It’s been an insanely promising start to the year over here in Berlin and this week, things got even better!

I am so excited to announce Black Sheep Athletics as one of my new sponsors for 2017!

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When I moved to Berlin I was pleasantly surprised  by the popularity of Crossfit within the city.  Countless boxes appear on Google searches, all boasting very similar practices and facilities.

After spending some time with Unit 27 in Phuket, I have been spoiled for quality in coaching and facility.  Selling me on a new box was going to tough!

Through networking and meeting other athletes, I had been invited to try a few boxes, all in varying locations surrounding my suburb of residence.  Knowing that most places would be closed over the Christmas and New Year period I reached out to some other boxes to check opening hours and looked for a place to train for a few days.

Black Sheep responded to my email quickly, informing me of the sessions they had available over the holiday period.  I was pleasantly surprised that they were hosting WOD’s almost every day where most others were closed.

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I booked in for my first session after my Christmas excursion to Budapest.  I was pretty eager to get moving again as this was not long after my forced rest period from Spitfire.

It was easy to find (even though in a slightly obscure location) due to ample sign posting along the way.

When I made my way to the front door, I am immediately struck by what is painted on the wall…

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‘This is my type of place!’.

I felt comfortable before I had even stepped through the front door.  A feeling I welcome in new gyms.

Over the past few weeks I have participated in multiple Crossfit sessions conducted by the main coaches available and I have been extremely happy with the quality of the coaching and the facility is one of the best I have seen in the world.  (Check out the virtual tour at https://goo.gl/8UfYrt)

What I have found in my travels, is that it is relatively easy to go and jump into a Crossfit session, no matter where in the world you are, especially if you already have some base for lifting.  Usually though, I find that once instructors see that I have the basics down the tend to focus on the other students and leave me to my own devices.

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While this is not always a bad thing, I have been incredibly impressed by the fact that every coach at Black Sheep is always looking to improve my technique.  Every session I get to make adjustments to my lifts, making me look stronger than I actually am 😉  The coaches are always looking to make you that little bit better then when you walked in the door.

It didn’t take me long to realise that this was where I wanted to be.  Just like Spitfire, I was welcomed with open arms and before long it felt like home.

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After a few weeks back into it, I decided that I wanted to compete in the Crossfit Games for the first time.  Unfortunately because they begin sooner than expected, I may not be ready to complete the full 5 weeks of RX workouts but I will be attempting the ones where I believe I can.

Most combat athletes have a cross training of their choice.  Crossfit is without a doubt, mine.  It’s not only something that I really enjoy, but the whole body conditioning allows me to move faster and push myself harder for my own training and fights.  My injuries bother me less when I am consistent with my Crossfit sessions as it allows me to work on strengthening my stabilising muscles and build strength in areas where I desperately need it.

A huge thank you to the team at Black Sheep for having me as a part of the team!  I’m extremely excited to get started with the Opens and am looking forward to building myself into a better, all rounded athlete.

If you are in Berlin, or travelling through, stop by and check us out!  You can find Black Sheep Athletics on the web, on Facebook, and on Instagram!

There are a lot of opinions and discussions out there about what it takes to be a champion.  This applies to mostly everything.  When people reference athletes though, the most common topics to come up are things like how hard someone trains, the way they train, how they treat their body, what they do for recovery perhaps, and finally, their mindset.
“Champions make habits, not excuses.”  “Champions go the extra mile/round.”  “Champions don’t quit.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?
I wanted to write about this after seeing the UFC 207 post fight press conference with Amanda Nunes?  Did you all catch it?  It honestly made me love her even more and it spoke volumes to me about her frame of mind and why I consider he to be a true champion.
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Now let’s keep in mind how hyped this fight was.  It was rumoured months before the UFC confirmed it and it was high up on the list of fan requests.  Rousey making her big ‘comeback’ after a 13 month layoff and Nunes defending her belt for the first time.  After a victory like this, in environment that encourages smack talk, it would have been so easy for Nunes to be glib or arrogant in her responses.  Some people are immediately commented on Nunes ‘attitude’ post fight claiming she was arrogant in her interview with Joe Rogan in the cage.  I personally felt like she exuded confidence, walking that fine, sometimes indistinguishable line between arrogance and confidence.  At the end of the day though, haters gonna hate.
In the post fight press conference, Nunes fielded some pretty awkward yet obvious questions and I believe she handled things exceptionally well.
When she was asked how she felt about the promotion for UFC 207 being so one sided Nunes said that she had expected it.  She acknowledged that Rousey was the draw card for this fight and went on to say that she had asked Dana White for this fight and she ok with the promotion running in this fashion.  In return, it was in her favour to fight a big name.
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Nunes was asked about how she felt about the pay discrepancies and she said she was happy. She didn’t care. It allows her to buy a house, to look after her family and to help her take care of people that have helped her along the way.  It is the largest pay Nunes has received for any fight and she was just happy.  She said ‘I don’t know (how much I will be paid), but it’s gonna be a lot of money’ as she grinned from ear to ear.
She was asked if she felt bad for Rousey and Tate, having potentially retired the two biggest names in the division.  Her response?  ‘There is a lot of talent in this division and people need to see that.  Now people won’t only be talking about Rousey or Nunes.’
When asked about who should be her next opponent, Nunes says she doesn’t care. She will be ready for anyone.
It is so clear that Nunes is a passionate, driven fighter.  I think we all know that the reality is, fighting seldom makes you rich and famous.  Nunes talked and acknowledged that her win was not only good for her, but for the other talented women who have busted their guts getting to the UFC.  Of course she wants some recognition in the future, but I feel like that is just plain logic.
On the opposite side to this, it is no secret that I am not a Rousey fan.  Even when she was famous and on her winning streak I was not a fan.  However, taking 13 months off after a loss (and granted a very nasty knockout) is not, in my opinion, how a champion thinks.  A 13 month layoff is not something (barring surgeries and serious injuries) that I can really comprehend.  Losses are a part of any competitive sport.  And in fighting, when you look at it, when you walk into that cage (or ring), there are only really two possible outcomes (failing a draw which is incredibly unlikely at this level).   You win or you lose.
To be fair, Rousey is not totally to blame.  The UFC have enabled her to behave as she pleases.  They have enabled her extreme ‘time off’ and allowed her to shirk her media responsibilities.  And now, after yet another loss, it is likely she will not return to MMA.
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When Tate lost to Nunes, she still showed up to the post fight conference.  Tate being another example of an athlete who has the grace and mentality of a champion.  Rousey was no where to be found after both of her losses.
I’m stoked to see Nunes as champion again.  I think she is the prime example of the hard work, commitment and mentality that it takes to be a champion.  Every athlete is different.  Every athlete trains in a different way.  I would just like to see more champions conduct themselves in the way that Nunes does.

Given the robust talent in the greater Boston area, I am honored and humbled to be chosen as the Eagle Tribune’s 2016 Sportsman of the Year.

The Eagle Tribune has been in my corner every step of the journey. I am grateful for the support and friendship that I have developed with them.

Check out the article here

Or by clicking on this link!

http://www.eagletribune.com/sports/local_sports/sportsman-of-the-year/article_86a18317-eaed-5134-bcd9-56f5ad4a609e.html

Thank you all for the continued positivity and love. It fuels me in a way I cannot describe. Special thanks to my mom, dad, and brother, as none of this would be possible without you.

Thank you Crimson Aquatics and Andy Cannon at NorthEast Rehabilitation for keeping me on my “110% game.” Thank you NYOW for putting on a world class marathon swimming event, 8 Bridges.

Thank you to my sponsors: GRRRL Clothing, Vermont Peanut Butter, BRL Sports Nutrition, Knuckleheads Apparel and VOMAX…you have taken my training and performance to the next level.

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