Gym Outcast Gets Sweet Revenge
Kicked out of every Highland Park gym, power weight lifter Albert Falcon reopens his own 31 years later.
Albert Falcon hogged the free weights at every Highland Park gym he joined. A power weight lifter, he screamed while lifting and would drop weights without regard onto gym floors. His disruptive behavior didn't win him any friends, and Falcon soon lost his membership to all the gyms in the city.
So with the help of some other workout outcasts and a neighbor's garage, Falcon started a gym of his own. Thirty-one years later, that gym has just reopened as Falcon's Warehouse Gym and Boxing Club, a 12,000-square-foot facility at 1660 Old Skokie Rd.
When he started in his neighbor's garage, Falcon trained all of his clients, which at one point numbered as many as 65. Today, Falcon employs four full-time trainers to help him. All of his trainers are amateur or professional boxers, not "certified" trainers because, according to Falcon, the only way to train like a boxer is to train with a boxer.
"You can't go to school for boxing," Falcon said. "There is nothing that compares to getting punched in the face."
Yet, Falcon also understands his clients may not want to get punched in the face. In fact, they might not even want to put on boxing gloves. And that's fine.
Falcon explains that the focus of boxing training isn't to become a boxer, but to build up stamina and endurance. That's why workouts emphasize the treadmill, jump rope and footwork drills as much as they do sparring.
If patrons decide to box, they've got options: hit one of 10 punching bags or opt for focus mitts, which are pads held by a trainer or another person. If they want to hit something that hits back, there are three boxing rings to accommodate them.
The front of the gym houses weight machines and the kinds of free weights that decades ago got Falcon into trouble. There is also all the modern gear: cardio and boxing equipment sit side by side in the middle. The cardio equipment is functional, but far from state of the art.
There's also an old, ratty couch that sits surrounded by empty bottles, a deck of cards and some weight lifter magazines. An aquarium filled with fish seemingly selected for their ugliness send the message home: This gym is meant to look fierce more than it's meant to look sleek.