By John Fakler
Building on the hardcore workout craze, Stunna’s Fit in South Miami offers high intensity training, including boxing lessons, bootcamp, fit kids, private and group training.
But the fitness center also has a softer side. Co-owner Gabriel “Stunna” Varona, a former professional martial artist who retired from the MMA in 2014 also prides himself on humanitarian work.
A certified personal trainer and tri-athlete, Varona has a chokehold on poverty in the local community, founding Shoes for Streets, a non-profit organization that donates shoes to the less fortunate.
The idea came to him after he gave up his own size 11s to a homeless man scouring a dumpster searching for shoes. A message from his pastor stressing the importance of charitable giving soon prompted him to action.
“Whenever I spend time alone, I see the necessity of what a pair of shoes is and does,” said Varona. “I didn’t realize that before—that’s why I go out of my way and I keep doing it. It’s overlooked [by other charities]. The homeless need a good pair of sneakers to fight foot infections and other foot ailments.”
Competitors such as Fight Club and Bodytek don’t intimate Varona. In fact, the success of other high intensity training gyms is indicative of a booming need, and there is more than enough business for everyone, he said.
Varona saw a need for a high intensity gym in South Miami, where he was born and raised. He first got in the business following a bad injury. He couldn’t train, so he started training others and found his passion. He started looking for warehouses in the area and found the perfect fit.
“What separates me from other gyms is our clientele are all connected,” said Varona. “They all know each other. All our people push each other, and are always motivating each other. That’s what helps me [stay motivated]. They treat each other as if they are in our homes.”
In addition to circuit training and private boxing lessons, the gym offers a wide selection of classes for beginners and workout buffs alike. Beginners are kept on a fast pace so they are not left behind, Varona said. It is an open format, with the people at high level in front, keeping Stunna’s three trainer’s busy morning through the night.
Like Varona, Torrence Seymour, a certified personal trainer specializing in strength conditioning and high intensity training also got into the business after a bad injury playing football at his alma matter FIU.
While boxing remains the most popular physical activity at the gym, all classes have a profound effect on the mental and emotional health of members, he said. Whether its money problems, or professionals under office stress, everyone benefits.
“We have a lot of clients going through something different personally and they all need this. It’s about sanity,” he said. “They are all people. Forget the physical aspect. The mental aspect [of training] helps them get through life. They are surrounded with good people, surrounded with good energy. For that one hour [session] you forget about everything.”
For more information about Stunna’s Fit call 786-728-6737 or visit www.stunnasfit.com