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Back to the Mats: Easton Training Center Student Spotlight

Training is hard. Sure, martial arts is addicting and sometimes you spring out of bed to greet the day, but sometimes even on a good day, it can take everything you’ve got to get out of bed.

When everything shut down in 2020, countless people stayed home and stopped doing anything that wasn’t essential. For many this included quitting or putting their Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai memberships on pause, and focusing on the other things life threw their way. For many, returning became harder and harder the more they became entrenched in the new way of life. After all, there’s never enough hours in a day right?

As we are reopening to normal facilities and opening up to cross-training between our Easton locations, we wanted to highlight the inner struggle, tension, and importance of taking a pause and getting back to the mats. It’s not easy, and it’s not always fun at first. But when we talk about getting back to the mats, it’s not just about showing up to class and expecting to pick up exactly where you left off. It’s the mindset that goes along with it that we really mean — the decision to do something different, to honor your body and your mental space, acknowledge your limitations and push them to make yourself stronger.

To celebrate this difficult but rewarding process, we wanted to share the story of one of our members here at Longmont who has recently returned to training after a long pause: Sam McCord.

Sam’s Story

Sam first began training when he moved to Boulder from NYC in  2014. Coming from the boozy trenches of the city’s restaurant and bar industry, he wanted to get healthier — to improve both his physical and mental wellness. At the time, he was the heaviest he’d ever been at 240 pounds. He fell in love with striking and grappling, and continued training for the next two years, coming in at lunchtime for Kickboxing or Fundies, Randori and even CrossFit back in the day. 

The first time he quit (he tells us he’s had a lot of experience quitting and starting back!) was due to life circumstances. While initially training was his priority, after two years life got grooving and Sam got married and bought a house. Suddenly, it became that much harder to get back into it. He did come back, and continued to take breaks over the years as life’s waves ebbed and flowed.

When Sam quit in 2020, it was because his wife has an autoimmune disease and they wanted no risks: nothing was worth potentially getting infected and bringing home. He was bummed; he’d just started getting back in flow, and Easton Longmont had just opened up, which was the perfect location.

What’s the biggest obstacle to overcome in coming back?

“This last year highlighted the importance of your mental health,” Sam says. “I think it’s really easy to get caught up in negative thoughts, and maybe it’s just too hard to get started on a routine. For me coming back, even though I started coming in pretty early after the gym opened back up, I was still in my head about it —  like, ‘I’m really out of shape; this is gonna suck.’”

You are not alone!

Sam’s biggest piece of advice to anyone on the fence about coming back is to remember to be easy on yourself and understand where you are in your relative journey. Don’t compare yourself to those who never stopped. (Animals!)

“Once you start picking up momentum, it’ll become harder and harder to stop,” Sam says.

When we asked him what the best thing his experience at Easton has given him, Sam told us:

“I’m happy that I can use my body in these really sick ways. Like whenever I do Kickboxing or Muay Thai, I feel so satisfied that I can move my body in these ways.”

He’s not really in it to fight or for self-defense, he says. He really just loves the feeling of improving his health while also learning new skills and techniques.

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