Getting in shape and living a healthier lifestyle is one resolution that often makes its way onto many people’s lists of goals for the new year. Now, Denton residents have a new option for staying active, as Denton’s first Total Fitness Kickboxing location opened on Brinker Road over winter break.
“The main thing people come for, especially after New Year’s, is to get in shape,” said Josh Straussberger, TFK Denton owner and manager. “I lost 70 pounds and got back in shape [by kickboxing], so that’s good for a healthy lifestyle, but it’s more than that. The main thing is to give people an outlet to better themselves, whether it’s physically, mentally or just the interaction with other people emotionally.”
Straussberger took his first kickboxing class in 2013, but he said he was originally reluctant to start. After getting married, having kids and settling into the routine of a desk job, Straussberger said he got out of shape, practiced bad eating habits and felt like he never had any energy. When his wife started taking kickboxing lessons at the gym across the street from their home, she eventually convinced him to join her for a class, and he began kickboxing once a week.
“It’s that first step that’s the hardest one,” Straussberger said. “You have to be careful because it’s easy to be motivated and then fizzle out. You kind of have to build discipline to it. Once you start, it’s much easier.”
Economics senior Alyceson-Grace Eke said she has been running as a way to stay fit since she was a kid. She played soccer as a kid, competed in track and field during middle and high school and has played in every UNT intramural flag football tournament since she started at the school. However, she said she endured a rough patch in her fitness regime after going through a death in her family in 2018. When she learned about Total Fitness Kickboxing through a Facebook ad, she said she attended a free class and signed up for a membership as soon as the 45 minutes were over.
“I just loved it to death,” Eke said. “It just kind of gave me an incentive to start working out again and to improve my fitness, making sure I’m actually treating myself right, not just so that [my weight] can go down, but so that I can actually feel better.”
Savannah Mann, TFK Denton’s head trainer and a broadcast journalism junior, said she also enjoyed her first Total Fitness Kickboxing class and now tries to make her new students’ first experiences just as great.
“With all of our red gloves, our new people who come in for the first time, we check on them, make sure they’re OK, talk to them and make sure that we notice them and we’re looking out for them,” Mann said. “That’s how it was when I joined. We carry it on.”
Mann said the Total Fitness Kickboxing environment is different from other gyms. Every class sports a diverse demographic, with members ranging from age 5 to 60 at the Denton location. Both Mann and Straussberger said seeing the energy of the gym during classes and the growth of its members are some of their favorite things about being kickboxing instructors.
“It’s super cool to see people grow and get stronger,” Mann said. “They get happy and healthy, and their attitudes start changing. It’s really cool to be a part of that. We love these people.”
Straussberger opened his first Total Fitness Kickboxing location in The Colony in October 2018, which his brother now manages. With this new expansion, Straussberger said the Denton location’s first month in operation came to an end on Jan. 14, 2020 and set a record for the greatest number of memberships signed in the first month.
Straussberger said he has seen members of The Colony location become friends outside the gym, and with 223 new members in what Straussberger calls the “TFK family,” he believes the same connections will be made among Denton patrons.
“People come in here and they’ve never really met each other before, but when you’re in here working out 45 minutes at a time with people, you start to make bonds,” Straussberger said. “That’s what makes the environment here feel [like family]. It’s more than just a workout, it’s a community, too.”
Eke said she has already started meeting new people during her classes. Without a vehicle of her own, she planned on taking the bus or using a car service to get her to her weekly workouts. However, after meeting two grad students during her first class, she said she now plans to carpool with them whenever she can.
“Everybody was really friendly and Josh [Straussberger] himself was really cool,” Eke said. “You may not remember what people do, but you remember how they make you feel. I just felt so confident leaving [TFK] — I just love it.”
For anyone interested in trying kickboxing, Mann said her advice for new students is to bring water and go at their own pace. TFK Denton offers a free first class to all newcomers, and the cost of a membership starts at $60, but it decreases if members get others to sign up and use their name as a part of the gym’s referral program. Once 10 people list one member as their referral to the gym, that member will receive a free membership for life. Eke said she plans to recommend TFK to all of her friends and believes everyone should take a class at least once.
“Just come with an open mind and be ready to work,” Eke said. “You’re going to sweat like crazy, but it’s going to make you feel like you really are getting better, so it’s worth it.”
Featured Image: Total Fitness Kickboxing owner and manager, Josh Straussberger, posses in the kickboxing studio on Jan. 21, 2020. Image by Theophilus Bowie