When Amanda Houdek named her athletics business, she thought of Wisconsin’s motto: “Forward.”

Forward Athletics, located at 2911 Marketplace Dr., has been open since the beginning of the month Houdek told the Star.

And already, families of all backgrounds flock to the space for sports conditioning courses, strength training and even date nights. As long as they follow health protocols, Houdek said, people also stop by to casually shoot some hoops, golf using a “pretty rad” simulator, relax with some yoga or engage in a high intensity interval workout.

“We want (Forward Athletics) to be a space where everyone is moving forward regardless of their speed,” she said.

Houdek, also owning CI Pediatric Therapy Centers with locations throughout Dane County, as well as Cosa Boutique, 6350 Nesbitt Road, said she had a lot of support in getting Forward Athletics off the ground amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said she had staff from both businesses help bring her idea to fruition.

“So many of my family and friends came in and painted, and helped with the flooring,” Houdek said.

As a result, Houdek was able to open Forward Athletics earlier than she intended, albeit with a “shoestring budget” amid an ongoing economic crisis.

Even so, the new business is equipped with indoor amenities like a court, a field with a turfed playing surface, greens with the golf simulator and a studio.

The spacious court offers basketball hoops with glass backboards and nets allowing for volleyball, tennis and pickleball. The field, Houdek said, features a netted enclosure with two batting cages that suit baseball, lacrosse and softball players. The greens area has the simulator to help golfers with their swings and drives.

And the Forward Athletics studio is designed for private instruction, life coaching and personal training sessions, Houdek explained.

Both individuals and teams can rent any of the spaces out at varying rates, according to the Forward athletics website.

The intent is to provide an inclusive learning environment for athletes young to collegiate, she said, as well as an opportunity to engage in physical activity with proper social distancing and mask wearing.

While Houdek said there has yet to be an instance where the basketball court is “full of squeaky shoes and laughter,” she feels excited about the impact Forward Athletics has made on the Fitchburg community.

That’s evidenced through how word of the new business has spread mostly through word of mouth, she said, as Forward Athletics has done little advertising.

“It’s neat to see new friendships forming,” Houdek said.

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at

@HeidemannEmilie.