Business

Martial arts studio offers a mind and body workout

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SNOQUALMIE - While the owners of DMW Martial Arts and Fitness want their clients to acquire the fundamentals of tae kwon do, there is a much larger lesson to be learned about self-confidence and achievement.

"It is not about fighting," said Warren Spencer, one of DMW's three owners.

Spencer, along with co-owners Marcia Paul and Dan Cartan, opened the studio not so much as a business move but as a chance to share with others what tae kwon do had done in their own lives. Spencer, who was an attorney for 20 years, was introduced to tae kwon do when one of his children got involved as a way to get in shape for soccer. Spencer started to take classes and moved up through the ranks, eventually teaching classes himself.

"This has always been my passion," Spencer said.

Paul, a mother of two from Canada, came to it the same way. She started to sit in on her sons' classes and became interested in taking lessons herself. Once she started, Paul realized how satisfying tae kwon do was, especially when she got her black belt.

"As a woman, it was very empowering for me to attain that [getting the black belt]," she said.

Paul and Spencer eventually hooked up with Cartan, who had been in martial arts since he was 5, at a Bellevue tae kwon do studio where all three worked out. As they grew to know each other better, they realized they all had a vision to share tae kwon do with other people and began meeting in Cartan's home to develop their plan.

Last September, the trio opened their first studio in the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood retail area on Center Boulevard. They liked the area and were excited about a city they could explore and be a part of.

"We didn't want to be another one of them [martial arts studio] in a big city," Spencer. "When we found Snoqualmie and Snoqualmie Ridge, we said that's it."

As parents who have seen what tae kwon do can for do for children, the owners are especially eager to see youngsters in their studio.

"It was instrumental in all areas of their [childrens'] lives," Paul said. "It helped them be more focused and have self-confidence in themselves."

Tae kwon do also is a rare opportunity for children to just go crazy. The studio's space is full of pads, mirrors and colors that allow children to be stimulated and excited, even while learning discipline.

"They get to yell and scream, but still have to say 'Yes sir' and come to attention," Spencer said. "In what other environment do they really get to exude loud shouts and yells?"

DMW wants people of all ages, not just children, to be involved. The owners have stories about adult clients who have come in and turned their physical and mental lives around after taking classes. Spencer remembered a woman who came in a year ago who couldn't touch her toes. Now she is 35 pounds lighter and has increased the health of her lower back.

DMW offers a balanced fitness program with the aerobic exercise of physical moves, but also the stretching health of yoga and mat Pilates. Add in some breathing exercises, and Spencer said martial arts sets itself apart from a regular exercise class by leaving people wanting more at the end of class.

"When you leave the class, you feel really energized," Spencer said.

It is a lot to offer, but beginners are welcome. The trio has enjoyed seeing people with little tae kwon do experience come in and make strides.

"After three or four months, people are walking taller, shoulders back, with just an air of confidence," Spencer said.

The three were pleased to see themselves quickly outgrow their first space and started looking to move this past year. Now they have set up shop in a new location just down the street that is three times the original studio size. They will be open longer, have hired another employee to help teach classes and want to expand their programs.

"We had high aspirations and we surpassed them," Cartan said.

While three owners may seem like a lot of cooks in the kitchen for any business, DMW's owners believe their different personalities add a good dimension to their studio.

"We are all type A personalities here," Cartan said. "It is not really the destination, but the journey."

All agreed that the journey has been great. No one can recall who exactly suggested they all go into business together, but Spencer recalled a lunch the three had when they realized it was something they should at least try, and so the journey began.

"We all really enjoy doing this. We all come from different walks of life and why don't we follow our passion?" Spencer said. "What could be more fun than having your business and teaching kids and adults?"

* DMW Martial Arts and Fitness is located at 7710 Center Blvd. S.E. in Snoqualmie. Contact them at (425) 443-6099.

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