Jun 16th, 2019


In 1999 the top song was “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin, the top movie was “Star Wars – The Phantom Menace,” the best selling book was “Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban” and the top rated tv show was “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”  But more importantly, in June of 1999 a little martial arts gym opened up in a small, moldy basement on W. Broadway near Hemlock.

Fun Fact #1: I opened up with no investors, no partners, no money in the bank. I financed the gym’s first several years with my credit cards and working the graveyard shift at the Purolator warehouse in Richmond.

Fun Fact #2: I got fired/quit that Purolator job when I threatened to separate the manager on duty from consciousness. (True story, not proud of it.)

And fast forward 20 years and here we are!! I mean, literally FAST FORWARD because it really does seem like only yesterday that I taught the first class at that moldy, basement gym. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to everyone that’s ever stepped on our mats to sweat, hit, get hit, (sometimes) cry and even (sometimes) bleed. Past & present, you’re all family to me. There’s no better group of friends I want to share the journey with. There’s no one else that I would want to grow with. It’s been an amazing 20 years, it’s gone by so quickly and there’s nothing else I would have rather done and it’s all because of you all. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO’S EVER BEEN A PART OR IS CURRENTLY A PART OF THE WESTSIDE FAMILY.

Fun Fact #3: I have zero formal business training, no computer education, never took any courses on website building or social media, never properly learned how to use Photoshop & other important software, was never properly taught how to handle a business’s bookkeeping and definitely never learned how to be a manager. I’m completely self taught when it comes to the day to day tasks of running a small business. I say this NOT to brag, but to help explain why it takes a little longer to get certain tasks done, to help explain why I make so many mistakes and why I try to read so much business related non-fiction.

Extra special shout out to Arlana Alkema who was my pillar of support for many, many of the gym’s formative years. I hope she realizes how important she was in building the gym into what it is today. And also to my long time brothers Jonathan Abad and Karlo Uruttia who have been there right from the beginning and have had my back, my front, my side…whatever has been needed. Thanks to these 3 incredible people. (There’s many, many more that deserve individual thanks but I must try to keep this post reasonably short so please know that I appreciate everything and everyone!)

Fun Fact #4: I’ve pretty much done nothing else as an adult, never wanted to do much else as an adult and am not quite sure I’m even capable of doing anything else as an adult.

It’s already quite a long post, but there really are only 2 words that can express how I feel about 20 years in business. There really are only 2 words that I can or should say. So I want to finish off this post with the 2 most relevant words I can say about 20 years in business, and it’s THANK YOU.

(BONUS) Fun Fact: We have 2 years left on our current lease with a renewal option for an additional 5 years. So I suppose I’ll be thanking you all again on our 27th year anniversary!!