By 2008, I had well and truly gotten everything I could out of my routine of shadowboxing and weight training. I still enjoyed it, and it still kept me fit and ripped, but in the back of my mind, it was time for a new challenge.
Funny how something always comes along whenever I have such thoughts to myself.
On one particular Sunday, while I was out and about in the city waiting to watch a movie with my father I decided to check out a bookstore to kill time. Naturally, I wandered over to the sport and fitness section and one particular book title jumped out at me;
Muay Thai Basics.
I picked it up and quickly browsed through it. I liked what I saw. All the techniques were explained in great detail, accompanied by detailed photos of practitioners performing the moves step by step.
That’s when another crazy idea popped into my head.
I decided that perhaps I should give muay thai a try. Having done karate as a child kicking was not too much of a stretch for me and the punches thrown in muay thai were similar to boxing, which I had been practicing for the past few years already so punching combinations were no longer a problem. I would essentially be performing my usual shadowboxing workouts but with kicks, knees and elbows thrown in for good measure.
I bought the book on the spot and on the following Monday before work, after I had completed my study session for the morning, I set off on my first muay thai-based workout.
Once again, it was a shadowboxing type of workout. I punched, kicked, kneed and elbowed the pads held by my imaginary trainer, went toe to toe with an imaginary sparring partner and beat the stuffing out of my imaginary punching bag. It’s amazing what the mind can conceive when you really, truly want something. And performing those spinning elbows and spinning heel kicks (the latter took some getting used to) made me feel a tad bit like a ballet dancer.
And of course, I followed that 45-minute shadow-fighting drill with some weights and calisthenics.
You know, those boxing workouts were tough. But using all four of my limbs, teaching my body to perform spinning attacks and conditioning myself to get used to kicking again really tested my stamina. Muay Thai featured a more extensive move set to boxing and I had to re-learn how to use all of my limbs.
And those spinning attacks sometimes left me feeling dizzy and uncoordinated. In the end I was drenched with sweat and breathing hard, shell-shocked but pleased with my effort.
What a workout!!!!
These muay thai workouts were also more challenging as far as space was concerned. While I was fortunate to live in a home with a pretty sizeable living room, throwing kicks, spinning and turning required a lot more space to be able to pull off perfectly without accidentally clipping the wall or, worse, furniture, especially since I had already scarred my knuckles doing just that while boxing! I still have faint scars on my knuckles to prove it.
It was also around this time that I decided that I wanted to add a bit more mass to my lean physique and so I began reading bodybuilding magazines in addition to the boxing magazines that had become my main source of reading material over the past couple of years. While I had no access to a fully-equipped gym, I still had my dumbbells as well as a truckload of determination and a wide imagination.
Can’t do bench-presses? Push-ups will take care of that.
Can’t do weighted squats? Loaded backpack on back then squat.
Can’t be bothered to go outside to run and don’t have access to a treadmill? Shadowbox my butt off.
Want to lift heavier weights but don’t have access to extra weight plates? Slow down your movements.
No excuses, kid. If it’s important to you, you will ALWAYS find a way, not an excuse.
I also decided to switch up the order of my workouts, going through a strength training routine first before following it up with boxing or muay thai. You see, I had read in some of those bodybuilder magazines that it was better to get the strength training out of the way first before cardio if muscle gain was the goal since the muscles would be too tired for lifting if I did cardio first.
And so I switched up my routine. It turned out to be an extremely painful but invigorating decision.
Having torched my muscles with weights and bodyweight training throwing punches, ducking, slipping, spinning and kicking was hell. My limbs felt like rubber and my movements were stiff and labored.
Good grief, what the hell was I thinking!?
I gritted my teeth and persisted with that muay thai workout but the worst was yet to come.
I woke up the next day in COMPLETE pain. All four limbs felt as though they would fall off my body, my chest and back muscles were on fire and my glutes hurt so bad that the act of sitting and standing made me wince.
And I found out the hard way that trying to scrub my body in the shower with sore pectoral muscles was no easy feat.
Oh yeah, and I was stupid enough to perform the ol’ switcheroo during a mid-week training session, and so I had to go to work the next day in extreme pain.
Still, I grew to love the pain, sick as it sounds. At least I knew that my muscles well and truly got worked over. But even then, those sore muscles bothered me for most of my shift and home time couldn’t come soon enough.
After three years in a row of international traveling we stayed closer to home this time, flying to the Gold Coast for my birthday in the beginning of the year, then over to Melbourne for my cousin’s twenty-first and then to Tasmania at the end of the year for a family vacation before Christmas. It was right up my alley, no long boring plane rides, no jet lag and I got to experience some of the good stuff we had right here in our backyard.
Australia truly is a beautiful place.