The trainers at the newly opened Roots Kickboxing aren’t as concerned with teaching you what to do as they are with teaching you how to think.
“Instead of 'When he does A, I do B,' it’s about understanding the bigger picture,” Muay Thai coach Barry Domingo said.
Located at 3996 Horner St. in the Old Alvarado neighborhood, the school opened Nov. 1 and is led by Jaime Calixto. A grand opening event is being planned for the new year, Calixto said.
Calixto, 32, of Hayward, is a seasoned martial arts teacher who prides his school on emphasizing technique and training, instead of giving students a workout.
“There’s a huge difference between working out and training. It’s not about coming here, sweating and leaving — you can go to Bally’s for that,” he said. “When you’re training here, you’re learning. You’re actually building a skill and learning about the art.”
Roots trains students in various kickboxing disciplines, primarily Muay Thai. The school also offers a strength and conditioning program and plans to expand to mixed martial arts and jiu-jitsu.
They offer three classes a day, including adult and youth (ages 6-14) classes.
Housed in what was once a piñata factory, Roots Kickboxing features a 21,000-square-foot space with a full boxing ring and a half MMA cage.
Though the school may be new, all of the coaches have taught at various schools in the area, with students coming from all over southern Alameda County, Calixto said. Calixto himself previously ran USA Kung Fu Studio in Castro Valley for seven years.
Heidi Green, 28, said she’s been waiting since June for the school to open. A martial arts student since the age of 12, she took up Muay Thai four years ago with Domingo when he taught at another school in Union City that has since shut down.
“It’s not just kick-punch. They teach you real martial arts,” Green said. “They’re focused on teaching you good martial arts and they have a good attitude about it. There are no egos here.”
Calixto said he was initially looking to open up in Hayward but the Union City studio was “the right venue.”
“I like the location here, I like the neighborhood. All of the local businesses are friendly and inviting,” Calixto said.
Staff from Paw Prints pet salon, which is located next door to Roots, and the nearby Paddy’s Coffee House are among his new students.
Though there are already a handful of martial arts schools in Union City with several located nearby — Mac Self Defense is just around the corner and the newly opened Dragon Sticks Filipino Martial Arts is down the street — the Roots staff say each school has something unique to offer.
“Every gym has its own personality,” Domingo said. “Everyone has their own way of expressing what they do, that’s why there are so many schools.”
Roots Kickboxing is located at 3996 Horner St. Memberships are $89 a month for unlimited classes.