2006: Climbing from the abyss…..and finding the Holy Grail

Me, in Berlin, around mid-2006

After the abomination that was the year 2005 I started the year 2006 feeling cynical about what lay ahead. Having transitioned (or should I say, regressed) from a happy-go-lucky optimist into a bitter pessimist the first thought that sprang to mind was the various ways that this year could possibly screw me over some more. Yeah, I was that messed up. A self-absorbed, victim-playing hopeless case who felt that the world owed him a favour. I’d slap the shit outta this version of me if I had the chance to meet him.
Anyway, by this point I had already began my Bachelor Of Arts (Communications major) university degree by correspondence so outside of work and training I was focused on that. It suited me just fine as it allowed me to study at home at my own pace, be my own boss and work in total solitude. It also tested my discipline and time management skills as I still had deadlines to adhere to. Thankfully, my work hours were not very demanding so I was able to balance study, work and training rather effectively.


Speaking of training, there was another change coming. I arrived too early for work on one particular day and so I took a walk around the nearby shopping centre to kill some time. I browsed through a bookstore during the walk and stumbled upon a book that would force me to once again re-evaluate my workouts.

The book’s title? Boxing’s Greatest Workouts.

The book that changed everything – it got tattered in the drawers

As a gym rat that loved boxing I bought that book in a heartbeat and read it on the train ride home and for the next few days afterwards in my room between workouts and study sessions. Hell, I probably studied that book a lot more diligently than I did my university notes and texts! I examined each and every workout from all the boxers featured, studying the similarities and differences of their training programs and also their diet and amount of time that they spent in the gym. Not gonna lie, I felt intimidated while reading about their daily sessions. Two, three, four hours in the gym, hundreds of calisthenics, hours of shadowboxing, bag work, pad work, getting up at dawn to run come rain, hail or shine…..sheesh!!! During my own workouts I was already winded after less than twenty minutes of shadowboxing, had yet to cross the one hundred-rep mark in push-ups and crunches and was too socially withdrawn and lazy to go outside to run whereas these guys put in the hard work hour after hour, day after day, week after week……and that was before they put their conditioning and their lives on the line against another fighter looking to knock their blocks off in the ring!
Forget about being gym fit, fighters are a different level of fitness, strength and toughness. They would put many athletes to shame.

Anyway, after I had read the whole book several times over it was time to once again overhaul my training regimen. I wasn’t going to pursue a professional boxing career but I could still train like one. Having grown accustomed to shadowboxing I decided that it was time to step up, choosing workouts from that book that suited my fitness level and did not require too much time and fuss.
But there was an obvious problem; I did not own any equipment required for even the simplest of boxing workouts, nor did I have anything in the house to improvise with. At least when it came to strength training I was able to get away with using my school backpack in place of weights. I had nothing to improvise with when it came to punching bags.
Oh yeah, at this time I had enough money in the bank to buy myself a weights set so my school backpack was all but retired, used only when I decided to do weighted push ups, squats and pull-ups.

But I still had no bags, no jump rope, no gloves, no focus mitts…….so how did I get my boxing training off the ground?
I simply dug deeper into my imagination and pretended that I was hitting real targets. Taking my shadowboxing to another weird level, I moved and threw combinations at an imaginary heavy bag that hung in the middle of my bedroom, went crazy at an imaginary floor to ceiling bag by my bedroom door, dropped bombs at invisible focus mitts that were held by my imaginary trainer and even created sweet gym music with an imaginary speedbag that was mounted on my bedroom wall.

And I also skipped like Floyd Mayweather jr with my invisible jump rope, repeating all his tricks without once falling over!


Not bad, eh?


As you can see, I did these workouts behind closed doors in my bedroom. It was cramped and stuffy as hell in there, but my drive and determination overcame those limitations. Also, I knew that I looked silly during these boxing sessions, punching at air and sparring with ghosts, so yeah, no way in hell was anyone going to see that!
Still, I worked up a good sweat and I felt invigorated afterwards. Man, if this won’t carve up my physique then I don’t know what will.

After a few months of training like a boxing champ as written in that book and mixing it up with strength training and calisthenics (during which I gradually began to build up the reps for the push-ups and abdominal exercises I performed) I was absolutely floored by the results – muscles on my arms and legs became defined, my chest and back widened considerably, my fitness levels shot up through the roof and most of all……after five-odd years of working out I had finally achieved that Holy Grail of physique goals, the almighty six-pack abs!!!

Jackpot, baby!!!

 Fuelled by the favourable results I continued with these shadowboxing workouts every morning after studying before work (around this time I was rostered in the afternoon shift), putting in an hour or an hour and a half of training before lunchtime. I would finish these sessions completely drenched in sweat, heart beating fast and breathing hard yet feeling like a champion and by the time I got to work the endorphins and good vibes from my morning training sessions powered me through my shift. I was focused and energized the entire day and even my quality of sleep had improved. While I wouldn’t call myself the most talented boxer out there I definitely felt more confident walking through the streets at night, though I never sought to put my skills to the test in a street fight.

Not bad for a professional shadowboxer, huh?

By the way, on that same year I traveled to Germany with my sister for the FIFA World Cup. Two weeks of fun exploring Berlin during their Summer and mixing it up with the friendly people – it was bliss!
I was also doing rather well with my university course through correspondence, achieving grades that I could never get while I was in high school and, dare I say it, having fun while studying. Perhaps being my own boss was really my best mode of study.
I had also made a few friends at my workplace.
Yes, you can say that the year 2006 was a complete turn-around from 2005. I felt like I was slowly climbing out of the abyss I had fallen into and becoming reacquainted with the sunshine.

But not completely.

I hate to say it but for the most part I was still that brooding chump with the chip on his shoulder. Given the good run that I had been through it does seem ridiculous and selfish on my part that I still chose to be a bitter little loser unable to let go of the past. I guess some wounds take longer to heal than others and my immaturity was a lot stronger than I thought.
So yeah, while I was happier this year I still had that ‘me against the world’ mentality in me. Pathetic, isn’t it?


But at least now I was a brooding chump with a six pack!


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