At FIT Athletic Club, the sounds of clattering weights, whirring treadmills, and friendly chatter fill the gym from dusk to dawn. These energetic sounds play out over state-of-the-art strength and cardio equipment and high-end amenities such as a steam room and sauna. Members who tire of going it alone enjoy unlimited access to more than 300 group classes each month. After a tough workout, FIT Athletic Bar's smoothie selection gives exercisers a nutritious way to refuel, and the bar’s free WiFi lets them check email, update social networks, or Google the best ways to snag the available treadmill for a date Saturday night.
The instructors at Saldivar Martial Arts Leadership Academy aren't exactly new to teaching students the passion, discipline, and integrity of martial arts. The studio itself has been open since 1986, and its four instructors have a combined experience totaling more than 60 years. Matt Saldivar, a 5th degree black belt, is among them. Together he and his wife Amy Saldivar—a third degree black belt and instructor—co-own the academy and bring 25 years of experience to their business. The duo leads not only intensive muay-thai sessions for adults, but also after-school programs and summer camps for kids as young as five. The studio's class list is just as beginner-friendly, since it separates pupils by their level of experience and their ability to quote the best lines in The Karate Kid.
At Absolute Boxing & Personal Training for Women, personal trainers with vast martial-arts experience, including UFC manager Francois Nguyen, help men, women, and children of all skill levels get into fine fighting form. The team combines the fundamentals of boxing and kickboxing into heart-thumping sessions capable of incinerating calories, toning muscles, and arming students with the self-defense techniques necessary to ward off bullies. Personal trainers expand upon fight-based conditioning with yoga instruction, massage therapy, and a promise to hold clients accountable for the goals they set, such as running 10 miles or high-fiving 10 strangers each day.
There aren’t many fighters who can say that they have their own day. Then again, there aren’t many fighters like Richard Lord. Known as the godfather of Austin boxing, he ran the boxing circuit as a professional boxer and fought a number of rounds in the old Austin Coliseum. A powerhouse presence for more than 30 years, Richard Lord has trained world-champion combatants, including Jesús "El Matador" Chávez and Anissa "The Assassin" Zamarron, and organized the first all-female boxing match sanctioned by U.S. Amateur Boxing, Inc. Looking at all of his achievements, it’s no surprise that the Austin boxing community marks its calendar for March 31, Richard Lord Day.
Inside his gym, he trains reigning prizefighters right next to first-timers in his old-school yet welcoming boxing gym. A team of amicable boxing trainers helps aspiring pugilists to pare off pounds quickly, float like butterflies, and sting like adult-contemporary singers during sweat-soaked sessions that cover form, rhythm, and timing.
A joint venture between a professional boxer and a team of successful kickboxing-equipment tycoons, Title Boxing Club maintains a network of dozens of studios spread across 19 different states, winning over a devoted clientele with its invigorating and engaging boxing- and kickboxing-themed classes. Each workout uses the heart-healthy exercise of cardio training to satisfy people’s innate desire to punch and kick something other than a broken jukebox. Participants build lithe, strong muscle tissue by delivering powerful blows to punching bags, and build flexibility and agility by practicing roundhouse kicks and hooks. Students can build their core strength and endurance with medicine balls and burpees, enlist a qualified personal trainer to practice their newfound skills in the ring, or just torch calories during intense full-body Power Hour workouts.
Zachary Lewis and Hope Song are a malefactor’s worst nightmare. Both black belts in tae kwon do, they have been teaching others their kicking, blocking, and striking secrets for 18 and 10 years respectively. Today, they share their expertise with students at Arlington Martial Arts, focusing on the lessons of discipline, self-defense, and respect that the fighting style ingrains. For adults, they also offer Forge Fitness classes, which combine cardio kickboxing and boot camp with nutrition analyses to help clients achieve weight-loss and fitness goals.