Beyond The Mat – Instructor Chris Iavarone
Sensei Chris Iavarone’s Thoughts On Being An Instructor
What separates Tiger Schulmann’s training from other types of gyms?
There are many things that separate Tiger Schulmann’s from other types of gyms and the biggest one is atmosphere. From the minute someone walks through the door, they are greeted as if they’re already family. There are so many relationships are built under the TSMA roof. By the end of your first week everyone knows your name.
Share a story of a student that joined Tiger Schulmann’s to make a dramatic change in their health and/or their overall fitness. What results did they achieve under your guidance?
We as instructors are very fortunate to have such an impact on someone’s life. In all my years of teaching one student comes to mind, Sarah. She came in and asked if we taught adult classes. Sarah explained to me that she tried other gyms but none of them seemed to work for her. She was tired of walking aimlessly around the gym wondering which machine to use and worse, nobody was ever around to show her proper technique. She felt like it didn’t even matter if she went because no one would notice. After much debate, she ended up trying out a class. She was amazed how a one hour class could feel like 5 minutes and be so enjoyable. Sarah continued to train and lose 48 lbs over the course of a year and was the happiest she has ever been. The look on her face when she told me that she fit into the same size pants as she was years ago was priceless.
Have you competed in martial arts competition? If so, how do you think you benefited from your experience(s)?
Yes, I have competed in more competitions than I can remember. Starting at the age of 10 years old competing has made me a more confident person and has taught me to find a way to get through any challenge.
What are you thoughts about the importance of competition for your students?
Every student should experience competition and all it has to offer. It is very important to know what it’s like to train for something and be okay with what ever to outcome. Win or lose, a true competitor will get backup and try again.
How do you motivate and set goals for your students?
What motivates one person might not motivate another. We get to know each individual and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. I believe positive reinforcement is the best way to motivate. Goals should be set according to the students potential.
How does the competitive nature of martial arts play into your teaching philosophy?
I think that being competitive is important in life. My teaching philosophy is simple, try your best to be the best!
Share an example of how you helped coach or mentor someone. What improvements did you see in the person’s knowledge or skills?
A few years back a little girl walked into the school with her parents and she was so shy, she didn’t even look up at me when I said “hello.” Her parents went on the tell me the biggest reason they were there was to build her confidence. The next day she came back to take a trial class. She didn’t want to go on the mat. I told the parents that this was normal and it had to be her own terms, but not to worry because Tiger Schulmanns is exactly what she needs. Over the course of a month, and 10 tries, she completed her first class. They signed her up and it was on to the next challenge, counting to 10, an exercise we do in class to build up our students confidence. Soon enough Jane was heard loud and clear as she became one of the loudest in class. Jane’s parents couldn’t have been any happier.
Tell us about the path you took from student to instructor.
My path from student to instructor started in 1989 when I was only 10 years old. Never really involved in sports, I was overweight and not very confident. My mom had asked if I wanted to try a karate class and I said yes. It was the best decision I had ever made. It really became the place I went to feel good about myself and all the physical activity made it easy to lose the excess weight. Reaching my first black belt in record time (less than two years) gave me the confidence I always lacked and skills to defend myself. At an early age I learned the power of self discipline and what can be achieved. Continuing my training through my teenage years, while going to school and having a part time job to help my parents pay the bills, I never let go of the feeling training gave me. After working as a stock broker trainee in my twenties and becoming a series 7 certified broker, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. I knew what I wanted to do and I took a position at Tiger Schulmann’s – Bayside and never looked back.