When Jason and Katie Fryer opened a Krav Maga gym in 2015, they said they knew teaching the technical skills would be the easy part. The challenge, and the piece both co-owners wanted to focus on, was getting what Jason called “the soft skills” right.
The Fryers said they wanted every new student coming to their gym to feel welcome and comfortable stepping onto the mat.
“It’s a very raw, intimidating situation when you first come in. I wanted to create a culture where people can grow together and have a really healthy community,” Katie said.
There are a few rules the gym operates under to build this sense of community. Instructors are trained weekly in these soft skills, and a full-time employee is solely devoted to building community.
“Self-defense training is intimidating at the beginning. So it helps to have people that want to be supportive,” Jason said. “We want you to come back.”
People come to Lions Krav Maga for a variety of reasons, which range from looking for a good workout to seeking ways to protect themselves or their loved ones in scary situations, Jason said. For him, it was about stress relief.
Thirteen years ago, Jason was a graduate student studying architecture at The University of Texas. He said Krav Maga gave him an interactive experience that other martial arts forms could not.
In 2015, the Fryers decided to go out on their own to open a gym because they thought they could provide something that was missing in the marketplace. Today, the gym has 423 members, and the growth led to a move last summer from a 1,200-square foot space to Lions Krav Maga’s larger location near the intersection of Anderson Lane and MoPac.
According to the Fryers, the gym’s welcoming environment fostered its growth.
“I really wanted to open a gym because I felt as a woman, I didn’t feel comfortable in a lot of the gyms I went into,” Katie said.