Within the past year, Matt Krajniak has become an integral part of Rothwell MMA! He progressed to a green belt in Kickboxing and is currently working on his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt. Matt also helps with the fight team and teaches basic techniques to the new members. Matt inspires everyone in the gym to do what they love despite any obstacles in their way. When he’s not at the gym, Matt is a full-time graphic designer. You can see some of his work on our t-shirts and advertisements. We are glad that Matt is a part of the Rothwell MMA familia!
Here is a history of Matt’s martial arts journey, from Matt himself: “I was born with a heart condition that left me with only half a heart. I’ve had 3 open heart surgeries and various other minor surgeries and stents since I was born. Understandably, my doctors were cautious about the amount of activity I could perform since my heart condition was not well understood at the time. I grew up in a family where my dad, mom, and siblings were training in martial arts and I just had to sit there and watch. That instilled a love of martial arts for me.
In high school, I was finally allowed to participate in martial arts. I went to a local gym for kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. While it was fun, I was only training 1 day a week for an hour, it was nothing special. I was just happy to finally be involved with the sport I loved and being allowed to train at all. I stopped training my Senior year of high school.
Through college and a few years beyond, I let myself slip. I wasn’t exercising at all, I was eating horribly, and I had very little confidence in myself. I started feeling heart palpitations and developed a lot of anxiety over my bad habits and my health. I was back to going in and out of hospitals while constantly being worried about my heart. In 2014, I had a stent placed in my artery and it was a huge wakeup call. I started eating better, lifting weights regularly and kicked some bad habits. I was feeling good, but I was still neglecting my heart in terms of exercise.
After moving to Kenosha for a job, I wanted to rekindle my love of martial arts once again. I was lucky enough to have moved close to Rothwell MMA. I was nervous going in my first time, but everyone made it clear that this place is more than a gym, it’s a place for friends and family to gather and I’ve never felt more welcome anywhere.
Since taking up classes at Rothwell, my cardiologist has been absolutely blown away with the health of my heart. Palpitations stopped. My endurance skyrocketed. Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu gave me the exercise my heart needed that lifting or working out on my own couldn’t do. Training here is literally saving my life. Walking into Rothwell MMA was one of the best decisions I have ever made.“
Want to learn more about our family? Check out previous Rothwell MMA Member Spotlights HERE.