Dec 23rd 2017  


Dennis Ngo's wooden martial arts training dummy standing in a field covered in winter snow

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Seasonal Training

The Northern Hemisphere days are short and the nights are long. What better time than to sit in the house, eat large amounts of sweetened, salted foods, and tell tall tales of your glorious achievements in 2017? Everything starts to wind down now, and it’s nearly two weeks for the regular training sessions to fully re-start. Happy Holidays!! So why do these much-anticipated holidays become bliss for some and hell for others?   The reasons are complex, but Instructor Joshua Villar decided to take the mental bull by the horns and asked the other Instructors, “how do you stay sane and fit over the Winter Holidays?” So, in no particular order, here are the secrets they revealed…

It doesn’t take long for your fitness to dwindle…

Research has shown that, for people who train regularly, after two days without exercise the body already begins to show signs of loss of fitness and after two weeks even elite aerobic athletes can see significant degradation in fitness.

But do not fret, a day of not training will make no difference to your physical abilities and if you train regularly (as you already are) it will be easy to regain your fitness after a week’s break. However…

Age matters…

The older you are, the longer it takes for you to recover your fitness and you lose it faster. Younger people generally regain it quickly. Santa’s jolly little helper, quinquaginarian Instructor Andy Rees pointed this one out for us. As a vicenarian I thought it only fair to put this one up first (Thanks Joshua from everyone else).

It’s not all doom and gloom…

At this point you are probably wondering how you are going to sit down at the family table and eat this amazing feast in front of you without feeling a smidgen of guilt. Well fear not, the FWC instructors are here to help, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks you can use to keep up your training over the holidays.

First out of the gates is the Chief Instructor

“You are on holiday! you will have more time than usual on your hands  – no commute, no work – ha!” So get on and train – morning, noon, and night. Go off and do it.  It doesn’t have to be long, but consistent. Don’t see any problems with that.”

Get motivated!

Instructor Richard Wagstaff  thinks the best way to motivate yourself is to find out how many calories you are eating and how long it will take to burn off those calories.

Instructor Richard Wagstaff, Fujian White Crane Kung Fu & Tai Chi Martial Arts Club 9FWC Kung Fu) punching a snowball as part of his Winter trainingFor the record, the average person consumes a whopping 6,000 calories over Christmas Day! Feel motivated yet? Well if not, keep in mind that to burn this you will need to do 7 hours of intense exercise. With this information, you should definitely be motivated to do some form of daily exercise in the days before and after Christmas Day.

Christmas Sinner press ups – really?

If that hasn’t already got you doing jumping jacks there is a solution…Christmas dinner press ups. What are these you ask?  Well they are Instructor Richard’s solution to all your problems! All you need to do is hold press position above a plate of delicious Christmas food then simply: bend your arms, at the bottom of your press up take a bite of your tasty, well-deserved meal and then straighten your arms. Swallow your food and repeat process until your plate is clean and you won’t have to worry about putting on the pounds… Or exercise before and after Christmas day and get back to class ASAP… both valid options really.

Get Inspired – what is your Instructor up to?

Dave Courtney Jones, Instructor Fujian White Crane Kung Fu & Tai Chi Martial Arts Club (FWC Kung Fu), doing his Christmas stomach training

Dave’s super iron stomach exercise – Last year’s Facebook Christmas photo

If 6000 calories on one of the most sedentary days of the year has not got you in the mood to train, you can go and see how it’s done by checking out Instructor Dave Courtney Jones‘ Facebook page. He posts an annual photo of him training over the Christmas period. Who knows what this year’s inspirational exercise will be?

Instructor Dave would also like to remind students about how much pain they will be in once they return to training, if they stop training cold Turkey (excuse the pun).

If that’s not inspiring enough for you, you can check out the Club’s 40th Anniversary video. Every performer burned a considerable amount of calories and those who took part in the Lion Dance definitely burned over 6000 (P.S I was the head of the Lion for half of the Lion Dance performance.)

Maintain your fitness by making it part of your daily routine…

Instructor Adam Prout has some very helpful advice; ‘Do small amounts often. Don’t plan big times where you’ll do Adam Prout, Instructor, Fujian White Crane Kung Fu & Tai Chi Martial Arts Club (FWC Kung Fu), punches a snowball.lots of exercise as things tend to crop up to take your time over Christmas. Also, you’ll get a sense of achievement for completing 10 minutes of leg lifts rather than a sense of failure for not doing 4hrs of first pattern.

Fitness goes very quickly, to keep it and your patterns going set a timer for ten minutes, often the longest time you have free before the potatoes need putting on and do one pattern as fast and hard as you can.’

Be honest with yourself

You are used to being in class, with your Instructor pushing you to go further. Now you are on your own. Instructor Karim Daoud points out that your brain will still think that your body is at your peak strength and fitness for some time after you stop training. This is a red flag for hurting yourself. Be honest, you will probably have family and friends around or be in someone else’s home politely guesting it.  Karim says do as much as you can to maintain your strength and fitness so that on return to class your Instructor can take back their job of pushing you on rather than bringing you back to where you left off – otherwise those first few classes are going to be tough.

If you can’t maintain, stem the tide…

Sometimes we have grand plans of what training we want to do over the break, but life can get in the way; you forget to buy a loved one a very important gift and are running about the week before Christmas like a headless chicken or even worse you burn your roast potatoes!!! Well… life happens, so if you can’t maintain your fitness try to slow the loss of your physical prowess, Instructor Andy Rees advises to do short bursts of high intensity training when you have the chance. This won’t maintain your physicality but it will stem the tide.

Get outdoors

Being outside in the cool weather will give you a chance to use your warm-blooded mechanisms to burn some of the surplus calories you couldn’t resist or were too polite to refuse.  Instructor Danil Mikhailov is a keen advocate of training outdoors in the winter. It raises the metabolism, gives you some much-needed natural daylight, and boosts your immune system.

Look after your mental space

Being cooped up indoors when you are used to training can take its toll, making you grumpy and poor company. Instructor Anna Wallen recommends that you take time out of the chaotic family environment to do a bit of training. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – nip upstairs to the bedroom for some sit-ups and iron bridge – open the windows, breathe deeply, and head back downstairs with a smile on your face.

It’s your training, and everyone else’s holiday.

So get on with what you want/need to do, but don’t inflict it on everyone else. Refusing carefully prepared food, “watching your weight” whilst looking like a retired greyhound, and endless fidgeting will not make anyone any happier. So leave everyone to enjoy in their own way, and look after yourself stealthily.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Don’t forget that the “Happy Holidays” are a time to sit back and relax. Training is essential for your mental and physical well-being but so is taking the occasional break. Use this time to reset yourself for the New Year and come back to class relaxed, well rested and eager to learn.  If you have gained a few pounds through over-indulgence and lack of exercise, get back to class as soon as you can and allow your Instructor to get you back into fighting shape!