President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” His quote is derived from a speech he gave at Harvard, but its message stands as a reminder to any person trekking through life’s challenges.

Lacota Domine, owner of Dominion Boxing-MMA and Fitness in Dickinson, knows all too well that the adage holds true from her own journey and now extends an opportunity for the community to achieve their own mental and physical betterment through effort, pain and difficulty.

Since she was 8 years old, Domine has lived in Dickinson. While also managing a fitness facility, she also works as a school bus driver and is a mother of six. Domine’s two youngest sons are USA Boxing athletes and fighters for the gym.

For Domine, it has always been a dream to open a fitness facility that accommodates boxing and MMA. With it, she has brought a family culture to the mats.

“I always wanted to be a gym owner, it's always been a passion. Dickinson has never offered it and if I could have had this growing up like these little guys, I would have been in it since I was little,” Domine said. “The one thing I hear about 90% of the time is, ‘This is amazing. I have been looking for something like this. When did this open? How long has this been here?’”

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Lacota Domine preforming the ground and pound exercise in her work out. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
Lacota Domine preforming the ground and pound exercise in her work out. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

This past spring, Domine opened up her gym at 1470 E. Villard St. with the purpose of offering Dickinson and surrounding areas with health routine options.

From regular fitness classes to professional training, Domine and her four experienced coaches have skills that contrast well with one another and who all share the same philosophy in caring for their individual clients' needs.

Coaches include amateur muay thai/MMA Steven Chartier, USA Boxing and amateur boxing Channing Schmidt, professional boxer Ryan Bourland and professional kickboxer Howard Lemere.

Howard Lemere is professional in muay thai and kickboxing. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
Howard Lemere is professional in muay thai and kickboxing. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

Bourland, also known as Rhino, retired in 2018 after winning the Super Middleweight Belt with a career record of 16-2. Lemere owns his own gym in Williston, Combat Fitness, and has a background of 28 years in kickboxing and muay thai; he has also trained professional boxers and UFC fighters.

“Boxing, kickboxing, muay thai, jiu jitsu, self defense, weightlifting, cardio, just plain fitness, you get basically everything,” Lemere said. “The good thing with Lacota is that she has pros in here, actual pro fighters that are training people and our goal is to get people to go into the ring or into the cage.”

Lemere is certified in self defense. Dominion Boxing-MMA and Fitness has self defense tactics that set people up for real life situations with no “smoke and mirrors,” he noted.

“(It has) the simplest of moves and it's mostly to get away. It's not to conquer your opponent or attacker, that's the wrong way to look at self defense. Self defense is to protect your life,” Lemere said. “That is the realistic part of self defense, not jump spinning, hook kicks or roundhouse kicks. A lot of it is just not practical.”

Domine said she’s extremely happy with the coaches she has on staff and that they can collaborate and sharpen one another. Though Domine has her own goal to fight professionally and trains with Lemere, she stresses that the gym is for any level of fitness.

“I work on a personal connection with each client and get to know what their goals are and if there needs to be adjustments,” Domine said. “We have skilled professionals that can go above and beyond if there are other things the client wants to do… If they want to fight, it's here. If they want a good workout, it's here. If they want to learn to defend themselves or their family, it's all here.”

Domine has a strong passion for fitness and wants to be part of the growth in Dickinson’s services and health culture. As someone who has also battled with weight loss, Domine understands the challenges of adopting a new lifestyle.

“I meet them right where they are at. It's kind of like taking them by their hand and leading them step by step through a journey that is for them,” Domine said. “I have been on multiple different sides of fitness... I have been through a season of my life where I was very overweight and I know what it's like to be on both sides.”

Lacota Domine poses for a photo during a break in her workout. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
Lacota Domine poses for a photo during a break in her workout. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

Open 24/7 for members, Dominion Boxing-MMA and Fitness offers training days and group cardio classes Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday for different age groups. For children ages 4-12, group cardio classes take place at 4:15 p.m.; followed by a teen session at 5 p.m.; and an adult session for those 16 and above at 6 p.m.

Class sizes vary, but the gym's large space allows for up to 15 people on the mats and 20 on the bags at the same time.

“I was in the North Dakota Boxing Association for eight years and have been to every gym in the state and she has the largest bag stand in the state right now,” Lemere said.

The journey of this business venture has been one that requires a lot of work and commitment, but Domine and her team are up for the challenge. Domine hopes to see her fitness center utilized not only to bring good health to the community but also for athletes to take advantage of.

“I want to show the community this opportunity that is here with these amazing coaches,” Domine said. “We are not even done yet, we are just getting started.”