x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The Miz claims to loathe working out and is constantly rushing to get this activity out the way, but he's in top fighting form.

The wrestler Mike Mizanin and the writer pump iron together, using differing weights, of course. Delores Johnson / The National
The wrestler Mike Mizanin and the writer pump iron together, using differing weights, of course. Delores Johnson / The National

While many belittle World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for being closer to theatre than an authentic sport, there’s little doubt that the hard-hitting body contact it entails means its stars need to be in prime physical condition. So one would assume that to reach the top of the pro-wrestling game requires extended periods of pumping iron in the gym.

Yet the WWE champion The Miz says not. He claims to loathe working out and is constantly rushing to get this activity out the way.

“I hate being in the gym more than an hour,” he reveals. “I’m not the kind of guy who says ‘I must stay in the gym for hours and hours on end.’ I’m the guy who wants to get out quickly. But I’m a WWE superstar so I have to keep fit.”

For The Miz, real name Michael Gregory “Mike” Mizanin, workouts are all about quality, rather than quantity, with intensity being the watchword.

I found this to be the case when I joined him at the Park Rotana gym last month. Mizanin was in Abu Dhabi for three days to whip up publicity for the forthcoming WWE spectacular at Zayed Sports City.

Even though he was undertaking a hectic schedule of autograph signings, press conferences and school visits, he still needed to accommodate an exercise session.

“We are on the road so much, it’s very hard to find time to work out. We’re often forced to use these hotel gyms, or sometimes it’s just doing a bit of yoga or a few burpees in our room,” he claims.

In this gym, Mizanin notices that its free weights aren’t sufficiently heavy for him – he claims to be able to bench press 285lbs (129 kilograms), which surpasses his own body weight of 220lbs (100 kg).

So, he improvises and devises a strenuous shoulder workout, involving seated lateral raises and inclined bicep curls, before moving on to some abs exercises.

All of these are done at a rapid pace, which he says helps improve agility and endurance. “You can’t just be bulky in the WWE; some of our matches can last 40 minutes to an hour so you need to have that endurance fitness along with strength,” he states.

But while many wrestlers work towards being completely toned, Mizanin has different goals.

“Some people like to be ripped, with zero per cent body fat. I find this hurts too much when you get hit in the ring, so having a little bit of fat under the skin gives me a little bit of padding,” he explains. “I want an athletic, healthy build.”

For this, diet is as important as the exercise. “A lot of what we do is about eating right. If I don’t eat right, I balloon out real quick,” he says. “But I don’t drink alcohol at all, I eat a lot of proteins and less carbs. If I do eat carbs, then it will be sweet potatoes, whole grains or oatmeal. But no carbs after 5pm.

“But occasionally, I have a lapse and will eat a cheeseburger or some chocolate. If I do, then I will do an extra cardio session to make up for it.”

The Miz’s aerobic exercise of choice is SoulCycle, a fashionable new workout that involves a spinning class on a stationary bike, while pumping dumbbells.

“I love SoulCycle. It’s a great cardio workout. It leans me up, makes me feel skinny,” he says. “You get such a great sweat on. I lose about four pounds [1.8kg] of water that just drenches off me.”

As Mizanin manages to lift pretty much double of what I can, and walks away from the session looking completely fresh and unfatigued, one cannot doubt that his exercise regime achieves its aims. All in 45 minutes – sometimes less.

hberger@thenational.ae