Toyota Lean principles for Fitness

Welcome back to my blog coronavirus survivers!

Today I share with you a personal experience with my own Fitness project:

How to apply Toyota principles to my Fitness Board

What is this?

This is my TABATA board with 3 sequences.

TABATA is a high intensity train that combine 20 seconds effort and 10 seconds break. Each TABATA sequence has 8 exercises. And this is repeated 8 times.

In total is 1 hour training.

So let's go, let's see how I improve it:

Step 1: observe 

The reason to improve this board, was that it was not so flexible or easy to read.

The first color code identifies the columns. But the problem is when I decide to move an exercise to other column, the result is like this:

Now is not so clear what exercise belongs to the yellow or the orange. So it didn't work out. Its incoherent. And I'm misusing the opportunity to have a functional color code (waste)

  • Decision: we need a new color code. 
  • Why: to simplify and avoid information noise.

Step 2: classify

I didn't know if its better to classify exercises between pull/push or by body parts.

At the end, and given the info I had, I decided that to split by body part is more relevant. The other distinction didn't represents a big difference.

So we classify to differentiate.

Done. Color code applied to the board. 

Effect: situations becames visible.

Nice, now I can see realities that were hidden. But wait a moment...

In sequence A, there only 1 yellow. Hmm that's bad.

And for "easy reading" the column titles should be the same color...

  • Decision: change title colors.
    • why: to avoid confusion and noise. (information noise is a waste) 
  • Decision: define a "business value": my priority is to train arms. (yellow)
    • why: not every activity creates "value", and we don't manage activities, but a "value flow". 

Step 3: sort

This way I detected that I was not putting effort into the priority. I was "just moving". That's not the goal.

"Movement is not progress"

  • Decision: Put a red mark on "value creating exercises".
    • Why: to make "value creation" more visible.  

Step 4: balance

Yes, that's looks better.

But now I have a lot of blue items on Sequence B.

  • Decision: put priority exercise as top as possible.
    • Why: I want to do them when I have more energy. 
  • Decision: balance colors 
    • Why: to balance training through body.

That looks better.

Step 5: optimize

Observation: there very few red marks, maybe we can increase the effort investment in high value exercises.
  • Decision: duplicate high value exercises. 
    • Why: dedicate more effort to the valuable exercises.

Final results:

  • Now we can easly move every exercise to every position without breaking the color code. 
  • We can produce more effect with the same effort / time. 
  • We balance the full body. 
  • Now we know the "value priority" (arms) 
  • Priority is visible.  

Step 6: keep improving

As "Kanbaners", our job is to search always the "small and cheap" improvements. 

Process Review

Let's take a look into the Improvement process:

Color Code. We search simplicity and to reduce information.

Make things visual. That you, without reading, can see the situation and take decisions.

There is things we will not work. Discard them, clear the way.

Is important, additionally, to identify and reduce waste.

If you don't measure, you can't see.

A good metric can show your progress, but it needs to be simple and functional. (in this case "kilos", taking a snapshot per week)

My target was to loose 20 kilos, I have already lost 18.

Question: I think Kilos is not a good metric. How you choose your metric?

Nice question!

In my philosophical opinion would answer:

A good metric is:
  • Global
  • Imperfect 
  • Easy to take
  • Meaningful 
Should be global, because we want to metric the "entire system performance" and not specific performances of some parts in the system (sub-optimization)

Should be imperfect, to avoid many psichological effects.

  • obsessing with the metric, 
  • measuring success with it (is not) and 
  • to feed your illusion of control
For example: after some success, by loosing 17 kilos, and given my goal was 20 kilos, I made these strategical decisions:

"given my method worked well, if I do it harder, it will work better"

So I decided: yes! go for it! double the bet, and we will get more progress!

I think you can guess the result: total disaster.

I've lost control of weight, some weeks down, some weeks up...

then I was totally confused. Until I remembered that rule of balance between variables in an stable system. This kind of useless things we learn at school.

If you make an hipocaloric diet, your body enters in panic. Then he "decides" to save energy, and keep reserves to face the hunger challenge.

Anything that can put your body into stress, can affect totally or partially how your body reacts to the situation. So at the end is not about "how much you train", or "how much you eat", that's a mechanicist approach.


We have an organic echosystem of variables, in a perfect balance. And we think we have a machine with pieces.

That's the mechanic mindset.

The Illusion of control is one of the most common mental diseases for Project Managers.

To believe that we can "tell" to a complex reality how to behave.

To believe that we can "manipulate" results "managing" variables.

- "ok, I understand the problem, but... where is the answer?... what can we do?" 

Nice question. And the answer is philosophical: the law of moderation.

A moderate exercise, with a moderate diet, with moderate fasting, with moderate everything... creates a great lifestyle.

Then the body adapts to this great lifestyle, and find its perfect balance.

The body weight loosing, is just a consequence of the good life quality.

It should be also "meaningful". It means, should be "good enough" to valorate if our strategy is functional or not.

Prioritize. There is always a capacity limit. Time is a hard reality we cannot change. A week will always have 7 days.

Then you need to put your time and effort in the bigger winning activities.

Make them visible, and prioritize.

All these change are part of a continuous process: Improve

Next steps

And from your side, in what areas of your life you can implement these Kanban / Lean optimization strategies? 

Share your experience with me to learn together.

Thanks for reading, and stay healthy! 


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