New Norman gym focuses on functional strength training

·3 min read

Apr. 17—Norman native Austin Duke has opened the community's newest gym with hopes to provide fitness guidance in a welcoming atmosphere and achieve goals together.

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

Previously a cross country and track runner at Norman North, Duke has a longstanding mindset of enduring forward. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2016 with a Bachelor's Degree in exercise and fitness management, he has found the lessons learned of patience and endurance in his fitness journey can be applied to most aspects of life.

He trained clients at a small group gym but pursued training in insurance to make more money. But he realized sitting at a desk for eight hours every work day was unappealing.

Four months into insurance training, Duke knew he wanted to do what was most fulfilling to him and shifted his professional focus exclusively to training clients out of a 1,000-square-foot space in a plaza.

One of the latest testaments of endurance for Duke came last year, when his lease was not renewed due to competition from a larger gym in the plaza. The landlord made what Duke called "a business decision."

"They were respectful, but it forced me to get uncomfortable and to look to the future, which I was not doing at the time," Duke said.

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

Duke said the 60 minute group classes provide instruction for exercise with barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, bands and cardio machines. Workouts are programmed from beginner to advanced levels.

"You always have a coach there to guide you," Duke said. "We do mostly strength training with cardio sprinkled in there, but core work and functional strength are absolutely the heart of what we do. Functional training is something I love that has really come back around."

Duke said his gym is all about training smart and safe, which is why he's structured his classes toward functional strength. He said in his experience, methods like CrossFit and bodybuilding are more likely to cause injury or burnout. According to the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, an individual following a CrossFit routine is 30% more likely to be injured.

The first three classes at Stoic are free. Additionally, there are no contracts or 30-day notices.

Duke said he wants potential clients to have easy access and get the full experience before they commit to a longer schedule.

"We don't want money to be an issue, and we don't want to lock you into something," Duke said.

Community Week at Stoic starts Monday and runs through Saturday.

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

Duke said when a person exercises, they are willfully putting themself in a stressful environment, building mental strength in addition to muscle. He hopes clients feel more equipped to overcome adversity outside of the gym through their personal development at Stoic.

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