Diego Almeida, 27, is an example of perseverance. During the Covid-19 pandemic that devastated the world in 2020/21, the young black belt rolled up his sleeves and struggled to maintain the finances and his Seeds 13 gym growing even with few options. Unable to teach classes normally, Diego taught Jiu-Jitsu to his students online through a digital platform, and in his spare time, he even worked as a delivery man at Uber Eats, in the United States.
Through the martial art’s philosophy, which teaches the practitioner to keep calm in turbulent times, Diego kept his cool and understood that, despite the dark times, it was still possible to find opportunities. He started to dedicate part of his time to studying the digital market with major players in the market outside of Jiu-Jitsu. This learning experience gave him the necessary knowledge to develop a better way to teach and offer a service to his clients when everything went back to normal.
The decision was so successful that today, almost two years after the pandemic, Diego owns three gyms and commands 10 employees on his team in San Angelo, Texas, where he currently resides.
“The biggest lessons I learned before and after the pandemic were that those who seek knowledge are the ones who will be able to survive in this society we are currently living. I thought a lot about not investing and not opening another gym because of the moment we were living, but uncertainties are always a given. In fact, only those who are not prepared to face challenges have to worry about it. It was a difficult time for all of us, but I learned much about my business. I understood how to attract new students, how to retain old students, and above all, how to offer a good Jiu-Jitsu service. The new market is already here”, says Professor Diego, before commenting on what he learned most as a gym manager.
“I had to put my athletic career aside for a bit, but we had a very positive balance. When you are an athlete, you need to be selfish and say no to many things, but when you become a manager you need to donate, serve, and offer an even better platform for those who follow you. I now make more time for my team. I have 10 employees at my main gym and I like to be a leader, not a boss. The leader shows the way and works together, that’s how I work now. I learned a lot from the big players in the market outside of Jiu-Jitsu”, he reveals.
Diego is also a regular Jiu-Jitsu competitor and plans to return to the scene later this year with the IBJJF.
“I intend to fight again because now I have a team by my side, but I was also a father recently. I’m enjoying this phase as best I can as this too is a learning phase. I keep a saying in my mind: “I cannot negotiate the non-negotiable”. This means that I need to take care of my body to compete again and that’s why I hired doctors to take care of my health. I want to get healthy and live a beneficial lifestyle. A healthy body is capable of anything!”, concludes the champion.