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Giulia Caruso

Fitness/Endorphine Junkie Attitude and How Your Family/Friends React to It

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(I hope this is the right section)

 

Today a friend of mine accused me of being a fitness junkie because I train four times a week.

I suspect it was because I said I couldn't do something with her because I had training.

 

My question is: are we all endorphine junkies or people who don't train regularly perceive us as such because we have different priorities?

Is there an actual addiction to endorphine problem when you train almost every day?

 

What is the reaction of the people around you (family/friends) to your training schedule?

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I train 6 nights a week, and on the 7th day I have to do some relaxing like yoga, sauna and all social stuff goes around it.

My friends laughed a bit at me at first that I have to schedule a meeting with them in advance, but yeah it's like that. Some of them, who also have a tight schedule (not necesserly because of training) understand it and cooperate with me nicely :) Others...well we just see each other like once in a month or two..or less. I have close to no social life, apart from spontanious outings with the guys from my gym after training. I think now my friends or people around me in general just don't care about me anymore, coz I withdrew myself so much from any kind of social life with them.

My family cooperates with me nicely, if there is a family meeting and I have to leave the party early to go train, my parents understand it, my aunts and oncles don't, but I don't care what they think. :) My parents are actually helping me out a lot, letting me use their car to go to training, otherwise I had no way to maintain this crazy schedule (or I had to spend the money I'm saving for going to Thailand for buying a car ;)).

I don't think it's connected with being a junkie of some kind, it's like you said: priorities

Before I shifted my focus to Muay Thai I was obsessed with rock shows, I had no problem with going to Germany, the UK, Czech, Slovakia, just to see my favorite bands, sleeping on the railway station or not sleeping at all - just going to the show and back home (like...a 6 or 12 hour trip one way, who cares? ;)). I was at a show almost every 2-3 weeks and this was the meaning of my life.

Now, there are still bands I like to listen to, but if the show is on a training night I will try to make both work or let go the show. It's just that my priorities shifted from going to shows to training.

I'd rather say it's a state of focusing of yourself, a kind of meditation and not being a junkie!

But honestly speaking... I'd love it if my friends were more excited about my training, but it's so out of their worlds, they are only scared for me and don't understand why I'm doing it....Actually on Sunday my friend messaged me pleading me to stop it, coz she cought glipses of how Joanna Jędrzejczyk massacred Jessica Penne in their UFC title fight. :) :) I tried explaining to her why it happened, but nooo ;)

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To me it's just different passions, you enjoy muay so you do it as much as you want. I think she just perceived it wrong like she felt it was more important than her, but it's more like; there's no pointing missing it if I don't have to, we can meet whenever but training is set times.

It's like saying to someone ohhh I can't come over because I'm watching Hollyoaks or I'm watching UFC. It's hard for her to understand your passion because she doesn't have it herself. Like I don't understand why people like golf, if someone said to me I can't meet because I'm going golfing, I'd be like who cares? It's golf, whereas that person likes golf and enjoys it so they will go and do it.

I guess at the end of the day it is priorities, because you could skip training and go meet her. It's weird, imagine saying to your trainer I'm going out with my friend I can't train, he'll think 'you can do that anytime' and when you tell your friend you want to train instead she thinks 'you can do that anytime'.

Lol, I always write posts more complicated than they are, but I think it's her view, she doesn't like muay/training she doesn't like it so she doesn't understand why you'd prioritise it over her, when she wouldn't do the same.  :smile:

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(I hope this is the right section)

 

Today a friend of mine accused me of being a fitness junkie because I train four times a week.

I suspect it was because I said I couldn't do something with her because I had training.

 

My question is: are we all endorphine junkies or people who don't train regularly perceive us as such because we have different priorities?

Is there an actual addiction to endorphine problem when you train almost every day?

 

What is the reaction of the people around you (family/friends) to your training schedule?

I've definitely had this happen a lot in the past. I couldn't even tell you how many times people who I no longer associate with called me 'boring', 'anti-social' or 'addicted' in the past. It was an issue for me when I first started training and fighting, but over time, my social circle changed - partly because I'd started actively adjusting it and partly because a lot of my friends moved on. That's the thing about living abroad, a lot of people around you are on temporary lifestyles. Now, the only people I spend time with when I'm not working are my training partners or other people I've met through Muay Thai. I still have wonderful friends outside of Muay Thai, but they are now dotted around in other parts of the world, which, as much as I miss them, is great for me because it allows me to completely focus without any distraction or social pull.

Any friends of mine outside the gym fall into two categories: ones who don't understand what I'm doing but love me for it, support it and express a genuine interest in it; and ones who care very much about me but are completely clueless or uninterested about what I do and what it means for me, so just never talk about it (this category only consists of people I met before starting Muay Thai). I'm now in the UK on vacation and I spent today with some girls who fall into the second category. The subject of my training or fighting wasn't raised once, despite it being pretty much my entire life right now. It was slightly weird for me and I felt like a fish out of water. I'm not offended by it, I just don't think they would know what to say or ask. To be honest, I sometimes find it easier not to broach the subject with those people. It saves some awkward conversation. I actually wrote a bit about how finding Muay Thai meant that my lifestyle adjusted and my need for 'me time' increased in an old post of mine, 'Does Fighting Change You?'

As you guys have already said, it all comes down to priorities. The people who called me boring for wanting to spend my free time in the gym instead of partying didn't understand that I was passionately working towards goals that were important to me. When they told me 'let go and have some fun', they didn't realise that being in the gym was my idea of fun. We just had different wants and needs. This even goes for some people in my gym, who don't take training quite as seriously or see it as just a hobby. It's fine if we're not on the same page with it, as long as everyone does what makes them happy. 

You asked if it's possible to become addicted to training in an unhealthy way, and I do think that's true in extreme cases. I say this as someone who previously had problems with an eating disorder and used excessive exercise as a way to fuel that. However, this was before I'd found Muay Thai. If you're interested, you can read my story about that here - 'How Strength Training Saved me from an Eating Disorder'. 

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I've recently watched a few movies that deal with the cliche of "friends with kids." Basically, as an adult, once you have kids your circle of friends becomes pretty limited to other people who have kids. People who don't have kids are like, "stop talking about your kid's potty training," and people with kids are like, "stop asking me what I've been up to; I've been fucking parenting." I got married quite young, before any of my friends did, and being "the married one" changed our abilities to relate to one another. People who have children aren't "obsessed" or "love-having-no-sleep junkies." They're called parents and that's what their world is defined by.  As athletes, our worlds are in some very key and definitive ways different from our non-athlete associates. So it's hard for us to relate on that time expenditure.

I have a hard time with my family on this one. They love me, a lot, and they all support me a great deal. I might consider one of my brothers my biggest fan, outside of my own husband (who absolutely takes the top tier on that title).  But my family doesn't "get it." I'm frustrated all the time by how it's seen as a "phase" or something I will turn into something else by opening a gym and becoming a teacher or something.  This isn't just something I did when I was young, like a "study abroad" or kiddie soccer clubs. This is my life, my passion, my transformation. That's hard for people to get because most people use physical challenges as hobbies or for fitness. Hobbies stop being "hobbies" when they are transformative.

Take for example Mark Hogancamp, who creates an entire world out of dolls and model buildings. There's a whole documentary and in it you learn that this is Hogancamp's therapy. It's not temporary, it's not "just for fun" and it's not a hobby. Dolls are stuff of hobbies, but only if it's practiced as a hobby.  Is Mark "obsessed?"  Surely.  Am I obsessed with Muay Thai. Yes. But that's not a bad thing.  If you're climbing Everest and you're not "obsessed" with getting to the top, you not fucking getting there. I can promise you that. It's not a casual endeavor.

And in the end, you should ever be made to feel bad about the thing that makes you feel good.

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Take for example Mark Hogancamp, who creates an entire world out of dolls and model buildings. There's a whole documentary and in it you learn that this is Hogancamp's therapy. It's not temporary, it's not "just for fun" and it's not a hobby. Dolls are stuff of hobbies, but only if it's practiced as a hobby.  Is Mark "obsessed?"  Surely.  Am I obsessed with Muay Thai. Yes. But that's not a bad thing.  If you're climbing Everest and you're not "obsessed" with getting to the top, you not fucking getting there. I can promise you that. It's not a casual endeavor.

I just watched that documentary a couple of weeks ago! I thought it was really interesting. We all have our passions and there will always be people who think they're weird, and that's ok  :smile:

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It's more or less exactly what everyone here has said already- I do some form of exercise almost every single day of the week, training or not and my social schedule is adjusted to that it takes place after I've done my morning workout routines. In the beginning I just said I was busy and never elaborated on what I was busy with since I would get funny looks from my work mates that I would cut out this extra time for my strength training. Now that I'm with my family again they've taken notice but also accepted it as my own routine and are open to making time for it.
 

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Thank you everyone for sharing. It's making me feel much better.

 

@Emma: I read your post, it's very interesting. The bit that touched me was the note on "not feeling guilty or stressed if you miss training". That I think is connected to "not feeling guilty if you eat a super pizza out with friends". For me it's strongly related to keep focusing on doing things because they make me happy, without relating them to my worth. It's so complicated!

 

@Micc: I feel you. I always had to schedule meetings with my friends. I work afternoons and evenings, it's always been complicated. But suddenly hearing no because of training (instead of work) must have been unexpected. I've always been over-available to people, and just recently learned to defend my space and my needs.

 

@Iwtgtt I think that's the point. I was hurt that she implied the "addiction" part.

 

@Sylvie I am already the friend without kids, and get all strange looks because my life is not revolving around family but around my own artistic and personal projects... In italy they are still considered not "real priorities". It sucks. But I agree that obsession is what allows you to create something new. Also combat training is actually being therapeutic for me, so yay!

 

@Steph I think I'll start doing that. Say I'm busy without saying why. ;)

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Cannot quote everyone but love your thoughts.  My two cents are regarding the definition of addiction vs dependency.  I would say I definitely have a dependency on the endorphin response of training (and get a moody, angry withdrawal if I cannot).  Some people like to call this addiction, but I distinguish addiction from a more simple dependency.  I ask - does it make my world better, or worse?  If it makes my world worse yet despite that I do not stop, it is an addiction.  If it makes my world objectively better (not temporarily high), I may depend on its help, but its definitely not an addiction in the classical sense, more like a healthy habit.  Eating disorders and various body dysmorphia are pitfalls; I don't deny that.  But I am lucky in that that is not part of my experience.  Great thread thank you.

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It seems to them to be just a corrupt interference in "pure sport". But in fact it is a layering of the contest of competing powers, men with soul stuff outside the ring...for better or worse. Under the spiritual logic of soul stuff fighters are never just "them". They literally invoke deities with their Ram Muay. In their Wai Kru they evoke their teachers. All of their skills and ascetic practice in training is summoned, publicly, into the ring. Fighters represent and embody.) This is not fundamentally different than the spirit-logic of cosmic battle that governed warfare in the great Ayutthayian Empire 500 years ago. What has changed is "who" is seen to have soul stuff, fundamentally a question of changing culture and values. As to the practice of Muay Thai itself, in the training kaimuay, and in the ring, one has to grasp that the fighting art and the fighting sport cannot be completely separated. Traditional kaimuay are technical houses of the inculcation in soul stuff. One is learning the practices which will give you power in a physical contest, but a contest which ultimately is also a spiritual contest. The techniques of a particular kru, the styles of a particular gym name, are a practical knowledge of Thai combat power. And the conditions of its practice are necessarily those of discipline and ascetic self control. The fundamentals of posture (ruup), timing and balance are meant to create liberty in the fighter, and its presentation to the judges and audience. Specific techniques, ways of blocking, attacking, avoiding, punishing or damaging, controlling, frustrating, overwhelming, are a kind of complex grammar of soul stuff. You display that you have more, and in defeating your opponent, in some sense you take some of their soul stuff as your own. And, as fighters share the ring with you, they too can gain soul stuff through proximate association (if you have a great deal). For deeper dives into this here I write in some detail about the social conditions of Thai training practices through the thinking of the sociologist Bourdieu: Trans-Freedoms Through Authentic Muay Thai Training in Thailand Understood Through Bourdieu's Habitus, Doxa and Hexis, and here I write about how the philosopher Agamben's study of 13th century Franciscan monastic practices help explain the rule-following power of Thai gym training for Westerners: Thailand's Muay Thai Gym, Authenticity and the Escape from Capitalism | Agamben on The Highest Poverty The importance of this insight into soul stuff and its transmittability is I believe that it unlocks much of the question about the religiosity (or spirituality) behind Thailand's Muay Thai. Often it is simply dismissed altogether because it does not seem reducible to the few obvious, formal rites that surround Muay Thai fighting. And, the magical practices of its past do not seem to embody most, or even much of any of Thailand's Muay Thai as non-Thais experience it. I suggest that the logic of soul stuff is so prevalent, so shoots-through Thailand's Muay Thai, even in its most secular and commercialized expressions, its so omnipresent it is almost impossible to see by Westerners (and others) who can carry different cultural view of power. It though is something that is much closer to a Chinese metaphysical concept of Yin and Yang, a base assumption which explains many diverse practices, whether they be spiritual or quite secular, woven into the perspective of a culture and how it bonds together. And, as the historian O. W. Wolters argued, these beliefs lay at root beneath very diverse cultures all across Southeast Asia, spilling well over any particular country's barriers. And...if you kept the logic of "soul stuff" in mind you would get a better sense of what the difficult training in Muay Thai is truly focused on...the melding of the spiritual and the martial going back perhaps 2,000 years, as it is expressed and conceived in today's contemporary culture, and as the art of Muay Thai itself has come to embody it over the past 100 years or so.   For a the primary source on O. W. Wolter's concept of "soul stuff" read here:            
    • SJC74 - Here's my recent January 2023 experience training for one-week at 'Santai', and one-week at 'Boon Lanna', both gyms located outside/south of Chiang Mai city center. TL;DR, I'd pick Boon Lanna Muay Thai for one-month dedicated training with minimal life outside of training, eating, recovering, sleeping.  Context: I spent early October 2022 to early January 2023 in Northern Thailand; 2.5-months in Pai, 1-month in Chiang Mai. I learned Muay Thai basics at Wisarut Gym in Pai at a relaxed pace. I wasn't killing myself during that time, but was able to develop a baseline foundation for the sport and improve general fitness. After leaving Pai in second week of January 2023, I went to train at two gyms outside of Chiang Mai, Santai and Boon Lanna. I did not train at Hongthong, but I did stop by in the midafternoon to see it. Here's my two cents as a beginner. First thing to note, and arguably the most important consideration is how far from old town Chiang Mai you're comfortable being. The best gyms in CM are a ways away from the nightlife/tourist action happening in the city. You'll need to plan logistics accordingly. Having a motorbike, accommodation, quick food/grocery options, social life requirements, touristic desires etc. are all considerations that need to be made. There are a lot of gym options in and around Chiang Mai. Hover over the greater city on Google Maps and search 'Muay Thai Gym', and you'll see many of the options. Most have websites and/or facebook pages to glean information from to get general vibe of the gym, while others have a sparce internet presence that requires an in-person visit to get the scoop. I visited four gyms in total, but only trained at two.  Santai: I trained here 6 sessions total, once per day monday to saturday mostly in the afternoon. This was the busiest gym in Thailand that I trained at thus far, with an average 30 students per session, and 6-8 instructors. This is a good gym if you want to sleep, train, and be social with other students and not have too much of a life outside of training. People spend months living and training there together, so naturally the "family" like feelings evolve amongst students and trainors. Everyone was friendly, but I kept my head down and didn't socialize too much beyond basic pleasantries. A months time is long enough to develop stronger relationships if that's what you're seeking. English was common enough amongst students and trainers to make communication easy and clear. Despite the gym being a bit small for the large number of students, it's equipped with three rings and many bags. Because of the many people, it was lacking in the sanitation department; it felt a bit dirty for my personal standards, but keeping in mind that I've been a long time mild germophobe so learning Muay Thai has been an exercise in acceptance for me. Standards and personal comfort vary of course, I'm just saying it could use a good powerwash and mop.   The general class routine was: run/skip rope, group stretching/shadowboxing technique, padwork, bagwork, clinching, stretch/cool-down. While you're going through group stretch, the woman who handles office/paperwork affairs and the two old-head instructors list names on the whiteboard for padwork assignments. Each pad holder had 3-5 names underneath them and each student would get 3 5-minutes rounds with them. It seemed like the newbies were assigned to go first and each day you'd be with a different pad holder who would work you in different ways, while evaluating your skill level. The two old-head instructors would walk around with their sticks whacking stick correcting form of folks working a bag. You're sort of on your own after padwork, so you'll want to come prepared with a few combinations you want to practice on the bag, otherwise you might be a little aimless and unfocused; at least that was the case for me as a newbie. Overall, this gym was a 6/10 for me. I'm grateful I went and experienced it for the sake of gym comparisons, but I wouldn't return here. Keep in mind I'm rather introverted and would prefer to train with Thai's than foreigners. It was 70/30 foreigners to Thai's training there. I stayed 10-minutes down the road from the gym. There's a main street near gym with accommodation, restaurants, and locals-only night markets. Odds are the only other westerners you'll see around that area are also gym goers. I think someone could quickly improve their skill level dedicating one-month to training here, just don't expect to do too many tourist activities outside of training, eating, recovering, sleeping. Students and trainers fight out of the gym and seem to be in different promotions weekly. If you want to fight, that's definitely possible here.  Boon Lanna: The monday after Santai I moved accommodation down the road 20-minutes to a place near Boon Lanna Muay Thai where I also trained for 6 sessions total, once per day monday to saturday mostly in the afternoon. This is the former Lanna gym Sylvie trained at. She mentioned it's a different gym now than it used to be, so I can give an update to what it is like now. This has been my favorite gym to date. The new owner, Master Boon, sponsors Thai fighters from the Hilltribe, so when you train here, you're mostly training with them. It was 80/20 Thai to foreigner ratio and an amazing experience. Sylvie recently wrote about gyms having golden years where there's a bunch of people training/fighting out of a gym an times are good, and other times when the same gym has dried up and it's a shell of it's former self as people move on. This gym seems to be in early stages of new golden period as Master Boon and his female partner seem motivated and have a good thing going. They are currently having new student housing built on the property attached to the facility. The existing facility is very nice, very clean, wide-open-air facility. There was only one non-thai living there, a Canadian, the rest were Hilltribe boys/men. My technique, confidence, and general understanding of the sport improved significantly in only a few sessions as they paid a lot more attention to me. After light conditioning and shadowing boxing, every session began with light sparing where Master Boon selected matchups, randomizing opponents for 3-4 round. Sparing against the Thai boys was very helpful, but at ~185cm (6-foot) felt strange punching and kicking a literal child. These kids were tough and strong though, and I saw in advance pictures of them online bloodied up smiling after a fight. We both knew that I couldn't hurt them, and we both knew they could wreck me any second, which actually helped me feel relaxed in a way I've ever never felt before. After sparing, padwork, then bagwork. Both of which I felt like I received ample and helpful guidance for improved power and technique. Everyone was patient with me which was appreciated. I'm a slow learner. Classes end with 45min-1hour clinching, which I did not do, opting for strength conditioning with a few others instead, concluding with abs, stretch, cool-down. Sit Thailand MT Gym: This gym is closer to old town, next to airport. Has accommodation nearby, I dropped in mid afternoon just to see it, no opinion. Lookup 'joelxthewolf' on instagram. He documents his training/fighting out of that gym and you can get a sense of things from him. Looks legit.  Hongthong: Drove past. A bit closer to old town, but still outside a ways. Fighters often on local promotion. Sizeable open-air gym. No opinion.  Like I said, there are many others to choose from. Get a motorbike on arrival and spend your first day dropping into several to get a feel before commiting. Manop. Buakaw's Banchamek Gym, Chiang May Muay Thai, Santai, Sit, Hongthong etc. Be prepared to be on the road all day for that, Chiang Mai is surprisingly quite big and spread out.  Here is the average weather forecast is for July in Chiang Mai: "This month is known as a warm month. The average maximum daytime temperature in Chiang Mai in July lies at 31.7°C (89.06°F). The average minimum temperature is 24.0°C (75.2°F) (usually the minimum temperature is noted at night). The amount of rain during this month is high with an average of 145mm (5.7in). It rains an average of 19 days of the month. The sun will occasionally show itself with 121 hours of sunshine during the entire month." Something to consider. I should have taken better notes during my training, but didn't, so these are just some of my recollections/feelings. Ask away with any questions, I'll be glad to give my two cents. I am now training at a small gym in Isaan and plan to be more diligent and methodical with documenting my progress and experience. I'd like to post and participate in this forum more. Thank you Sylvie and Kevin for the platform and second hand push to do so, and all the info you've provided over the years- it's been very helpful for me on this journey and I'm having so much fun. 
    • thank you 😃   can you point timestamps? i think you are right and i'm trying to improve it, specially when i get tagged i "panic". It's getting a little better. About everything else, i guess i'll have to try to discover if it's my thing. I don't know if it counts but because we are a bit silly and unskilled i already experienced some damage.. in the end i'm in the rain and ready to get wet, soon i'll see, whatever happens, happens, maybe i'll drown, maybe not!
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    • It is recommended that you should rest 1 month approximately, after having an eye surgery. I know that you are very very keen about your training. That's the best spirit in you. But at this time I recommend you to rest at least 1 month and if you fear that you may not forget Boxing, I recommend you 2 read books and blogs about Boxing. That'll help you keep in touch with Boxing.
    • Sparring was each day, it's part of the training, also each day you go the bagwork and the pads, so i don't know where you got that idea from.  You never go  without hiting the pads or having spar in the Thailand, unless you're in a really bad comercial gym, but the spar there is way different than in other countries, you develop technique there and go sparr without power, by either legs, hands or clinch, depending on the day . As for technique, they always correct you and try to teach it the correct way, they made a good amount of adjustments in my kicking techniques, sweeps and clinch while i was there, i didn't go into such small details because it would take a whole book to write about how much small things they see and try to work on that. Also i don't think you fully read what i wrote in the blogs, because i don't really remember now all the things i wrote, it was a long time ago, but i went on and re-read the first day i wrote, and it already said i did a lot of pads and clinch , knees and elbows , so i don't know where you got the idea that i didn't do pad work. 
    • Hey mate sorry for bumping old thread, im thinking bout going to Manop for 3 months in nov-dec-jan. Everything you described in your posts are what i'm looking for, but there was some things bothering me.   1) From what I read you barely got to spar? Sparring is a huge deal and important for me.. Why didn't you get to spar in the beginning? 2) You seem to spent ALOT of time hitting the bag, why didnt you get more pad-time in the beginning of your training? I really don't know your level and it was hard to tell from the fight 3) (Probably most important) How are they on instructions? Do they correct your technique? how much do they emphesise on that? Do they teach you proper form, sweeps, techniques, tricks, etc? cause from your posts it seemed like you were on your own pretty much the entire stay     Cheers!
    • I'll recommend Elite Sports, Yokkao and Fairtex.
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