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9Round Japan

 

Recently I was invited to visit 9Round Japan fitness center to try their newly imported from the USA, 30 minute ‘stress buster’ fitness center workout they have launched in Japan.

Personally I have never been one for circuit style / class training, simply I am generally clumsy and don’t feel comfortable following fast paced instruction and I prefer to ‘do my own thing’ during my workouts, so I cannot say I was expecting to enjoy the session nor should I expect a mere 30 minute workout to be particularly challenging. But I was certainly curious as I have wanted to try something new and thought it was worth checking out.

The format was explained to me before visiting and it was simple enough, 30 minutes of kick boxing related workouts across 9 ‘stations. Oh and bring a towel…

That’s it? Really? It has taken me more than two years to learn and master free weight techniques at the gym for my body building, so I can really expect this 30 minutes to be mostly instruction and discussion with the instructor. Easy time.

It’s wonderful to be reminded how our assumptions can lead to incredibly wrong conclusions.

Walking into the venue and the atmosphere was warm and inviting but the red paint and dark fixtures also signalled it’s time to get down to business. Not a large space but that is not the point, this workout is designed for efficiency, not for lingering.

The workout routine varies, but the menu for me was as follows.

  1. Jump Rope
  2. Medicine Ball Squats + Front kick
  3. Double Edge Bag Punch 20x + Shuffle
  4. Front Kicks on Heavy Bag
  5. 20x Uppercut + Duck Under
  6. Freestyle With Trainer
  7. 10x Knees + 10x Hammer Punches
  8. Speed Bag
  9. Medicine Ball Sit Ups

Okay, time for gloves on and let’s get started!

As you probably predict at this point, it was not so much an easy workout! By the end of the 2nd set on the medicine ball squats I was already feeling the pain (the good kind of pain!) and looking forwards to the next routine simply so I could catch my breath and switch onto a new muscle group, finally the siren sounded for brief moment of reprieve and a gulp of water until it was time for heading into the next set which would hopefully be gentler.

Gentler? Ha! Hopeful much?

After 30 seconds or so of front kicks on the heavy bag I was already thinking about the next break and pause to catch my breath. And that’s how it went all the way through the routine. Feeling exhausted towards the end of the set and final push, faster, give it more, 15 seconds. GO! Then what felt like an incredibly short break with the heart rate barely having time to drop a few beats a minute.

Despite the punishment of the session, something about the intensity and the focus that you apply, in retrospect the time actually flew past. Before I knew it, 30 minutes was done and I was finished.

No mistake about it, this is the good kind of high intensity training that pushes you to your cardiovascular and mental limits and leaves you with a very enjoyable buzz and satisfaction that you get after having completely exhausted yourself. And despite all the pain having just put myself through, almost instantly I was thinking about when I would be doing it again. It’s that good.

 

9Round is a high intensity, time efficient way maximise your workout benefits in the the shortest practical time to fit your busy schedule. I thoroughly enjoyed the workout and will certainly be going back!

The flagship gym is located at 3F, 3 Chome-15-17 Sagamiōno, Minami-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa-ken 252-0303

More branches around Tokyo be opening soon! If you would like to arrange a session for yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to them directly via Facebook. Although the official website is in Japanese, they have English speaking staff available to help with your enquiries!

 

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Bio-hacking with Cryotherapy

 

 

 

Turning the tap to cold and blasting myself for a few minutes at the end of an otherwise warm and enjoyable shower is a habit I have adopted for some time now. And no, I can’t say I really look forwards to it all that much and yes I know it sounds a bit crazy.

So exactly why do I do this? And why on earth would I then also go visit my friends at cryosauna japan and step into a cryosauna chamber delivering an ambient temperature of -170°C ?

Well, that is the purpose of this blog detailing benefits of cold therapy and more specifically cryotherapy.

Let’s get started.


What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is a treatment administered with a Cryosauna. The cryosauna uses gas from nitrogen to rapidly lower the skin’s top layer to 0°C (32°F) while surrounding temperature drops to a range of -140°C (-​220°F) to -170°C (-274°F).  During two / three minutes of extreme cold, the brain triggers numerous organ regulatory functions that are noted to provide benefits from injury recovery, weight loss, mental boost to anti-aging.

Cold therapy treatments have been around for aeons, but Whole Body Cryotherapy originated in Japan in the late 1970’s by Dr. Yamaguchi who discovered that freezing skin surface provided immediate relief to his patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Yamaguchi and his partner’s ongoing studies concluded that faster short term freezing of the skin’s surface while inside a cryosauna had a raised the effects on the human body by comparison to a gradual cooling provided in other methods (such as a cold shower or ice bath) and thus the modern treatment of the cryotherapy was born.

More recently cryotherapy and cold exposure has become a popularized ‘bio-hacking’ method that has been adopted amongst high profile individuals from athletes.

 


The Science of Cryotherapy

So, is it really possible all these claims could be true? Well, there are numerous studies which are demonstrating the evidence and as with much emerging ‘natural’ therapies, some of which is still debated. One particularly problematic component of scientifically proving cold therapy is the inability to run the scientific standard ‘placebo controlled double blind study’. This is a condition which a control group believes they are receiving a treatment (but not) is matched with results against a group that do. With Cryotherapy there is no sugar pill to give, either the user steps into a cryosauna chamber and experiences the cold therapy or they do not. It is for this reason the science behind cold therapy has been slow to become widely accepted in the scientific community.

Regardless of this, it has not stopped early adopters of the bio-hacking community to embrace the therapy and the numerous direct experience and anecdotal evidence shared by users is difficult to ignore which is what lead me into my own personal exploration of the therapy that I share here.

 


The Benefits of Cryotherapy

There are numerous claims to the benefits of cryotherapy from a depression treatment to even life longevity. I haven’t investigated into these areas and encourage you to explore further beyond the list below, which I have limited to the most commonly noted and scientifically sound benefits.

  • Pain reduction

    As mentioned already, there have been many studies that demonstrate the benefit of cold therapy including those on arthritis sufferers where the treatment was originally developed. This is achieved primarily due to the anti-inflammatory effects and the trigger of release of endorphins in the patients. Additionally ‘topical’ cryotherapy on patients with wisdom teeth extraction showed significant benefit. This was tested in a group of people with dual extractions and applying treatments to one side.

  • Workout recovery 

    After high intensity / endurance activity. Studies have shown that speed of muscle recovery from intense workouts is significantly improved by comparison to those of a control group who were not exposed to the therapy. Cryotherapy is a powerful anti-inflammatory, this is due to cold exposure allowing improved blood circulation (vasodilation) through the muscle groups and into otherwise poorly circulated capillary veins.
    The timing of cold therapy post exercise to maximize the benefits is still debated however, generally speaking the advice is in the window of 1 hour after the exercise (allowing time for muscle repair/rebuild to take place via healthy muscle inflammation) but then within the following 48 hours of the exercise.

  • Mental Clarity 

    By the release of Norepinephrine and adrenaline into the bloodstream. These wonderful and natural body chemicals are commonly experience during a ‘fight or flight’ situation and is aimed at improving your ability to cope with the stress demands of the situation. Cryotherapy is able to artificially stimulate this biochemical response without any real threat of harm and allow us to gain a mental alertness and clarity benefits. The synthetic stresses from our desk jobs that seldom trigger such a biochemical reaction. I personally believe it’s good to experience a shock to the system once in a while.

  • Weight Loss

    Via non-shivering thermogenesis. To vastly oversimplify, this is a process whereby the body’s response to cold exposure speeds up the metabolism in order to regain body temperature and in doing so burns energy from brown adipose tissue (‘brown fat’ stored on the body that is readily consumed for fuel).

  • Skin Revitalisation 

    Achieved through the speed up of metabolism, improved blood circulation and stimulation of an increase in collagen production in the skin.


If you would like to try cryotherapy for yourself and based in Tokyo, please visit my friends at Cryosauna Japan (booking is essential!) to arrange a session.  

They are located at:

Cryomed Japan
La Muse Juban BLDG.
4F, 1-6-5 Azabu Juban
Minato-Ku, Tokyo

If you have the space for it, they can even arrange to install a cryosauna in your own home!

 

 

 

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SPORTS YO-KAN+

This post is about Sports Yo-Kan+ which is a product in Japan manufactured for use with sports as an energy supplement.

Yokan is a traditional Japanese sweet and is thick, jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar. It is usually sold in a block form, and eaten in slices.

Sports Yo-Kan+ is manufactured and packaged for usage with endurance sports and what is great about Sports Yo-Kan+ is it’s flavour and texture by comparison to many other energy gel and fuel supplements designed to be carried during endurance exercise.

The traditionally overly sweet and sticky gel is often hard to get down, isn’t gentle on the stomach and can make a bit of a mess when consuming on the move. Sports Yokan+ provides a solution with the moderately sweet flavourful taste and the nifty packaging that enables you to quickly break the seal and consume without mess or fuss.

Features

  • Includes sustained energy carbohydrates (Maltodextrin palatinose) to support performance with sports
  • The package can be opened by one hand pressing the yokan
  • Azuki (red beans) from Hokkaido and salt from Awajishima is used
  • Traditional Japanese sweets, “Neri-yokan” taste. Sweetness reduced
  • Best when consumed immediately after opening
  • Recommend drinking water together

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 1 bar (30g)

  • Energy 113kcal
  • Protein 1.4g
  • Fat 0.1g
  • Carbohydrate  26.5g
  • Sodium  54mg
  • Kalium  9mg
  • Magnesium 6mg
  • Calcium 13mg

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Tokyo Marathon – FAQ

 

We get a lot of questions regarding the Tokyo Marathon so decided to put together a list of frequently asked questions, if you have a question not answered here or on our site, please comment below or message us on our Facebook page

* Fit Japan do not offer official information and the information provided is subject to change by the Tokyo Marathon Federation. Official information can be found on the Tokyo Marathon website

When does the Tokyo Marathon registration open?

  • Charity runner registration starts in July 1st to July 31st (or until sold out)
  • General lottery traditionally opens from August 1st until August 31st

What are the Tokyo Marathon qualifying times?

  • Tokyo marathon does not have pre-requisite qualifying times in order to participate. The marathon is open to all.

How does the Tokyo Marathon Ballot work?

  • Registration traditionally opens on August 1st until August 31st with notice of success or failure being emailed mid September.

What are my chances of getting a space in Tokyo Marathon?

  • Roughly 10/1 chance. As the marathon increases in popularity more hopefuls register for the event the chances can become even lower. The organisers have also adjusted the amount of available spaces in past years so it can vary from year to year.

What is the cut off time?

  • Participants have 7 hours to complete the Marathon

 

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Spartan Race comes to Japan

 

 

In the countries they are held, is hard to find someone that has not heard about the iconic Spartan Races series that are currently held in 14 countries throughout the world and that number is soon to be 15 countries as the Spartan race is now coming to Japan with the first event to be held on 27th May 2017!

A spartan race is setup with a variety of spaced obstacles of varying difficulty that must be traversed throughout the course. The races vary in difficulty, ranging from 3 miles (Spartan Sprint) to marathon distances.

The inaugural Spartan Japan event will be a spartan sprint (3-5 miles long, 20-30 obstacles).  The spartan sprint is designed for everyone but that does not mean it is a walk in the park! The spartan organisers do not announce the obstacles for the course ahead of the day, but you can expect to have a lot of fun on the day challenging yourself with the obstacles on the course, such as wall climbs, moats, mud pits to name a few.

Participation can be as an individual and all participants are time and recognised individually, however racing a team with friends is encouraged. And what better way to have fun with friends than getting out of your comfort zone accomplishing a feat of endurance together!

 

The spartan sprint is the perfect a race for anyone to try out and discover what they are made of and is an ideal goal for pushing yourself to train and get into a better shape! So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and sign up today!

There will be English speaking support available at the event.


Training

The Spartan team recommend the following as minimum preparations for the event:

  • Walk/jog/run at least 1 mile per day
  • 30 burpees per day
  • 30 of the best pull-ups you can do per day

You might also like to check out a meetup group in Tokyo who train in Hibiya park every saturday to support members get ready for the Spartan race!

Location

Less than an hour out of Tokyo, the closest station is Sagamihara on the Yokohama line and the venue entrance is less than 1 minute walk from the station. There is no parking space on site.

Weather

The average weather in Sagami ranges between during May is 13.5°c with the warmest around 19.5°c

Official Website

For more information please refer to the official Spartan Japan website that is kept up-to-date with the latest and official information.  

 

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Ketogenic Coffee Japan

As part of what will be a series of blogs about ketogenic dieting in Japan, today I am sharing where you can source your ketogenic coffee supplies in Japan – how to make it!

For the uninitiated, Ketogenic coffee is a high fat, high calorie zero carb breakfast brew which is often referred to as ‘bullet proof coffee‘. I intermittent fast daily and drink this as a replacement for a breakfast meal. The calorie density is more than enough to take me through until mid afternoon without feeling hungry at all.


So, let’s get started with Ketogenic coffee in Japan!

Ingredients

  1. Butter (1tbs)
    I use trappist butter which is a fermented product made by Trappist monks in Hokkaido, seriously delicious butter and can be purchased in most major supermarkets or you can buy online on Rakuten. This butter does contain salt and a lot of recipes call for ‘no salt’ but I don’t mind the slightly salty flavour of the coffee and happy with the extra benefit of having a fermented product in my diet.
  2. Coconut Oil (1tbs)
    I use Brown Sugar 1st Organic Extra virgin coconut oil (despite the name, there is no sugar in it!) Also available in most major supermarkets or Rakuten. If you can’t find this brand generally there will be an organic extra virgin brand available.
  3. Coffee (1-2 scoops according to taste)
    One thing Japanese do love is a coffee brew and generally there is no shortage of roasters and I recommend a hunt around your local area to source some organic origins coffee beans.

 

 

 


Equipment

  1. Coffee Brewer – I use the aeropress purchased from Tokyu Hands store.
  2. Blender – I love my blender and own a vitamix, which I also purchased from Tokyu Hands, of course any decent blender can do the job here and you don’t need a heavy duty, just enough to mix the butter and coconut into the coffee.
  3. Kettle / Water Boiler – No explanation really needed here!

 


Method

  1. Boil water
  2. Brew the coffee
  3. Place butter, coconut oil and coffee in blender
  4. Blend until creamy
  5. Serve and enjoy!

 

The slides below demonstrate the process.

 

 

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Asics Meta Run

While attending the Tokyo Marathon expo this year I was browsing the always impressive and giant Asics store, I could not resist myself the urge to try on a pair of the brand spanking new Asics Meta Run ‘concept’ shoe. Like the idiot that I am, I didn’t first look at the price tag that would have otherwise turned me away before trying them out, but once you I had a pair on my feet I was compelled to make a purchase.

Not only did these shoes look understated and stylish, it felt as though they had been somehow magnetically fitted to my feet.

At a price of approximately $250 USD, this latest road running shoe from Asics sports a whole bunch of technology and product features, which I won’t go into here (you can read about that over at the Asics website). But I will say the density of the memory foam in the heel is one obvious feature that brings the comfort level up more than a few notches.

At the time of writing this post I have put around 100km of bitumen running into them and they are holding up like new and I have little doubt that these will be amongst the more highly durable shoes I have owned, at least hopefully I will get enough mileage from them to not feel scorched by the purchase price.

The bottom line is that despite the cost, I am so impressed with them that since I have had them it has been hard for me to cycle through the rest of my runners collection daily routine.

If you have the budget, I cannot imagine you would regret owning a pair.

 

 

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Kinniku Shokudou – Tokyo Healthy Eating

Serving up a superb range of nutritious high protein / low carb and entirely delicious healthy meals, Kinniku Shokudou have your post workout or healthy eating meals sorted! Located only a few minutes walk from Roppongi station, this venue needs to get onto your list of ‘must eats’ while in Tokyo.

Kinniku Shokudou (食堂) translates to ‘muscle restaurant’ and why it has that name becomes immediately obvious the moment you start to salivate over the impressive menu. Perfect for the low carb, ketogenic, muscle building or simply health conscious diner, every meal on the menu comes presented with Fat, Carb and Protein information.

Among the array of dishes which includes delicious lean (bun free) burgers, steaks and chicken options, you might also like to satiate your post workout thirst with the equally impressive drink list available. You can choose from the selection of protein shakes and low carb alcoholic / non alcoholic drinks to enjoy as you feast.

For many items you can order your meal by portion size and the large size are especially generous servings, particularly considering average Tokyo meal size standards.

  • Non-Smoking Venue
  • English Menu Available
  • Uber Eats home delivery available (limited menu)

 

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Fuji-San Marathon

Fuji-san Marathon is held late in late Autumn (last Sunday in November) at the base of Mt.Fuji. The race loops two lakes, Lake Kawaguchi and Saiko Lake. The start and finishing point is in the town of Fuji-Kawaguchiko, where you will find incredible hospitality and a festival atmosphere on the weekend of the event. The whole town gets involved and along the course many of the local residents will come out to cheer you on or offer you treats to keep you going along your way.

As you can expect from a Japanese event, the marathon is organised very well and despite some early congestion on the course, this isn’t a race you need suffer anxiety about. With some steep climbs and undulations on the route, this isn’t a course to try for a PB, it’s a marathon to settle into and enjoy for the unique experience that it is.

 

For locals in Japan its an easy weekend trip from Tokyo by Shinkansen, for those coming internationally I would highly recommend booking a Ryokan in the town for the weekend and enjoying the traditional Japanese experience. If you do, book early, the township has limited capacity.

 

However you get to the race, be sure you make sure you leave time to visit an Onsen to relax yourself after the Marathon. With the cold weather and aching legs post race, relaxing in the hot volcanic waters after the race is about as enjoyable an experience as you can get!

 

2016 was my second time participating in the five events they have held, the number of participants have jumped significantly with a lot of international participants travelling to join the day.

With 2016 seeing them become accredited by AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) and Japan Association of Athletics Federations, it is not hard to imagine that in the coming years this will become an iconic event of Japan that will become so popular they will need to start capping the numbers.

While not as prestigious as Tokyo Marathon, this is a race worth planning the trip to Japan to participate in.

 

 

 

For all the official information including registration information they have well written english content on their website. http://fujisan-marathon.com/en_info

 

 

 

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Tokyo Marathon 2017 – Registration Information

This article is a summary of registration options for foreigners to Japan looking to enter the Tokyo Marathon 2017.

Tokyo Marathon

**** We have a Tokyo visitors guide book available, you can download your free copy at  https://www.fitjapan.com/tokyo-marathon/

1. General Entry is open from August 1st 2016

General Entry is drawn by lottery. There are 35,500 spaces and registration exceeds 300,000 ++ entrants to the lottery. You will need to be lucky to get a space, がんばって!

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter , we will remind you when it’s time to register!

2. Charity runner registration opened from July 2nd 2016

There are 3000 spaces reserved for charity runners and given out on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. If you absolutely certainly MUST run the Tokyo Marathon and don’t want to risk missing it, this is a great option and proceeds going to some great causes that you can select at the time of application.  You may raise the donations or simply donate yourself to the value of ¥100,000 (roughly $1000 USD).

More information about the types of charities and the charity registration page are found on the official Tokyo Marathon website here.

3. Overseas Booking Agencies – To be Announced in August

Many fitness focused ‘travelling agencies’ secure spaces and provide additional services (Airport transfers, Race Day transfers, Accommodation and excursions from Tokyo etc) for foreigners travelling to Japan at the agency specified cost. You may prefer this for some additional support for your trip to Tokyo. Two that I have personally used in the past are Travelling Fit (Australia) and Athletes Journey (Singapore). The complete list of agencies will be provided on the official Tokyo Marathon website.

4. RUN as ONE – TOKYO MARATHON 2017 from August 7th 2016

The “RUN as ONE – TOKYO MARATHON 2017” program is for any overseas runners from Japan who meet the semi-elite qualifying criteria and can apply through the page found at  http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/runner/run-as-one/


 

These are the primary options for gaining entry to Tokyo Marathon for foreigners, there is also the wheelchair marathon. If you are interested to learn more about this any other information be sure to head over to official Tokyo Marathon english website http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/

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A Foxy Trot at Fushimi-Inari Shrine

 

Among the 17 World Heritage Sites listed as highlights to any Kyoto visit, visitors will no doubt regard the Fushimi-Inari Shrine as a can’t-miss location

And yes, the track through the world famous Torii (sacred gates) of Fushimi Shrine, then up to the top of Mt. Inari is as an authentic Japanese visual experience as you can get and; as I found on my most recent trip to the site, it also offers a most interesting and invigorating place to stretch of the legs.

The Shrine trek is set up in a circuit that offers divergent paths to the loop at the top and if you head out early before the crowds provides a wonderful and very peaceful place to take in some morning cardio.

 

If the short loop isn’t enough for you of course you can loop back and go again or simply make your way down the charming Kamo river that provides wide and clear paths all the way back into Kyoto where you can find yourself breakfast and perhaps source an Onsen to visit to refresh yourself for the day ahead!

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Tokyo Marathon – Race Day Preparations

Tokyo Marathon 2016 is almost upon us and here at Fit Japan we have been busy preparing a guide book aimed to help first time runners of the Tokyo Marathon to plan and prepare for their Tokyo Marathon adventure. The blog post that follows is an extract of tips regarding food, hydration and clothing for the day.

Hydration

The hydration stations are well equipped; clean water is used and stations are frequently, and evenly, spaced throughout the course. You should note the restrictions regarding your own hydration, which can be confusing – I suggest just relying on the very well-equipped hydration stations.

Food

So far, as official stands go, there are plenty of food sources; you can expect bananas, buns, plums, and even tomatoes to be supplied along the race.

The crowd very often brings plenty of goodies to the sidelines and offers them freely to runners as they cheer you along (fighto!!!). Some have chocolates, some have plums, some have miso soup… Don’t be shy and be sure to say arigatou!

Of course, pack your favorite brand of fuel, but just be careful about travel restrictions on fluids.

Clothing

Poncho

Whatever you are wearing for the race itself, it is highly recommended that you pack a poncho for the start line as wind, rain or light snow is likely.

Throw Away Cottons

On top of that, some old warm clothing that you don’t mind disposing of will go a long way. You can quickly whip these extra layers off a few minutes before the gun fires and carefully toss them over the sidelines or hold onto them and drop them into a trash bag along the side of the course.

Of course, you can be a penguin, and huddle in the crowd and try to keep warm by jumping around, but trust us on this, you are much better off packing a pair of warm sweatpants and a cotton jumper to wear while waiting at the start line. When the cold wind rushes through the crowd, you will be thankful.

Gloves

I strongly recommend gloves for the entire race.

Beanie / Buff / Ear Warmers

This one is optional but something to keep your ears and head warm, especially at the start of the race, is worthwhile. Depending on the conditions of the day, you probably can wear this item for the whole race. Again, something you don’t mind tossing away is smarter if you don’t want to end up carrying it the entirety of the race.

Glasses

Transition sunglasses, they help with keeping rain and wind out of your eyes and the sun when it does shine can be quite bright.

Long Pants

If you don’t tolerate the cold well, consider compression pants for your legs and a long sleeve shirt or even two layers for your top.