Knockout Austin opened its doors in July of 2017 after about a year of painstakingly working out the contracts, paperwork and getting the building itself ready for the public. Everything had to be perfect.
The owner, Melissa Lebaron had been doing kickboxing for several years before opening Knockout and loved the thrilling experience. Her background as a high school volleyball player, certified yoga instructor, cycling fanatic and frequent marathon competitor drove her to seek out the next big thing in the world of exercise, and she knew she’d found it.
Her strong entrepreneurial spirit and background in working with large teams of salespeople pushed her to create something she could call her own, and with that, the idea was created to create her own kickboxing studio.
Knockout Austin is all about the experience and making their students feel welcome, no matter their health goals, boxing experience or motivation. Whether patrons want to get some great cardio or just want a fun way to be healthy and feel great about themselves, Knockout Austin is going to ensure they feel both welcome and a part of the team.
Knockout’s gym is also predominantly female, but the experience is great for all ages and genders. From the club-style lighting and loudspeakers blaring music to the microphones the instructors use to keep up the tempo, there’s never a dull moment.
One of the biggest hurdles Melissa was dealing with the tremendous amounts of paperwork that accompanied the bank lending and construction work needed to make her dream a reality.
The last-minute nature of the construction, coupled with the fact that Melissa is also a mother to a young boy while working a full-time job meant that the pressure was on.
But she wasn’t about to let that hold her back, she kept on her feet and rolled with the punches day by day, week by week until the work was done.
A tip she gives to future entrepreneurs is to be aware of the city and county taxes, workforce paperwork, and seemingly endless mountains of bureaucracy that just seem to pop out of nowhere.
The biggest challenge in running a business these days is not to get complacent, she says. Once you get in the rhythm of things and your business gets moving forward, it’s important to keep pushing to the next level and never stop.
The property taxes in Austin are also a massive cost for any business with a brick and mortar location. Her next steps are optimizing which classes to run at what time so that her students are the happiest so she can boost attendance.
Melissa and the crew at Knockout pride themselves on the fact that they’re real people with normal lifestyles, and that their clients can feel comfortable enough to be themselves with zero need to act like somebody they aren’t.
The mindset of the crew at Knockout strays far away from typical gyms, never making references to things like “the ideal body” or having a great physical appearance.
The entire purpose of Knockout Austin is to feel great about yourself, get a great workout, and to “kick ass” as Melissa puts it. From the moment we walked in, the energy was palpable, and it was obvious that we’d stumbled on something truly remarkable.
Fun, thrilling, energetic and fast-paced, you’ll definitely feel at home no matter who you are. Knockout runs massive events such as on-location workouts, and this coupled with its amazing reputation brings in the majority of the current customers.
The future looks bright for Knockout, and Melissa is looking to get into a bigger location with more room for separate classes, as well as one-on-one coaching for those who prefer the full attention of the instructor.
She wants to constantly play an active role in the business, staying constantly involved and aware of every aspect of her clients’ experience. Her passion for working with people and taking care of her team comes from her experience in the corporate world, and it drives her to this day to be a better leader every day.
The culture of Knockout is very centered around the idea of everybody being happy and feeling fully engaged, from the front desk all the way to the instructors and clients themselves.
January will see some new class formats being rolled out, as well as asking for suggestions from Knockout Austin’s clients as to what they would like to see more of. One such format is the introduction of pure boxing classes with a new instructor that’s been boxing his whole life.
Other plans include a beginner’s class, even though all the classes at Knockout are easy for people of all skill levels. The possibility of 30-minute lunchtime express classes is also being considered, though not set into stone.