What If You Have No Time for Exercise?

Tuesday morning, I got up early, ironed my clothes, and got mentally prepared for the talk I was to give at an AWAI Web Copywriting event in Austin, Texas.

Before leaving my room, I did a 10-minute routine of internal exercise. This put me into a peak state… and off I went.

During my talk, I demonstrated a kung fu form I practice every day, without fail. This demo was useful to the group, because I explained how writing copy is the same, in terms of structure and principles, as practicing kung fu.

Not only that, but doing this routine for even a minute during the talk ensured that I got some practice time in that day. (There’s always a way to train – even when you don’t have time.)

After my presentation, I went for lunch at a Brazilian-style restaurant, Foco de Chao. Twas awesome, per usual, for this type of joint.

Then it was back to my room for a brief power nap, followed by packing my bags and leaving for the airport.

Once on board the plane, I practiced my routine over and over again. I felt my nerves and muscles twitch as my breathing went up and down – in and out.

Where was I while I practiced? In the aisle? Standing on my seat?

I was in my seat, sitting comfortably, eyes closed at times – eyes open at other times.

I was practicing my form in my imagination. Over and over again.

The beginning, the middle, the end – and all parts in between. Reviewed, viewed, and previewed.

I corrected mistakes. I noted glaring errors. I saw and felt where I was moving correctly. I noticed what I could do to make my practice better.

A few hours later, when I disembarked, I was feeling the same, if not better, than I do when I practice by moving physically.

When I got on board that plane, I didn’t know if I would have time to physically practice my form before midnight. That’s one of the main reasons I did the imagination exercises.

My wife picked me up after 11:00 p.m. After securing my bags and driving home, we pulled into our driveway at 11:55.

Both of us got out of the car. She began to walk toward the house. I took off my coat and laid it on the trunk.

“What are you doing?” Zhannie asked.

I said: “Practicing. I still have five minutes before midnight. I can get the form done at least once.”

The moon was out, the stars were shining, the wind was blowing. And although I had all the excuses in the world, there I was – turning and twisting, stomping and spinning, flowing from one move to the next.

Sweat poured off me as my breath quickened and energy moved up and down my spine. It was the most powerful execution of the form I had ever experienced.

I patted myself on the back for hitting my before-midnight goal once again. Then I grabbed my grip and went inside the house.

How many times did I really practice on Tuesday?

Did the time on the plane, practicing in my imagination, count?

Of course it did.

In fact, it may have counted just as much, if not more, than when I did the form physically.

Why? Because when you imagine that you are doing something, your nerves, your cells, your muscles, your brain – everything that is part of you – gets the message and responds accordingly.

Even if you’re in bed with the flu – or something worse – you can still train in your imagination. And doing so will have a healing effect beyond what you can fathom.

Throughout history, there have been stories of strongmen who rose from their deathbeds – from a weak, sickly state of ill health – and became powerful.

They didn’t just survive the tough time. They thrived.

The key is understanding that success is a combination of physical practice and mental practice. He who does both rises to the greatest heights of achievement. In fact, in any endeavor on the face of the earth, if you were to ask the question “How much of success is mental” to those at the top, the most common reply would be “Most of it. Ninety percent or more.”

This being the case, why don’t more people learn how to harness the awesome power of the creative imagination? It makes sense, right?

[Ed. Note: Matt Furey is a national collegiate wresting champion (1985) and a world shuai-chiao kung fu champion (1997). He publishes the Zero Resistance Living program that teaches average Joes how to change themselves into the person they’ve always wanted to be. Matt says that it doesn’t matter whether the results you want are physical, financial, or emotional – Zero Resistance Living has the answers you’ve been looking for. Right now, he is offering this program at half the regular price. Simply enter 2009 as the coupon code, and you’ll be all set.]

Comment on this article

  • I also do mental practice with the various tai chi forms I’m studying (long form, fast form, partner form, cane form, etc). I frequently do it in the car when I’m driving long stretches of rural (and uncrowded) freeway. I also have audio files of important points my teacher made about my forms (I take private lessons), so I’m listening and imagining at the same time.

    I think we need to do mental practice as well as we can; otherwise we’ll ingrain mistakes and sloppy habits