Perspective on the Recession


I met a fellow martial arts school owner at a friends house the other night. The friend mentioned to me earlier in the evening that his guest owned 4 other schools on the south shore. I made introductions and we chatted a bit about his school. He was incredibly respectful, but he also had tunnel vision. I have met many school and business owners like that over the years. They just “know” what does and does not work.

We first started discussing the styles we taught, he told me about his school and how great his style was. He wasn’t arrogant about it, just confident and specific. He asked how my school was doing. I told him great.IMG_2966 The topic came up, kid students adults etc. He then told me “the economy sucks, so adults don’t want to take class now” When I shared we have over 250 adults training in Spencer, he explained his schools where in high end areas so the recession has caused more problems with wive’s having to get jobs now.

I mentioned how we also offer ilovekickboxing..started to ask if he had heard of it. He told me how he did kickboxing in the 90’s “When it was hot” but “NO ONE” does kickboxing anymore..nobody is going to join that program.

“If there is a recession, I refuse to participate.” Master Paul Garcia

We opened our school right as the recession started. I heard the news and media every day talking about how bad it was. I started feeling afraid, and doubting our decision to open a school. These where the worst conditions, in a small farming community. I heard the locals talking about getting laid off, I saw house foreclosures on every corner. My own home was behind now.  I had been running a school for the 8 years prior in the same community in a great economy, how on earth could we succeed in a failing economy.

Then one day I sat in Master Garcia’s training and he said the quote above, “If there is a recession, I refuse to participate”. I realized I had allowed the mindset of what was in the media etc. affect my own behaviors. I realized then I had a choice on how I was going to respond to the things happening in our community, I Could jump into the doom and gloom boat, or I could paddle against the stream.IMG_3105

We doubled the size of our school that year. We have continued to grow every year, in every program. We surrounded ourselves with like minded individuals and stopped spending time around those negative nellies. I have watched all of the America’s Best Defense Schools (even those in well to do communities grow like crazy year after year).

Please understand, I am in no way down playing or sweeping under the rug the fact that there have been some very had times in our country for families. I am rather encouraging to choose how you work with the cards you are dealt.

Did you know that the game Monopoly was born due to the Great Depression? Charles Darrow found himself out of work after the crash of ’29, he then spent years perfecting the game and became the first millionare by creating a board game.

Check out these 5 stories from the great depression,


Then of course, you can check out why so many adults choose our schools at or

Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

I sat in the hot tub last night. 19 degrees out and I was outdoors nice and comfy in my hot tub. I thought kind of crankily how with the big storm coming in I was kind of upset my fireplace wasn’t fixed yet. I am not a fan of this weather, but a nice cozy fire and glass of wine makes it bearable. So not having my fireplace was quite the inconvenience.

Missed My Fireplace Over the Holidays
Missed My Fireplace Over the Holidays

It hit me how much has changed. Just 5 years ago Corey and I were getting ready to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. But everything around us was falling apart. We had just opened our school, and our only source of household income was my job as a store manager. I had broken my arm and had been out of work 2 months with a possible 3-6 months more out.

Needless to say, we were in financial crisis. We were now 2 months behind in our mortgage. For Christmas, we had nothing. We were blessed that someone close to us had an idea of how things were and the local police dept dropped of to huge bags of wrapped gifts for my boys. Even though it was a huge blessing, I still was feeling a failure.

Then we ran out of oil. It was one of the coldest spells in years, some schools closed due to the sub zero temperatures. We lived in a house that was 200 years old and very drafty. We didn’t tell anyone. We asked Corey’s parents because of how “busy” our work schedule was that next couple days if the boys can sleep over their house.

Huddled around a space heater.
Huddled around a space heater.

Then we closed of the rest of the house and huddled around a space heater and wore 5 layers! We bought a cheap electric blanket.

I became very discouraged. I started doubting if we had chosen the right path. Maybe a martial arts school in Spencer MA was not a good decision. Such a small farming community surrounded the area. Maybe, when I go back to work I should focus on finding a district or regional management position. I mean, I really did enjoy that kind of work and I loved to travel. Maybe Corey should look into a full time career outside the school also. Nothing was going the way we hoped it seemed like we would forever be stuck in this place unless something changed. I was facing a wall of discouragement, I began to feel foolish in my goals and worry what others where thinking of me and my failures. Real Mistake

Corey had been doing some side work and we had oil again within a couple days. I did return to work and we were able to tread water and make some serious changes, but not the kind that forced us to give up on our dreams.

I would like to say after that winter it was all better. It wasn’t, we faced many more challenges.

A little over a year later our electricity was turned off for non payment,  I owed over $2000. We went a week with no electricity. We told the boys it was an experiment to understand what real farm life used to be like. It was summer so we didn’t freeze, but all of our food spoiled.

This time though my attitude was very different. I understood in the long run this was only a few days. It was not going to destroy my life or even seriously hold me back. I didn’t need to abort my goals. I could see progress happening and knew we would overcome.

When challenges come your way you need to step back. You need to ask yourself, will this matter in 5 years? How will it affect me in 5 years? How old will I be? How old will my kids be? What do I want my life to be like in 5 years? How will I  get there? As awful as that year was, it was a small part of a big life. I had the opportunity to be blessed by my amazing community, who helped us survive during a challenging time. I got to find out what was really worth it. I got to learn that success isn’t sprint, but a marathon. Just like a marathon, sometimes you want to give up and take the easy way. Stay on the path, don’t give up, don’t life’s discouragements stop you. It’s your life, don’t let it happen to you, create the life you always wanted.

Follow that dream

My dream grew into — now we also have,,