This year marks the one-year anniversary since Roman Reigns announced that he had defeated leukemia for the second time. Reigns recalls in his interview with Muscle and Fitness the first time he was aware of his diagnosis at the age of 22 during his football days, and how that turned his world upside down.

“So, I signed with the Minnesota Vikings for my free agency rookie camp. That was where we had all of our physicals,” Reigns noted. “That’s where I got my initial blood work, and that’s where I found out, at the time, that I had 70-80,000 white blood cells. I had no clue what was going on. They sent me back home, and that was where I was diagnosed with leukemia.

“For a 22-year-old with the carrots almost in my hand, all of these years of work and convincing myself that this was supposed to be what I was doing, it all slipped out. On top of that, my wife was pregnant. We had our daughter on the way; everything was falling apart. It felt like a death sentence.”

Coming back from remission, Reigns mentioned that he’s been focused on a new workout routine that’s been helping him learn how to connect with his body differently than before.

“I guess the biggest general change within my training was the mindset of it,” Reigns announced. “It was always… training was always a tool for athletics to become a better athlete. It was never like an anesthetic thing like, ‘Man, I wanna look good naked, or man, I wanna look good at the beach.’ It was all, ‘Man, I wanna move that dude out of my way, and then destroy the dude with the ball.’ I want to be the most explosive guy. I want to be the strongest athlete, you know, the most capable athlete on the field. Obviously, in football, you’re covered up.

“Definitely, my training now is a lot more intuitive, as opposed to just moving the bar, you know, hitting these numbers, feeling the movement of the bar. It’s really weird that at 34, I’m still learning to connect with my body. For me, it’s not just we’re going to move weights, you know what I mean? And, be a man in there. Now, it’s more about conditioning, exhausting and learning to connect to the muscle group, mentally as possible.”

Depending on how long a wrestler has been is in the business, they may encounter a few or a few too many botches, accidentally. Some may get injuries that can be treated right away, and then there are some that could leave a wrestler hanging up their boots, permanently. For Reigns, he’s been fortunate enough to not have any stunts go wrong upon his arrival to the main roster. But prior to his main roster debut, he recalled a time where a botch occurred, and how that very incident taught him that no matter how many years you’ve been in the game, timing in the ring means everything.

“There’s one point in FCW, I was working with another wrestler. He was a veteran guy and he had been around,” Reigns began. “He was fine, but the timing of it…I was turning around and he was going to hit me with a clothesline; very simple. He rolled me up, and I kicked out. I was going to hit him and he gets me. For whatever reason, the timing was just not on point. My toe was in and when I went down, I popped my meniscus because my toe was tucked into the canvas. It was just one of those little things. So, it can be minute as that, and you get hurt.”

You can view Roman Reigns’ full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Muscle and Fitness with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.