Martial Arts Gym Owner Fights Through Pandemic Woes

Martial Arts Gym Owner Fights Through Pandemic Woes

OCEANSIDE, NY — Soon after absorbing a financial gut punch from the COVID-19 pandemic and

OCEANSIDE, NY — Soon after absorbing a financial gut punch from the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns at his martial arts health and fitness center in Lynbrook, Christian Defiris dusted himself off and personally designed a new facility in Oceanside.

Defiris and his remaining college students reconstructed the previous Century 21 office, at 2911 Lengthy Seashore Rd., into the new household for ECF Elite Martial Arts & Conditioning. At 4,000 sq. ft, the new digs are half the measurement of his former gym on Dawn Highway, in which his lease had expired and he opted to go alternatively than pay a considerable submit-shutdown rental hike.

“I couldn’t continue to keep a gymnasium that dimension with 50 % of the learners,” explained Defiris, a five-time martial arts winner. “So I did the intelligent factor and downsized alternatively of becoming stubborn and keeping onto a desire that I could not manage.”

His struggles started off on March 16, 2020, when amid the COVID outbreak he was compelled to close his Lynbrook gym that he experienced termed residence since 2014. A thirty day period afterwards, he established up an outside kickboxing health and fitness center in its parking ton, charging pupils $10 to $15 a course when he ongoing to spend his rent. He also designed a studio in his condominium exactly where he held free on-line cardio kickboxing and energy education courses by using Zoom, Facebook and Instagram.

“That was to maintain my head sane, hold my body suitable, and to give back again to the community, since I knew tons of people today who were just caught at residence, frustrated, and experienced nothing to do and were not doing the job,” he stated.

After assembly health and fitness division protocols, Defiris managed to lawfully reopen his gymnasium in late August 2020. But only 30 of his 175 pre-pandemic pupils returned, and as the pandemic raged on, he maxed out at just 80 customers. The disaster took a toll, hurtling him into credit card debt.

“But like the winner that I am, I never ever gave up and I never ever give up, and I just commenced hunting for superior spaces, which are significantly and couple of concerning for my open-area set up,” he stated.

He frequented extra than 40 homes before landing an very affordable place in Oceanside. He break up the double-unit property into a space for kickboxing and boxing, and the other for Brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling and judo.

The fitness center partitions are decorated with Defiris’ belts, medals and framed push clippings that he racked up as a a few-time Muay Thai kickboxing, a person-time Combined Martial Arts and just one superfight Brazilian jiu jitsu champion, as perfectly as a fight promoter who aided get MMA legalized in New York state. Right now, when education his learners, he proudly ties his gi uniform with blackbelts for Brazilian jiu jitsu and Muay Thai.

Whilst his health and fitness center has transformed, Defiris’ mission remains the exact: using martial arts to alter people’s life for the better—and to create champions.

Among his most prosperous younger college students are a sibling duo from Oceanside, Nicholas Nilsen, 12, and P.J. Nilsen, 11, who joined ECF 6 a long time ago and have gained a collective 20 jiu jitsu tournaments.

ECF operates anti-bullying programs for little ones 4 yrs and older that teaches them how to manage by themselves in various scenarios. Paul Pirrello, a 21-year-previous US Military reserve from Hempstead, joined ECF when Defiris held lessons in his Lynbrook parking lot. Defiris remembers that when Pirrello came to him, “he was in a very fragile condition. He had no course. Didn’t sense like he in shape in anyplace. Had no mates. Then he discovered me and the kid is now a tremendous athlete filled with confidence and has friends. He just won his initially cage battle inside a single minute of the initial round.”

Pirrello credits Defiris with aiding him understand how to fight and boosting his self-esteem.

“There are a great deal of people today out there who say they can educate you stuff but they seriously can not,” Pirrello mentioned. “This is a quite legit spot that teaches you things that truly works. And I was in a position to go into the ring and exam it and show that it performs.”

Gianna Petruccelli, a 17-yr-outdated Valley Stream resident, adopted Defiris to Oceanside immediately after signing up for his gymnasium 3 decades back, roughly when she was diagnosed with diabetic issues. She stuck with her coaching primarily for its health added benefits.

“Following I stored coming right here a lot more and far more just about every working day, I understood that my blood sugars have been getting to be extra stabilized,” she stated. “So, I just held coming and coming.”

Cliff Julien is among the ECF’s older pupils. A neighbor of Defiris in Lynbrook, he was a 50-12 months-old longtime smoker who was chubby and flirting with struggling a stroke when he was persuaded to sign up for his fitness center in 2017. In the to start with 10 months, Julien stop cigarette smoking and dropped 110 pounds, from 274 to 164. These days, he wears a perfectly-acquired Muay Thai purple belt.

“Christian stayed on me about my smoking cigarettes for quite a few many years,” he recalled. “He understood a little something was wrong with me. He saved my life. I know without him I wouldn’t be listed here now.”