Master J’s Top 3 rules for getting in shape

Date: 13th December 2017
Author: Master J Bonthuys

Everyone’s perspective of being “in shape” is slightly different. People’s goals can be varied, however most people that come to me and want to get in shape are looking to either 1. BUILD MUSCLE OR 2. LOSE WEIGHT/BODY FAT. Of course there’s also the ideal goal of doing both at the same time!

Regardless of goals, my top 3 rules for getting in shape can help every one of all shapes and sizes. Some of them you may be already doing, some you may not, but if you can apply at least one small change to your lifestyle then it will help to create a positive change in both your mind and body.


Obvious right? Well let’s get a little more detailed shall we… Government guidelines recommend that the average healthy adult should be exercising 5 times a week, using light (and sometimes moderate) methods of training, 30 minutes per session.

Now I know what most of you are thinking… I can’t fit in 5 training sessions a week?! At least that’s what most people say. Well fear not as light exercise can be classed as simply walking or something generic such as housework and cleaning. It’s basically anything that involves a level of movement opposed to being sedentary and sat at an office desk all day.

Basic ways to increase everyday levels of activity are to do simple tasks like taking the stairs instead of the lift. Walk to the shops instead of driving. Go upstairs to use the toilet instead of the downstairs one! You get the idea…

In my opinion, increasing your daily activity is a good start but I believe that you really need dedicated exercise sessions in order to be “in shape”. What’s the best type of exercise? The type that you enjoy! Try a variety of exercise types that you think you might enjoy, maybe something you can do with your partner or family and then forget that you’re trying to get fit!

Obviously martial arts fits the above description perfectly. It combines FAT BURNING cardio with bodyweight strength and MUSCLE building drills. You also get to learn a real life skill at the same time!


Diet can be an overly complex subject. I almost need to write a dissertation to inform you of how important your diet is as well as strategies to go along with it! For now we’ll focus on how diet affects being “in shape” as opposed to other subjects such as energy, performance or health…

Now the biggest factor that will determine whether you’re in shape is the amount of calories you eat and drink. Some people focus so much on “not eating too late at night” or “whether a certain food type is good or bad for you”… these considerations are so small in grand scheme of things!

What you need to focus on is having a balanced diet that isn’t super high in calories. Have enough food to keep you energized throughout the day and take control of your portion sizes so that you don’t overeat!

To keep it simple, I always recommend an 80/20 rule. 80% nutrient dense, healthy foods and 20% treats. This will prevent you from having to cut out certain food types and let you enjoy what you eat!

If you’re serious about nutrition and seeing how many calories you actually eat per day (rather than what you THINK you eat) then I’d recommend downloading an app called My fitness pal. This will help you to stay accountable, teach you to understand food labels (which is a skill I believe everyone should learn) and it will help keep your calories consistent! If you start putting on too much weight/getting out of shape then use the app to help you reduce your calories slowly each week. In basic form it’s that simple!


Try and get a consistent sleep pattern each night. In terms of duration, everyone is different but you’ll know when you’ve not had enough sleep, as your body will tell you! 8 hours is normally recommended. Sleep is where your body heals, grows and repairs so don’t skimp on it!

Have rest days 2-4 times a week depending on your goals and I’d also recommend total rest away from exercise (or doing very very easy and light training if you can’t stay away!) for a few weeks of the year.


In addition to a lifetime of martial arts training, I have a real passion for weight training and bodybuilding. I combine this with martial arts to stay in shape all year round. I also do a bit of dancing with the wife!

Finally, to show you how important diet is when it comes to being in shape, I’ve included a before and after photo in this blog. The photo shows me starting at 186lbs and finishing at 170lbs within 13 weeks (just over a stone of weight loss).

Here’s what I want you to really understand… During these 13 weeks, the only thing I changed was my diet! My training stays consistent at 5-6 sessions per week all year round so when I choose to lose weight, I only have to adjust my calorie intake to achieve the results I’m looking for.


You can’t do one without the other. If you really want to get “in shape” then you need to be exercising and taking control of your diet. Once you simply make a start in these areas, you’ll create a level of momentum and motivation that will help lift you towards your goals.

If you’re already a student at Martial Art World then you’ve made a great start! If not then become a member ASAP! I guarantee that your future self will thank you for it smile

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