Steps for Fitness
Front Kicks: Work your quads and your glutes doing seated front kicks. While seated in your chair, pull one knee up, then straighten the leg out and hold for five seconds. Lower the leg back down, but don’t let it rest on the floor. Keep your foot flexed. Repeat for 5-10 reps, then switch legs. If you need more of a challenge, just wrap an ankle weight.
Back kicks: Strengthen and stretch your hamstrings with this back kick exercise. Stand behind your chair and hold on with both hands. Kick the heel of one foot towards your glutes. Next, stretch the leg out behind you and hold for five seconds. Pull the heel back in, lower your leg to the ground and repeat for 5-10 reps. Repeat on the other leg. Be sure to keep your hips squared to the chair to feel the accompanying stretch in the stabilizing leg.
Low Side Kicks: You can work your quads on your stabilizing leg, while also isometrically working your glutes on the hold with this low, slow, sidekick movement. Stand on one leg, and pull the other leg up so that your knee is approximately waist high. Now dip down on your stabilizing (base) leg, while simultaneously kicking your other leg down to the ground. Try to drive your heel towards the floor, but don’t rest your foot on it. Raise back up and repeat on each leg 10-15 times.
High side kicks: When done slowly, these can be a great workout for the legs and the glutes. Hold on to your desk or chair, and lift one knee approximately waist high. (This is called chambering the knee.) Then extend your leg out to the side, with your foot flexed. Let your body lean naturally in the opposite direction, away from the extended leg. Pull your knee back into starting position, and then lower the foot to the ground.
Punches: You can shadowbox anywhere. While seated or standing, make a nice, tight fist. (Don’t hide your thumbs under your fingers!) Then raise your arms in a fighting stance, with one fist out in front of the body and the other fist back, approximately 6” from your jawline. Punch the front hand out first, and make a half turn with your hand as you do, then pull back. Next punch the back hand in the same manner. You can throw as many punches as you like, but be sure to switch up your right hand in front and then your left hand in front. You want to work both sides equally.
Backfist: Want to feel your upper trapezius, deltoid, and tricep muscles? Sit or stand and raise one arm up to a 90 degree angle, with your fist facing down towards the floor. Next, lift the arm so it is extended straight out to the side. Don’t rush the movement or hyperextend the elbow. Lower and repeat 10-15 times on each arm. Need a challenge? Hold a light dumbbell, but be sure not to scrunch up your shoulders to lift the extra weight.
Blocks: It’s always useful to practice your blocks, even at your desk!
Jodan Uke: (high block), start with your hands crossed in front of you, then raise one arm up high over head. Be sure to turn the hand out, so that your thumb is facing away from your forehead. It’s the deceleration that counts with this movement, so pop it up and stop it hard. Do 10 on each arm.
Soto Uke: (outside block) begins with your fist against the side of your head, up near your temple. Then swing the arm a half turn, so you are looking down at your hand, staring at your thumb. Be careful not to hyperextend your elbow. As with the all blocks, you need to focus on stopping abruptly. You will feel your bicep tighten with each rep. Do 10 on each arm.
Uchi Uke: (inside block) begins with two arms in front of your body, stacked on top of each other. Pull the bottom arm out and swing hard to the same side. The blocking arm should pop out and stop quickly, almost as though you were doing a back punch. You will feel the bicep tighten with each rep. Be sure to pull your shoulders down from your neck before you start to avoid neck and shoulder tension. Do 10 reps on each arm.
Elbow strikes: Hold your left arm out in front of you with an open palm, raise your right elbow up and strike your right elbow into the open left palm. Go lightly; be mindful of the tension this movement can cause in your trapezius if you shrug your neck. Throw just the elbow forward, as opposed to the whole body. Do 10 reps on each side.
Chair Squat: Begin by standing with feet slightly apart and hands held up in a regular fighting stance. Bend the knees slightly, and sit back as if to sit in the chair. Allow yourself to get close to the chair, but rise back up without actually sitting down. The movement can be performed with feet forward and knees straight and aligned, OR with feet turned slightly outward in a more traditional Japanese shiko dachi stance. Repeat 10 times. (For a greater challenge, try this movement against a wall. Slide your back down the wall and hold for 30 seconds when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keeps your arms up in a fighting stance.)