Old Boots’ Scraps – Dunes Training with Greg Jackson


Here is a Mark Holst post from September 4th where Mark details his dunes training at Greg Jackson’s MMA.  A very interesting look at one of the top MMA gyms in the world! 


From the top;

Pat, my manager and instructor, and myself drove down from Ottawa to NYC Wednesday night  to catch our flight to Denver Thursday early morning then get the connection flight to Albuquerque. Long eight hour drive but we made it! Then a four hour flight to Denver and one hour flight to Albuquerque. Finally, we are here!


Albuquerque, New Mexico! It is in the desert, the weather is really nice, not too hot and very sunny! I believe we are about one mile elevated, but I am not feeling it. Its great weather here!

We settled in our hotel, very nice and about five minutes from Greg Jackson’s MMA gym. About a few hours later, six pm training time! We met up with Rolles Gracie and his friends Rafael “Sapo” Natal, Alex and his manager Ali who are all with Team Renzo Gracie NYC. They took us to the MMA Gym and made proper introductions for Pat and myself to the guys at Greg Jackson’s.

Thursday night’s training was really laid back, but busy! There were two classes running at the same time, one on the mat with a kickboxing instructor getting about 20 people, mostly beginners, to drill for a bit and then sparring.  In the full size octagon cage was another class. Randori, two hours I was told, 6pm to 8pm, open mat, about 20-25  guys chilling on the sides or rolling with each other.

Mark Holst Dunes

Mark, Alex, Ali, Rolles, Sapo and the Dunes after training.

I was told to go roll and do some No-gi with this guy, who had about 4 years of experience as a wrestler, no gi fighter and also MMA fighter. There was no timer, no time limit, just go! I rolled with him for about 30 min, we would take breaks here and there. I think it was fight until submission type training and then break and repeat when you are good to go.

After training my no gi, I watched Rolles Gracie train with Greg Jackson. They were doing more technical training, Rolles will be fighting MMA in Art of War in China.

I hit the bag a little bit after that and I realized I hurt inside my hip, as it felt like stretched muscle. It started to seize up a lot when I cool down, my first day and I am injured, great. I should have stretched and warmed up properly before rolling, that five hour flight of sitting combined with 8 hours of driving got my hips and legs really tight, which they were already. We got some food and then crashed early to recover from the traveling.

Day 2;

Pat and I woke up around 9 am to have some breakfast, we were told this morning would be conditioning at the Dunes! I was really sketched out, we got to the gym then waited for everyone to get there and off we went to drive about 45 minutes oustide of Albuquerque. There I was looking over the dunes of 100 % sand thinking to myself…this is going to suck! Coach Jackson lead the warm up, running around the dunes and then it was time for the sprints. Coach Jackson was giving out some tips and also motivating us. Telling us this was a mental exercise more then anything, “You are going to hurt, but you gotta to keep going, never stop, that is the rule you cannot stop!!!”, “to get to heaven, you got to go through hell!”

We started the sprints, I was top three of the 20 guys there. I did five sprints up the hill in total. My legs were done…so heavy! Then it was time for the carry. I got paired up with another 155lbs MMA fighter, Ran Weathers (12-4) who is schedule to fight next week against a WEC fighter, then maybe get a shot at a title fight.

We had to carry (piggy back) our partner up the hill once. I felt that for every two steps I took, I slid one step back. The dunes were very slippery and I could not get any footing.  Took me forever to get up the hill with Ran on my back with taking many breaks, but I did it, and I was the first one up there!! I couldn’t believe it, I really surprised myself. I am feeling really happy and I am surprised how fit I really am now. Then we ran down the dunes and it was Ran’s turn to pick me up and get me to the top of the dunes. We were also the first team to be finished. Rolles and his Brazillian friends also did the whole sprints and the carry. This training was all about mental strength and also to get your legs so heavy and still have to keep going. Greg Jackson “You got to keep moving, you can’t stop! If you are still moving on this hill, you will still be moving in the fight! Movement is winning and life!”

My legs are like jello now, they were already pretty tired before the dunes work out, but now…even worse! We were at the dunes for about 1.5 hours at 11:30 until 1pm, in the middle of the desert. My head and shoulders are roasted! I got the sand out of my shoes and socks,  we are going to get some food and we will be relaxing until 5:30pm, I will be going to the Gracie Barra Albuquerque gym to train BJJ.

Here are some pictures of the Dunes workout. I will be posting more pictures of the gym, the training and Albuquerque in the following days!

I feel in great shape and cant wait to be in the W-1 cage on October 10th!

Take care everyone and thanks for all the feedback and comments!


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