Ty McMath of Torch Fitness by Valet Living: The Power of Flexibility; How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic

Karina Michel Feld
May 16 · 7 min read

Losing some control over my business towards the beginning of the pandemic was really difficult. It’s hard, but I began to be okay with not being okay. Meditation and allowing life to flow — and not dictate the water — has truly made me better in every area.

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ty McMath, National Director of Sales: Fitness and Events.

Ty McMath invigorated the apartment industry when he brought fitness and wellness to multifamily through the founding of Torch Fitness with his wife, Nicole McMath in Atlanta, GA. After graduating from Clark Atlanta University, where he played basketball, Ty started his career in customer service for the Ritz Carlton, where he learned about creating unique experiences for clients and worked to embody their gold-standard of hospitality. Ty quickly learned that his passion and enthusiasm were well suited to entrepreneurship, starting many business ventures and finally marrying them with his interest in sports, competition and business, to create Torch Fitness. Prior to being acquired by Valet Living, Torch Fitness was in more than 15 states and 200 communities and is now available nationwide under the Valet Living umbrella of services.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in Saginaw, MI where my dad worked at General Motors from the age of 17 until he retired at 56. He was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever been around and never took a sick day. My mom is the epitome of the American Dream. She began working in the fast food industry in her teens and twenties as a single, young parent. She eventually worked her way up and got a great job in the U.S. Postal Service, where she worked until her retirement two years ago.

I tell you my parents’ journey because it clearly shows where my work ethic and ambition come from. After high school, I earned a basketball scholarship to Iowa Western and eventually transferred to Clark Atlanta University where I continued to play basketball and earned my business management degree.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Keep your conscious mind busy with expectation of the best.” — Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

This quote meant everything to me as a young entrepreneur. There were many times when I had to “fail my way forward.” During the times when it seemed like no doors would open, I had to remind myself over and over again to keep expecting the best and focus on the WIN.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There are so many, so it’s hard to pick one. Where I grew up, there weren’t a ton of positive examples of entrepreneurs in my circle, so for many years, my mentors were authors like John C. Maxwell and Napoleon Hill.

Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

Before the pandemic, Torch Fitness by Valet Living was a leader in the multifamily community fitness space, as we held mostly in-person classes in 16 different states and 200+ communities. Our fitness instructors teach a variety of classes to the needs of each different community. In June of 2018, we were fortunate enough to be acquired by Valet Living. After this acquisition, Torch Fitness by Valet Living expanded to over 300 communities and continues to grow.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

Our in-person Torch Fitness by Valet Living classes utilized spaces in multifamily communities, including pools, gyms and lounges, to create a unique community experience for residents. When the pandemic hit, we, unfortunately, were no longer able to hold in-person classes in order to comply with safety guidelines.

I would often joke with my wife and business partner Nicole McMath about how we could never fail because we ran 1,000 classes a week, but we definitely did not expect something like COVID-19 to happen.

Fortunately, we were quickly able to pivot to virtual classes and even expanded our offerings beyond fitness with Valet Living Connect. This offering not only connects residents to live virtual workouts like yoga and strength training but also gives residents access to hundreds of virtual classes like online cooking, art classes, live trivia and so much more. It also connects residents to their 5-night-a-week doorstep trash collection service, all from the same mobile application. We were able to bring in our expertise, fitness and virtual classes and offer our residents even more than before.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

Once the pandemic hit, I met with Valet Living’s Regional Vice President Matt Graves and my wife, business partner and Senior Director of Fitness & Events at Valet Living, Nicole McMath, to discuss what can pivot our business.

We eventually came up with a way that residents can join virtual fitness classes through the Valet Living Home app so they could continue to stay mentally and physically fit. The virtual fitness classes were a hit. After about a week or so, we added live cooking classes, then we added kid-focused classes as well as other offerings. These expanded offerings continue to be really successful with residents!

How are things going with this new initiative?

These new offerings have been a hit with residents, but setting the standard is nothing new at Valet Living. Throughout the pandemic, I witnessed the power of a team. We truly pioneered a new service that has impacted residents across many states and communities across the country.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many people at Valet Living that I couldn’t have done this without including the entire Valet Living executive team, especially our CEO Shawn Handrahan. One of the main reasons I wanted Torch Fitness to be a part of Valet Living is that there was an opportunity to learn from the best in multifamily amenities.

One of the hardest things about running a small business with only a couple of associates is that you don’t get to rub shoulders every day with people that have the same goals as you. Now, we get to trade ideas, discuss how to attack problems and dream about the future.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

The way this fitness-only company has expanded into one that offers everything from cooking classes to glassmaking to gardening has been a whirlwind. I love being able to meet the needs of the residents.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Be impeccable with your word

Don’t take anything personally

Don’t make assumptions

Always do your best no matter what you’re getting paid or who’s watching

Count all your small victories. Don’t wait for the home run to celebrate. Count it all.

Many of these tips come from one of my favorite books called The Four Agreements.

Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

Losing some control over my business towards the beginning of the pandemic was really difficult. It’s hard, but I began to be okay with not being okay. Meditation and allowing life to flow — and not dictate the water — has truly made me better in every area.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to inspire people to keep moving and to not be statuary. Moving — fast or slow — brings so much to life. One of our first clients was a disabled veteran named Joann Dixon Smith. Despite her challenges, she would train with us three times a week; her drive and determination are unmatched. She may be in a wheelchair, but that has not stopped her from collecting gold and silver medals in the National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why?

I’d love to have lunch with Jay-Z. He has a brilliant mind that has helped him maximize his talent. I would love to pick his brain.

How can our readers follow you online?

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