First of all, thank you to everyone who came out last night to help us celebrate Lions’ 6th birthday! It’s heartening to see how strong the Lions community is even after such a tough year. We’re grateful for all of you!
6 years ago, we started Lions with the intent to provide not just the best defensive tactics training out there, but we also had a specific mission to break down barriers of access to that training to people who don’t always feel welcome or valued or safe at the average fight gym. We wanted every single person, regardless of body type, gender, race, disability, age, etc. etc. — every single person to feel welcome and comfortable training with us. That stems from the foundational belief that self defense is a human right. Because of this mission, Lions has grown into the most exceptional community of humans. It has been our great privilege to watch it happen, and we hope to continue watching it grow for many years to come.
That being said, as we embark on our 7th year at the school, our community will experience some changes; Lions co-founder, Katie Fryer, has decided to step away from her ownership role at Lions at the end of February. This decision was not easy or taken lightly. Over the past year, we have come to realize that Katie’s path forward with Lions, due to some increasingly challenging health issues, had to change.
As many of you are aware, Katie has been struggling with chronic pain and recurring spinal injuries for the past 4 years. She has been through countless hours of physical therapy and spent a small fortune on all sorts of treatments, all with the goal of getting back to what she loves — training and teaching. Nothing seemed to work for long, and she eventually had to step away from both because it was just too hard on her body. While we got to see her smiling and enjoying herself at the gym, we can imagine how much of an emotional toll it would take to give up what you love to do the most.
Recently, however, Katie learned that she has a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). The good news is now we know what the underlying issue is. The bad news is that there is no cure and due to the nature of EDS, high impact training would be very risky for her. Unfortunately, the chronic pain and recurring injuries likely will never go away completely.
Katie’s struggles with the injuries and pain made it increasingly difficult for her to experience the same joy of being at the gym that she was used to, and despite her best efforts, after several years this wore on her. For Katie, finding out about EDS was a signal that it was time for her to transition out of her ownership role at Lions, both for the sake of her physical health, but also so that she could step back & properly grieve the loss of all her high-impact fight dreams. We know that this was a very difficult decision for her, and we believe that she was brave as hell for making it.
While Katie is stepping away from ownership & the day-to-day operations of the adult program, she won’t be leaving the Lions community. We are working on finding appropriate accommodations to allow her to continue training and teaching in a way that is safe for her. So don’t worry, she’s not going anywhere.
While we are sad to lose her in the day-to-day management of all of our programs, we are excited to find ways for her to safely train and teach, as well as to see what’s next for her. We know she’ll find a new passion to pour all of that energy into.
A part of Lions will always belong to Katie. The seed from which Lions grew was born out of her mind and heart, and she nurtured its growth into what it is today. To say “her contributions cannot be overstated” in itself feels like an understatement. We hope you’ll take a moment to reach out to her to give her your support during this transition.
Lions Krav Maga