By Richard Campbell
In advance to gaining any weight during the holidays, South Boston Online started thinking about new exercise experiences in South Boston. The Kick It Studio opened its pop-up studio into the Via Seaport residences this past week, and I got a chance to interview its founder, fitness instructor Eliza Shirazi. The new studio is in a compact space that looks out onto the skyline of the Seaport District, conveniently located near District Hall.
SBO: So, describe some of your services and the program in general.
Eliza: Kick it is a thirteen-round fitness method, that is kick boxing inspired but music driven- there are elements of boxing, but the whole thing is based on the music. It’s high intensity and with all the options to modify the class to suit anyone’s level.
SBO: I’m glad for that. (laughing) So, all the students don’t have to all be as advanced as you.
Eliza: No! We take people on all levels. It’s also based on female empowerment. That’s what we call the “Fempire.” We welcome men into the class, but there is a major emphasis on female empowerment. I should say, we offer classes to the residents, as well as to the general public, so we’re an open studio.
SBO: How Long is the class, and how does this operate? I mean, is there any boxing, or is it like shadow boxing? It sounds pretty cardio oriented.
Eliza: It’s fifty-five minutes, very intense. It is strictly your body weight and yourself. Sometimes students are partnered. It’s non-contact, so we don’t use the bags, and yes, you have the lingo- it is like shadow boxing!
SBO: How many instructors? How are they trained?
Eliza: We have over 100 instructors. All our instructors are trained to a particular standard, so instructors must get certified training to work for us. This is a different track than the average student, and involves a whole other level of professional development, so regardless of where you go for certified Kick It instruction, the classes are consistent.
SBO: How did this whole thing get started?
Eliza: I started it when I was in college at UMass Amherst in 2009. The campus is huge so it allowed me to test it out with a lot of students. I danced competitively for a number of years, and then then I developed the program model first just out of fun. After working on the model, I started the business itself in 2015.
SBO: You’re definitely an entrepreneur. It seems like it has real unique potential. Now I have to ask you the big question. How much does it cost?
Eliza: It depends where you take the class. We’ve even done free classes at athletic stores, and events like at the Harpoon Brewery. Anywhere from $15.00 to $20.00 dollars for a group class. Here it is $20.00 for a class. Individual instruction is more based upon the kind of work out.
SBO: That’s pretty affordable. What’s your regular schedule at this studio?
Eliza: Yes, at the Via Seaport Residences, we have regular classes. Monday through Wednesday, 6:30 pm. This is like our soft opening. I also teach at Everybody Fights in Southie. We have people teaching at Beacon Hill Athletic Club as well.
SBO: I had the feeling this is much more than the usual Pop-Up event. I mean it is more sophisticated.
Eliza: Thanks for saying that, I appreciate that. Yes, there is a lot of planning behind this program. We are keeping Via Seaport Residence training staff real small, so Emily Crocker who you’ll be meeting is the other instructor here.
SBO: There is kind of a woman’s community thing. but I think men would understand it more than, let’s say dance classes.
Eliza: Yes, it’s a good workout for men or women.
SBO: I think women’s sports have become very competitive on so many levels. I remember it getting really intense about a decade ago, but now I see so many women totally into training.
Eliza: There are a lot of women out there training very hard. Look at the recent winner of the New York City Marathon, Shalane Flanagan as an example. It is really interesting to watch partners work in Kick It-when couples come together, where both the men and women are training on the same intensive level.
SBO: It has to be kind of therapeutic and cathartic at the same time, like any dedicated work out. Like a release, if not totally exhausting.
Eliza: Yes, exactly. It’s totally therapeutic. We end the class with a meditation. Round thirteen is a restorative, meditative round.
SBO: That sounds like a perfect ending. For any readers interested in either taking classes or becoming an instructor, you can see Eliza’s website at http://www.kickitbyeliza.com/.