Getting to Know John Pecoraro of Pecoraro's Academy of Fitness & Kickboxing

This week the Patch drops by the fitness academy to feel the burn


Pecoraro's Academy of Fitness & Kickboxing is a local business that owner John started up over 20 years ago. He has adapted and changed his business from its early beginnings near Oliver's in the Rancho Cotati shopping center.

We had the opportunity to sit down with John to learn more about him, his business, and how he feels about fitness. It was quite the conversation and I learned a lot, such as in college John boxed Tony Danza twice and won both bouts by decision.

How did this business get started?

It was back in 1991 and I had been working in the corporate world. After a job ended I was in an interesting spot and after talking with my wife, Carol, decided that I would open a dojo. At the time I really wasn't sure exactly how I was going to do it. I made a deal then to rent out that big space on the end of the Oliver's shopping center where the old veterinary business was for $250 per month and I could fix it up anyway I liked. So I did and started to teach self defense. In about 2 weeks I had 30 students.

What is your background like?

I graduated from college with a double major in psychology and business administration. I was athletic and had been involved in martial arts and boxing for many years. At the time the draft was still in effect and it was in 1970 that I received my draft notice. But I, along with 11 other people in that draft group, was given a unique opportunity to go into a special program because of my background. We would be trained and then work with the Department of Defense to help teach non-combative personnel in the military, such as people stationed at an embassy, self defense. It was a 4 year hitch and I learned a great deal about self defense tactics, went through Marine boot camp, and was trained by Special Forces. Those are the skills I then used when we first opened the business.

Is this what you always wanted to do?

I never really knew exactly what I wanted to do. In college I was thinking I might get involved in child development or some similar field. But then everything just happened and here we are!

If you weren't doing this what would you be?

A writer. I keep an active journal and I like to do blogging about health topics. It is a way to make the community aware of taking care of your health.

It seems like your business is more about fitness now?

Now we are more of a fitness center than a martial arts center. Really one of my big goals is to have people not look at fitness as a fad but more as a lifestyle so that they can enjoy themselves in life more.

The thing about martial arts is that there is a maximum of 3% of a population that might be doing martial arts at any given time. When we started there was just a few people doing it but now there are 14 studios and such around in Rohnert Park, Cotati, and Penngrove. On the other side a lot more people are interested in fitness. Over the years we have adapted and changed to try and provide more of what the community wants.

About 3 years ago we really changed our focus to become more about fitness. We still have sport kickboxing where people can challenge themselves and our own style of martial arts called Konsei. But we also have fitness kickboxing, core fitness classes, classes for kids and teens, and personal training. Akido and weapons training are also still available.

What is your favorite style of martial art?

Akido is my favorite because it is extremely practical, usable against multiple assailants and includes defense against weapons.

How are you different?

Adam does a lot of the training and he really stresses important aspects in training, especially with the kids and teens. He works on character development such as courage and discipline then he involves examples in his teaching to make the experiences relevant. We believe it is all in how you do it so our program works on both life skills and physical skills while still being engaging. He really has taken a lot of time to provide a great program.

With our adult programs we have really been ahead of the curve doing classes like core fitness and things like boot camps for years. We are always looking for ways to improve ourselves and to learn more and then pass that information on to people here and just in the community.

Then we also offer a very specialized personal training format that is specifically customized to the individual based on your current level of fitness and exactly what you want to do. It isn't any sort of cookie cutter routine here but instead we sit down and work to your needs and fit into your schedule.

What is your favorite thing to teach these days?

I really like to do personal training. We get involved with body measurements and creating a plan to achieve a goal and the process is interesting. It also offers a way to help people.

If you could train with anyone who would it be?

Tony Horton would be my top choice because his philosophy on exercise really meshes with mine and I like his concepts on muscle confusion and variety of exercises. Jack Lalane would also be interesting.

Favorite sports team?

San Francisco Giants!

What is your favorite thing about Rohnert Park?

The bike friendly environment. I cycle a lot in the region and other areas are just not as accommodating.

What is your favorite thing to do in the area?

I really like to go shoot at the Two Rock range. Also I enjoy cycling.

On a typical Friday night you are most likely?

Having dinner with Carol and relaxing at home with our four dogs.

Do you want to learn more about Pecoraro's? Just stop on by and say, "Hi'. John, his wife Carol, or his son Adam would be more than glad to talk about what they do. The Academy is located at 1300 Valley House Drive (North) in Rohnert Park. You can reach them by phone at 795-3135. They also have a very informative website at RPDojo.com or you can visit their Facebook Site.

If you are a local business owner who would like to be featured in our 'Getting to Know' column, please contact us at carlos.villatoro@patch.com.

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