- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

PROVO, Utah (AP) - At first glance, Rianne “RiRi” Whiting would appear to lead a relatively normal life. She spends her days in medical scrubs as an orthopedic-certified specialist at Mountain View Hospital. She loves coffee and taking her three kids to the movies to see the newest releases. She has curly dark hair that hangs past her shoulders and dark brown eyes. Her makeup looks as if it was freshly done and her laughter is charming and contagious.

Her days as an orthopedic nurse are spent helping people recover from injuries, reported the Daily Herald (https://bit.ly/2ksI02U). For her job, she has to be strong; helping patients move their body parts is no easy task. RiRi has been in nursing for over 12 years and hopes to one day become a nurse practitioner. “I love watching patients walk out of here OK,” she said. “We fix them and make their lives better.”

But she hasn’t always spent her time fixing people. On her off time, RiRi also trains to fight in mixed martial arts fights as well as her first strongman competition coming up in April. While she always wanted to learn to protect herself, she credits her becoming a fighter as a complete accident.

She began training jujitsu on Team Unbreakable. Soon, her coach, Aaron Garcia, asked her to come down to a tournament in St. George.

“I didn’t know it was going to be an MMA fight, I just thought it was going to be a jujitsu tournament,” said RiRi laughing. “I figured it out when we were on the podium taking photos before the fight.”

The first time she had ever seen an MMA match was when she entered the cage for her own competition. The odds were stacked against her. RiRi’s competitor towered over her, an athlete from Dixie State who had been fighting for two years. The cage door clicked shut and the match began.

Minutes later, RiRi had won the fight.

And that was how it started.

After learning about the art, RiRi trained harder, pushing herself to be better. She was training up to six days a week for two to three hours a day, sometimes up to six hours a day for cardio. Helping people move parts of their bodies at work became like weight training for her, a beautiful collision of her passions in life.

At the time, she was a single mom with two daughters, Rylynn, and Rinnlie, who she started raising to be strong, independent women. “I always want them to know the things their bodies are capable of,” said RiRi.

The two girls, now 12 and 9, respectively, love the ideals their mother has taught them. They look like their mother - delicate, lean and strong. They dance around their living room with their friends but also train on occasion at Four7 gym with a free children’s MM program. Rylynn hopes to try power lifting because she knows she would be good at it and Rinnlie hopes to compete in Muy Thai and her favorite move is the 1,2,3 step-kick.

“She taught us to not be afraid of trying things,” said Rylynn.

Roxston, who is now 1, is also strong for his age and loves playing with his mom’s fighting mitts. When RiRi found out she was pregnant with Roxston, she momentarily sidelined her MMA competitions, but is hoping to return to the cage soon. In the meantime, she will competing in her first strongman competition in April, which includes events such as the Atlas stones, deadlifts, tyre flip, and others. In order to train for the competition, RiRi has been working out with a group known as the Patriotic Strength Club where she learns to lift 180-pound smooth boulders, and how to properly pick up logs.

“I want my body to be useful,” she said. “I want to learn how to lift heavy things that aren’t just a bar, because in real life heavy things are never shaped that way.”

Out of all of her endeavors, however, the largest is hoping to set a great example for her children. “I never want them to not try things when they grow up,” said RiRi. “I want them to know, no matter how old they are, they can be or do anything they want to.”


Information from: The Daily Herald, https://www.heraldextra.com

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