By Rich Evans
Photo supplied by Paul Traish: Fighters Blake Sheppeard and Mark Banks both won their fights in the first round. Photo includes fighters, coaching staff, supporters and sponsors Jeremy and Michelle McGrath
There is no doubt that MMA can be a brutal sport. However, for most of the fighters training with Paul Traish at Thrive MMA, it is the unparalleled fitness that fight training can bring which motivates his interest in the sport. Paul is a dedicated fitness professional who is focussed on more than just learning to hit hard. “MMA makes you learn everything, you can’t just learn to kick, punch or wrestle, you have to learn them all,” he said. Thrive MMA is located inside the Club Revive gym, 3-5 Young St in Lithgow, a location that is known to many as the former Lithgow Squash Courts. Walking into the club and upstairs to Paul’s training area, you get the feeling this is not a gym for people who just want to go to the gym to catch up with friends. There were some serious workouts taking place. Paul has always been around fitness, growing up in a family where his father owned a gym, and you can tell the positive impact his past has had on his approach to fitness in general. Among other things he runs classes for kids aged 5-12, focusing on fitness education along with discipline and behaviour. His Future Champion’s Merit Award is something all the kids participate in, rewarding them for their behaviour rather than their skills, something he says is just as important. The club has had a string of successes recently in professional fights in Richmond, Cowra and St Marys, and Paul is hoping to organise a tournament here in Lithgow in the not too distant future. Support from generous local businesses is paramount to his fighters being able to enter these events, companies such as Australian Health and Fitness Supplies, Grand Central Lithgow, J & M Pets, Lithgow Valley Kia and Triple C Consulting helps Paul keep his fighters outfitted and ready to fight in tournaments. Fighters Blake Sheppeard, and Mark Banks have had recent wins at these tournaments, and whilst Ben Jeffries lost his first fight, he was straight back in the gym and training to change that result in his next bout. “I once said that if someone just gave me some money and I could do anything I wanted I would open a gym like this, and when I finished working for the railways, that opportunity is exactly what happened, and I love every minute of it,” he concluded. If Paul’s enthusiasm and commitment is anything to go by, the sport of MMA may soon get a much bigger profile in our region.