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New Reach Gym Offers 'Rocky-Style' Boxing Training in West Town

By Alisa Hauser | August 19, 2013 9:19am | Updated on August 19, 2013 10:04am
 Reach Gym is now open at 1709 W. Chicago Ave., in West Town's East Village neighborhood.
Reach Gym Opens in East Village
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EAST VILLAGE —  It's only been open a few days, but people who want to let off steam already are finding their way into a new gym in West Town's East Village neighborhood which offers boxing classes and endurance exercise courses.

"Boxing was a big part of my life when I was an angsty teenager. Now I'm an angsty adult and want to get back into it," said David Warnock, 26, a law school student.

A Wicker Park resident who became a "citizen" of Reach Gym at 1709 W. Chicago Ave. on Sunday afternoon when he signed up for one month of open gym, Warnock said, "A lot of people think boxing is violent, but it's very meditative and therapeutic."

Referring to one of three measurements used to evaluate boxers, "reach" is the distance from a boxer's shoulder to his fingertips, or the distance of his punch.

Co-owner J.R. Mikulak, 35, said the gym's name also refers to community outreach.

"We want to give back to the community, help kids and be a resource," Mikulak said.

The gym, three blocks west of Eckhart Park at 1330 W. Chicago Ave, where Reach's head boxing coach Arturo Rios led the Chicago Park District's boxing program from 1980 to 2013, refers to its members as "citizens" rather than members.

"Everything we don't like about other gyms — sign-up fees, no open gym [without classes] — we aren't doing here. This isn't a gym with a coffee shop. It's where you go to sweat, to get your a-- kicked," Mikulak said.

According to its website, Reach offers "Golden Gloves, hardcore Rocky style training" in one-on-one and group boxing classes.

Built in 1922 as the headquarters for a furniture company, the prominent two-story 16,000-square-foot loft building is flooded with natural light and is handicap-accessible, Mikulak said.

Mikulak, a Logan Square resident, said he and co-owner Adam Williams, who lives around the corner from the gym, chose the space because the 1700 block of West Chicago Avenue is "underdeveloped."

"Two blocks east you have 5 Star [Bar], and two blocks west you have Roots [Pizza], but this area is nice, too," Mikulak said.

While the lower level of the facility offers an Olympic-sized boxing ring as its centerpiece, the upper level of Reach Gym's will be used for a variety of endurance exercises such as burpees, or full-body squat thrust repetitions that will be part of the gym's Spartan Death Race preparation program.

"Some guys can bench press 400-pounds, but they can't climb a rope," said Mikulak.

Reach's several endurance training courses are "for people that have a couple screws loose," joked Mikulak.

"Who else is going to work out for 12 hours?" Mikulak asked.

Mikulak said Reach plans to offer a 12-hour endurance class quarterly, as well as an eight-hour class monthly and a four-hour class biweekly.  For a full list of endurance race instructors, click here.

Reach Gym, 1709 W. Chicago Ave. Hours 7 a.m. to midnight daily. Phone: 773-800-1723. For updates, visit the gym's Facebook page or Twitter, @ReachBeyondFit.