The History of Atlanta Kick, Operation Boot Camp and AK CrossFit


Atlanta Kick began as a martial arts school in Atlanta in 1993. Back then, it was called Rick Drew American Karate Academy. There were two locations, one was on Peachtree St. in the heart of Buckhead. Rick Drew, who was the chief instructor and the head of the system at the time was a well known name in the Atlanta martial arts community. The school offered American Freestyle Karate for kids and adults and Martial Arts Conditioning classes for adults. The membership at the school when Jeff and Heidi began as students was only about 15 people.

old-heidi-jeffThe name and ownership of the school changed in 1997 when Heidi Ziegele and Jeff Thompson, instructors at the school – purchased the business from Rick Drew.

In 1996, Heidi Ziegele began the school’s and Atlanta’s first Fitness Kickboxing program. The program took off a few years later as the popularity of Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo workouts grew.

As the school grew, new fitness programs were added to help members get into “fighting shape”. Those programs were circuit workouts, a running program, and several hybrids. One of those programs became a big success. It was first called “Bikini Boot Camp”.

The Operation Boot Camp Story

old-obcIt all started in 2000, when Jeff and Heidi developed a new fitness program for their members.

Inspired by a fellow instructor who was commenting that he was not in the same shape that he was in when he was in military basic training, they decided to create a fitness boot camp for the general public. The program was simple: 30-days of accountability, intense workouts, and their usual flair for fun and camaraderie.

After helping thousands of Atlantans get in the best shape of their lives, Jeff and Heidi decided to turn their system into a franchise system.

After licensing the program in 2005, in 2007, they turned the program into a franchise system and asked Lauren Lorenzo to become part of the ownership team for the franchise, and named her Director of Training. The first Operation Boot Camp franchise was sold in Knoxville,TN, and the system has been growing ever since.

Now with franchise locations in from coast to coast, Operation Boot Camp is the largest fitness boot camp franchise in the nation. Helping create real change and measurable results for their clients through positive changes in fitness and eating habits sets Operation Boot Camp apart from any other fitness program available.

Atlanta Kick Relocates

In 2005, a broken water main damaged the building where the Karate school did business, and Atlanta Kick was forced to move – relocating to a larger studio on Miami Circle in Buckhead.

ols-aliIn 2007 the General Manager of the school, Ali Massa became part of the ownership team of Atlanta Kick. Atlanta Kick grew to be the biggest martial arts school in the city.

Over the years, Ali has helped implement the new rotating curriculum for all Karate students, age-specific programs for children’s karate, as well as adding a 3-year old program for karate. Ali is an incredible asset to our team.

AK CrossFit Opens

Heidi-Jeff-AliIn January 2010, Jeff, Heidi and Ali decided to open a CrossFit affiliate. We felt that adding CrossFit to our offerings would be an excellent complement to our existing clients and to serve a different need that was currently unmet in the fitness community.
By adding our personal style and expertise with fitness beginners we hope that our AK CrossFit program will deliver results to clients who wish to become stronger, leaner and who may enjoy a bit of competition in their workout programs.