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Meet Keith Winkle of Inspire Martial Arts in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keith Winkle.

Keith, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I first became interested in martial arts as a young teenager but it wasn’t an option for me because of the fact I was in foster care. I finally started martial arts when I was around 20 years old and quickly become obsessed with my training. Because I was not allowed to play sports in high school, the martial arts really filled a void that I had missed out on.

One night after my martial arts class I was in a local bar gambling on a game of pool. Looking around the room at the clientele it suddenly hit me – I’m either going to become good at martial arts or I’m going to stay mediocre. I walked out of that bar with a renewed focus to commit even harder to my training.

After moving to Virginia for a job opportunity I started to teach part-time through a community college martial arts program. This is when I realized that I had a gift for helping people unlock their potential. To meet people at whatever stage they were in life and help them to learn how become a better version of themselves.

One evening after class it hit me that I wanted to do this full time and I set my goal to open my first studio and pursue the martial arts as a career.

I tried to borrow $10,000 to open my school but not having any money or business experience, every bank quickly and dismissively said no. So I convinced 8 of my students with money in a local bank to meet and convince the manager to loan me the money. Basically, they said, “give him the money or we will take ours out.” And so the journey began.

Over the next 20 years, I built my company up to many locations and helped thousands of people improve their lives.

Some Highlights

12 Locations.

March 1st was declared “Keith Winkle” Day in The Commonwealth of Virginia By Governor George Allen for tireless efforts in the community.

Over $200000 given to Charity.

Awarded the prestigious Peter Pasteur award for outstanding public service.

Nominated for Outstanding Young Virginian.

Nationally recognized motivational speaker.

Voted top Martial Arts organization in the Country.

In 2008 I was urged to bring my teaching method to Southern California because of the influence the entertainment capital has over the world. As a disciplined martial artist, I’ve said: “Yes, Sir” hundreds of thousands of times in my martial arts career, but it was this particular “yes sir” that brought me to LA and ultimately lead to the founding of Inspire Martial Arts and Fitness headquartered here in Burbank, California.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
To say we had challenges would be an understatement. My life and business partner Kati and I had no idea what moving to California had in store for us.

We opened in Early 2009 just as our country was facing one of the worst recessions in history. 50% of the martial arts studios in the United States shut down. Our students were losing jobs in droves and people were scared to spend money (money they sometimes didn’t have) on extracurricular activities. We basically lost everything and found ourselves hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and nearly homeless.

I am so thankful to my family, my team at Inspire and all of our students that really were there for us. Even though it was a struggle, it was a blessing because is helped us streamline, define what is most important and to really test our commitment to what we are doing.

Inspire Martial Arts – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We pride ourselves on our award-winning, cutting edge curriculum and training method. But what we excel in is helping people “Create Their Best Life” You know you say to yourself “I am better than this”? Or “ I know I have more potential?” We help people figure this out.

Our foundational teaching is the INSPIRE Acronym.

Improve yourself daily. Always finish the day a better version of you.

Never waiver on your foundational principles. But as you grow so will your principles.

Speak your vision now. Convince your mind that your dream is a must.

Perfect your habits. You will enjoy later what you consistently do today.

I am responsible for my happiness, not you. Don’t let outside forces control you.

Recharge your body mind and soul. Schedule time for yourself to avoid burnout.

Execute your plan or it will die a slow death Action makes things happen.

Whether you are a child (or parent of a child) that needs more confidence, is being bullied, or struggling with grades, or a high powered CEO that can’t seem to find balance in their business and personal life we strive to guide you in finding these answers.

One of our mottos is to respect tradition and embrace change. The world is advancing at an alarming rate. ​Every twelve to eighteen months, computers double their capabilities, and so do the information technologies that use them. But as a nation, we have never been more uncertain, in a nation that is such a superpower we are still struggling to find long term health and happiness.

In my upcoming book The F.U.N Formula, I talk about true success and balance in life. F.U.N stands for Five Undeniable Needs.

1. Fitness

2. Friends and Family

3. Finances

4. Faith

5. Fun

The question I wake up and ask myself every day is How can I simplify the process for people? How can I help people to live a happy and more fulfilling life?

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There have been many moments. I recently tested and achieved my 8th-degree black belt in South Korea. My wife and son are both highly accomplished and work with me. But, my proudest moment changes every day when I see ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things in their lives. I am probably most proud of my students, staff and the amazing culture we have developed.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Perry Gallagher

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