Almost at the same time I started dating my now-husband Russell, he became obsessed with jiu jitsu. I’m not sure if obsessed is the right word, because I don’t think it was an unhealthy passion — just the opposite, really. Russell found jiu jitsu to be a physical and mental challenge that taught him discipline and grit that immediately started pouring into other areas of his life. He got healthier and stronger, but he also became more focused and more determined to go after his goals and long-term dreams.
I wasn’t too interested in jiu jitsu in the beginning, but I did admire its streamlined business model: Essentially, you put some mats in an empty room and get rolling. The value is in the talent of the teachers and in your training partners, not in equipment or merchandise. I still owned Church Street Coffee & Books when Russell started training, so my mind was filled with boxes of books and van loads of milk jugs and five-pound bags of coffee. The simplicity of jiu jitsu seemed intriguing.
Fast forward almost a decade. Russell earned his black belt. We got married. I sold Church Street and started running Infomedia. We all went through a global pandemic. And now, at the start of a new year — we’re opening a jiu jitsu gym. Ohm Jiu Jitsu will open in the next month or so at Avondale Mills (home to Seasick Records and Mom’s Basement).
When I say “we” are opening a gym, that’s really a misnomer. I’m a consultant, not a business partner — Russell has an amazing business partner, DJ Wright, who’s also a jiu jitsu black belt. Running a jiu jitsu gym isn’t quite as simple as I thought (not selling product means you don’t have to have product, but it also means your profit is limited to how many people you can get on the floor at once), but we’re lucky that Russell and DJ have already been teaching jiu jitsu at another gym in town for years, so they’re more prepared than most.
I’ve really loved diving into business ownership (sort of) again. After selling Church Street, I’ve run the Localist podcast for three years, so I’ve been talking to local business owners a lot, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been a part of starting something. There are some things that feel more scary than I remember, some that are more exciting than I remember, and some that are even more boring than I remember. But I love small businesses, and it’s been a privilege to be able to be part of creating one again.
I can’t wait for you to experience Ohm Jiu Jitsu — it’s a fascinating sport, both mentally challenging and extremely practical. I trained for a short time, and it was long enough to know that DJ and Russell are both exceptional teachers, and I’m so happy more people will get to learn from them. You can check out Ohm on Instagram at @ohmjiujitsu (following would be much appreciated — you’d be surprised how much each follow helps a fledgling account).
And if you’re interested in training (even if you’re barely interested and mostly just scared) my advice is to do it anyway — you can claim a free trial class here. At Ohm, you’ll be able to wear regular workout clothes (you won’t need the traditional Gi), and I honestly do not know of two more chill, capable guys to learn from. And if you have any questions you feel silly asking at the gym, hit up my DMs on Instagram. I’m happy to answer whatever I can!