I woke this morning to the sunlight beaming through my window already Kyoto’s summer humidity rising at 5:45am battling with the idea I pulled myself up to meet my friend Healy for a morning workout. The 1km run to Umekoji park was even a struggle, clearly the ice cream and pastries the day before did nothing good for my body today, amazing how when you are in tune with your body you notice the differences your lifestyle choices make. I love this park located about 10 minutes walk from Kyoto station it reminds me of a small version of Yoyogi park in Tokyo where there is always something going on, whether it’s just people training, playing, doing group exercises, markets and there is also the Kyoto aquarium where you can often see the dolphins jumping into the air during shows.
I had prepared a session with a mi of strength, flexibility and cardio and introduce Healy to the exercises.
1. Burpee to bear crawl- How it’s done: Jump and don’t forget to use your arms and bend your knees to increase the power and reduce the landing impact. Jump down into a plank and perform a push up then for the count of 5 walk on all fours. Do this for 1 minute
2. Partner leg press- In our case Healy started lying down on the ground with knees bent , i held on to his feet, the closer I stood to him the heavier the resistance for him, so oppositely if my feet were further away I would be lighter and the exercise would be easier for him, (we did not want this). For one minute Healy then pushes me away so his legs are fully extended, then as he bends his knees I come back and taunt him so he wants to push me away again. The perfect partner exercise. Swap over after a minute and adjust accordingly for your partner.
3. Air boxing combo for cardio. Jab, cross, uppercut, cross. When boxing you are not trying to be like popeye and just work yours arms so work it like a salsa and get your hips involved, bend your knees, get loose, shoulders down and elbows stay in with arms high at the chest, fists always protecting the face. Do one set then lift your leg like a dog to a tree ready to pee opening your hips as your partner crawls under, then extend your leg so they can jump over; you can raise your leg adjusting the height to make the jump more difficult. Do this to both sides then box again and then you do the same for your partner. Do this for a minute.
4. Shoulder stand to boat pose to oblique twist. Sounds complicated but what it’s mixing is pilates and yoga exercises to release tension through the back, work your core and activate all your abdominals so rectus as you roll onto your shoulder blades and lift your legs to the sky then slowly lower the legs and roll up into a seated boat position, either extending the legs out or keeping the knees bent and hold this for a count of 5, then lie back down stretching your arms out to the side with your shoulders inline with wrists and again either with bent or straight legs, keeping the knees and ankles together lower them to one side and then the other activating your transverse abdominus and obliques as you twist. Do this for a minute.
5. Lunge and hamstring extension (one for all the footballers). Step and lower the back knee to a hover just above the ground maintaining good posture, (no slouching, or pushing down on your front leg to help you up) activate your glutes back to standing and then extend the back leg out in front as high as you can to add in a balance component and activate your hamstrings. Repeat on the other leg and do this for 1 minute.
6. Partner single leg squat: Cross arms and hold on like a Hercules hand shake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1boSFqgAHVg Partner steps in close to balance as the other squats as low as possible (ideally to the ground) then engages glutes, (be careful not to use your partner to help you up) and rises to standing. Do 15 seconds on each leg and swap.
7. Hip opener push ups: Perform a normal push up except open up your hip by abducting one leg away from the body with a bent knee and look to that side, then go down and do the other side, so you end up moving forward as you do this. 30 seconds. A great one for shoulder mobility, core strength, hip flexibility and leg abductors and adductors.
8. Sprint 30m use a tree branch or a bar and do a chin up, whilst also lifting your knees to chest, then jump down into a squat. Do 3 whilst your partner is in a plank position then swap. Do two rounds so you end up doing 6 chin ups each.
Repeat it all again.
My favourite thing about exercising with your friends is you get the socializing motivation, they push you harder, but then you can also have fun with it and have a laugh so sometimes you’re working hard but you could simply be going out for a dance you’re having fun with it, which is how all movement and activity should be.
To finish we walked barefoot on rocks, pebbles and sand through the parks small stream. Otherwise known as a reflexology walk this can have many benefits to your body and mind. Triggering pressure points in the feet has the ability to release tension through other parts of the body muscularly and internally.
Some benefits listed by Chinese medical theories include:
Stimulates reflexology areas and pressure points in your feet that correspond to all major body organs and areas.
Stimulates vital energy and blood flow throughout your body.
Relieves stress, improves balance, enhances physical and mental well-being.
Allows you to control the length and amount of stimulation, e.g. short, light walks on smooth stones, or longer walks on thinner, sharper-edged stones.
Also, cobblestone walking reflexology for elderly people and anyone in poor health or recovering from injury or illness is particularly beneficial as it’s a gentle yet deep-working therapy.
Read more here http://www.chinese-holistic-health-exercises.com/reflexology-walking-paths.html
Walking on stones or uneven surfaces for me will calm my mind as acts almost like a meditation to lower my heart rate and relax my breathing. For those wanting to transition between wearing foot wear and adopting a more natural barefoot technique this is a great way to strengthen your feet and open up the pathways from your foot receptors and nerve stimulation pathways to the brain.
Healy and I left ready for breakfast, feeling relaxed yet stronger as we kept our shoes off and took a light stroll back home to prepare a feast of a breakfast with fresh fruit yoghurt and a little caffeine 😉
Happy days here in Kyoto for this glorious Sunday. https://www.dropbox.com/s/odxn0fqt48o5zvv/IMG_8601.MOV