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Punches, stances and kicks followed by meditations

The martial arts, with their emphasis on discipline, offer fantastic training for both the body and the mind. “The Shaolin Workout” (Rodale, 2006), by Shi Yan Ming, combines kung fu moves, stances and stretches with meditations to create a well-rounded workout.

-- Jeannine Stein

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The Shaolin Workout: This is not an exercise regimen for the weary. But don’t be intimidated -- despite the copious photos of Ming kicking his leg up to his head and bending in half like a jackknife, the exercises in this book are accessible. And improvements do come with time.

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Author Ming, a 34th generation Shaolin warrior monk who founded the USA Shaolin Temple in New York City, provides a detailed workout for the entire body -- with chest, hamstring and lower back stretches, plus punches, stances and kicks. All are accompanied by in-depth text and several step-by-step photographs that break down each exercise into understandable parts. Although the workout should be modified for beginners, don’t expect any breaks from Ming. “Train harder!” is the running mantra.

Perhaps the book’s best features, however, are the meditations -- including ones on appreciating life and maintaining a healthy body -- elements often missing from fitness books. “If the mind is weak, the body is weak,” Ming says. As for the daunting workouts, he adds that readers shouldn’t let that keep them from attempting them. “It’s easy to get it,” he says. “That’s why a lot of people have problems, they never try. You cannot do that. Confidence is very important in our lives, it’s the key. If I can do it, you can do it -- without question.”

Price: $29.95, available at bookstores.


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