MILLIE CHU | MI-SBDC Independent Business Consultant, DEI Entrepreneurship Programs

Overweight, dirt poor and enraged at the world, Aurelia Cisneros became an angry alcoholic at the age of 12.

At the time, she didn’t have positive role models in her life. The only other thing she turned to besides alcohol, was sports. When she was 21, she got sober, discovered God, and became a 6 – 1 professional female cage fighter in mixed-martial-arts (MMA).

Later, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes which caused her to pause on competing in MMA, but it led her to share her athletic talents in another way. Having met and married her wife, Alison, in 2018, they launched Release in 2019, a kickboxing fitness studio helping people break through emotional and physical barriers by enabling them to release and restore through the physical activity of kickboxing.

Aurelia’s wife, Alison, is a licensed social worker by trade. She left her prior position and dove in full-time with Aurelia utilizing her knowledge in social work to connect it to fitness and health. She personally interacts with each member to ensure they feel welcomed. Multi-talented, Alison also does the marketing and content writing.

In business and in life, Aurelia said, “Alison is my other half, my better half, everything I am not and that’s what makes us a dynamic team.”

At Release, imagine being able to let out your frustrations by punching and kicking the heck out of a punching bag. Not only that, but having a certified personal trainer and MMA fighter, like Aurelia, guiding you in how to do it right with proper form and technique. Combine that with Alison’s warm and welcoming customer service and compassion to help you release it all toward better health.

You’ve heard of how exercise can benefit the mind, body, and spirit. Many of Aurelia’s clients faced depression, anxiety, addiction, and physical limitations. After all, Aurelia faced addiction herself and found a way out of it through MMA.

Aurelia defines the meaning of Release as being set free, and that’s exactly what happens at her studio — people are set free. “Our members learn how to break down barriers and rebuild themselves through kickboxing. Members gain self-control, confidence, learn a lifesaving skill and can release their emotions in a safe outlet,” All the while, you get in better physical shape too.

So, what makes Release different from other fitness studios or gyms?

“This isn’t your average gym, we are a family focusing on increasing your abilities and what your body can do,” said Aurelia. “One of our members was ecstatic because with the help of Release she was able to bend and kneel for prayer and get back up without any help. Something that she has been wishing she could do again for so long and now she is able to once more. These are the stories we live for.”

Or another member who said,

“I came to Release after a really harmful relationship. I really needed an outlet to deal with my anger. I also wanted to feel safe again. Aurelia has pushed me to be a better fighter and gave me the confidence to not be afraid anymore.”

There are several of these sentiments expressed by her members speaking of how she emotionally and physically encourages you every step of the way.

“We are focused on helping you be healthy at any size and using kickboxing as a mental release as well as a physical one.” says Aurelia. “It is by far our members. Hearing how our clients’ lives have changed through Release makes us more grateful than anything.”

Aurelia is also a mother of two beautiful children, an 8-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy. An entrepreneur, fighter, mother, wife, she rises at 5 am each morning and hits the ground running, literally, with an early morning run to begin her day. Her life is filled with family, running a business, working with clients, in addition to caring for her grandmother who has Parkinson’s. She is a superwoman.

Aurelia shared with me that despite the hardships and challenges of the pandemic and owning a business, her clients and members inspire her to keep going. Little does she realize; it is her that inspires and keeps everyone else going.

Want to get connected to Release? Visit or their new location at 1161 E Clark Rd #330, Dewitt, MI at the Clark Corners Shopping Center inside Kiki’s Gymnastics.

Aurelia was a part of One and All, an 8-week cohort-based entrepreneurship training program created by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). This is how Aurelia and I met where I served as her Business Coach through the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC), helping POC and underserved businesses to start and scale. The One and All program aligns with our MI-SBDC statewide DEI initiative, Uplift Michigan™, to create a welcoming and inclusive Michigan through small business ownership.

“Although we were already an established business, it [One and All program, and Michigan SBDC] helped us learn how to be more successful,” said Aurelia. “We learned who exactly we wanted to market to, how to market better, and how to do a pitch. We had done a pitch before One and All and it didn’t go so well. Now we are much more confident in our pitch and how to present our business. Millie has been a great resource for us with any questions we have had even after the program. She is always so kind and willing to help. Her answers are detailed, and her resources are helpful. This program has helped make our business legitimate in every aspect and we have made some great connections.”


One and All is a Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) program in partnership with the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) Capital Region, led by Laurie Lonsdorf, and other program partners from the Refugee Development Center, The Fledge, and Piper & Gold Public Relations.  

Want to learn more about the Michigan SBDC or Uplift Michigan™? Visit or email Millie at for more information.

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