The second Covid-19 lockdown here in the UK allows me to work at staying fit.

The hot days of the summer lockdown here in the UK have passed but now it’s second time round for the covid-19 precautions and, in classic English autumn style, it has been raining and, more importantly, it has got cold. No excuse to stop my fitness regime though. Back in July I started doing 25 pressups a day and I have carried on ever since – rain or shine.

I do a different variation on the basic pressup every day each week – now I have seven favourites which target different muscles. I plan to do a blog about these some time soon. For now, just let me say that pressups are perfect for daily no-nonsense fitness-training and I can really feel the difference since I’ve been doing them.

I’m a member of a martial arts club here in Lewes, White Crane Fighting Arts http://www.whitecranefightingarts.com/ but the club has had to close down during lockdown. At home, I have continued my daily 66-moves Tai-chi practice which in our White Crane form is really a soft form of kungfu known as Shuang Yang Bai Hè Rou Ruan Quan or White Crane Soft Boxing. The aim is not just to look gracefully elegant (unlikely in my case) but also to use the soft martial techniques not just for self-defence but for fitness. It is a method I have been doing for a long time now and, hopefully, I will be able to carry on (and improve) for the rest of my life, even into extreme old age.

I am not allowed to do Kungfu full-contact sparring any longer because of the brain haemorrhage I suffered 12 years ago, but I have continued to practice my four White Crane Kungfu patterns and hope, one day, to learn a few more. I go through them every morning after Tai-chi and my 25 pressups. I have never been much good at it, but I have done it and enjoyed it for so long now, that it is a permanent part of my self-image. It is still useful too – a few years ago, I used a lower crane block to dispatch a pick-pocket on the Pont du Nord bridge in Paris.

I end my morning sessions with a set of fourteen moving-meditation exercises said to have been invented by a 5th or 6th century Buddhist monk known as Da Mo (or Bodhidharma) who is said to have brought Buddhism and martial arts from India to China. These exercises, are a bit like Tai-chi in that they are supposed to look calm and gentle but they are, in fact, really difficult and what your muscles would recognise as hard work. The fourteen exercises involve doing various stretches and moves which use the whole body, in horse stance, knees bent, whilst regulating the breath and letting the mind focus on abstraction. I’m far from getting the posture right, but I’m still trying. One day, I might get to the abstraction bit, but, for now, it’s enough to get through them in a state of calm while those leg muscles are screaming stop this madness now.

These morning exercises are a supplement to my two hour-long personal trainer sessions a week with Gyles Abbott of Soul Fit in Lewes who has been putting me through a custom-built fitness routine which has grown incrementally now for nearly three years as I have got fitter. https://www.wearesoulfit.com/personal-training During lockdown we are meeting either in the park or on Zoom. It is really enjoyable if you like to feel your body performing in the way it was designed. I am getting there, I think.

When each morning session is over, I promise you, breakfast and coffee taste better than you can imagine. And I don’t feel so guilty about spending so much time writing at my computer these days…the other advantage of lockdown, is that there are few distractions from getting on with the 5th draft of my fourth novel.

4 Comments

  1. Good on you. In Aotearoa – New Zealand we haven’t had the same experience with covid thanks to early and strict lock-downs. I liked our bubble and we are fortunate to live near the sea and beside a reserve (land where houses were destroyed during earthquakes). I find nature walks restorative but you have inspired me to learn more about tai chi, some of the moves remind me of ballet. Exercising the body is important for writers as it does tend to clear out the toxins and leave the mind free to wander in new fields.

    • Good on you too, Saige….go for it …..I totally agree with the bit about toxins. If I didn’t believe it before, I do now that I can feel the effect. Good luck with your research into a suitable tai-chi style for yourself. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Dear Wolfie, hope you are well, and hope you don’t mind me talking to you as if I know you, which I don’t. My reply is probably a bit odd as usual, as I have left comments on your blog in the past.
    Maybe I should be banned leaving commets, which I frequently do on youtube.
    I do admire physical exercise. Well done. I will hopefully take a leaf out of your book, so the expression, and do a bit more myself. Definitely need to get fit. Love the pictures of you doing the exercise. I wish I could do it.
    What I am writing about here is something completely different and I apologise for being a nuisance, but it really upsets me and it may be a warning to someone else.
    I have several free websites with Jimdo, although it could be with anyone besides Jimdo.
    One of my websites, that I paid for, I cancelled, because I moved back from Germany to England.
    Now I have been made aware of some malpractice concerning this cancelled website and my name being used for alternative things, meaning the website has been taken over by a Chinese erotic site with my name and email address. I have informed Jimdo and Google and have been searching for help elsewhere. It seems, there is nothing I can do. Once your website is cancelled it is free for all. I didn’t know this, otherwise I wouldn’t have paid for a website. Now I have to live with a website, bearing my name and information, with a flipping content that has nothing to do with me. Please forgive me for the intrusion.
    Delete this comment if you like, I understand that it has nothing to do with what you have to say on your blog.
    Your last entry was in November. Hope you are alright.
    This lockdown is getting me down, don’t go out much, but I did this evening to go to Tesco and fell flat on my face. My knee is bleeding and my face on the left hand side is swollen. Didn’t really need to go out, but had to, because I wanted to be outside in the street.
    Kind regards
    Gabriele sculptor / artist

    • Dear Gabriele, thanks for the message…sorry not to have seen it until now. I don’t think there is anything you can do about your old website with its connected email address, unfortunately – but i am not a technical expert on these things. It might well be worth you getting wiser council than mine. I am sad to hear how lockdown is depressing you – it is tough, I know, and exercise, not matter what level, is definitely a help in these times. You have inured yourself, I know, but there are still things you can do with the parts of you uninjured. Honestly, it is worth it. The other thing is to look forward – we are in the late stages of this crisis and it will end, so stay cheerful, Gabriele. I’m fine thanks – I just haven’t felt like blogging whe there seem to be only two stories these days – Trump and the virus and i feel that it’s mostly all been said by others. I will write another blog soon tough. With all best wishes, Wolfie.

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