InterviewWith: Christy Synan of Fighting Chance Fitness
A desire for a different lifestyle and the ability to support their family while doing something they were passionate about led Christy Synan and her husband Kevin to take a “leap of faith” and move to Ponte Vedra Beach from their lifelong home in Richland, Va. Christy Synan was self employed for many years in the medical billing industry, but sold the business to move to Florida about 13 years ago.
“With our new business, we wanted to offer something to families that they could all do together that was fun for all and not too expensive,” Christy Synan said.
Her husband and son were training in Jiu Jitsu and after their move to Florida, one of her daughters also began training. Synan decided to try it too.
“The second I started the ground game, I fell in love with the empowerment of the sport,” she said.
The Synans decided that a Jiu Jitsu academy was what they were passionate about and began scouting locations, landing on County Road 210, which they could see was a growing area with ample land and lots of people moving in. They thought they could make their idea work and so in March 2008 at the height of the recession, they took another leap of faith and rented 1,200 square feet in a strip center at 110 Cumberland Park Drive and named their academy Fighting Chance Fitness. They put the money from the sale of Synan’s business into buildout, mats and equipment.
One year later, they were so successful that they moved to a larger unit in the center. Still, Synan continued to work at a different job part time until just five years ago, when she finally became a full time instructor at Fighting Chance Fitness. Last year, they were pleased to take their now-adult son and a former student on as business partners. They also did a whole new buildout and remodel with new equipment and added a cardio room, mat room and weight area to increase their offerings.
Q: What has been your best business decision to date?
A: Definitely the location that we chose for Fighting Chance Fitness. In the grand scheme of things, I think we’ve made a lot of positive choices, but this was the single best decision.
Q: What do you consider to be your company’s “edge?”
A: The family aspect. We are truly family owned and operated, and in the martial art sport we do, it’s very personal and brings families together. Everybody can do this. We start kids as young as four years old and it’s never too late to start.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Educating people about Jiu Jitsu, which is a gentle art about being a better version of yourself. It’s very humbling and empowering. Since Jiu Jitsu utilizes blood flow chokes, it is by far the best self defense sport for women. When on your back, in a compromised position, it’s all about using technique and leverage and Jiu Jitsu allows a smaller person to control and resist a larger body. Jiu Jitsu is a slow belting martial art that has different belting systems for children and adults. It takes eight to 10 years for an adult to become a black belt.
Q: How do you spend a typical day?
A: As a business owner, you’re never not working, but if you love what you do it doesn’t seem like work. We try to always spend an hour a day on the beach. I find it to be very cleansing and it allows my husband and me time to talk about the business as well as personal things. Then, we spend the day training, doing book work and teaching classes six evenings a week.
Q: What is your long term goal?
A: To make Fighting Chance Fitness bigger and better and leave a legacy for our kids. Through the years, all three of our children have played a role in the business — everything from instructing to handing out flyers. We owe a lot to our children for being supportive and patient during this adventure.
Photo courtesy Christy Synan