Brian Procel, who currently serves as a member service representative at Advanta and also the lead instructor at his own mixed martial arts studio, finally saw his dream of owning his own Jiu-Jitsu academy in his hometown of Jersey City come to fruition in January 2020.
The road to owning his own mixed martial arts center was not necessarily an easy one. Brian credits the academy's success to a combination of being resilient in the face of failure and judgment, resourceful with his time and resources, and due to much-appreciated support from friends, family, and the community.
"My interest has always been in the health and wellness field, as I have been a group fitness instructor since attending college at Montclair State and have been teaching ever since at health clubs, such as NYSC in Hoboken and Tilton Fitness in Edgewater," says Brian.
Brian originally started his role at Advanta to transition away from the hospitality industry, in which he previously worked as a restaurant floor manager, special events manager, and office manager, just to name a few roles.
Although Advanta was a step in a different direction for Brian, the company had aspects of hospitality and customer service that he was already familiar with. However, the thing about Advanta that really caught Brian’s attention was its focus on health and fitness. Today he's involved in a number of different projects at Advanta, including assisting in-app messaging template ideas and blog posts from time to time.
Brian started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2009 and describes himself as being "addicted to it ever since."
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, described as a "modern martial arts discipline, with ancient roots," is a type of combat sport based on ground fighting and submission hold. It focuses on the skill of taking an opponent to the ground, controlling one's opponent, and gaining a dominant position. The word “jiu jitsu” derives from the Japanese words “Jū” meaning “gentle” and “Jutsu” meaning “art”. Jiu jitsu, therefore, represents a gentle art that involves principles of leverage, angles, pressure, and timing rather than sheer force.
"I feel that Jiu-Jitsu provides a great physical and mental challenge and always has you discovering more about yourself. You also meet amazing people who contribute to your never-ending journey of self-improvement and in turn, you are a part of theirs," says Brian.
After seeing the good that martial arts were doing not only for himself but also for others whom he felt he could positively influence through this form of fitness, he decided to take a risk and pursue opening his own mixed martial arts facility.
The Grand Opening of Procel Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2020 was the perfect time for Brian to reflect on how far he'd come. In the years leading up to the opening of his own facility, Brian got the ball rolling by teaching martial arts classes part-time while at the same time juggling a full-time job and other obligations.
During the first six months, he was teaching martial arts, Brian had only 6 students and regularly stood in front of empty rooms when no one showed up for his classes.
Although he remembers being exhausted due to a combination of his day job's demands and those of his side hustle, he recalls that he tried not to let the rough start or negative opinions of others weigh him down. Still, his first goal of opening his own studio in 2019 slipped away from him, leaving him feeling doubtful that his dream would ever become a reality.
After learning from his initial mistakes and staying patient and determined, Brian was able to open the doors to Procel Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu about half a year later.
Today, he is the head instructor to dozens of children and adult students — all of whom benefit from the studio's unique fitness program that provides "a safe and exciting workout, a boost in confidence, and a family atmosphere for all skill levels."
Brian’s experience has taught him that determination and consistency are two keys to building positive habits that carry over into other areas of life. "Focus on these and the results will speak for themselves," he says.
One of Brian's favorite things about being the owner of an MMA studio is the joy he feels from giving back to the community and offering a service that the whole family, and people of all ages, can benefit from both physically and mentally. He feels that Jiu-Jitsu provides his students with a unique form of exercise that will have them loving being active all year round. Jiu-Jitsu is meant for everyone, and if taught correctly in the right environment, it can really produce some unbelievable results — such as help with self-esteem, self-defense, strength, and weight management.
"If there's any advice I can relay to Advanta members,” Brain says. “It would be that when motivation fades away, discipline will keep you on track. We can achieve great things when we're motivated, but when that disappears, are you still able to hold yourself accountable to tackle the task at hand and the goal you set out to achieve?"
Training Jiu-Jitsu helps people discover hidden strengths, he explains, strengths some people don’t realize exist with them.
"Don’t set limits to what your body and mind can achieve,” he says. “Instead, breakthrough them and have fun discovering the person you can become."