UFC Gym Naperville Fulfills Kids Physical and Social Needs With New Youth Programs

By Mark Imperial

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Q: What are some common fears parents have about providing kids with safe physical activities that give them the fitness and socialization they need?

Matt Kuschert and Ricardo Lamas: The parents and children that we serve quickly see that safety is our top priority. Whether it be the cleanliness of the facility, quality of our coaches and instruction, or the serious approach we take to the development of our curricula, their fears are quickly quelled. While nobody can absolutely guarantee anybody will be 100% safe, we take every step we can to ensure our environment is as safe and fruitful as possible.

Q: What inspired you to make the decision that you were going to become a(n) owner and coach?

Matt Kuschert and Ricardo Lamas: We have been coaches at a variety of levels for over 20 years. We have coached small children, youth, adolescents, college athletes and adults. We were both student athletes, and have been positively influenced by a number of coaches throughout the years. I (Matt) believe it is critical to have people outside of your family pushing you and driving expectations for achieving excellence in your life. There are few other things that motivate us more than watching someone try something difficult, overcome obstacles, persevere, and succeed. As long as you keep improving, you will NEVER fail. We have been fortunate to learn from some of the best coaches in the world and we are constantly nourishing our minds with trainings, books, and podcasts of some of the world’s foremost experts in the field of health and wellness. We both studied the natural sciences in our undergraduate degrees and I (Matt) studied the psychological/social sciences in my graduate work. The marriage between the body and the mind cannot be overstated. A sound body and sound mind go hand in hand!

Q: What were the circumstances surrounding the day you crossed over from “I’m going to be” to “I am” a(n) owner and coach”?

Matt Kuschert: I have been a coach for most of my adult life and even as a high school and college athlete, I was coaching youth sports. In regards to owning the gym, Ricardo and I always knew we would do it. The conversation started in college, but it was ongoing into our adult lives as he was climbing the world rankings in mixed martial arts and I was climbing the ranks in the professional world. Rick is one of the best coaches in the world and we always knew we wanted to create a special place where all walks of life and ability levels were welcome to learn from such a decorated and accomplished athlete. We did NOT want a bunch of meatheads and jerks walking around trying to intimidate people, like we had seen in so many other gyms over the years. We have plenty of accomplished warriors, but they all exhibit kindness and humility, and that starts at the top of the house with a humble warrior like Rick. Today, our gym boasts exactly that; people of all ages, ability levels, shapes and sizes, and backgrounds coming together to better themselves. I cannot think of anything more amazing than the eclectic nature of our gym and the church-like, welcoming, and supportive feel of the culture. We all care about each other, and the gym is much, much bigger than Ricardo and me now.

Q: Tell us about your first experiences as owners and coaches.

Matt Kuschert and Ricardo Lamas: Owning the gym has been a dream come true. Being a small catalyst for someone to achieve something they may have doubted was possible is a very moving experience. We have worked with people that thought they’d never walk again, never lift weights, never learn something new, or never accomplish their lofty goals, just to name a few. Self-defeating mindsets and speech are completely destructive to improving one’s life. Providing a supportive environment where they could be pushed and encouraged to improve is the most incredible feeling. Folks will often thank us, but we remind them that THEY did it, not us. It brings us near tears thinking about all the folks that have accomplished things they never thought were possible. We have yet to meet a single person that doesn’t respond to encouragement and have always found it to be sad that many folks do not have that type of support in their lives. We like to encourage people because the positive ripple effect of them accomplishing their goals and achieving challenging things is virtually immeasurable.

With that being said, owning and operating the business is certainly not without its major challenges, especially throughout the Covid19 closures. Frankly, there were times that we were not sure we were going to make it. Like so many other small business owners, we saw what we had worked so hard to build start to crumble as revenue ceased and expenses continued. However, we were committed to our staff, coaches, and members to get back after it, and we wanted to show them that we were never going to give up on them or ourselves. We constantly preach for folks not to give up on themselves and their goals (one of the biggest challenges is people quitting), so we needed to practice what we preached, and we were able to persevere through that very challenging time. We continue to have struggles, but the culture of the gym really helps, as everyone stepped up big time to help us weather the ongoing storm. The outpouring of support has been incredible! It has been simultaneously the most humbling and uplifting experience of our professional lives.

Q: What is an important lesson you have learned that still impacts how you do business today?

Matthew Kuschert: I try to take an introspective approach in life and that is certainly true with this business. I find that sometimes people are resistant to admitting mistakes, but I believe that is exactly how you get better and better every day. My personal mantra is to be “1% better every day”, so it takes a self-critical (not negatively, but constructively) person to improve every day. The list of mistakes is too long to write out, but I pride myself on not making the same mistake twice.

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Mark Imperial

Mark Imperial is a Best Selling Author, Syndicated Business Columnist, and Host of numerous business shows spotlighting leading experts, entrepreneurs, and business celebrities. Mark is also the media and marketing strategist and voice for some of the world's most famous brands. www.markimperial.com