How It All Started
From an early age, I’ve had this unique courage (or recklessness) to take chances and try new experiences without worrying about the consequences. I found the potential of the unknown results could be way more gratifying than maintaining the status quo - even if it ended in failure or a dangerous outcome. Like this major bike accident I had, thinking it was wise to jump about 15 steps before landing in the street and getting hit by a car.
Or when at 22 years old I decided to leave an excellent paying job with world class benefits at Boeing in Seattle to travel. Sold my brand-new car, and apt in Wallingford, Seattle to see the Caribbean, living in St. Thomas, then Puerto Rico for many years. I fell in love with the Latin culture, and more importantly the lesson of survival, and overcoming obstacles. Challenging myself to make something happen or go back to rainy Seattle and back on a Production line. I didn’t know the language, or what in the world I would do to be productive in Puerto Rico, but I knew I wanted to be there, and I would do whatever it takes. These moments, situations are where I have been able to thrive, I use(d) fear of failure as motivation like no other. Hard work, grit, lots of luck, and surrounding myself around the right people carried me through graduating college in Puerto Rico, while working on world class yachts, and continuing to travel seeing many parts of the world at a young age. These experiences are what lead me to the next chapter of my life, business.
On my travels and while in Puerto Rico I graduated college with a BA in Marketing, traveled the Caribbean, South America, Central America, and Europe. Little did I know, I was just getting started. On a personal note, I tried many jobs along the way such as bartending (I was horrible), I worked on ships (not amazing), however the fear of trying, and being in uncomfortable situations I was excelling in.
While spinning my wheels in Puerto Rico after 5 years, no real career direction, a friend of mine in Venice, California called me and said, “Matteo I have the perfect job/profession for you in Fitness”. I had no idea this is where I would shine and spend the next 25 years of my life. I got my start at Powerhouse Gym, Venice, Main Street, California, 1995. I was hired as a commission only, membership advisor, meaning whoever I brought in from the street and they joined, I would receive a commission on that sale. I was handed a clipboard, and some guest passes and a nice pat on the butt out the door. My experience prepared me for this moment, I truly was fearless, the things I’ve seen and done prior to this were much harder. I lived in sunny Southern California, two blocks from the beach, go to the beautiful Santa Monica 3rd St. promenade, meet people, and invite them to workout for free? To me this was amazing, and in a very short time, I was killing it in sales, and was promoted into a Management role.
I was never meant or dreamt of being your stereotypical “Gym guy”. I worked out, and played sports all my life, I didn’t have the same aspirations of bodybuilding as most in Venice, I found it more fascinating than a career for myself. The fitness business though, I enjoyed, I truly loved the social aspect of meeting all these interesting people, while helping them look and feel better. I rose through the ranks due to my passion, production, and the ability to build a downline. I spent 5 years at Powerhouse until I was offered a position only a couple blocks away at the most famous gym in the world, Gold’s Gym Venice. I would be leaving a Management position, to do sales again, but in a place, that’s known around the world. I was willing to take a step backwards in order to get 5 steps ahead. I was also intrigued with how big and famous this gym really was. This career move led me to some of my most memorable experiences in life, (read blog page), while advancing through Management positions. I grew from an AGM (assistant general manager), to GM, AM, Regional Manager, to eventually Vice President of Gold's Gym in Asia. While my progressions were constant I managed to stay curious, challenge myself through fear of failure even if it meant to bite off more than I could chew.
New ownership meant new leaders, my 10 year run with Gold's in Venice would come to a stop on a Friday, I was given a 30 minute notice to clean out my desk. I had literally no time to dwell on it, so I decided to move to Puerto Vallarta Mexico to help my buddy with his yacht business, my friend from Puerto Rico was chartering yachts in PV. I also was working selling real estate in PV, when I one night I received this strange email. The email came in from someone named Francis, and he had just purchased some gyms, and a Master franchise agreement from Gold’s Gym. He was contacting me to see if I was interested in possibly a VP Position in Jakarta Indonesia, I said I have to be honest; I have no idea where that even is, lol. We had a few conversations, and I accepted. I moved from Mexico to Indonesia where I helped a grow 3 gyms into 13 within a year. This was an amazing experience, learned a new culture, had 500 new employees who were all incredible. A very memorable moment of irony, victory, or just a Rocky style comeback was when after a year of working in Indonesia my boss and I were invited to the Gold's Gym Convention in Vegas, Mandalay Bay. In front of all Franchise Owners, and all Corporately Owned Clubs Gold's Gym Indonesia was awarded Best International Franchise, and Master Franchise Award. I took the stage in front of hundreds, handed these 2 awards from the same Company I was let go from just 1 year prior, and made a statement to all about, never quitting, and to always stay positive, just because you were knocked down doesn't mean you were knocked out. I came back to the US after a year and finished my contract to pursue another venture.
I had a great relationship with former Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko, whom I still work with today. He was interested in opening a gym in NYC, Manhattan. He said “Let’s do it”, I then moved to NYC, the West Village, and started creating a business plan to open a gym in NY. After a year, I finished the plan, while working as a GM at a new club in the city, Wladimir was really busy into his boxing career and at that time he couldn’t commit or engage into another venture so I decided to downsize the project and move back to Venice where I knew the demographic and launch there.
I launched a self named gym called 220 Fitness (220 Second To None) on Main Street in Santa Monica California, just two blocks from where I started my career in fitness. The gym was literally a success before the doors even opened. We had an amazing staff, we had a very successful presale with better than expected membership enrollments, an instant Santa Monica hit. 220 received accolades, and awards like, "Best in the City", "Ranked #2 Gym in the Nation" by Huffington Post and Self Magazine. "Top 10 Gyms in LA" by LA Weekly. Not only receiving tremendous recognition but also celebrities and well known athletes started to frequent, like fighters Conor McGregor, and Gennady "GGG' Golovkin.
Now after all my experiences and wild journey, I want to share the ups and downs, and the importance of perseverance. Living life’s clichés about working hard and treating every job like you love it as doors can open when you least expect it. I hope to inspire, learn more from my mistakes than my successes, read some fun stories, interviews with different entrepreneurs, and offer some unique services that are proven.