Matt Bloss is a Muay Thai coach, a martial arts enthusiast, and the general manager of Easton's largest location. Matt began training martial arts at an early age and eventually found Muay Thai and Easton. We discuss him leaving his old job to fulfill his passion, his belief in Easton's community, and more.
Eliot ( 00:06 ):
Welcome to the Easton Online Podcast. I'm your host, Eliot Marshall, and what this podcast is here to
do, it's here to help you gain strategies and tactics and tools that are going to help you grow in your
martial arts business, if you have a martial arts school, a gym. This is one of my passions is how we
spread the message of how to really grow culture and business and some ways that we do it the best
with our people, with our staff, with our clients. So I hope you enjoy. Give a listen. What up Mattie [Blas
Matt ( 00:38 ):
How's it going, sir?
Eliot ( 00:39 ):
How are you?
Matt ( 00:40 ):
I'm doing good today.
Eliot ( 00:41 ):
Did you like my rambling?
Matt ( 00:42 ):
Eliot ( 00:43 ):
Last night. Yo, let's do this. Three o'clock in the morning. Yo, I'm out.
Matt ( 00:47 ):
I got that one. Then, 7:33.
Eliot ( 00:50 ):
Matt ( 00:51 ):
We're back on.
Eliot ( 00:51 ):
Yeah, we're back on. I'm in the game.
Matt ( 00:53 ):
Well, thanks for having me, man. I'm excited.
Eliot ( 00:55 ):
Thanks for coming. Man, so you are a newer GM.
Matt ( 01:00 ):
Eliot ( 01:00 ):
Yeah. You are the first non jujitsu GM.
Matt ( 01:06 ):
Yep. In a historically line of black belt GMs, yeah. Oh no. Jeff was brown belt.
Eliot ( 01:13 ):
Jeff started as a brown belt, but yeah. So let's first talk about your background. Excuse me. How did you
get here? Sitting in this chair talking to me on a nice cold, what is it? Thursday?
Matt ( 01:32 ):
Eliot ( 01:33 ):
Matt ( 01:33 ):
Thursday morning. Well, I guess, man, so I grew up in Salt Lake City. I was born... I moved around a
bunch as a kid.
Eliot ( 01:42 ):
Are you Mormon?
Matt ( 01:43 ):
No, that's always the second question that people ask.
Eliot ( 01:45 ):
What's the first question?
Matt ( 01:47 ):
Well, after they ask where you're from.
Eliot ( 01:49 ):
Okay. After they micro aggress?
Matt ( 01:51 ):
Are you Mormon? Yeah. No, I'm not, but grew up around it all, know way too much about that religion.
But anyhow, so I grew up in Utah playing hockey. So I ended up playing in what's called Juniors, I ended
up in Bozeman, Montana. And just through happenstance... I always did martial arts growing up I did
karate, [inaudible 00:00:02:19], we didn't know.
Eliot ( 02:18 ):
Matt ( 02:19 ):
Shotokan. My first... My karate instructor was Chuck Norris' niece, so legit lineage. And we would do
karate at our apartment complex next to the pool.
Eliot ( 02:36 ):
Kind of like the Karate Kid too, right?Because didn't he grow up-
Matt ( 02:38 ):
We didn't know back then.
Eliot ( 02:39 ):
Yeah. But he grew up in that apartment complex with that pool-
Matt ( 02:42 ):
Eliot ( 02:44 ):
In Reseda. Yeah.
Matt ( 02:46 ):
But anyhow, so in Montana I was always a fan of combat sports. My dad was big into boxing and then
the martial arts background and of course the era that I grew up in was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,
[green 00:03:02] ninjas.
Eliot ( 03:02 ):
So how old are you?
Matt ( 03:04 ):
Eliot ( 03:05 ):
How old are you? I'm sorry.
Matt ( 03:06 ):
Right now? 31 as of Monday.
Eliot ( 03:07 ):
So a little younger than me. All right.
Matt ( 03:09 ):
Just a little. Yeah. So that was kind of always my background I was interested in. And I ended up in
Montana playing junior hockey and I met the trainer of a local boxing gym because they would always
come. It was a small town so everybody would be at the games. And I met the trainer, he was like, "Hey,
I saw you fight." I got in a fight as a goalie one night.
Eliot ( 03:35 ):
You were the goalie and got into a fight? Fuck yeah. [crosstalk 00:03:40].
Matt ( 03:39 ):
[crosstalk 00:03:39] Mike Vernon and [he 00:03:41] fought Chris Osgood. So that's another... Growing up
with that in my head, that was my idol. [crosstalk 00:03:48] Yeah. Not the Redwings.
Eliot ( 03:50 ):
Gotcha. Yeah, I know.
Matt ( 03:52 ):
But I got in a fight. I met the boxing trainer and he was like, "Man, you could take a punch. That was
awesome. You don't know how to punch. You should come," just joking around, "You should come
down to the gym." So I ended up just taking him up on it and just started boxing training up in the
middle of nowhere in Belgrade, Montana.
Eliot ( 04:12 ):
Belgrade, Montana. Okay.
Matt ( 04:13 ):
Yeah. So that's 20 miles outside of Bozeman. And that was-
Eliot ( 04:18 ):
Belgrade's it's own country too, isn't it? Or no, it's in Serbia. Belgrade, Serbia. Sorry.
Matt ( 04:23 ):
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:04:26], Serbia. So I ended up meeting the boxers. I fell in love with it, just kind of
playing around. And then when I came back to Colorado, kind of gave up on hockey after some injuries. I
got some gnarly hip stuff and back stuff and wasn't really going to make it to the show. I could've
lingered at single A, double A, professional level, but living the dream as they say. When I came back,
started training. I was boxing mostly. And you remember Robert Garrison?
Eliot ( 04:56 ):
Yeah, I still see him.
Matt ( 04:57 ):
So yeah, he was teaching boxing at Easton. I was at a different school. So this was eight years ago, seven
maybe. And he was doing a boxing class at Easton and was like, "Man, you got to come over. There's so
many people there to train with."
Eliot ( 05:11 ):
How did you meet Rob?
Matt ( 05:12 ):
I was training at a little gym in Louisville trying to stay in shape called Streets Fitness. And I did a couple
Muy Thai Smokers, I did the first year that Oscar had the Muy Thai tournament when it wasn't even in a
ring. And he was like, "Man, you got to come over to Easton." And I was a little bit scared. It kind of had
this reputation of just being that all you guys were pro back then, [Shab 00:05:41], you, who was it?
Mark [crosstalk 00:05:43] at that time.
Eliot ( 05:44 ):
[crosstalk 00:05:44] in the hey day.
Matt ( 05:45 ):
That was the, yeah, squad. So I was scared to be honest. Oh man, I don't know. So I trained with about
six months with him at this little gym and finally took him up on it and it was a complete 180 from what I
had had in my head. Every other gym I'd been in, from the one in Montana where my trainer was an
Owen 11 pro MMA fighter...
Eliot ( 06:10 ):
Owen 11. How do you get to Owen 11?
Matt ( 06:14 ):
He told all of us that he was 20 and 15 or something. I 'sure dogged' him later down the line. Owen 11. I
was like, "Okay, makes sense."
Eliot ( 06:25 ):
Oh God, I don't understand why people lie about stuff like that. We have the internet, right?
Matt ( 06:29 ):
And so yeah. I mean, that was right when 'sure, dog' was coming out. Yeah. He fought Jordan Mean up
Eliot ( 06:40 ):
Dude, Jordan's a beast.
Matt ( 06:40 ):
Head kicked him in 10 seconds.
Eliot ( 06:41 ):
Oh, God. Into next year.
Matt ( 06:45 ):
But so I came into Easton, I was taking Robert's class and from the second I walked through that door...
So that was back when Denise and [Saatchi 00:06:54] were still working the desk.
Eliot ( 06:56 ):
So Saatchi had just started then.
Matt ( 06:58 ):
Okay. Actually, she might not have even been there yet. Denise was the one that I remember.
Eliot ( 07:04 ):
It's so crazy to me because... What is it It's 2020?
Matt ( 07:08 ):
Eliot ( 07:08 ):
It's February of '20 and man, it's been six years since the big Boulder school's been open. And to me, it
just wasn't that long ago. So when you say Saatchi was working the front desk seven years ago I'm like,
"Oh my God, no way." And then I think about it and it's possible.
Matt ( 07:24 ):
Yeah, that's right then because she said she trained at the-
Eliot ( 07:28 ):
Matt ( 07:28 ):
At the old Boulder and then started working at the new one. But it was, from the second I walked in,
everybody's greeting me, everyone's making eye contact. Like I was kind of saying earlier, every other
gym I had been in, you walked in and it was posturing. What's up? People asking me on the first day that
I was hitting a bag, couldn't jab back to my face, asking me to spar, that kind of stuff.
Eliot ( 07:54 ):
Matt ( 07:56 ):
Yeah, I saw a kid one time when the head trainer wasn't there, this kid on his first day do full MMA
sparring with little gloves and it was terrifying.
Eliot ( 08:06 ):
Matt ( 08:06 ):
Eliot ( 08:07 ):
Matt ( 08:08 ):
He came in full [crosstalk 00:08:11] with one of the kids that had already been competing. He gave him a
mouthpiece [crosstalk 00:00:08:16].
Eliot ( 08:16 ):
An unmolded one, right? Put fucking paper in it so it molds to your teeth.
Matt ( 08:20 ):
And then I watch him just full mount him, destroy him. He looks over and he's like, "You want to come
spar?" So that's what I had in my head [crosstalk 00:08:29].
Eliot ( 08:28 ):
Dude, we used do this. We used to. Our intro classes are nothing like our intro classes now.
Matt ( 08:34 ):
Eliot ( 08:35 ):
Yeah, it was great. We begged people to fight us.
Matt ( 08:38 ):
Eliot ( 08:39 ):
Jay Jack. Yo, come on. You want to see if it works? They're like, "No, I believe you." I'm like, "No, you
don't. You don't believe me."
Matt ( 08:48 ):
So going back to being at Easton, it was just a complete 180 of what I'd had in my head. And everyone
was so open. Tyler Toner was fighting at that time and I knew who he was because he was going
through WC Strikeforce. I think he maybe had had his UFC fight. I don't know. But I knew who he was
and came up and was like, "Dude, I'm a big fan. I'm excited to train with you." And he was the most
humble down to earth-
Eliot ( 09:18 ):
He's so chill.
Matt ( 09:19 ):
And the pro athletes I'd come into contact at that time did not have that attitude and that openness and
that warmth. You know Tyler. And just completely changed my mind. In class, I met 10 people who were
showing me stuff. Robert was my coach, which made it easy. And I came out, signed up, and I was like, "I
want to be here." Just watching everybody train.
Eliot ( 09:44 ):
So you signed up in Boulder?
Matt ( 09:45 ):
Signed up in Boulder. And then gradually I just slowly... I was working a couple jobs, doing the hustle,
the young hustle thing. I was trying to make it in music and also working full time jobs kind of and broke
and then teaching a couple of kickboxing classes after I had been there for I think year and a half
because I had a little bit of natural ability, but I didn't know how to Dutch block a kick. And I had already
had two Muy Thai Smokers when they came in. But just kind of gradually after teaching classes... It was
actually Chris Trammell who was my-
Eliot ( 10:27 ):
Matt ( 10:28 ):
Yes. OG extreme couture.
Eliot ( 10:31 ):
He and I were supposed to fight once.
Matt ( 10:35 ):
When was that?
Eliot ( 10:36 ):
My second fight.
Matt ( 10:37 ):
Would that have been in Colorado?
Eliot ( 10:39 ):
That would have been here, yeah, [inaudible 00:10:40]. And then there's different stories about what
happened. All I know is-
Matt ( 10:44 ):
Talk about two different paths, man. Anyhow...
Eliot ( 10:49 ):
I got lucky, man. I got really lucky.
Matt ( 10:51 ):
Yeah. That's what it's what it takes. I feel like that too. You get a couple breaks and you can take
advantage of them-
Eliot ( 10:57 ):
You get lucky enough to work really hard. That's how I always like to say it. Because you have to. I don't
want to discredit anyone's hard work for what they did. You got to get lucky enough because if you get
unlucky, there's nothing you can do about it.
Matt ( 11:10 ):
And you can work hard to put yourself in more situations to get lucky. But yeah, there's that. But he
brought me in and I started coaching and just kind of gradually... I met Mike a little more closely, Mike
Tousignant, once I started coaching and getting a little mentorship there and just gradually getting
pieces. And it wasn't like it was today. I mean, Chris grabbed me I think before class and was like, "Hey,
you want to coach tomorrow?" He's like, "Shadow me. I'm going to Thailand for a month." And so
anyhow, the cultural piece was something that was always there in the community, but it wasn't as
spelled out as we've made it recently with really getting behind our core values as a business and
community. But so after coaching, this was when the [Arvada 00:12:08] school was still being run by the
Kleins and they had moved into the newest, I think it was their third space.
Matt ( 12:15 ):
It was flower shop, the strip mall when [Wyman 00:12:20] was still fighting out of that little strip mall
gym. And then they go down the street to where they had Striking 2.
Eliot ( 12:26 ):
Where they are now?
Matt ( 12:26 ):
Eliot ( 12:27 ):
Okay. Where Arvada is now?
Matt ( 12:29 ):
Yes, so they didn't have anybody to do any striking. And so I was still pretty fresh, but Tyler asked me if
I'd be interested and so I started there and that was a kind of choose your own adventure type. From
day one, I was doing sales, teaching. I was teaching kids jujitsu at one point.
Eliot ( 12:54 ):
Matt ( 12:54 ):
Little tigers. I'm a white belt. [crosstalk 00:12:58] I'm a white belt. Yeah. But yeah, so I was kind of just
doing everything over there and then-
Eliot ( 13:03 ):
With the clients?
Matt ( 13:04 ):
With the clients. Yeah. So that was when Nick and Chris... And was Arvada, was it the second or third
Eliot ( 13:14 ):
I don't know.
Matt ( 13:15 ):
Yeah, because it was kind of-
Eliot ( 13:17 ):
No, it's not second.
Matt ( 13:18 ):
Eliot ( 13:19 ):
Boulder, Denver. So it could be third or fourth [crosstalk 00:13:23] or Avada, I don't know.
Matt ( 13:26 ):
But it was right there on Centennial.
Eliot ( 13:26 ):
But it wasn't really... I mean, it was Easton, but it was their school. It Klein BJJ. It was an affiliate.
Matt ( 13:33 ):
And I learned so much from kind of my time there. And then they ended up getting back out. And you
guys bought the Arvada gym to bring under-
Eliot ( 13:46 ):
What was that like for you? Because owners... And look, I liked those guys-
Matt ( 13:50 ):
Yeah, very much.
Eliot ( 13:50 ):
But probably too lax.
Matt ( 13:52 ):
A little more lax. Totally different process.
Eliot ( 13:57 ):
Okay. I don't want to say that we're not lax, but we're on top of our shit. We follow systems.
Matt ( 14:03 ):
And yeah, five, six years ago, I think in general, every school had their own version-
Eliot ( 14:10 ):
Matt ( 14:11 ):
And vibe of doing things. It felt like definitely a different school. The alignment, it's crazy now because
you walk in, you're like, "Okay, it's Easton." But going through that change I learned so much because I
didn't know. I just thought this is how we run a school. And one day... I would come in, I would open, I
would set up for the morning classes, work the desk, and then coach in the evenings. And one day Amal
was in measuring stuff. And he was like, "Yeah, we're going to put a mat here." And I was like, "What's
going on?" And then I think it was the next day where they kind of sat us down. And I think it was you,
Eliot ( 14:57 ):
No, Amal wasn't there.
Matt ( 14:58 ):
Amal wasn't there?
Eliot ( 14:59 ):
It was you, me, Jeff and Mike in the little lobby area.
Matt ( 15:01 ):
In the big lobby area.
Eliot ( 15:02 ):
Big lobby area.
PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:15:04]
Eliot ( 15:00 ):
... Mike in the little lobby area.
Matt ( 15:01 ):
In the big lobby area.
Eliot ( 15:03 ):
Big lobby area.
Matt ( 15:04 ):
Eliot ( 15:04 ):
Big lobby area then. Yeah.
Matt ( 15:05 ):
It took up half the school at that time. Yeah. And yeah, you guys sat down and gave us the lowdown, and
I was a little shook at first. I'm not going to lie. I was definitely-
Eliot ( 15:19 ):
Like, "What the fuck?"
Matt ( 15:21 ):
I was fully invested. Yeah.
Eliot ( 15:22 ):
Matt ( 15:23 ):
In that group of people and thought that's just how it was going to be. And we were talking. There was a
woman who was GM-ing with not a ton of martial arts experience and-
Eliot ( 15:40 ):
Blonde girl, right?
Matt ( 15:40 ):
Eliot ( 15:41 ):
Matt ( 15:41 ):
And good heart.
Eliot ( 15:43 ):
Good heart. Yeah.
Matt ( 15:44 ):
Eliot ( 15:44 ):
Tried very hard.
Matt ( 15:46 ):
We were just throwing stuff at the wall trying to get it to stick. So-
Eliot ( 15:50 ):
Matt ( 15:51 ):
Going from there to let's ... I think at one point we had a kid, almost daycare area. We had-
Eliot ( 15:59 ):
I remember this.
Matt ( 15:59 ):
There was a massage table in there at one point.
Eliot ( 16:02 ):
I remember this.
Matt ( 16:02 ):
It was kind of-
Eliot ( 16:03 ):
Matt ( 16:06 ):
Just flying by the seat of our pants.
Eliot ( 16:08 ):
Matt ( 16:08 ):
That's how I just thought things were. But once we were back under with the core group of schools,
everything just took off. And it was a little scary at first going from, "Here's your new GM. We're going to
do you know everything with the processes a little bit different." But that's what I always tried to make
our striking program connected to the rest of it anyway.
Eliot ( 16:35 ):
Matt ( 16:36 ):
Because that's where I trained and that's what I wanted. I wanted us to be involved with that. So it was
good for me. A lot of people fell off during that transition.
Matt ( 16:48 ):
But I saw pretty quickly the amount of support and work that you guys were putting in to it and it was
pretty apparent that things were ... I don't know. I felt every day at the end before the switchover I
wasn't sure how much longer the ride was going to last.
Eliot ( 17:08 ):
So you were-
Matt ( 17:09 ):
Which was a little scary.
Eliot ( 17:09 ):
So you weren't sure the ride of the school, or the ride doing it?
Matt ( 17:12 ):
The school, yeah, but of me doing it.
Eliot ( 17:13 ):
Matt ( 17:13 ):
Eliot ( 17:15 ):
That's what I was going to ask you next. When was your buy in point? When were you like, "Man, I think
I would really like to do this for a living?"
Eliot ( 17:22 ):
And [crosstalk 00:17:25] our hope, our hope is that nobody ever leaves, right?
Matt ( 17:27 ):
Eliot ( 17:28 ):
So we don't hire anybody to be a GM with the idea that they're going to leave. So when were you like,
"Oh man, I really would like to do this maybe for my life?"
Matt ( 17:39 ):
I was managing a warehouse back then for a cool company but used a temp service, so the people that
would come into work for me, it was just like every day is a new job, whatever, clock in, clock out.
Eliot ( 17:55 ):
Right. Don't care.
Matt ( 17:56 ):
Don't care. And also being in their 40s and 50s, not a ton of motivation and goals. For the most part, the
people that worked for me were just good with being where they were in life. And it killed me. Every
day, I would apply to a different job just to make myself feel better.
Matt ( 18:18 ):
And then I was managing a record label. I had a couple of DJ residencies in Denver. I was freelance
Eliot ( 18:27 ):
Where you would do DJ?
Matt ( 18:28 ):
Eliot ( 18:29 ):
Matt ( 18:29 ):
So I had one at Club Vinyl and then one at Bar Standard and then [crosstalk 00:18:35].
Eliot ( 18:34 ):
Okay. Oh, Vinyl was a big one though then. Yeah.
Matt ( 18:36 ):
Yeah. That was back in the day when it was cool too.
Eliot ( 18:38 ):
Vinyl was way [crosstalk 00:18:39].
Matt ( 18:39 ):
It's still cool, I guess.
Eliot ( 18:40 ):
I don't even know.
Matt ( 18:40 ):
I don't know what's hot.
Eliot ( 18:41 ):
Look, if you tell me ... I know Vinyl. I don't even know if I know another one in Denver, a club where
there's a DJ.
Matt ( 18:47 ):
It's actually where I met Peter.
Eliot ( 18:49 ):
Matt ( 18:50 ):
Eliot ( 18:50 ):
Because he was bouncing, right?
Matt ( 18:51 ):
Yeah. And then he moved into more of the service side. And we would see each other at Vinyl and then
in the gym the next morning and just like, "Hey, bro." It was like two different [crosstalk 00:19:07].
Eliot ( 19:06 ):
Because he worked the gay night a lot, right? That was this thing. He loved it.
Matt ( 19:09 ):
Yeah, that was. And then so I was on main floor and he'd be upstairs [crosstalk 00:00:19:12].
Eliot ( 19:12 ):
On the gay night?
Matt ( 19:13 ):
... the three levels. Yes.
Eliot ( 19:14 ):
Matt ( 19:15 ):
I also was a promoter for this company called The Hundred and we put on like three different weeklies
at our peak. So I was doing everything just to like-
Eliot ( 19:25 ):
So you had your hands in so many baskets.
Matt ( 19:27 ):
Just to, yeah, feel better about the thing that was paying me was like taking a piece of my soul every
Eliot ( 19:32 ):
Matt ( 19:32 ):
So one day, there was a little bit of a change over, the clients. I was looking to get out and I loved, I was
obsessed with Muay Thai and kickboxing and looking to see at that time. I think I even applied it a
9Round kickboxing, just trying to get out of that situation.
Matt ( 19:55 ):
And fortuitously, somebody left and Chris Klein called me and was like, "Hey, we want to hire you on full
Eliot ( 20:04 ):
So you knew you wanted to do this while the clients were still there?
Matt ( 20:06 ):
Eliot ( 20:07 ):
Matt ( 20:07 ):
So I was still ...
Eliot ( 20:08 ):
So it wasn't when we took over?
Matt ( 20:10 ):
Eliot ( 20:11 ):
Matt ( 20:11 ):
Eliot ( 20:12 ):
So it was before?
Matt ( 20:12 ):
Eliot ( 20:13 ):
Matt ( 20:14 ):
And he gave me the call and I was like, "Give me a week and I'm going to tie up some loose ends and I'm
there as long as ... Here's how much I need to pay my bills. And if I could make that and have a little
grocery money, I am 100%." So ...
Eliot ( 20:31 ):
And so that you stop everything else cold turkey?
Matt ( 20:33 ):
Eliot ( 20:34 ):
Matt ( 20:35 ):
Well, I wouldn't say cold turkey with the music stuff. So I produced and DJed too and we had a couple
viral ... back when SoundCloud was the heat.
Eliot ( 20:48 ):
Matt ( 20:48 ):
We had a couple of viral hits. One of our playlists has like 350,000 plays on SoundCloud.
Eliot ( 20:53 ):
Oh, damn. Look at you.
Matt ( 20:54 ):
So we got to tour a little bit. I got to go to New York, play in Brooklyn, Tahoe. We played Sundance, Park
City during Sundance.
Eliot ( 21:05 ):
Matt ( 21:06 ):
So it was hard to give that up.
Eliot ( 21:07 ):
Matt ( 21:07 ):
Because a lot of fun. But a lot of late nights, not the healthiest pull [crosstalk 00:00:21:14].
Eliot ( 21:16 ):
I think it ruined me. We were talking about it a little bit, that late night thing ruined my sleep for the rest
of my life, I think.
Matt ( 21:22 ):
Oh my god. Still to this day, I don't think I can go to sleep before midnight.
Eliot ( 21:27 ):
Matt ( 21:28 ):
Eliot ( 21:29 ):
Matt ( 21:29 ):
I lay down at 10:30, 10:00, but-
Eliot ( 21:32 ):
I can sometimes, but also I can not sleep like a champion.
Matt ( 21:37 ):
I have to train, but now, being a GM, my training's less. So back when I was competing, trained twice a
day. You just run yourself into the ground and then you hit the bed and it's done.
Matt ( 21:49 ):
But yeah, I knew I wanted to do it for a while. And the second that he called me, I was ready to make
that jump and made it happen.
Eliot ( 21:58 ):
Matt ( 21:59 ):
Eliot ( 21:59 ):
How about the jump from teacher to GM? What did that look like for you?
Matt ( 22:05 ):
So like I said, luckily for me, I didn't even know any better, I got to handle so many different pieces not
being in a management position, but almost having a management role.
Eliot ( 22:18 ):
I'm going to cut you off one sec. Sorry. I think you're the first for me that I didn't have my direct hands
on. Every other GM since I've been hired. I shouldn't say since I've been hired. Since I bought into the
company, I had a direct hand. So Mike was already there, but Ian, Jeff, Peter. I don't think there's
Matt ( 22:47 ):
Eliot ( 22:48 ):
So they were definite hands on positions.
Matt ( 22:50 ):
What was that like for you?
Eliot ( 22:51 ):
Oh God. I was like, "Man, what the fuck?" I don't know.
Matt ( 22:54 ):
And a Muay Thai.
Eliot ( 22:55 ):
Yeah, and a Muy Thai guy.
Matt ( 22:56 ):
We hadn't trained together.
Eliot ( 22:58 ):
We had never done anything together.
Matt ( 23:00 ):
Eliot ( 23:01 ):
So it was interesting for me for sure.
Matt ( 23:05 ):
Yeah, that's a big leap. Mike, you guys probably had some [crosstalk 00:23:09].
Eliot ( 23:09 ):
Mike. Yeah. Mike was like, "Yeah, you got to talk to this guy."
Matt ( 23:11 ):
Eliot ( 23:12 ):
So anyway, back to your story. When did that happen?
Matt ( 23:15 ):
So let's see. Where were we? We were talking just a-
Eliot ( 23:19 ):
You had done everything.
Matt ( 23:20 ):
Yeah. So I got to do everything. And then once the switch over happened with Jeff and Mike being there,
I was aimless. I wasn't sure, because the management before, they didn't fire them, but said, "You can
definitely be a part of this, but it's going to be in a lesser role."
Eliot ( 23:45 ):
I'm sorry. What do you mean didn't fire them?
Matt ( 23:46 ):
So the GM-
Eliot ( 23:47 ):
Oh okay. The girl. Yeah, yeah. Got it.
Matt ( 23:49 ):
... was like, "You can [crosstalk 00:08:50]."
Eliot ( 23:49 ):
She did not get fired. Right. Yes.
Matt ( 23:51 ):
"You can move forward with us on sales." And we actually did that for a little bit.
Eliot ( 23:55 ):
For a little bit. Yeah. It didn't work out.
Matt ( 23:56 ):
Which, yeah, did not work out.
Matt ( 23:59 ):
But at the same time, I was getting a lot of pull from ... There was a group of people who were not
happy with the changeover and talking about even doing their own thing. And I was like-
Eliot ( 24:12 ):
Change is difficult.
Matt ( 24:13 ):
... caught in the middle because I still believed I wanted to train at Easton. That's where my best training
was, all my friends at that time. So I was in the middle.
Matt ( 24:25 ):
And luckily one of the families that I coach who just would take such good care of me, the Ramirez
family, Rosie Ramirez and her two kids, for my birthday got together with the old management and they
bought me a plane ticket to Thailand out of the blue to go train. And it was just super good timing
because I got to get away.
Eliot ( 24:49 ):
With Chris and Nick when they were still owning.
Matt ( 24:51 ):
Eliot ( 24:52 ):
Matt ( 24:52 ):
But mostly it was like the [crosstalk 00:24:56]. Yeah. And that made that decision. And I got to detach
right in the middle of all of it and go across the world and have the-
Eliot ( 25:06 ):
Have your own time.
Matt ( 25:06 ):
Find yourself. Yeah.
Eliot ( 25:07 ):
Matt ( 25:08 ):
The martial artist's journey. So while I was over there, it just became pretty apparent that, to myself,
training every day ... And I had so much time to myself to sit and think and realized that being a part of
Easton was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And wasn't sure in any capacity.
Eliot ( 25:33 ):
How it would work.
Matt ( 25:34 ):
How it would work. I think even at that time we threw around the idea of, of having a Muay Thai school
one day. That was where I thought if I ever was to GM, it would be something like that, not our biggest
flagship school. Yeah. One of the biggest, if not the biggest martial arts schools is in the Western
Eliot ( 25:58 ):
In the whole country.
Matt ( 25:59 ):
In the whole country. Yeah.
Eliot ( 26:00 ):
So Mike picks you.
Matt ( 26:05 ):
Eliot ( 26:05 ):
Matt ( 26:05 ):
After coming back from Thailand.
Eliot ( 26:07 ):
After coming back from Thailand. Well, Mike starts putting you in mine and Amal's ear, let's say. And
what was it like for you to come to my house that day and not really know me?
Matt ( 26:18 ):
So I told this story actually [crosstalk 00:26:22] last night.
Eliot ( 26:24 ):
Okay. So I call you.
Matt ( 26:25 ):
Eliot ( 26:25 ):
And I'm like, "Yo man, I would like to talk. I'd like to get a sense, a feel, an interview, whatever you want
to call it," right? "So can you come over my house and talk? Because Mike's like, "Hey, I think I want this
guy to GM Boulder.""
Eliot ( 26:38 ):
And Mike, at that time, was the GM of Boulder. He was moving into a new role and he's the best GM at
Matt ( 26:45 ):
Eliot ( 26:45 ):
The most experienced GM.
Matt ( 26:46 ):
Laid the blueprint.
Eliot ( 26:47 ):
Of the biggest school that makes the most revenue and everything, right? With the most students. And
he's telling me that this skinny kid that does Muay Thai is going to be the new GM.
Eliot ( 27:02 ):
And the way I've always seen it is a little bit ... With the jujitsu thing, we've always been able to use
jujitsu to dominate a little bit. And now, that wasn't going to be the case. So I was definitely like,
"Umm." What was it like for you?
Matt ( 27:23 ):
Yeah. We didn't know each other. We just knew maybe each other's story.
Eliot ( 27:28 ):
Yeah. I didn't know you. I didn't know you at all. I can't even remember meeting you.
Matt ( 27:33 ):
The only interaction I had had with you was one time at Old Chicago in Superior. I was there with some
friends. You were getting ready to fight The Janitor.
Eliot ( 27:45 ):
Matt ( 27:46 ):
Eliot ( 27:46 ):
Matt ( 27:46 ):
Yeah, of matcha Shenko.
Eliot ( 27:46 ):
That day or that night?
Matt ( 27:47 ):
No, it was maybe, I think, a week or two because the card was at Broomfield Med Center.
Eliot ( 27:52 ):
Matt ( 27:52 ):
Eliot ( 27:52 ):
So I just had my first kid, too.
Matt ( 27:53 ):
Man, and I was super fan at that point. I was-
Eliot ( 27:56 ):
Was I nice?
Matt ( 27:58 ):
You were definitely in the zone. I looked over and I was like, "I think that's Eliot Marshall," and then you
were just standing there.
Eliot ( 28:05 ):
Matt ( 28:06 ):
And I saw your hands go a little bit and I was like, "Oh, that's him." I came over and said I was a fan. You
Eliot ( 28:11 ):
Matt ( 28:12 ):
But in and out.
Eliot ( 28:13 ):
Matt ( 28:13 ):
Eliot ( 28:14 ):
I was probably hungry, just picking up some food.
Matt ( 28:15 ):
Exactly. So that was the one time we had talked. I came up to you as a total fan boy before I'd even
trained at that point, I think, maybe.
Eliot ( 28:26 ):
Yeah, that was [crosstalk 00:28:28].
Matt ( 28:28 ):
So I was nervous.
Eliot ( 28:29 ):
Matt ( 28:29 ):
You definitely have a legacy at Easton.
Eliot ( 28:35 ):
I am who I am a little bit. Yeah.
Matt ( 28:39 ):
But I also knew this was something I wanted to do and I knew talking to you and Amal, were two people
that I wanted to talk face to face with and let know that this was something I could do, even though I
didn't believe it at the time. I was definitely scared. It's rare.
Matt ( 29:02 ):
Most GMs have transitioned as a brand new school, so they go through the back end processes of
building it up slow, where mine was the sustained success.
Eliot ( 29:14 ):
And then when you build up slow, you do it your way, right? It's go up your way. You did all of the
Matt ( 29:19 ):
Eliot ( 29:21 ):
And now, you just got to jump in.
Matt ( 29:23 ):
Yeah. Where all of our GMs and a lot of the leadership would basically was following ... not following
Mike's blueprint, but we were trying to get more aligned with that structure, with Mike's structure. It
was definitely scary.
Matt ( 29:41 ):
But the second we sat down, it was also scary because you had Buster and he was a little newer and we
had to go through the whole process of getting warmed up. So I was just like ... it's funny. It wasn't
intimidating at all.
Eliot ( 29:56 ):
No, just a little bit.
Matt ( 29:57 ):
But just that added layer. And we ended up having a good conversation in your backyard and ...
Eliot ( 30:03 ):
Yeah. I liked you.
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:30:04]
Eliot ( 30:00 ):
We ended up having a good conversation in your backyard and-
Matt ( 30:03 ):
I liked you.
Eliot ( 30:04 ):
And you were like, how are you going to be when I call you up and say, Maddie, what the fuck? What
Matt ( 30:14 ):
I tried not to do that.
Eliot ( 30:15 ):
And I was like, "I'm ready, I'm ready."
Matt ( 30:15 ):
Have I done that?
Eliot ( 30:16 ):
Matt ( 30:17 ):
Eliot ( 30:17 ):
The times you've called me, I've been like, "Hey man, just wanted to let you know. I see what you're
doing. I'm here to support."
Matt ( 30:25 ):
Eliot ( 30:25 ):
"You're doing great."
Matt ( 30:29 ):
All right. I've complained though.
Eliot ( 30:29 ):
You called me on my birthday.
Matt ( 30:29 ):
I've complained about a couple things.
Eliot ( 30:29 ):
We got a few things, but it was super tactful.
Matt ( 30:32 ):
Eliot ( 30:32 ):
Yeah, every time.
Matt ( 30:33 ):
Eliot ( 30:34 ):
It's never been like that, but I'm still like-
Matt ( 30:35 ):
Yeah, what the fuck's going on here?
Eliot ( 30:37 ):
In my head, have that, yeah I was kind of waiting for that.
Matt ( 30:40 ):
I think it was because like Mike and I and Ian were such good friends, that we can, yo dude, this ain't
fucking cool. What's going on here? So-
Eliot ( 30:46 ):
Matt ( 30:47 ):
Which you do more with your friends, right?
Eliot ( 30:48 ):
It's totally different. When I hired all my friends to work for me-
Matt ( 30:52 ):
Eliot ( 30:53 ):
It's the same thing. If anything happened, I didn't know how to approach it. I couldn't take my emotion
out of it.
Matt ( 30:59 ):
Eliot ( 30:59 ):
And it ended being a screaming match.
Matt ( 31:01 ):
Right, because your friend, it's your friend. He doesn't want to be- you're his boss but he doesn't want to
be bossed by you.
Eliot ( 31:05 ):
Matt ( 31:05 ):
He's like, yeah dude, fuck off.
Eliot ( 31:06 ):
Yeah, I got. Anyway, so after that conversation, yeah it was, the wheels started moving. And I still at that
point didn't think, Jeff kind of sat me down, Jeff Ake, after coming back from Thailand and gave me a lot
of, I think I had run a couple of summer camps and taught in the kids, done almost everything and he's
like, I'm going to recommend you. This is a big thing. I want to he wrote me this amazing letter of
recommendation to Mike and I was like, this is awesome. This is going to show everybody that, I want to
toss my name into the discussion and I don't know, I think, between Jeff and I's relationship, Mike and
I's, and then after you and I talked, it just kind felt good. And after I talked to you, I walked out and I was
like, this is mine. Like I'm going to do this.
Matt ( 32:01 ):
I thought so, too, after we talked.
Eliot ( 32:03 ):
And this is going to be what I'm doing with my life. So, yeah.
Matt ( 32:09 ):
So what's it been like?
Eliot ( 32:10 ):
It's been a whirlwind.
Matt ( 32:12 ):
What's been hard about it?
Eliot ( 32:16 ):
Perception. From a personal level, just having them all around, his name's on the building, having you
guys filling Mike's shoes, who's now the CEO. I think you even told me once, during our first staff
meetings when I was coming and remember we used to do the big monthly in person full staff- and you
were running them? You're like, you got to be better than Mike. And I was like, yeah man, outwardly.
Matt ( 32:44 ):
I got this.
Eliot ( 32:46 ):
And then inside I was like, Oh God, let's get back. You got to start reading your books.
Matt ( 32:51 ):
Eliot ( 32:53 ):
Yeah, get back to burying yourself in a book and figure out how to do that. But now being a year and a
half in, I think just over a year and a half, so I think it was September 2018, so we're right around a year
and four months maybe. I've seen it evolve a lot because during that transition there's a lot of, with
jamming, now I realize the job is about relationships and what you cultivate with your staff and staff
development and helping your team get to where they want to be.
Matt ( 33:30 ):
It's a people business.
Eliot ( 33:31 ):
Matt ( 33:32 ):
And with Mike who had, those 10 year relationships, you don't just hand those off. Even to this day
there's people that you can't-
Eliot ( 33:42 ):
Yeah, you can't hand them off, right?
Matt ( 33:43 ):
Eliot ( 33:43 ):
Because there's so much trust built up between- as my dog barks in the background.
Matt ( 33:50 ):
So now that I've been there for about a year and a half, I definitely feel like the relationships with
everybody are there and actually grounded, not so superficial and have had a chance to spend time with
everybody, and in Boulder, from the front desk, and the first impression specialist all the way through
the coaches, the systems are so on point that I don't have to micromanage. I don't have to do day to
Eliot ( 34:23 ):
You're not worried about whether the front desk doing their contact logs-
Matt ( 34:26 ):
If I audit the calendar in sales and everything, it's good right now, 99% of the time.
Eliot ( 34:34 ):
Matt ( 34:35 ):
Which allows me to really just spend time-
Eliot ( 34:43 ):
Matt ( 34:43 ):
Eliot ( 34:44 ):
And you're coaching Muay Thai so you're still coaching some classes and the kids, right? Yeah.
Matt ( 34:47 ):
Yeah. I still get out there. The kids has been something I want to, that's been a big focus. Kids Muay Thai
because that's a scary, scary thing and I want to bring that into Colorado but not kind of how it's set up
Eliot ( 34:59 ):
You guys are getting ready to go on a trip tomorrow, right?
Matt ( 35:01 ):
Yeah. We're going-
Eliot ( 35:02 ):
That's what we're doing today.
Matt ( 35:02 ):
Yeah. Going to Elk Grove. Gorgeous Elk Grove, California.
Eliot ( 35:07 ):
I've never been.
Matt ( 35:07 ):
Right next to Stockton.
Eliot ( 35:09 ):
Okay. So amazing there.
Matt ( 35:11 ):
Amazing. So the first time we did one of these summits, it was at their school in Stockton. Patrick Rivera
Eliot ( 35:19 ):
Matt ( 35:19 ):
Eliot ( 35:20 ):
Matt ( 35:21 ):
His youth program's insane. They've had like six world champions but came up with this concept called
the YDL, where the kids don't even have head contact until they've had-
Eliot ( 35:32 ):
What's it called?
Matt ( 35:33 ):
Eliot ( 35:34 ):
Matt ( 35:34 ):
The Youth Developmental League.
Eliot ( 35:36 ):
Youth Development League, okay.
Matt ( 35:37 ):
I mean it's all sanctioned and they're doing it, basically it reminds me of how I played hockey. There's
the U.S. Muay Thai Federation, which oversees all these events. They're sanctioned, they're recorded,
there's records of them, there's official referees and all this stuff where it's still a little, youth Muay Thai
Eliot ( 35:54 ):
It's so hard, right? Because it's combat.
Matt ( 35:57 ):
Yeah, striking is not-
Eliot ( 35:58 ):
And you don't want people getting hit in the head.
Matt ( 36:01 ):
Exactly. So anyhow, yeah we're-
Eliot ( 36:06 ):
You're doing that.
Matt ( 36:07 ):
And I want to bring the YDL to Colorado, which is kind of an outside of Easton thing. So, I haven't dove
into that head on because it's going to be a lot of work from dealing with other people's schools-
Eliot ( 36:24 ):
You have other school to deal with.
Matt ( 36:25 ):
Which, we're lucky because at Eastern we have a lot of direction and amazing groundwork and one thing
after spending a lot of time at different summits and things with other martial arts school owners is,
man, some of this, they don't have a lot of the foundation laid at all. Some of the questions, I don't want
to say anything bad about other gym owners-
Eliot ( 36:51 ):
No, it's okay, you're not going to name anybody in person, yeah.
Matt ( 36:53 ):
But you get to the Q&A at the end and people are like, "Do you guys greet people when they come in?
Do you guys do private lessons? Should we do a Facebook?"
Eliot ( 37:01 ):
Look, remember that's why we're doing-
Matt ( 37:04 ):
And you're like, holy.
Eliot ( 37:04 ):
That's why we're doing this.
Matt ( 37:04 ):
Eliot ( 37:04 ):
We're doing this because we know that, right? Were doing Easton Online because we know how bad, I
don't want to say that. We know that we've had the opportunity to have so much experience in the
Matt ( 37:18 ):
Eliot ( 37:18 ):
That we need to share that.
Matt ( 37:20 ):
But we made those mistakes.
Eliot ( 37:21 ):
Matt ( 37:21 ):
We've asked all those questions just because it's been around for so long.
Eliot ( 37:25 ):
And we've been lucky enough to survive all of the bullshit, right? To survive all of those mistakes.
Matt ( 37:34 ):
So I'm trying to bring that YDL concept. So VALOR, who's also been on the podcast, who is our Director
of Martial Arts for all of Easton, now that we have the corporate team as well, since we have the nine
locations, but so me and him will be out there with some of the department heads and it's going to be
good. I went on a trip like this as a department head for Arvada.
Eliot ( 37:59 ):
Matt ( 37:59 ):
Eliot ( 38:00 ):
Matt ( 38:00 ):
So it's cool.
Eliot ( 38:01 ):
So I saw that you brought a notebook.
Matt ( 38:03 ):
Eliot ( 38:04 ):
And you wanted to- you have some notes?
Matt ( 38:05 ):
My brain, no it just like scatters so much. There were just some things that I wanted to hit, but they kind
of came up.
Eliot ( 38:12 ):
Did we hit them?
Matt ( 38:13 ):
Eliot ( 38:13 ):
All right, cool. I just wanted to make sure that we hit what you wanted to hit as well.
Matt ( 38:17 ):
I'll start talking about one thing and just my brain jumps off at every exit-
Eliot ( 38:22 ):
That's podcasting, bro.
Matt ( 38:23 ):
We're working on it.
Eliot ( 38:24 ):
Matt ( 38:24 ):
The head trauma and the caffeine and the, it's all.
Eliot ( 38:27 ):
It's all, I get it, it's podcasting.
Matt ( 38:29 ):
Eliot ( 38:31 ):
Where do you see yourself going with Easton? Because we are definitely an upward moving company.
Matt ( 38:40 ):
Absolutely. That is, it's exciting. It's exciting to be a part of something that's growing like that, and that
also isn't afraid to implement new ideas. That was one thing that, working for other very profitable
companies, it just felt like any new idea was like, Oh yeah, stamp it out. No, that's just the way we do
things. I can't remember one of the books that I read, but it said, one of the lines was one of the most
dangerous lines in the English language is, that's just the way we've always done things. When you ask
someone, why do we do it that way?
Eliot ( 39:25 ):
Matt ( 39:25 ):
And Easton is so willing to try and implement new things-
Eliot ( 39:31 ):
We're good at messing up.
Matt ( 39:32 ):
Yet. It's so cool that someone from front desk to a comped coach can come up with an idea and you,
me, Mike, are willing to entertain that. And possibly-
Eliot ( 39:47 ):
I think it's what martial arts-
Matt ( 39:48 ):
Put it into play.
Eliot ( 39:49 ):
Are supposed to teach because if you break it down, if you really look at it, white belts can teach you
stuff. Your white belt student can be like, yo, check it out. I do it like this. And look, sometimes, most of
the time, it's not correct, but every once in a while and if you have enough white belts, they show you
something, you're like, yo damn.
Matt ( 40:10 ):
And if you're hard, you can maybe pick something up.
Eliot ( 40:13 ):
You can maybe implement it.
Matt ( 40:14 ):
One of our core values, too, that white belt mentality. But going back to your question, so that's the kind
of the question I've been asking myself. The expansion in Colorado at this point, there's definitely a
handful of cities.
Eliot ( 40:32 ):
There's a couple more.
Matt ( 40:32 ):
Yes, and man to the point, even in Boulder we might have to open up a South Boulder.
Speaker 1 ( 40:37 ):
Yeah, yo, yo, yo-
Matt ( 40:40 ):
It's at capacity. No, it's not, and not in a bad way. It's amazing to be able to go into a class, any class at
any level, and be able to work with that many people. But you can feel the evenings, it's popular, man.
Eliot ( 40:53 ):
It gets full, yeah.
Matt ( 40:54 ):
It's popping. So, I think it'd be interesting, out- of-state expansion, something that interests me, but I
love Colorado at the same time.
Eliot ( 41:06 ):
Matt ( 41:08 ):
But I want to have a, I want to mentor a GM under me and I don't know what it would look like moving
to that next level because we're all kind of figuring that out right now-
Eliot ( 41:20 ):
Sure, yeah. We don't have to figure it out-
Matt ( 41:21 ):
Exactly, but whatever it is, if it's moving up to be like regional GM, to some GMs or even, from an
ownership perspective and who knows.
Eliot ( 41:35 ):
Matt ( 41:35 ):
Yeah, I'm so-
Eliot ( 41:36 ):
So, the sky's the limit.
Matt ( 41:36 ):
Yeah, I'm so open to trying anything new.
Eliot ( 41:42 ):
Matt ( 41:42 ):
We went to Easton. It's crazy. It's changed my mindset. I was pretty in a fixed,, like had the blinders on
and now it's-
Eliot ( 41:51 ):
The possibilities are fluid.
Matt ( 41:53 ):
Yeah. It sounds kind of corny, but yeah-
Eliot ( 41:56 ):
Matt ( 41:56 ):
It's exciting. Yeah.
Eliot ( 41:57 ):
Fuck yeah. Well, I know you've got a private coming up here at 10 so-
Matt ( 42:00 ):
Yeah, I do, man.
Eliot ( 42:01 ):
Man, but I really appreciate you squeezing it in.
Matt ( 42:03 ):
That went super quick.
Eliot ( 42:04 ):
Yeah. So, it's 45 minutes or so, but I appreciate you squeezing it in-
Matt ( 42:09 ):
Thank you so much and-
Eliot ( 42:10 ):
even with all of my chaos.
Matt ( 42:11 ):
Yeah. I appreciate you having me on and yeah, it felt good to get that call, man. I was nervous. I had to
hit up Peter and tell him I was listening to his episode.
Eliot ( 42:22 ):
Everyone's nervous but I try to do my best.
Matt ( 42:24 ):
Eliot ( 42:24 ):
I try to not Fire Marshall too much, so-
Matt ( 42:26 ):
Well, I appreciate it.
Eliot ( 42:27 ):
All right, man.
Matt ( 42:28 ):
Eliot ( 42:28 ):
I appreciate [inaudible 00:42:30].
Matt ( 42:29 ):
Thank you, sir.
Eliot ( 42:30 ):
Doing a great job, man.
Matt ( 42:31 ):
Appreciate it, Eliot.
Eliot ( 42:32 ):
PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:42:36]
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