From Corporate Executive to Entrepreneur, Competitive Athlete Donna French Offers an Inspiring Family Story of Grit, Courage, Determination and Perseverance

Unexpected Career Pivot Leads to Joy Helping Others Get Fit

kickboxing classes louisville

Louisville entrepreneurs Donna and Glen French have enjoyed bringing kickboxing classes to the Louisville market.

When their son Hunter went away to college, Donna and Glen French found themselves in unfamiliar territory as neither of them had a job at the time. Having climbed the ranks of Brown & Williamson, Humana and Anthem, Donna was at a career crossroads armed with over 20 years of corporate marketing experience. Her husband Glen, who had spent several years building up a successful career as an accountant, had also recently finished up a job. So between the two of them, they had a powerful combination of skills and talent. Their options were seemingly limitless.

“At first we considered going out of state to a place like Florida to start a business,” explains Donna. “But then we decided to work with a franchise consultant who presented us with a few different options to consider. And when he suggested kickboxing, we both thought ‘Wow, does that ever sound like us!’”

Over the years, the French family enjoyed doing a lot of different activities together including martial arts. In fact, all three of them are second-degree black belts. So getting involved in an I Love Kickboxing franchise sounded worth exploring.

Fast forward a year and some change and the couple now owns franchise rights to 5 different regions (Southern Indiana, Lexington, Northern Kentucky and two in Louisville) So far, their first location off Hurstbourne Parkway in Louisville is doing great with a full class schedule 6 days a week, as early as 5:45 a.m. and as late as 7:45 p.m.

A Change in Lifestyle with Kickboxing Classes

Not surprisingly, transitioning to a career in the sports and wellness field had a powerful impact on Donna. “Before I started this business, I was 40 pounds heavier,” she explains. “And now a few years later I’m in some of the best physical shape of my entire life.”

Kickboxing is a great workout. The average adult can burn between 600 and 900 calories an hour in a typical kickboxing class. However, I Love Kickboxing offers a whole lot more than classes. “It’s really a supportive health-oriented community,” says Donna, “We find ourselves talking about nutrition, sleep quality, stress relief, work/life balance, and so much more.”

I Love Kickboxing members provide one another support. They connect in a variety of ways including via a private Facebook page, at the studio, and through various social outings. Donna explains, “We really encourage members to come to at least 2 or 3 kickboxing classes a week, minimum, and when they don’t come, we give them a call to inspire them to come back. We really care about each other and do all that we can to set people up to succeed toward their fitness goals.”

Ever the leader, Donna strives to set a good example by demonstrating her own commitment to health. “I can’t ask other people to do something I’m not willing to do myself,” she says. However, Donna’s competitive spirit pushed her to try something else out; something completely different… competitive bodybuilding.

49 Years Old and Feeling More Comfortable In My Body than Ever Before

After a client in her kickboxing classes suggested she try bodybuilding, Donna’s curiosity got the best of her.

Kickboxing Instructor Donna French takes a break while competing in a bodybuilding competition in August 2017.

“Though my initial reaction was ‘that’s not me,’ I figured I could at least learn more about it … and once I did, I thought trying it could be a worthwhile experience.”

So Donna enlisted the help of an experienced coach to develop a new weight lifting routine into her workout regimen. Combined with kickboxing classes and a very healthy nutrition plan, Donna slowly but surely began sculpting her body.

All of her efforts culminated into success as she secured a 4th place win at her first bodybuilding contest in Frankfort, KY. Talking about the event, Donna describes how wonderful it was to connect with others who share this interest in fitness. She’s already focused on new goals and another competition in October.

Louisville Fitness Expert Donna French

Donna French, kickboxing instructor and entrepreneur, wins 4th place in her first bodybuilding competition in August 2017.

Describing this journey from corporate career to business owner to body builder; from injured athlete to fitness buff, Donna expresses her overarching desire to make a positive impact on others.

“When people at our studio talk about how much better they feel from kickboxing classes, the medications they no longer have to take because they are getting healthier, the self-confidence they experience because of how much better they feel about their bodies, it makes me feel incredibly good. I just want to try to reach as many people as possible to help make a difference. All of this has changed my own life in so many unexpected ways, and I just love sharing it with others.”


Interested in starting your own fitness journey with ilovekickboxing? Mention this article when you sign up for your first class and get FREE hand wraps!