SOUTH MIAMI, Florida – 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 had been the victim of harassment. There is a row of houses west of the gymnasium building at 6600 SW 62 Ave. Some of the residents of the houses said they were tired of the noise coming from the gymnasium.
“We do boot camp classes,” Varona said. “We do personal training. We train professional fighters.
Varona said the city has unfairly targeted its successful business since he leased the space four years ago. At the time, a city ordinance banned noise within 100 feet of a business. In 2019, the ordinance changed to ban noise.
The city applied the ordinance and cited Varona almost 80 times. And on Tuesday, the commissioners met to consider making the environment even stricter for business. If the effort goes ahead, a business will be in violation of city code if an activity tends to “annoy” the community.
“I don’t think there was any targeting by the city against Stunnas. I think they did things to irritate each other, ”South Miami Mayor Sally Philips said of gymnasium neighbors.
The gym has a loyal following. Alexis Heap and Ruth Delamarena, both regulars at FIT in Stunna, said it was like their home away from home. Heap said he has a family environment. Delamarena said it was a safe haven where she found both mental well-being and physical fitness.
Varona still has three years on his lease and several of his clients have said they want him to renew the lease because the location is ideal. Neighbors at the gymnasium said they wanted the noise to go away or the gymnasium to be closed. Varona feels that municipal authorities must also take entrepreneurs into account.
“That’s it; that’s all I’ve got,” Varona said.
Varona faces a judge on Friday for the South Miami violations. The commissioners plan to meet again in October to discuss efforts to change the city code to name companies that “annoy” the community.
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