Matan is the founder of Fit Hit, an Inc. 5000 fastest growing company in the US. As a former special-ops Krav Maga Warfare Officer, and after training 1000s of special ops pro athletes World Champs and regular folks, Matan recognized that empowerment to training is key to success, not just in violent situations, but in general. Fit Hit helps people tap into their potential, develop a healthy lifestyle, increase mental fortitude, and learn how to handle themselves.
What would you say to entrepreneurs who simply can't find the time to invest in their own well-being?
That's a great question. A lot of my students are entrepreneurs and high-level managers, creators, people that rely on their creativity to succeed. So we actually have a little in-house joke that we say and it's called more abs, more money! We're basically connecting your personal well-being and fitness level, to your levels of income and how much money you make. Now, most people can't see the direct line between the two. But I can tell you, there have been several researchers on the subject that have looked at over 1500 CEOs, and what they found was that CEOs that take the time to train, hold themselves up to higher standards when it comes to their nutrition level and their well being overall tend to have more successful companies, better returns to their investments, and more profit. It's not that hard to figure out why right? It's because really, how you do anything is how you do everything. So when you start putting your own well-being as not as important as something else, you don't actually show up in their business as the best version of yourself. If you're an entrepreneur, your capacity to create is what's gonna make or break you, how much drive do you have? Do you think that you'll be able to do more when your health is on point when you have energy that lasts through the entire day, and you're not bogged down by 6 pm or 7 pm, when you just bounce out of bed right in the morning, right? Because your body can carry you like that and you're gonna spending the first 30-45 minutes doing morning scrolling in your bed because you don't have the energy to get up. So what we tell entrepreneurs is that if they're not putting their own physical well-being first, their business is taking the hit, not just their own physic. I recommend to a lot of entrepreneurs to do it that once you get into the process of actually taking care of your body and being aware of what your fat percentage is and so on, I've actually mapped out my fat percentage put it in a graph over time because I keep track of it and my bank account, and what I've noticed is that the two moves kind of like in the same pattern. When I'm at my fittest, my company does really well and if I let go, I can see the changes in the company. If I can show for myself, that means that I can also show up for my business and for my employees. But if I don't even show up for myself, are you really giving the people who depend on you, your team, your staff, the best version of you, or a run-down version of you?
What can entrepreneurs do to beat the stress eating and some of these other bad habits that we've all picked up over the last year?
I can tell you that one of the reasons that so many have gained weight during COVID, and I'm looking at entrepreneurs, specifically, is that we are a breed that is driven by control. We have our own business because for better or worse, we like to control the outcome of things. Some are more successful than others, but even when you talk to people that are not that successful in business, and they're business owners, they'll tell you, I'd rather be here than get a job, right? They like the ability to control their successes and even if they fail, it’s still something that keeps them motivated keeps them going and they're very much connected to it. Then COVID happens and what happened when COVID happened is we lost a significant amount of control of what we can do in our lives. So in the first few months of COVID, with lockdowns, and all this other stuff, if you are any type of retail business, you couldn't operate it all, the way that you used to. We lost control of who we can meet, we lost control of where we can go we lost control of our late we can stay at night, whether I can get food from this place or that place. What happens to people when they lose control? What happens to anybody that loses control? There are direct emotions that go right with it like anger, sadness, and fear which are all the result of loss of control. So what we've seen, because we interview everybody that trained with us, is that when people lost control of things, it made it easy for them to just give up control on everything else, even on things that could be under their control. So even though you have full control of your nutrition because you lost control over everything else, it feels comfortable to just flush down to drain your habits, and then you talk to people. Now for entrepreneurs, if you are sad, and afraid, anxious, and angry, that doesn't work for the business, you have to mitigate those emotions if you're going to show up for the business. So what I recommend to entrepreneurs that are finding themselves in this emotional roller coaster that 2020 has brought in is that anytime there is a lack of control, which is to become very aggressive with taking control where you can. There are actually four aspects that every entrepreneur must take control of all the time. The first one is nutrition. What you put in your body has a huge effect on how you feel and if you're not feeling at your best, you're not gonna show up as your best, you're not going to have the best ideas, you're not going to have the best execution and you're not going to have the energy. So where most people basically turned to junk food and fast food, alcohol, we recommended to our community to go even more hardcore on clean nutrition during this time. You're not going to find comfort in bad food because that just leads to a whole other can of worms with your body and your mind. So the first thing that you want to control these your nutrition, the second thing you want to control is your fitness level. Now gyms got closed down. So what? "Well, if the gym is closed, I can't do anything." No, there was a lot that you can do. You can train at home, you can train outside, you can be active, there are a million things that you can do. But you have to first admit to yourself that you need to take control of your physical fitness. When you do that, you're already starting to make movement in the right direction. Then the third thing is that this is an opportunity for you to gain control of your knowledge base. So you can spend the time just aimlessly scrolling and getting angry at everything that's happening in this country, or you can start seeking out advantages. Seek out the knowledge that would make you better at what you are, that will inspire you, that will move you forward. Then the fourth element is I always recommend people to also take control of hobbies of things that are not directly related to their business and just grow in other directions. So when you force yourself to take control of these things that you can, you are no longer a victim to those horrible emotions that come with the initial loss of control because you continue having control over the things that you can. So your nutrition can be up to par you don't have to go to junk food and alcohol, you don't have to sit on your sofa all day even in lockdown, right? You don't have to be immobile just because the gym shut down. There are options, take control over that! You don't have to be a mindless zombie even though all your friends may be mindless zombies right now, and people around you are mindless zombies right now. If you take this time to get better, create better offerings, become more professional, find a new market, find a new niche, the whole experience of loss of control becomes way easier.
How did you take Krav Maga, this kind of aggressive approach, and make it something that is accessible to women?
That was the challenge when I set out to create Fit Hit. I come from the military world and when I started training, my clients were for the most part, within that world. Police officers, security companies, special ops, and government agencies, were the clients. But when I was in New York, even within the very first year, I started getting more familiar with violence against women, and how prevalent it is in the United States. It was much worse than I thought it would be, like one in every six women is going to get sexually assaulted in her lifetime. That's like one roll of the dice. You start talking to women, and everybody either has been assaulted or knows somebody that has been assaulted. I was just thinking to myself that I have all this knowledge and I have this skill set that is completely transferable. The beauty of Krav Maga is that you don't have to be the strongest person to be able to do it, they're teaching it to kids straight out of high school in the military because that's what Israel is. So how do you turn these 18-19-year-old kids to be very efficient with a striking, you have to give them a system that is not reliant on size or strength. So if you give women a system to defend themselves, not relying on size and strength, you're actually giving them a power that they can then use to not be a part of that horrible statistic that just kept creeping up. So for me to be able to create an environment to attract these women, I couldn't just come out and say, "Hey, ladies, I'm about to teach you the most aggressive self-defense system in the world, it's only being taught at special ops and law enforcement these days, so let's go," because most women, right off the bat, are not attracted to that concept. I know it because that's how I started, that was my first Google ad! I created a great school for Krav Maga, but women were only maybe 15% or 20%. From day one, I wanted to attract women, but I just didn't know what was the right message, what was the right way to put it all together. But I knew what problem I wanted to solve in the world and it was the problem of victimization especially for women because there was nothing like that. So most women, even though the solutions are out there just don't do that. So I had to bend their reality in order to make it happen and the way that I did that is that I didn't come out with so we create a new product. It is an upscale fitness experience that has nutrition built in, community, mental fortitude, it is one of the most beautiful spaces you would ever go into in New York City right now. We put on music and lights, and we build a whole fashion line to go along with it and we put females in the forefront of it so the women that are teaching the classes are all these badass women and they're also beautiful and feminine at the same time. But they're also very strong and very accomplished, very powerful, and they have conviction in what they do. We put all of that together and on the way, you're going to learn a little Krav Maga! We didn't lead with Krav Maga, we lead with, “You’re going to lose 25 pounds, let me show you how.” That became the draw for the female population and the beauty of it is that it didn't take long because women fell in love with this type of training. See, the problem was it's not that this training is not for women, it's just that women have been falsely convinced over the years that they're not supposed to be a fighter, they're not supposed to be aggressive, they're not supposed to say no and are not supposed to hit back, and all it takes is one hour for us to break all of that. What we did is we created these human-like punching bags so instead of hitting other people, they're hitting a thing that looks like a person. Within like 10 seconds, they feel that they have an impact behind her punches. Fighting is in our DNA, fighting is not a male or female thing, it's literally in everybody's DNA. It's part of our survival mechanism, but because we don't need to survive that much these days it just stays dormant. So all we did is we gave a more attractive offer and then when we exposed women to what we knew that they would in their core being would be attracted to you because we all have an aggressive side. No matter how quiet it is, no matter how silent it is, no matter how many years other people have tried to squash it, it's there. The end results are instantaneous, we probably have the highest retention rate of any gym in the country, because once they try it, they don't want to go sit on a bicycle to nowhere! What if you even burn more calories, but you also learn some new skills your body moves in us in a different way and when you leave the class, that information stays with you? You leave the class you go out into an NYC street and some guy looks at you weird. You're no longer paralyzed, which was the case for most women before they started this training.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories that you've had?
This was a long time ago when I didn't even have a location yet, I was just like a hired gun and I would just be hired to train for certain things. I wanted to open up a facility so I was looking for investors, partners, anything that can give me a leg up. So I was talking to somebody who is a poker player and she just mentioned she knew I was looking for investors and that there was this illegal poker game that was going to happen that night at some random location in New York City. She gave me the name of one person to look for and if I got him on your side, he will find you. So I was like, "Okay, great," and I to my girlfriend I was like, "Hey, listen, dear, we are going to an illegal poker game, I've never played poker in my life, I don't know how to play, we are just going to be social and nice and see what's what." We get to this building and there's this guard, his security guard standing out there and he's like, "Can I help you?" I told him I was here for the game, he asked for my name, and when I told him my name he said I wasn't on the list. Then I give him that one guy's name and they let me in. So we go in there and there's like, this social gathering, which was very small with everybody sitting around the poker table. We're just sitting like a sofa and I don't know who that person is that I'm looking for, but I figured by being there, I'll be able to see what's going on. So for like, 30 minutes, I'm just sitting there, not even talking to anybody. Then at some point, this guy raises his head and he's like, "Hey, you're Matan?" I said yeah and he was like "Oh yeah, this woman told me that you're gonna be here. Hey guys, this is Matan, he's like the baddest Krav Maga fighter ever so if anybody wants to train, we'd like a super commando guy, that's your guy!" I was like, "Great, man I thought you and I will be able to talk later on," and he's like, "No, I don't have any time for that, but thanks for coming." But then there was another guy at that table and he was like, "Oh, you teach Krav Maga, give me your card, I'm doing this charity event if you want to donate a couple of classes that might open you up." That little social gathering and social conversation that guy didn't just put me in this huge charity event that gave me huge exposure and huge opportunity to go over it, he became my client. Later on, he also became my first investor. So just taking advantage of the fact that I could get into a room with a bunch of people, be able to get the conversation even though the original guy that I came there for, didn't even want to have a conversation with me. Just being exposed to other people that could make a difference in your life got me, my first investor. From there, it was pretty easy to open up my first location.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would say if I could go back to my 20s, I would work way harder on getting access to mentors, and getting mentorship from people who have walked the walk. The interesting thing is that super-successful entrepreneurs are more likely to take on a younger person to mentor than an older person or mentor because there's a certain sense of pride when you take somebody who doesn't know much and you start giving them tools and then they go out and kill it. I started looking for mentorship way later in life. I was in my mid-30s and I ended up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the mentorship and it always paid back and dividends. Paying for mentorship is great, but when you're super young, a lot of times you have access that you don't even know that you have just because you're young, you're hungry, and you're ambitious, and you don't have all the answers and nobody expects you to have all the answers. So I would say if anybody is that super early age, work on connecting with mentors. You never know when you're going to run into them so you have to make yourself available to run into these people. I would tell myself and there anybody that may be in the position that I was is you want to recognize success when you see it early and get close to it because it gives you shortcuts. It can save you years of trial and error, not to mention money.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I would say a person that I've been completely fascinated with over the past five years, Elan Musk. He doesn't build businesses, he creates industries. Most people would be lucky to be very successful in just one aspect, but he seems to innovate in completely different industries. I heard him say something and I think as an entrepreneur you need to hear it. There are two things that he said that really stuck with me and I'm happy that he said it because it makes a lot of the emotions that you may feel as an entrepreneur and during hard times, that's really kind of find their place. He said, "Being asked for nor is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss: You have to be prepared for long periods of difficulty before you make it on the other side," and then the second thing that he said which was in reply, somebody asked him, "What can you tell young entrepreneurs that need to be motivated?" He said, "If you need somebody to motivate, you should probably not want to be an entrepreneur." I just love the idea that you have to find the motivation from within all the time as an entrepreneur. There's not going to be anybody there, that's going to push you to be the best that you can be in your business unless you hire them to do it. But our voice will always tell them to look deeper, listen to that part of you wants to push forward. So I would say that without a doubt if I had stronger social skills and networking skills than I do, that would push hard to get on the circle with Elon Musk.
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