How To: Train your inner muscle in 30 seconds

Hi guys. How’s everyone doing? It’s already February, don’t you think time flies? After the long year end vacation, I’ve been thinking to get back on track on exercising. But here I am, still not doing much lately. So, I was thinking to review on what I’ve learned from the previous episodes of my favorite Japanese TV shows about exercise. And, I’m hoping that by posting it here will give me motivation. This post will be just a start of more posts related to health and exercise.

Last year, “taikan” (trunk in English) training has been very popular in Japan. There are many books and DVDs released and it became a hot topic on television and throughout the country. There’s even one book/DVD that features the well-known Japanese footballer of Inter Milan, Yuto Nagatomo.

For someone who spends most of the time sitting at work, like me, we tend to use our inner muscles less in daily basis.

What is inner muscle? What’s the importance of it?

Trunk muscles

Taikan, or trunk, refers to the part of body excluding the head and extremities. Muscles have the main role of connecting the trunk to the rest of the body parts. One of these muscles is what we called inner muscle. To understand easier its role, it’s better to give an example. When we pick up something, first our brain sends a signal to our inner muscles and it leads the actual action of picking up the object. With a not-so use or trained inner muscle, leads to inability to respond quickly or as expected that might lead to stumbling.

In the TV show, they performed an experiment to a number of people. They asked these people to stand up on a balance board while a tray is placed on their right hand and left hand on their hip. They recorded how long each of them can keep the same position. One of the participants, an office worker, scored an average of 19 seconds and 75 milliseconds, while a young builder on his 20s scored only 16 seconds. On the other hand, a woman aged of 29 was able to maintain the same position for more than 5 minutes. So, what this woman has and others don’t?

Inner muscle: ballerina

Photo credit: BurnAway

Actually, the woman is a ballerina. Compared to the young builder who might seem have a well-trained muscles by just looking at his appearance, the ballerina is well-trained in terms of inner muscle because of the regular movements of taking balance that helps in training the inner muscle.

Let’s check our inner muscle and do the balance age test!

Person trying to take a balance

Photo credit: star5112

Are you ready to take the test? Let’s do it. Here are the steps based on what I’ve seen on the episode of “Mega-ten” TV show. Make sure to perform this in a wide open space with no obstacles around that might cause you any harm.

1. Stand up straight, place your hands on your hip and lift your right leg.
2. Keep your current position and  start counting after you close your eyes.
3. Continue counting until your right leg touches the floor.

How did it go? You can check with the chart below your balance age. This is taken from The National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG) in Japan.

Age    Duration (in seconds)

20        70 or more
30       55 – 69
40       40 – 54
50       20 – 39
60       10 – 19
70       5 – 9
80       4 or less

Mine is 20 seconds – 50 years old! Sitting all day at work and no regular exercise, it’s no wonder. But no worries, the show also gave an advice how to improve one’s inner muscle.

How to train your inner muscle

Inner muscle: Lie down

Photo credit: Robert McDonald

Just follow the steps below:

1. Lie down in bed.
2. Place your two finger tips on your belly and find your hip bone. From hip bone, move two fingers inward and two fingers downward, then press a bit that part.
3. Now, drow that part in, and if you feel it hardens, then you are doing the right thing.
4. Keep it for 10 seconds.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 for 3 times.

Challenge time

The show suggests to try this for two weeks to get improvement.
I’ll start today and I’ll let you guys know how it goes!
Will it really work in improving my inner muscle? Let’s find out after two weeks!

Wanna join me?

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Time to exercise: Finding gyms in Japan

Time to exercise: Finding gyms in Japan

time-to-shed

Hey, it’s Mr. Wada on duty. It’s been a while since Christmas and New Year holidays passed. Have you still got holiday weight? For me a little, and aside from that, I haven’t exercised much lately (I spend pretty much all day sitting at work). So, I’ve decided to go to the gym once a week. Yeah, it’s time to shed. I am sharing some reference for finding gyms in Japan.

“Gym? No way, it costs too much!”, that’s what you are thinking right?  Nah, gyms in Japan are not always like that. There’s a way out. Basically there are two types of the gyms in Japan – private and city-owned. Although, there are pros and cons for both. Check the following:

gyms in Japan gym_general

(Photo credit: Health Gauge)

 

1. Private gyms

You’d see many private gyms in any city. If you are a busy bee type, you might prefer it. It’s convenient and probably easy access.

Pros

Some places are open 24 hours, so you can swing by anytime you like. Very convenient indeed, I’d say. They also got facilities like bathrooms, massage rooms, etc. That’s oasis for hard-working soldiers!

gyms in Japan private_gym

(Photo credit: Karl Baron)

Cons

They absolutely cost you a lot more than city-owned gyms. Plus, it normally requires you to be a member first (don’t forget to bring your ID) and a registration fee (3,000-5,000 yen) as well.

Fee goes monthly or pick one of their plans and see what fits your schedule. Fees depend on your plan but average is like from 5,000 yen/month. Good gyms might even cost like 10,000 yen/month.

2. City-owned gyms

It’s true that private gyms mentioned above are beyond budget for people like me who want just a little bit of workout once or twice a week. I’d recommend the city-owned gyms.
gyms in Japan city-owned_gym

(Photo credit: Patricia (aka look lovely))

Pros

The city-owned gym in Okayama costs me about 200 yen for every use (only for walk-ins). Mmmm? Two-hundred yen? Yeah, very cheap right? So, what the hell is the difference? Take a look at the cons.

Cons

As a downside, some gyms don’t have shower rooms (but some do). So if you want to take a shower, make sure the one in your city has a shower room. Or, you might be able to take a shower at the swimming pool’s (most city-owned gyms are located next to a swimming pool). Another one is, facilities tend to be old. I don’t mean like rusted or anything but nothing like brand new, no spa-like facilities a private gym can provide.

By the way, I’ve lived in Saitama (next to Tokyo) before and there was a gym I used to go to. It was a nice city-owned gym called Waku-Waku Dome. It was huge and got nice stuff, reasonable as well. I’d definitely recommend that place, if you live near by.

gyms in Japan wakuwaku_dome

Waku-Waku Dome in Saitama

How to find a city-owned gym?

Check the list of the gyms in Okayama on this page.

Or else, to find a city-owned gym in your city, I suggest you Google like “shiei gym” (city-owned gym) + city name (example, “shiei gym Okayama”). Or, you might find some info on the website of the city you live in (perhaps in English).

Note: You might be able to save up a little by buying discounted multiple-entry tickets (example, for 10 visits). Take your time and pick the best place and plan for you!

gyms in Japan time-to-shed
Oh damn, it’s time for workout. Hope you will find good gyms in Japan.
See you around!
References:

City-owned gym in Okayama (in Japanese only)
Waku-Waku Dome (in Japanese only)

 

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How To: Train your inner muscle in 30 seconds
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