Over the last year and a half, I’ve performed countless styles of incredible workouts and have found myself upside-down, inside-out and bent over backwards, all in the name of fitness. (I’ve maybe also developed an unhealthy fitness gear shopping habit, but that’s a story for another day.) The beauty of the endless training sessions that the gyms of Providence and beyond have to offer is that they’re like a sky full of stars: no two are the same.
I first met Peter Jeffrey, co-owner (along with his brother Keith) of Pawtucket’s Tri-Force MMA at a Tough Mudder race. He and his wife were fellow team members and I knew almost immediately after we started the race that he would be someone I’d gladly train with. Motivating, supportive, driven and athletic, Pete – trained in jiu-jitsu and MMA for over ten years – clearly was an ass-kicker, and I hadn’t even stepped inside his gym yet.
During our race, Pete mentioned that he and his brother run the Rhode Island affiliate of the Training for Warriors program at Tri-Force. From his description alone, I knew I wanted in. Regardless of the workout, I was hooked on the name alone. After all, I do consider myself a warrior of most things – including, but not limited to, parenthood, kicking butt in the gym and spending my kids’ college savings on my sneaker collection.
Training for Warriors is a physical and mental training program for anyone who works hard, wants to battle his or her own challenges, and drives to develop muscular strength and mental fortitude. It combines detailed warm-ups, speed training, strength training, endurance training and flexibility work.
Fast-forward a month and I found myself walking through the doors of Tri-Force’s highly impressive 15,000 square foot facility. From the weights and strength training equipment to the full-sized boxing ring and MMA cage, to the battle ropes, kettlebells, sandbags, TRX straps, tires, sled mills and endless sea of matted floors I spotted, this space was a mecca for the fighter within. On this particular Wednesday, I was about to fight. Fight my heart rate, the clock, the heat and the metabolic conditioning that was about to be thrown at me.
When Pete began to explain the warm-up portion, he kept throwing air quotes around the words “warm up,” with a smile pasted across his face. For 18 straight, unbroken minutes, Pete ran me through a series of full body exercises, pushing my limits in flexibility, heart rate, core-strength and all-over stamina. Needless to say, after it was over, I was warmed up. The rest of the class was to be done tabata style, which is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout where you go fast and hard for 20 seconds, and then rest 10 seconds before the next exercise. The idea behind tabata is to raise your heart rate for a quick, intense burst, and then use those ten seconds of rest to bring it slightly back down to recover, therefore improving cardiovascular and muscular endurance in a short period of time.
I began the speed circuit and cycled through tire push-up claps, tire squats, side floor swipes and ankle-grab sit-ups. At this point, I was starting to fatigue (read: sweating like a sinner in church). I’d already done more in two thirds of a class than I did on most of my cardio days combined for the week.
The final, and perhaps most challenging portion of the class was the strength circuit. In the same timed sequence, for what seemed like endless rounds, I sprinted on the sled mill (that you propel with your own feet), tackled the battle ropes, pulled my body weight up off the floor with TRX straps, dipped on the tricep double bars and swung a kettlebell to the high heavens above (without letting go). There were moments when I didn’t think I’d finish, when I didn’t want to finish, and when I hoped to God I had finished. Channeling all the mental fortitude I could, I pushed through. Like a warrior.
Training for Warriors was one of the most challenging workouts I’ve done. Once I stabilized and recovered from the class, I rode out an endorphin high for hours and anticipated my next go at it. Whether you’re training at Tri-Force as an MMA fighter or someone who wants to be conditioned like one, the warrior class will leave you feeling like a champion.
179 Conant Street