West End Update – City of Negaunee

New path taken to martial arts in Negaunee

Nate Heffron, city manager, city of Negaunee

NEGAUNEE — Are you looking for a positive change in your life, something that’s designed to improve your health and well-being, something that instils confidence and discipline, something that helps you learn teamwork and all its benefits? Maybe Lake Effect Jiu-Jitsu is the place for you.

Located in the City Center building in downtown Negaunee at 211 Iron St., Lake Effect has been in business for eight years. The business started out in Marquette before moving here in Negaunee, where it opened its doors at the tail end of COVID.

Owner Nick Lauer teaches the fundamentals of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Those of you not familiar with this form a martial art, a combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds.

Focus is centered around self-defense, by taking an opponent to the ground, gaining a dominant position, to force your opponent into submission.

You can find more information on their class schedules and business hours by following Lake Effect on Facebook. The page features images of students at practice and at competitions.

According to Lauer, they have to travel to compete, this includes more regional locations such as Wisconsin and the Chicago area, but have included destinations as far away as Florida.

How did Lauer get involved with jiu-jitsu? Through an in-your-face, tough love approach that changed his life, according to Lauer! Lauer jokes he used to be a professional bricklayer and beer drinker.

“I used to weigh 300 pounds or so. While on a jobsite another worker, a guy in really good shape asked me why I was so gross? I was taken aback, shocked, I wanted to react with raw anger. I thought about it for a while, then I asked him what he did to get in shape.” Lauer said.

Lauer was then introduced to martial arts. “They kicked my butt the very first day, pretty bad, but I came back, they didn’t expect that,” Lauer recalls.

He and his family relocated to the area years ago, and have lived in the Negaunee for quite some

“When I first started, I thought I needed to be in Marquette, you know, the more people the greater success. I found that this all changed during COVID. I looked at reopening closer to home, I looked at Downtown Negaunee and have no regrets”, Lauer said.

Lake Effect started out with one or two students when it first opened in the Marquette area. The studio grew to an average of 40 students by 2020, now Lauer has 50 to 60 members, ranging in age from 5 to 50 years old

“Some are hobbyists, other competitors, some just want to learn self-defense,” Lauer said.

Lauer said one of the central goals at Lake Effect is that the experiences at the studio continue to impact his students in a positive way. It’s not just a location, but a place where they achieve personal growth that can be used in their day-to-day lives. His focus is on his students and in the now, not worrying about whether his business will grow out of its current space.

Even though Lake Effect has been in existence in Negaunee for quite some time, it can be easy to overlook our non-traditional businesses.

What should not be overlooked is the studio’s unique services that can provide individuals with that positivity, personal growth, and meaning. Lake Effect is just another reason that Negaunee is the absolute best place to Forge Your Adventure!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nate Heffron is city manager of the city of Negaunee.


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