Forteza Fitness


Welcome to Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts, a unique studio blending cutting-edge knowledge with old school training.



Forteza is an ancient Italian word meaning “fortress” or “stronghold”. Within our studio, that stronghold is you. At Forteza our goal is to help each person who comes through our door build their own personal stronghold; the stronghold of their bodies, minds and spirits.

More than just another martial arts school or a gym, rather, we are:

  • A studio combining a unique offering of traditional martial arts and modern self-defense with personal training, adventure racing, functional fitness and nutritional counseling, set in a beautiful, 5000 square foot, hundred year-old facility;
  • The Midwest’s only full-time school for the study of traditional Western martial arts, and historical swordplay;
  • Home to Ravensrook Archery, a competition-length, indoor archery range, that provides a variety of individual and group lessons, as well as open-range time for all ages and skill levels.
  • Home to the Bartitsu Club of Chicago, dedicated to the revival of this “Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes,” a unique, Victorian fighting disciple which was the world’s first eclectic martial art;
  • “Pioneers in the revival of 19th century “physical culture” – the combined use of calisthenics, Indian clubs, medicine balls, therapeutic gymnastics, body-weight exercises and games designed to create natural strength and grace with athletic performance;
  • A gymuseum: a unique “living museum” of antique exercise equipment and an inspirational gallery of 19th century prints portraying combat sport athletes in training;
  • An international center for education on the rich and sophisticated martial traditions of Western Civilization;
  • Home to an innovative and eclectic series of workshops, lectures and unique social events.

Above all, we are a fellowship and home-away-from-home for anyone who has ever been fascinated by these subjects and wants to challenge themselves to do more and be more.

This website will give you a visual tour of the Forteza experience, and tell you how to become a part of it. We also have an ever-growing library of articles that will tell you more. Start by reading about What to Expect, and our extensive Programs.

Or, if you are ready to join and begin building your personal stronghold, here is how to Get Started.

Welcome to Forteza! Welcome home.

What to Expect at Forteza

There was a time when gymnasiums and fitness clubs were not just someplace you stopped in for an hour on your way home from work: they were a part of your social, cultural and intellectual life. This sense of community is part of the Forteza difference. Even though students of swordplay, modern self-defense or private training clients might never interact in class, they are all part of the larger Forteza family, with the same opportunities to participate in special training and social events we host throughout the year.

Class Structure

Combining classes, small group lessons and private lessons, our formal classes are designed to scale to your fitness and experience level, so you will always have a challenge no matter where you are in your development. We also use a variety of different class formats, to give students the best chance to push themselves and their training to new heights:

  • Boot Camps are short, focused training regimens meant to increase physical fitness and peak performance;
  • Taster Classes are introductory classes to our martial arts programs, and are the perfect way to enter a new discipline or at least give it a test drive!
  • Foundations Classes are beginner to intermediate level martial arts classes, and are the core training for that program. If you like what you see in the Taster Class, this is where you go next! Foundations Classes are also the perfect way for long-time students to keep their basics crisp.
  • Focus Classes are martial arts classes aimed at a specific weapon or topic and build off of the skills learned in Foundations.
  • Not everyone has the schedule flexibility for set class times, or they find that they learn better in a more intimate setting. Our small group classes are for 2 – 4 students, all of whom are there to work on the same, specific skill set or exercises. Push yourself, push each other, and get the benefits of personalized attention and group interaction!

Private lessons are just that: private. We’ve all had the frustration of signing up for a private lesson in personal training, martial arts, music or dance, only to find that there is a second person training, or the instructor is running several “private” lessons at once. When you sign up for a private lesson at Forteza, you are the client, and you will always be working one-on-one with your instructor to get the specific results you seek.

What to Bring

Although some of our martial arts classes will eventually require a uniform and training weapons of your own, all you need to get started in any program we offer are comfortable workout clothes, a water bottle, towel, a training notebook and lots of enthusiasm – we’ll supply the rest!

Who can Participate?

Our objectives – Strength • Speed • Wisdom • Courage – are a life-path, not a prerequisite! If your goal is to better yourself, and our programs and approach appeal to you, then there is a home waiting for you at Forteza. We have men and women of all fitness levels, from reforming couch potatoes to well-conditioned athletes.

If you have any specific physical limitations or injuries you are working with, be sure to let our staff know so we can appropriately adapt the program to your needs.