It is impossible to be in FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts for more than two days and not come face-to-face with our Operations Manager and Kids BJJ Assistant Instructor, Stephen Procida. With his larger than life presence and a knack for striking a conversation with just about everyone, it’s a little hard to ignore this guy.
But hey, we aren’t complaining. Thanks to his tireless and genuine passion to serve people, as well as a natural ability to help others feel at ease, it’s no wonder even our youngest students warm up to Steve quickly!
The Operations Manager is a busy man but we managed to catch him one afternoon for a quick conversation, which included his hiring preferences (those who want a job at FaMA, take note), arguing with Professor Zoro, and stories about growing up (guess where!).
A Lion City Boy
Believe it or not, Steve actually spent a huge chunk of his growing up years in Singapore, after moving here with his family at age 12. He moved to Madrid for university, and was tempted by the offer of living there before deciding to return to Singapore not long after.
Steve has always been in the service industry, which probably explains why he is so good with people. Did you know that his first job was at McDonalds, Shaw Centre?
“I learned so much about service there. I learned that anyone, from the poorest people to high-flying CEOs would come to the counter to get something, and that makes you an important part of the process. I dislike when people look down on the service industry and think that wait staff only exist to serve them. There can be so much more to that. Service line is where there is an opportunity to get to know people in a real way.”
He could have chosen to stay in Madrid or return to the United States, but Steve chose to stay in Singapore because he realised how much it felt like home to him. He feels excited to be able to get his friends to visit the country from abroad, so that he can show them around.
Steve spent a few years in the hotel line before he decided to make the jump to FaMA a few months after it was opened. Considering how prestigious his role was in his former job, this was a big sacrifice that he felt no hesitation to take.
“My previous job was a boring sales job… I love building new cultures and initiatives from scratch. I desire to see the struggles and growth from the beginning of an organisation, and to struggle with my team, building things even when we don’t have a clue.”
Years on, there is a team that Steve is proud to be part of. “I love that we love and support each other. Here at FaMA, we adopt a ‘put myself in your shoes’ attitude with each other and with the customers. This makes everyone feel valued from the moment they step into the gym, to the moment they walk out.”
With that said, Steve believes that character triumphs efficiency when it comes to looking for the right staff. "I will hire someone who is willing to help Auntie (our cleaning staff), rather than hire the one that does reports efficiently."
Knocking Heads with the Most Dangerous Man at FaMA
Believe it or not, Steve never always got along with our Head Instructor Professor Zoro.
“We both have huge hearts,” Steve says, “But really different personalities. Naturally, we did not see eye to eye on a lot of things in the beginning.”
“However, I recall one moment when we had a heated discussion over a business decision, and Zoro stopped and said this: ‘As much as we can argue and be mad at each other, I do know that both of us care about this company. So, let’s keep that goal in mind as we hash this out.’”
This mature statement helped the two parties form a better relationship and grow closer as they continued to work together for the same goal - seeing FaMA succeed.
Hopes for the Future
The future of FaMA looks optimistic in Steve’s eyes. Even so, amidst dreams of taking the brand to Southeast Asia and beyond, he knows that business is not to be rushed.
“I feel like running a business is like learning how to apply an arm bar successfully,” he says, “You can’t do it right on the first try. Learn, watch the mechanics, and try things out a few times. Take a break from methods for a while, then revisit them. Go through a tough time filled with doubt. And one day, at some random time, you figure it out.”
His personal goal as Operations Manager? “To try things with no fear.”
FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts Established in 2016, FaMA is a world-class martial arts training facility located in the heart of the Central Business District in Singapore. Walking distance from Clarke Quay and Fort Canning MRT stations, FaMA’s main goal is to help people improve their lives through martial arts regardless of age or athletic capability. Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai, Fitness and Kids Martial Arts programs are led by experts in their respective fields. Whether it is weight loss, a fun workout, camaraderie, competition training, or just to break a sweat, FaMA has something for everyone.