As I wrote in this post sometime ago, I decided to go a more minimalist route to fitness. In summary: twice a day I do this short qigong routine from Lam Kam Chuen’s book Step-By-Step Tai Chi, then this 3 minute North Korean workout* twice a day, and this sitting stretch workout once a day. I also started a 30 day plank and wall-sit challenge so that I have the capacity to do a workout propagated by personal trainer Pete Cerqua.
Considering that I need to workout at least 150 minutes a week and that my daily workout won’t even reach that number, I am under no delusions that I will have an athletic body fit for the Olympics, the movies, or even the military.
That being said, I am glad that I take some time out of the day to exercise as little as I do. If anything, I am surprised how much I benefit I get from doing as much as I do.
The first obvious benefit is that I limber up my body. I won’t get as flexible as a yogi or yogini, but the 3 minutes I do the North Korean workout and 5 I do for the qigong routine gets my body warmed up enough for me to move and feel better. The ease in my movements somehow makes me feel more energetic.
The next benefit, and I don’t want to get into too much detail, is that waste elimination get easier. I would like to think that this is a sign that my organ functions are also improving as well.
The one surprise in my workout has to do with my past stress-induced injury on my left shoulder blade. Years ago, two coworkers decided to lash out at me and yelled at me for 30 minutes each. As I was trying to suppress my emotions, the muscles on my left shoulder-blade knotted up. For the longest time, I had no strength on my left arm. Later on, I regained some strength so that I could drive, type, and even pick up objects. However, at times the injury still acts up so that I would lose sensation on my arm and hands. Although I can do knee push-ups, I have a lot of difficulty doing more than 3 plank push-ups. You know, the classic push-ups we were taught in physical education classes.
One of the moves in the North Korean workout involves me whipping my arm out as I rotate my trunk. Thanks to that motion, the muscles on the shoulder-blade is starting to loosen. I do get a slight pain in that area, but I think it’s because the shoulder blade is healing. Nowadays I put a heating pad under that part of the body and I even feel my blood circulating.
Another surprise is that I do get that endorphin rush just by doing that North Korean routine alone. I used to think sweating should be involved, but this is not the case. There were times I had a bad day at work. When I do the routine, though, I feel immediately better. Feeling better after work does contribute to better sleep.
On the qigong front I can’t say any remarkable is happening. At the very least I get 5 minutes of relaxation. At the same time, though, I do feel good doing qigong so much that I want to do more. Last Sunday, I was wondering if I can do more Taiji . . . although I am holding that off for now since I know might be called to work more hours or help out with family stuff. I also have to remind myself that the benefits of qigong takes time as I am moving in a slower fashion. When I was practicing a qigong set from a David Carradine book, for example, I had to wait 30 days until I felt and saw any results.
Over my adult life, especially after university, I would have this pattern of being able to workout in an athletic manner then stop for some reason and then get myself back to working out and stop again. Inevitably, whenever I get back to working out after a long period I have to start from Square 1. All the progress I made from the last period of exercising goes out the window as I never did anything to improve upon or maintain whatever fitness level I was able to achieve. In fact, I even wrote about the time I did very poorly practicing both Taekwondo and Karate kata. At this point, I still want to workout like an athlete and I am hoping that the minimal workout I am doing is going to get me to start from Square 2 instead of Square 1.
At this moment, I am thinking of ways to improve my current fitness regimen with all the obstacles and restrictions that I have been facing. I might get myself to incorporate the qigong set I got from that David Carradine book. I might even use a Japanese form of qigong taught in the Kyokushin style of Karate. I might even see if I use this 5 minute isometric routine.
*In case you are wondering, I don’t condone the North Korean government nor the actions of the Kim family. I wish for reunification in the Korean peninsula or at the least reform in the country like that China experienced from Deng Xiaoping to Hu Jintao. My heart always go to the people of North Korea. Why do I do a workout from the DPRK? It’s because I can do this in my bedroom or in an apartment, otherwise I would prefer South Korea’s version.