you. I know that for me, stretching sufficiently before my runs eases my muscle pains and makes the running experience a whole lot better.
Rest is absolutely vital if you're running and working out on a regular basis. Without it your muscles won't recover and your fitness won't increase despite all that exercise you're doing. It's tough, but try to get the regular 8 hours every night.
But sparingly. Keep the carbs and fat low, but not so low that you feel drained all day. Eat a healthy amount of protein (meats, but also from beans, tofu, dairy). Lower the salt and, I know how tough it can be, but really try to stay away from the sweets when you can. Sure that temporary satisfaction can be important too, but they won't do your fitness any long term good. Try nuts or fruits if you need to keep that hunger down.
Do it Together
Working out consistently and persistently can be difficult when done alone. Luckily, if you're part of a taiko group, you've got buddies to share the pain with. Be it running, push-ups, diet or stretching, doing it with others will help you motivate each other. Remind each other that your doing yourselves a lot of good by being persistent, consistent and not giving-up.
Stretching can easily be done together before and after practices. For running, set up days during the week where you and your group members can run together. Find a time (like early morning) that matches everyone's schedules. Same with working out. It might be a little much, but you can even help each other with your dieting by remind each other to keep those calories down. (Sleeping I guess is the exception here. No, you don't need to do it together...!)
Before you know it, you'll all be in tip-top shape and drumming like the best of 'em.