Pacers: Hibbert, MMA and a sports reporter. Which one doesn’t belong?
by Mike Wells
Roy Hibbert’s body transformation since being drafted in 2008 has been incredible. I recall watching an unorthodox, unimpressive Hibbert working out on the main court of Bankers Life Fieldhouse prior to the draft that year.
Hibbert’s body – and his game – has improved each season because of his offseason workout dedication and desire to eat healthy.
The big fella took it to another level this offseason when he started doing MMA training at Integrated Fighting Academy on the Southside of Indy to help his conditioning.
Hibbert and I have had countless conversations over the years about his workouts. But rather than talk about what goes into his MMA training, Hibbert invited me to participate in a session so I could get a first-hand experience of the sweat and pain he goes through.
Pacers rookie Orlando Johnson and Hibbert’s nutritionist Mike Roussell also took part in the workout on Wednesday.
We started with four, three-minute rounds of sparring with a trainer with only a minute break in between each round.
I was good for the first two rounds, but that’s when reality set in for me.
I was so tired by the third round that I was throwing three-six combinations instead of the one-two combinations my trainer Sam was calling for.
I thought Sam would throw me a bone since I’m at the peewee level conditioning wise compared to Hibbert and Johnson.
That wishful thinking by me.
Sam popped me in my head or my ribs every time I stopped protecting my body with the gloves.
My head was spinning and stomach was churning ready to send the Chipotle chicken bowl I ate for lunch flying out my mouth by the time we were finished sparring. I’m glad I laid off the chips and guacamole.
Once again I was naďve to think we were finished for the day.
That was the just the warm up.
Next up were four crossfit stations – a jump box, weighted ropes, jumping jacks while wearing a weighted vest and holding two dumb bells, then a full mount on top of punching bag mixing in a combination of punches and elbows.
We did three sets of each – a minute, 45 seconds and 30 seconds.
Again, the chicken was begging to come out my stomach. I fought the urge to head to the nearest trash can because if you know the relationship Hibbert and I have, you know I would never hear the end of it from him.
To wrap up the hour-long session, which felt about four hours when it was all said and done, we did a drill they referred to as “Mayweather’s.” We stood with our hands above heads and trainers pounded our stomachs with pads for a minute.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have a six-pack stomach, so to say those free hits to the gut didn’t feel well would be an understatement. In fact, I jumped back a couple of times to avoid being hit. Doing that caused lots of laughs out of everybody and more hits to the head from Sam.
“No matter how many times you go to the gym or no matter how many miles you run a week, there’s no type of training like this,” Sam said.
He was right about that.
The experience was tiring, painful and has made my body feel like its aged several years, but I’m glad I made it from start to finish.
More importantly, though, it gave me a better understanding of the work Hibbert has put in to transform his body over the years. The same goes for the MMA fighters.
Hibbert and Johnson lifted weights and scrimmaged over at the fieldhouse prior to doing their MMA workouts on Wednesday.