I liked Bill Watanabe’s column the other day when he talked about getting a device that counted the steps he made in a day. In all I read every day there is lot being said about staying healthy, and of course, along with diet, exercise makes up a big part of this.

Marion and I have been Kaiser Permanente members for the past five years or so. We have found Kaiser to do a good job in providing medical coverage. They put emphasis on helping us do the right things in maintaining good health. Whenever we go in for our annual check-up, the first question the nurse asks us is, “How many days a week do you exercise, and for how many minutes?”

Bill said in his column he compares the number of steps he takes each day with his wife. Having an exercise routine that Marion and I do together is a big help. We don’t necessarily walk at the same time. She is an early riser and is usually home by the time I get out of bed. She is blessed with a lot of energy. On most days of the week she will walk three miles in the morning and another two miles in the evening! How would you like to keep up with someone like that?

A few years ago, I found my blood sugar was getting too high, and not wanting to take the chance of becoming diabetic, I started to alternate my walking with jogging, which I do 2-3 times a week for three miles each time. This seemed to do the trick, and my blood sugar level has stayed down ever since. Once a week we play a round of golf at our favorite course in Simi Valley. Even in the sometimes 90-degree-plus Valley heat, we walk the course.

Two years ago, I wrote a column about our exercise guru, Rev. Leo Fong. Leo grew up in Arkansas and, because of racial discrimination, he had to defend himself from bullying on a daily basis. He wound up taking up boxing and won medals in Golden Gloves competition. When he became a Methodist minister, he was told there were no Chinese churches in Arkansas, so he was assigned to a church in Sacramento. While there, Leo took up martial arts, and earned black belts in three of them. He became acquainted with Bruce Lee, and regularly worked out with him. When Bruce died, Leo took a leave from the ministry and went to the Philippines, where he made martial arts films.

Leo lives in Canoga Park with his wife, Minnie, who is a nurse whom he met while in the Philippines. When I met him, over 15 years ago, we talked about how important it was to stay active in our senior years. Leo is creative. He developed a form of exercise using martial arts motions together with dumbbell weights. He called it Chi Fung. At the end of each session, Leo includes a few minutes of meditation. Even while nursing a serious injury to his rotator cuff, he manages to lead Chi Fung classes most days of the week.

Marion and I attend the class he has at our church in Chatsworth on Tuesdays, and we also attend his class held in our judo dojo at the San Fernando JA Community Center on Fridays. Unfortunately, Leo’s rotator cuff injury made it necessary to get treatment on Fridays, so Marion and I have started to take the class for him.

When our pastor has had other commitments, Leo has filled in for us. His sermons come from a well-lived, multi-faceted life. At age 86, he gives meaning to the YMCA motto of developing the whole person in “Mind, Body and Spirit.”

Phil Shigekuni writes from San Fernando Valley and can be contacted at The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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