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Member of the Month - November 2019: Nick and Gayle

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Member of the Month - November 2019: Nick and Gayle

This month, we have a husband and wife pair! Nick and Gayle have both been excellent members here at Underdog, and both of their kids train here as well. It was a blast to interview them and learn a little about their lives as well as their love and connection to the martial arts.


Members of the Month – November, 2019 Nick Polit and Gayle Klein

How long have you been at Underdog?

Since February of 2017, almost two years.

How long have been involved with Martial Art/Fitness Training?

N: I’ve been involved in some kind of fitness training since doing sports in High School. I remember getting a pass to a local rec center when I was that age. I didn’t know what I was doing but it was fun. I played a lot of lacrosse and a lot of hockey, roller and ice. I played a year of lacrosse in college.


G: My background was in swimming. I swam through college. After Nick and I started dating in college, we started doing Kung Fu together. It was our first formal martial arts training. We did Northern Shaolin in Dallas and then Southern Shaolin in New York. When we moved up here we started doing Shaolin Kenpo, and then wanted to get more into grappling, so we came here.


N: I’d say that the UFC and being big Rogan fans got us into the idea of grappling, and the more we watched the sport the more we realized that it was something we really wanted to spend some time in.

How has your training changed since you’ve come to Underdog?

G: completely. I was basically coming off the couch. I was over 200 pounds before I started training here and had started to lose a little weight, but my job was taking over my life. Everything about my life suffered as a consequence. Coming here I got all that back, a day at a time.


N: As far as BJJ goes, I came with no ideas or preconceived notions. I wanted to start as a true beginner and embrace the white belt path. The striking and conditioning here have helped me grow leaps and bounds.

What’s your first strong memory of Underdog?

N: Watching the kid’s class, watching Johnny coach. It’s an interesting moment, first seeing that happen. My other big strong memory was seeing Haddad and Kaplan and some other people learning how to do front flips. They spent like 30 minutes on it.


G: For me, it was when it was over at the Newfield location. I did a striking class with Russell that was amazing. I remember my mind being completely blown. I thought I had some basis from Kung Fu, but it was totally different.

What is your favorite thing about Underdog?

N: The “teamsmanship” that goes on at the gym is something that I’ve been looking for a long time. Playing team sports, there’s a few guys on the team that you trust here and there, but there’s a much tighter feeling of camaraderie here. That really means something here because there’s a level of training you can reach here when you have someone you can really trust. People here are all on a similar level, dedication-wise, despite what their personal agenda might be. Some people are here to be pro fighters, some people are here just to get in better shape.


G: That’s a tough question. I think it’s the community. We don’t really have family around here, and this is the closest we’ve gotten. And it’s been really great.

What motivates you to train?


G: I really only feel normal when I do. It helps me to put everything into perspective. I love that when I train BJJ, it helps me to make sense of my struggles in the world. It’s a very realistic manifestation of life struggles: you have to find your way out of difficult problems. I love it. The strength and conditioning makes me feel like a more effective human.


N: I’d have to echo what Gayle said. It’s definitely my coping mechanism. It doesn’t just keep me focused physically; it keeps me focused mentally. I know that if I’m stressed I can go online and watch some grappling, and it allows me to get away from what’s bothering me and focus on something else. Having something to train for keeps me in line and keeps me focused on my health. Being at this gym specifically has helped me a lot with that. Everyone here is so focused on what they’re about. They’re highly motivated people.

Since starting at Underdog, what goals have you been able to achieve? What challenges have you had to face and overcome?

N: It’s definitely helped with my anxiety. Any time I train in BJJ I feel more comfortable. Training here gives me that feeling of, “the rest of my life isn’t so big a deal. I’ve got a handle on it.” In tangible ways, the gym was the community that helped us find a place to live. There’s a community here and a support system that’s helped as we’ve faced some difficult life hurdles.


G: I’ve lost about a third of my body weight. That was pretty big. My overall physical fitness has improved greatly. It’s hard to put into words. I feel like it’s changed so much of my life that it’s hard to really talk about it. My self-confidence has improved. I’m less anxious.

What has had the largest positive impact on your training?

N: Diet and sleep for me, I’ve made a lot of big changes there. I also started doing yoga every night.


G: Doing more of the fundamentals classes and working with Fabi on Saturdays. I’ve also really been enjoying Tran’s classes, and I’ve been getting stronger since starting the Strength and Conditioning.

What goals do you still have? What’s next for your training?

N: I want to compete, a little bit.


G: I want to do more strength and conditioning and go to more open mats.

Anything you want to add?

N: No, I think we got it all in there.


G: Yeah, I can’t really think of anything else.

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