Sunday bloody Sunday

I spent my Friday evening with some friends in a smoky bar, surrounding by people drinking and having a great time, I do not drink myself but have no problem hanging out in bars and around people drinking.

I actually sat at the table next to my ex girlfriend and her new husband but neither of us made any attempt to greet each other as we carried on as if our three years were together never actually happened, I am not really sure how I feel about that…

What did get to me, was the smoke, I spent around four hours in the bar and it was clouded with smoke! I must have smoked at least five cigarettes with all the second hand smoke that I inhaled.

At the time I did not realize the effect that it had on me but while driving home I could feel my throat aching, scratching and my sinuses starting to act up.

When I awoke Saturday morning, it felt like I had the flu, my head ached, my nasal cavities were all blocked up and I was in a down right foul mood. It felt like nothing could go right and everything just felt off, it was a sort of angsty depression, very strange sensation.

I can only deduct that this was caused by the smoke in the bar as no other external or internal factors changed except this. All my clothing from the night are still tainted with the smell of cigarette smoke.

I don’t judge people who smoke but I do hate smoking and as an ex smoker, I do believe that I have the right to hate smoking, as I know from personal experience the terrible health risks that smoking holds, it actually blows my mind that people still smoke but admittedly I was one of those people, not too long ago.

It seems that addiction trumps all sense of self preservation. Horrible really.

Saturday morning after finally getting put of bed, I had an insane training session, it was great, I trained in the sun, worked up a great sweat, followed it up with a cold shower and a great lunch but still I could not kick the dreaded feeling, the dreaded feeling followed me until I fell asleep and I finally managed to shake it the next day, which is today, but only after a yoga session, meditation and a run.

So the time is now 11:00AM on Sunday morning, it feels like my day can finish already as I have been so productive but alas, no rest for the wicked, I still have tons to do.

Once I finish the blog post, I have to pick up some ingredients for a herb, parmesan and steak carpaccio salad that I making for a lunch that I attending a bit later. Then I have some work to do afterwards and also some planning and decision making, I need to do, to ensure that this week and months goes as smooth as possible.

On a side note, I ran my fastest kilometer of my life today, with a flying speed of 3:35 for a kilometer, it was downhill but it was also on a trail, so I am sure that I can improve this on a tar road!

Goals and how my single one panned out.

A couple of months ago I set a simple goal, maybe a foolish goal for a thirty year old but regardless, I set the goal and since that day, I have been working towards it, consciously and subconsciously (I think).

My goal was to be able to do a handstand and hold it indefinitely in three months time.

It all started on the beautiful stretch of beach, in Au Luek Thailand. The water was really shallow, about ankle deep, you had to walk around 500m just to be waist deep.

It was in this shallow ocean water where I suddenly had the urge to do a handstand, with the ankle deep water to break my fall and a relatively deserted beach, I thought, “Why not?”.

I tried my first handstand and as I expected, I immediately fell over with a small splash into the water, but at least it was fun, so much fun I continued to do it for the next twenty minutes, and right then and there I decided that in the next three months I will master the art of the handstand.

Just some background information: At this time I was not really following any exercise routine or fitness program, I would do some daily push ups, crunches and I went for a run every now and then.

My first attempts were miserable failures which is to be expected of someone who has not done a handstand in twenty years and who has also not practiced it at all.

I went to Google for help and quickly realised that there is no quick and easy way to do a handstand. I found several tutorials and guides which explained the motions and movements but they failed to explain the muscles and strength involved in actually doing an actual handstand.

The one tutorial promised that you will do a handstand in 28 days but when I forwarded to the end result, it was not a real handstand but a handstand against a wall, I mean really who wants to do a wall handstand?

So after more Googling, I found an entire exercise routine dedicated to bodyweight exercises and it also happened to include handstands. Having committed myself to the goal of doing a handstand I was thrilled at finding this routine.

The other great thing about the routine was that it was all based on bodyweight training, which meant that you could do it pretty much anywhere and as a traveller this was a really important as you cannot seek out a gym in every location that you end up in.

The routine includes pull ups which I could do on hotels doors with some support underneath them, dips which I could easily do between two chairs and other than that, all I needed was enough space to do a push up in.

This is where my obsession with body weight exercise started. I committed myself to the routine and would do it every second day, usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On my off days I would still practice handstands but as a beginner, I mostly did it against a wall. Sorry to all hotel and guest house staff, where I left my feet marks on the walls, I did always try to clean it but I most definitely missed a spot or two.

My first month of training and practicing handstands were very disheartening. The act of doing a handstand made my entire body feel weak. My wrists would ache, my shoulders would pain, my core would hurt and the blood rushing to my head actually caused the veins in my cheeks to burst, giving me the appearance of a ageing alcoholic.

In all honesty I almost gave up and told myself that I will get back to my goal once I stop traveling and can routinely practice. My mind was making a ton of excuses as why I cannot do a handstand and why I should just stop trying.

Somewhere in this time a mental shift occurred and I told myself that I will do a handstand even if it kills me. So over the next couple of weeks I would wake up and immediately practice my handstands and I would repeat this before going to bed. At this stage I was still confined to doing my handstands against a wall.

I slowly began building more and more confidence until I was able to start practicing my handstands without the wall but I could only keep them up for a few seconds at most. The handstand practice and the body weight exercises started paying off.

A handstand relies heavily upon your shoulders and your core muscles to keep you upright and balanced. Before I started with the body weight training my core and shoulder strength was pretty much none existent.

Over the next couple of weeks I would do handstands everywhere, everyone who was with me during this time can attest to this, some people would even get annoyed as I would break into handstands at popular tourist destinations or even in bars where other people were drinking.

As of today I can confidently say that I have achieved my goal, although there is always room for improvement, I can now hold a static handstand for almost a minute (if lucky) and I can walk on my hands for as long as my muscles can carry me. I find walking on my hands a lot easier than just doing a handstand.

Some may say it is a futile goal at the age of thirty and even I laugh at it sometimes, but committing myself to this goal has not only helped me achieve it, but also introduced me to a whole new world of calisthenics, which will now always be a part of my life and something I will continually strive to improve.

And also I will be damned if it does not feel great to achieve a goal after months of hard work and dedication, no matter how big or small the goal is. Although I cannot do an handstand indefinitely, holding one for a minute and then doing a “hand walk” is great and I will continue practicing my handstand and working on my form.

So without further ado here are some handstand pics from all over South East Asia.

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Back in action at Boracay Legacy Gym

I woke up feeling a whole lot better today, my energy levels were still not 100% but I was ready to train. The wind was so loud, it drowned out the roosters, that normally wake me up. I did not think that there will be beach conditioning due to the windy weather, but at 8:00 AM I got ready for it anyway.

Despite the windy weather, the group gathered and we made it down to the beach, where we had another intense session of sprints, jumps, crawls and push ups on the beach.

It was not the hardest session ever, we have had worst but I was thankful as I am still recovering from the flu.

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After the morning session Tim and I went for fruit shakes, I had a banana, peanut and chocolate shake, no sugar. Melissa who runs the little shake and breakfast shop already knows the drill, no sugar and no milk, just the fruit, some cocoa powder and ice, simple but makes for a great shake.

We were planning on doing boxing training after our shakes but training had been cancelled, which again, I was thankful for and took the time to rest before going out a few hours later for lunch.

Lunch was at our old time favourite Na-Meet, we had the usual of rice with a couple of side dishes, delicious home cooked food.

This afternoon I had an interesting training session. We did our warm ups and was immediately told to wrap our hands and put on our gloves. We were paired up with a partner and did two rounds with that partner before moving on to a new partner.

My first partner was great, he is very fit Filipino boxer, who clearly has some great experience, he gave me a real run for my money with his ducks, dodges and side steps, very good session.

After two rounds I moved on to Christiaan, with whom I did spar with before but very lightly. Today it seemed that he had some kind of score to settle up as he threw punches hard enough to take my head right off. Keep in mind, the sparring sessions are supposed to be without real power, therefore I don’t even wear a mouth guard.

So after repeatedly asking Christian to take it easy, the coaches also told him to control his punches from the side, I realised that I have to fight back. One of his weaknesses is his fitness, I definitely have the upper hand when it comes to raw fitness.

So I started dancing around him, staying out of range of his punches and just coming in close when I wanted to attack. I could immediately tell he was frustrated with my tactics as he was hell bent on hitting me even harder.

After dancing around him a couple of times and also hitting back with all the power I had, he stopped me and said, “You are hitting hard.”, I said “Yes off course!” and showed him my bleeding lip where just moments before he threw a straight punch which I could not block and the inside of my lip exploded.

The last few seconds we went very hard, it was more than just sparring, it was a personal little battle but it was still good fun. In the end we bumped gloves and moved on but I am sure that I could take him if we were to have a proper one on one boxing fight.

My third partner was Leah, yes a girl who packs a mighty punch and also knows some pretty wild combos. By the time I sparred with her, I was exhausted and barely finished the two rounds.

It was great. I think to really compete I need to take a private lesson or two which I might do tomorrow or Thursday. That is it for today, here are some more Boracay shots.

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Boracay Legacy Week Two

This is my final week here at Boracay Legacy Gym and also my final week of training before heading back to South Africa. I have a lot of traveling ahead of me.

Firstly I will fly to Manila, from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, from Bangkok to Dubai and then from Dubai to South Africa.

It is going to be a bitter sweet journey.

I skipped two days of training as I have been ill with the flu. I have noticed a pattern in my body, when it comes to getting the flu, it seems to happen when I travel and when I train really hard. I also got the flu whilst training in Thailand and was out for a few days and before that, I whilst training for the Iron Man, in Vietnam, I could feel a flu developing but I managed to fight it off with loads of vitamin C and coconut water.

I am always very weary to train whilst being sick, as I have a vague recollection of a story told by my grandmother, that my grandfathers brother passed away at the age of 21 from a heart attack caused by over exerting himself whilst he had the flu. If I remember correctly, he played a rugby game and it was the last rugby game he ever played.

So I have no quarrels with taking a day or two off to fully recover and then go at the training harder than ever.

I can already feel that my body has almost won the fight with the flu, by tomorrow I will be back up and ready for action. I waas really hit hard with the sickness and spent the entire Saturday in bed. All the other trainees went out but I was confined to my bungalow.

One still has to eat even though one is sick, here are some of the munchies from the island:

This is another local Philippines dish but I forgot the name.
This is another local Philippines dish but I forgot the name.
Rotisserie chicken sold on the side of the road, also one of my favourites.
Rotisserie chicken sold on the side of the road, also one of my favourites.
This is Chicken Adobo, a Philippines special. Very tasty.
This is Chicken Adobo, a Philippines special. Very tasty.
Close up of the Chicken Adobo.
Close up of the Chicken Adobo.
This is Namis, where we eat most of the time. It is great food for a great price.
This is Namis, where we eat most of the time. It is great food for a great price.

Skewers at Namis.

Nami's skewer.
Nami’s skewer.
At Nami's you order some rice and they cook different meals each day. This is the closest that I have come to a home cooked meal in all my travels.
At Nami’s you order some rice and they cook different meals each day. This is the closest that I have come to a home cooked meal in all my travels.
Tis guy fries an assortment of goodies on the  side of the road.
Tis guy fries an assortment of goodies on the side of the road.
Assortment of fried goodies by said guy.
Assortment of fried goodies by said guy.

 

Boracay Paradise Island Training Day Three

I want to dedicate this post to Boracay and the Philippines. I have been traveling for the last six months, all across South East Asia, and to be honest, I was exhausted.

After I finished my time in Thailand at Suwit gym, I was ready to go back home, to the creature comforts that one is use to. Your own food, your own customs and cultures, and off course your family and friends.

But when I arrived in Philippines it awoke my sense of adventure and I currently feel like I can keep traveling for the next few months, especially Boracay island, it is truly one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited.

Below are some photos of the beach where we do our strength and conditioning class.

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I have been very lucky the last two days as the weather has been perfect. It is currently rainy season and apparently the days before I came, it rained none stop.

So this morning we kicked off training with a run through town, down to the beach, it was a short easy paced run followed by a quick dip in the ocean. Our dip was cut short when the trainer and the rest of the trainees arrived.

We were immediately summoned out of the ocean and instructed to go on another run along the ocean. This time the run was not easy but fast paced as the instructors edged us along.

After the run we did our warm up session followed by four sets of high intensity exercises on the beach. I counted at least five Chinese tourists taking our picture as we were frog hopping up and down on the sand. It was an intense workout but having the ocean right there is extremely rewarding, we spent at least twenty minutes afterwards just wading around in the water, allowing our muscles to relax.

Once we were done, we headed over to Melissa’s (our local breakfast hangout) for some fruit shakes and omelettes.

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After breakfast I was exhausted but had some work to do, so the rest of the day was spent banging away at my keyboard behind my computer screen. I was planning to go down to the beach for a swim again but I could feel that I had already sunburnt a little bit.

In all honesty, it was hard for me to go to the afternoon training, physically I had a lot of energy but mentally my mind was slowing me down. I think that because the training is so hard, my mind tried to convince me to rather stay behind the computer screen and work, just skip the training but I fought off the mental fatigue and at 4:00 PM I was back in the gym.

We did not do any radical fitness regime today, instead we just boxed. At Suwit gym the training was all about Muay Thai, at Legacy it is all about Western Boxing. Two completely different arts.

Each trainee was paired up with a sparring partner and had to do two rounds with them, before switching to the next partner, this cycle repeated itself five times making it a total of ten rounds in the ring.

Four out of my five sparring session were great fun, we took it easy, only exchanging the odd light blow here and there, as we do not spar with power, but then there was Phillip, the German, who has been training here for the last four years…

He decided to not take it easy and I ended up taking several hard punches to the face and one punch to the ribs which actually knocked my wind out. It was one of the hardest sparring sessions that I have ever had but I enjoyed it. When I touch my face I can feel exactly where all the punches hit and especially on my nose, it really hurts when I touch it but nothing permanent.

After training me and some of the guys went into town to get some dinner. We ended up having burgers and fruit shakes and for some desert we just got some sweet tea.

All in all a great day of training, my body and face is aching all over but luckily I have tonight to rest, the next session is only tomorrow morning 🙂

Boracay Legacy Training Day Two

Another day has passed in the Philippines, so that means two training sessions and my first day of doing a complete morning and evening session. Tuesday our morning beach session was cut short due to the high tide.

Needless to say it was tough, really really tough. The morning session kicked off with the warm ups and was followed by high intensity fitness exercises. Once we were all moaning and groaning, we had to to partner up and practice several different techniques during several rounds of boxing. We also did two rounds of sparring where I was beat down by an experienced boxer from the States. I am still struggling a bit with my flinch reflex but it is getting better.

Here at Boracay Legacy Gym, the focus is on Western boxing and not Muay Thai, making the training very different to the training at Suwit gym. It is very hard to compare the two places as both are very different and focus on different types of training. Both are excellent choices to do training at but it really depends on what you want to work on.

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I almost went to bed after the morning session but my hunger kept me going. For breakfast, myself and another two trainees went down to Melissa’s which is the go to spot for post workout shakes and meals. I had just that, an avocado and banana shake as well as some garlic chicken with rice.

After the meal, I went back to my bungalow, which is both my bedroom and office,to get some work done. The bungalow is really growing on me, apart from the mosquitos and the REALLY loud geckos I could actually live in one of these. If you do not know how the geckos in Asia sound, listen here. It is amazing that such a small lizard can be so loud.

I went down to the beach for a quick swim, where I bumped into Nic, another guy who trained with me at Suwit. Nic spotted me as I was doing handstands on the beach, he saw some guy doing handstands and thought to himself, “that must be Siegfried.”

It was good catching up, he was supposed to train with us but injured his knee. It has been giving problems for the last few years and with the high intensity boxing exercise, the problems just got worst. We will be going for a run before the beach conditioning class tomorrow.

I barely made it back in time for the afternoon session. This session our fitness exercise consisted of doing a circuit of various ab exercises, jumps, lunges, push ups, pull ups and a lot more. All in all it was around 16 exercises lasting two minutes each with one two minute break in between. It was absolutely devastating but great exercise.

In all honesty, fitness wise, I could handle the exercises really well but energy wise not so much. After a few minutes into the circuits, I was completely drained but I willed myself to go on and finished with the circuits.

I will make sure to eat a banana or two before training just give my body some fuel to work with. I did eat some boiled eggs before training but I have never heard of some one eating eggs for energy 🙂

For dinner, a bunch of us went to a restaurant part owned by a trainee who does the beach class with us. The view at the venue is insane, providing you with a 360 degree view of the island. Once you see the island from this view, you realise how small it actually is.

I had some BBQ chicken, rice and veggies and washed it down with a banana/mango shake, a light beer and a bottle of water.

BBQ chicken and rice, the flower was decorative.
BBQ chicken and rice, the flower was decorative.

Boracay Legacy Training Day One

Today was my first day of training at the Boracay Legacy gym, it was insane! The training is a lot tougher and stricter than the previous gym, Suwit in Phuket Thailand.

Suwit was great but it had a kind of laid back attitude, we would stretch, then do our own thing for a while and then spend some time with the coaches, no one really drilled you. A lot of the times I made it harder for myself by adding more exercises but trust me, that is not necessary here at Boracay Legacy gym.

So this morning I awoke at 3:32 AM from what I think was a cat hunting a rat on the roof of my bungalow, this woke up all the roosters on the seven surrounding farms, who took it upon themselves to wake up the rest of the island.

My humble abode for the next two months.
My humble abode for the next two months.

So instead of lying in bed, admiring the chorus of crowing cocks, I decided to get up and start working, at the end of the month there is always a lot of admin to see to, like taxes, invoices and payments.

I finished up my work, and met the rest of the team at the gym, we  then headed down to the beach for a fitness and conditioning class. Apparently the tide is the highest that it has been in months, making our route to the beach a rather tricky one as we navigated over rocks knee deep in the water.

The beach class was hardcore, we started with a fast paced warm up/stretching session, followed by an array of high intensity exercises. We then did sprints into the ocean, with the object to get as far into the water as possible. The first five times were great fun but the next twenty five times were energy drenching.

After the beach work out, we went for fruit shakes and Korean soup. I had a delicious banana peanut shake and then some amazing beef brisket Korean soup.

Take away banana and peanut shake for 120 Pesos, which is $2.
Take away banana and peanut shake for 120 Pesos, which is $2.
Side dishes served with the Korean soup. From bottom to top, Kimchi, Omelette with veggies and a sort of potato salad.
Side dishes served with the Korean soup. From bottom to top, Kimchi, Omelette with veggies and a sort of potato salad.
The Korean soup.
The delicious beefy Korean soup.

After the meal we got a Tuk Tuk back to the gym and took it easy for an hour before we started training again. This time it was just Tim and who ran through my body weight routine.

About this routine… It is not an easy one, it consists out of active stretching, which already gets the sweat flowing, followed by several core exercises, then skill work, which is hand stands and holding the dip position on rings, both for 5 minutes and lastly the strength workout which is three reps of pull ups, dips, squats, l-sit, push ups and reverse pull ups.

I have been doing the routine for the last five months, so I am very familiar with the routine but this was Tim’s first time and he handled it like a champ.

A little more about Tim…

He is a big guy, when we started training together a month ago, he had not done any training or exercise apart from playing volley ball, which is mostly a stationary sport, for the last couple of years. So he was not really in shape, since he has started training he has lost just over 12kg, it is amazing especially in a months time!

He stuck with me through the entire set and did not complain once!

We finished up and headed to the beach for a swim, it is just a few minutes walk from the gym and it is an insanely beautiful beach.

Views from the beach.
Views from the beach.
Views from the beach.
Views from the beach.
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Tim the man, himself!
More views!
More views!
Amazing views!
Amazing views!

After the swim, we headed back to the gym and I picked up some eggs, to boil, as I have ran out of protein shakes and you cannot buy it here on the island. I also bought some peanuts, milk and a grilled banana 🙂

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Path up to the gym.

By the time I got back it was already time for afternoon training. I arrived at the gym and we had 15 minutes to warm up, so I did a combination of sit ups, push ups and some leg exercises.

Once warm up was complete we did stretches but unlike Suwit, where stretches are slow and relaxing, here stretching is a work out on its own, we quickly move from stretch to stretch and finish up with various jumps and movements.

After the stretches you rotate between the punching bag and the trainers, spending five minutes on each with short breaks in between and in the short breaks, we do more exercises. The coaches here are very similar to drill sergeants, barking orders and screaming profanities as you lie exhausted on the gyms floor. I was scared that I was going to drown in a puddle of sweat.

The coach announced the final round and I saw a glimmer of hope but this quickly faded as Tim informed me that we end each session with 400 various stomach and core exercises of our choice. Like I said, this is tough.

After the training we went for dinner at a local restaurant, I am amazed at the cost and quality of the food on Boracay. Tonight was like a home cooked meal consisting of a pork skewer, a piece of fried chicken, green beans, beef stew, lentil soup and rice.

Dinner!
Dinner!

I have also setup my work space in my bungalow! It is not ergonomic and with all the chords, it may be a fire hazard, but it will do for the next two weeks, I am very excited!