Most fighters shut down their lives during fight camp. Brock Lesnar boards up the windows of him gym and kicks out all other fighters to train in private, Conor McGregor's long time girlfriend Dee Devlin moves out of the house they share when he is in camp, and most fighters cut off all social engagements in order to focus on their upcoming wars.
However, Cris "Cyborg" Justino isn't the average fighter.
Cyborg chose the time that most athletes are in their intense training camps to host her Pink Belt Fitness camp. This camp is designed for women, and teaches them fitness, self esteem, team building and bonding, as well as self defense and anti-bullying techniques.
The camps last anywhere from 12-48 hours, and often include an overnight element. Cyborg takes the group of women (of all ages and skill levels) through a typical day of training, including breaks to bond with her and each other, plus extreme activities like jumping off of bridges and three mile off-road hikes.
Through her positive energy, and the help and support of each other, the women participate in various exercises and group activities accompanied by other important women in the sport.
Champions.co was invited to participate in a typical day at camp, and I have chronicled my experiences below.
This particular camp was held on the beach in Huntington Beach, CA. The day began at 8 a.m. when the girls checked in to pick up the daily schedule, their t-shirts and to meet each other and Cyborg to get acquainted. Slowly, the girls opened up and began telling stories about why they were there and what they hoped to accomplish throughout the day.
Cyborg sat down with the women to make introductions and explain how the day would go. Many of them voiced their fears over being able to do the intense training day ahead of them, but she assured them that no one would be left behind, and if they promised not to quit, they would see that they could do it all.
"We are all good at something," she told the girls. "We all have a black belt in something like our jobs, a hobby, whatever. We are all stronger than we think."
Cris surprised the girls with three additional helpers for the day, including UFC fighter Marion Renau, boxing and MMA pioneer Erin Toughill and jiu-jitsu champion and MMA fighter Gabi Garcia.
The day starts with a strength and conditioning drill on the sand, led by four time MMA champion and jiu-jitsu black belt, Ray Elbe.
Alongside Cyborg and her famous friends, the ladies ran laps, did ladder drills and completed exercises which built teamwork and emphasized listening skills.
After stretching, the girls took a break and cooled off in the ocean, changed their clothes and prepare for the next activity... a three mile hike through the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.
After the hike, which saw three groups: those who wanted to run, those who wanted to jog and those who wanted to walk, the ladies headed off to a small beach next to a bridge.
It's become a Pink Belt tradition (this is the fourth camp so far) for the ladies to jump off the bridge and into the water below. Most made the plunge with a few needing more coaxing than others (me). After the jump, a small group swam another mile through the yachts and fancy houses along the channel.
After drying off and changing clothes, the girls returned back to the beach to prepare for lunch and a long rest. Cris, along with the women, ate at a beachside cafe talking about boys, their favorite fighters and whom they had picked for the McGregor vs. Diaz bout.
Cyborg was in the throngs of cutting weight, and had her pre-made meal prep to eat while the ladies enjoyed sandwiches and salads from the beachside bar.
After returning from lunch, the ladies took quick naps in the sand, chatted with Cyborg and each other and took dips in the water before the Muay Thai element was to begin.
After warming back up, Paul Song arrived to teach a Muay Thai class. Song is a Muay Thai black belt under Rafael Cordeiro and taught the ladies exercises to improve their striking and kicks.
After finishing the Muay Thai portion of the camp, the girls divided into two groups to compete in a good old fashioned tug of war.
With Cyborg and Toughill on one team, and Garcia and Renau on the other, the ladies competed in the best two out of three.
It was eventually team Garcia/Renau that took home the top prize in tug of war.
Afterward, the girls spent the last moments of sunlight playing a hilarious flag football game which ended in the awarding of a championship belt.
After a dinner and Acai bowl break, the ladies wound down the exciting and tiring day with a sunset yoga experience. Lining the sand with yoga mats and beach towels, the girls were able to release any tension and fully relax their bodies.
As the sun sets on the day, the girls exchange numbers and join a Whatsapp group for former members of the camp. These women may walk away from the camp, but not from each other.
The friendships tend to continue after camp, and the girls get together for fight viewings to support Cyborg at her events and to continue the supportive nature of the camp.
Cyborg is set to make her first ever UFC main event appearance Sept. 24 when she returns home to Brazil to face Lina Lansberg at UFC Fight Night Brasilia.
For more information on the next Pink Belt Fitness camp visit here.