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ROBINS - Teaching young martial arts students has taught Zachery Price a lot about teaching.
'The kid that you have really young that you just want to pull your hair out about is going to be your best student one day,” he said.
'The reason they do that is, they enjoy being here, and it lets them be out. The kid who's a super athlete, he just gets away with doing it halfway.”
That's one of the lessons Price, 24, learned since taking over Revolution Martial Arts about four years ago.
'I never knew anything about business, and that was a big crash course for me,” Price recalled.
It wasn't part of some master plan. Price was a student and part-time instructor for Revolution founder Jake Swanson when Swanson, 37, died suddenly of a heart attack in November 2017. The business, launched in 2009, recognizes Swanson with a display of his photos and trophies.
'I wouldn't call him a father figure,” he said. 'More like a bigger brother to me. He was basically my only teacher until he passed away.”
Price, then an apprentice electrician, was one of the first people Swanson's sister called after his death.
'She said, ‘I don't know what to do with this,' so she asked me to take it,” he said one morning this past week.
'We basically just made a deal, and I took some of the money I had not used for college and paid for everything. Got it going, and from there it just kind of took off.”
Good enough that Revolution, which had operated out of a smaller leased building in northeast Cedar Rapids, moved to Robins about six months ago.
The new 8,000-square-foot building includes a fully equipped fitness center, open 24 hours, for suburban residents who'd rather not drive into Cedar Rapids for a workout.
'Robins has taken to this place so well,” Price said, noting an elementary school and child care center a short walk away. 'It's easy. You don't have to go far, if you live right down the road.”
Price is Revolution's sole full-time employee. The center's staff of three martial arts and one yoga instructor are contractors.
'Two of them have been coaching longer than I have, and one had been an instructor of mine,” he said.
One of Price's goals is to share his teaching lessons by offering a place for student instructors to hone their craft.
'People who want to teach martial arts, I have class times available for them to do that,” said Price, a certified personal trainer and bodybuilding instructor and part-time boxing coach.
'That's one of our side purposes.”
Revolution's big move came as much of the nation shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
'This placed was finished right as they basically shut down everything,” Price said.
Price estimates the pandemic initially cost him about half his 65 students as Revolution closed for about two weeks. But it proved only temporary.
'People didn't want to bring their kids in to do that kind of thing,” Price said. 'Two months later, I had 75, 80 students. As soon as we were back in business, we had people coming in.”
The new facility allows room for social distancing. Aside from some class-size restrictions 'it's pretty much operating normally,” Price said.
Revolution instructors specialize in Tai Chi, the Chinese martial art focusing on internal development; Krav Maga, a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel defense security forces; and Shaolin Do, a style of Kung Fu traced to the Shaolin temple in the Fukien province of China.
Courses also are offered in women's self-defense.
'Most places around here are Tai Kwan Do-based, for kids' programs,” he said. 'Mine is more karate-based.
Price and his staff stress fundamentals and allow for students' differences in planning their lessons.
'You have to make sure you're accommodating to everybody,” he said. 'People learn at different rates.
'I'm not very old-school. I don't have to be, ‘yes, sir, no, sir' all the time. We're a little more relaxed around here.”
Price works with students as young as four years old - an early start he sometimes wishes he'd had. He took his first lessons at 14.
'I got a late start to most of this stuff,” he said. 'I didn't want to do any sports. I didn't want to do football or anything like that, so they just introduced me and I just took off.
'I loved it. It really just boosted my confidence level to give it a try. I just never thought I could.”
That confidence endures as Price looks to a still-unsettled 2021.
'We haven't really gone backward since we moved,” he said. 'I'm not too worried about it.
'This is such a new thing, I haven't really looked to expanding beyond maybe adding some more fitness classes.”
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At A Glance
' Owner: Zachery Price
' Business: Revolution Martial Arts and Fitness Center
' Address: 945 Robins Square Dr., Robins
' Phone: (319) 550-8328
' Website: revmartialarts.com