Day 2 -
See if it's any easier now.
I didn't bother with the mat, but I still placed the cushion on the floor. Now I expected to be able to get up on the first go. Mistaken. It still took me 4 or 5 goes before I got up to the wall, and the hesitation isn't completely gone. But I have the reference that I've done it, so the fear is not debilitating.

Once I got up, I managed to hold for 30 seconds - I was able to focus on my posture so the weight came over my shoulders and not so much on my wrists and arms. My second attempt I held for 20 seconds. And the third for 20 seconds, but I tried to dip a little, to feel how the strain is on my arms.

I'm a long way off pushups yet, but I can do handstands. Hoorah! When I'm strong enough to actually do pushups, I should also be able to get into position without the run-up... at least that's what I hope to be able to do.

Day 3
Third day at this...
I can get up now fairly easy - it is a combination of enough momentum and the right technique... and putting your hands in the right place - too close to the wall and you bounce off, too far away and you won't reach it (or fall backwards onto it).
I trust my arms to hold me now, so I don't need the cushion. Most of the strain I still feel on my wrists - but it's a good training for them.
I tried widening my arms-width to see if I had more stability, but that was a no no. Maybe later when my arms are even stronger, this could make the dips and pushups easier, but for the moment I need my arms under my shoulders to hold my weight.
I held for 15 seconds each stand (3 stands), and did some very small dips of a couple cm. It's a start.

Day 4
New info... new technique. I still keep forgetting that the internet has info on everything, and then I surprise myself when I suddenly think... "Oh yeah... I can look that up on the internet!!!"

So I looked up "handstand pushup" and found a video that shows another way to get up into the handstand position. Instead of the flipping, as I've been doing... with this technique you stand on all fours with your head away from the wall, then you put your feet against the wall and walk up, moving your hands closer to the wall the higher your feet go. You end up in a handstand with your face "facing" the wall, instead of the back of your head.

This is a much easier technique, and you already get to do a little walking with your arms, so the pushup doesn't seem so impossible.

Day 5
What a difference a day makes... and a good technique. I can get up to a handstand easily now, using the technique above - it doesn't shock the system too much. And having to "walk" yourself closer to the wall helps your confidence while already giving your arms a good workout.

I did this twice with a three minute break inbetween - on the second go I even managed a couple of half-pushups. So I'm almost there. I'd like to be able to do at least 5 full pushups before I consider this project successful. And when I've reached this goal, I'll post a video as proof
 
I don't run.
I tried running a year ago and gave up after 5 days.
I made progress in those 5 days, building from a laughable 200 meters the first day, to over 3 km by the fifth. If I'd continued, I would have been running marathons by now - but I stopped, it didn't fit in with my lifestyle routine, I couldn't make it a priority.
Haven't run since.

This morning I was up at 7am. Dark outside, cold and damp, city still waking up. And I felt the urge to run again.

I don't have to look for reasons anymore - or excuses. I don't have to fit exercise into my lifestyle - after 4 weeks training with Shapeshifter, exercise is becoming a major part of my lifestyle. Exercise and physical activity has become a new passion - I even set up this site and this blog so I can share my adventure into the physical... to discover just what I'm capable of.

Running (along with the handstand pushup project) is one of the ways I want to test how Shapeshifter has benefitted me. So, running shoes on, out into the dark morning, and run.

Five kilometers... first time out. As if I'd just taken up where I left off a year ago. This is astounding for me. I'd expected a couple of kilometers at most, but 5! Clearly, my endurance level, and leg strength have grown immensely in the last 4 weeks - and since I haven't done any other form of exercise, this has to be down to the Shapeshifter workouts. And if I already have the condition to run 5 km, how far will I be able to run in another 2 weeks?

This is great news for me, because one of my future dreams is to run a marathon - I'm already 5 km closer to that dream. And if the Shapeshifter program can condition me so well for this activity, it's going to be fun discovering what else I can tackle. Stay tuned, it's going to be a fascinating year.

Update, 2nd run, Jan 2nd 2012
Just to check that it wasn't a fluke, I did another 5 km run. Now I need (and want) to start increasing my distance - kilometer for kilometer. Would be nice if I can get to the point where running is as relaxing and meditational for me as walking.

Update, 3rd run, Jan 5th
Running with Geert... read full post here.

Update, 4th run, Jan 6th
I heard about a running route here in the Amsterdam "Vondel Park" that stages a mass event each year. Now the Vondel park is a popular location for many and I see them everyday running circles around the park, in both directions, like people who are trying to get somewhere in a hurry but have forgotton exactly where they have to go... so they just keep running.
This morning I joined the ranks of the jogging zombies.

The Vondel park is 3.3 kilometers if you measure the outer-route, and if you run the event you have to do three laps - it's a small marathon - more for fun than competition.

I was really curious to see how far I could do, after yesterday's run with Geert. So I rose early and was out the door by 6am. Dark, cold, wet and windy - but that's not a problem once you start running.

The first round was ok - I focussed on short, relaxed strides, and tried not to think about how long I needed to run before I could stop. It's a fairly big park when you're strolling through it - smaller when you cycle through it... seems much bigger though when you're wanting to run around it. By the end of the route I was getting tired and wondered if a second round was possible. But I ran on, and then I adjusted to a longer stride at the same tempo, and focussed on my breathing technique (breathe out fully and let the fresh air come rushing in). Surprise!... I was half-way round before I knew it, and when I finally got close to the end/start point, I really didn't feel any more tired than after the first round - except I knew I wouldn't make a third.

It was nice to stop at this point. 6.6 kilometers. Next time 3 rounds. I'm getting to like this running lark.

Update Jan 25th
It's been a while since the last update - but that doesn't mean I haven't been running. I've done my familiar routes a few times, but now I keep it to 1 or 2 times a week.

These routes are getting easier and easier. I'm not busy trying to increase my distance or speed - just being able to do the same with less effort. On one run I had last week, I experienced for the first time a sort of "flow". When I'm walking I'm in this flow - I can walk for hours and let my mind wander - it's a meditation thing. I always wondered if I could reach that same flow while running - I imagine that would be fantastic.

Well, I think I touched on it last week. At a certain point during my run, I realized that I wasn't aware anymore of the effort my body was going through to keep me moving - my mind was wandering - everything else was on automatic... I had the feeling I could run forever.

Of course I couldn't run forever, but it was a promising experience.

Today I was out at 7am. I ran Geert's route through the forest. Again, only about 5 or 6 km without stopping. I walked a short distance before running again, but this time I tried some sprinting - 100meter sprints followed by walking, then another sprint.

This is something I'll be experimenting with more soon. I'm not yet ready for a marathon - and it's not yet a priority to start training for one. But I have achieved something of great importance to myself... I can run. I've built up a habit, and running is now part of my lifestyle. With this regularity, My continued stamina is assured - and that will come in useful during other pursuits.

I won't be posting anymore updates to this post... I don't need to. But I will keep running. When I start a new project involving running, you'll here of it on this blog.
 
When I was young - a teenager - I could do one-handed pushups, and pushups on my thumbs. I was a fan of Bruce Lee, but trying to emulate his physical feats ended with these two tricks. I still dream of being athletic enough to copy his back-flips and somersaults, but as the years passed, even normal pushups became a challenge. Up to 4 years ago I was lucky if I could manage 10 before flaking out.

I've made progress over the last 4 weeks, and I'm starting to get the urge to push my body further. Adam from the Shapeshifter program published an article recently on how to learn to do handstand pushups, and this inspired me to try it for myself.

His technique is to gradually increase the angle of the body over a period of time while doing your pushups - until you are standing upright on your hands. But a Shapeshifter client offered another technique: starting with a handstand, and increasing the time you can hold the position, until you're strong enough to actually push up. I don't know why, but this technique appeals to me more, and that's the one I'm going to use.

So, over the next two weeks I've set a goal to do handstands everyday, til I can do pushups. And today (Wed. 28 Dec.)I made a start...

Okay... first, do a handstand! I cleared a spot by an empty wall, laid out my exercise mat before it, and placed a soft cushion on the mat - this was for my head should I collapse and land on it. And then I tried to do the handstand. Just a matter of putting your hands on the ground and flipping your body up so your legs come to rest on the wall, right?

Forget it! I don't have the power to kick myself up from a static position... or I don't have the technique. Couldn't get my legs further than a half meter up from the ground. This is more difficult than I imagined. Okay, then I need a run-up of sorts - some thrust, some propelling motion to get my legs up. So, just like I used to do as a kid, start from a standing position, lunge forward, hands to the ground and HUP!

So, what are you waiting for Mike, go... hup!... move!!!

Strange... I froze. I was scared. I realized that this action has become so alien to my body that I don't trust my arms to hold me any more, or my balance to stay up. I was scared of falling on my head... scared of being upside-down. It was like that feeling you get just before a dive into cold water, or from a height, when you hesitate, not sure if you can or want to do it. It took me a good few minutes before I finally got myself to make a move. And when I did, it was a pitiful attempt. I felt my body clench, and my legs didn't come further than a meter from the ground.

Why am I so scared. I tried again, and again, and again - no better. Come on, this is silly, I told myself. I cleared my head, tried again, and this time I was up. Wow!, surprise, that was easy after all.

I stayed up for 10 seconds. Next attempt, I stayed up for 15 seconds, and the third round, for 20 seconds. Enough for one day.

This is funny and educational at the same time.
Funny, because it's not some complicated gymnatic feat I'm trying to perfect here, just a simple handstand against a wall. Five year-olds can do this; I could do this at 5 years old;  Hell...dogs can do this!
Educational, because it makes you think that maybe our bodies are capable of a lot more than we can imagine, and the only reason we can't do these things is that we've convinced ourselves that we can't... so we don't even try. Simple playful movements we did naturally as children, fall out of our adult repertoire... we don't skip, we don't jump, we don't flip, turn, cartwheel or roll around anymore - some of us run a little. No wonder we feel so old, and so afraid of breaking.

Well, I for one am going to reprogram my body - I'm going to teach it to jump and skip again, and I don't care if people think a 53 year-old should just stick to walking or not. I've just learned to do a handstand again - now I just have to do it more often so it becomes normal again. And if I can do a handstand, I can learn to do handstand-pushups.

And we'll see if that's true over the next two weeks.
 
Hi there, welcome to my first post. I'm still in the 4th week of the Shapeshifter program but I can't wait any longer to start writing here.

This blog is going to be an account of my "adventures into the physical". My intentions are to experience, try out, enjoy lots of different physical activities, and at the same time discover just what I'm capable of in my "senior" years. I chose the Shapeshifter program, as I've said before, because I believe their "body-weight" workouts are the perfect preparation of the body for "real" physical activities.

I could run, and get good at running; lift weights, and get good at lifting weights; or do a number of specific sports and get good in those areas too. But I want a body that can adapt to various physical situations and challenges - so I need full-body strength, agility, endurance and suppleness.

So, armed with my new Shapeshifter-conditioned body, I'm going to devote this year to doing all the exciting, energetic, dynamic and adventurous activities I can manage. This is the real benefit of getting in shape - looking good is a bonus.

Here's just a few of the things I want to try out: Parkours; Trampolining; Swimming; Diving; Climbing; Surfing; Skydiving; Base-jumping; Martial arts; Mountaineering; Fell-running; Horse riding; Sailing; Canoeing; Skating; Windsurfing; Skiing; Langlaufen; Waterskiing; Snowboarding; Long-distance hiking; Marathon running; Gymnastics; Scuba-diving; Hang-gliding; Cycle touring...

Enough to start with, and to ensure the continuing fitness and development of my body.
I'm starting with two relatively small challenges - see the next posts for details. It's going to be an adventurous journey... I hope you'll join me.

Are there any specific physical activities you dream about being able to do, some time in your life? Any challenges and ambitions? Any sports you still want to try? Let me know in the comments below... maybe I can add them to my list, and inspire you to take up the challenge for yourself.