Interview With MMA Athlete Collin Hart

Running into Collin like we did, in sandals, a tie-dye tee, and shopping at a vegetarian coop market—your first impression would probably not be that he was a professional MMA athlete. Ola had just launched our Organic, Noni energy shot and was doing in-store samplings when Collin first approached our demo team. He had questions about Noni and its anti-inflammatory effects. He told us a little about his work as an MMA athlete and left with a case of Ola and some Ola schwag.

A month later, Ola’s CEO Brett was getting to know some of our new retailers by dropping in on sampling events to say aloha and show his support. Collin was shopping for healthy snacks and Brett asked if he’d like to try a sample. Collin said he’d tried it and was already a fan—“I buy a shot pretty much everyday.” Collin shared his work in MMA and his relationship with healthy foods. “Awesome!” Brett was stoked and offered him an Ola shirt—Collin opened his hoodie and was already wearing one.

A few weeks later Collin was nice enough sit down with us for an interview at Community Market—the vegetarian grocery where we had originally met. He shared his thoughts on why healthy eating was important to him, his background as an MMA athlete and offered a few tips to average people trying to stay fit.

Hawaiian Ola: So, how did you get started as an MMA Athlete?

Collin Hart: That’s actually a tough question. I guess MMA started with me in high school with back yard wrestling—I didn’t really get into wrestling for competition until I was a senior in high school though. Once that was over, I wanted to continue, so I started training at a gym. I found Dave Tyrell, started training with him. He got me into some amateur fights, I started wrestling for the Junior College—took a couple years to do that, and now I’m back fighting, I love it, it’s great.

Hawaiian Ola: How long have you been working as a professional in the MMA world?

Collin Hart: Well I started training about five years ago when I was seventeen, I started fighting about six months later. Got into amateur cage fighting when I was eighteen, and went pro when I was nineteen. Really, it’s just been escalating ever since.

Hawaiian Ola: What is your workout routine like—do you divide it by season? How do you organize your training habits?

Collin Hart: Throughout the year, if I don’t have a fight coming up, I train once a day, five days a week. I eat pretty healthy, I’m not too strict about it but a couple months before a fight, I’ll start eating better. I’ll make sure I get at least one to two sweet potatoes a day. I’ve recently started eating ten raw eggs a day—all the vegetables and superfruits I can get. I’ll train twice a day six days a week—try to push it hard, focus on conditioning, focus on cleaning out my system and removing toxins.

Hawaiian Ola: I feel you on the veggies and superfruits—ten raw eggs though! That’s bold. So what about your twice-a-day workouts, what are they like?

Collin Hart: In my morning workouts, it’s usually more simple. It might just be a run or putting on the boxing gloves and hitting mitts. At night it’s usually more intense. I’ll put on the MMA gloves and do some MMA rounds. Switch out a new, fresh partner every round. There’ll usually be three to five of them. There’s also some Jujutsu and a lot of rolling. I don’t really lift a lot of weights, actually, I haven’t touched a weight all year—it’s mainly a lot of cardio.

Hawaiian Ola: So for the average person, the workout you’re describing is probably a little more intense than what they’ll get at their local 24hr. What are some simple tips you would offer to people that are training but maybe not at such an intense level.

Collin Hart: I think different tips might work differently for each individual. For me, I’m just afraid of getting my face smashed in front of my mom. So I use that fear as drive to push hard, and not to fail and to do the best I can.

Hawaiian Ola: Ha! Not the response I was anticipating. Staying fit for mom—couldn’t think of better motivational tip. So changing gears here. I’d like to ask you about your thoughts on popular energy drinks. It seems like sugary energy drinks are popular in marketing throughout the MMA world. Are they something you drink—where do you think their place is in an athlete’s diet?

Collin Hart: Well, before my fights I stay away from anything like that and I cut out high sugar drinks completely.

Hawaiian Ola: We met here at Community Market; what makes this place unique, and why is it where you choose to buy groceries? What’s the difference for you between Community Market and a non-organic market?

Collin Hart: I like Community Market because I almost feel like I don’t even have to look at the labels on things, I trust what’s here, I know it’s good for me. I could almost shop blindfolded. It’s convenient because I live just a few blocks away. I walk here and it’s become a ritual. I come here, get a carton of eggs, some coconut water, some kombucha. It’s great.

Hawaiian Ola: Ok, so nutrition, healthy food—can you talk a little about why these are important to you.

Collin Hart: Well, I never really thought nutrition was that important when I was younger. I thought I could just get away with working out hard and I’d be able to eat what I want. But once I finally got into it, I started eating healthier—I see the results and now I can’t go back. I have a two and a half mile uphill run that I always do every Saturday. Since I’ve started eating healthier I’ve shaved about two minutes off of it. It’s my fuel—you put premium in a Ferrari ☺ I like to be a Ferrari.

Hawaiian Ola: So you’ve mentioned superfruits and sweet potatoes. Are there any specific health benefits that come from eating food like these?

Collin Hart: Well, superfoods are really my form of steroids. My sweet potatoes are a testosterone booster. Goji berries, they have HGH. I love Noni Juice because it’s a great anti-inflammatory. It’s something I didn’t really know about until I found Hawaiian Ola. There’s no side effects—I’m just eating food. So I try to get all the superfoods I can—the more the better; sometimes it can be expensive but it’s important to me.

Hawaiian Ola: What about vitamins and supplements?

Collin Hart: I don’t really take any vitamins. I try to get my nutrients more naturally through whole foods, salads, and things like that. Sometimes if I think I’m getting sick I might some vitamin C, but other than that I just try to eat healthy.

Hawaiian Ola: All right, so you know where this is going. ☺ I’ve gotta ask you about Hawaiian Ola. Why this energy shot? How does it work for you as an MMA fighter?

Collin Hart: Honestly, I love Hawaiian Ola. I hurt my rib about…probably just a few weeks before I found Ola and it healed amazingly fast. I’ve had rib injuries before; they usually take about six weeks. I was back in the game after a just a couple this time. The Goji is awesome. The anti-inflammatory is great. I love the energy. Helps me push my self in workouts. I wake up to it every morning—drink it before I’m even out of bed. It gets me up. I’m not much of a morning person, so it definitely helps. I’m not the person who’ll get up to make coffee—it’s nice to just have it right on my night stand.

Hawaiian Ola: Last question, we’ve talked about healthy food and organics. This year there has been a lot of controversy surrounding GMO food and whether or not it should be labeled. What are your thoughts on this?

Collin Hart: The way I see it—if GMO foods are safe and healthy there shouldn’t really be a problem with putting a label on them. There’s no reason to be changing our food, I think Non-GMO food is great…. and if you want to change it, that’s fine. If you want to make cheaper food to feed more people, I understand, but at least tell them what you’re selling them. It doesn’t seem like too big of a deal to do that.

For someone to be against labeling my food, that’s…I feel like they might as well kick a spoon out of my hand—I don’t like people messing with my food. I just want to know what I’m eating, because as an athlete, what I’m putting into my body is important. I’m young. I have a long career ahead of me, so I cant really afford to take the risk of being a test rat.

On January 9th UFC officials released the names of the 28 middleweights who will compete on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17—Collin is one of them. We’ll be watching on the edge of our seats as the season unfolds. The show kicks off Tuesday, Jan. 22, on FX. Congratulations Collin!

Chris Whidden