As a member of the British army I’m constantly being moved from pillar to post. So when, three years ago, I was posted to Portsmouth one of my first priorities was to find a decent kickboxing club.
Previously, I had done a few years of semi-contact kickboxing and never even considered Thai-boxing or even really knew what “K1 Kickboxing” really was. So when I started at GYM01 I was as surprised as anyone else. I would joke that the gym was my church but then people only go to church once a week, I was training there 6 or 7 times a week.
If I was ever away on exercise or deployments the first thing I ever wanted to do when I got back as get to the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a gym monkey, I was never one of those people who trained like this before, I just realised a good thing when I saw one.
Then something happened in my life that really brought to the forefront the importance of this little industrial unit in my life. 9 months ago I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Suffice to say that my life seemed to be imploding around me and looking down the barrel of major surgery to remove my entire stomach was a harrowing enough thought without the prospect of chemotherapy.
In the week leading up to the surgery I threw myself in totraining, when told Gareth what was happening, what became clear to me then, as it is now, that he wasn’t just my coach but also a mate. Whilst I sat in his office telling him why I could never train again (because my surgeon said I would never be able to), it was quite an emotional time for me.
After my surgery and 7-8 weeks of recovery, I was back, light training and no contact with Jade Baker-Morge in her beginner classes. They were perfect for me, still learning and no ones basic technique is perfect, every lesson was worthwhile and I always left with a great sense of accomplishment (thank you Jade!)
Eventually I progressed back into the intermediate and advanced classes but what happened after that was something I never ever expected or even thought possible. When I spoke to Gareth after my surgery I felt positive and strong, I told him my ambition was to fight on “Shock n Awe”, but even then I think we both knew that that was never going to be a reality but more a pipe dream. Something to aim for, something to train towards.
Whilst everyone around me (people at work, my friends, family, the army) was telling me what I couldn’t do, one person asked me what I wanted to do. “Do you want to fight”? And my answer of course, was yes! So Gareth and I embarked on a fight training regime that was hard, not only physically but also emotionally, it took a lot for me to train hard but for every ounce of effort I gave, what I got in return was so much more.
By the time my fight night came round, I’d never been fitter, never looked and felt so good and never knew who my friends really were. I owe a lot of my recovery to the most important person in my life (my girl friend) and people tell me what an amazing recovery I’ve had, but when I look back, I’ll never forget how much I owe to GYM01. I could pay the same amount to some commercial corporate fitness ‘institute’ but never would I have been more then a name on a spreadsheet. I drew my fight in the end, but I leave Gym 01 a winner in the end.
And so, as life in the army goes on and I am now posted again away from Portsmouth, the thing I’ll miss most……….GYM01.