Tell us a little about your health background.
Well, I was always into sports. I was a runner in the mountains [in Switzerland] and I always ate healthy food when I was growing up. In the 1950s there was this woman in Switzerland who was already a nutritionist way before her time. She was already talking about fats, such as flaxseed oil, and what people should take. My mother was really into that so we kind of grew up that way. When I came to the States I was in my late teens, or early twenties. I was just drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and eating pizza like everybody else. And then I started doing cocaine like everybody back then. It got to a point where I really got into cocaine a lot for a period of two or three years. Fortunately, I had more control than most of my friends. I stopped and it occurred to me that I had to try to repair whatever damage I had done to myself. But it’s not until 2001 that I stopped smoking cigarettes. That’s when I changed my eating habits. I just stopped eating processed foods and food with trans fats, nitrates, nitrites, all that stuff. I was really into Dr. [Andrew] Weill. I was reading his books and his teachings. It’s funny because nowadays I see all these studies on TV all the time that say you should take this, or you should take that. I say, ‘Well I’ve been taking that for 15 years.’ So that’s a little bit of my story in a nutshell.
What fitness routine do you follow?
I exercise about five days each week, but I don’t go to the gym. I run either in the park or along the Hudson River when I’m in the city, or in the mountains when I’m upstate. I just work out at home. I do very old-fashioned pushups. I have an ab wheel that I use a lot, and I do squats, and that’s about it. That’s all you really need. Oh, and I do Bikram yoga as well.
How important is fitness to you?
Oh, it’s very important. After my family and my music that’s the most important thing.
What keeps you motivated to continue working out?
I would like to live as long as I can. Plus, working out makes me feel better.
What are your favorite types of exercises that you can’t do without?
I couldn’t do without my running. I do trail running. I try to stay away from running on pavement.
You’re a busy entertainer. How do you handle your fitness routine when you’re on the road?
When I’m on the road I pack just the minimum, shorts, running shoes and socks and that’s about it. There is usually a gym at whatever hotel I stay, or if not I just go outside. But I never go on the road for more than two or three days before coming home, so it’s easier. Sometimes, if I’m away just for one day I don’t take anything. But if I’ll be away for an extended amount of time, I take my ab wheel. I never travel without it.
Do you follow a special diet?
Actually, no. I just eat really fresh foods cooked in olive oil, not too much butter. I like red meat but not beef, unless it’s grass fed or bison, or lamb. I really don’t eat beef, not because I feel beef is bad. I think beef is a great source of protein, but if it contains chemicals and antibiotics and steroids those get stored in the fatty parts of the meat. That’s why I don’t usually eat beef. I love to eat wild deer meat and elk meat because those meats are totally pure with no fat. I try to eat very simply. I always eat the same things, broccoli, eggs, rice, good bread and that’s about it. I don’t have what you call a very diverse diet. I don’t believe in eating too much of a variety of foods because that excites your palate, and that’s how you start eating too much.
Do you do your own cooking when you’re at home?
Oh yes, absolutely. My girlfriend is a sometime vegan. For me, I eat a vegan diet, but I add an egg and a piece of wild meat every now and then. Other than that it’s mostly vegan. You know I’m French so I’m going to add some butter and some cheese at some point.
Do you include supplements as part of your fitness routine?
Yes. I take one multi-vitamin every day, maybe 1,000 to 1,500 mg of ester C every day, and I take fish oils and that’s it.
How do you handle stress, especially with your hectic schedule?
I really don’t get stressed out because I do what I love to do every day, so I’m very happy. If I get stressed out, it’s usually only for a very short episode. For example, when I’m in the security line at the airport and waiting to get on a flight. But even there I don’t get stressed out anymore. If I take a cab and I’m in a traffic jam and I might miss my flight, that’s a kind of stress. But it’s short lived and I don’t need to heal from that kind of stress. For me, that kind of stress goes away as quickly as it came.
Does listening to music help relieve your stress?
Unfortunately, I’m not a music listener. If I put music on, I do so to really listen and analyze it carefully. I don’t use music to relax. My music listening is part of my music practice. When I’m done [practicing music], I don’t listen.
In general, how does fitness contribute to you being able to perform, and what are its effects on the whole creative process?
For me, doing something creative is connected with having a sound body and sound mind. My creativity flows from having the proper rest, exercise and nutrition.