If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
This week, we sat down with Seth and Trinity Rice, the owners of Loyalty Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym. Along with their location here in Elko, Seth and Trinity also have another spot in Winnemucca, and the two gyms will even hold “in house” tournaments throughout the year! September 30th, 2019 will be three years since Loyalty opened its doors, transforming what was once a tanning space into an encouraging venue of martial arts development.
Thank, Seth and Trinity, for joining us this weekend! Before we talk about how you started a Jiu-Jitsu gym, can you please tell us a bit about yourselves and how you each developed a passion for martial arts?
Seth– “I grew up all around Northern Nevada, following wherever my dad would go. I went to school here in Elko for two years as a teenager; that’s when I decided I would like to stay here and go to college.”
“My background with martial arts was pretty “Spartan.” Every night my dad would come, lift weights, and teach my brothers and me sparing. I was the middle child, and my dad had a rule when it came to my brothers and me getting after each other, “if it didn’t bleed, it didn’t count.” If we were punching each other and bruised a rib, it would never even make his light of day. My younger brother and older brother always had an alliance, so I had to learn to defend myself against two people at once. That got me thinking of how I needed to take defense more seriously.”
“In 2008/2009, while I was going to college, the MMA boom had happened and just hit Elko. The Ultimate Combat Challenge, from Salt Lake, would come down here and hold unsanctioned fights at the Indian Colony. For whatever reason, that ended up falling out, and the Gladiator Challenge, from California, came in to fill the void; they sparked an interest in MMA not only in the community but in me. So, I got involved.”
Trinity- “I grew up in Crescent Valley; we moved there when I was two, and my dad worked out at Cortez (gold mine) ever since. We moved to Elko in 2011. I did some college here, but it wasn’t my thing, so I didn’t stick with it. When my husband decided to open the gym, I was working at Coach USA and had spent five years at Ross before that. So, martial arts is relatively new for me. I’ve only been training for the last three years. When I started Jiu-Jitsu, I was on a fitness journey; I was going to a traditional gym, but I didn’t see the results I wanted. When Seth finally got me to try out Jiu-Jitsu, it was eye-opening because it’s mentally and physically stimulating. Those are the things I really love about it.”
Wonderful! Now, how did you go from two people with an affection for martial arts to opening your own gym, Loyalty?
Seth- “Well, I have to give a shout out to Jeff Watson at Empower Fitness because when his gym was still Gold’s, we would train upstairs there, and that’s how I got my start. People would call everybody there for practices, and I went there just to practice, but my experience led to everyone asking me questions. Next thing you know, I fell into the role of coach.”
“From there, a buddy of mine and I made our first team, and we kept going! Things were going well at Gold’s until some guys tore some stuff up and made a mess, and MMA got banned. We were training around, and I was looking at making a transition out of mining and into coaching full-time. I actually scoped out a spot in Oregon, and we were going to move up there to train… but then my best friend died. That was my first exposure to losing somebody close to me, and I hit a deep depression. I took six months and did nothing but play Minecraft. I thought I was done with martial arts after that because I wanted to avoid it, so I started working the night shift at Walmart.”
“Some friends eventually conned me into going back to another gym to show them some stuff. After two lessons with these guys, the owner of the gym offered me a job. I went into that full-time, and that’s when I recommitted myself to Jiu-Jitsu. I jumped headlong into learning the gym industry, which led to me opening Loyalty all on my own, and it’s been very good to us.”
What do you both love about helping people learn and practice Jiu-Jitsu?
Trinity- “I love teaching Jiu-Jitsu for a couple of reasons. One, I get work with many kids. I remember being the kid who wasn’t very active and didn’t fit into team sports, so being able to help kids protect themselves is very important to me. Second, I love my women’s program. Nobody has to be a black belt to get out of a bad situation. If I can help give someone even a one percent chance of getting out of those situations, I’m happy.”
Seth- “It’s about helping people out. When people first come in, they’re looking for something, and they may not even know what it is. Martial arts can hold a lot of different answers for people. It can help you with fitness, personal issues, how you relate with others, even the consistency that comes with showing up and working for it provides reinforcement. It really frees up your mind. I don’t think any human being should without knowing what they’re capable of.”
What kinds of frustrations come with running a gym? Please, talk a little bit about that from your perspective as gym owners.
Seth- “There are the normal business frustrations, but there are personal frustrations I didn’t know would be there until we go into this. I’ll see people from the gym out in the town; I’ll wave to them, trying to say hi, but if they had let a payment go for a little bit, they’ll try and avoid me. That part is a little dissuading because I love people! When I run into people who may not have been at the gym for a while, the only thing they want to do is justify why they haven’t been in the gym. I wouldn’t even ask or bring up the gym; I just wanted to catch up with them or hear about their kids! If I wave at you, it’s because I’m excited to see you; I don’t care that you haven’t been into the gym! In an ideal world, yes, we’d all be in the gym, but we’re all adults and life happens sometimes.”
Thank you for sharing so much with us today, Seth and Trinity! Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about your business and your training?
Seth– “We offer more than just a gym. When I would go to a gym, growing up, they would teach you a couple of moves and then boot you out. I know of other gyms that will say they’re your family until you can’t pay one month and then you’re no longer family until your bill is paid, again. I want this place to be a community, which means seeing it as more than just a small business when it comes to how you work with your members. This gym is a community of support and not fake support; we’re going to encourage you to push yourself to find things out about yourself. I just want to see people improve!”
Trinity– “You don’t need to be in shape to do this. When I started my fitness journey, I was well over two hundred pounds. It’s all about taking baby steps, doing what your body will allow you to do, and improving on it.”
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See you around, Elko!