By: Lawrence Ragos
Gary Mack states: “In psychology, there is something we call the self- consistent theory. It means we act consistent to our self- concept— our self- image.” Whatever we think of ourselves affect what we do everyday. We all need to think positive all the time but there is no denying that we have self- defeating thoughts and behaviors that affect our performance. Mack listed “10 Gremlins” that undermine performance. He suggested that if one sounds familiar, read on carefully. As usual, I have related all these to fit the boxing workout mentality. Here they are:
1. FEAR— Gary Mack says it right and I agree” Fear is a psychological threat to self- esteem and ego. It can paralyze you.” I heard that a lot of people get intimidated by the intensity of my workouts. This fear of the unknown prevents them from trying even though it has worked for a lot of people already. I believe that experience is the best teacher. I am a fan of fancy plyometric push- ups. A lot of my clients hesitate to do it at first because of the fear of hurting themselves. But as soon as they accomplish the number that I let them do, the fear is gone— these things seem easy! My favorite philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche strongly suggested: Live Dangerously!
2. ANGER— Anger is born out of frustration and expectations. A few of “already fit” people get disappointed when they start a boxing program. They felt so confident about their fitness level but as soon as they try boxing, they just “crumble”. Their expectations are not met. A lot of people are humbled by this first day experience and they move on trying to learn new things every session. A few people just walk away “angry” because their ego was tested. Obviously, those people who were humbled and have continued have reached a whole new level.
3. ANXIETY— This is a generalized feeling of uncertainty or dread— a sense that that something bad is going to happen. According to Gary Mack, a person plagued by this gremlin gets anxious about being anxious. Come on, there is always an element of surprise every session. Relax, it’s not brain surgery! Just think that you can do it and you’ll be fine.
4. SELF- CONSCIOUSNESS— “Looking pretty” in boxing is a good thing but if you focus too much on this and not the task at hand, you’re in for a knockout baby. Work on your weaknesses and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Take it as a learning experience— it’s all for the best. You can’t just be working on the things you’re good at already. Do not be scared of embarrassing yourself. Make boxing training a character- building experience.
5. PERFECTIONISM— With this gremlin, we are pointing our fingers toward negative perfectionists— the ones who have the fear of failure. We learn a lesson from failure. It teaches us how to bounce back and move on. It is rare to have a trainee who does not commit a single mistake in a mitt work drill. One mistake means doing it again and doing some adjustments. The ones who do this learn and perfect something new. Who’s perfect now?
6. STUBBORNNESS— Gary Mack states: “Some people are stubborn, unwilling to learn. They’re not open to change.” I remember watching Oprah’s episode about a personal trainer telling everybody to do interval training instead of countless minutes on the treadmill. A lot of people think that the more cardio you do the more weight you lose. This is partly true however; a lot of people don’t understand plateaus. Boxing Training does not allow that. In a context of a fight, the opponent changes up the complexion of the fight depending on what round the fight is in. That fact is simulated in training. Boxing is interval training. Don’t be stubborn, change it up.
7. LACK OF MOTIVATION— Motivation is something you can’t buy and can’t obtain from someone else. It should come from within— out of your own free will. When you come to training, you must have the constant drive to do your best. I believe that everybody has room for improvement. You don’t have to a fighter to experience the motivation of boxing. Just focus on getting better and you’ll be alright!
8. COMPETITIVENESS— Competition brings out the best in us. Those who have been discouraged by negative experiences do not have a sense of trying again. When somebody or something is pushing you to do your best, it brings out the best in you. You have to be proactive in reaching your goals. One obstacle is surpassing yourself— that’s competitiveness! Your drive to finish boxing rounds and drills successfully brings out the best in you. Go hard or go home!
9. DISTRACTIONS— You don’t just throw positive things into waste. Once you have worked hard to achieve your fitness goal, there is no slacking. Bad habits can hamper ones athletic development. You cannot be cheating yourself by allowing distractions such as drugs, bad food, alcohol abuse or smoking to mix up with your boxing. Successful boxers live clean outside the ring. It’s either you sacrifice, or you don’t sacrifice. There is nothing in between.
10. PERSISTENCE— Remaining optimistic during difficult times is not easy. Every trainee is different. I have accepted the fact that people are different— not everybody can box like the greats, or even close to that. I am a fan of people who work hard though—the ones who are persistent and want to improve and learn new things no matter how difficult it is for them. The great Puerto Rican boxer, Felix “Tito” Trinidad once said: “A great champion who remains undefeated is amazing. A great champion who rises up after a fall is ADMIRABLE”. I like the latter one better— and one of them was Tito.

About the author:
– Lawrence Ragos, is the founding director of Motivation Sports LLC, a Michigan- based training company providing cutting- edge boxing, fitness and self- defense programs. For questions and comments, you can reach Lawrence at