When Dorchester resident Francis Huynh opened up his kickboxing studio, Warrior Fitness, in the South Bay center in January, he didn’t know an impending economic shutdown would put his fledgling business on hold in just a matter of weeks. But after remaining closed from mid-March through July, Warrior Fitness is back up and running as studio members have returned to their training regimens and Huynh has returned to sharing his passion with others.
Huynh, a son of Vietnamese immigrants who grew up in Maine, was introduced to martial arts at a young age by his father as a way of building confidence and learning self-defense.
“In Maine, there are not that many Asians there, so my brother and I were bullied in grade school,” he said. “Learning martial arts meant we could defend ourselves, but it also improved our confidence, fitness, and also academics because of the way martial arts activates the brain...when our peers in school saw that, they didn’t bully us anymore, and we were able to progress through school without fear of being bullied.”
Huynh worked in consulting for a few years after graduating from college, but soon realized he wanted his job to be rooted in his passion for fitness. Now, he teaches kickboxing and martial-arts inspired fitness classes at the South Bay space with the goal of helping others overcome their own obstacles. Classes are geared toward helping young kids cope with bullying, teaching women to defend themselves against attackers, and empowering overweight and elderly folks to live healthier, more confident lives.
“Our methodology of teaching comes from Eastern martial arts,” said Huynh, explaining that members are encouraged to “pursue martial arts as a life skill, similar to running.”
Inside the studio, neon signs based on Huynh’s book, “Ageless Athletic Assassin,” exhort those training to test their limits and adhere to a “Just Huynh” (pronounced “just win”) attitude. Equipment like kickboxing bags, martial arts dummies, and weapons such as nunchaku and bo staffs can appear intimidating to some, but Huynh stressed that his classes are accessible to all ages and abilities.
In an effort to make his popular training methods more visible, he’s offering a series of outdoor kickboxing and fitness classes to be held on the green just outside AMC Theatres during the month of September.
At a discounted price of $10 per 45-minute session, the classes will consist of stretching, punching, kicking, self-defense combos, high intensity exercises, abs, and pushups, as well as weapons training with nunchucks, bo staff, or the baton. The social-distanced classes can accommodate up to 20 people and will take place at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on three Saturdays: Sept. 5, 19, and 26. Those interested can sign up on the South Bay website at bostonsouthbay.com/events.