Kicking up community | Client-turned-owner bringing fitness, people together

Missy Lee, the owner of Issaquah's Eastside Kickboxing, is a first time business owner and learning on the fly.

For years, Missy Lee would drive by and wonder.

Her job as the manager at a nearby fast-casual restaurant sent her driving past Eastside Kickboxing, which operates out of a strip mall suite along Gilman Boulevard in Issaquah, and the longtime fitness enthusiast always wondered what kept people flowing through and if the gym might offer the intensity and excitement she longed for in a workout.

While she had no experience kickboxing, Lee was studying at the time to become a certified personal trainer and after several years of driving by and wondering, she finally went inside. The result was an instant connection to the gym that would become the foundation for its future.

“I knew from that first class, this was the fitness thing I was looking for,” she said. “I fell in love.”

Lee figured she would continue on the path to becoming a personal trainer and keep the job she had worked to advance at since high school in the interim, although the thought of owning her own studio continued to creep forward in her mind. When the announcement was made the business would either by sold or close its doors, Lee knew the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“When I talked to the former owner, I knew,” she said.

Lee took over the full-time operations as owner in March and while some of the emphasis around the training has changed, the main philosophy of high-energy cardio training through kickboxing with heavy bags has remained constant.

The majority of the instructors teaching classes before the change in ownership stayed on board and Lee said the enthusiasm during classes and among members has made for an atmosphere never lacking in excitement.

“I want people to come in and know they are going to get a great workout in a friendly environment,” she said.

Those workouts include several elements to reach the goal of raising the heart rate for the duration through resistance training, cardiovascular work and core training. Instructors also work to create varied circuits that incorporate kickboxing elements and have a weekly bootcamp class that has grown in popularity.

Lee said the most encouraging part of her time as owner has been the camaraderie among patrons, instructors and herself. While the initial months included some transition with members and forced her to think about and then develop the identity of the gym for the future, the returns have been encouraging and have her dreaming even bigger.

“Hopefully we can get a bigger space, add more bags,” she said. “I only want to see it grow.”