1. READ: “Pain, joy and cracking the Wimp whip” – news.com.au

READ: “Pain, joy and cracking the Wimp whip” – news.com.au

This article was originally published on news.com.au and dailytelegraph.com.au, and shows what happened when journalist, Neil Keene, tested his mental and physical limitations by trying Wimp 2 Warrior’s 20 week MMA training program. 

THERE is a point in the journey to complete exhaustion when the universe seems to collapse into a single thought: How do I survive the next few seconds?

It’s liberating, at least in hindsight. Pride has evaporated, the distractions of work and family no longer exist, all that matters is that moment.

Anyone seeking such rarified sensations should look up Sydney’s Wimp 2 Warrior program — a 20-week boot camp that pushes, and frequently obliterates, the boundaries of endurance. The aim is to turn average, able-bodied Aussies into “warriors” capable of stepping into a mixed martial arts (MMA) cage for a bout.

But, as veteran MMA trainer Richie Cranny explains, it’s as much about the journey as the end result.

GI Journo Neil Keene sizes up the opposition. Picture: Bradley Hunter

Wimp 2 Warrior is a 20-week boot camp program where a group of everyday Aussies train to become MMA fighters. Picture: Bradley Hunter

Richie Cranny, Rachel Guy and Mick McSevney. Picture: Bradley Hunter

That journey starts this weekend for about 100 hopefuls, who will undergo the same kind of drills that I faced, to get to the next stage of training. Exercises are equally weighted between high-intensity aerobic activity and ­muscle-melting strength challenges.

“With mixed martial arts, particularly with the wrestling and grappling, you need muscle endurance,” Cranny says.

It doesn’t take long to understand what he means.

The first exercises are one-minute bursts of “wall walks” — standing with my back pressed to the wall, squatting down as far as I can go and then rising back up without using hands or elbows to assist.

GI Journo Neil Keene pushes out the grunts. Picture: Bradley Hunter

No pain no gain. Gi Journo’s face says it all. Picture: Bradley Hunter

It’s one of those sneaky drills that feels easy at first, before my leg muscles suddenly start to fail. Without rest we move on to two huge strands of rope as thick as lamp-posts, which are grabbed in each hand and alternately lifted and slammed back down in a whipping motion.

A few sets of each of these exercises back-to-back and I have already reached that pitiful state I mentioned earlier.

My instructors — all lovely people, but relentless — have seen it all before and allow only a painfully brief respite. Then it’s on to a mission to flip a giant truck tyre over and over and over, stopping every few goes to complete sets of push-ups.

Pushed to the limit, GI Journo takes a breather. Picture: Bradley Hunter

MMA-style burpees are next. By the time I get to the final rope drills and dead-lift walks around the gym, carrying a kettlebell in each hand, my entire body feels wrecked.

A three-minute plank is the final test of the day. I collapse in a heap when the stopwatch ends, but within a few minutes have recovered enough to get that amazing sense of satisfaction of having completed something so testing.

“Most people who apply for this have known someone who has gone through it,” Cranny says.

“There is a physical transformation but it’s the mental transformation and strength they get from it that is most rewarding.’’