“For the first time in my life I could clearly see definition in my abs. My other muscles had developed not only to where they were bigger, but they increased in strength as well. I also noticed an enormous increase in my energy levels. I was a new person and now had the physique I had always dreamed of.”
My name is Rich Cifuentes and I am a 37 year-old mixed martial arts instructor for Tiger Schulmann’s. In my profession being in the best physical shape is not only important, it is a requirement. It is a quality that is expected from every instructor by the master and founder of our style. In order to advance in rank, each TSK instructor must perform continuously, not only demonstrating fighting technique, but also displaying endurance.
In early March 2006 a challenge was announced to all TSK instructors. Each of the hundred plus instructors were given a physical goal, which included body weight, muscle mass, body fat percentage, and most important, an overall endurance test. This 100 Day Challenge was not only to maintain instructor certification, it was the first time that instructors went head to head to prove who could train harder and who would reveal the best training method in the entire organization. Prizes were also given to the top four finishers.
In the eleven years I have trained in the martial arts, I became very aware of how my body worked. I was constantly in the gym working on muscular development and even picked up running as a hobby and as another means of cross training. Together with my rigorous martial arts training, I believed I was in the best shape I could be in. Although I could never transform my body to look like the ones you see in magazines, which display abdominal and muscular definition, I believed it was the best I could do especially because of my genetics. At the time I weighed around 145 lbs which to me was extraordinary since at one time I weighed in the 160s. My percent body fat was somewhere around 17%. However the goal that Master Schulmann set for me was to get down to 135ibs and to go below 10% body fat. I remember thinking it would probably be impossible to reach but at the same time I imagined what I would look like if it was possible. I knew that this would not only be to toughest challenge I would have to face, but I knew I could not do it alone. I needed someone to give me their expertise and guidance, someone to push me harder than I ever pushed myself, someone to prove the impossible, I needed the best.
It was then that I met John Oliver, who not only had more qualifications then any personal trainer I’ve ever met, but had an even larger reputation for changing people’s lives. In the first few minutes of our initial conversation, I knew he would be the one who would help me with the challenge. I could tell that he knew what he was doing not only because of what he was saying, but because of the physical shape he was in. He not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. He made me feel comfortable and confident about the changes I would make. He made me believe that it was possible to achieve the impossible and that genetics would not stand in the way.
We worked about four hours for every ten days. Each session, John would work me but not over-work me. His knowledge and creativity not only made training challenging and exciting, he gave me ideas I could use for my students. He always thought ‘outside the box’ and was always energetic and would always keep me motivated. Even though I was the one doing all the work and I was the one who was sweating, he made me believe that we were in this together.
At the end of every 25 days of the challenge we would take measurements and record my progress. Each time the results I would see to me was unbelievable, but to John it was expected. I remember during the beginning stages of our training he would always mention a ‘ranger challenge’ he wanted me to one day take. That day finally came and I’m proud to say I passed the test. Once again it was something he expected of me.
Towards the end of our training period I entered in my first 10K Run which would be the most I would ever run at one given time. In my age category I took 2nd place. I never thought I would ever receive a trophy for running.
But the most triumphant moment of the journey came at the end of the 100 Day Challenge. When we took my final measurements I could not believe that my weight was exactly 135 pounds and I was under 10% body fat. However, I was more impressed with the body transformation we made. For the first time in my life I could clearly see definition in my abs. My other muscles had developed not only to where they were bigger, but they increased in strength as well. I also noticed an enormous increase in my energy levels. I was a new person and now had the physique I had always dreamed of. Pictures were taken of me and the records of my measurements were sent to our headquarters in New Jersey. It was about four weeks later that I learned that out of over one hundred instructors, I took second place overall. We achieved the impossible!
I just want to say that I could not have done it without John’s guidance. His expertise and professionalism is what makes him a unique individual, one who makes you believe in yourself to achieve any goal. I will continue working with John and recommend his services to everyone. I see now why he has the reputation he has for changing people’s lives, for sure he has changed mine and i am forever grateful.