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New gym opens downtown

When these swinging women lace up at lunchtime, it's best not to get too close. They've put on their game faces and put up their dukes. They punch a heavy bag and jab at the air, all the time moving their feet. Whether venting some workday frustr...

When these swinging women lace up at lunchtime, it's best not to get too close.
They've put on their game faces and put up their dukes.
They punch a heavy bag and jab at the air, all the time moving their feet.
Whether venting some workday frustration or just trying a new a sport, they're all sweating and getting in shape.
The women and other lunchtime boxers are not in a trendy workout boutique with overhead TVs, instead it's a reclaimed warehouse with hardwood floors and raw brick walls.
It's a second story walk-up that overlooks the port, with renovation in progress -- just the way Chuck Horton envisioned it.
Fitness boxing is just one of the conditioning programs offered at Horton's Twin Ports Boxing and Fitness Club. The new downtown business has taken over a large share of the vast second floor at the old Duluth Plumbing Supply Company.
The building is at 332 West Michigan Street in what would have been the downtown warehouse district had the interstate not sliced through. And except for the skywalk and parking ramp, it's part of Duluth's grittier past. It also has killer views.
To make a go in an industry that has a pretty poor record downtown, Horton has turned to the toughest sport, where conditioning can be the difference between the champ and a bum.
A former pro boxer turned coach, who stays in ring condition, the Duluth resident is now a very hands-on businessman. His club outgrew a small location in Gary, and he thinks the downtown convenience will be a real plus.
"I'm everybody's personal trainer," he said. "Everyone's coach."
Between leading conditioning classes and helping members on various fitness machines, Horton oversees transformation of the former industrial space into a working gym.
The club will have many of the features fitness patrons expect, with a big emphasis on boxing. A second-generation fighter, Horton, 36, has taken ideas from gyms all over, combined with Olympic-level training and coaching experience.
In recent years he has also carried the torch for boxing in the Twin Ports, working with local fighters and fight promotion efforts.
"We'll have a massage area and a weight loss program," he said. "There will be technical support with a doctor and supplements available."
Horton said boxers have always known how to keep in shape, and now he's added technology.
The club has a full line of Nautilus machines and other fitness equipment, but the heavy bags, trademarks of its boxing culture, are its most prominent feature, at least until the ring is finished.
At the noon hour session, Horton bobbed and weaved, demonstrating boxing moves while encouraging the class circled around him.
"It's easy to get people in shape," he said. "And when you're in condition, you can do anything."
The gym has a variety of membership plans and is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. For more information stop by, or call 310-8190.

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