Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy Anniversary Girya Kettlebell Training!

Girya Kettlebell training is four years old today.We opened our doors on our little studio in record time four years ago when I was forced to choose between my dignity and a big salary at another start up studio I was supposed to be in charge of.

I had left my position as Head Trainer at a place called No Excuses Personal training here in Palo Alto after 4 plus years to open a large training studio/gym with an investor and a person who used to be my best friend. We went from planning, building opening to me leaving in a record six months time!
It was a dream while it was happening as I had an open checkbook and run of the place- for awhile. I got to buy all the toys I had always wanted( my FIRST purchase,ironically, was two full sets of DragonDoor KBs, from 8 to 40 kgs!)plus a six figure salary. It was a dream that turned into a nightmare as my best friend turned out to be a snake and my investor a liar and cheat.
I was given the option , after being in charge for six months of "do what you are told or get the f*&!k out." Needless to say walking out on a big salary with benefits and vacation time and all that nice stuff to an uncertain future with nothing but my clients and no where to train them was a daunting situation.
It took me just a few seconds to weigh the balance between my heavy mortgage and bills and my honor and ethics to get up and walk out of the place.

The very next day I walked two blocks away from where the big studio was located to a slightly less high end spot of Palo Alto( albeit much more bohemian and funky-definitely my style) and walked straight to the location I am right now! Lo and behold it had a for lease sign on it and I called the landlord that very second.

Tracy and I toured the place the next day and signed the lease two days after that! This was one week before Christmas and I dont know how but we managed to get carpet, paint, equipment and signage up and ready to go in the next three weeks so we could open Girya, The Art of Strength( our original name) up and running on January 6 2003.

Some things are just meant to happen.
Thank God for my extremely loyal and devoted clients who followed me around Palo Alto! Without them none of this would be possible.

I got a lot of flak for naming the studio after a meat sandwhich( what is a girya? how do you pronounce it?) but I didnt care. I had fallen in love with that little round ball and wanted people to know about it. I didnt need to advertise as I had a full clientele so I called it what I wanted to.
I had realized the folly of not going my own way with that last venture and wasnt about to turn a deaf ear to my instinct again; Girya it was!
We changed the name to Girya Kettlebell training after I got certified and wanted more exposure for the KB and and had hoped to do classes as well. As usual I found it very hard to depend on anyone other than myself and the classes didnt work out. No matter, I have a full schedule and waiting list and Tracy is building her business now as well.And I still get to do what I love, train and teach people about the simplest way to get in shape that I have ever tried.
The hardest simple workout of all time, the kettlebell!
Happy Anniversary to us!


Franz Snideman said...

Mark, CONGRATULATION! What you have achieved in Palo Alto is amazing. For sure you were the first KB training studio in the United States. Your success in training is a testament to your committment and PASSION to health and fitness. You and Tracy should be very proud. Yoana and I wish you guys years and years of more success!

Great job!

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks guys, its been a great trip and it's not even close to being over.Just need to get a serious afternoon trainer and open GIrya back up for classes again.

Geoff Neupert said...

Happy Anniversary, Rif--that's great.

Sometimes you just gotta follow your dreams...

When you get a chance, drop me a line or give me a call.

Pete Diaz, RKC said...

Many deserved congratulations and Happy anniversary, Rif!

Very sad to hear that people who you once trusted would show their true colors. You must definitely feel even more proud to know what price your honor and ethics are worth.

No Excuses loss has definitely been our gain. I wish you more continued health and success.

Royce said...

Way to go Rif. That took courage I'm sure to walk away from the money like that.
But you have to be true to yourself and usually when we are good things happen.

A very hearty and well deserved congratulations.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks guys, I appreciate all the kind words and thoughts.It was hard, temporarily, to walk away from the money but I knew I couldnt work with those people once they had backstabbed my and shown their true face.
THe moral of the story too, is that you never know when something that appears to be tragic turns out to be something magical.

Royce said...

Amen to that Rif my friend of 10 years couldn't deal with me getting married. My situation changed overnight as I took on 4 step-kids, and could no longer spend countless hours in bars with him.
Turns out if I was still hanging around him I would probably still be wishing I was in shape instead of doing something about it!

SR said...

Congrats. As one who drove down to PA from north of SF for a consultation, I can attest that it was worth every mile and $. I hope to get back down soon.
Thanks, SR

cayenne said...


Most likely, your interest in eastern thought have led you to the term, "The Ten Thousand Things."

Great story about how circumstances, by appearing unfavorable were, in hindsight, in a sense, testing your resolve. I believe we are responsible for the effort, while the result may be beyond control. It's so sweet when Good Work is rewarded. You applied yourself and followed what was Right, as you know it. Now the plantings have blossomed.

Congratulations to you and your family, and Best Wishes for the future !


Mark Reifkind said...


now I am crazy trying to remember who you are! email me with your full name ok?
thanks for the compliment and I do hope to see you back in girya again.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks man; it's nice when things that start badly go well in the end,although you never could have convinced me then that it was a good thing!
also, thanks for the support and encouragement along the way, it is greatly appreciated and remembered.

My spiritual beliefs definitely help me see things in a different light, that's for sure.What you see definitely depends on where you stand.

bulldogtenacity said...

Congratulations Rif!

Awesome work and a very inpirational story. Thanks for spreading the word!

All the best from Sweden.
Tommy Blom

albina N muro said...

Girya Kettlebell training is four years old today.We opened our doors on our little studio in record time four years ago when I was forced to choose between my dignity and a big salary at another start up studio I was supposed to be in charge of. kettlebell training courses