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ALTON - Alton Family Martial Arts and Fitness has made a name for itself as a family environment where people can build their martial arts skills.

The gym, located at 4425 Industrial Drive in Alton, hopes to expand its classes and reach more people throughout the Riverbend region. Owner Adam Marburger noted that the friendly environment and great classes have attracted a lot of people to the gym.

“We have this crazy culture of family; hence the name, Alton Family Martial Arts,” Marburger said. “We are hometown. We all bleed Alton. We all love Alton. We’re all about the community. It’s truly special what we’ve created.”

Marburger explained that he grew up in “intimidating” gyms. He was determined to create a more welcoming atmosphere at Alton FMA. He wanted it to be a space where the martial arts novice can feel just as at home as the black belt.

And these efforts have paid off. Not only does the gym keep growing, but it continues to welcome in people who could use some extra encouragement. Marburger noted a lot of people come into the gym feeling a little lost in life and leave invigorated.

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“You see somebody come in that’s in a really dark place, from suicidal, depressed, going through a divorce, 150 pounds overweight, lost their job, financial distress — you name the scenario. We’ve seen it all,” he said. “Jiu jitsu, over a three, four to six month period, completely flips that on its head and lives are just completely transformed. Re-creation on those mats. It’s an insanely beautiful cycle.”

As the gym grows, they hope to expand their youth and women’s classes. They currently offer a women’s-only jiu jitsu class on Sundays, and they have several other classes throughout the week, from Brazilian jiu jitsu to kickboxing to yoga. You can see their full schedule online.

Marburger encouraged more parents to enroll their children in martial arts classes. He noted that ADHD is a legitimate concern for many families, and martial arts can be a way to manage disorders like this.

“Instead of rushing to the doctor to get these kids on scripts, let’s get them in some activity, something like a martial art where they are put in an environment where they have people to look up to, they have other just incredible figures that they can just pour into, and then they learn how to defend themselves, they build confidence, they’re in better shape, they listen more at home, they listen more at school, and now, guess what? We have contributors in a positive light in our community,” he explained.

Marburger has seen his own career expand in recent months. He will be hosting “Training Camp” on CBT News Network. He looks forward to working on the new show, which draws parallels between the automotive industry and jiu jitsu. More information will be available soon.

In the meantime, he is proud of the gym and how it has grown. He expects more expansion, complete with a newly designed website and more classes. For updates on Alton Family Martial Arts and Fitness or to learn more about their offerings, visit their official website at AltonFMA.com.

“We want to grow the youth program, and also the adult program by proxy continues to grow,” Marburger added. “We just want good people to come in the doors that want some change in their lives. Period.”

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

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