So You Wanna Be Fit, or, an Anime Fan’s Guide to Fitness (Part One)

Hint: instant ramen isn’t gonna help.

Good news, though – you don’t have to give it up, either.

Not too long ago, 2DT wrote a post on both a. his own mission to get into good shape, and b. the fact that anime fans shouldn’t just embrace the geek stereotypes appearance-wise – e.g. pale, overweight, underwashed, and just generally unhealthy. While I do think 2DT has a good basic idea, I think there is a big reason for getting in shape that he neglected.

Ok, get ready for it.

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So you can live longer! And therefore watch more anime! And go to more cons! And read more manga! And write more pornographic fanfiction! And buy more borderline pornographic figures! HOLY SHIT!

(and, yes, I was emulating the Pokemon games with all those periods… damn, Heart Gold is fucking awesome)

But, in addition to giving you a reason for becoming healthier (and, remember, looking good is not the same as being healthy), I would also like to give you a jumping off point. After all, its one thing to admonish someone to get in shape, its another altogether to actually give some direction on it.

These will probably be longer posts. I’m going to break it down into sections so it’ll be a little easier to navigate: first post will have clothing, exercises, while the second part will have music, food, assorted tips, and anime or manga that can get you in the mood to work-out. I would also like to note that the focus of this guide will be on solitary-style exercise, so there isn’t anything about playing basketball or any other team sports. I also won’t be touching on swimming at all since it would require a much different set of guidelines than those for running or pull-ups, although I really am primarily a swimmer.

Clothing

You may be wondering why I would bother to touch on this at all – isn’t it more or less self-evident? And to an extent, yes, it is. But its a little more nuanced than throwing on a pair of sneakers, gym shorts, and a t-shirt. Part of it has to do with weather. Part of it has to do with the aforementioned sneakers. But let’s start realllly basic.

First of all, if you are a girl or woman, you need to make an investment in a decent sports bra before doing anything else. When you go to get it, try it on first – jump up and down in front of the mirror. If it feels like you’re bouncing too much, you are. Your chest shouldn’t keep bobbing up and down after your stop jumping; if it is, you need a smaller size. Once you get the right size, grab two – you really can’t wear the same one if you exercise every day. I usually get two or three uses out of each of mine. If you have your period and get a lot of boob swellage with it, you may even want to wear two if you’re going on a run – I always do that. And never put your sports bras in the dryer, although you should just know not to because regular bras aren’t supposed to go in there, either.

Next up, shoes. For sit-ups, push-ups, and other stationary-type exercises, your shoes don’t really matter much, so long as you aren’t wearing cowboy boots or something stupid like that. Even with biking it doesn’t matter too much if you avoid flip-flops, stilettos, etc. But running is another matter entirely. If you don’t own a pair of sneakers, its obvious that you need to go buy a pair. If you do own a pair, take them out and turn them over to look at the soles. Is the tread worn down? Then you need to replace them. If not, try them on. Do they pinch your feet, or do you feel like your foot is lost in a cavern? Then you need to replace them.

When you go to buy sneakers, don’t cheap out on yourself; it is better to make a bit of an investment in a good pair of running shoes because if you do not your medical bills will probably outstrip your shoe savings in the long run (ha….ha). First, make sure you’re looking at sneakers meant for running. If you don’t know the difference, go find a salesperson – they are extremely helpful. They can also aid you in selecting a sneaker based on your feet and the type of running that you intend to do. Try on the shoes, and take a short jog (or sprint) around the store. While shoes prior to being broken in are all going to feel a little funny, if it feels extremely uncomfortable or hurts ditch them and find a different pair.

There is also the option to run barefoot. Some studies do demonstrate that this is better for one’s body and feet, which makes sense since we didn’t evolve with shoes on. However, for a lot of you I am sure this is unfeasible, as you will be doing your running in an urban area, or in a gym. It also takes a bit of getting used to, and is more beneficial for people who run more frequently than you most likely will. I run shoeless sometimes, and I really love it since I hate wearing shoes, period. But I also fully acknowledge that it isn’t for everyone, and that I have sometimes had chunks of glass in my feet to show for it.

From shoes we’ll move into socks. This has a lot to do with personal preference – basically, just buy whichever athletic socks you like. Some brands are better than others; I personally use Adidas white ankle-length for biking and stationary work-outs (or I just go barefoot for stationary stuff), and either soccer socks or tube socks when I got for a run. I highly recommend tube socks or soccer socks for running, especially if you are going to be running on surfaces such as asphalt and concrete – these kinds of socks help reduce the likelihood of shin splints and stress fractures because they hold the muscles tighter to the bones.

Now for the stuff such as shorts, sweats, and shirts. There are some very basic things to follow here – in the wintertime, wear layers if you plan to be outside for your workout, as you will be cold at first and heat up rather quickly. I myself go for no layers at all in the wintertime, but I also know that I’m crazy; my wintertime work-out attire for outdoor stuff (e.g. running and biking) is a long-sleeved shirt, shorts, and tube socks, sometimes stockings if its very, very cold… and I usually take off my shirt (once got stopped by a cop while running in the snow without a shirt on – he had assumed I was drunk since it was about fifteen degrees out… and, uh, snowing). If you are working out in a gym, adjust according to how good the heating system is in the winter, the cooling system in the summer.

For hot weather, make sure you slap on the sunblock before you go outdoors. If you can wear sunglasses without them slipping off constantly, put those on as well. And hats are a good idea, particularly if you don’t want to be slathering sunblock on the part of your hair or your bald head. If you think that you will be removing your shirt at all, put sunblock on your torso as well. If you are going out at night, obviously none of this paragraph applies.

Exercises

There are two rough groups of exercises that you can do without any equipment at all – stationary and non-stationary. The stationary ones are any that involve you not moving from one spot, so think push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc. Non-stationary would be running and biking.

I’ll hit up the stationary exercises first. First off, click here. It’s the Army’s Pocket Physical Fitness Training Guide. Its extremely helpful, and will actually give you a lot more information than just on exercises, but it contains a lot of drills which are stationary in nature. If you don’t really feel like doing any reading at all, though, then I’ll stick to very basic things here: push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, and jumping jacks, since I assume everyone knows how to do those. But even if you know how to do them in the abstract, do you know how to do them properly?

With push-ups, you can either go the real way, or the wuss way. The difference is where your knees are – if they are on the ground, then that is a wuss push-up. If you aren’t used to much physical activity, start with the wuss way and work yourself up to the real way. As for the real way, make sure you are doing it properly. If your butt is sticking up in the air, you’re doing it wrong. Your arms should be about shoulders’ width apart, and your legs straight. Spread your legs slightly so your feet aren’t tight together; this will help you to do more. And remember to breathe throughout – many people will hold their breath and only breathe between individual push-ups, which will only serve to make you feel light-headed.

Sit-ups and crunches are closely related. For a proper sit-up, your back should be perpendicular to the ground; if you don’t know if you are or aren’t, ask a friend to look. Your hands should be clasped behind your head, and should stay there. Your legs should be bent to form a roughly ninety degree angle. You may also sit-up far enough that your chest touches your knees, but that isn’t necessary. For crunches, there are many modified forms; in the basic one, you only need to focus on getting your shoulder blades off the ground. One modified version has you hold your legs in the air. Another involves putting one leg over the other and working on side in particular. If you want clarification on these two, please consult the aforementioned guide.

If you don’t know how to do a jumping jack… go look it up on Youtube.

One of my favorite ways to do a push-up and sit-up workout is to use the card workout. All you need is a pack of playing cards. Each card represents an exercise and the amount you will do. Hearts are push-ups, diamonds are close-arm push-ups (so, not a shoulders’ width apart), spades are sit-ups, and clubs are crunches. The number of the card is how many you do – so, three of hearts is three push-ups. Face cards work like this: Jack is ten, Queen is fifteen, King is twenty. Aces mean you sprint four hundred yards, but you can just toss them out if you only want a stationary work-out. You may also do an easier, alternative counting scheme for face cards: Jack is eleven, Queen is twelve, King is thirteen, and Ace is fourteen.

There’s another neat trick, though, that may appeal to you directly as an anime fan. After all, part of the reason you’re not in shape is due to the fact that you just wanna watch anime and read manga and draw fanart or something. Where does all this fitness fit into that?

Alright, you’re watching the latest episode of Mahou Shoujo Bishounen. You’ve seen the OP and ED so much you could sing them in your sleep. When that OP cues up, jump out of your seat, hit the deck and do ten push-ups. When the ED cues up, hit the deck and do ten push-ups. When the eyecatch slides across the screen, pause and do fifteen sit-ups. If you’re marathoning, or watching a few episodes from different shows in a row, do push-ups or sit-ups between episodes.

These values are just baselines; every day, add one to each total. You can also toss some jumping jacks in there as well.

Another way is to just sit your computer screen or laptop on the floor and do push-ups in front of it while watching anime. Something nice about these approaches to getting into better shape is that you don’t even need to be wearing anything other than what you’ve already go on.

Dubbed shows are actually excellent for stationary exercises, as you do not need to pay attention to the screen as closely as you would were you watching subtitled fare (assuming you don’t know Japanese) (also assuming you aren’t watching something like Revolutionary Girl Utena or anything else where attention to everything on-screen is extremely important). So flopping onto your back for some sit-ups won’t make you lose track of what is going on (just make sure you’re still counting).

Moving on to running and biking. First off, start small – if you don’t move much, try a half-mile jog to start with. For biking, start with something between two and five miles. It doesn’t hurt to bring a friend either (please note: body pillows do not make good work-out buddies). If you aren’t sure how to measure the distance, try using the website Map My Run; this works for measuring distance regardless of whether you are running or biking (or even rollerblading, for that matter).

But, hey, say you don’t want to do something that will take you away from your precious anime time – then what?

I wouldn’t recommend it, but you can do the anime treadmill exercise. It’s pretty simple:

  1. Take your laptop.
  2. Get on treadmill.
  3. Balance laptop on treadmill’s control panel; duct tape if necessary.
  4. Queue up latest episode of anime x (not X) (well… I guess it could be X).
  5. Turn on treadmill.
  6. Run.
  7. And watch.

If you want to read manga, you can use a stationary bike. I read Crime and Punishment that way, so don’t tell me you can’t do that.

Alright, that covers the basics for exercises themselves. Keep on the lookout for the second installation in this series, which, as I said before, will cover music, food, assorted tips, and anime or manga that can motivate you to get moving.

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21 Responses to So You Wanna Be Fit, or, an Anime Fan’s Guide to Fitness (Part One)

  1. A stationary bike with a laptop bay in front would be awesome.

    I find it difficult to integrate my tennis hobby with my anime/manga/blogging one, save for when my friends and I goof off and do shonen attacks on the tennis court…

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Man, its been ages since I played tennis.

      Unless you enjoy Prince of Tennis, and I seem to recall there being a post wherein you mentioned you didn’t, I can’t think of much… maybe watch Chi’s Sweet Home between sets? Or just watch the tennis episode of Clannad on loop. Or episode sixteen of Battle Athletes Victory.

  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    No Hinako joke?

  3. ojisan says:

    oh puhleez, NO Hinano joke!~

    I used to listen to the incidental music from Hajime no Ippo on my ipod while exercising at the gym. It’s GAR.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I used to listen to the Battle Athletes Victory soundtracks when I was at track meets and swimming meets – got me all pumped up. I’m not sure that I’d exactly describe it as GAR, though, but, then again, the feats the ladies of that show performed probably could qualify them as such.

  4. mefloraine says:

    The shoe splurging is no joke…I had IT band issues last year that took months of physical therapy (and money ;-;) to repair. So bad.

    This is kind of fun to read. Also makes me feel awesome for already doing these things. ;D

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, a friend of mine had major problems with stress fractures and her doctor took one look at the sneakers he’d been using and basically rolled his eyes – the treads were completely worn down.

      • mefloraine says:

        Yeah, that’s just a poor decision. I’d been wearing the wrong pair of shoes, since I’d swapped my orthods into my old pair for a day and forgot to switch them back. Ahhh.

  5. Caddy C says:

    Ah! So much win and good advice! Yay for exercise-inclined otaku!

    Here’s my tips:

    1- Anime OP/ED theme songs are excellent workout tunes! I always flip to Shura or Donten by DOES (from Gintama) when I near the end of a 5 or 10k to pump me up and push me to work towards the finish line. Or pick any OP to Naruto, it works even if you don’t like Naruto. Heroes Come Back by nobodyknows+? Perfect.

    2- Make a Maito Guy-style goal. For instance, when I was really trying to lose weight and still watching Bleach, I decided that I would only watch Bleach while doing step aerobics. 30 minutes of strenuous stepping will really get you going! Plus, with a long-running, stable series, you have at least one guaranteed workout a week, plus more for backlog episodes.

    Also, why the hell are sports bras so expensive?! Seriously! 🙂

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I like the second one – setting goals like that is so helpful.

      Bras in general are just expensive. Blah. I try to buy mine either at outlets or online direct from the manufacturer… With sports bras, I divebomb sales.

    • John says:

      Wow. I thought I was the only one that did that. I do cardio and watch anime or movies. Instead of a laptop I now use a tablet. It really makes the minutes fly by if you’re watching something that you’re really into. I read sometimes too if I’m really into it. I consider anime a guilty pleasure of mine. But if I exercise while watching it takes out the guilt part and just leaves pleasure :).

  6. should we include doing all those said in a qwerty manner and then, do it in a asymmetrical and non-logical manner.

    Then do a real exercise that requires you to jump a bridge…and go back alive wanting to dive more.

  7. Canne says:

    Unfortunately swimming is my primary choice of sport. Will there be a specific guidelines for this? -_-

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I won’t be going over swimming just because it is something which requires more time, effort, and money in that it requires a pool. Sorry =(

  8. Pingback: So You Wanna Be Fit, or, an Anime Fan’s Guide to Fitness (Part Two) « GAR GAR Stegosaurus

  9. I liked your body pillows comment! Seriously. Don’t bring those things with you, even if they are your “girlfriend/boyfriend”! Exercise with real people. They might know better than you.

    So what do you think of those types of pillows? I wrote an entry on them, which you can take a look at: http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/789757093/animebodypillows

  10. antu says:

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  11. Thank you very much! I got some more stuff coming up!

  12. gonnagetfit says:

    Stumbled upon this sometime ago and being the active person I am bookmarked it to read later, it is now the new year and time to read it over, came across the Go ARMY link, it has changed so I did some digging the new link is http://www.goarmy.com/content/dam/goarmy/downloaded_assets/pt_guide/pocket_pt_guide.pdf

    Thanks for the great advice and information

  13. 1000 Knives says:

    I kinda like, stopped being apart of the “otaku” community so to speak awhile ago. I actually found it like, immature and lame and stuff, and got more involved with my church friends who are better and usually more reliable. I still like anime, jpop, etc, like I’ll drive around blasting my eurobeat and jpop with my windows open now. I think a lot of that is realizing I don’t have to care as much about what people think as much as what God thinks of me, audience of one if you would.

    Anyway, one thing that made me mad when I was part of an anime convention/club, was, they’d never DO anything. Like, so much I wanted to like, organise a get together at a park, playing soccer or baseball or something, some activity people do in anime, haha. I mean, there’s even sports animes and all. But they could not be made just to…fellowship…with eachother. It was either anime or nothing at all.

    Part of what’s funny for me, animes sorta inspired me to do lots of things. I didn’t care about cars at all in the slightest, then I watched Initial D and now I own 2 1984 Supras and do pretty much all my own car work and want to get into racing.

    But now, for my exercise, I started ice skating. For awhile, due to circumstances beyond my control, I couldn’t do a whole lot outside with other people, but now I can, so I started doing things I sorta enjoyed doing as a kid. One day, I just decided to go ice skating. None of my friends wanted to go with me, I just went alone, none of my friends wanted to go. They’re not all otaku types, but some are, and they just don’t want to go. It was hard, but I’m getting better and better each time I go. After about a month, that plus some exercise and diet modification (diet modification loosely, I’m eating worse in some ways now sometimes, like taco bell) I’ve dropped from 215 to 203 pounds, and that difference is enormous. I went from 38 to 36 jeans.

    Another thing I started doing was, punching bag at the gym. That’s pretty sweet, too, you get sweating, and your arms get way stronger, after a few days, your punching and kicking technique will improve. Only like 1/2 hour a day 4-5 days a week will do it. Your arms will be tone, and you’ll be able to get rid of a ton of stress with it. Me, being a male, love the punching bag, it makes me able to try out my stupid anime fantasies in real life. I’ll listen to the Fist of the North Star opening theme sometimes while doing this, it’s awesome, haha.

    Basically my best advice for fitness is, find a physical activity you LIKE and do it, whatever it is, basically. Like, if you don’t like lifting weights, you probably shouldn’t (unless you’re just super determined or something.) In my case, I don’t like running, but do like ice skating, and they both burn the same amount of calories (ice skating may even burn more) so I ice skate. But yeah, if you don’t like it, you’ll simply not do it.

    My life changed a lot, though, from my “anime otaku” days. I went to jail for a few months in 2008, and learned a lot there, and got a lot tougher. I’m happy, though, it cost me a lot, but I think it’s been worth it. There’s still hurdles I have to cross, but overall I’m happy with what God’s done with my life.

    With the exercise, though, part of it, is actually I guess emulation of anime stuff. I like certain animes, I admire certain characters in animes, and aspire to be like them in some ways, so I exercise to accomplish that goal, so I do not stay, for all extensive purposes, a weakling, I want to be strong basically, strong in all ways, and exercise is a huge part of becoming stronger I think. An easy way to describe this, it’s like, you see, let’s say, Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop and go “damn, I wish I could be as cool as Spike Spiegel” and the thing is, you CAN be if you just get more courageous.

    BTW, exercising at a gym or something is good, as like, you’ll meet different people and learn different stuff, you’ll learn commonalities and differences. For example, in jail, this big huge Puerto Rican gangsta seeming dude, I was talking to him, he told me his favorite games for Dreamcast were Shenmue and Gundam Side Story 0079. Another time, I had someone compliment me on my Gundam pictures on the wall in jail. Now, these people didn’t seem “otaku” at all, but knew about anime and stuff, maybe you’ll meet people like that there. Also, you’ll meet other people (bros http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Bro to put it simply, lolz) who will see that you like anime, and learn something new or think of people differently. He’ll see that you like anime and all that, but are working out at a gym, thus changing his perspective from smelly otaku to “hmm, maybe it’s OK if I watch that anime I loved as a kid, too, now.” I learned that just because people are different from you, they can still be good people.

    As anime fans, we’re often persecuted for it, get labelled, etc, so we do it back to a degree. We shouldn’t, if you saw me, I might be wearing Abercrombie, and you might go “wow what a fag wearing Abercrombie” at least I used to think stuff like that. But, if you got to know me, you’d know my favorite animes are Patlabor, Initial D, and Wangan Midnight. Basically, though others judge us anime fans, we need to stop being judgemental of people, too. Jesus told us not to repay evil with evil, so as anime fans, we shouldn’t do it either like that.

    Plus, you can even just flaunt your animeness sometimes. At the skating rink for example, the PA system for the rink, you can play any music you want over it. Figure skaters basically get priority, but other than that, it’s first come, first serve for music that plays at the skating rink here. So a lot of times, I’ll play my eurodance or some Japanese music, in public. Imagine that, anime and game music in public for EVERYONE to hear, it’s so great. Still haven’t gotten ballsy enough to play Perfume, lolz. I have played Move, though.

    Oh, one other quick thing. Learn to cook! Processed food will make you feel so shitty compared to just home cooking. Once you learn to cook, your life will never be the same, though. Your innocence will be lost. For example, I had sushi at a cheaper place, and I knew it was frozen fish from cooking fish before. I would have been so impressed at it in my “otaku” days, but now it was just disappointing. Your standards get higher as you know how to cook. But, it’ll be so cool, you’ll learn to make your favourite (at least my favourite) Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc, food from home for very cheap, and it’ll be way healthier than, say, hotpockets or Chef Boyardee, what I used to eat.

    Last thing, though, I do believe it was God who helped me with this all, I see my interactions with people/etc at a point where I never thought they’d be a few years ago. I think, above all, it comes down to courage. You need courage to do everything in life, and I believe God gave me it. Once you get more courage, the sky is the limit, though. There’s still a ton of things I’m not courageous at, though I’m great with talking with like any random person, and used to not be, I can’t tell a girl how I feel still, it’s still a struggle, but now I’m not afraid at all, for example, to play my eurobeat and jpop in public, what’s someone going to do, fight me? I used to, however, not tell anyone but my closest friends that I liked stuff like eurobeat, but now I’ll drive around blaring it out of my car, and if someone doesn’t like it, what’s he going to do, fight me?

    But yeah, I think faith in God is a key to this all, just saying.

    Anyway, sorry for my rambling weird post like this, I just was looking up “anime exercise” and this was like the first thing that came up, so yeah. I have a lot more to say, but I probably said too much already about this, hopefully someone finds what I said useful and insightful. Go and exercise now, haha.

    God bless.

    http://youtu.be/hsDzUP5l-5Y Get Wild and Tough and Get Chance and Luck!

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