Community Members of the Month: Being Part of Something Larger
Editor’s note: Each month we’ll be profiling three key members of our community.
We truly value our community at Easton, from our students to coaches and staff and all who put in extra time to help around the academy. Our community is arguably the heart and soul of the whole operation.
It’s always the people – our friends, partners, and classmates — that keep us coming back. The disciplines we teach are important but serve as tools. They’ll only go as far as the people who use them, and how.
This month, we highlight three members from our Easton Longmont community: Ronan Sedegan in our Kids Program, Gelsey Malferrari in Jiu Jitsu, and Arielle Clark in Muay Thai!
Ronan Sedegan, Easton Kids
Ronan started his journey at Easton in February of this year, but he had his first taste of martial arts when he tried Karate for a short time. He made it to a two-stripe yellow belt before he decided Karate wasn’t his thing; luckily, he feels differently about Muay Thai!
Ronan’s reasons for ditching Karate (and finding his way to Muay Thai), he tells us, include the fact that while you throw punches and kicks in Karate, it feels more about form versus skill. The second reason lay in a brewing interest in boxing. Ronan began studying black heroes and came across Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, who inspired him to begin to study the art.
His mom, aware of Ronan’s interest, heard of Easton Training Center and encouraged Ronan to give Muay Thai a shot. Today, Ronan holds a yellow belt in our kids program! He has a hard time nailing down his favorite part of Muay Thai; he enjoys doing kicks, boxing and studying angles of attack.
In addition to crushing it at Easton, Ronan loves to cook, plays trumpet and soccer, and helps take care of his two dogs and three fish.
What drives Ronan
“I just want to try my hardest at everything,” he tells us, “and get stealth — like with my grips, elbows and all the other moves.” Ronan wants to get it all down, get better over time, and eventually start helping other kids. Stepping up to be the best he can be drives Ronan in all aspects of his life.
Another one of Ronan’s biggest driving factors is his education.
“My education is part of who I am, and what I am a part of,” Ronan says. “Without my education, I wouldn’t be who I am.”
Ronan’s favorite part about Easton’s community is how well everybody treats each other.
He describes how at the Muay Thai Smoker, after every match was over the opponents would hug it out, tell each other “good job” and bow to the opponents’ coaches and tell them they did well coaching. We agree with Ronan — this sort of kindness and respect can make an intimidating sport much more welcoming.
Gelsey Malferrari, Easton Jiu Jitsu
Gelsey started training with Easton in 2020. She and her husband Neal Ritter (who also trains with us!) joined Easton to help their five-year old son Lutreo come into his body and overcome some behavioral growing pains. Jiu Jitsu at Easton proved to be the perfect solution.
Gelsey grew up involved in team sports. She played volleyball in high school, tennis and ultimate frisbee in college, and later taught herself (and others) snowboarding. She never, however, saw herself doing martial arts.
She always loved moving her body and working with others, but it wasn’t until she found herself trying to understand Lutreo’s situation on the mat that she realized the only way she’d be able to fully support him was to do Jiu Jitsu herself.
“I was extremely nervous,” Gelsey told us. “I knew I’d be encountering a whole bunch of blocks, and though I knew it was going to help me with my son’s journey, it would be my own.”
Despite leading an active lifestyle on their farm, from the beginning Gelsey could tell it would be both physically and mentally difficult for her.
After two months of doing private lessons, Gelsey got on the mat for class with everyone else, and the rest is history. Today, Gelsey holds a blue belt in Jiu Jitsu and her love for teaching allows her to give back to the community through doing everything from assistant coaching kids to orientations and helping with adult classes.
“We’re already teachers,” Gelsey tells us — she and Neal run the Laughing Coyote Project, “so it felt really natural to be coaching and teaching Jiu Jitsu.
“I felt like I was at a certain point where I could give back a little bit and wanted to give back.”
What drives Gelsey?
Gelsey has always been driven by a good challenge. Along with wanting to learn more about Jiu Jitsu to get closer to her son, it has become so much more. Today, what drives her is the immensity and depth of the art of Jiu Jitsu.
“No matter how much time you spend with it, there’s always more to learn,” says Gelsey. “That’s really exciting for me — I love diving deeply into things where there’s never an end point.”
Gelsey’s favorite part of Easton Longmont’s community is the pure magic of it.
She’s developed some of her closest adult friendships at the academy, and the way that these relationships and conversations continue off the mat keeps the experience alive and present. Having friends that can relate to her and her family, and also going through similar frustrations and joys on the mat, makes for an incredible support system.
Even on the daily, there’s always someone to greet her when she walks into the academy, and if class has already begun, it’s an entire chorus of “hellos!”
“There’s a unique recognition there that we’re all individuals and we’re all important,” says Gelsey, “and that is so warming, and friendly and kind.”
Arielle Clark, Easton Muay Thai
Arielle (Ari) Clark holds a green shirt in Muay Thai, but she got her start in martial arts doing Krav Maga around 2018. She lived alone, and getting some self defense practice sounded like a good idea. Having always played sports, Ari liked the sport and fitness aspects of it, but ultimately this made her want to switch to something.
“Krav Maga is great,” says Ari, “but you don’t really compete. It felt like if I kept advancing, there wasn’t a practical application.”
While Krav Maga makes a great choice for police or first responders, giving them skills like what do to in a knife-fight, it didn’t feel like something she’d use in a practical setting.
A friend recommended Easton Training Center to her, and though she had never done Muay Thai or Jui Jitsu, she came with an open mind. She started kickboxing, our Intro to Muay Thai class requirement and instantly got hooked.
Initially training at Easton Boulder, what struck her about the space was how friendly and helpful the front desk staff was. The classes ran at a high pace with intense workouts, and — more than just getting a good workout, she was learning the basics of the discipline of Muay Thai.
When she got her yellow shirt and leveled up to Muay Thai, Ari grew to love the challenge of the sport — learning to hold pads and working with a partner instead of a heavy bag.
“I really love the coaching you get at Easton,” she tells us. “All the instructors are a fantastic wealth of knowledge.”
When a group of Muay Thai girls all decided to try out Jiu Jitsu, Ari joined in. At first, it was more of a social thing, but gradually the sport hooked her. She loves the flow of Jiu Jitsu and its mental aspect, and she enjoys technically how different it feels from Muay Thai.
What drives Ari
Growth is one of Ari’s primary driving forces — whether she’s learning a new skill in her job as a nurse or learning a new technique on the mats. Sometimes, it means unlearning other things that aren’t helping her grow.
“It’s a balance between letting old habits go to let new things come in,” Ari says, “to help me get better not just for myself but for others.”
In training, for example, there were things she learned in Krav Maga that were different technique-wise from what Easton teaches in Muay Thai, such as how to throw knees.
“If I’m going to be a good partner to someone else, I may need to unlearn my go-to “easier” way,” she tells us, “because if someone else picks it up, it doesn’t help the group.”
It’s more than just about how we want to do things — it’s about being a part of a community where you affect more than your own actions.
“It’s always a ripple,” Ari says. Currently, she’s trying to train two or three times a week depending on work schedule.
Her favorite part about Easton’s community is everybody involved — like all the members. Ari loves the challenge of working with people who are better than her, and working with all skill levels.
The environment is uplifting and encouraging — not the “man-eat-man, the best has to rise to the top and you have to get hazed” type of place.
“Especially for someone who didn’t grow up in a martial arts space,” says Ari, “it’s a really great community and makes the barrier to martial arts lower and accessible.”
We are so happy she feels that way!
Check out Easton Training Center’s nine locations and try one of our Kickboxing or Jiu Jitsu classes!