By Lorin X.
At the start of 2023 we were sitting around the dining table at Jarvie’s house attempting to plan out the year, or at least the next quarter. In all honesty it felt like we were just going through the motions.
Having come off the back of a huge year of growth, including the purchase and fit out of the new facility, there was a little blur that coloured the space between the TFC we had come from in 2021 – 22, and the TFC that arrived in 2023. Like every good relationship, we had reached a new level and there needed to be some getting to know each other again.
The first day of planning ended in a blank whiteboard and 2 lunch breaks.
Day 2 of planning rolled around.
Ben came back to the table with some big ideas that led to some of those light bulb moments everyone talks about, and we got excited and set about mapping project boards, and building slideshows, and doing other business-ey stuff.
Looking back now, I think that excitement was fuelled mostly by relief that we had something to work with, it made sense, it was in line with the data and most importantly, it was mission statement driven – but in reality, we hadn’t grasped just how big those ideas were going to be to pull off. It was a little bit ‘head too far up our arses’ and a little bit naivety, but as we allowed these ideas to steer the ship, we were humbled at every turn, and ultimately it was this radical lesson in humility that led to the year that was 2023.
If you thought I was about to tell you what those big ideas were, you would be incorrect (soz not soz) – we’re all about sharing, but there are some aspects of intellectual property that were mined through a substantial amount of data analysis and investment, and that everyone should have to work for in order to value it and act accordingly – OR you can read between the lines, let me continue…
The one line that underpins the TFC Mission Statement is “..we cultivate a high performance environment that breeds champions, which helps to lift the standard of everyone around them”. The idea behind this is the old adage of – ‘you are the company you keep’ or ‘show me your friends and I will tell you who you are’, this is the baseline that drives our primary product.
Now, this is where things get really interesting.
Bear in mind, I’m speaking in generalisations, but typically in the combat sports industry, ‘fight gyms’ stay small and many can feel exclusionary at first; that isn’t a dig at other gyms, it’s a culture that has embedded itself into tradition over time from necessity. Many of the coaches who run these places put in their blood, sweat, tears and years of their life and expertise, few make any real money from it, and a lot are burned out by those who come, take, and leave. As a general rule, in combat sports, profitability and longevity have most often been achieved either one of two ways –
1. You stay small, loyal, train your fighters and rely on sponsorships.
2. You incorporate a more commercially accepted product into your offering, like a box fit class.
Obviously, both are totally acceptable models, but TFC does not conform to either of those traditions.
We believe in the power of combat sports to impact a positive and lasting change on the lives of people who seek it out, no matter who they are or where they come from; we teach combat sports here, but there were gaps – and we were in a unique position, not afforded to most in the industry, where we had the data and the resources to create the solutions.
Needless to say, it’s not perfect, and we haven’t been able to please everyone. Our trainers are still learning new models and modes of teaching, and the members that trust us to teach them are slowly but surely progressing and falling in love with ‘this thing of ours.’
Personally, what I have loved the most about being a part of this team, and working daily alongside the 2 directors of TFC – Ben Johnston and James Jarvie, is that they are people centric, and they are men of their word, willing to take the risks required to stay in integrity at all times, even when it means building things without blueprints.
As 2023 comes to a close, I find myself once again sitting at a table with a blank whiteboard in front of me, but it doesn’t feel as scary as it did when the year began, because the blueprint is starting to appear, and I think it’s looking good, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Click here to see TFC WRAPPED for 2023, our year together in combat sports.