Confessions of a Muay Thai (Combat Sports) ‘long term’ Club Owner

by | Jun 10, 2021 | Life & History, Muay Thai | 0 comments

As the founder, head coach and business owner of a Martial Arts/Combat Sports Club I find myself at times wanting to say many things out loud that I should really keep to myself. After 25 years, I have drawer full of letters I have never sent, an out box full of emails I will keep to myself, and I have learnt that sleeping on things and letting things go is better for business and sanity. It is true being the bigger person works for your soul and character. People who know me, know things still come out and boil over, but as time passes the lessons are often just kept inside. There are lessons here for everyone.

The continued and long-term success of Phoenix or any club like it has nothing to do with luck. I made deliberate decisions to give up every high paying job and promising career to do what I do now. Along the way many other opportunities have arisen, but my guiding star has always been Phoenix, the people, my own training, and development and sharing of my knowledge. To be ‘all in’ – bridges burnt, in massive debt, sold the house, had no car, just me and my thing – that is how you make it work. Constant persistence with no way out. Constant ability to evaluate, assess, learn, and keep moving forward better than before. Sometimes not happier but ‘all in’ poses no options out, without compromising the one of the strongest values to live by – Never Quit!

I am blessed to run a business that is a passion, a hobby, and that allows so many others to share the experience we bring to them. People who come to clubs like Phoenix better themselves every day, every visit, and every experience. We have an amazing community and the privilege of watching people succeed and improve every day. But running the business, any business, is not always easy and it is not always fun. What happens behind the scenes, over time, is something that many may not comprehend or realise.

What you will read below are some confessions. Phoenix is my heart and soul, it is borne of copious amounts of my sweat, sacrifice, mental anguish, more than a few tears and the ability to rise again and again. I hope those who take the time to read this will perhaps have a greater understanding of all that goes into creating and running a club like Phoenix.

Any club is extremely time consuming!

With the advent of 24hr access we are on call 24hrs. Classes start at 6am and finishing at 8:30pm most nights. I am there 24/7 in my mind and for the first 20 years at least 70 hours a week. In the last few years, I had fantastic staff who shared the burden and grew the club. But now we are smaller again, loving it and working on it every day. Every time I tried to separate myself, someone lets you down or betrays you. It is like walking up a downwards escalator.

It has been amazing to have coaches who share my passion and have been able to work as part of the team. It is the hardest part of the club – the business side and staff. The most emotional, time consuming and expensive in all aspects. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been on holidays and when I get clear mental space it is filled with ideas for the club and problems to solve. The nights spent considering the next day, the marketing, the customer complaints, the finances, people’s issues and more, that go past midnight are very common. When your names on the lease and all the legal aspects fall back on you – you have to wonder why sometimes.

It is what it like to follow your northern star. Despite the sea, calm or storm, you must keep going. It may be called love or passion but it is more discipline than fun.

I could never do it alone and never have!

At no time have I done it myself and would never have got this far alone.

I had a coach. I had trained for years before I met him and although I have not done a single class with him for 10 years, he is still my coach and mentor. He passed onto me the foundations, the mindset, the important things, and a reassurance I was going in the right direction – most of the time! He started my process of learning what works, and the technical foundations and mind set required to fight and coach others to fight. I do very little the same as he taught me then, but the lessons can never be repaid. He is never scared to pull me up when I think I know too much, tell me to take on less and keep things in perspective. Never forget who made you or where you come from! One of greatest sadness’s is some key people I have coached and mentored never understood the benefits of loyalty.

I have been in the martial arts and the fitness industry for over 40 years. I have been a participant, an athlete, a student, a competitor, a trainer, a coach, a head coach, an owner, a manager, a psychologist, a debt collector, a financial manager, a marketing manager and in need of therapy myself. I have also worked to grow the entire sport for youth nationally and internationally to increase the credibility and public perception with the national body, as a coach, and eventually as President of Muaythai Australia (MTA). I have had many other paying jobs for the first 12 years just to survive but everything has been in the same direction.

I have written curriculums, training programs, instructor manuals, grading systems and class plans by the thousand. I have coached thousands of people from 5-60 years old and taught over 20,000 classes. I have travelled the world out of my own pocket and paid for many others to experience competition/training overseas. I have done tens of thousands of sparring rounds and had over 14 reconstructive operations including hip and knee complete replacements and spinal operations, to keep the body going. Without the challenging exercise I literally go crazy. You think exercise is hard – the rehabilitation to get back every time has been tougher and I will not accept being on the sidelines to do what I do.

Even with all that experience, I still need a lot of help. Be it from professionals outside, from accountants, insurance specialists, marketers, physiotherapists, sports doctors, massage therapists, signwriters, t-shirt printers, designers, web page designers and IT guys, just to name a few. Each of them helps and are a part of what we are today and have been for the last decade and more.

Above all, the people who turn up to Phoenix, year after year, are the reason to keep going. The people who stand in front of you each day to learn are the reason to keep coaching and developing people. The long-term members are the soul of the gym and the heart of our character. The juniors who have been growing up here are the future and I can’t let them down.

My own training has constantly developed, and I have always learnt and progressed. This has been two ways: by 25 years of competition from mine and my students testing and developing everything we do and teach; and the efforts made by me and senior students to develop their own training skills, through guest instructors, seminars and travel worldwide to learn and train with the best.

Without my staff, senior students and my partner, Phoenix would not survive!

One person has been by my side for most of the time and that support person is key to survival. Without her, there would be no me. One significant other is critical, through thick and thin, richer or poorer. They are risk adverse, intelligent, your harshest critic and your favourite fan, without them you can do it, but you will be lost, and you will not enjoy it as much.

Close staff you can trust, are loyal and are on the same ‘bus’ as you and have made the club a major part of their life is essential. The passion must be divided, among others. It will not work with hired coaches and staff turnover. It may be a good business, but a club is not a coffee shop, you must have close positive relationships with your own coaches, senior students and long-term members or it is not a club. If you own a 24hr fitness place, bought the franchise, hired the staff, do not know your customers, do not coach, and are not in it for your own growth and lifestyle – why are you bothering to read this! It is not about you. These critical staff have to be developed to be worthwhile however this can be a double edged sword as familiarity can bread contempt and you loose them to their own goals, their own ego, if they betray what you had been working together for, it is a set back but it is also a cleansing.

Phoenix has gone from 1 member to 50 members, hovering around 150 for 12 years then when I went full time we hit 500. I moved to a bigger premise and we hit 1000, then I cut back from the overload to a smaller place and we manage 500 again. We are back to 150 now and the ‘club’ is much better and I feel the coaching and quality has returned. I have had close staff most of this time, but I have found that when you go from student, to senior student, to coach, to employee, the relationship changes and becomes increasingly more difficult to manage and compartmentalise. Full time staff that I love like the children and that have filled me with moments of pride for many years become like every long-term relationship, difficult to manage and maintain. It has been a failure of mine to not be able to keep more of my long-term fighters who have become staff and live happily ever after as one Phoenix family.

A great long-term club must build its own people. That is what a martial art club should do. Train people to be better than you, to take the club further and to give back what they learn to others and keep the cycle progressing. Students who grow and develop within the club are the best staff – they get it – they love it, it is them and it is the best thing for everyone and the future. When you have had students for over 20 years, and staff you taught as small children, you will understand the true connections and ‘family’ replacement these people are. With the success comes an equally damaging emotional challenge when they leave, when the daily grind of intertwining lives becomes too much for everyone. This is tough, but if Phoenix is one thing, it rises again and is more than any person.

Hiring people is required at times but if they have not done their apprenticeship at the club, it is never the same. This could be a management fault of mine but if you are not developing your own people, you are more of a business than a club and will never continue the legacy, only the rent and wages. The staff problems with hired staff (a specialist coach for example) are common when they grow their program and they sometimes forget who got them started! It is easier for them to ‘get off the bus’ anytime when things get too hard. They don’t bleed Phoenix so won’t suffer as much. Letting our customers down and requiring us to adapt again is the worst part. Even the most committed are always looking out the window for something else. Hire people when you need to, train them as best you can! Given the choice to build your own people and keep them developing – take it.

When we first opened in 1996, we were cash poor but deeply passionate. I would do stupid hours, coach before work, go to work, go to the gym and coach from 4-9pm. This went on for 10 years while I managed training, coaching, and often had to work full time in Australia and overseas to get by and keep alive. After 12 years of 6am to 10pm I went full time for Phoenix, expanded from 1 to 3 training rooms, and went back to being cash poor and growing the club every waking moment.

I need quality staff who are skilled and good at the things I am not. I need good systems and programs to make things run more smoothly. I have been super fortunate to have some great help over the past 23 years and am always eager to keep building for another 20 years.

Managing staff has been the hardest part of the business.

Customer feedback is essential, but we evaluate ourselves as we are our strongest critics!

Evaluation of every aspect of the club and youself are critical and the hardest thing you must do. There has never been a customer criticism that has been harsher than my own evaluation. I love learning and self-assessment, and although facing yourself is the hardest thing – you must do it constantly to be successful. When you are a head coach, it is extremely hard for your loyal students to tell you the whole truth. The best people often leave without a word. You must face yourself and have people you trust to critic everything, evaluate, and analyse all failure and success.

I love positive feedback and social media has accelerated the turnover, speed and interactions. It has not improved the quality of feedback, only the quantity. Our greatest marketing strength is word of mouth and some kind words between friends will always be stronger. Social media has enhanced interaction, however the people that seem to go to the greatest effort are the complainers and my personal favourite, the google reviews from people who have never been to the gym or are from another petty club who can take cheap shots with no accountability. Google should not allow reviews without a real name and identity check (so we can find them as well). We have always learnt, improved on, and dealt with all customer problems to the best of our ability, and the ones in person in a respectful and professional way. What is spineless and narcissistic is social media complaints from gutless wonders who do not come in and have a conversation to sort out a problem or provide a solution.

We always aim to be the best for everyone we have at Phoenix. Fact is, what we do is hard and takes commitment and effort constantly over a long period of time. People must pay for the club to be open and remain open. Some people are just not up to it or their life does not go as they wish. Taking it out on the club is unfair and misdirected but it happens. Rather than winge about us, then leave without explanation, or bag us; come in and have a conversation. We will all improve. If we don’t know your issue, we can’t help you, and I can tell you we not only want to help, but we also want you to enjoy your time with us and stay with us long term. So please give us the respect of telling us when there is something wrong, and we will give you the respect of doing everything in our power to fix it.

Owning your own club is fun, but it is still a job!

My job is to successfully run a Martial Arts club and help those who want to become healthier and live better lives through it. I am responsible for keeping the lights on, the equipment in good working order, and the bills paid so that all the athletes in my gym always have a place to come and train with their best friends.

However, it is also how I pay my staff and myself and enable Phoenix to survive. They deserve to be provided for, so in that manner, I need to make money. It is a business – a fun one at times, yes – but still a business that needs to run and be successful, which is sometimes at odds to the fun social side of the community. It can also be at odds with honest training feedback that people need to improve, and face in order to grow. It is a fact that many members are families or students and sacrifice things to be a part of Phoenix. We do also have plenty of members that earn far more than my staff and I and need to consider a little more at times that our time and life is as valuable as theirs. We need regular fees to stay open and be there for you so please consider every time you suspend for 4 weeks because you are having a holiday – we do not get a discount on our rent and expenses because you are not there. But I assume you want us there when you are ready to go again. We are not a charity; we need to earn our dollars and that only happens through satisfied members.

It is the best job in the world! Now 25 years on, I am moving to a more part-time model and adding others things to my life for my own training, sanity and to live a complete life.

Never stop learning as a Club or as an individual!

Never think you have this right and everything will run smoothly. Never stop learning and always strive to improve. Learn from the failure and loss, and learn from success. Success doesn’t always mean you did everything right and needs evaluation. Failure and loss (at business or in competition) conversely doesn’t mean you did everything wrong. Failure/loss are often the greatest lessons and every professional will learn from all events.

Never stop learning because nothing is more constant than change. As athletes, as coaches, and as business managers, we must always strive for ways to learn new things, new methods, and new techniques. We must always educate ourselves and continue to develop, self-educate, study and make deliberate efforts to experience new things. We must be creative, and the best creativity comes with experience. We must keep the club unique, developing, and incorporate variety into everything we do to ensure the coaches and members are always evolving , learning, and never getting bored. Discipline is essential but as coaches we must always inspire with variety and initiative focused on the main objectives in line with our vision.

Coaches should always have a coach and learn from others. I often think I have learnt more from my members than I have taught them, and my most experienced coaches are excellent to learn from. It inspires me to keep going when I see how well younger, more energetic coaches adapt, create and develop the club. However good it gets we all must have a coach, a mentor: someone to check us, critique us, help us keep on track, provide perspective and learn from. It must be a real person (or people) not a Youtube video, and someone that gets the whole picture.

I didn’t start the club with any of the programs we have now. We didn’t do Muay Thai. I had a vision and that vision has been the guiding star to where we are now. We coach better, we fight better, we have harder fitness, better fighters, better structures, and far more great people involved. We have constantly learnt and developed. Some people have coached and left and that is a massive shame because Phoenix has lost, and they have lost the joint effort and development. When someone stops learning and thinks they have it figured out, they should leave, because I have failed them, and they have failed themselves. When you can’t face criticism and develop your self-awareness you shouldn’t be in business anymore and you have stopped progressing as a martial artist as well.

The members make the gym.

This facility is my heart and soul, and the heart of soul of this facility is its members. The people in every class, right in front of you are the ones that deserve your best. How people feel when they leave after doing one of your classes says a lot about who you are.

They are the ones who make the hard work, late nights, stress, sweat and tears worth it. If they were different, I’d be different, and the long days and nights would be a little less fun. Every member is important to me; everyone has their own story and place in the gym. Every member is missed if they are not there. Not the because of the money but because of the connections and routine. I have learnt my best life lessons from my own members and improved my skill at coaching and training because of the members I train with.

The role of an owner is one of many and varies constantly. From business manager, complaints department, coach, to friend, psychologist: I love that about my job. I genuinely care for my members and want the very best for ALL of them. Sometimes when it comes to training, what I know is the best course for you to improve, you may not agree with. My job isn’t to be your best friend or mother. It is to improve your character, give you pride and let you feel you did it yourself.

I really truly believe that Muay Thai, done right with the right people – like us – is the very best method of martial arts and fantastic fitness.

If I thought something was better, I would do it. Phoenix is the best it can be, honest and everything in our marketing about what we do it true. Our experience speaks for itself and our ability is proven with the reputation cemented. I opened the first full time martial arts facility in the ACT and focused on what works and what we like to do. I really thought at the time that our integrity and ability would grow and the ‘fake’ ineffective, marketed bullshit martial arts that grade 12-year-old to black belts in one year, and have fat black belts who have never had a fight teaching self-defence, would fade away! Especially with the UFC, Youtube and more growth of Muay Thai, K-1, and glory – but I was wrong. The franchised after school childcare masquerading as martial arts has increased. The McDojo systems are prospering and are completely bullshit as martial art clubs. You can learn to fight, be fit and be a good person so why bother with rubbish at your local school hall and perpetuate the movie myth martial arts? However, people do, probably because they love the fantasy, never test themselves, never do self-assessment, and believe the bullshit told to them by their fake arse part-time instructors who have never fought anything more than a piece of plywood.

People think they want to learn self defence but what they really want is how to deal with difficult social interactions and can not handle the actual requirement to deal with violence, and be tough and resilient enough to fight to survive if you have to. That takes real time, hard work and adversity. People also want to be fit but don’t realise until after a few months, it is hard work and you have to live it to love it in order for it to work. We don’t do fitness for weight loss or vanity reasons, we do it because we love the feeling and pride we get from the adverse situations and achieving challenges.

We do everything we do as best we can. We do not do traditional Muay Thai because we are not Thai. We do not copy culture and pretend; we develop our own version that is effective for our environment. Our competition success nationally and internationally is all we need to be confident that what we do works. We add in many aspects that differ because that is the best way we consider things should be done. We coach in a systematic way and add in character development, teamwork, club commitment, pride and modern coaching methods for structure and learning principles that we learn from other sports, sports science and dynamics of human interactions. It is unique to the vision when we opened, and continued by the like-minded coaches that have developed Phoenix. It is more than Muay Thai because it  character development applies to success at anything, and satisfaction in a life with purpose.

A secret rule we have now: if you have trained at Tae Kwon do, any franchise martial art, GKR (etc) for more than 6 months, you are lost. Please don’t bother, continue your fantasy. You must realise you have been doing scientology and not martial arts and wake up to yourself before you walk in. We have never had a new member who has given me their resume and training experience black belt CV, actually be able to do anything more than beginner classes. The only people we manage to respect with previous experience are those who shut up and train, fit in, and get on with it. Parents who tell me little johnny has a black belt in TKD can’t handle the reality that little Johnny has wasted a lot of $ and time learning to not defend themselves or even be fit enough to keep up. The only people that are fit enough and capable enough come from other Muay Thai clubs, and that’s a fact.

I believe Phoenix is the best place to change your life for the better.

I really think that everyone I know, meet, and see from a distance should join our club, and I am honestly confused and surprised when they don’t. I genuinely believe that Phoenix is second to none.

I also believe that my club, although it may appear similar on the surface to other clubs out there, is in many ways unique and special when compared to the rest. Anyone that wants to be better at Muay Thai as well as fitter/stronger people should be lining up to get in here and join our family! We are not McDonalds, we don’t market, we say what we do for you to choose if you want join in.

This belief can also be a major undoing on the business side. Of course, people don’t always like us and are looking for something else. It has taken 20 years to realise that the best way to be who we are and do what we do, is to just do our best and work hard on the people at the club without worrying or thinking about anyone else.

The ‘your gyms not close enough’ reason shits me. We are worth the drive. You must be the sort of person that settles for what they get because it is cheaper or more convenient. We probably don’t want you as a member either but in reality, quality is worth the drive and effort. We live in Canberra! Everything is close, we do a unique minority sport/martial art – you should spend time seeking the best for you.

If you leave us, for any reason, I take it personally, and it hurts.

People leave the gym for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they move away, decide it’s too hard, or it’s too hot, or too cold. They get a job, get pregnant, get weaker, get a nagging partner or whatever. Often, years later, I run into them, without a doubt, I always get a story about how being at Phoenix was the best time in their life. Even those that have gone on to train or do something somewhere else comment on how nothing was like Phoenix. This always makes me feel proud. When parents bring their kids in 10 years later, I know the club has an important place in their life. Fact is, people often want to come back but are more nervous the second time than the first: too many expectations, too many comparisons and let downs to face. But seriously, toughen up precious, get over yourself and get back in anytime. If you have read this far, you should be back at Phoenix.

I never get the reasons really. So what you have moved, travel further. So what you lost your job, stop wasting money on drinking or coffees. So what you broke your spine, get back into the gym and your life will be better. So what you have a new relationship and need more time together – if you don’t stick to the things you like that made you who you are, you are giving up on yourself to rely on someone else who might not always be there. It doesn’t mean that I have to understand it or like your reasons. If I wasn’t as fanatical, the club wouldn’t be what the club it is.

Removing members: I have kicked a few people out and don’t let certain people join. This is not always easy and requires sound judgement, strength of character and confidence in your own ethical view of life. I have stood up to bikie gang members, threats from criminals, and government legislation to ban the sport. Kicked out Amway salespeople, people trying to sell ‘supplements’, and a few people who were just dicks. Sometimes I had to use my experience and get rid of people that I believe would use there fighting skills inappropriately. I have counselled a few teenagers and tried to keep people in the club when their lives are troubled, because I believe it works. I have had to ask some people to leave for getting in fights when there is always a choice to make and another option. It always tests me and sits in my soul. I don’t always get it right, but I do it for the club and the community and try to make every decision in the best interests of Phoenix.

I take it personally when an athlete leaves because it’s like I’ve failed them in some small way. It honestly upsets me when people leave, especially when they don’t tell me why. It’s even worse when I’m lied to about it and I see your face in another gym’s photos. This all comes back to what we invest in you from the very first moment you walk in here. We are here for you, and we genuinely get upset when it seems that doesn’t seem worthy of your respect, when in fact we worked pretty hard to get it. We work hard to build who you are and what you know from day 1. Re-writing your history is delusional but sadly people do it to kid themselves.

The few serious disappointments have been rare. The vast majority of people that come and go are great people with great lives. We have had a few failures however and every long-term club will experience this sooner or later. Learn from it, move on, and focus on the good people that turn up, not the people whose loyalty was only convenient to what they could get out of you. Despite what they admit to their students, they can never walk away from the knowledge of who built them, their foundations, and lessons they learned at Phoenix. For us it is truly liberating to cut the weeds out and grow, even when we did not think of it at the time. Every disappointment has turned out as a strength for the club!

When you train at Phoenix from day one you learn how to coach, how to structure classes, your foundations and the structure. Our system works, it is unique and developed constantly over the last 25 years. It has taken thousands of hours to develop and improve on. Grading through the system teaches and exposes you to how to run classes, how to progress yourself and others. Always remember where you came from proudly because you wouldn’t be where you are without Phoenix. If you have problems at your current club – face them head on and work them out. Move on, but move on respectfully and remember where you came from.

For every disappointment we have grown 100-fold from the lesson, and any culling has made us stronger and prosper. There are always people who will step up, blossom and fill the shoes of those before that without the clear air at the top, may not have been given the opportunity to rise and shine themselves.

The club is a just a bus ride.

I have always been it for the long ride, but you can’t expect others to be. Some will, even many will want to, but very few will be in it just for the ride. People will get on and off the bus as it suits their life. The best we can do is ensure that while people are on the bus, they have the best experience they can. When they get off, that they remember the ride got them somewhere, they sat near some good people and had a great journey. Some will stay and get upgrades, meet life partners, and move around the bus, but eventually most will get off and new people will get on. Give them a good seat near the front and explain how the seat works, because it is a first-class seat to life, not an action bus to the shops. Drive safely, look after everyone and ensure the service is legendary.

How to stay at Phoenix, keep training and be a long-term member.

This is CRITICAL because what we do works like compound interest. It takes time and constant development. 6 months is not long, 6 years is only mid-way, 12 + is when we get serious and this is common for Phoenix. The key is BALANCE. We built Phoenix on the obsessive people who train every day, who compete and who sacrifice their lives to be better at what we do. If you didn’t train 6 days a week, compete and be obsessive, you weren’t really Phoenix. This system has developed the best fighters we have had and a strong club for everyone: however it is was wrong. It is not the future. Phoenix is the entire club and who ever feels the Phoenix pride.

Long term satisfaction, success and happiness comes from training as hard as you can 3-4 times a week and having other important things in your life like a great job, university, a family, friends, another sport and a social life. The obsessive approach is not healthy or sustainable in the long term but required for the competition phase of your training.

If you are in the 5%’s and want to compete, you have to step up and commit 100% while you are competing. However, this is only while you are competing, and you must have something in your life when you are done. Competition is extremely challenging on you and everyone around you, including me. Only 5% of people compete and only a smaller percentage of that number even get 5 fights, let alone 10, and 20 is rare. So, please keep everything in perspective and have something to go to after training.

Owning your own club is extremely expensive!

All gyms are an expensive monster that constantly eat money. At face value you see bags, matts rings, changerooms, barbells, plates, treadmills, and much more. You may think that once you own them it is all good. Not really. Everything takes daily cleaning and maintenance. Before the fancy equipment we sourced ‘unusual’ equipment before it was trendy. Tyres, sledgehammers, water in beer kegs, climbing ropes, concrete blocks and we used the road as a treadmill. We have always bought top quality equipment, cleaned it daily and constantly updated it. This takes hours. Every day you walk in the gym, it looks new. It is also clean and washed, and we have never had a case of infection due to the diligence. Our matts are custom made before Chinese ‘rip offs’ existed. New clubs open now, charge the same or more and get cheap matts and basic equipment but say they are better than us – modern social media marketing has taken over truth in many areas. The latest dilemma has been the ‘Covid shut down’ and the increased regulations. Cleaning costs have skyrocketed, and membership is more fragile. We may be back to ‘normal’, but people’s ‘concerns’ make any growth challenging. Government regulation has increased as has oversight, tax law and many other regulatory requirements. Thank you for Job Keeper. Staff – every business loves them and must have them, but good people are not cheap, not always easy to manage and being an employer is tough and emotional, not just expensive. The responsibility of someone’s salary is extremely stressful.

Covid shutdown and 2 years on.

This was the best thing for the club in 10 years. It allowed us to focus. It showed what and who was important and it provided a new challenge. It was like long service leave with hours of unpaid work included. The club grew with new people. You got to see who was truly on the bus for the ride and who wasn’t, who your friends were, and who truly valued what you do. The hardest part was the insecurity of what was the centre of my life. The best part was seeing what was important in my life. It was hard to deal with not being an ‘essential’ service and the hypocrisy of inconsistent and ‘made up as you go along’ regulations. We tried to stay open, we stopped all payments, we cancelled all memberships, and we just worked hard on the new Phoenix rising from the ashes. We dealt with a greedy landlord like the fighters we are, and we battled on because the fight is more important than who wins. We are back and have shown we are not going anywhere for a very long time.

2 years past covid, life is better and the new normal has settled in. I do feel that many things have changed though, people find it much harder to be consistent, to commit, to take responsibility for themselves and their choices. Unfortunately social media and the watch anything, eat anything, anytime lifestyle that can be delivered to your door hasn’t gone with covid. People are still sucked into and forget living is living out in the real world, with people, challenges and activity.

The ride continues.

All things aside, I love my club and it’s the people involved and the members that make every day, every month, every year and every new challenge worthwhile. I want it to last forever: that is why I named it Phoenix in the first place, in the spirit to always rise, adapt, learn and improve. For the members to keep coming and for them to grow, being able to run it and pass it on from generation to generation. I am thankful for everything I have and everyone I have shared it with.

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