SOUTH MIAMI, Fla. – Stunna’s FIT in South Miami is a popular gym that focuses on high-intensity interval training. Gabriel “Stunna” Varona, a retired mixed martial arts fighter, runs it and it hasn’t been easy.
Varona said he has faced harassment. There is a row of homes west of the gym’s building at 6600 SW 62 Ave. Some of the residents of the homes said they are tired of the noise coming from the gym.
“We do boot camp classes,” Varona said. “We do personal training. We train professional fighters.”
Varona said the city has been unfairly targeting his successful business since he leased the space four years ago. At the time, a city ordinance prohibited noise coming within 100 feet of a business. In 2019, the ordinance changed to not allow any noise.
The city has applied the ordinance and cited Varona nearly 80 times. And on Tuesday, commissioners met to consider making the environment even more strict for businesses. If the effort moves forward, a business will be in violation of the city’s code if any activity tends to “annoy” the community.
“I don’t think there has been any targeting by the city against Stunnas. I think they have done things to aggravate each other,” South Miami Mayor Sally Philips said about the gym’s neighbors.
The gym has a loyal following. Alexis Heap and Ruth Delamarena, both Stunna’s FIT regulars, said it is like their second home. Heap said it has a family environment. Delamarena said it’s a haven where she has found both mental wellness and physical fitness.
Varona has three years left on his lease and many of his customers said they want him to renew the lease because the location is ideal. The gym’s neighbors said they want the noise gone or the gym closed. Varona feels like city officials need to also consider entrepreneurs.
“This is everything; this is all I have,” Varona said.
Varona is facing a judge on Friday over the South Miami violations. Commissioners plan to meet again in October to discuss the effort to change the city’s code to cite businesses that “annoy” the community.