Biz Buzz Monday: Dubuque woman uses self-defense, kickboxing classes to empower others

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-state area. In addition to this update from Dubuque, we will share other developments in Tuesday’s edition.

A Dubuque woman is using her kickboxing and self-defense classes to teach people in Dubuque to empower themselves.

Eryka Cook owns Empowermental, a studio at 2223 Key Way Drive that is in the same building as 3 Willows Wellness Center. While she opened the studio in the summer of 2021, Cook is focused on continuing to grow and teach others the skills she found helpful in her own life.

“Technically, (my interest in self-defense) started back when my dad and my uncle got me involved in martial arts when I was in middle school, when I was getting severely bullied,” she said. “It was a little bit self-defense, a little bit of a confidence booster.”

When she attended University of Dubuque in 2002, Cook began teaching self-defense classes to fellow students. After graduating, she continued teaching classes in people’s garages and other community spots.

Cook said she decided to open a studio after speaking about self-defense at an event in 2021. Now, she teaches kickboxing and self-defense classes, and another instructor teaches Zumba and PiYo, a mix of Pilates and yoga.

“I have taught people as young as 6 and as old as 70,” Cook said. “But the self-defense classes are broken up into age ranges, just because a 6-year-old can’t do the same thing and needs to focus on different things than a 16-year-old does.”

In addition to the physical aspects of self-defense, Cook said she also teaches both the mental and vocal aspects. She also focuses on real-life situations, such as dealing with bullies or issues that might arise at parties.

“I enjoy it because I even refound my power that I had kind of forgotten I had,” she said. “I’ve just loved the kids that I have and the adults and see them realize that they do have that strength, even if somebody told them for years they didn’t.”

More information on Empowermental, including information on classes, can be found at or on Facebook at