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Iron Pagoda Athletic Club Brings Together Several Disciplines Under One Roof

By Pamela Sosnowski

In may Asian nations, the multi-tiered building known as a pagoda is where many people of various backgrounds came together, often to partake in religious services. Likewise, Iron Pagoda Athletic Club of Madison was inspired by a desire to bring together fitness enthusiasts of all disciplines and personal tastes.

"The inspiration was born organically out of our team of passionate instructors that came together under one roof to share their arts," owner David Welther said. "The training we offer connects our members with a deeper, more personal level of practice."

Members will find over 30 classes weekly in everything from yoga to mixed martial arts at the gym, and may enjoy an introductory two-week period of unlimited classes for free. General fitness classes include traditional boot camp as well as Fire Pit (a fast-paced, fat incinerating cardio class), Ignite, which combines boxing and martial arts, and Weither's personal favorite, The Forge, which makes its participants feel like they're a medieval hero or heroine.

"The Forge combines traditional martial arts weapons training with modern fitness formats that translates into an awesome functional fitness workout," he said. "The class uses an iron mace which is a weapon of war modified for strength and mobility training. Our members always leave sweaty and stronger than when they came in and they are eager to return to class imagining they are slaying dragons as they swing the mace."

Children are also welcome at the gym as part of the Young Warriors program, a martial arts class for youths. The class teaches Chinese martial arts in a safe, fun, and engaging atmosphere that incorporates breathing exercises, games, and physical training to strengthen young minds and bodies.

Although the gym may seem to cover the gamut of fitness training, the atmosphere of the classes is always helpful and non-intimidating. "​Our Iron Pagoda Tribe is a welcoming, empowering and diverse group that is dedicated to exploring new strengths and celebrating the rewards of training in all areas of life," says Welther. "The unity of our team breaks down the barriers and fear people often encounter when trying new things."

For martial arts enthusiasts, the gym has unique offerings including Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu, Chen Taijiquan Tai Chi, and Inayan Systems III Eskrima, a Filipino martial art that uses sticks and bladed weapons in addition to self-defense hand techniques. All classes are taught by highly trained instructors that emphasize safety as well as proper form.

The gym also regularly holds special focus classes and events, such as a two-hour Muay Thai class that teaches the proper technique of kicking and striking, or two-day Chow Gar seminar featuring some of the country's most notable martial arts instructors.

Iron Pagoda offers an alternative to the usual cookie cutter gyms, and is ideal for those that wish to build confidence as well as a strong body. "Some people want more than just a fitness class they can sneak in and out of," Weither said. "Our culture is one of guided exploration into the depths of self-defense, fitness, and wellness."

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