Staying the Course: A Krav Maga Fitness Studio Pivots with the Help of the Community
For nearly six years, Traci Edwards, owner of Englewood Krav Maga, has dedicated her life to strengthening the physical and mental health of those in her community through the martial arts style of Krav Maga. As a woman of color entrepreneur, starting her first business was not easy. “Englewood Krav Maga started out with just a crate, a little old laptop, no equipment and a small table at a dance studio for just four hours a week,” says Traci. Deeply committed to improving the lives of those in the community, Traci and her team were eventually able to grow their client base and to purchase supplies. After many years of hard work and commitment, they were finally able to purchase a permanent space for their growing business.
Once they moved into a permanent space, Englewood Krav Maga classes were filled with 15 to 20 motivated members per session, held multiple times a day, including youth and seniors. Clients left the studio with more self-confidence, improved physical health and a bevy of self-defense skills. Business was better than ever, until everything changed when the pandemic began to disrupt operations, forcing the studio to temporarily shut its’ doors. “We lost everything,” says Traci. “We applied for loans but no one ever wanted to take a chance on us and it felt like this was the end of all our hard work and progress.”
In March 2020, NJCC launched the Garden State Relief Fund (GSRF) to quickly respond to the needs of New Jersey nonprofits and small businesses critically affected by the growing global pandemic. Traci quickly received word of the new program through her local Chamber of Commerce. “It came right when everything was falling apart,” says Traci. Unwilling to give up on her passion, Traci applied for a GSRF loan to sustain business operations and continue serving her dedicated clients and community. “[NJCC’s] mission helps people like us,” explains Traci. “You are able to find hidden gems and exceptional businesses by understanding a person’s character and giving people a chance based on how much of their heart is in their business, not just how much is in their bank account.”
After securing a $25,000 working capital loan, Traci was able to attain financial security for her small business and assume operations once restrictions were lifted. In September 2020, Englewood Krav Maga was able to open its doors again at half capacity, offering a place once again for clients to improve their physical health and learn vital methods for self-defense.
Krav Maga is not only for adults; Englewood Krav Maga teaches youth how to persevere through tough times and gain the self-confidence needed for success. “We have had one student with us for seven years,” Traci recalls. “He was so shy and he barely spoke, but now he’s thirteen and incredibly confident and outgoing; it’s amazing to help kids improve their mental and physical health, we think of ourselves like their second set of parents.”
Englewood Krav Maga is a place of community and skill building where individuals are able to relieve stress and build familial bonds. “I would give my last penny to this place,” says Traci. “Luckily, thanks to NJCC, I won’t have to do that.”