That Mexico City Life

After a month and a half I’m finally nailing down my schedule here in Mexico City.

Here’s my week at a glance: lucha libre training 3-4 days, lifting 4 days, learning to make lucha libre gear all week. Some weekends I wrestle; one day or both, it depends on the week. That’s a pretty full schedule of things I thoroughly enjoy. I believe this is what they call “living your best life,” no?

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Lucha Libre Training

Training is the most consistent element of my schedule. Classes are largely non-negotiable commitments, like going to work or school. From the time I wake up on a CMLL training day to the time training ends, it’s an all-out sprint, both mentally and physically. I wake up, promptly consume enough calories to fuel my workout, get myself to Arena Mexico (45 min walking, or 23 min via metro), change into practice gear before the profe shows up. Then we hit 30-45 min of conditioning and 1.5 hours of in-ring training.

Now, know this: Arena Mexico is a very different place during the day.

Gone are the hordes of gleeful fans swigging beer and slinging obscenities. Gone are the colorful outfits and jewel-tone masks. All that’s left is the single central ring surrounded by empty seats, the cavernous boom of bodies hitting the mat, and the  Echale!”s and “Eso!”s bellowed by coaches in an enormous concrete building. Most of us students look like athletic hobos: old tights in varying degrees of disrepair, knees and ankles wrapped in Ace bandage, T-shirts repping other luchadors, covered in sweat and the grime of an arena that’s been in use since 1956.

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I train at Arena Mexico three days out of the week. Two days with profesor Virus, and one day with profesor Último Guerrero. Neither can be considered an “easy” day of training. They are both professional prep classes— classes you only get into if you’re seriously pursuing a debut with CMLL. Classes you need a recommendation to get into. These are not classes you can just walk into with simply the basics of lucha libre under your belt.

At these classes, I lock up with folks currently on the CMLL roster. Blue Panther Jr. showed me the way up to the practice ring on my first day of training. Dalys la Caribeña, Marcela, Princesa Sugheit, La Comandante, Tiffany, Amapola, Seductora, Reina Isis… they’re all in the class I go to on Wednesdays. Greats like Negro Casas pop by on their way to the weight room, or just to say hi (he even gave me a pep-talk after a particularly questionable practice).

It’s hard not to geek out when meeting these athlete performers I look up to. But guess what? I’m here, and I’m training at their level.

Then there’s training with Negro Navarro. If you follow my blog, you know he’s the legendary luchador who has visited Seattle twice to teach seminars. He teaches classes Wednesdays and Fridays in a wee burb to the northwestof Mexico City, and when my schedule allows I trek out there to learn from him.

That about rounds out my normal training week. Never mind the weekends I get booked to wrestle.

Gear Making Apprenticeship with mascarero Miguel Ruiz.

Now, this schedule fluctuates wildly based on a variety of factors: Which clients are ordering from Miguel this week? Does he have to go shopping for materials for specific orders? Which facets of the projects are being assigned to me? Which skills does he have to teach me before I can go forth and be helpful? How long will it take me to actually complete the tasks I’m assigned? How long will it take him to assess and critique the work after I return to him? The list goes on.

Cue tangent. My apprenticeship with Miguel builds upon skills I’ve been unknowingly cultivating since I was a kid. I’ve always loved drawing. I vividly remember coming home from elementary school and sitting hunched at our coffee table among a minefield of crayons and colored pencils. My dad notes that my drawing skills weren’t innate; I worked my ass off to be good at it, but it never seemed like work because it was something I enjoyed doing. All the way through high school I would spend hours at a time up in my room filling sketchbooks. In retrospect, that looks a lot like inadvertently prepping to design lucha libre gear.

Then there’s the fact that I sew. If I had to list a secret superpower, this would be it. My mom first let me touch a sewing machine when I was 4, sitting on her lap guiding the fabric under the needle while she controlled the pedal. She showed me how to make my own small projects (drawstring bags, pillowcases, and so forth) around age 6. In middle school I began deciphering purchased patterns for shirts, halloween costumes, etc., and in high school I began experimenting with stretch fabric and designing my own underpants patterns. I hand-stitched a felt digestive tract for a biology class project. I sewed my senior prom dress.

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The aforementioned dress. Ignore the noodle-y appendages, please. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. 

Sewing was a useful crafting hobby, and I liked working in 3D. How was I to know then that at age 25 I would be learning the finer points of lucha libre gear pattern drafting, lycra manipulation, and appliqué from someone with over 15 years experience in that realm? ok, end of tangent.

Even with supervision form Miguel, there’s a lot of trial and error in the learning process. The other week he gave me design sketches from a client and told me to translate the design into cardboard template pieces for a mask. I headed back to my home workstation, pulled out pencils, pens, measuring tape, cardboard, scissors, exact-o knife, and my head mannequin. Then I set to making a 2D sketch into pieces that conform to a 3D mask. Some designs are easier than others. The next day I took the pieces back and Miguel went through my templates, piece by piece, checking to see how well the pieces fit on the head. A snip here to flatten out an angle, a note on how tall a piece should be, where to make a border for a seam allowance, and the occasional “well… you did that the hard way, but it’s not wrong.” My goal is to not make the same error two times in a row.

Espinilleras (kickpads), mallas (tights), masks, butargas (singlets), mangas (sleeves), rodilleras (kneepads)… All have their particularities, and I’m doing my damnedest to remember them the first time Miguel explains them. And I’ll say this much: I’m taking a LOT of notes. I purchased a quad-ruled school notebook my first week here, and it’s filling up with alarming speed. Mostly it’s my daily assignments:  how many of which mask design to cut out of which (not inexpensive) material, how many pairs of briefs to cut out, who needs original designs drawn out, etc. But scattered among these daily “to-do’s” are gems like specific measurements for a frequently-used pattern piece, the breakdown of 3D kickpad geometry, essentials of antifaz construction (the actual design on a mask). Those are the things that would take years to learn through independent trial and error. i.e. the reason to seek an instructor in this sort of craft.

Weightlifting

Yes, yes. Y’all already know I like picking up and setting down heavy things. Otherwise I wouldn’t have decided to become a personal trainer.

I’ll be brief: I’m trying to put on size, so my current program is along the lines of a classic bodybuilding program. It’s somewhat modified to leave something in the tank for lucha libre training. I lift 4 days per week, focusing on different muscle groups each day to allow the remainder of my body to recover. Since two of those four days also fall on lucha training days, I end up doing a 2-a-day those days.

If you also like lifting and are looking for a program to follow (especially if you’re also a pro wrestler/ luchadorx), I do publish my personal workout spreadsheets on Patreon at the $20 + contribution level. This is a STEAL for a professionally designed program. Check it out?

In summary

So, those are my recurring weekly obligations in a nutshell. That doesn’t take into account things like grocery shopping, touristy exploration, writing blog posts (*ahem*), down time, what have you. Moral of the story? Living your dream is effectively a full-time job.

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