Road to the Ring – by Genieve Sanchez

It has been a little over a week since I walked through the front doors of Lovato Total Fitness gym.  My only intent was to join my fitness friend (and amateur boxer) Nicole Martinez for a total conditioning class taught by strength/conditioning coach and professional MMA fighter Josh Lanier.  As I was pushing myself through the extreme workout, it occurred to me that all the drills Coach Lanier instructed were ran in time increments of 3 minute “rounds” and throughout the workout he kept saying phrases like “fight for the buzzer”, “finish the round and don’t let it finish you”, all while reiterating to us how critical is was to be conditioned for a “fight gone bad”.  It occurred to me as we were shuffling in circles inside the boxing ring, was this a try-out!?

My intuitions were correct; at the end of the workout Josh asked if I would be interested in training for an amateur boxing “smoker” event in three weeks from the date.  Shocked by the offer I soon realized this no-nonsense, 2010 Coach of the Year nominee for NM Combat Sports, was serious as he could be about this proposition.  With a straight face and clear offer he assured me that I would be matched to fight someone of similar skill level and that head gear would be worn during the amateur bout.  With nerves knocking on my brain and excitement running through my veins I agreed not only to the fight but also committed to the fast track training camp he would take me through in preparation for the fight.  That moment was the start of the most memorable boxing boot-camp I would question any amateur to have ever completed in three weeks to prepare for a fight.

At this point you may think I must be out of my mind to commit to such an endeavor, but the fact that I am just weeks out from placing Top 5 Figure (Tall Class) at Fitness Universe with over 14 weeks of competition prep and conditioning under my belt for the show, there couldn’t be a better time for an opportunity like this to arise.   Already being in excellent shape would allow me to focus on learning technique without starting from scratch in terms of strength and conditioning.  I have a huge passion for the world of fitness and with only being four placings away from a pro-card at my last show, I definitely have unfinished business in figure competitions.  When the time is right I will return to fitness, but until then, I am getting out of my comfort zone and challenging my body (and mind) to a new type of training.

A fitness competitor transitioning into boxing, hum, how does that work? Where is the parallel between these two sports?  At the heart of the answer is being a performance athlete and that for me has been experienced through playing Division I Basketball and competing at a national level of fitness competitions for the past three years.  In terms of boxing and fighting, I know writing and exposure to the NM combat community via KNUXX over the past year has certainly struck a cord with me.  Finally, I attribute my interest of pursuing something of this nature to watching top MMA athletes train at Conditioned by Kelly Tekin’s Gym during my competition prep for my past two shows. Seeing these athletes condition, I can’t tell you the times I wondered if I had what it took to be a fighter.  Self observation tells me that I have raw athletic ability, endurance, methodical thinking, and I am disciplined when it comes to training and dieting.  Alas, these were merely vague thoughts and realistically I questioned if I truly had the courage to pursue any fighting sport.  One thing I did know for certain is that the athlete in me missed the excitement of “live/action” sports vs. the “static presentation” of physique that I have been doing the past few years.

So without any previous boxing or fighting experience under my belt (other than clocking in about 50+ hours of Tae Bo videos in graduate school to keep in shape) I have committed whole heartedly to my trainer and my training partner twice a day for the past week and I can’t even begin to express the intensity of technical training, conditioning, and study of the sport I have taken on in merely a week.  I have had some major “breakdowns” and even greater “breakthroughs”.  Crazy I know, but last time I check this is “life” and it was made to be “lived” so here I am taking on an extreme challenge and yet another sensational journey of humble beginnings, self discovery, accomplishment, and all of which – leave much room for improvement.   I am not sure what is to come after this initial fight and I don’t even want to get ahead of myself and question the distant future, I only want to keep my eyes on the target of stepping into the ring for this immediate fight.

I am digging deep to take on this challenge and I have to tell you something feels ridiculously right, despite every other comment from people warning against the venture.  There will always be doubt from others in everything you do.  If you are easily swayed by others’ opinions and perspectives as to what is and is not appropriate for you, then you will always be wading in shallow waters (i.e. the safe zone) and never feel what it is like to dive deep into the depths of life.  During this remaining few weeks until my fight, I plan on popping up my blue collar, grabbing my lunchbox and going to WORK.  I will hit the weigh-in with my best conditioned body and enter the ring with composure and thoughtful execution of fundamentals that were taught to me in this epic three week fight camp by my coach.  No matter what the outcome, I know I have a powerful mind, a warrior’s heart and a competitive fire that will never burn out no matter what the pursuit.

Until next time…

Genieve

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