The new Norman gym focuses on functional bodybuilding

April 17—Austin Duke, a native of Norman, opened the community’s newest gymnasium in hopes of providing fitness guidance in a welcoming atmosphere and achieving goals together.

Stoic Strength & Fitness opened its doors six weeks ago at 2751 36th Ave NW. The gym offers functional group training in 18-person classes covering conditioning, hypertrophy and strength, tailored to the level of clients. Classes are offered every day except Sunday.

Previously a cross-country and track racer at Norman North, Duke has long had the spirit of an enduring attacker. After earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise and fitness management from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2016, he discovered that lessons learned about patience and endurance in his fitness journey can be applied to most aspects of life.

He trained clients in a small group gym, but pursued insurance training to earn more money. But he found that sitting at a desk for eight hours every workday was unappealing.

After four months of insurance training, Duke knew he wanted to do what he enjoyed most and shifted his career focus exclusively to training clients in a 1,000 square foot space in a plaza.

One of Duke’s last testimonies of endurance came last year, when his lease was not renewed due to competition from a larger gymnasium in the plaza. The owner made what Duke called “a business decision.”

“They were respectful, but it made me feel uncomfortable and look ahead, which I wasn’t doing back then,” Duke said.

Fourteen months later, Duke opened the doors to Stoic Strength & Fitness. He chose “Stoic” for the name because his practice of endurance in adversity aligns with the philosophy of Stoicism, which asserts that life can be difficult, but peace is found in acceptance and perseverance. He said the exercise helped him feel empowered and wanted clients to leave Stoic feeling the same way.

Duke said the 60-minute group classes provide instruction for exercising with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, bands and cardio machines. The workouts are scheduled from beginner to advanced level.

“You always have a coach to guide you,” Duke said. “We mostly do strength training with cardio, but core work and functional strength are absolutely core to what we do. Functional training is something that I love and has really come back. “

Duke said his gym is all about training smart and safe, which is why he’s structured his classes toward functional strength. In his experience, methods like CrossFit and strength training are more likely to cause injury or burnout. According to the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, an individual following a CrossFit routine is 30% more likely to injure themselves.

Stoic’s first three classes are free. Also, there are no contracts or 30-day notice.

Duke said it wanted potential customers to have easy access and the full experience before committing to a longer schedule.

“We don’t want money to be an issue, and we don’t want to lock you into anything,” Duke said.

Community week at Stoic starts on Monday and ends on Saturday.

“For non-members, the whole week is free, so they could get six free workouts next week,” Duke said.

Duke said that when a person exercises, they voluntarily put themselves in a stressful environment, building their mental toughness in addition to their muscles. He hopes clients will feel better equipped to overcome adversity outside of the gym through their personal development at Stoic.

Jeff Elkins covers business, life and community stories for The Transcript. Reach him at jelkins@normantranscript.com or @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.

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