Member of the Month!
Name: Carol Tessitore
Years as a member: 1.5 ish
Inspiring moment and other thoughts:
Name: Louis Grell
Hometown: Brooklyn NY
Occupation: Architectural/Engineering Consultant
Years as a member: 2
Favorite Class: Kettlebell and ATS doubleheader with Bill.
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): Completing the HardStyle Kettlebell Certification with the patience, dedication and wisdom of Arjan Steve, Bill, Coach Fury and Coach Emily.
Name: Hannah Fons
Hometown: Winterset, Iowa (fun fact: also the birthplace of John Wayne!)
Occupation: Editor by day, grad student by night – working on an MA in Sexuality & Gender Studies
Years as a member: 3-ish
Favorite Class: If I must pick one, it has to be jiujitsu. But I also have much love for sandbags, kettle bells, Total Conditioning, and muay thai, of course.
If there were more hours in the day, I’d be swinging knives in Kali too!
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): Inspiring stuff happens here all the time – you see new people join, and they’re maybe a little shy, or not in the kind of shape they’d like to be in, and as the weeks pass,
you can see them gain confidence, get stronger, and really become athletes. So that’s very cool. I love that classes involve all different skill and experience levels, and I enjoy
having the opportunity to work with such a diverse array of training partners. Working with a Fight Team member is always an education (and a lesson in humility!) and
working with a total newcomer is an opportunity to introduce them to sports I love and practice the basics, which is great too. Five Points seems to have struck the perfect
balance between serious, no-nonsense instruction and a friendly, supportive culture, which is a rare feat for any gym, but especially tricky for a martial arts academy.
I credit not only the instructors and coaches for cultivating that alchemy, but the desk and support staff as well – putting up with us knuckleheads day in and day out can’t be easy!
In closing, I would just say that if – no, make that WHEN – the Zombie Apocalypse is finally upon us, I can think of no other group of people I’d want in my heavily-fortified compound
than the crew at Five Points. With our collective strength of character, sense of humor, lethal combat skills and devastating good looks, I reckon we’d be just fine.
Name: Cutter Johnston
Hometown: Compton, VA
Occupation: Residential Construction
Years as a member: 2+
Favorite Class: The one I am in at that moment. However, Sunday is one of the best kept secrets at Five Points.
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): Grading. Oddly enough you get a sense of accomplishment as well as moving along with your peers. In Kali I was asked to help a newcomer. I did not really think I knew that much. That experience showed me that I did. When someone asks me how to wrap their hands I am reminded when I did not have a clue as to how to do that. In one class, I was put on the bag for the whole class for accidentally kneeing someone in the head. After the instructor came over and explained to me that he only wants me to improve, I have been much more aware since. When I am working through a round nothing else is on my mind except what is right in front of me. That in and of itself is, without question is the best thing ever. The quality of the instructors and their willingness to help you improve is off the hook. In fact, everyone with experience there is willing to help you improve your skills. Going to the fights was what really helped me see how the team work and training all comes together. It also reminds me just how much skill, control and courage it takes to get in the ring and not make a fool out of yourself.
Name: Mary Brulatour
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Years as a member: A little more than a year.
Favorite Class: Any given noon Muay Thai is great. It’s hard to single out a favorite instructor. I love the attention to detail and being made to work hard.
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): This is hard to respond to without being too corny, but I’ve been training at Five Points for a little over a year and I’ve made a ton of friends and received top level instruction. I’m constantly inspired by the athleticism and patience of my training partners and coaches. Thank you so much!
Name: Frank Delessio
Hometown: I live in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn but was born and raised in Ozone Park, Queens.
Years as a member: 2 years and 2 months. It’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had, besides my goldfish Shemp. We were together for a year.
I named him after the 4th Stooge.
Favorite Class: Definitely Miguel’s class. You don’t realize how many calories you can burn being chased by a vacuum. I’ve only taken muay Thai and kettlebells. I took the judo class once on Saturday, but you don’t want to know how that turned out. The muay Thai classes are my favorite because they’re interactive. I usually take the weekday noon and Friday evening classes. Go Emily! (She paid me.)
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): Hmm, well just last week I finally wrapped my hands all by myself! I’ve had a lot of inspiring moments, and they happen more frequently when my attendance is frequent. I think the only way to approach the classes is with patience and humility. There’s always more to learn. I love coming to Five Points.
Name: Maggie Crowley
Hometown: Chicago IL
Occupation: analyst at environmental sustainability strategy firm
Years as a member: nearly 2
Favorite Class: I love all the classes, but gasping my way through a Muay Thai class is my favorite. Also, big shoutout to Gaius for being an awesome person to train with.
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): While my time at Five Points has been filled with inspiring moments, the most inspiring thing about this place is the people. I’ve never been to a gym with such friendly members and coaches who are always willing to teach you something new – which is extra great when whatever they teach you might help you punch them in the face one day. I’ve loved meeting such a diverse and amazing group of people, and I hope I get to meet lots more!
Name: Charles Chien
Hometown: Queens NY
Years as a member: 2+
Favorite Class: Muay Thai and any class that is taught by Bill Chiu (who now owes me lunch!).
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): When I finally stopped getting dizzy from throwing a spinning roundhouse kick.(I was too shy to ask if anyone else had the same problem) Five Points is the greatest!
Name: Iesha Covington
Occupation: 3rd Grade Teacher
Years as a member: about 3
Favorite Class: Please don’t ask me that. I have people who actually like me at the gym and I don’t want to change that.
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): Five Points is an amazing place to train and have fun; and I am not being paid to say this either! When I signed up, it was after watching a show about women who were training to compete in Muay Thai fights in Thailand. I was super geeked! Upon entering the gym, I was so nervous and would wait on the benches or in the corner alone waiting for class to begin. I wasn’t often picked as a partner. But, I will never forget the day when Master Cheetah was visiting and no one selected me “The New Girl” for a partner, and I was left alone. That day, I worked with Master Cheetah as a partner for the entire class. I experienced a multitude of emotions from: fear to anxiety, all the way to extreme panic; but Master Cheetah was so gracious and humble. His attitude is representative of the attitudes of all of the trainers at Five Points and that is what I consider to be inspiring. I’m inspired by a group of people who always make me feel welcome with smiles on their faces, who work extremely hard at learning and teaching others, who push us all to work harder, train harder, and never settle for less than our best. I’m inspired by Five Points Fitness!
Name: Jennifer Lee.
Age: older than Ashton, younger than Demi
Occupation: V.P. Residential Real Estate Broker
Writer and creator of the website – I Love FOOD Diet
Loving mother to Robert (10) and Jake (7) – both in their second year at Five Points Junior Muay Thai program
Years as a member: since March 2011
Favorite Class: I vacillate between Kettlebell and Muay Thai. There are some days when I prefer the calm, quiet independence of Kettlebell, and then there are other days when I prefer to punch, pummel and kick ass.
Inspiring Moment (and other thoughts):Considering that I almost passed out 1/3 of the way through my first Kettlebell class back in March, I would have to say that earning my HKC (Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification) this past October was pretty momentous. Muay Thai classes are always fun and challenging. I never thought in a million years that I would be learning to kickbox at this point of my life. I’ve always been a “girlie-girl” and the idea of punching and kicking my partner (not to mention being punched and kicked) is the antithesis of how I was raised. Who knew that I was missing out of so much fun!!! I am definitely in the best physical shape than I have been in my entire life. I attribute this not so small, accomplishment to the amazing trainers at Five Points. Thanks guys. You ROCK!
Name: Yalcin Bilguvar
Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey
Occupation: Film and TV Distribution
Years as a member: a little over 2-1/2 years
Favorite Class: All of the Muay Thai classes. I like how each month there is a new focus in the classes. Each class is like a building block and then suddenly you realize you developed a new technique that complements the whole experience. I also try to take Kettlebell as much as I can.
Inspiring Moment (and other thoughts):I think walking into the gym each time, and seeing friendly faces who are all there for the same reason. Also each time any feedback you receive from the instructors during the class is priceless. But if I had to pick one inspiring moment, it was probably a few days before my first grading… Arjan Steve put me in the ring alone with three coaches and I held pads for them… Any time you train with somebody advanced new doors open…
Name: Irina Khouade
Hometown: Khimki, Russia
Years as a member: a little over 1 year
Inspiring moment (and other thoughts): I can’t think of just one. Sometimes, a slice of humble pie can be as inspiring as words of encouragement and I get plenty of both at this place. I think inspiration is a feeling you get when you realize that extraordinary is possible. There is extraordinary here everywhere you look, with the instructors, the fighters and the members. I don’t have just one favorite class, but my favorite day is definitely Saturday because there are so many excellent classes in a row. My only regret is that I can’t take two classes at the same time!
Name: Chris C.
Hometown: Huntington Beach, CA
Years as a member: 6 months (and his friends didn’t think he last more than one class!).
Favorite Class: Morning Muay Thai
Inspiring Moment (and other thoughts): Besides winning the prestigious honor of Member of the Month, you mean? If it’s even possible to have a more inspiring moment than the one I’m experience right now, I guess it would have to be the first time I got through a class without barfing from mental and physical exhaustion afterward. I was really inspired by that. Does this award come with any gifts? A big locker would be good.
Name: Chloe Zeff
Years as Member: 2 years in all, but I really became serious about my commitment last December.
Favorite Class: Muay Thai because it’s a great workout and a great way to meet news friends at the gym. I also like TRX a lot! I plan on starting Kettlebell classes soon. Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts):
My life has changed so much recently. I’ve been training consistently 6 days a week for past 6-7 months. The gym is a little town, society, and community. I’ve met so many friendly people. It’s the best break from my day to day life. I adjusted my eating habits drastically in December 2010. By working out and eating healthy, I’ve lost 32 lbs and the goal is to lose a few more before starting my sophomore year of high school. Arjan Simon has guided me through this entire process. He caught me watching the Muay Thai classes last Fall. He approached me about training and the rest is history. His training regimen is strict but it’s exactly what I need! My mom is also a member and having her built-in encouragement has been incredible. She’s in such great shape, has a successful career, a family, and still finds the time to take care of herself. I’m lucky to have such great role models.
Name: Jamiyl Priest
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Student studying Electronic Computer Technology/in Construction for many years
Years as Member: Just 5 months so far, can you believe it?
Favorite Class: Muay Thai and Kettlebells for sure! I’ve just started getting into Kali, which is really interesting. I also enjoy Sergio’s intense exercises. The combo of all of this is getting me into the best shape of my life. I’m getting flexible and seeing incredible changes in my physicality. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is Judo, and I plan on getting myself a Gi soon so I can jump in to those classes too. It’s impossible to get bored.
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts):
You may not know it, but I came in weighing 243 lbs. Now only a few months later, I’m weighing in at 195. My cholesterol level has dropped 30 points. Things are happening quickly! One moment that stands out is when I realized I’d been training for three hours back-to-back and still had energy for more. Thanks to everyone who is motivating me to keep moving.
Name: Michelle Bryner
Age: Old enough to vote
Hometown: Waldorf, MD
Occupation: Science and Technology Writer
Years as Member: 2 years
Favorite Class: I enjoy Muay Thai classes the best and have come to realize that I learn something new from every class, every partner I work with, and all of the coaches.
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts): There isn’t just one memorable moment at Five Points, but more an accumulation of moments and experiences, from showing up for my first class to grading for blue and sparring on Saturday mornings. I walked into Five Points wanting to acquire the skills of Muay Thai kickboxing, not realizing what this meant. Over the past two years, I’ve come face to face with myself — the things that scare me, but also my physical and mental strength. Sparring, in particular, has helped me to push through that I didn’t even know I had. This continuous journey is what I like best about Muay Thai. There will always be something else for me to learn. (Last but not least, I love the people at Five Points!)
Name: Anthony and Alberto Ortiz
Age: 25, 22
Years as Member:
2 years at least
Favorite Class: Alberto: Judo with instructors Shodan Kevin, Coach Frank, and Sandan Saro. Why? I like the grappling and learning how to handle different forms of weight. I’ve found that I walk around with more confidence. I’m not afraid to climb ladders at work and I’m confident that I would know how to protect myself if I was to fall.
Anthony: Judo on Tues/Thurs especially because there is more stand-up, flipping, and weight falling, which increases my endurance in everyday life occurrences. I feel the difference in how I approach obstacles and unexpected adventures.
Both: Don’t forget Arjan Steve’s Muay Thai class. We started with him and he has welcomed us from Day 1. He always has a smile on his face. (In unison:) Yeah. We also can’t forget that Coach Jose got us hooked on
from our first class. He had so much patience. Thanks to him we joined!
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts):
Alberto: The first time I was able to throw someone felt just great! Just when you think you have a handle on a specific technique, the coaches put a spin on it. There’s always something new to learn. Kevin is gentle and calm, Saro is competitive, and Frank is technical with ground submissions. They one another balance very well.
Anthony: The teachers and ongoing encouragement keeps me coming back night after night. An inspiring moment that stands out was my very first successful submission. I realized how far I’d come in my training at that moment. It felt like I could do anything!
Name: Adrienne Reina
Hometown: Port Saint Lucie, FL
Occupation: (aspiring) Entertainment Lawyer
Years as Member: 1 1/2 years and counting
Favorite Class: It’s impossible for me to choose just one, but my favorite new class is the Friday morning TRX Training.
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts):
There hasn’t been a single defining moment for me while training at Five Points, but the whole experience has easily been the most compelling thing I’ve done since law school. The classes are both so physically and mentally challenging that I’ve fallen in love with training. I’ve accomplished fitness goals I never even imagined for myself before Five Points, largely due to the support of all the trainers, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much farther I can go.
Name: Tulio Vera
Hometown: New York City
Occupation: Economist, Fund Manager, and aspiring Wine Merchant
Years as Member:
I joined back in 2005 when Five Points was at 444 Broadway and up that creaky staircase. Much has changed since then, but in spirit, Five Points remains the same, true to its ideals–and that it the most valuable asset.
Favorite Class: Depends on the state of mind I am in, but either Muay Thai or Kettlebells. I truly enjoy personal training with Arjan Simon and, when he is in town, Master Cheetah. I wish I could do more of them. For someone who has never been a morning person, I love the 8am Muay Thai classes.
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts):
Probably my fondest moment was when I earned the blue grade and became able to spar. I still don’t know how I did that, and I guess it does not matter much now, but it was one truly proud moment. I’ve also immensely enjoyed attending the fights and I admire the dedication it takes to get to the fighter level.
Once upon a time, I used to frequent the same corporate and commoditized gyms that many of us went to, until one fine day, by chance (thanks to “manos-de-Dios” Saki), I stumbled upon off-the-run Five Points. It was, for me, a virtual epiphany and six years later I find it hard to imagine there is anything else in gym-dom. The friendly and democratic atmosphere at Five Points is completely unique, so much so that it rarely crosses my mind that I may be sparring with folks half my age. This atmosphere is testament to the dedication of Kevin, Steve, Simon and the others (including the great Miguelito). Finally, I recommend everyone enjoy a nice glass of red wine after working out, it’s an awesome apres-Muay-Thai experience!
Name: Helen Dang
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Recent college graduate/Nanny
Years as Member: Since July 2010
Favorite Class: Shodan Kevin’s Judo class and Coach Saro’s Judo class. Their dedication to the sport and their commitment to the team are so evident in their teaching methods. Their support and encouragement have helped the team grow and expand in such a short amount of time in the few months that I have been here. The Five Points Judo team represent some of the most amazing group of guys that I have ever met. I’m so proud of them!
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts): My first tournament was really nerve wracking but having the support of my fellow team mates and Shodan Kevin McGrath inspired me to better myself for the next tournament. The members of the gym represent a community where everyone is so encouraging and supportive of one another. I never thought that I would be able to deadlift 100llbs before, but thanks to Turnbow and advice from various staff, I am proudly able to say that I can. I couldn’t have picked a better place to train than at Five Points. All of the members and staff are amazing and continue to inspire me to better myself. You guys rock!
Name: Michael Ma
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Occupation: Managing Group Creative Director
Years as Member: 16 months
Favorite Class: Muay Thai because my mind is clear and focused on the task at hand. It’s one of the few moments of peace when outside interruptions and distractions aren’t bombarding me.
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts): There are so many. The first time I heard that satisfying crack when you hit the pads properly, or the time I took a hard shot and didn’t fold like a house of cards and just generally training with everyone who always have something to teach me. There’s always something inspiring happening and I learn so much about myself every time I go so it keeps me coming back for more.
Name: Marian Toy
Hometown: Born in Queens and have lived my entire adult life in Manhattan
Occupation: Human resources consultant, part-time in sales at the leading importer of fresh water cultured pearls, and mom to Alex and Francesca.
Years as Member: I joined in 2004. Wow, six years!
Favorite Class: It’s way too difficult to pick a favorite but I’ll choose Total Conditioning with Coach Emily. It’s a tough work-out and there’s a lot of laughter. There’s no better combination. The great mix of members that attend make it challenging and really fun. Alright and I love the Muay Thai classes too. Try them back-to-back on Saturday morning and you’ll very likely see me there.
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts): I came to Five Points after meeting Steve and Simon at a social function. I clearly recall voicing my discontent with the 60lbs of post-9/11 stress-related weight I needed to lose and Steve immediately offered me my first training session. Twice a week and six months later, I lost all the weight and have kept it off ever since. No one says it’s easy. It truly is about taking it one day at a time. This place rehabed my spirit. (Sure, that and a good therapist!) It gave me community. I can’t help but smile when I think about being here. Both my children train here too. I appreciate the way Steve, Simon, and Kevin use all the resources they can muster to constantly update the gym and accomodate the growing demand for new and exciting classes. This place is immaculate.
Name: Ivan Leon
Age: (Why do you ask?!) 35
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Occupation: I work in Production
Years as Member: It’s complicated! I first became a member 5 years ago. Then disappeared for 2 1/2 years to travel for work. To be honest, it’s one of first things I thought about upon returning to NYC. I’m really excited to be back.
Favorite Class: Muay Thai, for sure. All the instructors complement eachother, bringing a unique perspective to each class. Kettlebells are great too. I enjoy working out on my own and watching the Muay Thai classes every so often. I consider myself a Muay Thai voyeur. Is that wrong?
Inspiring Moment (+ other thoughts): When I started Muay Thai, Arjan Simon was constanting correcting my kicks. Then one day he yells “niiiiiice”, in that certain Simon way. (Make sure to put an English accent on that.) It made me feel accomplished! Also, I very clearly recall when Arjan Steve honored me with the blue grade and recognized my readiness for sparring. All in all, I feel like I’m home here at Five Points. That’s what keeps me coming back. Some familiar faces from years ago, some new faces, everyone is friendly. It doesn’t hurt that it’s always prisitinely clean here…Miguel (and cohorts) sure do one heck of a job.
Name: Lauden Mirshahzadeh
Hometown: San Francisco/Orange County, CA
Occupation: yes please! Just kidding. I graduated in Apparel Design this past May.
Years as Member: 3 years
Favorite Class: Technical Sparring with Steve on Monday, Emily’s Friday evening class, & Simon’s Saturday Muay Thai at noon.
Inspiring Moment: It was probably my first real punch in the face during sparring. I don’t remember who gave it to me, but it was then when I realized “Oh snap, this is serious.” I have never really been in a fight so it brought up all kinds of unexpected emotions. I felt like I was 9 years old again and my brothers were trying to beat me up. I have since learned that it is ok to get hit and I try to leave deep childhood emotion out of it
Name: Justin Apperson
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV (And trust me, what happens in Vegas, never, ever, stays in Vegas.)
Occupation: Former U.S. Paratrooper turned full-time student.
Years as Member: Over 2 years.
Favorite Class: I love all the Muay Thai classes and enjoy taking advantage of the different teaching styles and qualities that all the trainers offer. If I had to chose just one, it would be the 12pm Muay Thai classes with Arjan Simon on Thursday & Friday. These classes are normally smaller and you get more corrections and personal attention to go along with the usual sound technical instruction and advice.
Inspiring Moment: There have been a few, mostly involving hearing the sounds the pads make after finally ‘loosening up’ and landing flush combos. However, I think the most inspiring moment I had was after I began doing basic clinch work with Arjan Simon and being tossed around like a hapless rag doll for a few weeks. For awhile, I was literally being thrown to the ground ten times per round and was not able to do anything even vaguely useful from the clinch. It was pathetic, but we kept at it and with time and effort I improved and we progressed to full sparring with an emphasis on incorporating clinch work. Then one day after a long training session with Arjan Simon involving a lot of grueling clinch work, I realized I had not been thrown the entire time. While I was considering this, Kru Emyr approached me and gave an unsolicited complement; he commented on how well I had done in the ring. Apparently he’d been watching! I was very pleased since I knew this sort of compliment was rare from him. And as if that was not enough while he was walking away he turned back a second time and out of nowhere said that my clinch work looked good. I was ecstatic. (We miss you Kru Emyr.)
Name: Angela Bracco
Age: almost 28
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Years as Member: Just about 2 years.
Favorite Class: Honestly, I can’t pick just one! I have so much to learn from everyone and enjoy the variety of instruction.
Inspiring Moment: I recently landed a front kick while my partner threw a roundhouse one evening in Arjan Simon’s technical sparing class and that did feel pretty great! However, Muay Thai is such a complex sport I continually face new challenges. I am grateful for all the lessons I have learned both inside and outside of the gym as a result of this sport.
I also would like to add that I am continuously inspired by the woman fighters at the gym. They show such discipline and tenacity. It was an honor to watch them this past weekend. Good Job Ladies!!
Name: Kim Elphinstone
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
Favorite Class: Every lunchtime (12pm) class during the week. You get a lot of personal attention because it is a difficult time for many people to make. You can’t get away with anything at the lunchtime class! The instructors see all. It’s like getting a private. Oops. That was supposed to be a secret. Bonus if Arjan Simon gives a compliment!
Inspiring Moment: In my very first sparring class, I missed blocking a punch and it landed in the center of my face. Although dazed for what seemed like an eternity and probably only a few seconds–I didn’t stop. At the end of class I realized I was left with two black eyes. I had overcome my unmistakable fear. I can only speak for myself, but I think we are all apprehensive about actually getting hit. I took it and kept moving. You can face life’s difficulties and keep going. This attitude has helped me to make a recent career change. Muay Thai has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It doesn’t come easily to me. The fact that I can come every day and get better makes me want to face all the challenges I encounter in life.
Name: Zwehla Taylor
Occupation: Director of Corporate Purchasing at Scholastic, Inc.
Favorite Class: Arjan Steve’s class. When I first started, I always begged for the bag and not to be partnered, Arjan Steve let me slide only a few times before “gently” kicking me into action! I definitely prefer the Mon 6 and 7 pm classes to get my week started off with a good kick, punch, knee, and elbow! Aside from the obvious, the “cool down” at the end of class is always a source of inspiration to me because we can see each other lined up working and pushing through it all down to the last “and time!”
Inspiring Moment: Making it through a 20 package of personal training sessions with Steve and Sergio – need I say more? I avoided throwing up with Sergio, I got toned up, and learned how to use the gym equipment to workout in between classes – all in 10 short weeks! The fact that I became h1 enough to take back to back classes and workout is a testament to the value of the 20 pack. I have all the tools to keep working on my 6 pack!
My older brother hikes, climbs, runs, lifts, and has been extremely fit for over 20 years. During his visit from LA, I exacted a bit of revenge by bringing him to the gym to workout with Sergio. Nailed it – as planned, he was gassed by the end of the session! After all these years, I finally got props from my big brother. I’ve realized that if you really commit yourself to improvement, Muay Thai will make you h1er.
Name: Tristan Manaloto
Occupation: Student at Transfiguration School in Chinatown
Years as Member: I’ve been coming since I was 8 years old!
Favorite Class: I’ve only taken Muay Thai. Soon I hope to try some of the other martial arts classes. Muay Thai has helped build my self-confidence a lot. It helps me to create a routine. If you want something you have to work very hard for it. I’ve learned to be discipline. Even if I don’t start off good at something right away, I recognize what I have to do to improve. This helps me with all my school work, chores, at home with my family, and with everything else.
Inspiring Moment: I admire the fighters and enjoy watching the sparring classes. There are a lot of great fighters out there! I’ve met a lot of nice people here even though there aren’t a lot of kids my age. Steve and Simon are great role models and by example, they demonstrate to other members that I can be treated just like all the other adults in class.
Name: Kathryn Grooms
Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
Occupation: Gestalt Psychotherapist, Social Worker;
Years as Member: I joined in 2006. About 4 years if not more.
Favorite Class: Mondays 5pm and 6pm (competitors) Muay Thai taught by Arjan Steve. I always take both, so together they feel like one class with 5pm being the perfect warm up and the 6pm pushing the difficulty level so I’m good and tired by the end of both. These are also the only evening classes I am able to get to, so it’s great to have the chance to see so many familiar, friendly faces.
Inspiring Moment: Before my last fight, on my last Saturday sparring class, Steve partnered me with Emily for what felt like forever, and actually was something like six 4-minute rounds (which I was unaware of), during which Emily kept a flurry coming at me and I worked non-stop and after I was absolutely spent. I knew if I could work that hard for that long, I could handle whatever my opponent brought into the ring. When class ended, I plopped down and said thank you to Arjan Steve and Coach Emily. Okay so thanks was the sentiment, which fortunately they both were able to interpret, my choice of words had a slightly grumpier, exhausted tone.
Name: Christopher Nagel
Hometown: Munich, Germany
Occupation: Student at Brooklyn Law School
Years as Member: Over 1 year
Favorite Class: I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m partial to the Kali classes. The footwork developed in Kali spreads to everything else. However, the intensity of Muay Thai builds stamina unlike any other sport I’ve every pursued. I’m enjoying Judo because it doesn’t come as naturally to me as the others, and the coaches have helped me figure out how to not get my long limbs in the way. It’s very clear how they all compliment one another.
Inspiring Moment: Maq taught the very first Kali class I ever took. He ran me through some basic knife techniques and proceeded to overwhelm me by “running circles” (his term!) around me during a light sparring session. Fast forward one year to Maq and I sparring in Arjan’s Simon class. At the end of a great session (for me) Maq said, “Your footwork was really good. You were running circles around me!” In one year I was transformed.
Other comments: I find that I come to class because it’s fun and has become such an integral part of my life. It really is a family. Arjan Simon has called me out (just once) on my poor language choice (read: bad word) and that’s when I knew–the instructors care about the person that you are, not just about the training lesson of the day.
Name: Angela Babel
Hometown: Paris, France
Occupation: Assistant Manager at The Kitano Hotel on Park Avenue, the only Japanese hotel in NY
Years as Member: It has only been a few months but feels like years. In a good way!
Favorite Class: Muay Thai with Arjan Steve, but I love everyone’s classes. It’s great to have so much variation. Kettlebells are fun and challenging too.
Inspiring Moment: The first fight I’d ever been to was this past October in Flushing. I was overcome with motivation. The intensity, level of athleticism and technical skill of the live display of Muay Thai made me want to work towards getting myself into the ring someday. I think about watching those bouts often–and it encourages me to push myself further and continue to train harder than each and every day before.
Other comments: Since beginning my training, I have become more focused on and off the mat. I’ve found a new tranquility. I’m more calm and patient. My composure has improved dramatically–which is most needed while handling customers at work. Building lean muscle feels great too! I’ve witnessed my body change quickly in just a few short months. One more thing: It’s encouraging to have so many women training with this much spirit and power under one roof. I’m in awe of Coach Emily and Coach Rima’s dedication to the sport. I hope they know how many women like me they inspire.
Name: Dwayne Neville Kenneth Richards
Hometown: Georgetown, Guyana
Occupation: FDNY Firefighter, Bike Messenger
Years as Member: 9 Months
Favorite Class: I was a fiend for Gavin Gointahell Van Vlack’s “odd object playground,” But my schedule hasn’t allowed me to play, nonetheless, Pascal is great about the combinations, Jose and Gaius are heavy on technique, Eddie focuses on the nuances of fighting, Emily is a front kick queen, Kru Emyr makes lunch time more delicious with his noon class, Arjan Simon makes me rise up into my roundhouses, and Arjan Steve taught me to keep my hands up so as not to get beat up by girls in sparring class (shout out to Jennifer Pearsall). I would also like to give a nod to Bill Chiu’s occasional Kettlebell class and the yoga instructors Lya and Lisa for making my hipflexors more flexibe.
Inspiring Moment: My enlightenment moment is a toss between recognizing Sergio’s double
hook combination that starts at the body and somehow ended up in my face, and landing a solitary front kick in the middle of Pascal Jean-Michel’s Pummeling. Tip of the hat to everyone who has gone East to train.
Name: Monica Liu
Occupation: Ad Operations Analyst & Aerial and Fire Performer
Years as Member: 2 1/2 years
Favorite Class: Kali and Muay Thai are both great!
Inspiring Moment: It’s an ongoing process of gradual improvement. There’s always more to work on. I’ve been doing Kali a lot longer, so I’m still working on getting to the point where I’m as comfortable in Muay Thai as I am in Kali. It’s always good to learn something new and it’s inspiring to work with people that are better than me and who challenge me.
Name: Bill Chiu
Hometown: Chinatown, NY
Occupation: Sales/Fitness Trainer
Years as Member: Almost 3
Favorite Class: Kettlebells
Inspiring Moment: All of them. I arrived at Five Points very young and with a lot to learn. I had just gone from weighing 220 lbs to 170 lbs and still had a long way to go. Training with Arjan Steve and Arjan Simon in Muay Thai has changed me. Coach Gavin drove me to learn how to condition my body with Kettlebells. Summer 2008 I went to Nationals and completed the Kettlebell certification program. This weekend I’ll be fighting at 135lbs! (Thanks Pascal for the extra coaching/training.)
Other comments: I’m enjoying assistant teaching and look forward to teaching my own classes. I want to inspire others to make huge life changes similar to mine. Pass on the knowledge and the bananas.
Name: Jeff Mashie
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Occupation: Fashion Designer & Costume Designer
Years as Member: 2
Favorite aspect of Five Points: My favorite thing about Five Points is my Independent Trainer Rob Morea. I also enjoy hanging out with my Five Points pals, Emily and Passa–who can kick your a$$!
Other comments: Go see my most recent design work on Broadway, the hit musical “Next to Normal” at the Booth Theater.
Hometown: Mankato, Minnesota
Occupation: Senior Research Chemist at Merck
Years as Member: 4 (or more!)
Favorite Class: Sparring (Fight Team), Wednesday at 7pm and Saturday at 9am
Most Inspiring Moment: After a few months of sparring and repeatedly developing a bloody nose, I finally figured out how to not block the jab with my face. Everything started to click, I started to relax more, think less, and simply react. I always have a lot of fun in class and try to learn something new each time. I try to think about how I did and take away the positives while also trying to improve upon the things I don’t feel that I did quite as well. There really is nothing better than an intense bout of sparring and practice to take my mind off of my research and reset for another day. Five Points is a big part of my routine and besides getting myself into some semblance of shape, it’s brought good balance to my daily life.
Name: Luz Gandulla
Age: Do I have to?
Hometown: Trenton, NJ
Occupation: Art Buyer and Print Producer
Years as Member: 2 1/2 years on and off. It’s complicated!
Favorite Class: They’re all painful! I learn so much from everyone’s classes. I plead the fifth.
Most Inspiring Moment: After watching a few stand-out fights last Mayhem, and admiring the skills of the fighters (especially the women), I was inspired to make the decision to compete. Since then it has been non-stop training. Going to Nationals will be my own personal test. We’ll see what happens!
Name: George Flynn
Age: 60 (feels like 25)
Hometown: Unionville, CT
Years as Member: 2+
Favorite Class: Judo or Kali. It’s a toss up!
Most Inspiring Moment: In constant awe of Coach Gavin going through bodyweight exercises like he weighs 140lbs!
Hometown: Long Island
Occupation: 1st Grade Teacher
Years as Member:1
Favorite Class: Don’t make me choose! I have learned so much from everyone. Steve has helped me to find a mental and physical tenacity that I never knew I could have. Emily has been a model of discipline, skill, and strategy; Rima has encouraged strength. Simon (he’ll be surprised to hear) has taught me to have patience with myself and others, and Emyr has shown me the humor, control, and intelligence that is so necessary.
Most Inspiring Moment: For me it was not one moment, but a shift that happened. I used to be afraid of everything – in the gym and everywhere else, too. I was afraid to come to class, to ask questions, to wrap my hands, to hold pads, to work with strangers. I was too nervous to share opinions at work, to reach for higher goals, or to cause a stir in any way. But training, and learning something new, makes you realize how capable you are. I am so much more confident and straightforward than I used to be.