Wearing boxer shorts and hand wraps, actor Aljur Abrenica is about to strike, moving toward his opponent, athlete Mark Tura. The leading man of GMA 7’s “Kambal Sirena” then lets loose explosive kicks. Tura tries to hit back, but Abrenica seizes his leg and holds him, before he dispenses a nasty bout of blows and elbows.
Abrenica is a man of many interests such as photography, car racing, surfing and martial arts. He discovered his love for racing and drives around with a Dodge Challenger SRT, the same model that Vin Diesel used in “Fast & Furious 6.”
Lately he’s been preoccupied with Muay Thai, a brutal but elegant sport that combines kickboxing and hand-to-hand combat. Unlike in other combat sports, a Muay Thai fighter engages in full-body contact (except the head) using the knee, shin and elbows.
An uncle introduced Abrenica to Mua y Thai when he was 12 years old but other sports got him distracted.
“Laman ako ng kalye,” he says, explaining his love for outdoor activities.
At 24, he decided to take up Muay Thai again. “I like the sweat, the toxins are removed. I learn self-defense skills. The most important is discipline. It’s not an easy workout if you stay up late and drink.”
He adds that it has given him greater flexibility. “I used to be tight but now I can split.”
The training has helped him do credible fight scenes. “My moves are more genuine,” Abrenica says.
His coach Cruz Hai says Abrenica has great potential to compete. “His stamina and technique have improved and his core is stronger. When he started, his movements were not as refined. He got better by joining the Muay Thai fighters. He can even spar with them. His technique is good and he’s got strong knees and punches.”
For cross training, the actor works out with a personal trainer. Abrenica’s program focuses on isometric exercises, cardiovascular training and moderate weight resistance.
“I’m not after a beautiful body. I want to be fit. When you have a healthy lifestyle, you can do more,” he says.
Abrenica watches his food intake by replacing white rice with red rice, corn and tubers. He avoids pork but eats steak, broiled chicken and fish with lots of vegetables, broccoli being his favorite.
Asked how he manages to squeeze in sports despite taping schedules, Abrenica says his sleep cycle is from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. This enables him to perform well throughout the day. An early riser, he is able to memorize his scripts, play the guitar and sing when his mind is fresh.