Thursday, 1 March 2012


March 1st, 2012.
Wow, this month has kicked my ass, figuratively and quite literally.  At the begging of the month, Cheyne came down from Auckland to hop on the “One Month No Regrets” Bandwagon.  At the beginning of the first week, we were filled with energy, enthusiasm, and an old fashion 1950’s Amurikan can do attitude!  On the second day of our challenge, we went hunting for gyms, little did we know what would happen next....

The Owner of Pro-Active Gym, Nigel,is an ex-bodyguard, and generally can crush a man with the tip of his fingers, but he’s also amazingly friendly.  He’s basically an excited Kiwi Tony Robbin’s.  
We went into Pro Active gym, and Nigel was STOKED to sign us up, even going so far as to give us a few weeks of private lessons, and unlimited access to the gym.  Little did we know we were about to sign up for an entire month of being “Fruit Handled”.  
As we signed our lives away, Cheyne and I looked backwards, and our smile faded as we saw our personal trainer, Richard, grinning devilishly and cracking his knuckles.  We thought we were signing up for what would be a montage in “The Karate Kid”, or “The Kickboxer”.  Little did we know we would be the street urchins in a Steven Seagal movie, being pummeled over and over again while screeching and shitting our pants.

But on a serious note, I remember feeling as though fate had dropped in my lap as the show, and the one month of training came together, but I also realized...”God Dammit, I have to do this shit for an entire month! ”  
I did a few years of wrestling up to the second year of high school.  Though I was proudly average at the sport, I was scared shitless of having to wrestle in tournaments.  Tournaments terrified me, genuinely, seriously terrified me.  I would wait around for hours, as my nervousness grew exponentially, and my mind would create scenarios of me being smashed to the ground by some kid, probably named Enriquo Gonzales Junior.  
My fear of competition matches got so bad that I scraped my wrists raw with a pen to make it look like I had ringworm, and eventually quit to my coach in tears.  I realized that this 30 day challenge would make me confront my adolescent fear of fighting, because I would have a kickboxing match at the end of the month.
For the next 28 days we would have no women, no booze, no sugar or vegging out, it would be training, eating, fighting, watching videos about fighting, and being nervous and exhausted.

The first week was quite an eye opener, as we realized that we had quite alot of catching up to do with the other fighters.  I thought because I did regular running and weightlifting that I would already be super-fit.  Man that thought was dead wrong.  At the end of every practice, I would be literally dripping with sweat till my shirt changed from lime to dark green.

That being said, it only took a good 5 days to adjust to the intense workout schedule.  We ran in the morning, had an 11AM practice, then swam in the afternoon, and had 2 back to back practices in the evening.  Needless to say, I would crawl into bed each night as though it was my own turkish harem.
Another thing you realize when training like pro fighters for a month is how much it costs to keep your weight up!  Cheyne and I would go through bushels of bananas a day, demolish roast chickens, snarf rice balls, and would have protein shakes and yogurt at every single meal and snack.  Little did I know it would cost me more than $2,600 to keep that “fighters diet for two” going the entire month!

Though our bodies were adjusting, our minds were still soft in the second week.  I remember waking up to every personal training with Richard as though he was going to whip me like an 1850’s slave.  Though I was grateful to be trained by an ex-champion pro Kickboxer, I felt like I was an overweight turd, punching and kicking with the force of a sock filled with Maize.
By the second week, mental exhaustion kicked in.  I felt aggravated, irritated, and tired.  I wanted to run away (mostly from Cheyne’s balls, which were frequiently exposed).  I created excuses not to do the entire 6 hours of exercise each day, and Cheyne and I both became relucant to pick up the camera and film our exploits. My lowest point was on day 13, when I woke up and a tear ran down my eye when I realized I had personal training with Richard in 15 minutes time.

But then...something interesting happened, we started to notice we were becoming faster, punching harder, and looking more toned and milf-attractant in the mirror.  Though I was still screeching and yelling with every feeble kick during practice, I could keep going, and going.  By week three, I was actually used to training, and looking forward to doing new things.  My body had become completely used to training hard, and my mind gave up resisting, though I was still counting down the days till it was over.

When the big moment of our fight came, it seemed to arrive in slow motion.  I had been training intenstly for 28 days, and the last 4 dragged out to what seemed like weeks.  It seems like when your waiting for a fight, every moment stretches out to at least 5 times longer.  I would wake up thinking about the fight, nervously eat lunch while thinking about the fight, and go to sleep with thoughts of fighting in my head. 

When I woke up during that last day....the day of the fight, everything seemed to exist on another plane.  The sun came up slower, my mind moved with the grace of a snail, and every moment seemed to last three times as much as it should have.. For hours, I listen to inspiration fight quotes, amped myself up, and even watched a movie (Chronicle).
The drive to the boxing ring seemed like a moment which would bring back adolescent terrors, but instead...I found a newfound resilience.  I walked into the gym with no thought other than, “Get yourself psyched”.  
It’s a weird thing to see the guy your fighting.  Though my opponent Tom and I could have been fast friends, and wouldn’t ever fight each other on a normal occasion, tonight we would have to overcome our reluctance and smash each other.
When the people started to file in, it was a strange moment, and before I knew it I was in the ring, my shirt was off, the gloves were on, and the bell sounded.  As soon as I stepped into that ring everything I knew flew out the window, and I had to adapt to this hostile environment of punches and kicks, but I’ll stop telling you about it and simply show you the fight instead.

That month was odd in every way, days seemed to last weeks, smaller moments which would seem boring on a normal day were more meaningful.  When you set out on a journey, to do something big in 30 days, you push yourself into a strange environment which tests the levels of your comfort zone.  I’m so glad I did this challenge, because after overcoming physical limitations and fears, it’ll be great to see the other things I can overcome in my life.

-Raleigh Latham, March 1, 2012

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