Meet a Dad; Fitclub and Cafe Piccolo owner Joe Oppedisano - FairfieldMoms

When Joe isn’t teaching Self Defense  or Jiu-Jitsu at Fit Club, you can find him at Cafe Piccolo having his famous espresso (with Nutella of course)! He is the father of 2 and is big on being present in your children’s life and once in a while surprise them at school or their sporting events. Read below for some more tips from Joe!

Where are you originally from and how long have you been in Fairfield?

 

I am originally from Yonkers, New York. Moved to Westport in middle school, graduated from Staples High in ’95 and bought a house in Fairfield in 2007.

Tell us about your Family!

I have an unbelievable wife, Sarah and two amazing kids. Joejoe (10 yrs old) and Gianna (8 yrs old). We all train Jiu-Jitsu -after 12 years of being with Sarah she finally gave it a shot and is now hooked! We love hanging out together as a family as much as we can. I also have a 125 pound XL pitbull named Biggie who is the biggest, gentlest and friendliest dog.


One thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Everyone assumes because I have cauliflower ears, because I train Jiu-Jitsu, because I am a black belt that I am a fighter. But I always tell people I’m not a fighter I’m a lover. I’ve got a huge heart and all my friends, students and family know this! A couple other surprising facts about me are that I’m TERRIFIED of heights and you’ll never catch me watching scary shows!


One thing you wish someone would have told you about fatherhood?

Go on more vacations with your family. Enjoy life and get away from work at the very minimum once a year. Don’t be afraid to take a few days off from work. You are creating life long memories! Work will still be waiting for you when you return.

What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in Fairfield?

I absolutely LOVE Fairfield. It is such a family friendly town. Everything you need is here! Shops, restaurants, parks, beaches, great schools and great sports programs. I dislike driving and love that I rarely ever need to leave Fairfield.


Best dad hack that makes your life easier?

I have a strong solid core of what I believe so for me it’s very easy to NOT sweat the small stuff. I don’t scream or yell. I don’t have a temper. I’m great at talking. I always speak the truth. I am always respectful. I know my kids see these qualities in me and appreciate that our household is a safe, loving, stress-free home.

Tell us about your job, when & why you decided to start in this field?

My job is to teach, coach, to be a role model, a leader, for the kids, adults and for the community. From a young age I have always wanted to help kids grow their confidence.  I started as a football coach when I was 23 and helped players with weight loss. When I started training jiu-jitsu myself I knew this was how I could combine my passions. I began coaching Jiu-Jitsu 15 years ago and  12 years ago opened my own studio.

 

What do you love about your job?  Challenges you face?

I love that I am making a lasting impact, a lasting impression in peoples lives.  I’m helping kids and adults by making them mentally and physically strong. The confidence growth I see in my students makes my day. I know Fit Club Jiu-Jitsu studio is a home away from home to our members. We are a family run gym and our clients become a part of the Fit Club Jiu-Jitsu family!One challenge I face in my field of work is understanding why other martial arts programs use promotions as an opportunity to make money. I never bought into the business motto of charging students for testing and belts.  I do not charge any of my students for promotion. Every single parent and student of mine knows that receiving a new belt is a celebration. It is a day to acknowledge the learning and growth as a jiu-jitsu practicioner. My students know they have worked hard and earned that belt.  At my studio promotions are an honoring moment to recognize your achievements with your friends and family.


If you weren’t working in this industry, what do you think you would be doing today?
 

I love working with people so it would definitely be something that involves coaching/mentoring/counseling/advising others.

Best advice for dads who experience the inevitable guilt handling a career and helping support a family?

FIND TIME, MAKE TIME to be with your kids. When you are with your kids BE PRESENT and BE IN THE MOMENT UNDISTRACTED. Witness your children’s accomplishments and failures. Be there to cheer them on, to celebrate with them and to support them when they face difficulties. Your kids need you.  Love, affection, and time spent with them is more important to our children than having fancy things.

Who has most influenced you to be the father that you are today?

 

I would say I learned  a lot of what not to do. By observing other fathers and coaches I had growing up (ie. John Cacho) I saw what I wanted and knew I wanted to be a great dad and a positive, strong role model. I am the dad that is there for his kids, a dad that watches every sports game, a dad that teaches them about life, a dad that tells and shows his children love and affection daily. Having a happy, loving home is everything!

What advice would you share with a new dad or other dads?

 

Don’t push them into sports/activities that you want. Do what they are interested in!Surprise them every now and then and pick them up early from school and take them out for lunch.Tell them daily that you love them. Show them that you love them. Say it AND show it. Hugs and kisses before you leave for work and before they go to bed. We are laying down the foundation for our family and one day for our children’s families. We want our kids to become loving parents and raise our grandkids to be loving….you are creating your legacy!

 

We love supporting local businesses – favorite places in Fairfield to…

Have Dinner with Family:

Centros and Colony Grill are the top two kids pick.

Grab a Drink with Friends:

I actually have never been a drinker. I prefer going out for dessert! Dark chocolate is my weakness. Saugatuck Sweets is my go to for dessert with the family!

Have a Date Night:

With two young kids even a quick trip to Trader Joes or CVS alone with my wife is a date! Sinclair is a favorite spot for us.

Spend time together as a Family:

We love hanging at home. I have always said our home will be the fun house where our kids, friends and family can come hangout, play and swim.  If we aren’t in the front yard playing football, knockout, or wiffle ball you can find us in the backyard pool!

Outside Activities:

Basketball, Football, Lacrosse, Volleyball, Swimming

Grab coffee:

Cafe Piccolo! This is my go to spot for the best espresso  Find it in front of Saugatuck Sweets in Fairfield. The owners are pretty awesome!

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