See you later Leicester, it’s been emotional!!

Final sunset

It seemed fitting that as I left my old flat for the last time, I looked up to see this fabulous sunset. Almost like Leicester was reminding me that there is always beauty in your surroundings, you just need to open your eyes to see it!

It feels really strange today having no home, no job, and quite bizarrely, no keys. The ritual of checking wallet, phone, keys is now incomplete, but already I have passport panic alarmingly frequently!

Tomorrow I say goodbye to Leicester, and boy what memories do we share. I have met many of the most brilliant people on this planet during my time here, and some of the most useless too! Every single one of these people comes with me, good and bad I have learned from every one of you, and you have shaped my personality. So truly I owe you all for everything that I have, and all that I look forward to experiencing.

There are just so many stories from so many places: Leicester University; Junction 21; Bubblelove; Flaming Colossus; Nomad; IKON; Tudor Rose; British Gas; Westleigh Avenue; Western Boulevard; Urban Martial Arts; The Muscle Machine; Assassins; Nine Bar; Matishe; The Clock Tower; Goodbye Cruel World; Wistow Maize Maze; College Avenue; Club 147; The Exchange; Hazel Street… I could go on, and on, and on….

A week from now I’ll be on the plane to Thailand, and soon I shall be looking upon the sunset in Angkor Wat, and after that who knows what sunsets lie in store-but for sure with every new sunset I see, I’ll smile to myself and think of my last sunset in the Shire….thank you Leicester, it’s been an absolute blast!!

 

 

 

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To appreciate the new, you need to acknowledge the love you have for the old!

With our departure date rapidly approaching, things here start to present themselves in more clarity.
Like handing in my notice at work last week-I’ve been there seven and a half years, and it’s only when you’re counting the sleeps till your last day (!) that you realise how much you will  miss it. The people there are like family, sure we have our ups and downs, but what family doesn’t?!

As I was letting my gym know about our final departure date, I realised that I was doing something of a disservice to our lives in Leicester. Sure our outward journey to Asia is in October, but our experiences begin here-and so it makes sense to me to start sharing our stories of training, with a heartfelt tip of the cap to our home turf!
The gym that we have trained for over the last year or so is called the Muscle Machine, and it’s something of a second home. Seriously, after work and my flat, I probably spend the majority of my spare time here, and I love it! Run by Ramzy and Samantha, who are always on hand with a warm welcome, and words to encourage you to work your socks off and achieve your goals! The personal interest that they show is commendable, and this is reflected in the loyalty and respect from all of the members. This gym, as many others will claim, truly encapsulates hard work, grit and determination. Leave your egos at the door, and enter an environment where the only currency is hard work and effort.
I love it because it is a fighters gym to me, but to many it’s a fantastic arena in which they can lift big weights and benefit from the outstanding tutelage of the resident body building coach, Fred in particular being something of a local legend! Just today they posted a video of one of the members squatting a mammoth 320kgs!

But as I was saying, to me it’s a fighters gym, and over the last year I have reaped the rewards of the excellent set up for my own Thai boxing sessions, and the experience of the resident boxing coaches with inclusive sessions on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Approximately half of the gym is a dedicated fighters area, with two large matted areas for MMA, a boxing ring and a bag cage with a selection of 14 different punch bags in total-I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I saw the area for the first time!. For me, Thai boxing/kick boxing has always been my ‘preferred weapon of choice’, but getting the chance to take boxing coaching has opened my eyes to a love for a different discipline, and it has definitely improved my all round game in terms of stand up. The biggest revelation for me was range, in Thai boxing I find that my legs determine my range, and so I shortened my punches. When you’re relying on your jab to keep your distance, it’s amazing how much you can lengthen it….Well it was for me anyway!

There are a number of professional fighters who train at the gym, and I’m shamelessly going to name drop the quality that they have in the coaching staff. For the professional boxers, you have Leicester’s own Chris Pyatt, former WBO Middleweight Champion of the World! Fight record, Won 47 (KOs 34!) ; Lost 5; Drew 0. Having always been a fan of the sport, I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was when he took me on in the ring…That’s right, me in a ring, with a former world champion! Admittedly I had gloves on and he was holding pads, and he wasn’t trying to hit me….But it’s these little details that get dropped from stories as time goes on, but for sure I’ll always remember being in the ring with a world champ!

The MMA fighters at the gym benefit from the experience of Jimmy Wallhead and Craig Turner, both professional fighters out of the much feared and respected Rough House team. Jimmy has fought for BAMMA, Bellator and M-1 and has an impressive record of 25 wins with 9 losses in MMA-this guy is seriously good.
Craig is a current British title holder, a formidable striker. He boasts a record of 7 professional fights unbeaten, with 4 fights finished inside the distance and just the 1 draw. Watch out to see his name more in the future.
So you have three class pro fighters working with the coaching teams at the Muscle Machine, and as with everyone who walks through the doors-they’re always happy to help and give guidance & encouragement-as I mentioned, there’s no egos here.

So there we have it, my first training related post-if you’re in Leicester and you want to get training, then there is no better place (IMO) than the Muscle Machine.