The leaders of an Oxford kickboxing gym say they’re still fighting after four years, and they hope to see the business expand to Starkville and Jackson in the future.
Bringing new life into the city, Oxford Fitness Kickboxing has become a hub for experienced athletes and beginners alike. Located at 2146 Jackson Ave. W. in Oxford, the gym offers classes in kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu for adults and children, and muay thai – totaling 44 available lessons each week.
The spacious building has more than 40 punching bags and a well-padded arena for circuits and grappling. Spray paint decorates the main wall with Ole Miss and punk imagery, and invigorating rap and rock music blasts through the speakers.
The center is run by Manager Mike Cain and Owner James Huston. Close friends from Memphis, Cain became involved after participating in martial arts for almost 20 years. “I’ve known James for nearly that long,” he said.
Fitness Kickboxing has been in its current location for four years. Cain said he owes the success to “timing and opportunity, more than anything.” He said the gym was the first to present mixed martial arts-style fitness programs in Oxford.
“It’s a fairly new style of workout,” he said. “Like aerobics, I’m sure it will run it’s course, but it’s in right now.”
Kickboxing classes are fast-paced, but interval training allows each person to determine their workout intensity. Jiu-jitsu classes, taught by Brandon Wilkinson, teach self-defense. He said he learned under seven-time sport jiu-jitsu world champion Joel Gingery.
For kickboxing instructors, Cain looks for someone with experience. “Almost every trainer here has an MMA background,” he said.
Frank Hughgart has been working at Fitness Kickboxing for nearly three years. “This keeps me out of kitchen jobs,” he joked.
Hughgart said the gym is unique because it’s social. “People bring their friends, and it’s group fitness without feeling like it,” he said. “There’s strength training and cardio, so it gets your heart rate up, and you get some aggression out.”
Oxford Fitness Kickboxing takes part in the University of Mississippi’s sorority philanthropy contest. Sororities gain points for going to classes and signing up as members, and the winner receives prize money and a free self defense seminar. This helps the business reach a larger audience, and often newcomers arrive due to word-of-mouth.
Hughgart said he loves the regulars, his coworkers, and the environment. Cain said the gym is “fun.” “And we get to help people improve their health,” he said.
Fitness Kickboxing leaders say one, 50-minute kickboxing class can burn up to 1,000 calories. He said self defense is a crucial skill. The gym is open seven days a week, and even offers student discounts.
The owners hope to expand to other locations in the future. There is another kickboxing gym in Tuscaloosa, and Cain said Owner Huston hopes to add two more soon in Starkville and Jackson, respectively.
Hughgart said: “Oxford is always blowing up.” With the added attention and revenue, he said, “More locations would be great. Growth is always what you want.”
Cain said the big hope is to “have a kickboxing gym in every SEC college town.”