Adidas exercise class takes its moves from Japanese samurai.

After treating herself to one too many Christmas Tree Frappuccinos and sakura mochi ice creams over the year-end holiday period, our Japanese-language reporter Yayoi Saginomiya decided to shift the extra weight she’d gained by trying out an exercise class at the gym.

The only problem was, Yayoi hates going to the gym, and dislikes the monotonous routines used in exercise classes, so when she heard about a new class called “Adidas Shindo“, she was intrigued. According to the blurb she’d read on a promotional leaflet, this class incorporated wooden swords and kendo-style moves into a fun and easy fitness workout.

This sounded like just the type of exercise class she’d been looking for, and with the added bonus of sword-slaying stress release on offer, she was immediately sold and headed out to give it a try.

▼ The Adidas Shindo class is being offered at Sports Club Renaissance gyms, and the branch Yayoi visited was at Shakuji koenin Tokyo’s Nerima Ward.

After arriving at the room where the class would be held, the first thing Yayoi did was pick out a bokuto wooden sword for herself. With wrist straps attached to each sword, there would be no danger of the weapon flying out from her grasp and hitting someone during the workout.

Then it was time to start the lesson in true bushido style, by sitting in formal seiza position for one minute, in quiet meditative contemplation. Then, everyone leant forward, placing their hands in front of themselves in a formal bow, saying “yoroshiku onegaishimasu!“, a greeting used to express feelings of goodwill and a hope for assistance in the time to come.

▼ This type of greeting is usually used in martial arts classes rather than gym workout classes.

Yayoi’s instructor was a handsome young man called Takumi Okura, who immediately made Yayoi feel at ease, despite her being a beginner who’d never tried this sort of workout before. He kept a kind eye on her throughout the class to make sure she got the most out of her workout.

Yayoi followed Takumi’s instructions to swing the sword in time with the music. The sword weighed 240 grams, which, when you think about it, is about half the weight of a bottle of water. It didn’t seem like much, but using both hands to wield it relentlessly throughout the 30-minute workout required more effort than Yayoi had expected.

▼ It didn’t take long for her to feel the effect on her upper arms, as the muscles there began trembling with the movement.

▼ But it also got her lower body moving, with side-to-side steps and squats making it a full-body workout.

With her thighs and upper arms feeling the burn, Yayoi began to realise another aspect of the workout which had become strangely appealing, as the drills felt like they were training her body for combat. With different steps used for forward swings and diagonal swings, Yayoi began to feel strong and invincible.

Looking around her, she saw there were people much older than her enjoying the workout too. Everyone seemed to be in the zone, and as the class progressed, Yayoi began to feel all her stresses float away from her usually tensed-up body. The “Ei, Ei” calls they were shouting while swinging the wooden sword really helped to release stress, and Yayoi realised she was actually having fun and enjoying the class.

▼ Her hands were shaking at the end, though, seeing as her arm muscles hadn’t worked out in so long.

The instructor did a great job of making everyone feel welcome, with the motto being “let’s do it up to your level”. This means you can amp up the workout with extra deep squats or simply cut out the stepping altogether, depending on what feels best for your body and fitness ability.

The day after the class, Yayoi’s muscles hurt so much she told herself she wouldn’t attend another class again. But then, she remembered the great feeling of yelling while wielding the wooden sword, and that intense feeling of strength…and before she knew it she was back at Adidas Shindo, becoming a regular attendee.

Yayoi wholeheartedly recommends the class to everyone, especially those like herself who get bored of ordinary workouts and have a lot of pent-up stress to release. And now that she’s found a new workout to keep her happy, there’s the added bonus that Mr Sato will have to finally stop inviting her to attend his pole-dancing classes!

Photos © SoraNews24