If 20 years of superhero movies has taught us anything, it is that we love a good origin story. This month, HOTBOX is celebrating our 12th birthday, and it’s got us feeling all kinds of nostalgic. Whether you’re one of the thousands who’s worked up a sweat with our badass trainers at HOTBOX, or you’re simply a curious outsider, the early days were full of sweat, love, & some dirty ass music, and have made us what we are today.
“HOTBOX started as a crazy idea in April of 2010.”
We felt that many of the fitness and martial arts gyms at the time felt very elite and pretentious. “What if people just wanted to kickbox without having to be a martial artist?” Seems like a simple question now, but back then, there was a lot of gate keeping going on in the fitness space.
“Fuc’k This!” was our battle cry moving forward and we set out to create a place where they could, “Listen to some dope rap music, invite our friends, have fun, kickbox together, and get in a nice workout while we’re at it!”.
HOTBOX may have started on a whim without a fully articulated business plan, as it was founded by some punk rock kids touring in bands together, regardless of how the details worked out. The ethics, attitude, and energy of punk were deeply ingrained in the roots of HOTBOX, and the idea was to be “counter culture” to the big gyms by being personal, accepting, and open!
“Don’t push people away, you don’t have to be elite, and you don’t have to be special to hang with us! Honestly, we’re kind of like the weirdos and the outcasts of the fitness industry and we welcome that. We welcome everyone.”
In the very beginning we were able to get 10 friends to show up and we admittedly had very little idea what we were doing outside of the big idea. “One of the first sessions, we get everyone’s hands wrapped up, and just start yelling ‘Okay everybody! Feet moving! Feet Moving!’.
From there, it was a lot of kinesthetic learning, trial and error, showing up, and sticking to the core principles – make people feel good and have fun.
“What’s funny is we still use that terminology today. Every single class basically starts off with the instructor walking to the room saying, Feet moving, feet moving, feet moving!”.
The growth was quick, people were smiling, and having fun, and the workouts felt like a party. As far as the community goes, for a lot of those attending it was unlike anything else they’d experienced in a fitness environment.
“Everyone knew each other’s names. It was really a family atmosphere. From when it was ten people to 30, to several hundred. It didn’t matter. It was important that we knew everyone’s name and that everyone felt special and welcome.”
In just two years, we’d grown from a 600 square foot room that was rented from another gym, to filling an entire 5,000 sqaure foot space. One of our greatest accomplishments is the community we’ve built here, and we credit this amazing group of people for our continued growth.
“We made it through a pandemic and a tornado, and it’s amazing because we still see so many people here that were here literally from day one. People from the very beginning of HOTBOX are still coming and are members here. Some of them have been around 5, 7, even eleven years! It’s amazing to see that!”.
We still feel like we’re just getting started, and our goal is to just continue to expand, and welcome as many people as we can into our punk-rock HOTBOX family.
“We absolutely have a huge goal of opening more HOTBOX’s within the next year. We have our eyes set on a couple of targets, but we are right here, right now. This one gym, this city, this big community is everything to us and we are just so grateful to be a part of it.”
There have been plenty of challenges along the way, pandemics, natural disasters, buildings getting torn down, relocations and more, but despite the adversity, HOTBOX has solidified it’s place in the lives and hearts of it’s members, and remains an open and inviting space for those seeking a genuine fitness family.
“12 Years, Fuck yeah!”