Smash Gyms started in late 2010 and, six years later, we've become the largest gyms of it's kind in Northern California. With three gyms, and more on the way, as well as a community of over 1000 people, we've become a huge success. This is how and why we did it.
I started Smash Gyms Sunnyvale along with some friends and my BJJ instructor, Michael Jen. It all began with my friends and I being involved in online marketing and having great success providing lead generation for martial arts gyms. At the same time, my instructor was teaching a small group of students out of his garage. Michael had closed his BJJ school 10 years earlier because of increasing rent and a dislike for running a small business. It was a short jump to figure out that, with our marketing and his world-class instruction, we might make a good team. I also happened to be a jiu-jitsu fanatic and wanted any excuse to be around the mat more.
My initial goal was to see if we could build up a business and create high quality jobs for expert instructors. I soon realized that I was walking down a path from which I could not turn around. We worked hard to create something great. I was at the gym every day from morning to evening. It became a family gym. My wife, Debbie, would come straight from her 9 to 5 job at Morgan Stanley to come help clean, sign people up, and take classes. Even my mom was there every night. Instructors’ wives and their kids also attended classes and helped a the gym wherever they could. A year later, my brother, Eli, came home from college and began working full time for Smash. This was soon followed by Debbie leaving her successful job to work full time at the gym.
At some point, I realized that there was nothing else I would rather be doing. Members thanked me for changing their lives by creating a community for great people. I’ve had Instructors hug me, in appreciation, for providing a career opportunity that finally allowed them to buy a new car or get a place of their own to live. I was in front of people who were bettering themselves and genuinely happy to be at my business. It gave me a sense of fulfillment and gratitude that I knew I could never find selling things online or in any other profession.
I also couldn't help but feel a deep sense of obligation to everyone who helped Smash grow. So many people helped and contributed. I felt I couldn't let them down. I felt that my hard work was a display of gratitude to all those that helped me. I worked harder than I ever worked in my life and became consumed with making Smash the best I could.
It was a community effort and we quickly became one of the largest gyms in the Bay Area. My friends, Filip Novachkov and Mario Rios, opened the doors to Smash Gyms San Jose in 2014 and it quickly became a huge success. They doubled the size of the community with their location.
Countless other instructors and supporters helped us grow. Every time we added a new member or instructor, things became easier. With every individual who joined, we also got their personal and professional network, their ideas, their skill sets, their opportunities. Those that lacked integrity or our "stronger together" philosophy didn't last long. We began to build a community of inspiring and exceptional people.
As I looked around, I started to notice that no one had done it. What small brick and mortar business had grown, without venture capital funding, to become a large chain? I asked around and virtually no businesses could be named within the last 10-20 years. Where had the family-owned corner store gone? What about the local department or book store?
The freedom and autonomy of being self-employed was not without its challenges. I slowly began learning that things were not easy for small businesses. We were nickel and dimed by everyone. City, county, state, and federal government agencies were clearly not on our side. Permitting and zoning were an arduous hurdle to overcome. We were audited by regulators and paid unreasonable amounts of taxes and fees.
As I noticed these things, the paradigm of small gyms competing against each other began to be a blur. I knew most of them didn't have the number of members and revenue that Smash generated. Even though members rarely switched gyms, most of these other gyms were barely making it. I started to realize that the gym down the street was not my competitor.
The epiphany was that all our battles were internal. I began to tell people that other small business weren’t obstacles to our success. The real obstacles are growing revenue, profitability, marketing, branding, vision, culture, procedure development and implementation, risk management, government regulation, permitting, legal issues, accounting, recruiting, hiring, training, etc....
As a result, I began talking to other gym owners. I began to tell them that win/lose is great for sports, but the wrong philosophy for business. Business is about creating win/win situations. Business is about creating opportunity for those around you.
This led to my friends, Jane Estioko and Cung Le, and I, sitting down and discussing the idea of working together. Soon they decided to have their community join our community. We realized we were stronger together. We realized that unity and cooperation between community leaders in this business would almost guarantee success and more opportunity for our instructors and more value to our members. We realized that we were obligated as leaders to do everything we could to provide for our people. So we did the unthinkable and joined teams.
We soon began searching for a location for the third Smash Gyms. During that process, we crossed path with Rudi Ott and Tony Gabucan. Even though they both individually ran successful gyms in Milpitas, we all agreed that the best thing for us to do would be to join forces. They closed their locations and we combined communities at a brand new 12,000 square foot facility to form Smash Gyms Milpitas.
We choose to band together to help each other succeed through sharing networks, branding, experiences, knowledge, procedures, best practices, marketing, revenue streams and people. We help each other avoid the mistakes most commonly made by small businesses. We are a community of successful entrepreneurs working together to solve the same problems and find success together. We realize that combining our networks and experience gives us more opportunity than we could ever have on our own.
Martial arts communities must reach a unified realization that we are not competitors. It is continuously getting harder for small businesses to succeed. We are on track to follow the footsteps of virtually every other industry. The little independent gym will become extinct because of a failure of our own creativity and foresight.
We’ve figured out a model in which each location can be independently owned and operated yet be part of a large collaboration with unmatched support. We want to preserve the freedom of small business owners while ensuring their success through connecting these community leaders.
At Smash, I've mentored many instructors that have come and gone. I’ve always openly shared my thoughts, ideas, and philosophies with everyone that has been a part of the team. Some have started their own gyms and found quick success with our ideas of collaboration. Gyms that isolate themselves don't get it. Ego and fear will be the lid of their success. Those that are willing to share success will continue to grow. We are in it to help people, allow them to do what they love, and find success together.
We will be using new platform designed to connect gyms and their members within the next few weeks. Stay Tuned!
If you are a gym owner and would like to find out more about how Smash works feel free to reach out.
Take a listen to Smash Gyms head BJJ instructor Michael Jen's new interview with the BJJBrick Podcast where he talks about "The Science of Submission" e-book, what training was like when he was a blue belt, tips for someone who wants to compete for the first time, and much more! The interview starts about 18 min. into the podcast. Check it out!
ANNOUNCEMENT!!! THE NEW Smash Gyms - Milpitas LOCATION ADDRESS! Our brand new state of the art 12,000 square foot facility will be at the following address in the heart of Milpitas!
616 S Main St, Milpitas, CA 95035
Come to our existing facility and sign up for Pre-Grand Opening Discounts!
Stay tuned for the Opening Date, Schedule, Layout and more! #SmashGymsMilpitas #SmashGyms
BIG SMASH announcement! As many of you know, there are many Smashers that have expressed an interest in helping Smash grow. We have been looking at locations all over the Bay Area and have finally secured a location in Milpitas. Details to be announced shortly!
Our very own Lou Noble will be helping to lead this location. We are extremely proud of Lou. Those of you that know Lou, know he is an amazing person off and on the mat. He is family man and a good student and teacher. Since the beginning, Lou has been a great leader in the Smash Family and we know he will continue to make us proud.
We have seen Smash grow from 5 jiu-jitsu guys in a garage to over 600 members, 50 instructors, two locations and 12 programs in 5 years. The amazing support that all the members of the community provide to each other inside and out of the gym has created life-long friendships and incredible success stories. We feel so lucky to be able to dedicate our lives to something that has brought real value to many people.
The launch of Smash #3 is something truly special! Three of the best gyms in the Bay Area are joining forces to create Smash Milpitas. Smash Milpitas will be the combined forces of Smash Gyms, Unlimited MMA, and Milpitas Boxing.
Unlimited MMA was one of the first high quality Martial Arts gyms ever in the Bay Area. Head Coach and Owner Rudi Ott is a highly respected and talented kickboxing coach. Rudi will be spending most of his time at Smash Milpitas but will also be teaching classes at Smash San Jose and Sunnyvale. He is a passionate coach and awesome instructor. Rudi, his students, and staff will bring incredible value to the kickboxing program and fight team at Smash. Their community is full of talented and motivated members and staff. Rudi will be the Smash Gyms Fight Team Coach.
Milpitas Boxing is owned and operated by Tony Gabucan. Tony has quickly built an amazing community at Milpitas Boxing. His fun classes and friendly staff quickly grew to one of the largest gyms in the Bay Area in only four years. Tony, his team of instructors, and his gym have quickly become known as a place for beginner friendly classes with top quality instruction. They have a solid reputation for not only high energy and fun classes but also a very family friendly environment.
As most of you know, in 2014 Cung Le's Martial Arts joined the Smash Gyms Family. Now with Milpitas Boxing and Unlimited MMA joining Smash Gyms, our social fitness network has become the largest of it's kind in California. These communities have banded together with plans to create incredible value to our members as well as opportunities to instructors and owners. Smash Gyms' goal is to create a remarkable social fitness experience for our members, high quality jobs for world-class instructors, and successful small businesses owners.
Smash Gyms will now have well over 1000 people active in the community. All of our members will not only have three Bay Area locations, but also hundreds of excited and friendly new training partners, and dozens of motivated professional instructors.
I'd like to thank all those that have contributed to the growth of Smash. Our members and instructors have worked hard to make our community one that has attracted talented and motivated people from all over. Smash is community of great people working hard to help each other inside and out of the gyms. Thank you all for investing so much effort into the growth of the community and each other. Thank you for believing in us.
Big Jiu-jitsu Podcast interviews 4th degree BJJ black belt and head instructor at Smash Gyms, Michael Jen. Great discussions on his new e-book "The Science of Submission", decreasing your chances of injury, and the importance of the fundamentals. Check it out!
Cung Le highlighting some of the awesome programs at Smash Gym!
Cung Le is a local legend in martial arts and combat sports. Growing up in the Bay Area and training martial arts like Tae Kwon Do, San Shou, Wrestling, Kickboxing, Jiujitsu and MMA has helped him reach all his goals off and on the mat. Always a huge supporter of the local fitness, martial arts and wrestling community he is proud to partner with Smash Gyms!
Do you know any kids that need homework help?
The Smash Gyms After-School Program has made an incredible impact on the lives of many of young members. Thanks to our caring tutors the kids have seen phenomenal progress academically, physically and emotionally. Programs in both Sunnyvale and San Jose! Kids classes include Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Kickboxing, Parkour, Kids Fitness, and Judo. Activities include studying, and learning about other cultures and our world class martial arts and fitness classes.
Here are some testimonials from the parents of our students! Thank you for the opportunity to let our staff help in developing your child both mentally and physically!
Attention Personal Trainers!
Smash Gyms - San Jose and Smash Gyms Sunnyvale are now accepting a limited number of independent trainers in our facilities. Accepted personal trainers will get a professional facility to train their clients and grow their business. We offer two fully equipped Bay Area Locations with a large variety of functional fitness and martial arts equipment. These locations are convenient for trainers in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, East San Jose or Evergreen!
Our full time rate is ONLY $350 a month! This gives trainers 24-hour access to both Smash facilities. This is an amazing opportunity for independent personal trainers looking to grow their business.
Email contact@SmashGyms.com or visit either Smash Gyms for more information!
Check out our amazing instructors Filip and Alyssa talking about Smash! Filip runs amazing wrestling classes and Alyssa run our fitness bootcamps and teaches awesome kickboxing classes!
Check out this review a of "The Science of Submission: A Principle-based Approach to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu"!
To order to copy of this groundbreaking e-book, go to www.scienceofsubmission.com.
"Warning: long post, but realized there was a lot to say here after sitting down to review this book. If it gets too long, read the last paragraph. I hope that sums it up.
The Science of Submission is a must read for any serious BJJ or judo practitioner who wants to progress in their knowledge of how ground techniques actually work in principle. If you are anything like me, with most BJJ books and magazines, I skip the words, look at the pictures and then try them live and ask questions to my instructor. The descriptions are pretty useless because I cannot translate them into how I need to position my body. This was clearly not the case with the Science of Submission. As a highly published scientist myself, I found it extremely refreshing to see all of this knowledge laid out in a straightforward and scientific language that is conspicuously absent in most of the common martial arts books out there that simply try to tell the story with pictures but really do not describe the subtleties proficiently in the all-important prose that goes with the photos. The words in most of these books are an afterthought.
In contrast, this book will allow the beginner player as well as the higher level player to apply and improve in groundwork techniques in a scientific way that can even help a player (who also trains regularly and systematically with a qualified instructor) essentially skip much of the usual “trial and error” that is the norm. The book utilizes the vocabulary of the geometry and biophysics of ground techniques (newaza for judoka) to explain core principles that are intuitive and muscle memory to high level athletes and martial artists -- but are often very difficult to explain to students or to even understand for oneself why these techniques work the way they do -- or why certain subtle mistakes make all the world of difference, for example, between a strong pin and simply getting swept. This book is definitely a must read for all competitive judoka who are interested in improving their newaza ground game or cross training in BJJ. As a student who is still undergoing this transition myself, I have learned that the slower pace and increased time to make decisions in the BJJ ground game compared with judo increases the margin for error for these slight adjustments described in the Science of Submission. These subtleties make all the difference between for example holding one’s guard and being passed; between getting pinned and sweeping one’s opponent; between being submitted and submitting. When applied in judo newaza this can be the difference in a match where all one needs is a 10 second pin for a yuko and where escaping a pin or holding guard for a few seconds can avoid a score.
The subtle principles that are described in this book can be applied to a judo tachiwaza (standup) game as well. In a recent conversation with the author Professor Jen, we were discussing the proper application of Osotogari , the major outer reap throw of judo. I had always been taught and taught others to throw the throw at the 90 degree angle, and not 180 degrees towards the back of the opponent because it simply worked better that way and I knew this intuitively from many years of motor memory and trial and error. Then it dawned on me that the same biophysics principles in the Science of Submission applied here as well. This book gave me the vocabulary to be able to articulate that “why” of this technique. It also allowed me to explain a set of combinations off of Osotogari for more advanced players that I had known to work, but I did not have the verbiage before reading Professor Jen’s book to explain why these particular combinations worked in tandem with each other due to a skilled opponent’s inevitable responses.
In summary, this is a must purchase for advanced BJJ and judo players alike who really want to know why they do what they do; and for beginners and intermediate players who would like to accelerate their progress in a knowledgeable and scientific manner. It is also a great reference guide for instructors that will lend them additional vocabulary to explain to students why things work or don’t work based on solid biophysical and force vector principles."
- Christopher Savoie, Judo black belt and BJJ blue belt