Trendsetting and trailblazing — this health and fitness duo shape-up Seattleites with a refreshing balance of healing wellness with one serious workout.
Getting in shape has never been so relaxing. Seattleites Seth Bennett and Tony Francis, along with their business partner Stephanie Dolman, have opened up Oxbox Gym, a fitness center that combines intense CrossFit-like training with massage therapy to keep their clients in peak physical condition and injury-free.
According to the gym’s website, “Oxbox gym was created to provide a safe and supportive yet equally challenging environment for all levels of exercise enthusiasts.”
Each fitness instructor at the gym is also a massage therapist, which allows gym members to build strength and agility and while staying free of injury.
“Most people think about massage as pain relief or relaxation,” Francis said, “which is true, but [they don’t] realize what an incredible tool it is in helping to prevent injury.”
Bennett and Francis met while they were both attending the Brian Utting School of Massage. The two later went on to work at Club Zum in Seattle; Bennett as a massage therapist and Francis as a physical trainer. After becoming good friends, the two dreamed of opening a business together, Bennett said.
“I wanted to create my own gym, one that truly focused on teaching fitness in a way that helps the client look inward,” Francis said, “and teach them the tools so they can catch issues well before they become serious.”
Bennett said their ideas and philosophies were always lining up with each other.
Francis had spent the past seven years working on a crab fishing boat in Alaska. He studied on his own to become the chief engineer within his first year working. He said he dangerous nature of the job made it easy for him to move up the ranks, because many of his superiors were injured.
He had no choice but to keep studying, stay strong and to quickly adapt to his environment, he said.
“During those first few years, the demands and intensity of crabbing in Alaska was clear,” Francis said. “This created a desire, a need for me to have a strong physical body with heightened awareness.”
Bennett, on the other hand, was inspired by the lack of “balance” he felt in his life working doing graphic design. Earlier in life he had been heavily involved in kung fu, but after moving to Seattle from New Mexico 12 years ago, he began focusing more on his career than his health, he said. This frustration brought him to the Brian Utting School of Massage.
“I got off track,” he said. “It was time to hit the reset button.”
Bennett said he loves his new career path, especially being able to help his clients break out of patterns he had once practiced himself.
Oxbox gym opened on March 1, but the three partners began work on the concept more than three and one-half years ago.
Francis said getting Oxbox Gym off the ground is his proudest accomplishment.
“Oxbox Gym took a whole lot of sacrificing to get going. We paid rent for over four years before ever making a dime,” he said. “We learned a lot about how not to do things. We spun our wheels and tripped over hurdles.”