To his grandmother, nudity on television was the devil. But, Jarett Perelmutter mused, violence and cursing were perfectly acceptable.
“She would turn on Clint Eastwood movies and swear at the TV,” recalled Perelmutter. And as a hyperactive five-year-old, the action films were about the only movies that held his attention.
Perceiving this, Perelmutter’s grandmother ended up taking him to his first karate class. It was there that something just clicked. “I would fail tests in school, but tests in martial arts I would pass with mentions. I would even skip belts,” he explained.
Driven by determination, work ethic and passion, it’s no wonder that decades later, Perelmutter is successfully expanding his latest venture known as BRICK.
From CrossFit to kickboxing to its own B | X program, the business has blasted past its humble beginnings and has become an encompassment of the many avenues of functional fitness. Although still Affiliated as BRICK CrossFit and very much a part of the CrossFit community, BRICK has evolved into something more. “Obviously, we started out with CrossFit as our bread and butter, but we’ve grown to be much more than that,” said Zara Abrams, a manager at BRICK Los Angeles.
In fact, it all paints a nice parallel to the life of the man behind BRICK’s inception.
After finding karate, Perelmutter gave the world of martial arts and kickboxing everything he had for nearly 30 years. On top of winning world, national and regional kickboxing titles, he opened and successfully ran five commercial martial arts and kickboxing studios in Miami, Florida.
It was toward the end of his professional fighting career when Perelmutter found CrossFit. Behind one of his martial arts and kickboxing studios, there was a strength and conditioning coach who was doing, in Perelmutter’s words, “crazy shit.” People were hauling around sandbags and stringing together 40 deadlifts. Eventually, he and the coach struck up a conversation and it evolved into Perelmutter giving the man’s workout — which was in fact CrossFit — a try. He loved it.
And in the last fights of his career, Perelmutter said he did extremely well due to assimilating CrossFit into his training.
Retiring from the fight scene at age 34, Perelmutter sold his studios in Miami and returned to his family roots in L.A. On the first Sunday after moving back, he borrowed his sister’s bike — “It was an $84 Schwinn with a horn on it,” he recalled — and rode around town. Spotting a CrossFit gym, Perelmutter walked in and saw the owner practicing martial arts. It was as though Perelmutter had found what he called “the new Mecca.”
Now, it is safe to say Perelmutter doesn’t do anything halfway. When he dedicated himself to martial arts and kickboxing, he became a world champion. And when he dedicated himself to CrossFit, it took him only six months to realize there was a business opportunity in the commercial CrossFit industry.
Thus, in 2010, BRICK was born. As of January 2016, Perelmutter now has seven locations around the world, from L.A. and Chicago to New York, Boston and Spain. And BRICK is continually expanding.
Originally, the idea of expansion was to do so only in L.A. However, an opportunity to open a BRICK in New York eventually presented itself. It was unnerving, said Perelmutter, but he decided to give it a shot because he had the key people. “We’ll never expand unless we feel like we already have the seeding talent necessary to do that,” he said.
Enter Dell Polanco, the head Coach at BRICK in New York. Through a network of people who knew both men, Polanco and Perelmutter connected. And it was before the inception of the first gym in New York that Polanco was a part of BRICK. “When the location in Chelsea was rented out, I was already getting in the system and being with JP in the sense of learning how to do things the BRICK way and getting adapted to the culture,” said Polanco. “There’s just so much that makes the BRICK brand what it is.”
And that is one pinnacle to BRICK’s success: its unyielding culture and commitment to the brand. The effective recreation of what Perelmutter called “BRICK’s secret sauce” is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to expansion of his brand. If he were unable to maintain the brand in each location, Perelmutter said he would not invest in more BRICKs.
So, Polanco spent time with Perelmutter in order to learn how to replicate the recipe that is BRICK. He was educated on how Perelmutter runs his business, how he wants Coaches to present themselves to members, what the priority of the business is and what makes it successful. In essence, he was taught the culture, the secret sauce, by BRICK’s master chef.
While Polanco did name tangible elements that make BRICK’s success rock solid — quality coaching, the best of the best equipment and location, and a fantastic community — what is truly remarkable about BRICK is the overriding emphasis on service and member experience. “The majority of the gyms, whether it’s a CrossFit gym or not, it’s all about the person coming in, working out and that’s it. What BRICK offers is a lot more,” said Polanco. “It’s kind of crazy to me even using the term ‘Box’ because it’s kind of like what we have at BRICK – no disrespect to any other gyms – but it’s hard to call a BRICK gym a Box, just because of what we do here. It’s just a little bit bigger.”
Each new hire is assigned to read “The Disney Way” by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson. The book breaks down the success behind The Walt Disney Company and the amazing customer experience that pervades it. “You start to read this book and you go, ‘Oh shit, this makes total sense for a membership-based business,’” said Perelmutter. “Because every day they walk in they’re walking into my amusement park. They’re walking in to BRICKland and they have to have that experience.”
In fact, a “good enough” experience is not acceptable to Perelmutter. He wants a member’s experience to be great. If that means patching a hole in the wall with spackle and paint in 24 hours, or tightening up a loose doorknob on the spot, he’ll do it. “The biggest opponent of greatness or the biggest proponent of failure is being OK with good enough,” he said. “Good enough is not acceptable at BRICK. Anybody can do it good enough. Being great is saying, ‘Hey, the toilet paper dispenser is broken. Let me go grab a screwdriver, fix it and put it back up.’”
It’s this mentality Perelmutter injects into his staff across all his locations. Investing in his team and showing all of his staff that he believes what he preaches — even if that means grabbing a paintbrush or cleaning a toilet himself — is essential.
So, how does one man who owns gyms across the country make sure his success formula is executed in a new location perfectly? First and foremost comes detailing out one’s beliefs, and for Perelmutter that is “JP’s five P’s”: passion, purpose, people, product and profits.
By keeping to the five P’s, the BRICK brand can be replicated by Perelmutter and his team. He and his staff know their passion and purpose, and then they align everything else to that mission. “Certain paths can change, but you’ve got to always hold to your purpose and your passion,” he said.
And that alludes to one of Perelmutter’s favorite quotes: A rising tide raises all boats.
Abrams explained it best. Perelmutter is all about teamwork and wanting everyone to contribute to the success of BRICK. There are some weeks he will be in four different cities, pouring his heart and soul into various locations. “He’s really committed and dedicated to making BRICK something that can be internationally successful, and he has put his whole life into this since it started up,” said Abrams. “It’s really everything to him. It’s his family. It’s his home.”
It seems Perelmutter, in a sense, is still like that little boy watching his grandmother holler at Clint Eastwood films. He found something he is passionate about and his attention has been ensnared by it. And like that little boy who walked into the karate school, Perelmutter is now giving BRICK everything he has.
For a man who self-diagnosed himself with an attention — or rather “interest” — disability, his focus has been captured. And by his hand, a tide is definitely rising. One it seems that is made of something solid, something lasting. Something undeniably BRICK.