Stranger 46, Day 46 – Meet Jason, the “Fighter for A Better Place”

Stranger 46, Day 46 - Meet Jason

I’m traveling today in Boston (and part of tomorrow). I wasn’t worried at all about finding a Stranger — they’re everywhere, especially as I walked the dense city of Boston. If anything, the question was when I would pick the Stranger. Well, I decided to pick my Airbnb host. I’ve never stayed at an Airbnb before, and so in many ways, I was curious to learn more about him anyways. So here goes…

Meet Jason, 37

Who are you?

“I run UFC Gyms. I run several across the country. I actually ran the first UFC Gym in Nordic, California. Last year, I ran the UFC Gym in Manhattan, SOHO. I’m the Managing Partner here for about a year and half.”

How did you get into running the gym?

“I was a mixed martial artist in my late teens, early twenties. Then, I had some really bad injuries, so I focused more on the business… like going to college… working in corporate America for a while. When they started the UFC gym company, I had an opportunity to take everything I learned, and apply it here.”

“This is a smaller gym, but the gym I had in California was 40,000 square feet. So it’s a lot more.”

Jason continues, “Yeah, it’s been a good opportunity to learn and grow, and do something that I’m passionate about which is fitness, MMA, changing people’s lives…”

What are your Dreams? You’ve run many gyms, and now, you’re a Managing Partner.

“I think my Dream is just to have a positive impact on the community and the world as a whole. The way I try to do it is through fitness.”

Jason shares, “So we do a lot with helping the urban youth — like kids in the community with job placement, job training. The people I’m connecting with is actually opening in Dorcester that’s doing… doesn’t matter if you don’t have no money at all. If you’re a teenager, you just go there to train — jiujitsu or kickboxing. Just trying to have a positive impact on the community in any way I can — through my gyms, through fitness. It gives me a mechanism to be able to have a positive impact.”

I find there are a lot of people who love UFC, and another half who don’t care for it at all. Is there a misconception of UFC?

“I think so, but I think that’s going away a lot. I think the stigma is starting to go away. The more mainstream it gets, the more visualization of the sport. More people come into our gym become aware of what we are, what we do. That stigma is going away because it was very much a blood sport. But now, it’s becoming an actual sport. With $4B sell, it puts it right up there with most major athletic organizations in the world. It says a lot about the sport.”

I’ve always thought about running a gym/ having one. I feel like there’s just so much about gyms and working in fitness that really… wakes you up in the morning, right?

“Yeah, it’s one of those things that you tend to not mind going to work everyday. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ve had a lot of jobs where really… having jobs for Fortune 500 companies, where I dreaded having to go to work in the morning. In the gym, even if we’re having a bad month, or having a bad week, I still don’t mind coming into work everyday. Sometimes, I look forward to coming to work. That’s the cool thing. It’s really the biggest thing… you change people’s lives here everyday. There isn’t one person who comes through this door that I can’t give them what they’re looking for for the most part. They can come in here looking to reach their fitness goals, and I can put together a plan to get them there. It feels good. If you can help someone get rid of Type 2 Diabetes… get them off insulin. I mean, it just feels good. You help someone lose 50, 60, 70, 100 pounds… their lives are changed.”

“I’ve had people that their wife left them. Took the kids. They’re losing their house. They’re 320 pounds. Two years later, they’re 210 pounds, and now they’re teaching spin class, and spreading the word of what fitness can do for your life. That’s the stuff that really inspires me. I think especially in this industry, the margins have faded over the last 10-20 years. So it’s not as profitable to work in this industry as it used to be. But the work environment’s great. You can make a very strong living, and you can meet a lot of amazing people along the way.”

Switching gears somewhat… you’re my Airbnb host. What are some of the cool things you’ve gotten out of that experience? How long have you been doing it?

“Airbnb here in Boston, just a couple months really. It’s cool, man. My family, we own some farms outside Boston. It’s really convenient for me to stay outside the city. Usually, it’s me or my roommate that’ll be there. But yeah, you’ll meet a lot of good people. It’s a great way to save on rent, especially when you’re in these markets where rent’s through the roof. It helps us out, and it helps people… rather than spend $300 on a hotel room, you get a 2000-sq ft apartment for the night which isn’t too bad.”

Most interesting Airbnb story?

“Couple Australians that went out partying, and… nothing too crazy. Yeah. Nothing too exciting.”

What do you think is the best way to succeed? (Thanks to Kirubel, Stranger 45)

“To take every opportunity that’s ever afforded to you and make the most of it. Doesn’t matter how small of an opportunity it is, because every opportunity leads to another opportunity. If you can take the smallest opportunity that others take for granted, you can turn it into something amazing. That’s going to turn into more amazing opportunities for you.”

What’s a question you’d like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“I’d like to ask them what they could do to make the world a better place?”

After the handshake.

How great was it that Jason, my host for the evening, was also an owner of a gym?! Well, I think it was pretty great. I wish I contacted him earlier, though, so I could have known to bring my workout clothes. In any event, he’s running a gym to which is somewhat of a dream of mine. It’s not a real serious dream, but it’s a thought, especially after working with so many coaches when I was doing sales for my startup Body Boss Fitness in the past.

I could totally see and feel Jason’s excitement (and responsibility) of running a gym. The way he shared his dream and his passion for helping others flowed so smoothly as he talked to me. It wasn’t bull. It was real authentic, and I was excited to meet him. In so many ways, the way he feels about fitness is how I also feel. The transformation he helps others with is sometimes… understated, I feel, when it comes to outsiders. Fitness is just… that important and that transformative. In many ways, though, it’s not just the fitness. It’s the dedication… the sheer hard work and focus to achieve goals, and everything that comes with that. Jason sees that. I see that. And I see that in Jason.

Meet Jason. No longer a Stranger.

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