Catholic church transforms into fully equipped gym in PhillipsSubmitted: 09/06/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

PHILLIPS - The sounds of hymns and choirs don't usually mix with sounds of dumbbells and workout music.

But in Phillips, the connection is closer than you might think.

We found out more on a visit to Price County.

For a century, this was a Catholic church in Phillips.

Starting this year, a fully equipped gym.

This is unconventional new role for this Catholic church.

It's been around since the turn of the century.

But the look has changed since fitness man Brian Duba took over.

"The pews were in place when I bought it. The altar was still up there. The cross was up there. The organ was up there. It was your Catholic church," Brian says.

Now, he runs something truly unique.

"There's never been one here before. There's never been a fitness facility in Price County, ever," he says.

The old church and a location in Park Falls form Triple B Health and Fitness.

Brian's critics said it couldn't be done.

They said people in northern Wisconsin didn't care about physical fitness and a gym would fail.

"We want to turn that around. We want to get people north of Highway 8 to reap the same rewards that people elsewhere that have figured it out are enjoying," he says.

But - a gym in a church?

"We were looking for a big, open space. A big, vaulted ceiling like this works out great for a fitness center," says Brian.

In the basement, renovations uncovered the original stone walls.

"It had that rough, rugged look for the hardcore lifters," Brian says.

But it's not just hardcore athletes Brian looks to attract.

Brian hopes the every member of people's families come to get fit and stay fit.

That's in part because Triple B is a family business itself.

"Brandon, Brianna, Bridgette. My son's name is Brandon, my daughter here is Brianna, and that's Bridgette back there. Triple B."

You might think it's a crazy idea, a gym in a church.

But Triple B thinks it's just a unique way of changing fitness in northern Wisconsin.

"We all want to turn this into something really big, and it should be," Brian says.

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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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