April 21, 2014
Merriam Park, Desnoyer Park, Union Park and Hamline-Midway
It really felt great to be back on the bike tonight. The last time I rode outdoors was March 30. (Pedaling with the bike attached to a stationary rack in the basement is dull, even with the original Hawai’i Five-0 on TV.)
The ride provided some amusing and unusual photo ops, the first a short distance from home. Maybe it’s a Water Utility worker displaying his or her sense of humor or perhaps it came from a neighbor. Either way, I don’t expect anyone is going to grab the hydrant and the eight feet of lead pipe attached to it, no matter how badly they want to.
Several blocks away, I had my first encounter with the Easter Bunny. Benign looking at first glance, but a double-take changed my opinion.
The green and neon orange sign blares at drivers, pedestrians and bikers who pass by the otherwise plain former warehouse at 655 Fairview Avenue North. Upon setting foot into Element Boxing and Fitness, an assortment of sounds-the pounding beat of workout music, the clanging of barbells, the thump, thump, thump of boxing gloves hitting pads and the grunts of patrons training-greeted me. So did Cerresso (pronounced sir-EE-so) Fort, co-owner of the club. I could tell that something cool is happening at the 3-year-old business.
Cerresso and Dalton Outlaw own and run Element, which, according to Fort, opened in 2011 with a simple but important mission. “(We’re) just trying to help change lives. You know, help kids, trying to get them in the gym, teach them something like boxing to keep them from doing negative things.”
Cerresso and Dalton are successful and well-known in boxing circles and their accomplishments give them and their training routines credibility. They target their work with local youth from 6-years-old up but welcome any and all to their gym, “I have a friend, his grandmother comes up here to work out. I’ve got a kids program, adults, a good mixture. With the women, the girls, it’s a good balance and that’s why I love it,” Cerresso told me.
Honing their boxing techniques is the goal for some clients, while many others come to get fit. “Boxing is a good workout, you’re working the full body out. A lot of people watch the ‘Rocky’ movies and see how he trained. If you come here, just do the training piece. You don’t gotta get in the ring and moan and groan with the fights…”
Justin Claiborne is a new client at Element who visits the club almost every day after work. “I just started here a couple weeks ago and I’ve been training with Cerresso. I heard about this gym from a friend and I heard it was a good place. And I heard there was a couple pros (boxers) here and Ceresso is one of them so I figured he was a good guy to learn from.”
Dalton and Cerresso, Saint Paul residents and long-time friends, moved Element Boxing and Fitness to the much larger Midway space last June because the growth of the business. In just three years, Element has become the largest boxing club in Saint Paul.
Cerresso and Dalton obviously enjoy their work and are good at it. I’m sure Element will flourish as a business and improve the lives of at risk youths in Saint Paul. Go to Element’s website at http://www.elementboxingandfitness.com/ for more information about the club.
Here is the link to the map of my route: