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Dion Sgro opens boxing gym in Detroit Lakes

Dion Sgro says his new gym will strengthen people inside and out. DL NEWSPAPERS/Paula Quam

A new gym in Detroit Lakes is turning out to be quite a “hit” in its first week open.

Dion’s Danger Zone Gym is located in a newly-designed space at 601 East Highway 10 and is run by boxing instructor Dion Sgro.

The Detroit Lakes native is known locally both for his stint as an amateur boxer in Golden Gloves competitions between 2001 and 2006, and also for starting up a popular boxing-fitness class at the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center in Detroit Lakes.

Now, Sgro has thrown his hat in the ring as a business owner.

“This has been a dream of mine for about eight years now,” said Sgro, who has slowly been putting money away since then to make his gym a reality.

“Twice a year I’d bring my quarters in and there’d be $1,500-$1,600 bucks, and just whenever I’d have extra I’d buy a piece (of equipment) here or some ropes there,” he said looking around at the now fully-equipped facility of punching bags, medicine balls, battle ropes, cones, ladders and more.

“I hope to get a small boxing ring in here at some point, too so that people can feel what it’s like to box in the ring,” said Sgro, who officially opened his gym Monday.

Although a shoulder injury put the now 37-year-old out of commission of competition about six years ago, Sgro says he still loves the training aspect and pulling the best out of people in the gym.

“As we get older, people tend to lose that competitive part of themselves,” said Sgro. “They’ll watch their kids in stuff, but they don’t compete with anything anymore. This type of workout puts them back out there and gets them competitive again.”

But Sgro says the competition generated in his new gym is rarely with somebody else.

“It’s with yourself,” he says, adding that people of all sizes, shapes and levels of fitness come together with the same goal — to step out of their own, individual comfort zones.

“Because it’s timed, everybody is just doing as many as they can in that amount of time, and nobody is waiting for anybody or paying attention to other people,” said Sgro’s wife, Missy, who is not only helping with the businesses side of the gym, but is also excited about what this unique style of working out does for people needing a change.

“I think most everybody needs to be pushed,” she said, “I know if I go to the gym, I don’t push myself, but here… you’ll feel it.”

Dion Sgro trains his clients like they’re going into a fight, working their entire bodies hard and fast for about 30 minutes before teaching the basics of boxing.

“After a couple of weeks we’ll get the gloves on and start learning how to throw some combinations,” said Sgro, who is currently holding five different classes of 12 that go twice a week.

He’s also weaving in some personal training for small groups of one to four people.

“It hurts every time, but it’s a good hurt,” said Oscar Meyer, a Detroit Lakes man who Sgro works out three times a week on a personal training level.

“It’s probably the best workout I’ve ever had,” he added. “You’re always guessing because he changes stuff up on you, so I come ready to give it because he gets it out of you.”

Sgro says he was hoping to fill two classes coming out of the shoot, but instead he’s already got double that. He credits that to a type of workout that strengthens people on the inside and out.

Women, he says, are his biggest clientele so far.

“Women aren’t going to the gym to get bigger and stronger; they want to get stronger and leaner, and that’s what these workouts do,” said Sgro, who says men don’t seem as willing to try the workout, likely because they tend to be a little more worried about how they’ll look boxing.

“But I don’t lose guys. Guys are the ones that once they do try it, they become kind of addicted to it,” he said, promising a fast workout that will be more beneficial than a typical two-hour workout at the gym.

“With this, people get mentally stronger in everyday life, and they get to see what they’ve got as they get older,” said Sgro, as Meyer yells across the gym, “He makes us old guys feel young again.”

Sgro says while he is doing some training with young men interested in Mixed Martial Arts and competitive boxing, he is ready to show everybody how to fight.

He says he gets a lot of people worried that they need to get in better shape before going to his classes, but he encourages people to throw that old, ineffective way of thinking out the door and just try it.

“How else are you going to get into shape?” said Sgro. “You’ll go to the gym and do what? Not push yourself. If you were somebody who pushed themselves at the gym, you’d already be in shape. I just want people to try this.”

Sgro is offering one-time classes for $10 to experience what the gym is all about, and if the person likes it after that, the $10 goes towards a one-month, $50 membership.

Classes at Dion’s Danger Zone gym go in four-week increments so that he can actually teach somebody the basics of boxing over four weeks.

Sgro says this summer he plans to add more classes, including some for youth, as well as some Saturday “boot camps.”

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Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466