Let's say that you are happy with your workout. You love your morning jogs, or your biweekly yoga classes. Maybe you are kicking butt in your cardio kickboxing class. Sometimes, we want to mix up our workouts a bit, while keeping them fundamentally the same. The Japanese art of conditioning, known as Taiso, is the perfect supplement to your favorite workout. Taiso is a fantastic way to push your body further, and it keeps you from plateauing or flat-out losing interest in your fitness goals!
"Taiso" is the generic Japanese term for conditioning, and it is defined as anything that safely prepares you for another activity. It can range from something as low-key as simple stretching, to a full-on total body conditioning workout. It is commonly used in rehab centers to reintroduce the body to movement, and also in training and preparing professional athletes for their respective sports. Taiso concentrates on movements, rather than muscles. The belief is that if you can train your body in movements, muscle growth and definition will follow close behind. Taiso requires absolutely no machines or dieting, which makes it one of the most simple and portable workouts available. Utilizing Taiso for a mere 30 minutes a day as a supplement to your workouts promotes better movement and stamina.
A form of Taiso actually originated in the U.S. in the 1920's. The American health insurance company Met Life sponsored 15-minute exercises which were broadcasted throughout major cities across the country. Japan quickly picked up on the idea and began their own broadcast, Radio Taiso. While it eventually faded out in the U.S., it rapidly became a successful form of exercise in Japan. All ages participated in the early-morning broadcast, and it eventually helped to increase the population's lifespan from 40 years old in the 1920's, to 80 years old today. Even though it was banned during the Allies' occupation during WWII, it returned during the 1950's and continued to inspire strength, work ethic, and unity within the Japanese community.
Taiso is rooted in movement. The basic motions include shoulder and trunk extensions, overhead pushing or pulling, chest pushing or pulling, and pushing or pulling with legs. While these are all movements, it is easy to see how they would target the major muscles of the body. The key elements of Taiso include maintainability (you actually want to hit a plateau!), aleatoric training (the combination of simple moves to create a more complex set of exercises), low weights, and speed. For more information on all of the key elements of Taiso, click here.
If you are looking to incorporate Taiso into your day, just throw in 20 to 30 minutes of cardio for a full-body workout! This artistic form of exercise is safer than martial arts, but still churns out great results. In no time at all, you will move, look, and feel better than you have in years!
For more information on this amazing workout, check out our sources below. Interested in other workouts across the world? Click here for additional articles in this series.