A new boutique boxing gym opened its doors on 18th Street in Homewood this month, and co-owner Lindsey Miller said people should expect it to deliver a workout that is different from any they’ve done before.
The boxing gym, called Battle Republic, offers 25- and 45-minute workouts. Each class implements a combination of boxing on a water bag and doing floor exercises, and the music pumping through the speakers fuels the fire.
“It’s dark in there, so you get this really great energy of a group fitness class and with an instructor who is pushing you and teaching you and doing it in a way so that you’re very motivated,” Miller said. “But it’s also kind of like you and your bag, so you get a little bit of solitude in that. There aren’t bright lights in there, and no one’s staring at you.”
Miller is one of four co-owners of Battle Republic, and she said she is the business person in the team. In 2004, she started working at the downtown Homewood location of Zoë’s Kitchen, which is the restaurant’s first location.
“Watching Zoë’s going from mom-and-pop to publicly traded, I got to really learn a lot about what it looks like to open up a new business, the mechanics that go into it and the financial piece that goes into it,” she said.
Last January, she visited New York City to figure out what she would do next. She observed 18 new restaurant concepts there to get some ideas, but then she found two boxing gyms: Shadowbox and Rumble. When she came back to the Birmingham metro, she noticed there wasn’t anything like that in the area.
“The restaurant industry is great, and I love it,” she said. “But this is something that was right in our face and was different and unique to the South and especially to Birmingham.”
From there, Miller began to build the team. Leah Drury, who went to high school with Miller, began her coaching career with the Seattle Storm after she graduated college. She spent 10 years coaching on the college and professional level.
Putting Together a Team
While Miller has a business background, she said Drury has the fitness background.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have her help,” she said. Drury, laughing, said she wouldn’t have created Battle Republic without Miller, either.
After that, they added two more to their team. Kevin Mclendon, owner of Telegraph Creative, helped Battle Republic build its brand. Luan Nguyen, who founded Wheelhouse Academy and consults with gyms, joined the team as a consultant.
“It’s been really cool to have a balance of a financial business background and growing a concept. Luan has done it in the industry, Leah has got a fantastic energy, culture and coaching background, and then Kevin and his team really rounding it all out,” Miller said.
Over the next few months, the team began to piece together how their idea would become a reality. When they heard White Flowers was moving out of its downtown Homewood location, they expressed interest in that property.
“We think we’re a really good partner with a lot of the other concepts on the street,” Miller said. “A lot of people come over here and work out and go across the street and grab a biscuit. Then they walk down to O’Henry’s and get a cup of coffee, or they leave here after their 6:30 class and grab a beer at Oak Hill and go shop at Soca. It’s a really good blend of the demographic, and I think we all play off each other really well.”
As a nod to White Flowers, they kept the angels that are in the front and the white gate in the back of the property. Now, White Flowers operates in Brookwood Village.
Since the gym opened Feb. 1, about 700 people have either downloaded the Battle Republic app or signed up for an account. Miller said people from all ages and all genders come in for a workout.
“The mix of men and women has been surprisingly equal,” she said. “Men feel like it’s a masculine workout, but women feel like it’s a very empowering workout for them too. It’s been neat to see both of them really enjoy it.”
Drury, who is one of the four trainers leading workouts at the gym, said one of her favorite things to see is how people grow more comfortable during the workouts. She said they typically start out nervous or insecure.
“But then at the end of class, they’re really getting after it, and they’re into it,” she said. “It’s so cool to see this insecurity, and this ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ and then at the end, they’re just throwing confidently.”
To learn more about Battle Republic, visit battlerepublic.com.