How should I manage time I spend exercising outside of Karate class? What should I do, and what order should I follow? What’s the optimal time of day? How much should I do? I have re-visited these questions multiple times ever since I started Karate. My life changes, my family’s schedules change, my goals change, sometimes a sensei (instructor) will change what is emphasized in class, and sometimes new opportunities arise. I have to adapt the time I spend exercising outside of class accordingly.
When I first started karate four and a half years ago, I didn’t know much about exercise. Interval vs. circuit was beyond my ken. I’m not sure I even knew the meaning of “cardio.” I had no idea of what to do, how to schedule. I didn’t practice karate outside of class at first. All that changed gradually over time.
Years ago, my “home” dojo (school) was in a rec center. I took advantage of classes and activities beyond Karate. I started learning about exercise, and eventually was “on call” as a substitute water fitness instructor. Best of all, the rec center used to allow people to use studios whenever there wasn’t a scheduled group exercise class. Gradually, as I learned more karate, I started taking advantage of those studios more often. Other activities took a back seat and then faded away. Eventually, due to changes beyond my control, I had to create a space in my own home for exercising. This made the “when” slightly easier.
Eventually I had so much karate material to work on that I needed to have paper charts. My week started to become full, so I needed a chart of not only what, but when. I figured out that I really enjoy circuit workouts. After some experimentation, I started using a spreadsheet. Changes can be made quickly and easily.
I’ve had to adapt to quite a lot. It seems like changes in my life are happening more and more frequently. Either I’m perceiving time differently or I’m growing. Or both. Sometimes I need a season to scale back. After such a season or in preparation for something big, I need to ramp up. I don’t know how many revisions my exercise chart has gone through. In fact, I made a revision just a couple of days ago.
I don’t know why, but sometimes a little voice inside me scolds me for changing my charts so often. For some odd reason, a bunch of my old charts are still clogging up my cloud drive, so I can see that major changes don’t come often. Mostly I do minor adjustments. But still – is it so bad to make major changes in my charts? Some part of me wants to believe that I should be disciplined enough to keep the same routine going no matter what.
Balderdash. A quick search of the Internet reveals that there is no one right way for me to manage my extra-curricular exercise. And let’s face it, life happens. If I don’t adjust, I stagnate. If I were a slave to an unchanging exercise routine, I’d probably give up out of sheer frustration in trying to keep up with everything. Learning to adapt is also a lesson in perseverance. This is a lesson I hope to pass along.
Now I’m making charts for someone else. My daughter does well with lists. Because of where she is in life, she accepts only a modicum of input from me. I’m glad that I can provide her with a chart that reflects where she is in her karate journey. Whenever I give her a new chart, I point out that if I’ve increased the number of reps it means she’s getting stronger. I was proud to add two new kata (forms) to her chart last month after she passed her first belt test. Recently I asked her if she’s OK with the circuit-workout format and listed some other options. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree – she likes circuit.
I hope this encourages you, dear reader, to build your own routine. My best advice is to be flexible. When it comes to scheduling and charting exercise, there’s loads of options. Don’t fret about which website, which book, which guru. Find something you like and talk with your doctor (yeah, you knew that). Look at how the rest of your life is scheduled, find your time slots, and just go for it. If something isn’t working, change it. Change, learn, grow, but most of all – enjoy. Don’t beat yourself up for backsliding. Instead, set realistic goals. Focus on the fact that you’re doing something positive for yourself. Success will come, I guarantee it.