Somewhere close to the end of last year, our trusty Ed told me there was another staff challenge happening this year and asked whether I was keen on joining, without even thinking about it I was in. As it was December I found myself on the beach quite often – mostly with my T-shirt on. Now I am not excessively overweight but certain parts of my body are softer and rounder than they should be, one of the perks of getting married and having lots of romantic dinners. I decided that in order for me to get into the best shape of my life I would need to push myself harder than I ever did before. My goal is not just to drop my body fat percentage and get fit, I want to be able to take a couple of knocks too. Yes I have experience in martial art from my high school and university days but I haven’t hit anything or anyone since then. For my training I approached Gary Barrett, the owner and head coach of Takedown MMA and Fitness Academy in Diep River – he was up for the challenge and willing to mould me from a 90kg teddy bear to a leaner, harder more manly warrior. We agreed that I would train at his gym after work, and at Virgin during lunch a few times a week and would follow a healthy eating plan.

The fitness assessment was not great – I hate running and suck at it. If it was a competition, I lost. I left feeling rather despondent but told myself it was only the beginning.

My first day at Takedown was not easy, actually it was fucking brutal. My knuckles lost their skin, I did shit loads of pushups, crunches and let’s not forget the squats that had me shaking like a leaf. I knew it would be tough but this was what I wanted… until the coach said something that sounded like body shots, I asked the guy next to me what was going on and he confirmed it – body shots. So I took my fighting position while my partner delivered punch after punch after punch – my body remembered what to do when taking a punch unfortunately it didn’t remember the pain that came with it. After this it was “light” sparring – my definition meant barely touching my opponent, his meant hitting me without drawing blood. Somewhere between my 3rd and 5th round of sparring my guard went from protecting my jaw to protecting my torso, a slip of my opponents hand and I was seeing all kinds of sparkly things, not the pretty kind.

My wife picked me up after my 1st session, I couldn’t drive. She asked me if I was ok and I said yes – I wasn’t lying, my body had been beaten pushed to its limits but at the end of the session every single person in that session shook hands and it was awesome. I returned the next day and took a similar beating, the day after that was the same only this time my guard stayed up and it was my knee that unfortunately caught his nads, he dropped to the ground instantly and I couldn’t apologise enough. He was a champ and brushed it off, once he regained his composure we went on to exchange blows, shake hands and agree to do it again the next day – minus the knee.