Lights, Music, Boxing: Young entrepreneur opens nightclub boxing gym

by Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

FITNESS WITH A PUNCH. Hector Pucheta (above) is the mind (and fists) behind Savage Fitness, a boxing gym that thrives with a clubby atmosphere and music to get your punches flying.
FITNESS WITH A PUNCH. Hector Pucheta (above) is the mind (and fists) behind Savage Fitness, a boxing gym that thrives with a clubby atmosphere and music to get your punches flying.

‘This is going to be a nightclub gym,” Hector Pucheta said with a grin. “Do you know what that means?” He strode over to a control module in the corner of the gym and began to tinker. He switched the main lights off and the space came to life. Blue LEDs twinkled from the ceiling. Blacklights illuminated the rows of water-filled punching bags. Multi-hued spotlights twirled around the floor and walls in slow motion, strobing at intervals. Take the speed up more than a notch and add in some dance music and you’ve got Savage Fitness, Pucheta’s boxing nightclub scheduled to open Dec. 2 in Eau Claire’s Banbury Place (930 Galloway St., Building 13 Suite 25).

Blue LEDs twinkled from the ceiling. Blacklights illuminated the rows of water-filled punching bags. Multi-hued spotlights twirled around the floor and walls in slow motion, strobing at intervals. Take the speed up more than a notch and add in some dance music and you’ve got Savage Fitness.

Gyms can be intimidating places for some people; it’s easy to compare one’s own progress and ability to others’ under harsh fluorescents. Pucheta aims to break that barrier down by dimming the lights and using music to bring people together, just like in a nightclub. Through boxing and fitness, he wants to help his clients improve their health and discipline, and to give them the tools to fight challenges they face in their daily lives.

Pucheta knows from experience that boxing can be a great outlet when going through difficult times. He’s been doing it since he was 6 years old, living with his struggling family in Mexico. When he was 11, he moved, alone, to Wisconsin and began working full-time as a dishwasher, first in Tomahawk, then in Eau Claire. He sent money back to his family every week. He sometimes refers to them as his “child,” stressing the responsibility he feels to them.

It wasn’t long before he was reported as an underage worker. He was allowed to keep his job as long as he went to school, so he found a way to forge paperwork to make it appear as though he was attending, and went unnoticed until he was nearly 13. Then, the restaurant he was working for went out of business, and he lost his home. Social services was notified of his situation, and he entered the foster care system. He started going to Altoona High School, and joined the wrestling team. His coach, Steve Boyer, eventually took him in and he was given a pathway to citizenship.

Pucheta came up with the idea for Savage Fitness two years ago, trying to bring together Eau Claire’s love of fitness and music. He started saving money from his part-time job and his work as a personal trainer to put toward his business. He built his client base from two students to 45 in that time, and found an investor. With only a few days until the grand opening, Pucheta’s idea has nearly become a reality.

It wasn’t a straight shot by any means. Pucheta’s mother fell into a coma after a heart attack three months ago. “It was my hardest challenge,” he said, describing his choice to sacrifice progress he had made in opening his gym in order to provide for her medical bills. She has recovered quickly, in great part thanks to Pucheta’s help, and he worked to recover his savings in order to open on time.

During Savage Fitness’ grand opening, visitors are welcome to try a free class with free glove rental. Pucheta, with the help of trainer Rex Villeverde, is offering a session called 30/30 Showtime, which is 30 minutes of boxing and 30 minutes of general fitness with music blasting and lights flashing to give participants the real nightclub experience.

Pucheta, who is now 23, is excited to get the business growing. He has ordered custom shirts, gloves, and wraps so clients can rep Savage Fitness. Eventually he plans to invest in more space, more equipment, and showers. He envisions the nightclub gym as a place for locals to come together and for visitors to enjoy a unique fitness experience.

“You know when they say ‘dance like no one is watching?’ ” Pucheta asked. “That’s what I want to give to people.”

Find out more online at savagefitbox.com, @savagefit_box on Instagram, and @savagefitbox on Facebook.

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