Pomona boxing gym tackling mental health faces closure – Daily Bulletin

Boxing Gym Pomona is on the ropes, looking for a new home to continue her mission of treating mental health issues through exercise.

After being notified in March of the sale of the immovable that it is renting, the Personal care lab has spent the last five months trying to find a new location rather than going out of business. It was an emotional time for club members and owner Nita Watson.

After receiving a 30-day departure notice on July 9, the gymnasium continues to operate at 273 S. Park Ave. while Watson searches for a new location.

“Time is running out and we are looking for places but so far nothing,” Watson said by phone Monday morning. “We’ve already started packing, but we’re just taking things hour by hour. “

  • Self Care Lab boxer Mario John Murakami, (left) 26, trains at the Pomona gymnasium on Wednesday, August 4, 2021. The boxing center and its neighbor, the Pomona fish market, are forced to relocate to because of the property being sold. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • A donation bucket sits inside the Self Care Lab as boxing trainer Anthony Ortega trains at the Pomona Gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The boxing center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are forced to relocate due to property being sold. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab owner Nita Watson (left) instructs boxer Mario John Murakami (right), 26, as he trains at the Pomona Gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The Boxing Center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are being forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab owner Nita Watson (left) gives instructions to 15-year-old boxer Adrian Alejos (center) as he trains at the Pomona Gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The Boxing Center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Pomona Fish Market and Self Care Lab Boxing Hall are being forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab boxer Mario John Murakami, 26, trains at the Pomona gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The boxing center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab owner Nita Watson (left) instructs boxer Mario John Murakami (right), 26, as he trains at the Pomona Gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The Boxing Center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are being forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab boxing trainer Anthony Ortega trains at the Pomona gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The boxing center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are forced to relocate due to the sale of the box. property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab boxing trainer Anthony Ortega trains at the Pomona gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The boxing center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are forced to relocate due to the sale of the box. property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Pomona Fish Market and Self Care Lab Boxing Hall are being forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab boxing trainer Anthony Ortega trains at the Pomona gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The boxing center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are forced to relocate due to the sale of the box. property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab owner Nita Watson (left) instructs boxer Mario John Murakami (right), 26, as he trains at the Pomona Gymnasium on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The Boxing Center and its neighbor, the Pomona Fish Market, are being forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Pomona Fish Market and Self Care Lab Boxing Hall are being forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

  • Self Care Lab owner Nita Watson stands in a boxing ring at her gym in Pomona on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The boxing center and neighbor Pomona Fish Market are forced to relocate due to the sale of the property. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

The building, along with the adjacent Pomona Fish Market, was purchased by Danny Provenza, according to the advisory. Attempts to reach Provenza for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful. A person who identified himself as “Sal” answered the phone number listed on the notice but gave no details of any changes to the property.

Open tax records show Mexican boxing champion Leo Santa Cruz is part of the building’s ownership group. The efforts to reach Cruz were also unsuccessful.

With a possible deportation imminent, Watson has said she understands what she is up against.

“I know Pomona is changing, but we want to be part of that change,” Watson said. “But if we can’t, that’s okay. But don’t forget the people who are affected every day if this gym is not working.

The Pomona native – who has operated the gym for five years – said plans for a potential new location collapsed in June, leaving her team to scramble to find a site for the club. After raising over $ 20,000 through crowdsourcing, Watson believed she had a secure building and was ready to move in.

“We came across a potential location which was just spectacular,” she said. “We spoke to the owner and everything was working fine, then three weeks later we were told the property had been sold to someone else. Literally, life has just left me.

The ongoing research has frustrated Watson as the gym program she has helped build over the past few years nears its final days. The club’s impact on at-risk youth in the community is immeasurable, she said.

“I don’t want to take my program outside of my city that I represent because I know it won’t do my youth a favor, it won’t do the families I serve and the athletes we coach here.” Watson said. “It’s more than a gym, it’s a place where you have peace of mind. “

The Self Care Lab was created as a space where people of all ages and backgrounds are invited to exercise, train, and tackle issues such as depression, impulsive behaviors and anxiety. The Gym is a certified mental health boxing club in the United States, offering classes in competitive boxing and fitness, weight lifting, circuit training, and yoga.

Membership options range from youth and adults to those in the intake and probation system. Club members say they use space as an escape from their stressful lives, and build relationships with others like them, looking for an escape, even a temporary one.

Adrian Alejos, 15, doesn’t want the gymnasium to leave town. Pomona’s second high school student said he preferred to train in a boxing ring rather than on the street, like some of his classmates.

“He has to stay here, I can only cycle so far,” Alejos said after a sparring session last week. “We feel safe here, just like at home. “

This feeling of security and support is central to the gym’s mission. Watson, a former mental health therapist, runs classes with self-care in mind in hopes of leaving issues like anxiety and depression by the wayside.

“It gives people a place to stay out of trouble and work on that mental health,” said gym member Mario Murakami. “It’s the cheapest gym in town, especially in this community, people don’t have too much money, so Coach Nita makes it available to everyone.”

The 26-year-old Pomona resident has been coming to the gym for the past six months, an experience he says has helped him deal with his stress and life at home. Before Murakami found the gym, he said he quit an accountant job at Yelp, due to anxiety and depression, something he says he has since overcome.

“I was really stressed out, but it all really helped me,” Murakami said. “The coach is from Pomona, so she has that chip on her shoulder that we all have here. It helps us all feel comfortable.

Watson has a special bond with every member. A special shout is given at the entrance to the club, checks on home life are frequent and members are always punched on the way out.

While the gym’s future is uncertain, Watson said she had no regrets and would agree to move to another city, albeit with some hesitation.

“It would probably be better for me to impact a whole other community, we did it once, we can do it again,” Watson said. “If it’s our time, I’m ready for the next move.”


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