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Meet Victoria Santana and Adrian Gutierrez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Victoria Santana and Adrian Gutierrez.

Hi Victoria and Adrian, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Victoria: Competitive sports, fitness, anything involving outdoor activities like fishing, camping, swimming, I mean your name, I love it! I have always been very active and competing in team sports pretty much my whole life, it’s my bread and butter, it’s what keeps my physically and mentally grounded.

I love to push my body to its limits and continue to learn new things to grow and evolve into someone better than I was yesterday. But this was always an outlet for me, I never considered doing anything like this as a Career when I was younger. I actually made the decision to become a Coach years later, right before I started my last semester in college. I was about to finish my schooling as a Chemistry major until one day, I decided to switch and ended up graduating with a Bachelors in Exercise Science and Kinesiology. Since then, I have acquired multiple Certifications through NASM, discovered a new love with Muay Thai where I have been training for many years now and have earned the title of Kru. Muay Thai is more than just a sport, it’s a spiritual journey that embodies Respect, Family, and Discipline. It’s an effective style of Martial Arts that showcases one’s true skill in fighting and self-defense. My husband and I want to bring all of this to Texas and show why it’s such a beautiful sport and way of life.

Adrian: I’ve trained sports growing up and my parents always encouraged me to push myself and supported me. Fast forward to 18 years old, I got on a bus in 2004 and headed to Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, TX. It was a great adventure and career in Security Forces. I spent 10yrs doing the job I loved and separated in 2014. I picked up a few martial art styles like MMA and Kickboxing, but my real passion at the time was Bodybuilding. In 2015 I had started a job as Gym Manager at 9Round Kickboxing in Austin, TX (I just so happened to meet my wife while working here). I had also discovered Muay Thai and would practice any chance I had. I never had any formal training in Muay Thai but would watch and google as many fight videos from Thailand as I possibly could. From 2015-to 2019, I worked at a few different gyms as the Director of the Muay Thai Program.

During that time, I also started fighting and competing in the ring. Along the way, I met my current coach and mentor, Kru Yai Belton. We quickly bonded and he brought me into the full world of Muay Thai. In 2020 I received the title of Kru, which means “Teacher” in Thai. To be brought in and given that title is no easy task, it takes hard work and dedication. It was a huge moment for me, as mentioned before I never had any formal training prior; and to have my skill set and teachings signed off by someone who is a huge figure in the Martial Arts and Muay Thai community was an extraordinary feat. This was when my passion grew even greater and really kick-started the journey to opening my own Muay Thai Gym.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Not at all. From the beginning, it has been one struggle after another, even today we still face many challenges. But at the end of the day, this is our dream, this is what we want to build, not only for ourselves but for our family and our community.

At first our biggest challenge was funding. We had no money to get things going, so we both worked multiple jobs and did a ton of networking until we were able to get an investor that had the same vision as we did, which is not very common. Most investors are in it for the money, but we are grateful to have found someone who is as invested and confident in us and our vision as we are. Another struggle was finding a location. Prior to the pandemic, we found a development that was right on Main Street, but unfortunately that did not work out as the pandemic put a hold on the build out. We then decided to start out of our home garage, doing virtual classes and private training sessions. Until recently, by luck, we found our current location. Once we found our location, more and more challenges started to arise as we began to build out the gym.

But no matter how many obstacles keep popping up, we continue to push forward. Life is like being in the ring, if you just give up when things get hard, you will lose the fight. You must keep pushing, keep fighting.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
We are an Authentic Muay Thai and Martial Arts Facility. We offer the traditional form of Muay Thai training that you cannot find easily in the US. We also offer a high level of Fitness & Strength Training from experienced and Certified Coaches for Fight-Specific training, as well as 1-on-1 Personal Training where they will create tailored programs for each individual based on their specific needs and lifestyle.

We pride ourselves in our values: Respect, Family, Discipline and Effective Training… CHOK DEE

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Victoria: I moved to Austin, TX about 5-6 years ago. In this short amount of time, it has changed drastically. I am originally from Miami, FL which is a very large, lively city. The ugly side of Miami that most people who aren’t from there don’t really see is lots of traffic, rude people, trash everywhere, violence all the time, not a ton a greenery, and a beach that is always trashed. I am sad to see Austin heading in that same direction. I moved here because of how well-mannered and respectful all the locals are, I love that there are trees and hiking trails everywhere. I love that the community is big on supporting local, small businesses and for the most part, everyone is very helpful to one another. I remember moving into my first house here in Buda, TX and my neighbor walked over that same night with a welcome basket full of fruits, baked goods and a nice card. I never in my wildest dreams would’ve expected something like that to happen; and it was so heart-warming. I really hope that we as a community, can “Keep Austin Weird” and not turn into another big city like Miami, LA, or NY, because that’s the path it’s heading.

Adrian: Born and raised in Austin, TX. I can tell you immediately that Austin is not the same place I grew up in. It’s losing its originality and its “Keep Austin Weird” vibe that Austinites used to pride themselves on. I will say I enjoy it being the live music capitol, not too many states where you can find live music in almost every corner, especially on the weekends.

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