Massage – Body Work in Seattle with Steph Gaspar

An integral, yet sadly overlooked, aspect of training is recovery.  Recovery in terms of relaxation (time off), sleep, proper nutrition, and bodywork are essential to any athlete at any level.  Unfortunately these much needed areas are the first to be cut from the budget of us “Average Joe” athletes.

imageFor those in the Seattle, WA. area you would be foolish not to call Stephanie Gaspar immediately and set up an appointment!  I have had lots of bodywork done over the past 20 years from very talented healers, coupled with a degree from the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics, I think I have a decent read on talented body workers, and Steph is one of the top ones I have ever seen!

Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s tournament Steph has helped open up my shoulder, neck, and hips in just a couple of sessions.  She takes certain health plans, and her pedigree reads like a “what haven’t you done” story as she has her BSc / CSMS / LMT and has extensive experience in psychology and traumatic rehabilitation.  Those athletes reading my blog will take note that Steph spent several years working with the Seattle Mariners (one downside is that she is a Boston Dead Sox fan, but you should be able to work around that;)!

Working out of University Chiropractic (big shout out to Dr. Ray who will be happy to straighten out your neck) Steph Gaspar can be reached at 206-525-2811.

imageThanks to Gracie Mag dot com for leaking some advanced info on a few of the rule changes we may see implemented in IBJJF competition in 2012.   One possible change will be the requirement for competitors to bring two separate kimono’s, one blue – one white, to competition.  Judo has done this for years and it has been proven to improve accuracy and speed in judgement by referee’s!  How many times have you been watching an instructional DVD with both people in the same color gi, trying to figure out something like a twister set up, or tornado sweep!?!?  Completely confusing right?  Imagine a referee trying to make split second decisions on points and submission attempts when both competitors are wearing the same color!

Personally I think this is a great idea.  Refereeing is a major issue across the board in sport BJJ and I think any step to improve the quality and raise the level of competition is a good thing.  Sure, there will be a handful of people who bitch and moan about having to bring two gi’s, but in reality we all own more then one gi (and if you don’t, and you are thinking about competing… I would suggest at least 3-4 in your closet and luggage!) and white and blue are the two most common colored kimono’s on the market.

I am very curious to find out what other rule changes and measures go into effect, as this is really the first time in decades the IBJJF has considered some massive changes.

To read the full Gracie dot com article click here!


imageOur friend from GB Encino, Alberto Crane just won his third MMA fight in France over the past weekend.  Defeating Arranick Montero (4-1) with a first round heel hook in Palavas Les Flotes France.
Congrats mi amigo!Bill “The Grill” Cooper has been a grappling phenom since age 15 when his friend Jeff Glover introduced him to their coach Franjia.  The rest as they often say, is history.  Bill is one of the most successful American competitors to date, due in large part to his relentless competition schedule (he is known for fighting 2-3 tournaments a month!).  Now The Grill is cooking competition in MMA and I wish him the best.  Never met the kid, but he is on my top 10 list of must train with cats in the near future!  Check out the great HL clip below (killer song, anyone know the artist??):

Brian Cimins, Founder of Grapplers Quest, recently launched his own personal blog and put up a plea to the various publishers of the world… more coverage of grappling events!  Cimins of course has a biased stake in the game as he is asking for an exclusive coverage deal for Grapplers Quest events for the next two years, but his overall point is solid.

imageGrappling magazine morphed into a purely MMA publication, which just regurgitates the same boring stories and coverage as the dozens of other MMA rags do!  Gracie Magazine of course covers BJJ and grappling tournaments, but have a SEVERE Gracie bias and in all honesty the quality of that magazine has really gone down over the past year or so.  Gladiator used to cover grappling events with some decent reporting, but ownership changing hands coupled with delays in publication have put this magazine in limbo.  I do not even see it on shelves anymore.

Jiu Jitsu Magazine and BJJ Lifestyle are two new up and coming rags that show some promise in the early issues.  We shall see if they have the money and fortitude to stick around in a highly competitive market that is dieing a slow death via the digital media slice to the jugular!

So I join Cimins plea in more coverage of ALL grappling events worldwide!  As consumers lets join together and let publishers know that we want coverage of grappling events, ALL organizations, ALL events regardless of political affiliation and BS!


If you are reading this you are part of groundbreaking history, as I do believe this is the first (and probably only) time that one will see grappling legend Rickson Gracie in the same post as hi-hop legends The Beastie Boys!  

In reality they have nothing to do with each other, other than I am a huge fan of both and this is a rare interview with Rickson addressing some of his thoughts and opinions about modern day BJJ competitions, training for self defense, as well as a handful of other grappling related topics.  Enjoy!

The Beastie Boys are one of the longest running hip-hop acts alive today, and they continue to thrive because they have young souls and are always innovative.  Check out these videos for fun:

Sesame Street breaks it down from Wonderful Creative on Vimeo

Packed full of events (BBQ Open House, belt promotion, etc.) the highlight for sure was the annual seminar put on by John Will and David Meyer, Brian’s two coaches.  For those unfamiliar John Will is considered by many to be the coaches – coach, meaning that his pedagogy is second to none!  A seminar with John is more like an experience OF John’s teaching / training insight.  As a practitioner / coach myself I get SO much out of lessons with John and David.  My only wish is that we got more time with them throughout the year.  Someday I will make it to Oz!

We started the day with a Tabata warm up that only took 4 minutes to complete, and if you have never done a Tabata workout… you really do not need much more than 5 minutes!  Something my coach Tim Cartmell has been doing for years.  John not only showed us, but also explained the underlying philosophy of Tabata protocol.

David & John always come with a theme based lesson and this year was no different.  John was fortunate enough to train with Helio Gracie back 20 some odd years ago while visiting Rio with his coach Rigan Machado.  John got a handful of lessons with the master and he taught those lessons exactly as they were taught to him without his interpretation.  Think of it as a homage to the GM who passed last year!  Personally I thought it was an amazing glimpse into the mind of someone most of us have never trained with.

Nothing fancy was taught as Helio always relied upon the basics and keep in mind we are talking about a man who soaking wet weighed no more than 120#’s!  He HAD to use technique and leverage (some rumors on the net even say Helio created leverage!;)  to overcome the guys he was fighting.   Essentially John led us through step by step on Helio’s guard.

Gaining your grip via breaking their posture.  Staying connected to your opponent while they are in your guard (an awesome lesson)!  Then making space while maintaining your heaviness, enabling your hooks to enter and working a hook sweep!

Simple, yet very profound in all the minute details.  I have made the hook sweep (and variations thereof) a major part of my personal game, so this seminar was cherry for me as I picked up a couple of tricks and details I had not thought of previously.  Couple with a training partner of James Foster (Fosters BJJ in Kent, WA.) a first degree BB helped as well!  Thanks James!  We appreciate the support too.

This is the academy group photo.

Over 40 folks made this the largest seminar we have had at NWJJA!  Thank you all that supported.  I hope next year we can get even more of our students to come out.

As always a huge thanks to coaches David Meyer and John Will for taking the time to teach us Pac NW’ers!  The visit is always too short but packed full of lessons both on and off the mat!  Until next year gentlemen!


imageYet another weekend that went by so quickly I am still trying to catch up!  Great seminars were certainly the highlight of the weekend, but I am saving the review for a separate post.  Coupled with the grand opening of our expanded academy (including double the mat space) Brian also held our semi not so quarterly belt promotion!

I wanted to offer a huge heaping helping of congratulations to those whom were promoted over the weekend as this belt ceremony (more of a gathering at our academy) was special since Brian was promoting his first black belt John Macfarland (hope I am spelling that correctly bro).  John has been with Brian for over 10 years and is one of his most loyal students.  Congratulations John.

image   Also my good friend Kelland Lindsey was promoted to purple belt.  I have watched Kelland quickly climb the BJJ ladder as he has become more and more dedicated and disciplined in his training.  He more than deserves this promotion!

Blue belt promotions were awarded to David Leong, Ross (I have no clue what your last name is brother, sorry), and Garfield Scott.  Again all these guys have been rolling at the blue belt level for a few months.  Well done gentlemen!

image   Within two weeks of my 5 year anniversary of stepping onto the BJJ mat full time, Brian felt it appropriate to award me my purple belt as well.  I have mixed feelings as I am not sure I am fully a purple belt yet, but I will continue to work hard and try to raise my own personal bar both on the mat and off to the level expected.   To be quite honest I was quite happy fighting at blue belt level for the rest of my adult life, but now I guess I get to play with the next level.   Keep your eyes wide shut for my first purple tourney review in a couple weeks.

Congrats to all!
Jake Burroughs

image   Just finished an amazing documentary entitled “Food Matters” and can honestly say it is one of the best films I have seen in quite some time.  Consider the words of Hippocrates “Let Thy Medicine Be Thy Food, and Thy Food Be Thy Medicine.”  As our modern Hippocratic oath is based upon the philosophies of Hippocrates don’t you think it is a bit peculiar that modern physicians receive next to no training in the field of nutrition!?   One must ask, does ones doctor truly live up to their oath:

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilismI will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

I stumbled across the title via some of the food blogs and what not I have been following (see to your bottom left), and while I do not agree 100% with every philosophy presented, I must say the overall message is one of positive change that is doable to each and every one of us.

“Food Matters” can be purchased online, or viewed on Youtube (I will provide the first two episodes.  Pay attention to the notes on chapter 7 regarding chapter 8 which needs to be viewed on a different page!).   This is a must see by anyone who stumbles across this blog, lots of food for thought here!  Chapter 6 will blow your mind away!  

Educate yourself!

Bill 1490 passed in the Illinois legislature equates Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Mixed Martial Arts, and will require the same rules, regulations, and control measures for BJJ competitions as professional MMA events.   This can include (but is not limited to) required blood tests, outrageous insurance riders and requisites, as well as grappling events being regulated by the local boxing commission!

This has forced the IBJJF to postpone the second Chicago Open which is one of the only major grappling events held in the Windy City.   I am not sure what the politicians are thinking in Illinois, but passing laws such as 1490 is shooting themselves in the foot.

First of all MMA is not BJJ, is not boxing, and therefore should have totally separate sanctioning bodies.

Secondly IBJJF routinely draw 500-1000 competitors to any one event, coupled with approximately the double the number of spectators, and that is potentially 2000 people in a given area buying food, paying for parking, flying into the local airports, staying at the local hotels.  In essence Illinois is taking money out of its own pockets, and the last time I checked NO ONE in the mid-west was in a position to throw away money!

Click here for a link to a petition to stop Bill 1490!

Those of you reading this blog from Washington State should pay close attention as our very own moronic legislature is trying to pass House Bill 1062

Here are the “highlights” of HB 1062:

$1000 per year “license” fee for all martial arts “training facilities”$10k bond to hold a tournamentNo kids allowed to fight under 10 years oldAll amateurs must wear shin/hand padsHave medical insurance for the fightersFighters would be subject to alcohol breathalyzer tests for 24 hrs before and *after* the event
For anybody who is interested in training, now or in the future you should take notice and consider contacting your representative.This needs to be stopped.
I moved up here to Washington with the impression this was a free free and liberal state.  In the past 5+ years I have come to realize almost the polar opposite!  I have never been under the influence of so many crazy laws and exuberant fines for minor offense’s such as moving violations.   HB 1062 explains why no major grappling event will come into the state of Washington.  No NAGA!  No Grapplers Quest!  No IBJJF!    There is a ton of talent up here that sadly will never be able to experience a major grappling tournament experience because of bullshit laws designed to line the pockets of those in influence.
Sorry to bum you out on a Thursday afternoon, but some serious food for thought in this post.Jake imageOn September 24-25th worlds best grapplers will gather on the island of Han (just kidding!!  This year it is in Nottingham, England) to fight in the Abu Dhabi Submission Championships.  Fighting via invite or qualification only, this venue is considered to be the pinnacle of submission style grappling where winners often walk away $10,000 richer!

The great news for those of us living far, far away from Sherwood forest is that Budo Videos is going to be streaming the matches free!

Go to Budo Videos for more information on making an account and watching the live stream.

Check out the stellar cast:

1. Rafael Mendes. Brazil (2009 World Champion)
2. Greger Forsel. Finland (2010 European Champion)
3. Marko Ramos. USA (2010 North-American Champion)
4. David Marinakis. Australia (2011 South Pacific Champion)
5. Tetsu Hadairo. Japan (2011 Asian Champion)
6. Jeff Glover. USA (2011 North-American Champion)
7. Bruno Frazzato. Brazil (2011 South-American Champion)
8. Timo-Juhani Hirvikangas. Finland (2011 European Champion)
9. Ryan Hall. USA
10. Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles. Brazil
11. Tom Barlow. U.K
12. Barret Yoshida. USA
13. Rani Yahya. Brazil
14. Robson Moura. Brazil
15. Denny Prokopos. USA
1. Pablo Popovich. USA (2009 World Champion)
2. Jorge Britto. Portugal (2010 European Champion)
3. Vagner Rocha. USA (2010 North-American Champion)
4. Davis Hart. Australia (2011 South Pacific Champion)
5. Gomi Takanori. Japan (2011 Asian Champion)
6. Enricco Coco. USA (2011 North-American Champion)
7. Murilo Santana. Brazil (2011 South-American Champion)
8. Daniel Strauss. U.K (2011 European Champion)
9. Leo Viera. Brazil
10. Gunnar ‘viking’ Nelson. Iceland
11. Marcello Garcia. Brazil
12. Kron Gracie. Brazil
13. JT Torres. USA
14. Augusto Mendes. Brazil
1. Andre Galvao. Brazil (2009 2nd World championships, Estima go to Superfight vs Jacare)
2. Marko Helen. Finland (2010 European Champion)
3. Rustam Chsiev. Russian (2010 North-American Champion)
4. Cameron Rowe. Australia (2011 South Pacific Champion)
5. Jeon Doo Kwang. Korea (2011 Asian Champion)
6. JJ Holmes. USA (2011 North-American Champion)
7. Claudio Calasans. Brazil (2011 South-American Champion)
8. Zbigniew Tyszka. Poland (2011 European Champion)
9. Pablo Popovitch. USA
10. Rafael Lovato. USA
11. Rousimar Palhares. Brazil
12. Romulo Barral. Brazil
13. Sergio Moraes. Brazil
14. Paulo Filho. Brazil
1. Xande Ribeiro. Brazil (2009 Champion)
2. Kari Peltola. Finland (2010 European Champion)
3. Joseph Lee Baize. USA (2010 North-American Champion)
4. Igor Praporshchikov. Australia (2011 South Pacific Champion)
5. Animal Anzai. Japan (2011 Asian Champion)
6. James Poupolo. USA (2011 North-American Champion)
7. Renato Ferreira. Brazil (2011 South-American Champion)
8. Kamil Uminski. Poland (2011 European Champion)
9. Roger Gracie. Brazil
10. Rudolfo Viera. Brazil
11. Dean Lister. USA
12. Robert Drysdale. USA
13. Joao Assis. Brazil
14. Radek Turek. Poland
15. Dan Schon. Mexico
1. Fabricio Werdum. Brazil (2009 Champion)
2. Janne-Pekka Pietiläinen. Finland (2010 European Champion)
3. Mario Rinaldi. USA (2010 North-American Champion)
4. Mick Wilson. Australia (2011 South Pacific Champion)
5. Sekine Hideki. Japan (2011 Asian Champion)
6. Jared Rosholt. USA (2011 North-American Champion)
7. Gabriel Vella. Brazil (2011 South-American Champion)
8. Mateusz Juskowiak. Poland (2011 2nd European Championships)
9. Jeff Monson. USA
10. Roberto ”Cyborg” de Abreu. Brazil
11. Bruno Bastos. Brazil
12. Antonio ”bigfoot” Silva. Brazil
13. Jose Fereira Junior. Brazil
14. Gerardi Rinaldi. USA
15. Vinny Magalhaes. Brazil
16. Alexander Trans. Denmark
1. Luanna Alzuguir. Brazil (2009 World Champion)
2. Lara Jayne Ng. Australia (2011 South Pacific Champion)
3. Hashi Takayo. Japan (2011 Asian Champion)
4. Cathilee Albert. USA (2011 North-American Champion)
5. Michele Nicolin. Brazil (2011 South-American Champion)
6. Sara Svensson. Sweden (2011 European Champion)
7. Kyra Gracie. Brazil
1. Hannette Staack. Brazil (2009 World Champion)
2. Fiona Muxlow. Australia (2011 South Pacific Champion)
3. Penny Thomas. South Africa (2011 North-American Champion)
4. Talita Nogueira. Brazil (2011 South-American Champion)
5. Devi Ahuja. Norway (2011 European Champion)
6. Gabrielle Garcia. Brazil
7. Christe Cyborg. Brazil

Jacare and Estima will be fighting a super fight, along with Renzo Gracie vs. Mario Sperry.  Eddie Bravo vs. Royler Gracie is still not confirmed as Royler is basically being a very typical Gracie and demanding exuberant amounts of money ($50,000 to fight, $25,000 win bonus).  We will see what happens with that situation.A slight change in rules this year will make things interesting… competitors will weigh in just prior to stepping on the mat and fighting.  You don’t make weight, you sit in the stands and watch your dreams slip away in front of you.  I like this change as it will discourage drastic weight cuts in a venue that has very broad weight divisions.  Really looking forward to this years Abu Dhabi CC!  Enjoy,Jake
imageI rolled upon David’s blog “The Jiu Jitsu Lab” via Rafael Lovato Jr.’s site, as apparently we just missed RLJ in Vancouver, BC!  Anyways David is a blue belt neighbor from the north that has a wicked awesome BJJ blog that will certainly be added to the blog roll, but imagine my elation when searching his post history I scroll over this post on the wristlock!  One of the best breakdowns and compilations I have seen.  Learn, tap early, and enjoy!

Click here to read the whole post!   And make sure to peruse his past entries as he has some great fight breakdowns and what not!


WOW!  I was not expecting to be floored this morning by such a stellar post over at Ross Training.  Every morning I make it through my blog roll checking out the latest news as I shake the cobwebs from my sleepy head, and this one nailed me.  Something rarely addressed but constantly in our presence… fear, doubt, and their affects on confidence.

Confidence and the mental game are something I know a lot about as they have been the achilles heal in my martial journey, especially in BJJ.  Technically and physically I think I am right where I should be with 5 years under my belt, but I need to constantly work my mental game.  Most people think that fighters are unshakeable in their mental and physical fortitude, but the reality of the beast is that we are perhaps some of the most fragile out there as we put our bodies, minds, and reputation on the line constantly in an effort to weed out weakness’ and flaw’s in our skill sets.

Most of us would never expect to see this clip of Mike Tyson in a moment of doubt and fear, just prior to fighting!  Coach Teddy Atlas consoles and builds Mike up in the most gentle and loving of ways, giving the fighter exactly what he needs!  Then to take the time and offer the encouraging words to the loser… class act Teddy!  An amazing clip both on the fighter and the coach.

I have gone through various stages of doubt and fear as I have competed over the last few years.  Your first couple of fights you are just nervous because of ignorance, not knowing what to expect!  Interestingly enough this initial fear, this initial unknown keeps 90% of the practitioners from ever even stepping onto the mat!  To get up the gumption to train your ass off for months.  Make weight.  Throw on a gi.  Wait around all fucking day, to go and fight for just a handful of minutes.  The simple fact that you stepped onto the mat tells me you have won, regardless of the outcome!

imageThe guts it takes to face those initial fears cannot be written about, but must be experienced.  After those first few fights the butterflies do not go away, but you can handle them better and are more relaxed because you have the general idea of how things go down and you have experienced the adrenal dump that comes with fighting.

The fears you experience later (or least I have experienced) come from wanting to perform at my best.  I do not want to disappoint my coach, nor my training partners.  I personally do not mind losing as long as I know I was bested, not that I did something foolish and made a mistake.  For instance this years America Cup in San Jose… I lost the my first match on points, but I felt okay about it because I busted my ass and attacked.  In the midst of my attack my opponent passed my guard and mounted.  He won, and rightfully so.  I was bummed, don’t get me wrong, but I was down 2 nothing with a couple of minutes left and had to do something.  He had shut down my sweep attempts all day long.  In the end he taught me I need to work on finishing my triangles!

It is because of the doubt, fear, and relentless work that I yearn to compete.  Money has been non-existent lately so I have not been able to do half the tournaments I set out to do at the beginning of the year.  I have been itching to fight.  Bad!  So I have been analyzing why I have such a strong desire, a calling if you will!?

I long to face my fears.  As I get older I want to push the envelope of my being as far as I can, and watch it bend.  I have little desire to conquer others as that is ultimately meaningless and empty, but I cannot shake this desire to fight myself and become better.  Be stronger.  Be more focused (SQUIRREL!!!!).  Be a better person both on and off the mat.  It is through the testing of skill and will on the mat that enables me to feel free.  We often times feel trapped in life, but the mat is undeniable truth and freedom where we are totally in the moment.  Something that is rare in day to day life for most of us.

Click here to read the full article by Ross.

I leave you with a quote from Shakespeare:  “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Thanks Ross for one of the best posts!

Under 10 days left until David Meyer and John Will and we still have spots left!  So if you are interested in training with two of the most experienced grapplers on earth you will not want to miss out on their only west coast seminar for 2011!   As with all of our seminars they are open to any and all styles and levels of experience.  If you are brand new to the art, please come by and check out this great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!image

Just in case you have been living under a rock all your grappling life here is some insight into who David Meyer is as a martial artist and human being.  A great interview with TONS of invaluable information from a man with over 40 years on the mat, and one of the most decorated grapplers in America:

David still competes to this day (and has written one of the best books on the subject of competition), and here is a clip of one of his fights in the 2011 Pan Am’s on his way to gold once again:

I have run across a treasure trove of Machado Brothers BJJ footage!  For pages and pages of related videos click here!
Here is JJ Machado fighting Yuki Nakai (check out the wrist-lock threat JJ uses to mount around 5:50 mark), a great study on why many consider Jean Jacques Machado to be one of the most technical grapplers ever!

The brothers dominating the 1993 Sambo Pan Am’s.  Rigan has shared with us the story before that on the way to the championships John Will was explaining the rules.  The Machado brothers went into any event they could to test their mettle against grapplers of all arena’s… and they DOMINATED!  Impressive!

JJ Machado vs. Leo Viera (’nuff said).  I do believe this is the year JJ won the most technical award at Abu Dhabi:

I have heard some good things about Grappling X and the events they are putting on.  They will be making their Pacific NW debut in Portland, OR. at the end of this month.  Check out the sweet prices for their first event in the area!imageimageWelcome to your definitive guide to All Star Fitness / Epicenter downtown executive club.  My name is Jake and I was an employee for over 4 years teaching a variety of martial art and fitness classes at the Olive Way branch of All Star.  Recently All Star was bought by Epicenter Fitness (they are not making this “official” to the public nor their members until they make improvements at the gym) and the two downtown gyms merged.

imageSince Epicenter and Beverly were so kind as to give me lots of time on my hands I thought I would give back (or perhaps pay some karma forward, if you will) and offer some insight for those of you searching for a new gym and place to work out.  For the most part I understand their are basically two factors involved in anyone joining a gym; location-location-location, and cost!  These are two variables that one cannot argue with overall as the gym is in the heart of downtown, and from what I hear there are some absolute steals in terms of monthly dues (I have heard as low as $25/month!!!).  But for the more discerning patron let me offer some morsels of insight for you to chew on while making such a decision….

In the 4 1/4 years I worked at All Star:

  • I witnessed over 7 general managers come and go, and countless personal trainers and staff swing through the revolving door of All Star.  Many were solid employee’s to whom blame and fault were wrongly passed onto by upper management (owner Bob Pradgett [email protected]
  • The bag gloves and focus mitts originally provided (used) for my class were never cleaned nor replaced (I was in a continuous state of begging for these to be replaced).  To the best of my knowledge their were 4 cases of rashes occurring from said gloves, one was confirmed to be MRSA!  Even upon my making this information known to management I was told that their was a lock on purchasing new equipment for my class.
  • About 2 years ago I “ran-out” of jump ropes for my kickboxing class.  For two years I have been told their is a lock on purchasing new equipment for my class.  FYI wholesale on a POS jump rope is about $2.50 each.
  • Eric Davies was let go late in 2010 for reasons unknown to me, but I must give a shout out where it is deserved… Eric was an awesome manager!  It was because of him that I actually stayed at All Star as long as I did.
  • Under Eric All Star used to reimburse group exercise instructors up to $100 per calendar year for continuing education.  That ceased after Eric was replaced by Melissa Vrbanak.  We also used to get partial compensation for CPR / First Aid certifications.  No longer, for reasons unexplained.
  • I had to actually fight with All Star to get them to pay for parking when I came downtown.  For a 6 month period they would not pay for my parking, so I had to park on the street which ended up costing over $40 a week!  All other gyms compensate for their instructors parking in Seattle.
  • Employee’s were never informed of the buyout from Epicenter.  I found out from my students who had heard rumors in the locker room.  To this day I have never been informed they took over.
  • I was one of a number of instructors Epicenter HR rep. Beverely CALLED on the phone and fired.  When I asked her why she is doing this via the phone ten minutes after I got home from teaching, her response was, “I tried to find you before you left the club but couldn’t.”  It is hard to find someone 6’4″ 200#’s that is in a set room for a set 2 hours on set days!  Classy move Beverley!
  • My (ex)students have been informed by management that the reason my classes were cut along with me was due to poor attendance.  This is true in the Kali classes which were phased out, but someone, somewhere along the line has been dishonest and inaccurate with their reporting of numbers, as my kickboxing classes are always packed!
  • Epicenter is bringing in a MMA program that members will have to pay extra for.  I first proposed a complete program along these lines 2 1/2 years ago.  I was ignored and brushed under the rug three different times.  Something like this would have been unique (at the time) and generated more income for the club.  Nice ball drop guys!
  • I have heard only rumors so I will not drop names, but if my sources are correct the individual being brought in to teach the MMA program is not fully qualified and has some questionable qualifications.
  • All PT’s at any gym need to be fully qualified, so I am sure their is no question in that regard… but I beg you to exercise extreme caution with choosing trainers at this gym!  I have heard some amazingly dangerous and ignorant things come from some trainers (“Center of gravity on men is different then on women!”  – yup, no lie!   Apparently gravity recognizes and compensates for gender!  No shots at the low hanging fruit!!!!).  If you are looking for a reputable trainer downtown email me and I will put you in touch with some of the best (hint; none of them work at All Star nor Epicenter!).
  • Two (ex)students of mine were informed the day of my termination that neither me nor my classes were going anywhere!  That was from Merle Gregg ([email protected]), president of Epicenter.
  • One student of mine was told that Epicenter offers other classes then just kickboxing and that he should expand his horizons!

Hi Ramon, I hope you had a nice weekend and are looking forward to the 4th of July I wanted to reach out to you, as I am currently a member at All Star and I feel like you should appreciate the information that I am going to give you. I myself am a sales manager and I know that if one of my clients came to me with valuable information on how to improve my business, I would be very appreciative. I will assume that you value your business and feel the same way. I have referred 2 people from my company to All Star and both of them have joined. In fact, I have 3 other people that were interested in joining, but will not be joining now In addition, I cannot in good conscience refer my friends and staff to your gym after hearing, observing and experiencing the changes that have been taking place over the past month. I have been taking the kickboxing classes by Jake Burroughs since January. I knew nothing about any form of martial arts, but he was such a great instructor that he turned me onto the sport so much that I also joined another kickboxing gym. I am not the only person that has had this experience with Jake. You could ask any of his students and they will likely tell you a version of the same story. When I talk to people about All Star and what a great gym it is, it’s because of the kickboxing classes that get excited to talk about All Star. It‘s very disheartening and disappointing to hear that Jake will not only be cutting back his classes, but now he unexpectedly will not be teaching at All Star at all in the future. I do feel the way this was handled was not only unprofessional from a clients’ perspective, but I’m also sure that Jake feels it was unprofessional as well. I am not and would not put words in his mouth, but from what I have heard from other members and other sources, the way this was handled has left a very bad taste in everyone’s mouths. I know you will be losing members over this and I’m sure you won’t lose enough to really impact your financials, but you should know that word travels fast and I would not recommend to anyone that they should join an All Star or Epicenter gym in the future. In fact, I will be leaving All Star to train with Jake along with many of your member in the kickboxing classes. I will be canceling my membership this week. My husband will be canceling his membership this week. My friend that was 2 days away from joining will not be joining now. I’m of course encouraging my co-workers to go elsewhere. I do hope that you take this information/knowledge to heart and learn from the way it was handled as a professional businessman. This is no way to treat your clients and is certainly not an acceptable way to treat an employee that has been loyal to you for over 4 years. Regards,N.N.
– As a follow up Ramon never replied to her email, so the next day N went in and confronted Ramon directly and cancelled her membership with him personally.  Again he reported that he was informed that numbers were low.  He also blurted out something about Melissa was going to fire me anyways, but quickly dismissed the topic!  N also told me that Ramon said “I am surprised at how loyal the students were to Jake.”
Congratulations on your merger of All Star Fitness and Epicenter Fitness. 
 have been a member of All Star Fitness Executive Center (now known as Epicenter) for five years.
I have weathered the many changes that have occurred at All Star Fitness.  Changes that included the remodel of the Executive Center to what this facility is today, changes in management and personal training personnel and now the buyout by Epicenter.

As a paying customer, the lack of communication and customer service surrounding the latest change has been a major disappointment.
First, the All Star Fitness members were not informed of this buyout.  Most of us heard of this change through snippets of conversation in the locker room.
Second, to find out about the classes that we come to day in and day out have been cancelled completely on the day of class as well as the instructor eliminated is by far the worst change.  We were informed of classes going to summer schedule, ergo the reduction of classes.

The main reason why I renewed my All Star Fitness membership is because of the Kickboxing classes taught by Jake Burroughs.  I tried other kickboxing classes offered and this was the one that clicked. 
I do not know the reason why Jake’s class was eliminated or if your management bothered to assess the situation prior to cancelling all his classes, but he had a following of a core group of people that came to his classes everyday – noon and evening classes.  In fact, some classes were so full that there were not enough heavy bags for everyone to use.  You lost an opportunity to take his classes to the next level as he was and is an outstanding martial arts instructor.
I know I am just one of many and you won’t lose enough to really impact your financials, but you should know that word travels fast and I would not recommend to anyone that they should join an All Star or Epicenter gym in the future.

Response from Merle Gregg:
Thanks for the email.  I will have Beverly explain the Group X changes to you.  She is our Group X Coordinator.  The great news there is that we have actually added many classes to the schedule and I’m sure you will find a class that will fit.    We are going to be adding a lot of additional weight equipment, cardio, and group x equipment and our focus right now is getting things fixed here.  There are a lot of tv’s both on the walls and on cardio that does not work, dinged walls, old towels, and many other items that we are going to improve.  Once we get through our list and make these improvements we will be letting the All-Star members know of the merger.  In the mean time, nothing will change except the minimal changes to some Group X classes…even the All-Star name will remain the same until we let All-Star members know about the change. 
Thanks again,
Merle Gregg

In conclusion I hope I have painted an accurate picture of how much All Star Fitness / Epicenter Fitness really care about their clientele.  In the end it is shame that facilities like this exist solely for profit and not for improving lives and changing the health and well being of people.  Keep these aspects in mind when you are paying a little extra for juniors sports programs at school, or when you are paying for martial arts classes.  A good coach has a solid vested interest in his students and their well being.
I leave you with Epicenter’s Company motto, you decide how spot on ironic this is:
Our foundation will be built on our integrity.
We will have the highest standards of quality assurance in all areas to ensure membership retention.
Last I heard many of the members of All Star are quitting the gym in disgust.
Happy gym hunting!Jake