At this gym, students are more than students — they’re family:
Jersey City Kickboxing
Jersey City Kickboxing owner Paul Clark says that at his gym, students are more than students — they’re family.
Kids, teens and adults who take classes at the gym don’t just get healthy and fit or train to compete, they also get to bond with Clark, his staff and each other.
For instance, Assistant Trainer Anna Gizulewski tutors some of her younger students and helps them with their homework and several of the gym members get together a couple times a month to see boxing matches.
“I want to get involved in my students’ lives and care about them,” said Clark. “It’s a relaxed environment here…we have a lot of parents and kids who train together. We also have many at-risk teens who come in after school and it gives us a chance to help them out.”
Clark’s family approach is partially inspired by how he got his own start in muay thai while growing up in Atlanta.
“My dad basically started me when I was four years old, so I’ve been doing it for 31 years now,” he said. “I had to do kickboxing every day, most times twice a day. I’ve competed both nationally and internationally, and trained over the past five years going back and forth to Thailand.”
Clark fell in love with the sport because it allowed him to push himself to new heights.
“I like that it keeps you young and healthy, and gives you a healthy respect for yourself and other people as well as self-confidence that you know you earned because no one did it for you,” he said. “It’s like learning the guitar — you have to put the work in yourself.”
As a coach at his own gym, Clark says he helps his students get those same benefits, as well as accomplish their personal goals.
“There are people who want to lose weight and just study the basics and do exercises to get in shape. I had one couple who lost 100 pounds a piece and over 60 people who lost over 30 pounds in three to six months.
“I also have some younger people in their mid-20s to early-30s who spar and train very hard, but are also working professionals, so they’re not interested in competing but do it to get in shape and get out aggression. And then we also have adults and teens who compete all over the New Jersey-New York area,” he said.
In all his classes, Clark tries to stay faithful to the martial art’s origins.
“…it keeps you young and healthy, and gives you a healthy respect for yourself and other people as well as self-confidence that you know you earned because no one did it for you.”
“It’s like learning the guitar — you have to put the work in yourself.”
“One thing really different about my gym is that I really strive for (teaching) muay thai boxing like they do in Thailand, in regards to the environment and what you learn, we’re different from other martial arts. We don’t wear uniforms and bow to each other; we have a family atmosphere,” he said, adding that they’ve also even gone to Thailand to train at a traditional camp in Bangkok and explore Thai culture.
For Clark, the gym’s family dynamic is much like that of the Brunswick Center and Downtown Jersey City in general.
“It helps to know who your neighbors are. We support each other, watch out for each other’s businesses and watch out for each other’s kids. It’s nice.”