I found out prior to the start of my boxing programme that it consisted of a 5k run followed by boxing training for the first session, between 6am-8am, and the same again for the second session in the afternoon, between 2.30-4.30pm – Monday to Friday for 8 weeks.
I couldn’t wait to get started and was really excited about the prospect of doing all that exercise and possibly obtaining a six pack, something that I hadn’t seen since the age of 17, and of course learning a new sport. The idea of a washboard stomach was appealing but sadly it never came to pass. I did manage to lose a stone in weight during the first 3 weeks though.
I did a little preparation for this extreme exercise regime by going for a short run with the boys I would be training with. My God, it was hard work in the heat, but it was great to do some exercise at last. I hadn’t done any since I’d left home and being used to regular workouts, NOT doing any was (is) a bit of a shock to my system.
On the first morning, at the God-forsaken hour of 5.30 am, Aek, one of our coordinators, picked us up in his truck to go to the boxing gym. We drove through small villages, being awakened by the sound of cockerels, where the locals were preparing to head to the local market to sell their produce. I remember it being dark and quite chilly as we sped along the roads en route to the gym, but this was the perfect time of day to start any exercise – before the sun starts its hot rampage throughout the day.
The gym was located in Ang Thong, which is a neighbouring province to Singburi, and it was a family run gym. We would be joining the former 4x champion of Thailand, Lunglit, as he went for his morning run. Whether Lunglit was the former boxing champion of THAILAND remains, to this day, unknown, but it was pretty awesome to train alongside him.
The whole family were up at 6 am and all of the guys there train. It was a “working” gym which means they trained all day, every day for upcoming fights and this is how they made a living. It was the only thing the boys knew, they didn’t go to school and their friends never came over. It was very strict, but they never questioned what they were doing, it was a way of life for them and they seemed to love the gruelling regime. There were girls in the family as well and the little girl, Mook, although very cute, packed a few good punches which I discovered a few times when she playfully landed her fist in my stomach.
We started with a gentle 2 km run and afterwards, back at the gym, we were told how to do some basic punches and kicks which we practised on the punch bags. We trained until 8.30 am and then we went back to the house with Aek where we had breakfast and a well-deserved rest before heading back to the gym in the afternoon for the second round of training. It was so much harder to run in the heat of the day, it just zapped the life out of me, but I managed a very good 4 km, followed by more boxing, kicking, sit-ups and skipping.
Day 2 and I managed to run 5 km of the 10 km route. It was just so hot, even though it was still only 6 am. Aek was following on his motorbike to make sure we were all OK, so I hopped onto the back and he took me back to the gym where I drank some coffee and chatted with the family in what little Thai I knew. It’s amazing how much people understand with a little patience and plenty of hand gestures!
When the others returned from their run, we did more boxing and kicking on the punch bag followed by more of the same in the afternoon. I’d been in the sun way too much, but I still managed to run 4 km and got to do some pad work. I liked using the punch bag, but it got a little boring after a while. I much preferred kicking and punching onto pads, with someone holding them because they will block you and attempt to hit you, so you get more out of it.
3 days in and I managed to run the full 10 km. It’s interesting how quickly your stamina builds up if you keep at it. I was so proud of myself because I’d never ran that far before. We used to run in a loop, out from the gym through the local village, passed green fields along this really long dirt track which never seemed to end, passed a local temple and back towards the gym. It was a really nice route. There is no way on this earth that I could have ran 10 km in the middle of the day, even the professional boxers didn’t do it.
Having done 3 days of intensive exercise I was aching all over, my muscles were very sore. It was worse first thing in the morning after being inactive in bed for 8 hours, but my boxing experience was worth it. No pain, no gain right?