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CKO Kickboxing owner Shelby Reno has more than 20 years of experience in fitness training. She combined her fitness and corporate marketing skills and opened up the Midwest’s first CKO Kickboxing franchise this past January.

How did you first hear about the CKO franchise? 

I attended a digital marketing conference in January 2015. CKO’s chief operating officer was one of the presenters, and he highlighted the brand’s online search strategy. I had followed CKO casually in the franchise trade publications and was intrigued by their scalable model. A couple weeks later, I contacted CKO headquarters in Hoboken, New Jersey.

CKO GR is the first Midwest location. What made you want to bring CKO to Grand Rapids? 

For three years, I lead strategic marketing and communications for a franchise brand, so I was very familiar with the franchise industry. The CKO franchise agreement (contract) was fair and flexible, and the brand operated true to its mission of changing lives through high-intensity interval training – the holy grail of getting and staying fit. As a career marketer and fitness instructor, I welcomed the challenge of bringing a new brand to the region.

How does owning CKO GR incorporate your personal interests and passions? 

I became a group fitness instructor when I lived in Dallas, Tex., in the mid-’90s. I taught classes to stay fit, to network and to be held accountable by other likeminded people. Both friends and instructors I respected made sure I came to class, where we all got a killer workout and had fun. I am also really into music so beat-driven workouts have always held major appeal.

CKO opened in January. What has the experience been like so far? 

Relative to both my marketing and fitness paths, I’ve always worked for someone else. Ownership is new to me and something I thought I would never want, but it’s now a path I wish I would’ve taken much sooner. Teaching at other places brought me a lot of satisfaction, but steering the strategy for my own studio has been an experience brimming with both hard work and satisfaction. I’m a people person, and entrepreneurship opens up opportunities to connect with people every single day. The CKO members and team energize me to be better today than I was yesterday.

What is your experience with athletics? 

I am a tomboy at heart, growing up on a farm in rural western Idaho. I was an athlete, lettering in volleyball and tennis, and I rifle hunted with my dad. I continue to love everything about both mainstream and niche sports. I see my background coming out in ways I never imagined, thanks to a continued focus on fitness, becoming a CKO fanatic and being a mother who WILL see my girls become strong, confident people.

What is your personal fitness routine like? 

I love lifting weights, which covers all major muscle groups. I’m a member at The Challenge, our neighbors in North Downtown, which is walkable from the studio. We have a co-promotion with The Challenge, waiving enrollment fees for annual members at both of our locations. I also race gravel terrain on my mountain bike. Getting CKO launched has challenged me to fit everything in, but I continue to strive to do it all!

What’s your advice for people looking to start up their own personal routine? 

One of the CKO mantras is “to be great you have to start.” Investing time is one of the biggest challenges I see. Investing time and effort really has no substitute.

What does CKO offer that most gyms or group fitness classes do not?

Heavy bag kickboxing is fun. Plain and simple. High-intensity interval training can be boring. The blend of kickboxing combinations and HIIT drills makes the workout fly by.

What do you love most about being a CKO owner? 

Creating a place where a community builds naturally is so cool; I enjoy connecting people and then watching friendships and networks grow. Additionally, I also love to see people put effort into their workouts and afterwards say, “That was awesome!”