Muscle and grit: two brothers realize their Zionist dream

"The real hardship," he added, "was navigating the Israeli business sector in a foreign country that we called home."

Apex Sport Performance (ASP) (photo credit: MICHAEL MOROZOV)
Apex Sport Performance (ASP)
(photo credit: MICHAEL MOROZOV)
It was not enough for brothers Mattan and Ariel Hoffman, co-founders of Apex Sport Performance (ASP), to serve in special combat units. Their Zionist dream came to fruition with grit.
“Apex Sport Performance was the realization of our dream to revolutionize Israeli sport culture: to serve our country in what we love to do,” said Mattan. “I saw an opportunity to express my Zionism: influencing Israeli athletes to maximize their potential."
"The real hardship," he added, "was navigating the Israeli business sector in a foreign country that we called home."
ASP opened a facility in Petach Tikvah in March 2018. The company is working with dozens of athletes, including the Maccabi-Petach Tikva soccer team and elite professional players in various sports.
The value of Zionism was deeply embedded throughout the co-founder’s lives and emboldened through their experiences of antisemitism.
“At high school in Pennsylvania, I was Nazi saluted in the halls and received a number of threats. I didn’t know how to approach the situation and sports was my outlet,” said Mattan.
Ariel remembers his classmate from high school calling him a cheap Jew while throwing pennies at him.
“To me Zionism is about giving to the country, advancing society to the best of your ability. ASP is the fulfillment of my continued service to the state of Israel,” Ariel said.
Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, Mattan decided to join the IDF in 2011, followed by his brother Ariel in 2014, through a program known as Tzofim Garin Tzabar, an organization designed to bring new immigrants and Israelis living abroad to Israel to serve in the IDF as lone soldiers.
The goal of the program is for participants to remain in Israel although a large percentage of released lone-soldiers return to their country of origin—this was not a long-term option for the two co-founding brothers of Apex Sport Performance.
Mattan was recruited to the elite Israeli Air Force unit 669 and was medically discharged after suffering from two hernias and a torn labrum in his hip.
After Mattan completed his military service, his decision to earn his master’s degree in exercise physiology at University of Central Florida (UCF) was the beginning of his process to return to Israel.
“It was important for me to specialize in my field while earning credibility and to be the change that I wanted to see in Israel of bridging the gap between science and sport,” Mattan said.
Ariel served in the reconnaissance battalion of the Paratroopers brigade until doctors diagnosed him with cancer leading to a medical discharge.
“Cancer was just another obstacle that I needed to overcome, just like the army or college football, all I could do was persevere,” said Ariel.
Ariel played division I football at UCF and earned his bachelor’s degree in sport and exercise science.
The Hoffman brothers were born from a family of athletes; their mother Yaffa was on the Israeli national team for judo and their father Jay played professional football in the NFL.
“Our approach was balancing our experience in the field as ex athletes and providing the necessary knowledge, where theory meets practicality,” said Mattan.
The co-founder’s vision is to create Israel’s first “House of Athletes”, a facility that caters to the need of building a community of likeminded Israeli athletes.