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Inspiring Conversations with Nikki Lian of CKO Kickboxing/Body Brain Train

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Lian.

Hi Nikki, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I was a professional wrestler for 13 years and I started boxing with a trainer to stay in ring shape. I fell in love with the workout and was a personal trainer at the time as well. So I started to incorporate pad-training and boxing workout routines with my clients and saw tremendous results. It’s also fun hitting stuff so they loved it.

I used to train in this little hole in the wall private gym and I’d train my clients there as well, and it really made me want to open a gym of my own. Someone pointed out the CKO Kickboxing Franchise to me, which is more of an East Coast Franchise. But at the time, there was one in San Diego, so I drove down there and took a class. I was hooked (no pun intended). So I went through the process of finding funding, finding a spot and finally opening my gym.

I chose Simi Valley because the permit laws for gyms in Los Angeles were tough. I looked for a year and a half and couldn’t find space within my budget, so I settled on Simi Valley and was so glad that I did!

CKO Simi Valley is a community gym and we serve everyone–kids, adults seniors, veterans–we even have a program that helps people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Post stroke.

I started to teach boxing at the Simi Valley Senior Center and also volunteered for another non-profit where I worked with a lot of seniors. This inspired me and one of my trainers and to open our own non-profit, Body Brain Train. We bring fitness and wellness to senior living facilities in Simi Valley.

So now I have the best gym in Simi Valley, CKO Kickboxing, and three doors down have our Body Brain Train Community Center where we run our nonprofit.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
There were so many struggles before I was even open. My contractor stole a ton of money from me (which I got back through a miracle), permits that I didn’t know I needed, people telling me my business was going to fail before it even opened! This world is insane, and I was in a new city. It’s like I had to gain street cred.

I made a mistake trusting someone in a business decision as well, and they didn’t come through. Because of the situation, that’s why I decided to open my non-profit gym, so I look at it as all of these were happening FOR me not to me. But it definitely was NOT a smooth road. I could write a book!  Mistakes are part of the process. It’s how you handle them and create solutions that determines the success of your business.

There’s always a solution to every problem, that’s why I’m still here.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about CKO Kickboxing/Body Brain Train?
CKO Kickboxing is a boutique gym. We are a kickboxing franchise. We do group kickboxing classes as well as semi-personal training, personal training and nutrition coaching. We offer adult classes and kid classes as well and 6-Week Transformation Challenges.

Body Brain Train is a 501c3 non-profit that brings senior fitness and wellness into senior living facilities. We also offer classes from our facility twice per week and in-home personal training. Everything we do is donation-based. We don’t turn people away if they fit in our schedule.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
For my kickboxing gym, I plan to max out at 300 members. I want to hire more staff and really focus on what we do already–change people’s lives. I want to continue to grow and help the community in any way we can.

As for our Body Brain Train non-profit, in about five years I see some donated land being built into a fitness retreat for seniors to visit, learn and live their best lives. We would also like to build a certification where we can train staff at senior facilities to teach our program.

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