dec15aHey Indian readers, good news, I’m heading to Mumbai this month as a guest of the Mumbai Film and Comic Con!! I will be attending both days 19 & 20 December. Both of my books as well as a few posters will be available which I am happy to sign, plus I’ll be participating in panels. I think I’ll be at a booth for most of the weekend, so please come by and say hello. I’m really excited about visiting India for the first time. Get your tickets. (Unfortunately, this is a very short trip and Mumbai will be my only stop.)

Ok, now it’s time to share another great Reader of the Month story. Gabriel is a reader from Singapore who quit his government job to start his own gym. Read on!


My name is Gabriel, I’m 26 and live in Singapore. A year ago, I gave notice at my job working for the Singapore Ministry of Defence. A job that while meaningful, left me constantly exhausted, unfulfilled and at times depressed. I did not leave it because it was a bad job, rather I felt that my time on the job had ran its course. I was way too fatigued and tired, and it was about time to pursue something else. I was not entirely sure of what I wanted to do next, but I knew that I had to go.

The future was filled with unknowns, but of all the conceivable “next steps” that I could take, I decided upon starting my own boutique gym. My own personal journey through fitness has lasted 10 years, and throughout those years there was always this yearning to have a boutique gym of my own. A place where I could teach and share what I know; and empower those who seek to learn. At that time, that task in itself seemed insurmountable. A task so great, that it almost seemed impossible. Could I possibly do it? How do I even start? Self-doubt became the order of the day.

Then Zen Pencils came along. Or more specifically, Gav’s take on Theodore Roosevelt’s excerpt on the Man In the Arena. Gav’s drawings were immaculate, and it brought forth the essence of the words that I needed to hear in that moment: “The credit belongs in to the man is actually in the arena”…”who does actually strive to do the deeds”…”if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.” I knew right then that my path was set, for I wanted to be that man in the arena.


From the point of inception to the point where I officially opened my gym, it was eight long months of planning, of long days of defeat and moments of self-doubt. But each time I fell, I always reminded myself that my place lay not with the cold timid souls, but among those who dared greatly. If the name “Arena” had not already been taken, that’s what my gym would have been called; and the very quote that inspired me would be strewn and plastered on my walls. Alas, such was not to be, so I named my gym The Forge. The Forge is where we strive to teach human physicality in essence. Always encouraging the spirit of those who strive to do the deeds, the great enthusiasms and never fearing failure.

The Forge has only been operating for 2 months, and admittedly things could be better. I do admit, every once in awhile I do question the rationale of leaving a well-paid stable job for my current endeavour. But on the days that I feel absolutely lost, I remind myself of the Man in the Arena. I remind myself to keep at the grind. I pray to the high heavens not for an invitation to be motivated or inspired, but for the will to remain disciplined to battle my troubles within that Arena. So thank you Gavin. Thank you for the work that you do. For without which, it appears that my life would have veered off to a very different path. A path that could lead far away from that Arena.

Wow, thanks Gabriel, what a great story. You can visit The Forge website and make sure to pay Gabriel a visit if you’re in Singapore and you’d like to get in shape. My wife is Singaporean and the country is like my second home. I know how hard it is there to break the mould from, as APJ Abdul Kalam put it, the “endless pursuit of external rewards, wealth, prestige, position, promotion, approval of one’s lifestyle by others, ceremonial honours, and status symbols of all kinds.” I wish Gabriel the best of luck and next time I’m there I’ll be sure to drop in for a workout. – Gav