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Meet Travis Torres of Bear Pit Training and Fitness Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Travis Torres.

Travis, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Bear Pit was founded in 2010 when Coach Torres decided to turn his passion for helping others and his love of fitness, into a business. While some questioned the unusual name, it made perfect sense to Coach Torres. When he was in the Marine Corps, his unit had a place where they would go to resolve problems and work out frustrations.

No matter what problems entered the “Battalion Bear Pit,” they never came out. So Coach’s gym, Bear Pit, was created for others to learn, grow and relieve frustration in a controlled environment. It quickly became apparent that Bear Pit was no ordinary gym. Everyone who comes to Bear Pit finds more than a gym, they find a family. Everyone is welcomed and accepted as they are, no matter what their fitness level.

The staff is trained to get to know members as individuals, to help them overcome their struggles and to help them set and reach goals. Some come hoping to lose weight, others come wanting to build muscle, some want to succeed in the military, and still, others just need a confidence boost. Whatever the need, Bear Pit offers a solution. The overriding mission and goal of Bear Pit can be summed up in one phrase – to make you a better you.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I had the idea to open an MMA gym so I pitched it to a group of business owners and they strongly advised against it and told me there would be no money in it. I was shocked. I don’t like being told no, so I kept looking for encouragement. I had a friend that owned a nutrition shop and he pushed me to do it anyway, so when an opportunity came up for me to sub-lease an 800 square foot storefront, I took it. But I had no clue about all of the paperwork, legal aspects, and red tape I would face. I just wanted to be a coach.

Then the equipment and build out costs started adding up. I found myself in debt with a gym I hadn’t even opened. Finally, we opened – with no clients. We made quite a few costly marketing and advertising mistakes and still had no members. We eventually had two people join in the first month and then it jumped to 25 by the third month. At that time, we were just doing MMA and training military recruits.

The nice ladies at my credit union convinced me to try a boot camp class that took off like crazy. We outgrew that location quickly and we are now in our third location with a lot of bumps in the road along the way, including having to move our workouts to a park at one point and having to leave our second location due to noise complaints. Our latest location is in industrial park, so we had, even more, very expensive hoops to jump through.

Ten years have gone by since we first started and we are currently in a 3,500 square foot location with almost 50-hour long boot camps a week. We still train fighters and pre-military, but the majority of the business is now fitness. We now have 300+ members and are looking at opening a second Bear Pit and anticipating more obstacles as we expand. But we are up for the challenge.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Bear Pit Training and Fitness Center story. Tell us more about the business.
What makes Bear Pit special, in addition to the well-trained staff, intense workouts, and exceptional children’s MMA program is the spirit of giving back instilled by Coach Torres. Giving back to their community began many years ago when the City of Anaheim had several military banners that needed to be replaced.

Working with other community leaders, Bear Pit helped spearhead a fundraiser that raised more than enough funds to replace the damaged banners. While military causes are close to their hearts, the Torres family jumps in to support all causes important to the community and their members. Bear Pit is heavily involved in Anaheim’s 4th of July events including gathering 100 people to carry military banners in the parade.

Bear Pit brings a huge fundraising team to Relay for Life, has won the biggest team award at the local Taylors Wish 5K and Semper 5k and Coach Torres is deeply committed to several programs assisting veterans. Bear Pit encourages its members to become active in these events, and the family happily participates together.

One of the Bear Pit programs that Coach is most proud of is the pre-military program that began in 2010 when his own son was preparing to go into the Army. Coach created a program that would prepare him, and other young men and women like him, for military boot camp. To date, Bear Pit has trained well over 100 pre-military with a 100% success rate.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
My wife and I both found ourselves unemployed at the same time. It was unfortunate, but we chose to look at it as good timing and moved forward with our dream of opening our own MMA gym. I was lucky to have a friend who encouraged me and helped me find my first retail space.

Good luck continued when the ladies at my credit union asked me to expand my gym to include early morning boot camp classes. It wasn’t what I had planned, but I trusted my intuition and went with it, paving the way to our now almost 50 boot camp classes a week. I have learned to take bad luck and turn it into an opportunity and to trust my gut when it comes to decisions.

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