A whistle blows. Teammates pant. The musty gym smell mixes with an odor of sweat, exertion, and intensity.
It feels like an extreme practice for some varsity sport. But in a 1928 warehouse located in Downtown Phoenix’s Warehouse District, the South Central Gym whips an assorted group of adults into shape—old-school style.
The run-down brick building appears abandoned on a quiet Sunday morning. Passing by, one wouldn’t give it a second glance before deciding the warehouse probably shut down years ago. But inside The Duce, a gym/restaurant/bar/retail store, the surprisingly hip urban atmosphere pairs with a unique collection of workout equipment for the ultimate fitness haven.
A boxing ring pushed toward the back of the building stands about four feet off the ground, and two punching bags hang dauntingly nearby.
No fancy weight machines.
Not a single treadmill or elliptical.
Dumbbells, workout benches, and an exercise ball line the back wall, but there’s no digital screens or beeping instruments in sight. A rusted bell hangs close to the ring, retired from its duty of starting and ending boxing matches.
“Knock me out, knock me out,” a trainer yells from the ring. He holds a hand up, protected by red padding, and blocks the jab of his female opponent.
“Kill it, kill it, c’mon!”
Luis Machado, a mixed martial arts trainer, teaches people of all ages, shapes and sizes at South Central Gym. He trains amateurs and real MMA fighters, and he said his students “train till they pass out.”
“Straight up, like this,” Machado tells the woman, showing her how to swing the over-sized black gloves with impressive force. The trainer’s knowledge of boxing techniques and his motivational coaching add to the gym’s down-to-business atmosphere.
But the head coach, Steve Rosenstein, really sets the mood upon entering the South Central Gym.
He blows his whistle to start class. “Let’s go!”
The Gritty and the Pretty
As a former wrestler for the University of Arizona, Rosenstein knows his stuff when it comes to athletic training. He opened South Central Gym back in the fall of 2010, which is when he and his wife first started their multi-purpose business at The Duce.
“I’m the gritty, she’s the pretty,” Rosenstein said.
His vision involved an old-school gym where he could get people back to basics with their workout routines. So he bought a boxing ring on Craigslist, and his idea for the South Central Gym fell into place.
“This is like the antithesis of a Gold’s Gym or one of those elite health clubs,” Rosenstein said. “The setting here creates a whole different kind of atmosphere. You’re in an old warehouse, working out in a retro boxing ring…and there’s no technology here except for my iPod.”
Rosenstein decided the boxing ring was a necessity because “boxing is about as old-school as you can get.” He said the ring has become somewhat famous, and its uses have varied from concerts to weddings to a stage for the former Phoenix mayor, Phil Gordon.
Along with the ring, Rosenstein threw in some chin-up bars, dip bars, jump ropes and even old tires to keep the gym simple, yet challenging.
“This place is designed to make us fit,” he said. “But it also takes us back to a simpler time that we all kind of miss anyway.”
We all ‘Need a Minute’
When class is in session, Rosenstein’s students pant, sweat, and push themselves beyond their usual limits to reach whatever fitness goals they may have. The coach added that he keeps it fun, but he also wants his class focused and motivated.
“Lisa! What are you doing over there?!” Rosenstein yells during a push-up drill.
“I just need a minute, I’ll join you,” replies Lisa Khan, 50, who sat down for a short breather.
“Yeah? We all ‘need a minute!’”
“Oh, jeez,” she sighs, jumping back into the drill.
Khan, an attorney from Arcadia, said she has been coming to the South Central Gym for about a year, and she added that this type of exercise “keeps you young.”
“The space is absolutely fantastic,” she said. “It’s great for cross-training and reaching your fitness goals, and it’s just a great place to sweat in.”
The sweat is certainly not in short supply for anyone working out at the South Central Gym. All of the members work hard and constantly cheer each other on, providing an ideal environment for getting fit and reaching aspirations.
“I don’t want to say this place changed lives,” Rosenstein said. “But it definitely changed some lifestyles.”
There were plenty of positive statements made at yesterday’s topping off ceremony for Roosevelt Point, at 455 N. 3rd Street. Let’s face it, when it comes to downtown there have been a lot of good things said in the past few years.
But no positive statement about downtown growth could outshine what stood as the backdrop to the celebration.
In the lot across from Bliss/ReBAR, the host venue, rises the seven-story structure that will soon be home to 600 new residents. The scale of it, and the projected impact, is downright impressive.
The development team of Roosevelt Point saw the opportunity presented by this formerly vacant lot, talked to the people they needed to talk to, and are on their way to forever changing this important gateway to downtown.
We’ve been meeting with the residential neighborhood, folks from the Evans Churchill Neighborhood as well as the Roosevelt Row Merchants Association and the Community Development Corporation, to really try to integrate what we’re doing with their vision for the community. Where our visions really align, what’s critical to make any community a lively place, is to get more people to live there. I think for the most part we’ve been able to accommodate a shared vision.
I think as more young people live here it becomes a more vibrant, exciting, happening place. First Fridays has been a really big success. We’re really thrilled to be at the heart of that. We’re at the epicenter of all that activity.
Even though our project is changing this neighborhood. I hope it doesn’t change it too much, because that’s really the lifeblood of what makes it unique. And I think that should attract people from all over the Valley to come and experience the restaurants, the galleries, the entertainment, the things going on downtown. – Steven R. Schnoor, Senior Vice President/Regional Director for Concord Eastridge
There is going to be 600 more people here next year. It’s going to be amazing. The [Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper] festival this past weekend? There were about 2,000 people. How many more people will there be [next year]? We’re excited. – Kevin Rille, President of the Evans Churchill Neighborhood Association
This is a game-changer. It changes forever the view as you come into downtown on 3rd Street. Instead of seeing a bunch vacant land you’re seeing this beautiful seven-story building. It gives you a whole different mindset of what the downtown is, and can be. - Don Keuth, President of Phoenix Community Alliance
I think the Roosevelt Point project is going to meet a demand for more housing in downtown. With all the additional people moving downtown it’s going to create an additional demand for amenities. So people will need more options for shopping or boutique type stores, more restaurants, and services. With all the investment that has occurred over the past decade, a lot of people may say we’re done investing in downtown. I will tell you that we’re not done. There’s still a lot left to do – a lot of opportunities to invest and build downtown. – John Chan, Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Phoenix
Arizona naturally has a western edge to its culture, but in the urban setting of Downtown Phoenix this can oftentimes be lost. Sarah Stokes of Ranch Road Boots is determined to change that one pair of boots at a time.
Ranch Road Boots is a rapidly growing company with a down-home feel, staffed full time by Stokes and her dog Skillet. Their boots are made in Texas – ensuring that each pair has a little of that Texan heart and soul stitched right into them – but their operations are based out of Levine Machine in downtown’s warehouse district.
“Downtown Phoenix is small but mighty,” Stokes proclaims. “It’s the coolest downtown and maybe one of the United States’ best kept secrets.”
Her customers live across the United States, and Stokes came up with an innovative way to bring them the luxury of a custom fit and style in the comfort of their own home.
Stokes created a “fit kit” that she sends to customers where they are able to watch a video and read a guide on how to measure their feet to ensure a perfect fit. The kit also includes swatches of leather for the customer to choose from, ensuring the boot is exactly what the customer wants.
“These boots are beautiful, wearable and as at home in New York City as West Texas,” Stokes said.
Each pair of Ranch Road Boots takes roughly 12 weeks to be completed from the start to finish, and comes with a sterling silver nail on the inside of the left heel. Stokes said that it is a reminder that you are wearing a serialized pair of boots handmade just for you.
“Ranch Road Boots proves classics don’t have to be boring or purely utilitarian,” Stokes said. “Our leathers, craftsmanship and customer service is second to none.”
And as boot buyers know, if you want serious boots you’re going to pay a fairly serious price. But hey, that’s the cowboy way.
For those who are lucky enough to live in the Valley, you can visit the mobile Boot Saloon at special locations that change frequently. To find the next stop for the Boot Saloon, follow @ranchroadboots on Twitter for updates.
Pedal Craft Volume 2 rolled into Kitchen Sink Studios on Friday night to celebrate the growing urban bike scene.
Jonce Walker, Co-Founder of the Phoenix event, extended his thanks on the Pedal Craft Facebook page.
Wow! What an incredible night last night! Awesome design, hundreds of bikes, and over 1,200 people having fun. Pedal Craft exists to induce smiles, build community, and help a cause. We are certain what happened last night achieved all three.
Check out the spirited scene in the gallery below, as captured by photographer Jack London.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Valley Nonprofit Seeks ‘Bakers’ to Create Unique Gingerbread Creations
“Home Sweet Home” Gingerbread House Show to benefit NHS Phoenix
WHAT: The Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix (NHS Phoenix) is “calling all bakers” for the their unique interpretations of the traditional holiday gingerbread house, to be showcased at the 3rd Annual ‘Home Sweet Home’ Gingerbread House Auction at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
Submissions must be original (kits used as a base are acceptable), and participants should create their idea of a HOME, with approximately 80 percent using edible materials (home does not have to be actual gingerbread, however must be made from ‘sweet’ edible materials.) If participants are in need of financial assistance, under certain circumstances, NHS Phoenix will provide up to $100 towards the cost of supplies.
Home Sweet Home is a unique evening of entertainment, art and auction. It will be held on Saturday, December 1, 2012 and will feature dozens of gingerbread houses created by local community members, artists, architects, celebrities and others who want to showcase their artistic talents and support NHS Phoenix. This year’s venue for the event will be the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, located at 215 N 7th Street in downtown Phoenix.
All proceeds from Home Sweet Home go directly to supporting pre-post, reverse mortgage and foreclosure intervention counseling, education, down payment and closing cost assistance, affordable mortgage programs and single-family homes offered by NHS Phoenix.
WHEN: The gingerbread houses will be available for public viewing Nov. 27 through Dec. 1 at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix during the museum’s regular operating hours of 10am – 4pm. Paid Museum admission of $11 is required in order to gain access to the Museum and view the houses. An invitation only VIP event will be held on Saturday, Dec 1 from 4:30pm-6:30pm at the Museum where guests will have an opportunity to bid on their favorite Home Sweet Home.
Featured image provided by NHS Phoenix.