Radio Calisthenics: My Secret Shame

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Taiso directions
When this trip began twelve long months ago, I fantasized about many of the changes that were coming to my life: New experiences? Check. Newer, wiser mindset? Uhm, maybe. A slimmer waistline? Oh, definitely. I mean, a life on the road means an active lifestyle, right?


As I prepped and planned our trip in mid-2013, I remember reading a post of a female blogger concerns about the traveller’s diet, knowing well that her situation didn’t apply to me because she had just birthed herself a baby and was still nursing.

I, on the other hand, have never pulled any babies from my body (not even one!), and the chances of that happening were as close to zero as it gets. I do, however, share something in common with her and many other digital nomad types: a sedentary lifestyle.

Sure, I fly here and there, and also do a fair share of walking, swimming and hiking, but nine days out of ten, I am clacking keys all day. I’m making a living off the internet, after all — I didn’t trade my Macbook Air for a plow and a plot of land.

Web-based work (mine anyway) involves a lot of sitting around, waiting for documents, downloading documents, having Skype meetings about said documents, then editing documents…you get the idea. And as I mentioned in my big list of things learned, a lifestyle that involves cars and computers lend itself to sitting even more.

Oh, and did I mention beer? I like beer. I think that plays a role here.

Radio taiso 2

And my gut is only one of the problems, since all this sitting around and typing on various surfaces has translated into neck and shoulder pain. Well, it seems that I have complained one too many times, because a few months ago, Keiko decreed that a new stretching and exercise regimen has begun in the house. Now each day before lunch, all four of us gather in the living room, plug an iPad into the TV fire up the following video on Youtube.

Don’t laugh…

You laughed, didn’t you? That’s ok. I did, too. We do this stretch and exercise routine together every day, and for weeks I snorted and pshawed it off. Called “ラジオ体操” (“Radio Calisthenics“) routines like this have been broadcast over Japanese airwaves since the 1920’s.

Most Japanese people know the moves (or variants of them) because they’ve done it at some point in their life: at school, at home, before their factory job bell rings, or sitting in the retirement home. possibly all of the above. It reminds people of being a school kid…or of visiting their grandmother. Cool kids definitely aren’t keen to join in.

But I do.

I know I know: it looks totally dorky. I couldn’t stop snickering the first few weeks, and nearly pulled another muscle in my neck from rolling my eyes so much. The fact that this TV spot is for senior citizens (notice the one woman sitting in the front?), made it even more annoying to me, as I am loathe to the inevitable middle age and beyond.

But you know what? I totally enjoy it now. It loosens me up after hours in front of a screen, and it’s something that we all do together every day. Despite it being basically for me, the kids like doing it together (and correcting my form). And hey, don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it. It’s pretty comprehensive, muscle-wise, and gets the blood flowing if you do it right.

But hey, I get it: it’s laughable. But if you think this is lame, it’s even worse in English.


  1. We watch this in the morning here over breakfast. Baby is starting to imitate thei motions from her high chair.

    I’m just amazed they still call it Radio Taiso when its on *tv!*

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