On Wednesday, April 14 I headed up to the Reebok Sports Club/NY in Manhattan to attend a Reebok media event for the brand's latest shoe - the ZigTech. UFC light heavyweight hall-of-famer Chuck Liddell was in attendance, along with Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware and New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. The plan was that I - along with the rest of the sporting/fitness media in tow - would participate in a workout custom-designed by these athletes. Naturally, I jumped on the opportunity.
When I arrived at the club, I was given a key with a number on it and directed to the locker room. After finding the locker with my number on it, I opened it up to find - amongst other goodies - shorts, a T-shirt and a brand new pair of Zigs. Sweet.
I geared up and made my way to the elevator that would take me to the indoor basketball court on the sixth floor. Now, the thought of working out on its own gets me amped, so you can imagine how I felt being seconds away from training with one of the greatest fighters in the world (UFC > NFL, sorry).
I entered the gym to find DeMarcus - and special guest, actor Liam
Hemsworth - shooting hoops as the last of the media folk trickled in. After shooting around for about 15 minutes (including an impressive three-pointer by the Iceman), followed by a group warm-up with resistance bands, tri-state area trainer David Jack brought the crowd in and laid down the plan. Three athletes (plus Liam). Four stations. Thirty seconds each. Two rotations.
I have to admit, I was expecting the workout to last slightly longer than four minutes - okay, a lot longer than four minutes - but approached the circuit with maximum drive anyway. Seriously, I love working out.
My group began at Jerricho's station, where we worked on agility. Standing side by side - arm's length apart - my team sprinted forward, right, back and left in randomized, explosive bursts, keeping all eyes on the wide receiver for hints of the next move. This is a great drill for a position that requires you to change direction on a dime and I wish I could have spent more time doing it, but almost right away we were off to the next station.
Next up was Chuck, and now realizing what 30 seconds felt like, I wasted no time getting to the other side of the gym. This station, adapted from the fighter's own regimen, consisted of shadowboxing with intermittent high knees and ground sprawls. We didn't receive any direction in terms of how to throw a proper punch or how to deliver a knee with good form, which admittedly took away slightly from the exercise, but by this point it was clear that we weren't here to sweat. Nonetheless, as brief as it was, this was my first taste of MMA training and it definitely made me want more.
When our thirty seconds were up, we moved on to Liam's corner of the gym for the "endurance" part of the circuit. This was basically a fast-paced mini-circuit of push-ups, mountain climbers and burpees. A big fan of all of the above, I blazed through the movements and got ready for the last station with DeMarcus.
Using a typical football three-point stance as the starting position for this exercise, we practiced lunging forward from a dead stop, trying to improve quickness with every rep. We did this a couple times on each leg until our time was up and it was time to return to the first station for another round. Rinse. Repeat.
Overall, while it wasn't the most taxing workout, it was a great opportunity to meet the athletes and discuss the ins and outs of their respective training regimens. It always amazes me how hard these guys train and getting a chance to see them in action was a privilege. And as for the Zigtechs, well, I'm not sure I've ever worn a more comfortable (or colorful) athletic shoe in my life. It's not a lifting shoe; there's far too much "springiness" in the base. But for running, cross-training and pretty much anything else that isn't compromised by shock-absorbent footwear, the Zigs are where it's at.
Click here to check out my post-workout interview with Chuck Liddell, where he talks about The Ultimate Fighter, UFC115 and his greatest moment in the Octagon.