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Community Members of the Month: Easton Training Center Longmont

We truly value our community at Easton Training Center. From our students to coaches and staff, and all those who put in extra time to help around the academy, it’s the heart and soul of the whole operation.

Time and time over, we hear our members say how it’s the people — their friends, partners, and classmates — that kept them coming back. The disciplines we teach are important, but in the end, they are tools. They’ll only go as far as the people who use them, and how.

This month, we highlight Chiri James, Julian Molina, and Cameron Nystrom. 

Chiri James, Easton Kids

Chiri at ETC’s BJJ Summer In-House 2021. Image by Greg Streech.

Chiri, 15, started training at Easton Longmont a little over a year ago and today consistently trains in both Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. However, her martial arts journey began at age 11 when she tried Kung Fu. It didn’t feel quite right though and Chiri, who also did tap dance, quit Kung Fu after a year, thinking martial arts wasn’t enough of a “girl sport.” (How things have changed!)

As she got a little older, she decided she wanted to try martial arts again, and after reading the book series SkulDuggery Pleasant, which had a really awesome girl fighter, decided to give BJJ a shot.

What drives Chiri?

Chiri’s biggest driving forces come down to personal growth and development, and a curiosity to explore and find new things she may be passionate about.

“I may end up loving something, but I’d never know if I don’t try,” says Chiri, who wants to have lots of experiences in life to look back on, including possibly joining the military for a bit.

Chiri tells us that it was “kind of surprising” how much she loved Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai because she had done some other sports, even for a couple of years, but never really loved any of them — let alone competed in them and loved even that. Today, she holds a grey/white belt with four stripes on the kids’ belt system and an orange shirt in Muay Thai, and the only question is which one she’ll be doing that day!

When we asked Chiri what advice she’d give to somebody hesitant to start training, her response was simple:

“Don’t be so scared, and do it,” she says. “I was so terrified the first time I tried it, and it was not nearly as scary as I thought. Be confident, and go do it and have fun.” 

Now, the mindset of needing a “girl sport” has completely changed for Chiri, who sees plenty of women on the mat each day, and plenty of girl coaches as well!

Julian Molina, Easton Jiu Jitsu

Julian, 20, joined Easton Longmont in June of 2021. He started his grappling journey two years ago when he wrestled in high school for a full season along with playing football and running track. Then, ironically Julian actually tried Jiu Jitsu for the first time when he briefly lived with his sister in LA and absolutely hated it! He recalls feeling like it was the worst experience of his entire life, trying a combat sport for the first time and getting smashed. However, he decided to give it a shot again when he moved back to Longmont.

Toby, Coach Ashley, Julian and Coach Phipps on Julian’s last day

He wanted to put his mind towards learning something cool — exercise that wasn’t just mindless exercise but a sport which gave him something to figure out, like a puzzle. This time, it stuck. Julian grinded it out, and realized it was much more than showing how “macho” you are. It taught him how to be an adult in an adult setting.

“When I first came, I was like ‘I’m gonna kick everyone’s butt!,'” Julian says. “But now, it’s like — how can I be a good partner and get picked to roll with?”

Training with others at Easton helped break him down. Coming and getting his butt kicked so frequently truly helped him become a better person and showed him how to set his ego aside.

When he had some BJJ under his belt, he decided to start Kickboxing and grind that out as well. Today, Julian holds an orange shirt in Muay Thai and a three-stripe white belt in Jiu Jitsu.

“I still have a lot of anxiety towards coming,” says Julian, “but I want to get better — slow and steady, to be consistent and get better.”

What drives Julian?

One of Julian’s biggest driving forces includes being a better role model, and the kids at Easton Longmont, where Julian assistant coached, became a big motivation for him to get better and train more consistently.

“I want to get better to be a better coach,” he says. “Like, if I learn this cool move, I can teach it to them!”

Julian, who always wanted to be an older brother but never had younger siblings, describes finding that happy medium between being fun with the kids but also serious.

Julian’s favorite part about Easton (and also Chiri’s) is hands-down the people. Finding a place where everyone wants to be there and has a common interest (especially coming out of high school, where you’re just around who you’re around and not everybody wants to be there), makes it so much easier to figure people out and make friends. This experience makes Julian want to explore the world even more.

Though after high school he didn’t want any more school, he owed it to himself to keep educating — to continuously progress as a person, to keep learning and growing and to experience the world and make new friends. His next chapter in life, which he recently left us for, took form in joining the army. Good luck and we’ll miss you Julian!

Cameron Nystrom, Easton Muay Thai

Cameron, who coaches Kickboxing and works the front desk as one of our First Impression Specialists, began training at Easton Longmont exactly a year ago in June 2021. He actually started out in Jiu Jitsu, and then, still in his trial month, he tried a kickboxing class.

“It was round kick week,” he recalls, “and it was the craziest workout I’ve had in a long time. I was sore for two weeks, and came back and decided to be more consistent with striking.”

Growing up, Cam had done a little bit of karate in elementary school, played sports like soccer, lacrosse, baseball, cross country and track, discus and shot put, and wrestled in high school (hence the initial inclination towards BJJ.)

When he came to Colorado from Maryland to study Rolfing, an alternative medicine based around the body’s “energetic field,” Cam tells us that he got really into body mechanics and exercise science as well as learning how to control his body.

What drives Cameron?

Self-improvement is Cameron’s biggest driving factor — trying to find out what he likes to do and sticking with that. He is also motivated by figuring out a route to make a living with what he wants to do. 

Along with the people that inspire and encourage him at Easton, he loves that the programs at Easton really allow him to improve — it’s truly an academy, not a gym.

“It feels like you get a lot more individual attention here,” he says,” and there’s no favoritism regardless of if you’re naturally talented.” And even if you are, there’s always room to excel.

To anyone nervous about trying martial arts, he says that to really get over that you just have to come — it doesn’t just go away on its own. Then, you get through the work out and then you get into the mindset; it goes away.

Sometimes, you have to force yourself if you’re not used to being so close to people and interacting in such intimate ways. Eventually, you learn to get comfortable with it. (And he’s right.)

Ready to start YOUR Easton journey? Get started with a free trial today.

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