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Helen Keller once said, “Life is a great adventure, or nothing.” When 51-year-old Jay Gondek decided to pack up and leave his home of 15 years in Santa Fe, New Mexico and move to Nashville, it was Keller’s words he had in his head.
One of his longtime personal-training clients was moving to Tennessee, and they wanted Gondek with them. For this man, always driven to push himself in both his work and his athletics, the job offer was another opportunity to reach for a new goal.
When Gondek first began personal training in 1984, he admits he was obsessed with size and muscles, but a business venture helped him to broaden his view.
“It was a great experience because I learned a lot about bodybuilding and all that,” said Gondek, “and then I opened my own gym, and I realized I needed to be more well-rounded. So, I started running 5Ks and 10Ks, and then the triathlon became pretty popular.”
Always pushing, Gondek committed himself to a rigorous training regimen and completed several triathlons throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, after completing an Ironman Competition, he decided it was time to set some new goals.
“I took up figure skating. I was always making fun of figure skaters, but my boyfriend at the time was a figure skater and when I saw how hard that sport really was, I took it up.”
“I’ve been privileged to be there with a few people as they transition from this life, and those, by far, are the best moments of my life. Dying is not pretty. At times, it’s just not pretty, but it is a beautiful thing to be there for, and to honor somebody to be there.”
“I decided after the Ironman it was so time consuming and one-dimensional. I needed to study sports, so I decided to take a break,” he said.
However, his break was only from triathlons, as he quickly started taking his athletic endeavors in new directions. While continuing his career as a personal trainer, Gondek started experimenting with other athletic activities.
“A trainer needs to know other sports,” Gondek said, “so I did things like snowboarding, massage therapy and Pilates.”
At one point, Gondek actually sold his bike and completely devoted himself to a very different sport.
“I took up figure skating. I was always making fun of figure skaters, but my boyfriend at the time was a figure skater and when I saw how hard that sport really was, I took it up.” Spending three days a week on the ice, Gondek started competing about a year after he began his training. Gondek however, hated being inside to train, and he eventually moved on to other sports, but not before winning three different figure-skating competitions.
Despite his interest in other sports, Gondek wouldn’t stay away from the triathlon forever. He competed in the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney, participating in the Olympic distance triathlon. After completing a 9/10-mile, open-water swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10K run, Gondek found himself on the podium, winning the gold medal in his age group.
Hoping to repeat his success, Gondek is currently training for a trip to the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany later this summer. As part of his training, Gondek recently participated in the Country Music Marathon here in Nashville.
“I wanted to race faster, so I did the half instead of the whole,” he said. “I tried to do it at under seven minutes a mile, and I did. It was a great training vehicle to get me in shape for the Olympic distance race.”
As always, reaching for personal goals is at the heart of Gondek’s efforts. Wanting to finish in the top 10 for his age group, Gondek actually came in third out of 725 guys with a time of one hour, 30 minutes.
While Gondek’s passion for sports and athletics has given him hobbies, a career, a business, friends, and travel, it also opened up avenues for him to help others. Gondek has always done volunteer work, but when he opened his first gym, he noticed he was training a lot of wealthy clients and saw an opportunity.
“I was raising money for a black-tie dinner for AIDS Services of New Mexico, or raising money through art auctions similar to how they do with Artrageous here in Nashville,” Gondek said. “Then finally, I thought, ‘I work with people best one on one,’ and I wanted to get involved with something else.”
Through his volunteer work and his massage therapy, Gondek was approached by a local hospice in Santa Fe to work with some of their patients.
“I had been studying with a Native American teacher, and I do sweat lodge and vision quest which is all about the lifecycle and natural rhythms of life, and I felt very comfortable when I went into it,” he said.
Gondek recently began volunteering at Alive Hospice here in Nashville, and he says it’s the most rewarding and important thing he has ever done in his life.
“I’ve been privileged to be there with a few people as they transition from this life, and those, by far, are the best moments of my life.” Gondek said. “Dying is not pretty. At times, it’s just not pretty, but it is a beautiful thing to be there for, and to honor somebody to be there.”
So, what’s next?
Gondek continues to work for the clients that brought him to Nashville, while at the same time looking to expand his training business and learn what is needed in the training world. After competing in the Gay Games in August, he says he plans to compete in the Ford Ironman Louisville event in 2011. After that, Gondek plans to conquer the tennis court. “I’ve really met some great tennis players here that play in gay events, and I’m going to start training for tennis after I get back from the Gay Games.”
To keep up with Gondek and his travels, visit his website at www.jaygondek.com.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.