Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Greatmats partners with American Kyuki-Do Federation

Martial Arts flooring leader Greatmats is an official sponsor of the 2016 Tournament Season for the American Kyuki-Do Federation (AKF).

Kyuki-Do is a Korean martial art that incorporates elements of Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Judo. It is designed as an effective system to develop skills in self defense as well as encouraging physical, mental and spiritual development to contribute to the greater good of society.

The AKF tenants of Courtesy, Humility, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit align well with Greatmats' mission to provide Superior Customer Service and Quality Products at the Best Price available.

Both the AKF and Greatmats are continually expanding and changing. 

Greatmats, established in 1999, offers a large line of martial arts flooring as part of its continually expanding selection of specialty flooring solutions, and has been named one of the top 3,000 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. three times since 2008. 

The AKF, established in 1979, has expanded on its core elements of Tae Kwon Do, Judo and Hapkido to include techniques from Jiujitsu, Karate, boxing, wrestling and traditional weapons, among others. The AKF has 39 schools in 9 states and features the following three tournaments in 2016:

1. Spring Tournament of Champions
    Huntley Park District 
    Huntley, Illinois 
    May 7, 2016;

2. Summer Tournament of Champions 
    Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center
    Eau Claire, Wisconsin
    August 13, 2016

3. Kyuki-Do National Grappling Championship     
    Tri-County Building
    Edgerton, Wisconsin
    October 1, 2016.


Anyone attending one of these events is eligible to enter Greatmats Photo Bomb Contest for a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card or a Greatmats Folding Gym Mat. Visit http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats/greatmats-photobomb-contest.php for details

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

AGF/Greatmats kick off 2016 tournament season together in Dallas



A proud sponsor of the American Grappling Federation (AGF), Greatmats is excited for AGF's first tournament of 2016 season, coming Jan. 23, to Duncanville, Texas.
This season-opening tournament is the AGF's fifth annual Dallas Winter Classic and will be held at Bob Knight's Fieldhouse.
More the 350 competitors from 68 academies have already registered for the Dallas Winter Classic, ranging from 4 to 62 years of age. The athletes make up 219 divisions guaranteed to provide plenty thrilling Brazilian Jiu Jitsu action.
Last year's overall team champion was North Texas MMA/Magness BJJ, which edged out Next Generation by just five points. North Texas MMA won first place in Kids No Gi and Kids Gi while Next Generation took top honor in Adult No Gi. BQuick JJ was the top Adult Gi team in last year's tournament.

Look for these teams to defend their titles when 2016 Dallas Winter Classic action begins Saturday at 9 a.m. If you attend this event, don't forget to participate in Greatmats Photobomb Contest!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Maria Borell named 2015 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year

After a Cinderella Thoroughbred racing season that led to nearly $1.3 million in earnings and six first-place finishes, Kentucky-based horse trainer Maria Borell surged into the limelight due to her work with a one-of-a-kind horse named Runhappy. Her humble beginnings and surge to the top led Borell to the title of 2015 National Horse Trainer of the Year, an award sponsored by Greatmats, a Wisconsin-based specialty flooring company. The Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year Award is designed to recognize horse trainers who have made a positive impact on the lives of their horses and community through integrity, quality training and impeccable service.

The Cinderella Season
Borell, a former Equine Veterinary Technician, specializing in ICU foal care, at Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Florida, hadn't had much success in the winner's circle prior to Runhappy. In fact she had won exactly 0 of her first 22 races prior to being called in to help Runhappy through a stress fracture in his tibia in the spring. She'd also never before had the same caliber of bloodlines to work with. Runhappy had won 1 of his 2 races prior to Maria entering the picture, but Maria knew immediately that the offspring of 2010 Kentucky Derby Champion Super Saver, had what it takes to go to the Breeder's Cup, and Runhappy lived up to her expectations.

Runhappy not only won all five of his races (including the 2015 G1 Kings Bishop) under Borell's tutelage, but set a track record with the help of Hall-of-Fame jockey Edgar Prado at the 2015 Breeder's Cup Sprint at Keeneland in Lexington in October.

That victory marked Maria's sixth win of the year – and her career. It also marked the end of the road for Borell and Runhappy as a dynamic duo.

Maria, who owned Beacon Hill Farm/Borell Racing in Lexington, Kentucky, where she bred, raised and trained Thoroughbred horses, was released by Runhappy's owner the next day, following a disagreement over whether to send Runhappy to the track despite “fill and heat” in his ankle. Borell felt it would not be in the horse's best interest to be on the track. 

A few weeks after her unexpected split from Runhappy, Borell accepted a position training at Drawing Away Stable based out of Westbury, New York and is acquiring, training and entering horses at south Florida's Gulfstream Park.

National Horse Trainer of the Year Contest
Much like her training career, Maria's start in the 2015 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year Contest took some time to generate momentum. But in the final 24 hours of the two-week-long nationwide social media vote, Maria came on fast and furious, exchanging leads multiple times with Wisconsin natural horsemanship trainer Jessie Baillargeon in the final stretch. In the end, Borell took the victory by just 14 votes.


Greatmats is a national specialty flooring industry leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats has earned an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and 9.5 TrustPilot rating through its Golden Rule customer service practices. Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources. To learn more about Greatmats, visit www.greatmats.com.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

National Dance Instructor of the Year thrives on 'Rocky' beginnings

2015 Greatmats National Dance Instructor of the Year Rosanne Vavasis
at her studio - Gotta Dance - in Hudson, Florida with student Gianna Sommerlad.
There's something about rags-to-riches stories that warm the heart. Dance instructor Rosanne Vavasis knows a little about that. The 52-year-old former Rocky II extra, has turned her Hudson, Florida, performance arts studio, Gotta Dance, into a launching pad for inspiring dancers, actors and singers of all walks of life, including those with financial, physical and developmental challenges. And for her efforts, she has been named the 2015 National Dance Instructor of the Year, an award presented by Greatmats, a Wisconsin-based national dance and specialty flooring company.

Rocky II, a 1979 iconic rags-to-riches film, features kind-hearted Italian-American boxer Rocky Balboa getting a second chance at the world heavyweight boxing title. As Balboa gained popularity in his hometown of Philadelphia, Penn., his training for a rematch title bout against reigning champion Apollo Creed gained widespread community support. In one training scene of the movie, Balboa, runs down the streets of Philadelphia, and a supportive crowd of children gathers to chase him during his run.

During casting for the movie, Rosanne was initially deemed too tall to be one of the children in the chase, but actor/writer/director Sylvester Stallone, recognizing her Italian heritage, told her to join in anyway.

In many ways, Rosanne has adopted the spirit of the Rocky movie franchise. She takes pride in helping all children reach their goals, regardless of the social or financial status. Her generosity runs deep at Gotta Dance, where she personalizes classes to fit the financial, emotional and physical needs of her clients.

Rosanne takes pride in knowing she's helping children become confident and happy while pursuing something they love.

“You want them to have everything,” Rosanne said. “Some of the poorest kids are the most talented.”

Dance and Performing Arts Background
Rosanne began dancing at age 3 in Queens, N.Y., and was performing on Broadway by age 8 in the musical Really Rosie. She attended high school at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Performing Arts in New York City – the setting for the movie Fame – and began teaching others how to dance in 1983. Rosanne went on to attend The Manhattan School of Music, where she studied voice for 3 years, and continued her education in theater arts at New York University and Pasco-Hernando Community College.

Vavasis moved to Florida, where she raised her family and opened Gotta Dance, in 1999. Over the last 16 years, she's undergone plenty of trials and tribulations, including collapsed discs and a temporary closing of her studio. But she's persevered, training five Grand National Championship teams. Her dancers have also accumulated 10 first-place and six second-place finishes at regional and national competitions. Some students have gone on to receive dance scholarships, release music cds, perform on Broadway and become the head of entertainment at Busch Gardens.

Teresamia and Rosanne Vavasis
In November of 2014, she moved her studio to a larger facility, only to have a major roof leak that destroyed her floors this past October. Even that didn't stop her from helping youngsters achieve their goals.

Gotta Dance, which goes by Just Gotta Dance on Facebook, now has 120 students enrolled in its classes, but after all of the breaks it gives to its students -- and the bills are paid, it clears just an estimated $150 of profit per week.

“It's not about money,” Rosanne said, noting that most studios are very clinical and are treated too much like a business focused on cash flow and image. At Gotta Dance, Rosanne and her daughter, Teresamia, take a more personal approach. They hug the kids, talk and listen to them - and play with them - while teaching them the performing arts. They provide individual attention to each child's need, whether the child is coping with Autism, Down Syndrome, Aspergers or just thriving on love and affection.

“We give everyone a moment to shine,” Rosanne said.

The Contest
After being nominated by several of her students for the 2015 National Dance Instructor of the Year Award, Rosanne said the contest took a life of its own. Her students and colleagues rallied behind and reached out to her, expressing their appreciation for all she has done over the last 30-plus years.

Rosanne Vavasis was voted the 2015 Greatmats
National Dance Instructor of the Year
via a social media vote.
“I heard from kids I haven't had for 15-20 years,” she said. “It warmed my heart. It's better than winning any gift. It brings back memories and keeps me motivated to keep going.”

Rosanne lives by a motto made famous by the Beatles “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Obviously, her generosity has left a lasting impact on her students and community as she garnered almost a quarter of the nearly 2,200 votes cast in the inaugural year of annual Greatmats National Dance Instructor of the Year Contest.

While catering to the underprivileged probably won't ever make her rich in the monetary form, Rosanne's heart is full knowing she's playing a pivotal role in enriching the lives her students by giving them the chance to succeed in life.
2015 Greatmats National Dance Instructor
of the Year - Rosanne Vavasis.


Greatmats is a national specialty flooring industry leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats has earned an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and 9.5 TrustPilot rating through its Golden Rule customer service practices. Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources. Find Greatmats at www.greatmats.com.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Brown voted 2015 National Dog Trainer of the Year

2015 Greatmats National Dog Trainer of the Year Jeremy Joseph Brown
All of the pieces are coming together for Tuscon, Ariz., dog trainer Jeremy Joseph Brown. Four months ago, this former PetSmart trainer signed a lease to open is very own dog training facility – The Complete Canine – which was mostly funded by a GoFundMe effort that raised approximately $10,000.

Two months ago, as he opened the doors of The Complete Canine for business, he learned that he had been nominated for a national award – the 2015 Greatmats National Dog Trainer of the Year Award, sponsored by Wisconsin-based specialty flooring company Greatmats. The award, seeking to recognize dog trainers who have made a positive impact of the lives of dogs and their owners through integrity, quality training and exemplary customer service, determined its winner through a two-week nationwide social media vote.

Trainer of the year competition

A former collegiate track and field athlete, Brown, now 32, is no stranger to competition, only this time, the results were out of his control as his chances of winning were determined by the passionate support of his clients, colleagues and community members. Pitted against five of the nation's top dog trainers of various backgrounds and areas of expertise, Brown's popularity pushed him forward into what essentially became a two-person race. Jacksonville, Florida-based dog aggression expert Jim Crosby brought with him a solid following as well.

National Dog Trainer of the Year
runner up Jim Crosby.
After more than 2,000 votes were tallied in the National Dog Trainer of the Year Contest, Brown was the clear favorite, recording more than 750 votes. Crosby posted just over 600.

Greatmats hosted three other awards contests to honor horse trainers, dance instructors and aerobics instructors who have made a similar impact on their respective fields. And of the 24 total national finalists in the four categories, Brown and Crosby were the top two individual vote-getters.

“It's humbling,” Brown said of the contest and his performance in it. “I would never expect that. It's just nice to be nominated.”

Path to dog training
Brown has been around dogs his whole life, but making it a career hadn't really ever been his plan.

While pursuing his marketing degree from Indiana University, Brown took a few pre-veterinary classes and began training a few dogs for family members. Hearing about Brown's training success, a PetSmart representative approached him about training for them in 2008, and Brown ended up spending eight years with the company. During that time be broke the company record for the most dogs trained in a year nationwide.

He also found a passion for training therapy dogs when he rescued a three-legged dog with a dream temperament. A little over a year ago, he brought his passion for therapy dogs to Gabriel's Angels, a statewide non-profit program that uses the healing power of pet therapy to help abused, neglected and at-risk children.

Brown manages and mentors 50 of the Arizona's 200 pet therapy teams, teaching kids and dogs empathy, trust and love. He estimates the therapy teams he manages help approximately 5,000 kids per year.

Love and Peace
Even though Brown logs 60-65 hours of work each week between The Complete Canine and Gabriel's Angels, he said, “It doesn't seem like I ever work. I love what I do.”

At Complete Canine, he and a couple other trainers work with a half dozen different dog rescues in the Tuscon area, and run 15 classes averaging about 20 clients per class.

“When you take a rescue, struggling with life and turn them into the best they can be... Take the dogs that didn't have a chance and watch them get and give more love than you can imagine.. Stuff like that really gets to you,” he said.

The same goes for the kid/dog connection. Brown says dogs can reach children in ways humans cannot. He's watched children cry when they see the dogs again, even after a short break because they miss the dogs so much. He says one of the biggest reasons for that connection is the fact the dogs do not judge the children. They love everyone equally.


Greatmats is a national specialty flooring industry leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats has earned an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and 9.5 TrustPilot rating through its Golden Rule customer service practices. Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources. Learn more about Greatmats at www.greatmats.com.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 Aerobics Instructor of the Year defies age stereotypes

Jeanette Rachle of Owatonna, Minn., was named
the 2015 Greatmats National Aerobics
Instructor of the Year
2015 was a big year for 74-year old fitness addict Jeanette Raichle of Owatonna, Minnesota. In the last three months alone, the grandmother of 15 was named 2015 Polka Queen and most recently the 2015 Greatmats National Aerobics Instructor of the Year.

Path to greatness
A former health and physical education teacher and substitute teacher, Jeanette didn't get the idea to start teaching aerobics until she was well into her 60s when her daughter bought her a 2-month water aerobics package at a local fitness center.
“In the water, it makes it easy,” Jeanette said of the activity, and soon she was asked to teach the class. Before she knew it, Jeanette was teaching more classes than any other instructor at the facility - Owatonna Tennis and Fitness Center, spending 3 hours per day (5 days per week) in the pool, and loving every minute of it.
“I feel good when I exercise,” she said. “You've gotta move. It strengthens muscles and bones. … I've fallen hard and have no broken bones.”

Helping others
She's also seen water aerobics work wonders with some of her students.
“One guy could hardly walk, had no circulation,” Jeanette said. “In a few months he was a different guy.”
She said the same man told her she helped him get his life back, stating that he thought he'd be in a wheelchair by now if it weren't for water aerobics.
Seeing people improve their health and tell her about it, helping them develop and better lifestyle and actually having people listen to her makes it all worthwhile, she said.
As for winning the National Aerobics Instructor award, sponsored by Wisconsin-based specialty flooring company Greatmats, this has special meaning. The award was designed to recognize aerobics instructors who have made a positive difference in the lives of their students and community through the virtues of integrity, quality and service. Raichle beat out three other national finalists, nominated by their students and community, ranging from in age from 39 to 95.
“It's an honor to know somebody appreciates you,” she said, and hopes she can inspire people of all ages to give water aerobics a try.

The fitness addiction
When she's not in the water, Jeanette bicycles 10 miles per day, runs 1 mile each day, Polka dances 3-4 times per week and mountain climbs several times per month.
“If I do more, I have more energy and feel better,” Jeanette said. “I don't feel like I'm 74. I feel like I'm 34. … I'm addicted to exercise.”
That addiction is apparently contagious as her husband and eight children are also very physically active. In fact, one daughter is also a fitness trainer using Zumba and Pilates. But Jeanette claims she might still be able to out-dance all of them!
While many people her age are happy to spend their golden years in retirement, Raichle has no intentions of slowing down.
“I plan on teach for at least another 10-15 years,” she said. “Why quit if you like what you do and get paid to do it?”

Greatmats is a national specialty flooring industry leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats has earned an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and 9.5 TrustPilot rating through its Golden Rule customer service practices. Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources. To learn more about Greatmats, visit www.greatmats.com.