Mika Takishima, 90, is an active physical trainer. (Provided by Mika Takishima)
Fitness instructor Mika Takishima begins his workout videos with a smile, raising his closed fist and exclaiming, âAge is just a number!
She is 90 years old.
“You stumble over a small step, don’t you?” Let’s do some ankle exercise to avoid a fall.
In one clip, she shows how to move the joints and shoulder blades in a circular motion. In another, she shares a five-minute workout before bed.
Takishima caused a stir online after posting his videos for home exercise routines as much of the public remained indoors due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Earning the nickname Takimika, the trainer began to appear on television and in magazines.
She squats and lifts a 20 kilogram loaded barbell, and can almost do a splits with her chest touching the floor.
And yet, Takishima only became a coach three years ago.
She was not always the athletic type, never having participated in the activities of a sports club when she was a student.
Takishima’s first job was to work in a department store, but she became a full-time housewife after her marriage.
After her children grew up and left home, Takishima found herself with too much free time. She hated herself when a family member pointed out to her that she was getting fat.
At 65, she joined a Tokyo gym.
Initially, Takishima could not follow the other members during group lessons.
Left behind, she practiced and danced in the back. She studied how others moved their bodies and learned exercise routines from their examples.
Despite all the challenges, “I never imagined there was such a fun place,” she recalls thinking.
Takishima lost 15 pounds over the next five years. As Takishima built her muscles, she found herself able to do more intense exercise routines and became obsessed with the workouts.
Takishima learned to swim at the age of 70. She started taking lessons from a personal trainer after she turned 79.
âWhen your heart moves, your body moves. You will be better off if you don’t give up, âsaid coach Tomoharu Nakazawa, 46. âShe showed me that these things are true.
At Nakazawa’s request, Takishima made his debut as a fitness instructor at the age of 87 teaching exercises in gyms and retirement homes for the elderly.
Takishima fully understands the feelings of the elderly who are worried about their declining health or who are not good at sports. She tells them not to push themselves too hard but to never give up.
Takishima was forced to suspend face-to-face classes due to the pandemic and began posting her videos for those who had stopped exercising due to their home lifestyle.
She was contacted by a woman in her 30s who said she gave up on her life but changed her mind after watching the videos.
More than ever, Takishima says she is motivated to boost people’s morale.
She has a habit of waking up before sunrise to walk four kilometers and jog for three. Once home, she sits up to watch TV and tiptoes when she goes to the bathroom.
The joy of working out is the resulting fitness, she says.
Takishima does not follow any special diet. Instead, she emphasizes a good breakfast with lots of fermented foods and protein like fermented natto beans, yogurt, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
She mainly eats bananas for lunch, but enjoys two glasses of red wine and pre-cooked meals in the evening. She is passionate about “daifuku” rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste.
âBeing patient creates stress. I don’t accumulate stress, even in the slightest bit, âsaid Takishima, adding that she takes it easy when she doesn’t feel like working out.
She believes that setting detailed goals and exerting intense effort is the key to making exercise routines a habit.
When asked about her current goal, she replied, “I just want to reduce the size of my hips by an inch.”
Takishima is eager to travel abroad to help others be healthier once the pandemic sets in, so she has recently started studying English.
Some might say that it is too late for a nonagenarian to start learning a foreign language. Maybe they should think again.