‘Rumble is the latest rollout of a concept that’s been coming to a boil in New York and other big cities for a handful of years in the wake of SoulCycle: the boxing-as-group-fitness class. Like most good business ideas, Rumble’s origin story is so simple it requires only a few words to tell: “Models started boxing,” says CEO Andy Stenzler. (One need only thumb around the Instagrams of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Adriana Lima or Karlie Kloss for evidence of their interest in the fitness trend.) “It’s really as simple as that. And then other girls started boxing. They realized that it was a great workout. We just wanted to make it accessible and take it out of the realm of the gory underground gym and take away the worry about getting hit. I mean, no one wants to get hit—you want to work your core before you meet your friends for brunch.”
Stenzler, 42, a concept creator and multi-unit expansion specialist (translation: He comes up with ideas for businesses, then replicates them nationally), created the fast-casual restaurant Cosi and rolled it out to more than 100 locations; he’s also the founder of Kidville, a mini-chain of child- and family-focused entertainment and activity centers in a handful of spots around the world, along with five other businesses. He’s a bear of a man with an MBA from New York University, a smile seemingly permanently fixed on his face and an optimistic, ambitious outlook.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Stenzler shows us around Rumble HQ. We walk and talk through the clean, white, graphic-laden upstairs, which is dominated by the 35-foot-long dual-level padded bench that, from morning to night, serves as Rumble’s social center. It’s a bleacher-like effect, and behind it are paintings—part pop culture, part boxing iconography—of a young Spike Lee and Woody Allen ready to duel and Jump Street–era Johnny Depp facing off against Full House–era John Stamos by Brooklyn street-centric artists N. Carlos J and Michael DeAngelo.
Upstairs has a more hang-worthy soundtrack than what’s being pumped out below, though it still has everything from old-school hip-hop (L.L. Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali”) to present-day Beyoncé; there’s also a smaller studio used for “privates”—one-on-one sessions with a trainer to learn and hone specific boxing and punching skills. “You’re not going to learn to be a boxer in group fitness,” Stenzler says. (But you’ll learn the rudiments: Before each class, an instructor holds a five-minute “pre-class” to teach newbies six basic punches.) On one wall of the privates room is a floor-to-ceiling graphic of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky—though this Rocky has been transported from ’70s-era Philadelphia to an of-the-moment New York City skyline.