An MMA fighter’s transition from contender to coach

Chris Hernandez’ has a deep love for the martial arts, developed through a decade of practicing and teaching Tae-kwon-do and other disciplines. His numerous black belts were earned with a lot of black eyes. Coach Chris is used to punishing workouts, bruising bouts, and post-fight pain. He is also used to the “stare-down.” “Fights are often decided in that moment of sindak (intimidation),” reveals the 40-year-old, 5’8, 185 lbs instructor. Injury however, was an opponent even this formidable fighter couldn’t duck past. Overcoming the threat of retiring from physical activity, he instead switched sports.

Weightlifting became his life for 5 years, till the old enemy reasserted itself - hitting both his knees. “Then I discovered CrossFit in 2010, online. Back then it was still new, and considered ‘weird.’ by most.” The then nascent sport attracted Coach Chris, who values preparation, practice, and perseverance. Practicing and competing for nearly four years, his passion for the sport led him to teaching it.

“Finish what you start” is a life mantra of his - one he hopes will benefit his students. He trains Primal Ape’s athletes with a mindset of mental toughness - to prepare them for their own personal battles. Winning comes with preparation, toughness is developed with practice, and perseverance means you don’t necessarily have to beat the other man to win, only outlast him. In this case, the opponent is yourself. 

Coach Chris knows pain, but insists the fear of pain, and discomfort, is what really beats people up. That sindak (intimidation) - is what he hopes his athletes overcome. Fierce in the face of fear - the fighting spirit that allowed him to transition to CrossFit - is an ethos he shares with every Primal Ape class. 

Fights are won or lost before stepping in the ring. For Coach Chris, training in a spacious facility, with a complete set of the best equipment, under prime teachers, means athletes give themselves the best chance to develop their potential. “When you’re focused on training, without distractions - you give yourself the best chance to succeed.” 

Words by Reg Tolentino 

Learn to fight through your weakness, sign-up for Primal Ape’s 1-day trial.

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