Why You Should Surround Yourself with the Right People

Menander of Athens, one of those old bearded Greek dramatists we’re so fond of quoting, put it like this:

“Bad company corrupts good character.”

There’s certainly truth to the snappy phrasing above. But, there’s also sufficient depth to it to make it worthwhile digging down into this statement for more of the wisdom that it undoubtedly holds.

If we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, then, while bad company corrupts good character, the reverse must also be true. 

Here are just a few of the things to look out for when examining the relationships you maintain in your life.

Begrudgers Will Drag You Down

Getting anywhere in life is hard. In business, our relationships, skills development, nothing is for free. In whatever sphere of life you care to examine, progress requires the overcoming of obstacles, time and time again.

When we surround ourselves with people who tear us down with snide comments or who throw unworthy temptations into our path to distract us, we create more obstacles for ourselves.

There are already sufficient stumbling blocks in life without willingly adding more. This is a compelling reason why it is worth the effort to seek out the right people to spend your time with.

The right people are in tune with our goals, even if they don’t share the same goals. Supportive people help us on our path to self-realisation rather than hinder us.

Welcome into your life those who will be part of your support system. Just don’t forget to return the favour!

Embrace Good Role Models to Find Your Path

A peek into the bedrooms of teenagers around the world will reveal some important insights into human nature. I’m not talking about the unholy mess or that mouldy sandwich in the corner. I’m talking posters. 

Teenagers love papering their bedroom walls with pin-ups of their idols. Stars of the big stages and screens of the world, influential political figures, and inspiring writers peer out from their perches in the bedrooms of adolescents across the globe.

See, the teens are onto something. They realise the truth of the phrase – you can’t be it if you can’t see it. As they struggle to find their way in the world, the young find heroes to emulate; role models to aspire to be like.

As adults, we sometimes expect to become the ‘hero of our own movie’ right off the bat. We forget that we can still learn from the lives of others too. We forget that we should learn from the lives of others.

While weak people often find the success of others intimidating and a reminder of their own comparative shortcomings, the wise know that they have much to learn from the efforts of others.

Share in the Lives of Others

Like anything we do regularly, friendships can become a habit. While some habits are good for us, others may drag us down. As we evolve and develop within our lives, it’s essential to take stock and examine the people we choose to spend time with and how they affect our evolution and development.

A fully-lived life requires others to share those meaningful moments with; not just the triumphs and celebrations but the hardships and failures too.

When we find just the right people, our lives become enriched. Our journey around the sun then becomes a much more meaning-filled adventure than it would have been otherwise.

The Importance of Physical Activity During Stressful Times

Nothing takes its toll on the body, mind, and spirit quite like stress does.

The symptoms of stress can run the gamut from restlessness and irritability to panic and even rage. We may suffer headaches and pain, a racing heart rate, muscle cramps, and even fainting spells. 

When stress becomes chronic, it is one of the leading contributors to the development of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide.

There’s no doubt about it. Stress kills.

Unfortunately, we now live in highly stressful times as the regular daily pressures of modern life are compounded by the seemingly endless restrictions and cycles of lockdowns in response to Covid-19. 

Our stress levels are understandably through the roof.

Luckily, despite all appearances, control over these swelling stress levels are still within our grasp. 

The answer lies in physical exercise.

Physical Activity and Stress Relief

If a man achieves victory over this body, who in the world can exercise power over him? He who rules himself rules over the whole world.

Vinoba Bhave

The effects of physical exercise for stress relief are well researched and documented. 

Here are just some of the reasons physical exercise has never been more critical than now in these difficult times.

1. Stabilise Your Mood

Not only does vigorous exercise reduce harmful stress hormones in the body, but it also helps the body increase production of the feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins. 

Though we are used to thinking of the body and mind as two distinct parts of our being, our mental wellbeing is inextricably tied up with our physical. So intertwined are they that vigorous physical exercise can trigger a more relaxed and calm mental state in us.

Psychologists are well aware of this phenomenon, and they even have a name for it. They call it The Exercise Effect.

2. Improve Your Sleep

Stress and anxiety are two of the leading causes of poor sleep. When we are worried and anxious are thoughts tend to run away from us. We propel ourselves needlessly into a hypothetical future of disasters and catastrophes, triggering our bodies to produce damaging stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline in the process. 

Not only that, but we deprive ourselves of the rest and relaxation so desperately needed to help us manage the increasing pressures we endure in our daily lives. 

Have you noticed how much more reactive and irritable you are when you’re tired? Sufficient sleep is essential for effective stress management. 

Fortunately, physical exertion has been shown to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Exercise is also credited with raising our energy levels throughout the day, ensuring we can cope in even the most trying of circumstances.

3. Enhance Your Cognitive Function

It’s one of life’s cruel ironies that it is when we most need to think clearly that it is the most difficult for us to think at all. 

Proper mental functioning is essential for effective stress management, but this can seem an impossible task when the pressure is on.

Exercise helps us gain that much-needed clarity by increasing blood flow everywhere in our body, including in the brain. 

This extra blood flow means more energy and oxygen to boost our mental performance when we need it most.

4. Increase Your Self Esteem

Sticking to an exercise routine will give you back a sense of control over your life. You will regain that essential sense of being the master of your own fate. The very thing that has been stolen from us in the current climate.

Personal autonomy is a crucial aspect of our self-esteem. Exercise can give this back to us.

Every weightlifter knows about hypertrophy. This is the process whereby muscle fibres are stressed just to the right point to force them to grow thicker and stronger. 

Physical exercise teaches you to build resilience and develop the inner strength required to emerge front these stressful times as a stronger and more robust individual.

Staying Positive in the Uncertainty of Lockdown

The uncertainty of our times is perhaps the most significant challenge we face.

The stop/start nature of the seemingly unending series of lockdowns can test the mettle of even the most optimistic among us.

So, how can you maintain a positive outlook when the cloud of ever-recurring lockdowns looms heavy overhead?

Is it even possible?

Yes. Not only is it possible, but it is essential. 

Let’s look at a few powerful practices to help keep a positive mindset in these testing times.


If you want to get your mind right, get your body right first.

Vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the bloodstream. These ‘feel-good’ chemicals act as pain relief and help produce a feeling of well-being in the brain.

The mood-boosting effects of exercise will help you avoid getting bogged down in the mud of anxiety and depression.

Get moving and keep moving.

Cultivate an Optimistic Outlook

Optimists live longer. According to recent research, up to 15% longer on average. 

A shift in your outlook doesn’t only improve your health and longevity. It makes your life more enjoyable too.

Easier said than done, though, right?

Optimism is about the cultivation of a positive mindset. Try to focus on the positives of any given situation.

Stuck in lockdown? Be grateful for the extra time it affords you to work on your goals.

Miss your friends and family? Take a moment to nurture these relationships by letting the important people in your life know how much they mean to you.

Find the silver lining in every cloud; this is the mission and the mark of the optimist.

Limit Social Media Use and News Consumption

24-hour news cycles and social media are a combination dangerous to our mental health, particularly in times such as these.

We’re hardwired to focus on danger and the signs of trouble. 

It’s an evolutionary impetus that has kept us in the game since the earliest times. However, our instinct for focusing on the negatives and the threats in our environment can also be our undoing.

Sure, you might need to know the latest restrictions to keep yourself on the right side of law enforcement, but do you really need to check Facebook every 15 minutes?

The constant torrent of information and counter-information can get exhausting and demoralising.

Consume the media sparingly – don’t be wholly consumed by it.

Embrace Nature

The regenerating power of nature is undoubted. Ideally, spend some time in the park or your garden.

However, if this isn’t possible, there are still options.

Stand on your balcony and soak up some fresh air first thing in the morning. Even open a window, sit near it for a while, and listen to the birds.

No birds? No problem. You’ll find recordings of birdsong easily online. Simply close your eyes and allow your imagination to generate the natural world for you.

Unquestionably, these are challenging times. But, as the old Persian adage has it, This too shall pass. Don’t lose sight of this simple fact.

Remember to check in with yourself throughout the day. 

If you find negativity is swamping you, take a moment to gently guide your thoughts towards those things in life you are grateful for – and there are plenty of things worthy of your gratitude.

Remember too, that it is only when faced with resistance that we can grow stronger. 

See the opportunity in the difficulties that lie ahead and seize it.

What I Learnt in the World’s Longest Lockdown

“The Obstacle Is the Way.” 

From the Buddhists of the East to the Stoic philosophers of the West, each culture has some version of this wisdom.

The unprecedented lockdowns that have marked the past year and a half are ongoing for many of us. Undoubtedly, they’ve thrown a huge, pandemic-sized spanner in the works for nearly all of us. 

But, these various obstacles that lie in our path have also created unprecedented opportunities for those who gain the perspective to see them.

As in Muay Thai, in lockdowns, angles are critical.

The clinch begins where boxing ends. In that tight, cramped, and claustrophobic space, the untrained struggle against a feeling of suffocation and helplessness. 

Kicking and punching are no longer options.

For the Muay Thai fighter, though, the clinch offers a world of options not available to the mere kickboxer – elbows, knees, sweeps, tosses, or the application of unrelenting pressure, to name but a few. 

In this close-quarter world, the Nak Muay doesn’t focus on what he or she can’t do, but on what they can.

So, ask yourself, what openings for attack can you spot in the 50/50 clinch of these seemingly endless cycles of restrictions? 

How can you metaphorically advance your position to the Thai plum, where you can smash this lockdown into a final, bloodied defeat?

Look no further.

First, Get Organized

Do you remember the pre-lockdown world? Did you get around to everything during those blue-skied days of freedom? 

I doubt it.

Lockdown is the perfect time to get your stuff together finally. Have you struggled with your diet but have always been too busy to set up those healthier eating habits? 

Now is the time to get the recipes and skills you need to take your diet up a level.

They say, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. With the silence that lockdown offers, get strategic. When the heavy weight of these strange times lifts (and it will lift!), you want to hit the ground running. Get organized now.

Sharpen the Blade

When a swordsmith forged a samurai’s katana back in the day, the sharpening of the blade was no joke. Many, many hours were spent honing the blade against grinding stones. Often, years were spent on a sword before it ever saw battle.

Likewise, though training with your teammates may not be an option right now, self-training is always an option.

Whatever your sport, you can improve your fitness in all areas during a lockdown. You need no special equipment or huge spaces to increase your cardiovascular fitness, strength or flexibility.

Not only will this make the transition back to the gym easier when things reopen, but you will maintain (and indeed, improve) your mental and physical help despite the challenges.

Add to Your Skillset

Learning doesn’t stop when we leave school. The real path of the fully-realised human is that of a lifelong learner.

Online learning has taken off at an exponential pace. High-level education is no longer restricted to those who can afford to pay the exorbitant prices unis charge.

These days it is possible to learn almost anything, often for free, virtually. 

While the world sleeps – master a new skill.

Create a Business Plan

If the lockdown has forced you to work from home and you’ve always had aspirations to start your own business but never found the time, this is the time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was any worthwhile business venture. This is the perfect opportunity to do the market research, sort schedules, check out the competition; in fact, any of the million and one little things required to make an ambition a reality.

But, as with so many things in life, start with a well-thought-out, strategic plan.

Don’t Lose to the Lockdown

Whatever you decide to do with this gift of limited distractions and unlimited time that lockdown offers, think like a fighter. 

Stay in the fight, exploit the openings, and when the final bell rings, you’ll surely see your hand raised.

Getting Back Training in a Post-Lockdown World

These strange times have thrown us all for a loop. But, with society beginning to reopen again, the call of the gym can be heard over the endless pessimism of the daily news cycle.

For many of us, the prospect of getting back training stirs mixed emotions of equal parts excitement and anxiety. Momentum is all about getting that ball rolling. Let gravity do the rest.

Overcoming Anxiety

Get the mind right, and the body will follow. Mercifully, for most of us, our primary battle isn’t with the coronavirus but rather the mental toll of the lockdowns and other restrictions. Here are some tried-and-tested methods of getting your head into a suitable space to get restarted.

  • Breathe Right to Feel Right

When we’re anxious, we tend to hyperventilate – often without being aware of it. Hyperventilation can trigger the sympathetic nervous system causing the stress response. This makes us anxious, which increases our hyperventilation which in turn increases our anxiety. And the vicious cycle continues.

To reset your nervous system, try this simple breathing method. It’s backed by the weight of scientific research.

  1. Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4.
  2. Breathe out through the nose for a count of 6.
  3. Repeat for 10 minutes or more.
  4. Do this 3 times per day.
  • Check Your Thoughts

Your mind is where you live. If it is a toxic environment, you’re in trouble. One way to whip your thought patterns into shape is to fact-check your thinking. Don’t let negative thoughts about yourself and the world around you spiral out of control. Layout your thoughts in front of your objective self and analyse them rationally.

Getting through the Gym Door

The first session back will be the hardest. But you’ll remember what it’s like. Halfway through the session, you’ll be wondering why you had to fight with yourself to get here. There’s no reward like the reward you get for putting in the work. But, first, you need to get your butt through the door.

  • Set Reasonable Expectations

Jumping into two-a-days may not be sustainable for you – at least not yet! Starting from a cold start, you’ll want to set yourself up for success by aiming for an attainable number of sessions your first week back.

  • Build on Your Accomplishments

Once you gain a little momentum, set yourself a challenge. Can you add an extra class per week? Define your goals. Is it three classes per week? Five? Twice a day? Your exact target will depend on your circumstances, but you need to set it regardless. Remember, you can’t hit what you can’t see.

  • Harness the Power of a Partnership

“Two shorten the road,” goes an old Irish saying – and for a good reason. Having a training buddy who can hold you accountable is a powerful tool to help you reach your goals. If you’re lucky enough to have such a relationship with someone, leverage it for the benefit of both of you.

Once you’ve shown up, the hard work is done. Just be sure to warm up thoroughly and drink plenty of water. Respect your body’s need to recover and you’ll be back in the swing of things in no time!

Know Your Why – In Muay Thai and Beyond

There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it. 

Napoleon Hill

Most of us know what we want to do. Often, we have a long to-do list to remind us. Unfortunately, for many of us, the items on this list will forever remain undone.

That’s because, though we might be clear on what we want to do, we haven’t drilled down into why we want to do it.

Finding Your Why

Getting to the heart of what motivates you requires self-awareness that can only be gained through reflection. Take the time to uncover the reasons why each item has earned a spot on your list.

For example, one item might be to make it to Muay Thai class three times per week. Your reasons might be losing weight, learning self-defence, and building self-confidence. This same process can be applied no matter what aspect of your life you are examining.

It’s so much easier to fail at your goals when you don’t know your true purpose. 

There are many reasons that it’s essential to define your purpose in all aspects of your life. 

Let’s take a look at the most important of these.

Live a Life Aligned to Your Core Values

Your life takes the shape of the meaning you give it. 

When you know who you are and what you stand for, it is so much more difficult to get blown off course. The decisions you make and the actions you take will express the essence of who you are. 

Develop a Laser-Like Focus

When you know your purpose, distractions fall by the wayside, and all that remains are the things that matter the most in your life. By cultivating a single-pointed focus, you will find a clear path through life’s obstacles towards achieving your goals.

Achieve Clarity

Life is filled with noise. Like a half-tuned radio, it can sometimes be difficult to make out the music. When you know where you are going and why you are going there, your mind will achieve clarity. Your actions will soon follow. The white noise of futile effort will quickly give way to an exquisite melody that will make sense of it all.

Develop Resilience

It’s easy to lose your way, especially in these unprecedented times. Doubling down on your purpose helps you bounce back from those inevitable setbacks that life will throw at you. Fighters aren’t fighters because they win. Fighters are fighters because they don’t lose sight of their desire to overcome obstacles. When the going gets tough, the tough double down on their why.

Live Longer and Prosper

Of course, results may vary! But, we all know stories of people in seemingly perfect health, only to die soon after losing a much-loved partner. There’s a wealth of research out there that has shown that having a clear purpose in life helps us live longer — sometimes, knowing your why can be a matter of life and death.

In the Final Analysis…

Success in life requires hard work and discipline, but none of this is sustainable without a powerful emotional attachment to your purpose. 

Know your why. Make it the engine of your achievement.

What Happens When the Motivation Wears Off?

How to create good habits and develop the discipline to keep training in Muay Thai

There’s no doubt, motivation is a powerful force, but it will only take you so far.

Maybe you decided to train Muay Thai three days per week for fitness and self-defence purposes. Then, lockdown hit your area, and that knocked you for six. 

But there’s always home training, right? Be honest. How long did you manage to keep that up?

You might think your problem is motivation. This is a common mistake.

If you still want to get fit and learn self-defence, you still know what you want to do and why you want to do it.

Lack of Motivation Isn’t the Problem

The real problem with motivation is that it relies too heavily on your mental state. And, like your emotions, your mental state can ebb and flow like the ocean tides.

The real engine of improvement is not motivation. It’s habit. 

Habit will drive you to places inaccessible to mere motivation. Habit is motivation automated and on steroids.

To get your Muay Thai training back on track, start by building powerful habits. 

Here’s how to do just that.

  1. Start Small

Walls are built one brick at a time. The harsh truth of substantial transformation is that if you try to do too much at once, you’ll set yourself up for defeat. 

Minor changes are easier to automate, and they compound over time. From a cold start, get to class once a week and build from there.

  1. Stack Your Habits

One of the most effective ways to create a new habit is to tie it to an existing one. This helps reduce the friction and resistance that works against you.

Think of the shape of your existing day. When do you get up? Commute? Eat? Identify the shape of your day and slide your new habit into a suitable space in that pattern.

Tethering your new habit to an established one is a powerful way to anchor it quickly into your day.

  1. Choose the Middle Way

Buddhists teach the avoidance of extremes in self-indulgence and self-denial. But, you don’t have to be a devotee of the Buddha to learn something useful here.

There’s a viable balance to be found somewhere between degenerating into a Tim Tam-munching couch potato and evolving into a high-octane clone of Jocko Willink.

Choosing the middle path ensures you keep moving forward on your journey at a sustainable pace that also gives you the time to enjoy all that life has to offer.

Build Habits to Avoid Decision Fatigue

The real power of habit lies in that it frees us from the energy-sapping decision-making process. 

Habit helps remove the resistance that waits to ambush us on our way to achieving our goals.

If motivation provides your why; let habit provide your how.

How to Stay Resilient During Lockdown

Resilience is a key determinant of survival. 

Like so many virtues, resilience is as much a skill as it is a trait. During lockdown, not only can you maintain your reserves of resilience, you can build upon them too.

Here’s how!

1. Cultivate Positive Relationships

No man is an island, entire of itself.”

John Donne

Solitary confinement is frequently considered a cruel form of punishment for good reason. Even the most introverted among us need to maintain relationships with others.

It’s no surprise the recent spate of lockdowns has landed a heavy blow to public mental health.

Luckily, it is still possible to maintain healthy relationships and build upon them and forge new ones, especially with the wealth of technological tools at our fingertips.

This is unchartered territory for many of us. Take the initiative and check in with friends and family members. Join online interest groups. Texts, email, and phone and video calls are all great ways to keep in touch. 

Let the people in your life know you are still there, and you still care – even if you won’t be able to visit for a while. 

2. Get Your Mind Right

Your relationship with yourself is as important as your relationship with others. Take time out to get your mind straight. 

A positive attitude starts with your thoughts. Avoid watching endless hours of doom and gloom on the news. Find the time to meditate – there are a ton of available apps to assist.

Breathing exercises are another great way to calm your central nervous system. Breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 6 seconds to slow your breathing rate to six breaths per minute. Repeat this for five minutes per day.

3. Stay Strong

I get it. The gyms are closed, and even the public park may be out of bounds, but that’s no reason to let all your muscles atrophy. 

It’s never been easier to work out at home. You don’t even need specialist equipment. Bodyweight workouts are all the rage for good reason.

Shadowboxing, stretching, pushups, and planks are also great ways to keep your body strong during lockdown. 

You’ll find a wealth of useful resources online to help you put together your own tailored programme. Maybe your lack of flexibility has been holding you back? Check out a yoga channel on YouTube. 

When the gyms open again, you’ll be high-kicking like Peter Aerts in his prime!

4. Rest Up

Look for the silver lining. In a lockdown, you’ll likely have fewer demands on your time – take advantage!

Rest is essential to maintain optimum physical and mental health and preserve your resilience. Early to bed, early to rise, and you can’t go wrong.

These four elements will provide a shape and predictability to your day to optimise your sense of control during uncertain times. They will help you not only emerge refreshed from these difficult times but ready to get stuck back into life’s fray, all the stronger for the experience.

For more online training content follow me on instagram: @philliplaimuaythai

Summer Bodies Are Built In Winter

As the old saying has it, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither were those lithe and lean figures you see attracting envious gazes on the beach during summer. 

You see, the simple fact of the matter is that lean summer bodies are made in winter.

When the more rotund among us were tucked up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, mindlessly flicking through a thousand channels of meaningless entertainment, those now lithe and lean beach bodies were being sculpted in the gym.

The Dynamic of Life

For over 40 years, researchers at Stanford University conducted a series of important psychological tests involving hundreds of children. The followed these children as they grew and matured into adulthood.

Among their findings, discovered that one of the most important indicators for success in health, work, and life was the ability to delay gratification.

This ability to defer small pleasure now, for greater pleasure in the future is what marks humans from purely instinct driven animals. 

An underlying dynamic of life is clear – those of us with a highly developed understanding of the value of sacrifice tend to do better in so many important areas of life. Including, building a physique to be proud of.

Build That Beach Body This Winter

Desmond Tutu once said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.”

Building a great physique doesn’t occur overnight. But, consistent training in the Martial Arts throughout the winter will soon see that ‘elephant’ begin to disappear – in time for summer

Training in combat sports such as Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu makes demands on not just strength and cardio, but flexibility and endurance too. This type of training helps sculpt an enviable physique possessed of power, speed, and agility.

Learn New Skills While Sculpting That Beach-Bod

It can be hard to stay motivated when the reward seems so far away. You may not be strutting your stuff on the beach for months, it’s cold out, and you have a Netflix marathon loaded up and ready to go.

But getting to the gym to train Martial Arts in the winter makes more sense than many other activities you could be doing. 

It’s indoors for a start! More importantly though, the Martial Arts are skills-based. 

There are no long hours pointlessly pounding the treadmill, or rowing a machine that has never so much as been wet. 

Training in the Martial Arts throughout winter, you’ll develop important skills that could potentially save you, or a loved one, from being victimised some day. 

Not least of all though, the fun to be had in a good spar or roll is hard to match! And knowing you are building a lean body that will be beach-ready by summer is no hardship either.

Get started on building that summer body this winter!

What it’s like to own a Martial Arts academy during Covid-19

2020 was set to be one of the biggest years for Australian Combat Sports Academy. I felt like we had finally settled into our bigger facility after moving over a year ago. The gym was flourishing with all classes near capacity. Our inhouse Novice MMA event “Bushido” was gaining momentum and the fight team was coming off its most successful year of ACSA competition history in 2019. We started off 2020 with some impressive wins on Muay Thai shows and had some big fights lined up for the rest of the year. Then COVID-19 happened….

In the beginning when the new of Covid-19 first broke, most people treated it like a joke and didn’t think it would affect us here in Australia. As the situation started to worsen we were forced to close our doors on the 23rd of March.

Dealing with the uncertainty.
The hardest part about owning a small business during COVID-19 was the uncertainty. The uncertainty of not knowing what’s going on and most importantly what to do. It’s something no one has ever faced before and there was no blue-print to navigate through it. When we first closed our doors I thought it would have only lasted for a month. It dragged on for 3 months. The main problem with uncertainty was that we weren’t able to plan for anything. We had no timeline or way out to even plan a strategy to get out of this. One of our basic human needs is certainty in our lives. It is no wonder anxiety levels hit an all-time high for many during these times.

Adapting and evolving.
Just like with any other business we had to adapt and evolve. It meant stepping up to the plate rather than burying your head and waiting for the storm to pass. I know that if we had just closed for the entirety of the pandemic then we wouldn’t be able to reopen when it was all over. We had to counter every change or restriction put in place. Physical classes were not permitted, so we went online. Small group sessions were permitted, so we went outdoors. Upon reopening we had capacity restrictions, so we had to cap classes. The second wave hit and now we’re back online. It hasn’t been easy constantly adapting but it’s something I knew we had to do to keep the members engaged over these difficult times. It takes 28 days to build or break a habit. If people broke the habit of not training for more than 28 days it’s highly likely they wouldn’t return.

The digital revolution.
When we first started the online classes I honestly had no idea how they would go or if people would even want to do them. It’s something I’d never run before and neither had anyone else! It took a few sessions to get a good format in place. The challenges faced with running online sessions were space and equipment limitations of participants, as well as being able to keep them engaged for the entire session.

Not everyone took to the online classes for various reasons but the reality was that there was no other alternative. If you really want to train then you will find a way and not make excuses. The online classes attracted the people I wanted to work with, serious martial artists who didn’t make excuses to skip training. I channelled all my energy into these sessions and received a lot of positive feedback. The best part about the online classes is that members were able to slow down the techniques to a pace where they could perfect and practise them flawlessly. In a  physical class format, sometimes I find that members would rush techniques without performing them correctly in order to get more of a sweat on, or to not a slow partner or class down. The online classes completely eliminated this. When we were permitted to reopen I noticed that the members who had participated in online classes had better technique than before they went into lockdown.

Lockdown 2.0
We were not even 2 weeks into the physical reopening when we were forced to close again because of the second wave. This was one of the biggest kicks in the teeth I’ve ever felt. Just as we thought we were out of the woods we were back to being closed. After all the hard work that went into reopening and the emotional rollercoaster over the past 3 months it was another new low. The second lockdown has definitely been worse than the first one. The novelty of lockdown one had worn off and people were frustrated and angry. People were living in fear and looking for someone to blame. We had tasted “freedom” for less than two weeks and didn’t want to go back into lockdown. It felt like everyone in Melbourne was forced to pay the price for a few who didn’t play by the rules.

This time around it wasn’t just about running online classes. It was about keeping the morale of members up and things positive. It was about creating some certainty in people’s lives in these uncertain times by running the classes every day. It’s giving people some sense of confidence and control back in their lives, to know that they can still log on at 6pm every evening and participate in an activity they enjoy; martial arts.

The positives from already being in lockdown previously are that I already had the systems in place to take the classes online. I already knew how to run the classes and what did and didn’t work. This time around I feel like the classes are even better and students are getting more effective training out of them.

Biggest lessons learnt.
One of the biggest lessons learnt from this pandemic is to never take anything for granted in life. Be grateful and thankful for what you have. It’s easy to take things for granted when life is going well (I certainly did!). Now I realise how lucky I am to be teaching what I am passionate about (martial arts).

I am lucky to be surrounded by good positive people, a loving family and a supportive girlfriend who has helped me get through this period. During tough times it’s VERY important to surround yourself with the right people. The pandemic has brought the best and worst out of humanity. The right people will be positive and uplift you. They will offer support and be there when you need them. Everyone will have an opinion in these times as to what to do and what not to do. You have to be very selective with who or what you choose to listen to and read.

Final note.
The pandemic doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon. Rather than spending the next few months complaining and being negative have a look at what positives have come out of it. For me:

– It has been a journey of self-discovery
– I have discovered what and who is most important to me in my life
– It has brought the ACSA community even closer because we are all going through it together
– It has made me a better coach

It’s important to stay positive in these times. Everyday you can choose to get bombarded with fear mongering being spread on television and social media. Everything you see or read in the media is designed to be anxiety provoking. Rather than falling into the trap of the downward spiral of negative thoughts, start spending time on yourself and the things you like to do. Spend time with the people you love in life and make the most of it.

Local small businesses in Victoria have been hardest hit recently in the second lockdown. Most academy owners do it out of a passion for sharing martial arts. They don’t have the big budgets like big businesses and many won’t survive the second lockdown. Your coaches don’t have the same business they did 6 months ago so make sure you support your academy in these times to keep martial arts alive.