These days, getting a job right out of college is a rarity. Even more rare is a student starting that job before they have even graduated. Far more rare, is to already be running your own business. But this is exactly what kinesiology seniors Nathan Zimmerman and Katie Streder have done.
And it’s a kick-ass job, too. Literally.
Zimmerman and Streder are running Sleeping Tiger Fitness, a physical fitness company that also provides instruction in Krav Maga and Muay Thai, an Israeli self-defense martial art and a Thai fighting style, respectively. Sleeping Tiger is run through the Budo Ryu, a martial arts training facility on South Higuera Street. Sleeping Tiger focuses on bringing proper fitness techniques to its clients.
“We’re not trying to just bring people in and burn calories and get them in shape,” Zimmerman said. “We’re about functional fitness, technique of movement and how to use your body more properly, so that you can function more efficiently in the outside world as well.”
Prior to the official launching of Sleeping Tiger Fitness at the beginning of February, the Budo Ryu had no official fitness program. Fighters trained and worked out there, but there were no specific and regimented conditioning offered.
Geri Ooi, the manager of the Budo Ryu, said she’s known Zimmerman for about two years through martial arts training. When she and her boyfriend Eric Sandahl, the owner of the Budo Ryu, realized that Zimmerman and Streder, whom they met shortly after Zimmerman, were both kinesiology majors, they started to sense an opportunity.
“We needed more conditioning and fitness goals to be met,” Ooi said. “They had the expertise. We had contacts with Athlon Elite, where (Zimmerman) was interning. When at Athlon, (Zimmerman) was such a standout cross-trainer that we decided we needed to scoop him up.”
Zimmerman has been in charge of the fitness regime for the gym’s competition team for about a year and a half. Streder came on shortly thereafter. Sleeping Tiger grew out of increased participation at the Budo Ryu. Sandahl and Ooi started asking for more and more training for different fighters and eventually the business was born.
The workouts focus on interval training, aimed at preparing fighters for their matches. There are separate stations set up at which there are individual workouts. Each person goes through each station twice before the workout is done, Zimmerman said. The idea is to simulate a fight situation where you fight three two-minute rounds. You fight, then rest and then fight again.
Beside group and fight training, Sleeping Tiger also offers personal training sessions starting at $55. These workouts are tailored to individuals and what they want to gain. If a person wants to bulk up they will design a workout for that. If a person has a shoulder injury and wants to regain range of motion, they can do that too. They also offer private Krav Maga and Muay Thai instruction.
Streder and Zimmerman, besides being business partners, are also dating, but that doesn’t mean things get mushy in the gym.
“There’s no PDA in the gym, so it’s not uncomfortable for people,” Streder said. “Most people that come to the gym don’t know we are unless you’re in the tight knit group.”
Zimmerman and Streder both said they were friends before they started dating and that they talked about what it would be like to start a business as a couple.
“I feel like if things don’t work out between us we’d still be able to keep a good business relationship,” Zimmerman said. “We’re both good friends at this point and we realize that relationships don’t always work out.”
They both wanted to find ways to stay in San Luis Obispo and make money and Sleeping Tiger turned out to be the way to do it, he said.
The Budo Ryu also provides a family atmosphere, Streder said, which she said other gyms lack. In a “macho sport” there is a lot of ego, but at the Budo it is not like that, she said. Each fighter and instructor realizes that where one person may be strong, another may be weak. The idea is to draw on everyone’s strengths so everyone gets better.
“We have new people introduce themselves to each other at the end of class,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a better environment that way.”