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Workout Shaolin-style

Get fit and get flexible! Head shaving optional…

At 16 years old, Matthew Ahmet left behind the life of a normal teenager to wash his clothes in a bucket and sleep on a plank of wood in Zhengzhou, China. Now over 10 years later, he’s achieved his dream; performing Shaolin kung fu on stage as a monk from the Shaolin Temple and running the Shaolin Temple Cheshunt in the UK.  

A Shaolin philosophy is “There are no excuses – just adjustments”. So, if you’re short on time, there’s really no excuse for you or the kids,  follow our simple but effective 5-min workout plan at least 4 times a week. 

Quick warm up

  • Jog on the spot for 60 seconds. Every now and again throw in some fun exercises to switch things up, knees up for 5 seconds, fast feet, high jumps, star jumps etc.
  • Next, to loosen up the upper body set the timer for 30 seconds and throw as many punches as you can during this period – It’s great cardio exercise and a way to release yourself from any anger or any unneeded adrenaline.

 Strength and discipline

  • Next exercise is a strength and discipline challenge – Ma Bu – The Shaolin Horse Stance
  • This is when you have your legs about two times your shoulder width and then squat down with you back straight trying to get your thighs parallel to the floor.
  • Set a time and each time you try this exercise try to add 10 seconds to your time
  • As with the monks – after years of practice one day you will be able to hold for minutes at a time until one day it because so simple you can stand for hours- by this stage you will have leg strength like a horse and discipline like a tiger patiently waiting to pounce on its prey

Stay hydrated

  • Shaolin Monks drink water all day long, most of the time room temp water. It’s better for the body and the body can make use of the water straight away without having to heat or cool the water.

All in the hips

  • Having good hips its essential for all people- anyone who doesn’t stretch their hips will have standing, walking and back issues when older.
  • Start sliding your legs slowly outwards (Middle Split or Box Split) as low as you can go – in the moment it’s not important how low you can go – the important thing is that you are doing it and as long as you do it you can only improve.

Set a challenge

  • Never let the fear of not being able to do something stop you from trying. Remember most of the time when you aim for something you will hit. So make sure you are aiming high enough. If you aim too low you will hit but it won’t fulfil you. Challenges are what drive us. The best motivation is to be a better version of who we were yesterday. With this mentality anything is possible. Hold the plots for around 60 seconds. 

Shake out and wind down

  • Once you finish, spend 60 seconds just shaking your body out to loosen up.
  • Now sit, on the bed, floor, sofa or anywhere comfy and just close your eyes and let your breathing take over – deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth


It all adds up! Doing this every day and every night you would end up doing 70 mins a week. Equalling around 4.5 hours a month. So even though five mins seems so small – in reality it’s the small things that have a big effect.


For more from the Shaolin monks, Shaolin is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download 

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