MUNDELEIN – Once a champion amateur boxer, Larry Lentz aims to empower others one punch at a time at his newly opened fitness fight club in Mundelein.
Lentz’s Conquer Fight Club has partnered with CFX (Chicago Fitness Experience) at 1543 S. Lake St. to offer speed, agility and boxing classes for children, as well as adult classes for men and women looking to simply get in shape or box competitively.
“We’re trying to offer something different, and this is different,” said Lentz, whose previous club in Libertyville closed during the pandemic.
At the time, much of the fitness industry moved online as people turned to home and virtual workouts. But fitness enthusiasts are getting back out there as they look for ways to not only lose weight, but also reduce stress and improve their overall wellness.
Among the top fitness trends since the pandemic, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, are health and wellness coaching, as well as live and on-demand group exercise classes.
Since opening his new club in January, Lentz has drawn patrons of all ages – from children ages 8 and older to seniors – as many seek out unique ways to get fit.
Because the pandemic limited fitness classes and gym outings for a couple of years, Lentz said people now are looking to get back at it.
They’re also looking for alternatives.
Boxing serves as both an aerobic exercise as well as a way to strengthen bones and muscles, burn calories and lift moods, Lentz said.
It’s “hard cardio and a great workout,” Lentz said.
Heather Hogel of Mundelein first tried Conquer about three weeks ago when a friend needed a gym buddy. She’s now going to three classes a week.
“I just want to get back into taking better care of myself,” Hogel said. “The thought of doing a stair machine, elliptical machine or treadmill didn’t sound like anything that would motivate me. I just wanted to do something different.”
Before going to classes at Conquer Fight Club, Hogel said she had never worn boxing gloves.
She likes that those at the gym made her feel welcome and didn’t make her feel insecure about trying out something new.
Fighting is a tougher workout than it seems, she said.
“It’s given me an appreciation for another sport,” she said. “It’s given me some confidence. I still wouldn’t want to pick a fight with anyone on the [train] or anything, but maybe I could defend myself.”
Andrea Saldivar of Mundelein brought her 8-year-old son, Leo Gomez, to a class at Conquer after hearing about the club through social media.
Leo would practice boxing at home on his own.
“The first day [at Conquer], we both fell in love with it,” Saldivar said.
Since attending classes, she said Leo talks about his fitness all the time and wants to build muscle.
“He says he wants to be a star one day,” she said. “He really likes Larry. His confidence has boosted as well.”
In Libertyville for about 15 years before moving to Mundelein, Lentz also trains amateur competitive boxers through Conquer Fight Club, https://conquerfightclubs.com/, and regularly hosts boxing shows. He hopes to expand his classes to other CFX locations and bring in more trainers to his club.
Serving in the Navy for 10 years and certified by the military to perform as a command fitness leader, Lentz calls upon that background to craft his style of fitness. He previously traveled around the country as an amateur boxer, competing in and winning the Toughman Contest – a national amateur boxing competition – several times.
“I feel like it was the right time,” he said of his club opening in Mundelein this year.
Fitness engagement has fluctuated since the pandemic as consumers try out new options and routines to find what suits the lives they lead now.
Lentz believes fitness boxing is on the upswing.
“Not only is it fun, it gives you that empowerment to protect yourself,” he said. “All my clients feel way more confident. They walk in a room and you can tell they can protect themselves.”