Owning a Gym as a Non-Student in a Pandemic

Watching from the outside, the gym became a community during the pandemic.
Steve Hudson
February 3, 2022
Owning a Gym as a Non-Student in a Pandemic

As the spouse of a Krav Maga instructor (not to out anyone but I will politely refer to them as a self-defense fanatic), I wasn't quite sure what we were getting into when the opportunity presented itself to acquire Valley Self Defense. I had dabbled in Krav Maga occasionally and was around the periphery but, for whatever reason, it just wasn't for me. When the opportunity presented itself to be part of an ownership team of the Valley Self-Defense gym, I was skeptical at first - collectively, we've had minimal experience running a small business and starting a business with friends can add hurdles between professional and personal relationships.  Now that I find myself as a part-owner of the gym and, while it hasn't always been easy, it's overall been a positive experience (with an added benefit of helping me better understand my own tax clients as a small business owner).

As someone who has been on the edges of the Krav Maga world for the last 5-6 years, I thought I had a general sense of what our curriculum would look like (regular level classes, occasional seminars, and the occasional collaborative event with another regional gym). Then we acquired the gym in February 2020 and were promptly thrown a wrench in the form of a worldwide pandemic. After the immediate panic and scramble as five newly-minted gym owners trying to navigate a pandemic and the shut downs that accompanied it we eventually course corrected, pivoting to online classes. What started as a scramble turned into something much bigger than a gym. I started observing the online workouts and, on many nights, it wasn't about the squats, crunches, or high knees - it was about opening a virtual door to a new community and allowing people to feel a sense of belonging and just feel human in an otherwise isolated time.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm generally not an optimistic person and Covid has given us very little to be optimistic about (insert meme of saying Happy New Year in 2022 here). Arguably, the silver lining that Valley got out of Covid is it immediately forced us all to think outside of the box and come up with creative ways to engage students and provide a safe forum for people to not only train, but also just express themselves. The daily workouts would often result in laughter in our living room and, even through the uncertainty of the early days of pandemic, there was at least a short break in the day where people were genuinely excited to see each other (and occasionally yell out my name, and let's be honest, who doesn't enjoy a little ego trip every now and again). What may have started as a transactional Krav Maga gym for a few years (cash in, lessons out, rinse and repeat) to get our footing turned into trauma care, firearm self defense, BJJ, and, perhaps most importantly, the community events that not only allowed us to manage a successful business, but also opened our eyes, as a gym, to the diversity and needs of our community. In what could have been some of the darkest days of the covid pandemic something truly beautiful was created.

Thank you to the instructors and to the students who have provided such a unique life experience within our gym walls. It hasn't always been easy but I'm amazed at the community that has been created within the gym walls and excited to see where it all leads us in 2022 and beyond (though really hoping our living room doesn't get turned back into a gym mat again).

Feel like COVID-19 has destroyed your fitness momentum? Our instructors who have had COVID-19 gives you tips on how to get back to the mat after having COVID.

With COVID-19, how do you practice self-defense? If you don't want to find yourself on the mat yet, we have virtual options for you and other things you can try at home to train.

Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.

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