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CKO member Kurt Messingschlager was looking for his next fitness challenge when CKO moved in literally across the river from his condo. Kurt spent a year doing low-impact exercise and physical therapy due to injuries obtained from a car accident several years ago. After the yoga and physical therapy helped him to better manage his pain, he began searching out another activity with resistance and high intensity interval training. Luckily, CKO came into town at the perfect moment. Learn more about Kurt and his fitness journey.

How did you hear about CKO? 

I live at the American Seating campus, which is right across the river. CKO is in my neighborhood, so people in my building began joining as members. CKO partners with several residential communities downtown, and American Seating is one of those.


What about it made you want to try it out? 

I’m someone who has had a number of biomechanical issues with my neck, back and shoulders which stem from a car accident when I was young. In 2015, my new year’s resolution was to do yoga and rehab to get my posture and ligaments back in order so I could eventually move beyond the issues permanently. I did a year of yoga and I was ready for the next step. So CKO’s timing was perfect. Yoga alone is great, but it doesn’t burn calories and build muscle the way kickboxing does. I do, however, love the combination of the two exercise formats.


What was that first class like? 

Awesome but difficult. What this showed me was my cardio was off – I was huffing and puffing. The first class was really fun, truly challenging and I became hooked.

What was it about CKO that got your hooked?  

It’s a combination of the concept – active recovery, bag work and core work – awesome instructors, a group environment, and the music. It’s the comprehensive package.


What was your fitness routine like before CKO?

In high school I wrestled, played basketball and played some hockey. In college I practiced martial arts and road mountain bike. I was always active until the neck and back issues sidelined these pursuits.


How has CKO transformed you physically?

I was 220 pounds in October 2015. I gained 10 more pounds in three months due to holiday parties and festivities of the season. I joined CKO in January and it dropped fast, then slowly tapered off. I lost 30 pounds in five months. I dropped 17 pounds in about six weeks and the rest came off over the subsequent months. CKO helped me drop weight and achieve a trimmer shape while giving me more muscle mass and better cardio endurance.


What about in other ways?

I moved to Grand Rapids three years ago. CKO has given me a social outlet, which is an aspect you might not think of in a gym. I’m interacting with people before and after class. It feels like a family.


What’s your favorite strike to use during a CKO class?

Cross. I’ve got a mean cross.


What would you say to someone who is on the fence about trying CKO?

I’ve had a few friends join and I’m getting my nephew to join. I’m a big advocate and I actively look to get people to join because I’m such a convert. I’ve been instrumental in getting a few of my contacts join already.


For more information on how you can have a fitness experience like Kurt’s, visit