16-year-old opens gym in Liberty City

Teen hopes gym will give community alternative activity to violence

LIBERTY CITY, Fla. – A 16-year-old has a dream to better his Liberty City community by minimizing both violence and obesity with a local gym.

After applying for grants and receiving a $700 donation from an interested woman Ross Torrence ran into at a gym, he used the money to build MCI UFIT and equip an outdoor gym with an array of fitness items, including stationary bikes, trampolines, dumbbells and medicine balls.

Volunteer trainers will also be available to help gymgoers work out properly.

"We'll have different trainers here that will not only be training me but who will also help them [community members] put together a plan of action to get them on this weight-loss program, as long as they're dedicated to see a change in the way they do things," Torrence said.

The gym is in a painted shipping container on a small playground off of Northwest 59th Street and 19th Avenue -- an area that has seen severe violence all summer long.

"There are a lot of different shootings, fights and a whole lot of gang-related violence that has gone on out here in the community," said Torrence. "It's not the older people who are doing it, it's people ranging from age 14 to 25, who are just doing it for the fun of it with no remorse."

Torrence is a three-sport athlete at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School and said he hopes this local gym will give community members an alternative activity to violence.

He said he has thought about safety precautions though, and the gym will close at 7 p.m. until police protection is secured. But the fear of shootings is not stopping Torrence from trying to make a difference.

"I haven't come this far to turn around," said Torrence. "We just have to work around it and find out ways we can stop it and just try our best."

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