ALTON — A new martial arts studio buzzed with excitement as it celebrated its grand opening Thursday.

A RiverBend Growth Association (RBGA) ribbon cutting highlighted the occasion at Alton Family Martial Arts and Fitness, located within Nautilus Fitness Center, 4425 Industrial Drive, with a throng of supporters, including Alton Mayor Brant Walker and Illinois State Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Alton, who is the immediate past president of the RBGA.

Alton Family Martial Arts and Fitness owner Adam Marburger — a Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert — brings a lifetime of training to his studio.

“This absolutely changed my life,” Marburger said of learning martial arts. “I guarantee it’ll change yours.”

He intentionally structured his studio and programs to be inviting and open to anyone in any physical shape.

“The gyms I grew up in were very intimidating,” explained Marburger, 37, a businessman who has fought in rings and cages for 20 years. “I wanted to put programs together for those who always wanted to do martial arts, but found it intimidating or have been skeptical, so they could build self-confidence and lose weight while doing something really fun. Our environment is safe, clean, friendly and non-intimidating. ”

Walker praised Marburger, of Godfrey, for his youth-focused efforts.

“I’m going to bully-proof the Riverbend,” Marburger said. “Bullying is an epidemic. If kids are being bullied or acting up, I need to know their parents. I’m the cheapest price in town, I just lowered program prices.”

He noted that he did not open a martial arts studio to make money, but to share his knowledge of how the practice can change people’s lives. He owns businesses involving real estate, software, consulting and an apparel line, in which he enjoys steady revenue, he explained to The Telegraph.

Marburger invested $30,000 in renovating a section of Alton’s Nautilus Fitness Center to suit the needs of his programs. He previously taught martial arts, but took approximately six-years off to focus on his development as a competitive martial artist.

Martial arts became more than a hobby for Marburger, who described the practice as a discipline that can branch into many aspects of life.

“It will get you in great shape physically, mentally,” he said. “It will improve your self confidence to a whole new level. You will make new friends. Some of my best friends are the guys I train with. We’re a family. It will help you with your work life, your personal life balance. It literally helps you with everything.”

He named his gym “Alton Family” because of the camaraderie martial arts brings, he noted.

He also boasted about his team of instructors.

“I have the top judo instructor in the world. I don’t know how I got him, but I got very lucky,” Marburger said. “He lives in East Alton now. His name is George Stanich, and he’s, like, 60 years old, but he is a seventh-degree black belt who has taken so many athletes to the Olympics.”

Marburger also has high-level coaches to teach cardio, kickboxing and youth courses.

“Martial arts helps kids in school, at home and gives them a voice,” said head instructor Cort Wahle, who leads youth and kickboxing programs.

Visit or call Alton Family Martial Arts and Fitness at 618-979-9483 for more information.

Published by the Alton Telegraph