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 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.