Thursday, 17 July 2014

No Barriers, No Fear, No Ego - The Juggernaut Fight Club Way

Falling In Love With Kickboxing

If you have been following my blog, you would know that health and fitness ranked very high on my list of priorities.  Many have told me that time constraints and conflicting priorities prevent them from doing more to get healthier and fitter.  I felt otherwise.  Having to juggle a very fast-paced life as a marketeer at a financial MNC, running a business in between, and managing the demands of family,  were the very reasons I gave 200% to my health and fitness.  I had to be fit and healthy enough to juggle these priorities as effectively as possible.

A big part of my fitness regime was kickboxing which I had fallen in love with when I was introduced to the sport a few months ago after my knee made full recovery post surgery.    I was so fuelled with passion for the sport that I even enrolled at a Muay Thai gym in Phuket to undergo training with a pro-fighter and Muay Thai coach in June this year.  I have also lined up plans to go visit my Thai coach for intensive training sessions  in Phuket every 2 months.  Having survived my first training in Phuket, with nothing more than a bruised elbow and a sprained foot, I fell irretrievably in  love with the sport enough to want to be better at it.  I came back to Singapore with a conviction to lift my fitness level with a 5-day-a-week work-out routine that combined strength conditioning, cardio-fitness and kickboxing training, and I briefed my personal trainers to design a regime that focused on helping me become a better kickboxer.

Juggernaut Fight Club

David and I talked a lot about my interest in kickboxing and the support I needed to sustain my interest and better myself in the sport. He was naturally worried and his concern centered on the fact that I was older. I developed my interest in the sport at an age when most were careful about long term impact to their bodies. Having had numerous health issues and a knee surgery 2 years ago did not help my cause.  So he called his contacts in the industry for whom he did a lot of sports photography work to get advice while I did my research to find out more about some of the specialized gyms in Singapore that offered functional training in kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).  That was when I chanced upon Juggernaut Fight Club. If I had the courage to walk into a Muay Thai training regime in Phuket with my eyes opened,   I was not going to allow the more intensive training and the younger, fitter folks who had pro-fight experience under their belts at Juggernaut Fight Club intimidate me.
Before signing up with Juggernaut Fight Club, I read the reviews on it and checked out their videos on YouTube.  What was important for me, was that I picked a coach who was focused on my interest, my development and my safety.  That was why I picked Arvind Lalwani.  Okay, I could not lie but his instagram profile was reassuring too.  It described him as “ Head coach at the best fight gym in Singapore…national wrestler, loves cake and produce fighters.”  That won me over.   I then contacted Arvind to prepare him for the  heart attack of potentially having in his hands, a much older and crazy woman with a plastic knee who wanted to be trained to fight like Ronda Rousey in one year.  I swore, when Arvind met me for the first time, my psychic mind saw a huge question mark in his head that read, “How did I end up with this fruitcake?”  However, he was so reassuring and took the time to understand what my fitness goals were and what I had been doing so far to get there.

Arvind The Juggernaut

Through my research, I found out that Arvind was a highly decorated fighter. He was the first Singaporean to snag a gold medal  in an international wrestling competition, and he competed in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) as well as the MMA arenas. He fought professionally in 2010 in the Mettle games and had also headed the national boxing team. When he established Juggernaut Fight Club, he produced winning fighters who represented club and country at the One Fighting Championships  (OneFC) and Pacific X-treme Combat (PXC). He was constantly training his fighters for competitions.  As I wrote this, one of his fighters just returned from the OneFC fight in Taipei and more were getting trained for the upcoming Rebel Fighting Championship on 1 August.

His list of achievements was enough to make me sprint out of that door, the very first day I visited his gym. To make matters worse, when I glanced around the gym for the first time, I realized this was for real.  It was a serious fighters’ gym.  Training was in session then. The young blokes who were rolling around the floor, while throwing punches at each other, were all in “fight-prep” mode.  I wanted to turn and run but Arvind’s frame was blocking the doorway.   A little voice of in-confidence within me crept up to whisper a disconcerting question, “What are you doing here, Jo?  This place is not for you.  You are old, unfit, soft and completely not suited for the sport. Go downstairs for a beer.”

I looked around for girls, hoping that maybe with another female nearby who looked equally like a deer in the headlights, I might have felt quite at home.  However, everyone there at that time were blokes and the gym was not a regular gym with “pussy stationery bikes and half-assed cross- trainers”,  it was a functional training gym focused on fight training and well-equipped with everything that a pro-fighter needed to get fight-ready. 

After speaking to Arvind, I connected enough with him to understand his training style, and I caught a glimpse of his rapport with the guys he had been training at the gym.  That was the rapport and trust I was looking for.  And he said to me very firmly, "At Juggernaut, there are no Egos."   So, I summoned the nerve to commit myself to serious kickboxing training at Juggernaut Fight Club and I have not looked back since.

Training with Arvind had been such a breath of fresh air.  Every minute of it was about perfecting the technique, right from the start of getting me into the right fight stance.  We went back to the basics of every kickboxing move in spite of the fact that I had been training for a few months prior.  He made me re-learn everything ...his way.  He explained each move with precision and stressed that the importance of getting the technique right was to prevent the potential of my getting injured while delivering a powerful blow. He was unrelenting.  When I was near frustration or thoroughly exhausted in between drills, he continued to egg me on and challenged me to push past my pain barriers.  He would not accept anything less than full commitment to a training session and he made it very clear that he was with me all the way no matter how difficult it got.

My Fitness Goals

"So what are my fitness goals?", Arvind and everyone who mattered asked me.  

When I started out playing rugby in my younger days, everyone told me that a prop forward could never and should never attempt to score a try.  I should stick to my role as a prop forward and clear the way for the back row to score that try.   I proved them wrong and I did score tries after all at tournaments.

When I came out of a knee surgery with everyone telling me that I would never be able to run again, I proved them wrong and completed my half marathon last year.  When my knee made full recovery and everyone told me that I should just stick to doing safe exercises like swimming and basic gym work, I proved them wrong and picked up kickboxing.  

When I picked up kickboxing, everyone told me I was crazy as I had a less than perfect knee, and I was too old and not fit or fast enough.  I know for a fact that I am too old for amateur boxing competitions perhaps but I told Arvind that he had to get me into a ring one day, no matter what it took, even if it was just white collar boxing or exhibition fights.  I wanted to prove to everyone that nobody should be limited by barriers, by fear or by ego.  I am not afraid of pain, I am not afraid of taking hits from anyone, I am not afraid of falling and I am definitely not afraid of working hard towards my goals.

I felt the Universe had  guided me into Juggernaut Fight Club, smacked me with a bit of a shock when I realized what I was in for, and then salved me with the assurance that Arvind was the man who was going to get me to my goal.  I believed that I could not have picked a better coach.  Arvind produced fighters.  He ran a serious fight gym.  Yet, he gave me his time and commitment, and he made me feel that I deserved to be a good  kickboxer one day.   I truly respected Arvind for what he had done for the sport and was proud to have him as my coach.  However, the biggest reason that I committed myself to Juggernaut Fight Club and his training was that like me, he had so much determination, a never-say-never attitude, and was always ready for a challenge no matter how big or small it was.  If he could commit his time and effort to me as someone so new to the sport who was completely way past her prime, then I was committed to ensuring I gave 200% to my training with him.

I am a firm believer that in life, there are definitely NO BARRIERS.

I will leave you with an article I read that inspired me to follow my dreams and work towards my goal regardless of age, fitness level, injury and other limitations:

You can find out more about Arvind Lalwani and Juggernaut Fight Club at

The photos accompanying this blog post was taken by my very talented best friend, husband and sports photographer extraordinaire, David Ash.  You can find out more about his photography work at

About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a 44 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketing professional at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, her passion for kickboxing and her family which includes a 20 year old son and 3 dogs with personality disorders.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" which when translated, has labeled him one with “ginger hair”.  And you know what we all thought of gingers right?  He thinks he is blonde, but in a certain light, I think he is more a ginger.  Together, we create a home made up with more nuts than a fruitcake but filled with plenty of love.

I hate push-ups but I was told they were good for me.

Trying to avoid dislodging my coach's nipple.

My coach Arvind, and I.  Today, he is in a good mood.

Training with that nuisance of a band on.

Making that elbow work harder