Personal Training

Personal Training – Week 3

My last 1-to-1 session before I go away to work!  I was a little tired driving down on the day for my 3:00pm.  I was awake from 3:00am that morning!  Gave my wife a lift to Prestwick Airport this morning and I felt my eyes going just for a second on the way down the hill.  I was distracted a little leading up to this whole session and I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to it.  But here’s the thing, from the minute I laced up my boots, wrapped my hands and started to jump rope, I felt so much better  Like nothing else outside of the gym even entered my head 🙂 – So here goes:

Warm up

Jumping some rope but not just stationary.  From Gary’s advice last week, I needed to move back and forward and side to side.  I wanted to practice this on my lawn and I did try but I had problems in that my rope would catch the grass and it would throw the timing off.  Unless you have a lawn that’s like a bowling green (or a Golf putting green) I found I couldn’t practice.  I was pleased my coordination was decent that I could perform first time of asking.  There’s still hope for me and my footwork in the future.

3 minutes of shadowboxing as well.  Some of my pivots were a little stiff (Gary saw it and I could feel it on a couple of them) but I’m thinking too much and need to relax a little.  Like maybe my brain stops and goes “Should I pivot this way or throw another fist out” – that’s when my legs turn stiff.  I should just ease into it and keep flowing, not thinking too much.

Heavy bag circuit

This was good for the shoulder endurance.  So Gary’s got 5 heavy bags all lined up on one side of the gym and for each bag:

  • 2 minutes moving around the bag and punching with any combination
  • Immediately after, 10 push ups with my gloves on
  • Then straight into 1 minute continuous hitting – not so much power but constantly popping off shots and making the bag “sing a little”.

This was done non-stop going from one bag to the next.  Tiring stuff.  Got to keep breathing and blowing air out.  Arms burning by the end of it but you’re feeling pretty happy.

Question on bracing yourself against the bag

I wasn’t instructed to brace the bag in the last exercise, only to pivot and move around it as it swung but I wanted to ask Gary more about this.  I’m glad I did.  Basically, there are different ways to brace.  You can do it via a “peek-a-boo” style with your gloves in front of your face or you can stick your arm out and brace the bag with your leading elbow.  I wanted to be clearer on how I’m supposed to be balanced.  I shouldn’t be leaning forward to push against it.  My balance should be centred as the bag swings at me.  That makes sense if the bag is a person, I don’t want to lean into “him” otherwise the other guy is just going to step back or sideways and I’m instantly off balance.  The “peek-a-boo” style and the “arm-and-elbow” both have their points.  It’ a matter of habit but Gary’s preference was using the arm-and-elbow.

Pad work

Spent some time on the focus mitts again, moving around, firing off combinations and occasionally slipping with the head.  I really enjoy this kind of work.  I’ve always wanted to be able to flow and move really well off the pads like when I see my favourite boxers training on YouTube and on Box Nation.  One day!  With a lot of practice and hard work 😉

Double end bag

Just a couple of minutes on this but I used my 1-minute rest period to get my body mechanics going at the start.  I’ll use every spare amount of my gym time practicing with this piece of apparatus.  The one in Gary’s gym has got a wonderful motion to it actually.  Hard to master but it’s very rewarding.  I’m still a way off but I saw a clip of myself and I’m a lot smoother than last week.  Check out my link below for one of my favourite clip tutorials.

Ring sense

Back in the ring again with Gary holding those two foam poles.  Again I’m just practicing my movement around the ring, chasing Gary down when he tells me to, backing and pivoting away when I need to.  I’m trying to take everything I’ve learned and putting it into this exercise.  Everything’s always a work in progress like I have to remind myself to look at Gary’s collar bone and not what I’m trying to hit.


It’s been a pleasure training with Gary these last 3 weeks.  I feel like I’ve got some good concepts that I can work on while I’m away offshore and it was accelerated by the 1-to-1 training.  I had a quick look at some of the recordings on Gary’s phone at the end of this session and I look a little smoother and a lot less wooden from the first open day that I walked in on, 4 weeks ago.

How am I going to carry this forward for the next 5 weeks at sea?

Luckily there’s a heavy bag on the vessel I’m signing on… The Atlantic Guardian.  It was on a “Superships” documentary back in the day if you’re interested!  You can find it on IMDB. (Although a lot’s changed since then – it’s not a cable layer for a start)

I’ve bought a second double end bag.   My older Pro Box model, I’m going to take offshore with me.  I’ve bought some more bungee cord from B&Q and I’ll hopefully be able to rig something up on the vessel..  I’ll take a few photos when I sign on! 🙂  The new Cleto Reyes one – that’s staying in my garage! 😉

Moments of doubt

When I was training at home this last week and in between when I was sat on the couch or taking a shower I felt something… I don’t think it was sadness but it was something very close to sadness.  In my head I was saying to myself “Why are you doing this for? Why are you training so much, you can’t go anywhere with it, 75kg, 85kg – who cares?”

I have these moments sometimes when I’m on a boat tired out from exercise.  The truth is I just feel a sense of peace.  It takes my mind off things and I feel a bit more focussed.  Everyone’s opinion about their own health and body is a unique thing.  I can’t say what’s right for me is right for someone else.  If you’re happy with your health and your head is in a good place then that’s it… no need to stress.  Carry on.

It’s like anything else (or any one) you fall in love with… you just want to take the next step and see what’s round the corner… maybe that’s what boxing has become for me.


Super ships: Atlantic Guardian

YouTube – Floyd Mayweather jumping rope

YouTube – Practicing rhythm on a double end bag – One of my favourites!

Personal Training – Week 2

“Wrapping the hands is every boxer’s daily ritual. It’s the ten minutes where every athlete/student/office worker transforms into a boxer.” – Johnny N,

One of my favourite pieces of training scripture!

It’s now the 19th June and on the 31st, I’ll be back offshore, at work, so I’m keen to learn as much as I can in my last 2 sessions of personal training and get as much feedback from Gary as I can because after the 31st, I’ll be on my own training for the next 5 weeks.

Not the greatest weather in Glasgow today, but I was waiting outside Lusby’s still eager.  Time to get down to business…

Warm up…

I’d been walking the 2 dogs, Poppy and Bailey up the hill, in the rain and dropping Bailey back with our nieces and dropping off some parcels at the post office.  My mind was full of distractions so I needed to warm up and try and get my focus back to boxing…

Jumping rope for about 5 minutes continuously.  I can jump rope like I was born with rope in my hands.  If you practice something for long enough and watch closely on something like YouTube, you can learn anything.  You just need time and patience.  There’s hope for me and everyone like me, yet.

3 – 5 minutes of shadowboxing.  I was more relaxed this week.  Gary pointed out when I roll up my elbows continuously to shadowbox a series of uppercuts… I’m sticking my chin up.  I probably look a little stupid.  I’d better tuck my head in.

Double-end bag…

4 continuous jabs for 3 minutes then 3 continuous jabs followed by a right uppercut.  Again this was to get my rhythm and timing and relaxing my shoulders.  Double end bag work is tricky stuff for me.  I still felt a little stiff with my jabs and I was missing a few uppercuts.  I was shown a quick video replay on the cell phone and my hips looked a little stiff as well for the uppercut and my feet weren’t  grounded properly.  When my wife goes on holiday next week with her sisters and I’m alone, I’ll visit Lusby’s more for an open session.  This bag has a lot more recoil than my bag.  I’d like to try and nail down my rhythm before I go away offshore end of June.  I can’t do that on the double end bag in my garage.  The tensions on the ropes are set different and there’s a height difference in the 2 ropes in my garage so my bag doesn’t move in the same way as the bag in this gym.  It’s a different animal altogether.  A lot of work needed with this piece of apparatus.

Pad work (Focus mitts)…

A mish mash of 1-2s (jab, cross) but with some real emphasis on my right hook (Bare in mind I’m southpawed so that’s off my jabbing arm).  It would go: Double-jab, right hook, right hook to the body and back up top for another right hook to the face.  More emphasis on the technique of my hook to the body.  Stepping into it and angling my fist up as if to punch the rib upwards.  I also needed to think about quickly stepping back out after that combination.  So… In… Bang… bang.  Back out.

Also did jab-cross x 4, slip and then back in for a hook to the body. I really like this combination.  A bit of head movement.  Feels great to slip.  I also like the drills where the pads are used to hit the top of your head and the sides of your arm to get used to contact (and to keep your guard up).  None of that today though.  Not yet.

Another useful thing was the low jab to the body.  Gary suggested I look at his collar bone as that gives me a decent peripheral view of the body to try and “read” my opponents body language.  I also don’t want to stare at what I’m aiming to hit.  That would be telegraphing my intentions to my opponent.

Lastly some more focus on jabbing while moving backwards at the same time.  All great stuff.

Heavy bag work…


Taking what I did with the pads and bringing it onto the heavy bag.  So it was double-jab, right-hook, right hook to the body, right hook to the face all as one combination.  Not so much power, just technique.  Pop, pop, pop.  But like I said, I’m not sure what it is about throwing  hooks and uppercuts that makes you want to hit hard.  Have to get out of that habit.  The bag wasn’t being held so if it swung too much I had to hold my gloves up to brace it swinging back at me.  I wasn’t doing much, or enough of the bracing though.

I didn’t think I ever hit it hard enough for it to swing back so much that I needed to brace it with my gloves.  Probably my sparrow arms not having enough strength to punch it with enough force.

Next was making the bag sing a little.  What does that mean?… It starts with just popping light shots at the heavy bag.  Any combination but just continuously hitting.  No real pausing.  Then the intensity goes up after a little over a minute, firing harder shots until the final 30 seconds you’re just going for it.  Really going for it.  It’s tiring.  You need shoulder and arm endurance.  Gary calls it “making the bag sing” and asked me to “paint a  picture of violence on the bag”.  It wasn’t exactly a Mona Lisa… more like a cave man painting but I’ll get better through time.

Ring sense…

Back inside the ring again with Gary holding those two foam poles. Same idea as last week.  I throw combinations aiming at the end of one pole and Gary taps me on the head and body with the other pole if he sees an opening.  Here I’m using everything I’ve learned for the last 2 weeks, in this drill.  So different combinations, using my eyes more, movement around the ring.  Trying to remember as much as I can and using it all.


Great session again.  I can go and hit a bag all day long but without feedback, I wouldn’t know where to improve or what my punches look like, or if my body mechanics are wrong.  Trust me, you may think you’re fluid and compact but a camera phone doesn’t lie.  That’s also where having someone like Gary is priceless.  It was great to have him letting me know what I needed to improve and being able to see clips of myself.

At this early stage, I’m a bit stiff around the hips so Gary suggested I start to jump rope but in addition, moving side to side; backwards and forwards.  Hopefully that’ll help my footwork around the ring. I’m moving better this week though so that’s something.

That was an hour and you wouldn’t believe how quick that goes but it was time well spent. Thanks again Gary.


My homework…

So what have I been able to do in between my last session with Gary at Lusby’s Gym and today? …

I’ve been trying to keep my weight down at 77 kg and my stamina up.  Bear in mind I walk the dog twice a day as well for an hour each time so that’s got to count for something!

I should keep a proper diary but this is what I can remember – the days may be a little skewed…

Fri 13th: 3-4 km run (< 20 minutes), 10 minutes shadowboxing, 30 minutes double-end-bag

Sat 14th: 3-4 km run, (< 20 minutes), 10 minutes shadowboxing

Sun 15th: Nothing

Mon 16th: 60 minute game of 5-aside football

Tue 17th: Nothing (This was the day I put up the heavy bag)

Wed 18th: 24 minutes on the double-end-bag, 12-minutes on the heavy bag, 5 mins shadowboxing

It’s not bad.  I have to balance my home chores and duties as well and I don’t want to turn Emma into a “Boxing widow”.  I try and do the workouts as early in the morning as possible so they’re not in the way of the main day between 0600 and 0730.  Can’t use the heavy bag at this hour though – it’s just too noisy and you can hear it through the floorboards.  The double end bag is a lot quieter but you can probably still hear that a little.


This little enclave is where I shadowbox.  I’m pretty well hidden from my neighbour.


And if I open up those double-doors I can use these bags.

The journey from offshore worker to amateur boxer

There’s a big difference between being fit and fighting fit

After some small research from, below is a rough guide to the minimum needed to be able to fight in amateur competition and that’s where I’d like to be physically.  I need to be able to do the stuff below in one day:

  • Run 3-5 miles (5-8 km) without getting too tired
  • Jump rope for 30 minutes straight
  • Hit the heavy bag for 15 minutes non-stop
  • Be able to spar with any amateur from any gym (excluding pro-level amateurs with over 100 fights)
  • Spar double the required rounds (amateur boxing is 3 rounds)

I’m also about 5 foot 8 inches tall (175cm)… Ideally, I’d like to spar at Middleweight or lower so that means keeping my body weight below 75kg (165 lbs).

The first 2 on that list above, I can cross off already but I need to get down to serious business with my trainer, Gary Morris, if I want to tick off the last 3.  Do I have it in me?…

…It’s going to be a great journey, that’s for sure and I want to blog it out there 😉

Links… – Are you ready for amateur boxing?

Why boxing?

I love boxing.  I mentioned that already.  But BOXING IS FUN!  Forget sparring for a second and think about the training…

… You get to learn and use lots of interesting equipment.

… There are few exercises that can beat the fulfillment and joy of hitting pads.  And what happens afterwards? You smile, you go home, you shadowbox.  Learn new moves.  Go on YouTube and try to copy some professionals.  You start to daydream of how your body can move like them.   Now compare that to someone like a runner – As a runner… after a run… do you go home and daydream about running some more? Or does boxing sound more fun?

… The levels of fitness you gain are incredible.  Look at a boxer’s body.  They are ripped and lean.  That isn’t an accident.

… It gives you confidence within yourself as your body becomes an expression of your will.  The courage to stand toe to toe with someone and in doing so, gain a better understanding of your opponent and yourself.  Imagine what that does for your self-esteem.

Personal Training – Week 1

First and foremost, I’m incredibly lucky to have Gary as a PT. He’s a really approachable guy and he’s got a way about him that makes it easy to receive criticism.  After spending a whole trip offshore, doing mostly boxing training in my off time, I was really eager to see all the areas  I needed to improve.

Warm up…

Just some light skipping followed by some shadow boxing. I was a little nervous as I was being watched closely but I tried to relax and concentrate on what I was doing.  I could have been looser.

Bag work…

I take a Southpaw stance which means my left arm is my strongest arm.  If you fight orthodox (ie you’re right-handed) you would stand in the opposite direction to the pictures of me below.

Double jab and double jab, cross

Started with double jabs to the heavy bag. Not power; just popping shots off the bag…pop, pop.  Just trying to concentrate on technique, no power.  This is where I had some really useful feedback and the advantages of someone giving me one-to-one training.  My elbows and my balance:


My left elbow is coming out too much.


Leaning too much on the back foot. Should be more centred.


Better. My stance isn’t too bad and my arms are better guarded

After throwing continuous double jabs, your shoulders start to burn so if I can keep my stance and return to a good guard despite tiring then I’m not bad.  That was the biggest thing I took away.  My form.

Double end bag work

The crazy ball as it’s sometimes called!  (The bag that’s attached to the ceiling and the floor).  So I spent maybe around 6 minutes on this thing.  The double end bag at the gym moves a lot more than the one in my garage so it was getting used to the movement and also letting my combinations flow more loosely.  I had been guilty of punching too much from my arms in one open session.  I needed to be more loose and use my whole body more.  Rotate my hips a little, relax my shoulders.  This was tricky coupled with the bag’s recoiling motion.

Right uppercut, right hook

Trying to concentrate on technique rather than power but for some reason, pulling off an uppercut seems to make you want to go for it.  Gary had been holding the bag for me for the first round of 3 minutes but in the second and third he wasn’t.  My aim here was to lift my arms up to brace myself against the bag swinging back at me… like mimicking guarding against a returning punch.  Once I braced the bag to deaden the return swing I would fire off my right uppercut, right hook combination.  This felt a little strange at first. For me it was getting used to pausing and waiting for the bag’s return swing as it would affect my timing.

Continuous punching

This was another drill whereby I was throwing combinations of  hard shots mixed with lighter  shots.  Once 3 minutes elapsed I would spend the next minute throwing continuously and quickly, as many light popping punches as I could.

Ring Sense

This was one of the last things we went through.  So I got inside the ring and Gary had 2 foam poles. One pole in each hand.  The aim was that I move around the ring trying light combinations (aiming to strike the end of one of the foam poles) – and Gary, with the foam pole in his other hand would tap me with it whenever he saw an opening in my stance or guard.  This was really enjoyable.  I was practicing my movement and I got to pivot as well.  One thing I was guilty of which I realized towards the final minute was that I was concentrating too much on looking at the end of the foam pole I was aiming to hit.  I should have been looking at Gary’s face and whole body.  If I stare too much at what I’m hitting at, then I’m “telegraphing” to the other guy which part of him I’m going to hit.

Warm down…

I finished off the session with some skipping, some press-ups and some shadow boxing.


I really enjoyed this from start to finish!  The amount of feedback from Gary was brilliant.  It was useful when he used the photos from his cell phone to highlight problems with my guard and my stance and it was priceless being able to ask and get guidance.  My first one-to-one training session really affirmed how much I’m enjoying boxing.  By the time I finished I had plenty to take home with me, to practice and think about.  I loved it.  With my second week looming.  I’m really looking forward to the next session.