Serge Timacheff founded the Washington Fencing Academy in 2002, housing fencing lessons in community centers, schools and health clubs around the Puget Sound. But without a central location, the academy’s client base was inconsistent and difficult to grow.
In October 2010, that all changed when the academy found a permanent home in Issaquah.
“It made sense for us to be here.” Timacheff said. “Who wants to drive to North Bellevue or Seattle at 5 ‘oclock on a Tuesday afternoon?”
Timacheff, a competitive fencer himself, who picked up the sport when he was 11 years-old, is the company’s CEO running the company with his wife Amy Alden Timacheff, acting vice-president and Kevin Mar, president. The academy features 10 coaches and instructors, five of which are world-class fencers with championship experience.
“Obviously, all of the experiences that I have had, I bring with me to the club,” said Eugenio Salas, a Venezuelan national champion who coaches at the academy.
Beginners, who are taught by coaches like Salas, are presented with each of the three weapons — Sabre, Foil and Épée. It allows them to get acclimated with each and decide which weapon fits their interest. Often fencers switch from weapon to weapon, like Timacheff’s son Xander, who made the switch from Épée to Sabre.
The academy has drawn great numbers of children and teenagers for beginner classes. Timacheff estimates that they make up 80 percent of their clients. They present the perfect canvass for the academy’s motto, “Fitness with an edge,” as many students arrive “almost sedentary” and leave the programs totally different.
“It’s one of those things where you’re standing there and you’re moving. You’re having fun and at the same time you’re burning calories.” said Amy Alden Timacheff. “All of a sudden you’re dripping sweat. Within two months they’ve lost 10 pounds and are feeling better and enjoying the camaraderie.”
But, the move to the new 4,000 square-foot facility was largely made to accommodate fencers who finished beginning courses and wished to continue to intermediate or advanced courses. With only 20 to 25 percent of beginning class fencers continue into other programs.
“The problem was when we would teach all of these classes for beginners, only a few would move on to intermediate classes. So, the classes were almost too small to be running at some of these centers,” Timacheff said.
The facility offers a $99 a month membership to individuals interested in doing exactly this, with the flexibility to attend open fencing hours during the week and take part in fitness programs that the academy is beginning to offer.
However, Timacheff stresses the importance of being an inclusive operation and not trying to force people to be competitive or recreational fencers. “We want to cater to people based upon their various levels of interest,” he said. “It’s interesting because, not everyone becomes to a sport like fencing assuming that they’re going to be competitive. Skiing is a really good example. How many people who go up skiing end up being competitive?”
With 25,000 competitive USA fencers and 100,000 fencing participants nationwide, Timacheff sees an opportunity for the sport to grow. He hopes the Washington Fencing Academy, which offers year-round courses, can supply the area with its fencing needs.
The academy, which has 10 satellite programs, is located at 1470 19th Avenue Northwest in Issaquah. For more information visit www.washingtonfencing.com.