Math Teacher Waki Crunches it Out at UFC Ultimate Fitness Challenge

Tai Phaniphon, Head Illustrator

     Every year, the UFC gym, with locations all over the United States, holds the Ultimate Fitness Challenge, a competition dedicated to testing strength, stamina, power and endurance. There are three levels of competition, starting at local UFC gyms where only one female and one male winner progresses to the Regional and National events. On Oct. 12, Trigonometry and Algebra 1 math teacher Marcie Waki participated at the Mililani UFC gym, where she achieved victory and gained experience; later continuing her journey to Regionals where she placed second. 

    “What inspired me was my daughter, my middle daughter Mia — she wrote me a letter. Because I always instill don’t ever give up, you can do it, build your confidence and she actually did that for me. So it was kind of heart warming, she was the one who kind of inspired me, ‘Okay I gotta do it,’” said Waki. 

     The night before the UFC Mililani competition, Waki was sick with a fever and chills. However, she was keen on participating and overcoming the task at hand. “So this is kind of a me time. I was kind of in a rut and was like ‘I just need to get back in shape.’ This forced me to do it; I get into the modes where I set goals for myself and I just want to chase after them,” said Waki. 

     In preparation for the Ultimate Fitness Challenge, Waki began intense training two months prior. All participating athletes received three personal training sessions with a Challenge Coach to help them prepare for the competition, as well as attending a weekly challenge class. However, what gave Waki the most strength was her kids. “Especially for my kids to show them if you put your mind to it, you practice hard, you focus, you have that drive and determination and if you can model that for your kids then that’s even better. It was like ‘See, mommy can do it, so can you.’ Even though I’m almost 40, you can do it,” said Waki. 

     Although Waki won the local UFC challenge, she had to quickly move onto the next stage: Regionals. Within the two weeks between the Mililani competition and Regionals, Waki had to acknowledge her weaknesses in order to improve. “It was more competitive. In terms of my mindset I had to focus more on what my weaknesses were — the cardio part I was fine so I wasn’t too concerned with that. I was more concerned with the upper body exercises because I am not as built as other competitors” said Waki. “I had to think positive. I wanted to kind of doubt myself but I had to change that.”

   One of the many opportunities the Ultimate Fitness Challenge provides is not only experience, but a camaraderie among fellow athletes. This and the importance of a positive mindset proved to be one of Waki’s favorite takeaways. “(I enjoyed) competing with other people and making new friends. Knowing that if you set your mind to something and you can achieve that is inspiring not only for myself but other people,” said Waki. “If you set your heart and your mind to it you can do it. No matter how old you are or where you are in life.”

     Due to Waki’s busy schedule, her normal workout regimen consists of waking up early before school to go to the gym. Her schedule includes UFC’s daily ultimate training classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, then on Tuesdays and Thursdays either cardio or weight lifting. This athletic lifestyle was instilled in Waki at a young age. “So I would always train 6:00 in the morning. My grandma would walk around the track in Maui, so I would lift weights and run around and do laps before school,” said Waki. 

     For Waki, working out is a stress reliever and a means of personal time, becoming an essential part of her everyday lifestyle. In all, early workouts set her up for a positive and productive day. “And to start it in the morning, you go through your day feeling good and thinking, ‘I already accomplished a goal, I worked out for one hour, now I can go about my day,’” said Waki. 

     With the Ultimate Fitness Challenge, Waki recognizes the importance of working out. She acknowledges the many health benefits it provides, especially in the youth and hopes to set an example for her students. “Get out, even if it’s 15, 20 minutes, normally it’s 30 minutes. I think it’s good for your body just to exercise whether its walking, whether it’s riding a bike, whether its lifting weights. It doesn’t have to be strenuous but at least do some kind of exercise because its good for your mind, good for your body,” said Waki. “And sometimes it’s sad because it takes something bad to make you wake up and change your whole lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be drastic but I think if you just do a little at a time and gradually build on it, you will see that it is daily, (and)it’s part of your life.” 

     In the future, Waki plans to enter the partner UFC competition as well as continue her fitness lifestyle to stay in shape. She would also like to get back into running, starting off with half-marathons and eventually a marathon.