Published on January 21 2015
Curt J. Chavez of eVOLV Fitness on the Revolution of Fitness Platforms…
By Trula Howel – MMA.Profile.
Evolv Fitness is the soul-child of martial artist and Albuquerque native, Curt (CJ) Chavez. Begun three years ago, the aptly-named facility has grown exponentially. Evolv now boasts 16,000 monthly visitors, 100 onsite and 150 offsite classes, and 70 certified Evolv trainers. However, the road to success has been far from smooth Chavez is no stranger to life’s ups and downs, and his philosophy toward fitness, business and life, just like its name “Evolv”, has been the guiding force behind the success. The Evolv Fitness logo is the Phoenix: a mythological creature which is known for its ability to rise again, reborn from the ashes of its own fiery death. Says Chavez, “The Phoenix has many meanings, whether it’s rising from the ashes, the symbolism of crawl-to-walk-to-fly, rejuvenation, or a brand new beginning. Our #1 rule is ‘Never Give Up!'” Chavez’ own road has been twisted and bumpy. He was born and raised, in a trailer park in the Northeast Heights. His father was out of work at the time, and his mother’s income as an educational assistant supported the family of seven. He was sent to middle school outside of his home district, a “nicer” school. The other kids teased and bullied him, resulting in a lot of fights. His mother decided to enroll him at the National Martial Arts Academy, where he studied under Hoyoung Pak. Pak is a martial artist who played one of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a master of multiple martial arts. Under Pak’s guidance, Chavez became involved in all the USKA and NASKA forums, which began shaping of the course of his life. During high school, his entire life revolved around Pak and martial arts, and he was integrally involved with the Academy. He took on the responsibility of opening the facility at 5 a.m. then going to school, returning to the gym immediately afterward., to He would teach and train others first, then receive his own personal training—usually staying until 10 p.m. every night. By his senior year he had competed at the highest level possible on the local circuits Pak felt it was time for Chavez to take it to the next level. By Pak’s recommendation, Chavez traveled to China to train with the Beijing Wushu Team (the same team, though not the same time, as international action star Jet Li). It was there he met Master Zhuang Hui, and persuaded her to come back to Albuquerque to teach at the NMAA Chavez and his father (who now owned a construction business) sponsored Hui. Upon his return to the states, Chavez helped to run the family business for eight years, while obtaining a BBA from the Anderson School of Management at UNM and an MBA from Harvard University. However, as is the danger of many family businesses, internal strife caused the business to fall apart: “It was an epic family failure, we lost everything. I went from making a quarter-million a year to $5.50/hour overnight.”
When everything fell apart, Chavez took a job at NM Sports and Wellness, at first just cleaning the facility. However, after a while, it occurred to Chavez that his many years of martial arts experience could be of great benefit, and he persuaded NM S&W to let him teach fitness classes, but with a martial twist. Chavez had come to view the standard fitness classes offered by most facilities as “cookie-cutter” and ineffective, so he taught fighting arts as a method of physical fitness, old-school point-spar fitness”, modified for the masses.
“People are scared to really move,” says Chavez. “In martial arts, the athleticism of a fighter is extreme. This is why I am a proud supporter of the World MMA Association and a member of its Health Committee. It has to be all around, all-encompassing fitness– 10 notches above the average person. But even the average person can experience change. It’s about getting to lactic thresholds, pushing you to the limit, only then will the body begin to, make real changes. We call it ‘threshold training’. Whether doing aerobics, strength-training or flexibility, people don’t see results because they don’t push themselves to the limit.
“This is the mentality of a fighter.”
Over the next several years, Chavez became the #1 instructor and revenue producer for NM S&W, Three years ago, he decided to go into business for himself, using the same mentality toward business, as he had for the martial arts he has studied his whole life… at the end business and martial arts had more in common that what people think. “Every day in this business is like sparring. We are constantly dealing with things thrown at us that we need to duck or fight back. It’s been hard. Competition from other gyms– then construction of the Paseo Del Norte/I-25 interchange took away a lot of our business for several months. We thought, at one point that we might have to close down, but the road is open again and we have recently landed several large contracts. It’s all about getting back up again, no matter how many times you get knocked down.” Chavez points out that in addition to the physical benefits to training in the martial arts style, the mental and emotional benefits are also notable. “The camaraderie of fight training is unlike any other sport or fitness class. I’m still best friends with the group of guys I trained with back in high school. Here at Evolv, whether it’s the 300-lb guy trying to lose weight, or the fighter staying in shape, we all work together and celebrate each person’s achievements. Small achievements make a huge difference, and here, everyone’s accomplishments are treated the same.”
For more information on Evolv, visit them at their website www.evolv.fitness, find them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
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