Nathan and Melissa Foster are the founders and owners of Left Hand Muay Thai gym in LA. Despite only opening on July 1st this year, the facility is already fully equipped to offer a variety of classes, ranging from fight career training to cardio workouts, with pad work, drills, and traditional techniques not often taught in the States. They provide lessons suitable for new students and beginners, as well as advanced athletes looking to refine their techniques.
A key part of Left Hand’s philosophy is to introduce martial arts at a young age. They hold classes to help kids build confidence, develop self defense skills, discipline, and respect, in a fun and safe environment.
The story behind the name
Left Hand Muay Thai might strike you as a slightly usual name—and you’d be right. Nate sheds some light on how the gym came to be and it’s fair to say his story is one of adaptability and staying hopeful in a tough situation.
A dedicated Muay Thai fighter, Nate broke his right hand in a fight. Following surgery, however, the situation only got worse. “I ended up getting an infection from the surgery and ended up losing four bones in my hand,” he says.
The recovery period was long, with Nate on IV antibiotics every eight hours for six weeks. During this time, he was unable to work out in the same way he had previously. Worst of all, doctors told him he’d probably never punch again. This news pushed Nate to start training and throwing his left hand more. Eventually he developed a style where he could work around not having the use of his right hand until it fully healed. This was the source of inspiration behind the gym’s name. “It’s kind of a story of adapting and not giving up. I guess that's the short and sweet way of saying it,” he laughs.
Deciding to open a gym
Prior to starting the business, Nate had extensive experience in teaching Muay Thai. His plans took an unexpected turn with the global pandemic and resulting lockdown in 2020. “Once Covid started, the gym I was working at shut down,” he explains. “A bunch of people followed me and I kind of started my own thing.”
Nate spent the next two and a half to three years teaching private clients. It was then that his wife Melissa helped him get the LLC and, between the two of them, they prepared everything they needed to get the ball rolling.
Finding the right software
Unsurprisingly, the couple experienced a few teething problems at the very beginning. “We were using another platform and we just found it really clunky and cumbersome,” Melissa says. Aside from being difficult to use, the software was unreliable. “It wasn’t doing everything that we needed it to do and with the functions and features that it did have, there was always a glitch or an error that would occur, and so it just wasn’t tracking things the way that we needed.”
Keen to find a suitable and dependable solution before launch date, they started investigating other options. “We were looking at Mindbody, GloFox, and TeamUp.” Of the three, TeamUp seemed the most user-friendly option to get started with. “I thought to myself, ‘This looks easy to use. I’ll try the free trial before we open the actual gym.’ It seemed pretty intuitive and user friendly, so we decided to give it a shot.”
"It seemed pretty intuitive and user friendly, so we decided to give it a shot."
And so they started using TeamUp in preparation for opening the gym. Although TeamUp has a powerful import system for customers looking to switch from competitor software, Melissa notes that they didn’t really need to use the import service, as at this point they only had a few clients in their other system. “We were running really small private classes out of our home until the space was finished being built out and we had only registered a few people under Gym Master to play around with it. I just manually put everything into TeamUp. It didn’t take very long.”
Top features and benefits TeamUp brings
It’s only been a matter of months, but both Nate and Melissa are pleased with the TeamUp experience to date. “We really like it so far!” she smiles. Most notably, she enjoys how simple the software is to use and how it’s really helped save time on manual tasks. When asked what she loves most about TeamUp, she immediately replies, “The ease of inputting new customers. It’s pretty simple and straightforward.”
The software has become an indispensable part of their day to day, from registering new members, managing finances, setting up schedules, and more. “It’s super easy to check people into classes,” Melissa nods. “Inventory is easy. We use the store and the appointments feature quite a bit. We do use the courses feature but not as much—more for one-off special events or seminars that are hosted at the gym.”
"We really like it so far! It’s pretty simple and straightforward. The calendar feature has been really great and easy to use."
When it comes to scheduling, our trusted software has been a huge advantage for Left Hand. “The calendar feature has been really great and easy to use. There are different ways to access the calendar from different points of the website to book appointments, and you can go onto the calendar and add a one-off event.”
Flexible software that adapts to the unexpected
In fact, TeamUp’s flexibility has even helped the gym tackle problems due to unforeseen weather conditions. “I like that we’re able to set up different rooms. We had a hurricane come through California a couple of weeks ago and we had really bad flooding from the storm, so the space is actually closed right now for the next two weeks because we are under repair. We have shifted and are doing some outdoor classes in a nearby park to try and keep the momentum going for us. In TeamUp, I was able to add another location and assign the classes to a specific location which was super helpful because we had to pivot last minute and get that set up.”
The Left Hand team has already grown to 7 instructors to manage demand. “We run Muay Thai classes and strength and conditioning classes and those operate independently of each other, so we have one set of instructors for strength and another for Muay Thai. They don't cross over between the two.” TeamUp removes the pain from payroll management, lightening the load for Melissa. “I track the instructor hours and which type of class they’re teaching. That’s been pretty helpful and made it easy for me to do payroll.”
"We're doing outdoor classes in a park to keep the momentum going. In TeamUp, I was able to add a location and assign the classes which was super helpful because we had to pivot last minute."
The platform has also made commissions a breeze for both the owners and their staff. “We use the discount feature because we have some coaches we pay commission to if they are able to get someone to join or buy a membership. We’ve created a unique discount code for each coach that they can give to their client when they sign up and that way we can track how to pay out commissions.”
TeamUp’s intuitive dashboard also lets you know at a glance how well your business is doing so you can make informed decisions for the months to come. “One thing I noticed on the dashboard is month over month stats. It gives you the percentage that you are either up or down over last month. That stuff is helpful to see.”
Emerging features and developments
When asked if there was anything they would change about TeamUp, Melissa says, “I like that there’s a store but we do wish that it had some more features to it. Having a simpler POS function for the store would be great but I understand that is being developed at the moment. We’re just trying to avoid using all these other platforms at the same time and to keep everything housed under one program makes it easier.” At TeamUp, we’re currently testing out this feature and hoping to release it soon, so watch this space!
The software has become an indispensable part of their day to day, from registering new members, managing finances, setting up schedules, and more.
Thumbs up from Left Hand
“I would definitely recommend TeamUp to other people looking to open a gym. We do have some members who train clients privately or they need a platform for booking appointments and things like that and I think TeamUp has been really useful for that stuff because you can set a coach or instructor’s availability on there and then you can book around that. I’ve already recommended TeamUp to a few people who have asked.”
TeamUp also provides that extra peace of mind to business owners when they’re out of office or enjoying a well-deserved break. “We get all the email notifications, so it helps us stay in tune with the business even when we’re not there. I think that’s helpful and reassuring for us.”
"TeamUp has been really useful because you can set a coach or instructor’s availability and book around that. I’ve already recommended TeamUp to a few people who have asked."
We’re excited to be part of Left Hand Muay Thai’s journey and we wish them success during this busy first year—and many more to come!