Want to challenge the limitations you set for yourself?

This is the journey of Dr. Ben Fuqua: PhD, Professor of Literature, and martial arts student at SBG Athens.
SBG Athens Ga
Before joining SBG Athens, Ben struggled with anxiety and lacked healthy outlets.

Ben was convinced that people were meant to choose a path and never deviate from that path. He found success in the classroom, earning several advanced degrees and teaching college courses before the age of 30. Something was missing, however. He was drawn to the idea of being more active—a youth-athlete and lifelong sports fan—but resisted dedicating himself to becoming more active. “I thought that training [martial arts] was for other people,” he says. “I thought that you already had to be athletic to learn to do something athletic.” Afraid to leave his comfort zone, Ben ignored the itch to train for years.

Ben became aware of SBG Athens (then called The HardCore Gym) during the rise of MMA fighters like Forrest Griffin, Brian Bowles, and (co-proprietor) Rory Singer. He was sure that he couldn’t belong there. “I looked at the gym as this institution in sports. They have world champions…I was happy just living in the same town where these guys trained.” Growing more and more interested in finding a way to round out his life, Ben started researching local martial arts programs. He discovered that SBG Athens offered a whole arrangement of beginner classes, even encouraging beginners.

In the middle of writing his PhD dissertation, Ben says he finally became exhausted with “spending all of [his] time obsessing” over work. He walked in off the street without letting anyone know he was coming. He ended up having a private workout with one of the coaches just days after walking through the door, and he felt welcome. Ben has been attending Brazillian Jiu Jitsu classes at SBG ever since.

“I think that just walking through SBG’s doors has been the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome,” he says. “I was in my own way…Grappling gives me a chance to express myself in ways that I can’t get anywhere else. I get to exercise while practicing an art; I think that the gym gives me a balance that had been missing from my life for a long time.”

Here are a few tips that Ben has found helpful:

  1. Just train. Forget whatever your reservations are for a minute and give it a try. To paraphrase SBG’s motto, “You’ll be okay.”
  2. Don’t worry about being a tough guy. People that last in martial arts are the people that learn to love it for their own reasons, people that are willing to put in a lot of time and effort, and people that are willing to risk failure.
  3. Remember to tuck in your elbows. (This one will make more sense when you start grappling. It can never be emphasized enough, though).

Are You Lost in the Weight Room and/or Lacking Self Defense Skills?

This is the journey of Lucas Federico: GM of SBG Athens, Kid’s Coach, and BJJ Brown Belt. 

Straight Blast Gym Athens Ga

Before joining SBG he was lost in the weight room, unmotivated, and lacking self defense skills.

Lost in the weight room, Lucas went through the routines and motions, but without direction or understanding didn’t know how those things were helping him. Finding motivation to keep going and the subsequent lack thereof became the main reasons he couldn’t keep up with a routine.

Having worked in bars in a college town, Lucas was concerned that lifting weights wasn’t the way to learn how to defend himself and keep me from getting his a$$ kicked. He said, “That’s going to sound like the thoughts of a crazy person, but having worked in bars in a college town you find yourself surrounded by people looking to ‘beat their chests’ and going to the gym had it’s own sub culture of ‘tough guys.’” He got tired of being in the weight room surrounded by people thinking they were tough just because they had big arms.

It was in 2006 that Lucas began working with a bunch of college kids that were learning the fairly new sport of MMA. “It sounded pretty intense and had piqued my interest”, he said. They had all told him he would love it and would fit right in. After a few weeks of waiting for one of the guys to bring him by the gym he got in his car to drive over and check the place out.

He was greeted by one of the owners, TUF and UFC fighter, Rory Singer. He recalls his first class, “The first class was fun and different and I felt like a fish out of water, but it was just was I was looking for, the opportunity to learn how to fight, actually fight.”

Lucas has been at the gym ever since and it has transformed his life in every aspect possible, and all for the better. He is a more confident, relaxed, focused, and happy individual than ever before in his life. He is surrounded by some of his closest friends and family and benefits from being a part of one of the greatest social networks around. “I get to live the life others dream of because I wanted to learn how to defend myself. Learning MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been a long road, but one I wouldn’t change for anything,” he continues.

I have been at the gym since 2006 and my life has transformed in every aspect possible, and all for the better. I’m a more confident, relaxed, happy and focused individual than I have ever been in my entire life. I’m surrounded by some of my closest friends and family and have one of the greatest social networks because of this “gym”. I get to live the life others dream of because I wanted to learn how to defend myself. Learning MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been a long road, but one I wouldn’t change for anything.

To any and all new students Coach Lucas has the following three tips that helped him transform:

  1. Take baby steps and enjoy the journey. Any transformation worth a crap takes time and sacrifice, but if you focus too much on the destination you’re going to miss out on all the other great benefits a place like this has to offer. So many long lasting friendships have been forged inside the walls of this academy. I always hate seeing people miss out on that.
  2. Stay consistent in your training. Even on days when you are sore, come in and jump on the mats.
  3. Last piece of advice I’d like to offer, BE COOL!

Do You Struggle with Drinking and Lack of Motivation?

This is the journey of Greg Galmin: PhD student, Future Physician, and Assistant Coach. 

Straight Blast Gym Athens Ga

Before joining SBG Athens, Greg struggled with binge drinking, lack of motivation, and an unsure future.

A former martial artist from his youth, Greg was afraid of getting taken down and not knowing what to do. He knew he couldn’t solely rely on his stand-up, Karate knowledge. Additionally, he needed a physical outlet for his struggles, and lifting weights wasn’t cutting it. Probably the largest driving force for reaching out to SBG was his alcoholism. He knew he had a void in his life and if he didn’t fill it with something, he would drink himself to death.

After only two weeks at SBG Athens Greg didn’t feel the desire to drink anymore. “Now I had people that legitimately cared about me close by and people I did not want to disappoint. I felt included and a part of something, and that was too valuable to me to screw up.” With the support of his tribe his confidence grew and Greg started making changes to secure his future.

Greg is now working to finish his PhD and go on to medical school to become a physician. Although it is something he has always wanted he was too unsure to fully commit himself. Physically he has gone from 175 pounds to his ideal body weight of 154 pounds. As he said, “I didn’t even intend to lose the weight but it just happened.” He can now also confidently defend himself on the ground. Something he says is an invaluable skill.

I leave you with the top three tips that helped Greg transform:

  1. Be a scientist. Implement what works and discard what doesn’t. So often we’re trapped in a cycle of repeating bad behaviors whether it be in combat or in life.
  2. Connection is key. Whether it be in jiu jitsu or in relationships, making a connection makes all the difference.
  3. Failure is healthy. Failure shows us our weaknesses and shortcomings. Failure is okay, but repeating the same mistake is unacceptable. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. You either win or you learn.

Are You A Middle Aged Man Struggling With Stress, Weight Gain, And Lack Of Motivation

This is the journey of Chris Riser: 50 year old lawyer and father of two teens.

Straight Blast Gym Athens Georgia

Before coming to SBG Athens, Chris struggled with middle-age stress, weight gain, and the motivation to deal with them.

On the recommendation of his trainer at another gym, he reached out due to his love of fitness kickboxing. He wanted to learn about real kickboxing. After a few years of kickboxing classes Chris “learned how to punch, kick, and defend, had a lot of fun, and got in better shape.” At 44, he was in the best shape of his life and boxed competitively at the famed Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York. Although he lost that fight it didn’t stop him from getting his first victory a couple years later in an old high school gym in West Virginia.

“My family told me I was crazy, my doctor told me I was crazy, but nobody at the gym told me I was crazy.  My friends and trainers at the gym just helped me prepare for my boxing matches and feel confident.”

It was later that Chris was inspired by another gym member to get into powerlifting. He competed a couple of times and “put up numbers that made [him] happy.” Finally, after several years of watching everyone training BJJ, he finally “plunge[d] into full-on striking and BJJ training a little over a year ago.” His only regret is that he didn’t start sooner.

Since training at SBG Athens, Chris has accomplished quite a bit: he’s lost a “bunch of fat”, gained “a lot of muscle”, reduced his stress level, made friends, gone 1-1 in amateur boxing in his 40s, hit a 1000# powerlifting total at age 50, completed a Coaching Candidate Course, and traveled to three different SBG training camps all over North America. Confident that he will earn his BJJ blue belt in the next year or two, he proudly believes one day he could be, “SBG Athens’ oldest black belt.”

I leave you with the top three tips that helped Chris transform:

  1. Show up to train, even if you don’t want to. I’ve never regretted showing up. I’ve regretted not showing up a bunch of times.
  2. Believe in “This is SBG; you will be OK.” The instructors know what they’re doing. Your training partners are there to help you, not to beat you or hurt you.
  3. Prioritize protein and lift heavy weights.