How do you train for the unknown?

Have you ever been put in a situation where you’ve had to be ready for anything? 

In early February, I was told I was going to be a contestant on a New Zealand reality TV show, searching for the best undiscovered personal trainer. The show, called School of Training, was described as a fitness competition show like no other! I saw the show as an opportunity to show what I'm really made of and how the principles we teach at Re:create Personal Training cover the full spectrum of mind, body, spirit and community.

At the time I was asked to go on the show, I was training for the Canterbury Regional Powerlifting Champs. My passion is strength and conditioning, and I specialise in coaching these aspects with clients every day, but for this new challenge I needed to make my own plan to be prepared for anything.

After asking many questions to figure out exactly what the show was about, I was told 'just make sure you are physically in the best shape you can be'. I've always been a fit person and I enjoy training, but for this I knew I'd need to step it up a notch. It was time to get my hands dirty.

So how did I prepare for the biggest unknown fitness challenge of my life? Here's what got me through.

1. Surrounding myself with people who lifted me up

I told my family, close friends and people around me about becoming a contestant on this show. I’m still not sure if they realise just how much they have helped me on this journey.

I started adding in sessions and making #noexcuses about why I couldn't train, in fact I was searching for reasons to be joining in on everything and anything I could.

I aligned myself with the fittest people I knew to push me to new limits and drag me to some others.

I want to quickly thank a short (ish) list of people: 

  • The Hill Bash Tuesday crew for buying in to my crazy ideas about how we can destroy ourselves on the Port Hills each week. Jake, James, Swedo, Jezza, Kieran; you guys are animals and will kill Mt Difficulty. Donate to these guys - they are insane. 
  • The Bodyfix Crew; my workmates, colleagues and friends; Steve for making me do stupid shit on the air bike; Moo for constantly checking if I'm ok; Erica for teaching me animal flow; and everyone else's support. 
  • The Recreate Team: Shannon and Nik and our clients for everything you guys do, be it training together, business meetings, crispy chicken - anything you are awesome; Sambo for letting me jump in and train with you, you’re one seriously fit 40-year-old (I've created a monster there); Jimmy and our Friday arvo fun-runs that always seem to become a race. The Saturday morning Bootcamp team, who probably thought it was weird that I did every session alongside them instead of standing up the front, but never asked questions. Everyone who wanted weekly updates, you kept me going. 
  • The Sumner Rugby Lads (I am the strength and conditioning coach for the Sumner Rugby Club in Christchurch). At the start of the year we formed a tight group, and started working our asses off. We wanted to test ourselves mentally and physically; we spoke about going to 'dark places' after doing a series of fitness and strength testing. These guys set a standard and because of this I wanted to ensure I was always keeping up. A special thanks to Dylan, LB and Tommy for always being there, I really appreciated it.
  • My wife - what can I say, this woman is amazing! Deals with me; 4.45am alarms and 12-hour work days; as well as my never-ending complaints about being sore, while going out and training again twice a day. She is always supportive, and that's why I love you Monique McCaffrey (nawww).


2. Hard and fast training for everything!

The show focused on the Ludus Magnus training style: mainly body weight exercises, plus high intensity cardio - legs burning and heart racing. I'm strong and kind of naturally fit, but I knew I had some work to do.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Ludus Magnus training style and of the teachings of Joe Naufahu. When I first saw the gladiator style training in some of their large group sessions, I was hooked.

I remember watching some videos of Joe training the Kiwis league team back in 2011; this inspired me to push people to the next level, to dig deep and embrace the grind. 

Finding out I was going to be in the area throwing it down with the Ludus family; well, I was stoked. 

I knew I had to push myself to the edge, physically and mentally, to prepare for whatever they had in store for me. Here are a few examples of what I did to get ready: 

5km run time trials

Outdoor is preferable, but treadmill if necessary. Going all in and committing to 15km/per hour will get you there bang on 20mins.
Inside aim for 4minute/kilometres and hold on. 

Goal: Sub 20mins 

Loaded carries and hill runs

Find the biggest hill in your town and load yourself with a sand bag/weighted vest, or both. In Christchurch, I used the pipeline section of the Bridle Path walkway; we even flipped a tyre to the top one day. This is Such a great way to get the heart rate up and condition the legs.


2km row

If you go all in, this could be the longest 7 minutes of your life. This becomes anaerobic after 60-seconds, which means you’re on for 6 minutes of heavy lactate and carbon dioxide, burning the lungs, legs and upper body. It's just you and the rowing machine in an extreme, mental challenge. Go all in, and see how far you’re willing to push. 

Goal: Sub 7mins 

500m murder

Row or Ski Erg 500m on your first attempt; aim for 1minute and 45seconds initially.  Each successive attempt from this, must be at least 1 second faster. Rest 2 minutes, repeat 5 rounds.

On the last round, always aim for a personal best. 


Ski Erg or Row; 30secs work, 30secs rest.

On your first round, aim for around 120 metres.  On your next round, try to beat this by 1metre i.e. 121 metres. But, if you hit 123 metres, then the next round must be at least another 1 metre further.

Repeat until you just cannot go further.

Eat your previous score. 

Goal 30 rounds = 30mins 

Running With Scissors 

  • 50 Scissor Lunges 
  • Run 500m 
  • 40 Scissor Lunges 
  • Run 400m 
  • 30 Scissor Lunges 
  • Run 300m 
  • 20 Scissor Lunges 
  • Run 200m 
  • 10 Scissor Lunges 
  • Run 100m 

 Goal: Sub 10mins 

Fan Bike To Hell and Back 

50,40,30,20,10,10,20,30,40,50 calories 

Rest as needed 

Goal: Sub 20min

1000ft Jacobs Ladder 

Goal: Sub 10mins

100 Burpees for Time

All in; as fast as possible 

Chest to floor; clap above head, 3 inch jump. 

Goal: Sub 5mins 

Death By Burpees 

Every minute, on the minute; add one burpee each minute.

Start at 1 in the first minute, then 2 in the second... 

This starts easy, but gets exponentially harder. 

You are done only when you can no longer complete the required number of burpees within 1 minute. 

This is a great way to test how far you are willing to go.

Goal: 22mins (253 burpees) 


I even hit the pools to smash some lengths out, just in case we ended up swimming at some stage - I wanted to be sure I was ready for anything. I slapped in a few yoga sessions, foam rollers, spiky balls and anything else I thought I needed too.

3. Going all in with my training

This is an unfamiliar concept to most people. You'll never truly understand what you are capable of, until you have enough faith in yourself to go deep. The will to suffer for something meaningful will change you. It will open doors that were once closed. It will raise your expectations of yourself. Settling for something less than your best will never come easy again. Times move on, things change. Thankfully the experience stays with you. 


4. The right mindset

I've written articles on mindset before; I believe it is only 90 percent of the battle; you can drag your body through almost anything, kicking and screaming, if you are willing to suffer for success.

The mind is primary; your brain will give up 1000 times before your body does.

Feel the pain and do it anyway.

I believe if you want something bad enough, and if you’re willing to put the work in, you will get it. 

If you want to see just how far I'm willing to go, join me on my journey, as I'm coming in hot this Wednesday at 9pm on Māori TV. 

I'm going back to school, but it’s no summer holiday; I'm here to compete, and I would love to join the Ludus team on the roadshow to China.

So let's get onboard and support #TEAMRIHI: School of Training - 9pm Wednesday, Maori Television

- Reece

#noexcuses #unleashthegladiator #ludus #athletetrainingsystems #recreate #bodyfix #southislandrepresent