The importance of combining physical and emotional well-being in the workplace
In this episode, Jed Brecher, founder of Muay Thai Wellness, shares his background growing up which shaped his passion for mental and physical health. He also discusses his early interest in entrepreneurship and his love for Muay Thai. Muay Thai Wellness helps companies introduce Muay Thai to their employees, unlocking benefits such as team building, bonding, mental health, and a happier workforce. Listen in to hear Jed's inspiring journey and the importance of combining physical and emotional well-being in the workplace.
The key moments in this episode are:
00:02:38 The dream of Muay Thai Wellness.
00:06:43 Muay Thai cocktails.
00:10:52 High intensity kickboxing experience.
00:12:31 Connection in fitness classes.
00:19:13 Sharing the lows as founders.
00:22:03 Favourite tech products.
00:00 Welcome to the Tech Story podcast, a place where we interview founders and people in tech growing interesting businesses. Today, I'm excited to welcome a unusual but very interesting guest, Jed Breacher on the show. Jed is the founder of Muay Thai Wellness, a company which helps companies introduce Muay Thai to their employees to unlock benefits such as team building, bonding, mental health and a happier workforce. So Jed, thank you for taking the time for being with us today. Would you like to share a bit of background
00:41 about yourself and your company? First off, thank you so much for having me. I already appreciate it. It's a huge honour being here and I'm really thankful to speak with you about what Muay Thai Wellness does and what it hopes to achieve. A bit of background about myself, my mum is a therapist and eco psychotherapist and my dad's a martial arts instructor. So I grew up in one household with my mum learning about the importance of emotional expression and communication and then with my dad, martial arts training and watching Bruce Lee films. So a stark contrast, but I grew up with the importance of mental and physical health and from a young age, I was always really interested in entrepreneurialism and understanding different businesses. So from the age of 16 throughout university, I tried to get as many internships as possible just to see how the working world works, understand small, medium and large companies. And at the same time, I fell in love with Muay Thai. So Muay Thai is the combat sport and martial art of Thailand and the sport emphasises values of humility, compassion, respect and it's quite physically demanding as well. But what really captivated me about Muay Thai classes was just the camaraderie of the space. Everyone's working together on the same team, pushing each other and there's almost a euphoric cloud nine feeling at the end of the class that everyone feels together. And I just saw that the camaraderie and the mental and physical benefits, which Muay Thai brings and has brought me and my family would massively translate into the team building, organisational structures of companies, small, medium and large. And I remember the first feeling I had when I was just a beginner and my coach showed me how to do a move and me executing the move and the smile and the grin on my face. I just remember that for a long time. So it's really the dream of Muay Thai Wellness to bring that to people in the workplace because not just physically but mentally it brings so much joy, love and happiness and sharing that with your colleagues is just such a special thing.
03:03 Yeah, well we're very excited for our Muay Thai lesson after the episode. But I guess why Muay Thai? I mean you mentioned your your father's background in martial arts I guess introduced you to combat sport. Did you just wake up one day and say it's gonna be Muay Thai? Where did you first get exposed to it and how did you sort of embark on that journey and become a Muay Thai instructor?
03:33 So my dad does traditional martial arts more like Tai Chi and Wing Chun and grew up trying a variety of different combat sports and it was fantastic trying them all out. My brother as well who I'm so grateful for who is doing the classes with me at the moment. We grew up trying a variety of different combat sports and there was a Muay Thai gym down the road from my dad's house so I stumbled upon it when I was 16 went in and I just fell in love instantly and throughout my studies and my employment and internships I was still doing Muay Thai. I went to Thailand for the first time seven years ago and had more of a personal journey with the country. The second time I went to Thailand with my brother and we did a Muay Thai camp for a month and we both looked at each other after class and said we need to find a way to bring how we feel after this class to people in London and the third time was after I quit my job I was in corporate real estate and I'm so thankful for the amazing experience I've had learning about different teams and being across different businesses but there's something where I felt this is my calling and Muay Thai for me has not just improved my physical health but my mental health so much. I had open heart surgery when I was a kid and I found out when I was 16 or 17 that I couldn't do strength training and Muay Thai was the perfect solution. It helped with cardiovascular health and it gave so much to me a sense of community and teamwork and lots of lifelong friends and a way for my brother and I to connect that when the lockdown came and we were all living at our houses I was thinking about what I really want to do and I thought life's too short I've got to do what I love and enjoy and my brother and I our friends get so much happiness and I've experienced working in different companies in the corporate world and I just saw that the feeling that we get would massively translate into colleagues understanding more about each other and Muay Thai is an art and a sport where you give your all in the moment it's cerebral so you learn but it's a good place to think creatively and to just flow and be yourself so being in an environment where colleagues are authentically expressing themselves while learning with others just felt like a space that would massively help companies work better together and have fun together a nice healthy alternative to perhaps going to the pub and having a Guinness but I hear the Muay Thai cocktail is very good so maybe a Muay Thai cocktail after a Muay Thai class would be something for the future and what are the ingredients of a Muay Thai cocktail I'm not too sure but after one of the classes I'm sure that we'll bring some Muay Thai cocktails around and see how the combination goes the Muay Thai classes all of a sudden become a lot more interesting now yeah maybe the Muay Thai cocktail after the class instead of before and and what do you wish you'd known before starting the company what I would have told myself before is to enjoy the whole journey there's definitely been ups and down I'm loving every aspect of it sometimes there's quick days where I'm getting lots done other days I'm working as hard as I can but I'm not breaking through to the extent I'd like to what I would tell myself prior to launching four and a half months ago would be to enjoy all of it I get up every morning and the first thing I ask myself is what I'm grateful for and how grateful I am
07:38 and I just tell myself for the good times the bad times every day just enjoy every aspect of it yeah I think being a founder is tough and the lows are very low and if you don't enjoy it then I mean it's normal to not enjoy being down but I think at the end of the day it makes the highs even higher and so it's really important to have that positive mindset and I guess yeah being grateful or at least expressing what you're grateful for it's not something that I do but probably should do because at the end of the day you've as a founder you accomplish so much but when you're down you don't necessarily appreciate and so great great lesson there
08:21 definitely definitely I'm just so thankful it's very young I'm very limited in my experience it's been four and a half months but I'm so thankful to be here to have my brother and another coach who's a professional athlete sharing Muay Thai and what it can do for companies and to be able to having a Muay Thai class for you and your company with my brother on a rooftop I couldn't think of anything better so I'm just extremely grateful happy and trying to enjoy every moment of it
08:50 best of luck according to business and what's the sort of vision for the for the company of the next I guess you've been around for four and a half years months sorry yeah what's the vision for
09:02 the next five years it would be fantastic to have a similar setup like they do in Thailand so the model across a variety of different sport classes spinning or crossfit or football other sort of sports is one coach and then 20 participants or those who are involved in the class but in Thailand if there's a group of 20 people in the class there'd be five to seven trainers and that just adds a real atmosphere and focuses on attention for each of the people and each of the pairs in the class so what would be amazing is to have a big team of five or six coaches who love what they do want to share what they do with people in the corporate world so each class of 10 or 20 will have five or six coaches who go on site if it's a rooftop or a meeting room and they share the love of Muay Thai and the sport is fantastic and addictive but as people progress they love and enjoy it more and more and they develop relationships with their colleagues more and more because they're learning and helping the other person as well as ourselves so the plan would be to have a team of fantastic people who go to offices on a daily basis and share the love
10:20 of the art and create a wonderful atmosphere well I'm you're really you know making this class seem really exciting I mean I've done a little bit of kickboxing and I did really enjoy it as well I enjoyed the feeling after completing the session but I guess is it would you say the feeling is similar to like high intensity I mean or HIIT workouts and things like that or is it is it a bit different?
10:52 Really interesting I think it's a combination because for those who haven't quite done it before it's understanding one's self in space and using a body in a new dynamic way that they haven't done before so I think sometimes it's a combination of the high intensity although the pace can be monitored by the individual but it's also a creative endeavour so it's being present in the moment while learning how to throw a punch and a kick for instance but also being physically exertive where you're really focused mentally and physically in the moment and also thinking five seconds ahead because you're thinking about what the next move is going to be so I think it's just an all-encompassing mental and physical experience and that's why
11:43 So with all this thinking ahead to not get hit or hit the opponent what sort of mental health benefits have you experienced as a founder?
11:55 Although physically I've benefited a lot I think the main thing that I've experienced is a sense of joy and happiness and that's really why I'm doing this with my dad it was learning about different sports and combat sports but my mum really emphasised the importance of understanding how I feel and expressing it and I feel like Mai Tai is a great communicator of that I definitely feel connected with others whether it's speaking with people on the tube or on the streets I love and crave connection and I feel that the connection that's fostered in a class isn't just one-to-one communication but it's giving you a heart and soul in the class and being able to share that with someone else so I just feel connected, loved and understood in any class be it London, the UK or Thailand I'll be partnering up with a complete stranger and feel like a best friend afterwards and I feel like it's a great revealer however I'm feeling prior to the class it will come out and the space that the class fosters is that of loving and understanding and learning and teamwork so however you feel however I feel after a class always feel supported afterwards so I just want to share that with as many people as possible that's the plan. Great and I mean what's been your favorite moment since you know embarking on your Mai Tai wellness journey? The first class we did for KPMG was just so much fun I was blown away not that I had any preconceived notions that people wouldn't pick things up quickly but just having the coach and I run through the sequences for the first class see the colleagues laughing, joking, having fun with each other and being amazing they were so good they picked things up so quickly and they were just having fun with each other and just to see them laughing and smiling across the room with each other learning martial arts and doing so well that is just everything so if I couldn't have that experience and provide a space where other people can have that it's great. Well done because KPMG are huge so I mean did you have hundreds of students what was the class like? This was a relatively small one just shy of 10 but even with that class size we were able to it felt more intimate which was lovely so if it's a class of five or class of 20 still want to cater and provide the same sense
14:46 of love joy and learning. Great and as a busy entrepreneur I imagine you must come across quite a few legal documents what are the key ones and what sort of tips can you share to
15:02 prospective founders or current founders that are approaching legal? I've got so much to learn the main two documents are client agreement contracts which will have listed the packages that we have and what's involved and then also physical activity readiness questionnaires which we hand out I've got so much to learn in the legal space what's definitely helped me is reaching out to network or creating networks my business mentor has been invaluable so with legal documents and everything else what I have learned so much from is reaching out to people and everyone has been
15:42 so kind with their time so just reaching out to as many people as possible. Perfect and I guess when you're approaching a legal document for the first time the best way to sort of learn about it is to speak to someone who's done it before so did you say there for example like martial arts networks or were they able to support you or was it just through mentors that you sort of determined that you need this type of document because you're going to work with these types of
16:12 clients? Exactly business mentors who have set up similar products and services to Muay Thai Wellness with a different sport and they've been really really helpful and really kind so using LinkedIn which has just been my best friend throughout the journey to reach out to people connect and form
16:31 great relationships with so people who have set up businesses in the sporting space. I think we actually found you through LinkedIn or I think it was one of your posts was very inspiring and it definitely encouraged us to reach out. How have you sort of leveraged LinkedIn or what's yeah well I mean I don't want you to reveal all your secrets but how would you for
16:58 example help us grow on LinkedIn or how could what could we do to grow on LinkedIn? I've got so much to learn but I love LinkedIn I see myself as 25 going on 85. I love being asleep at 9 30 and pm and up early and I don't use other social medias. I only downloaded Instagram for the first time recently so I've got a lot to learn on that but LinkedIn was the main tool I used from the age of 18 when I started work along my studies and I thought it was fantastic that I could follow the careers of someone who I'd like to emulate in terms of the position they got to and it was so easy to reach out to them a simple kind message and I would send 100 every day and maybe one person would get back but the build-up was lovely and then to be able to connect with people and then meet them for a coffee just thought it was fantastic and when I started the Muay Thai wellness business I felt differently about LinkedIn. I saw it as a gateway to promote what I endeavored the business to stand for so I just wanted to keep it as honest and fun and creative as possible and I don't know how often on LinkedIn there's Muay Thai pad holding sessions but make it more more dynamic and slightly different but what I'm doing now is just sharing the journey the ups and the lows and the what tools have helped me and I am reaching out to as many people as I can every day and just sharing the journey and for me reaching out to connections forming relationships for mentors or prospective clients meeting people and just sharing the journey and seeing other people's journeys there are so many amazing founders and businesses out there like yourself who are creating awesome content be it podcasts or posts and just trying to absorb as much as I can it's been really helpful
19:03 in my learning. Yeah I think there's so much that's happening that sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming and as a founder especially if you are in a low you might feel a bit insecure about someone else's success but I guess you know you mentioned sharing the highs and the lows you know why would a founder want to share the lows when you know we're always meant to seem like we're you know smashing it so yeah why would have and again I'm just for the sake of the podcast asking this question but you know why would a founder want to share the lows and why would
19:38 you encourage other founders to do that? I think it's really important with Muay Thai Wellness one of the key aspects of the service that can really make a difference that we hope to do is improving mental health in the workplace and I think complete transparency is always the best and all people have highs and lows and ups and downs and I just want to share the whole journey and with your initial question about what I'd the advice I give myself I'd say enjoy the highs and enjoy the lows and it's just part of the process and I think what's so great in the highs is sharing it with others be it a Muay Thai cocktail a Muay Thai class or whatever it is experiencing and expressing the lows with those around us as well is equally important so it's just about sharing the journey and I think people resonate with that I do think that as a society especially in London and the UK there's been a shift in the wake of the lockdown perhaps to have more of an emphasis in HR agendas on well-being initiatives and I think people are posting more or more or sharing more and more about the lows as well as the highs which is great I think it's just about finding the right balance and that's what I'm testing out
21:09 now but what this business has been for me and what I hope for it to continue to do is just about authenticity so I just want to show the whole piece yeah I mean if you yeah if you show the full picture then that's how you sort of prove that you're authentic and you know not hiding
21:29 anything and since you're on the Tech Story podcast you mentioned LinkedIn but what's your favourite tech product and it can be software hardware anything the phone has been amazing LinkedIn and WhatsApp and emails just the phone is fantastic because whether you're a digital nomad or cooking breakfast with one hand my lower wouldn't advise that it's great because you can have access to your network the internet so although I found that it's great to take a break from the screens they've just been absolutely invaluable in the ability for me to connect with so many people to learn from so many people and to see what other people are doing so I can
22:25 learn from them and bring that forward in the business it's definitely a gateway to knowledge I mean I'm more of a Twitter not a tweeter but more of a Twitter follower and I do I'm always impressed how you can just follow Elon Musk or whoever and then just have that well I guess passive relationship where you're hearing what they're thinking and
22:50 talking about so yeah what would you do without our phones absolutely I was speaking with someone today about their experience going to Mount Snowden in Wales and having a good week-long time away from the phone but they said they were very happy to get back and as you say learn from
23:06 someone like Elon Musk or a variety of well there's also that company called Unplugged and you've heard of them where it's cabins where you lock your phone in a box for three days and you're in the middle of nowhere in a cabin that sounds awesome yeah sounds awesome indeed but also quite stressful I think a fine balance yeah fine balance yeah and also I'm sure there's beautiful scenery in the cabin that would be nice to take a photo of so you can well exactly I think they give you like a Polaroid camera or a digital camera but but anyway thank you very much Jed for being on the podcast and best of luck growing Muay Thai wellness thanks very much for having me it's huge honour and looking forward to the class yeah me too great