Activity at Fox Den Martial Arts is kicking two and a half months after Yellowknife’s newest combat sports gym opened its classes.

A handful of students came out on Aug. 21 for the gym’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and kickboxing classes.

Normally on weekends about eight students show up but on Aug. 21-22 many people were out of town camping trying to make the most of the remaining weeks of summer, said Celia Harding-Russell, one of the gym’s directors and a kickboxing and BJJ instructor.

Student Joseph MacDonald, left, executes a rear naked choke on instructor Landen Powell. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

Sessions at Fox Den always start with RAMP warm ups – Raise heart rate and temperature, Activate key muscle groups, Mobilize joints and ranges of motion and Potentiate (increase the intensity to the point that subsequent activities can be performed at a maximal level).

The classes then moved onto workouts where pairs tried to touch each others’ knees with their hands and each others’ feet with their feet.

Three students joined the kickboxing class on Aug. 21, where they practiced punches, jabs and kicks on pads.

Looking back at their first 10 weeks in business, Harding-Russell said things have gone better than they hoped.

Yun Ni, left, is held in place by Celia Harding-Russell’s legs as she attempts a submission hold on his head. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

“Our goal was to have a gym that would be self-sufficient and it’s done more than that. We have 44 students, that’s more than we expected. We were hoping for 28 to break even. So many of our students do both BJJ and kickboxing,” she said.

The gym’s women’s self-defense course had 10 students and teaching that group has been a highlight for Landen.

“They were really engaged and it met a need in the community,” he said.

The age of students at the gym ranges from 14 up to 68.

Celia Harding-Russell uses a pad to receive a jab from Matt Craig. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

Harding-Russell said that despite his age, the 68-year-old kickboxing student is one of their toughest and most energetic.

While MacDonald isn’t an instructor at the gym, he’s about to replicate the Fox Den model in Behchoko, where he will use his years of BJJ experience to open a free class at the sports plex for students 14 and older.

As Fox Den prepares to enter its third month of operation, it will do a “bring a friend to the Den” in the first week of September where a friend of a student can try BJJ and kickboxing classes for free.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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