Founded in 2012 by former professional soccer player, Rodrigo Garduño, 54D introduced the residents of Mexico City to a new concept in health and fitness. The human transformation program – designed to break mental barriers and achieve physical and emotional results – not only delivered on its promises, it also created a following and a sense of community among those willing and able to dedicate themselves to 54 days of high intensity training, customized nutrition and recovery therapy.
With a proven concept and a passion for introducing his transformative program to individuals in search of real results, Garduño expanded the business throughout Mexico and Colombia. After successfully completing the program, Omar Yunes, CEO and 54D ‘alumni’, became friends with Garduño and eventually partnered to bring the concept to Miami. Yunes shared the story behind the journey and how the 54D movement is disrupting a $100 billion global industry.
“I first learned about 54D six years ago while living in Mexico City,” Yunes said. “I was looking to get fit and healthier, but wanted something different besides the usual gyms. I was also injured during a marathon, so getting back in shape was difficult. Someone told me about this new program that was somewhat secretive. I got ahold of an email, which wasn’t published, and requested more information. I received a reply and, a few months after an interview to determine my goals, intentions and expectations, I got in.”
Like many before and after him, Yunes experienced significant results. He also recognized an opportunity. With an entrepreneurial background that includes experience and success as a multiple-franchise restaurant owner and real estate investor, Yunes partnered with Garduño not long after moving to Miami in 2016.
“He’s an athlete with the idea, passion and drive and I have the business experience,” Yunes said in regards to pairing his skills with Garduño’s to focus their collective efforts on expanding the brand. “I was initially more of an investor. However, as things moved along, I bought out his partners in Mexico and became CEO in 2018. After eleven months of permitting with Coral Cables and reconfiguring the concept for the Miami market, we opened our first U.S. location in February 2019.”
According to Yunes, 54D is generating positive change in the lives of those who commit to the high-intensity, zero-excuses training program and lifestyle. That commitment is secured well before a new member breaks their first sweat. After applying for an opportunity to join 150 to 180 other devotees, members go through an interview process to define their goals and set expectations.
“We’re serious about delivering results,” Yunes said. “It’s important that we convey that message early on. It’s also important to define real goals. For example, women can lose up to 22% of their body fat and men up to 33%. Anything more is unrealistic.”
Following the initial interview, members are assigned to one of four yearly cycles and a specific time slot. This provides structure and an opportunity to train with the same people throughout the duration of the program. As Yunes shared, aside from guaranteed results, the bond and strong connections formed as a result of pushing and supporting one another is a defining characteristic of the 54D brand.
“You hold each other accountable,” he said. “You also become friends and you feel like you’re part of a family. There’s a support structure unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. When we ask members what they got from the program, they say things like stronger, leaner, healthier, but they also talk about the sense of community, a change of mindset and the newly found confidence to achieve new and existing goals.”
With guaranteed results, an onsite nutritionist who monitors your progress on a weekly basis, recovery sessions that include cryotherapy and compression therapy and trainers, coaches and fellow members that hold you accountable and want you to succeed, it’s easy to see why the 54D movement is quickly gaining traction. According to Yunes, they’re also innovating and preparing for the possibility of a prolonged impact from COVID-19.
“We’re currently doing a lot of things to ensure the safety of our members and maintain the cleanliness of our facilities,” he said. “For our traditional in-person training program, we’ve had to cut down class sizes, eliminate some of the equipment we normally use and make other required and optional changes. The unintentional result of these precautions is increased demand. Our next cycle starting in August is already full.”
Yunes continued, “The pandemic has also forced us to redefine our traditional brick-and-mortar model for those more comfortable with training from their own homes. Following the success of Garduño’s live-streamed sessions, many of which attract over 30,000 viewers, we’re developing a 10 week online program. The first week will be dedicated to teaching our members how to properly do the exercises. They’ll have daily guidance, an app to keep them focused and other members going through the same program to draw support from. We’ll also monitor their progress and daily workouts to make sure they’re staying on track.”
Yunes and Garduño have dubbed the online “generation” or cohort of members as Generation Q – with the ‘Q’ standing for quarantine. Even though space is limited, due to the fact that 54D trainers will still be following member’s progress and keeping them accountable, they’ve already harnessed the power of their new model to reach eager health and fitness enthusiasts in Greece, Spain and Dubai.
Looking ahead, Yunes, who, on a personal level, feels joy and fulfillment when he sees members of all ages pushing themselves and experiencing results, is targeting a late 2020 grand opening date for 54D’s second Miami location – this one in the Design District. He and Garduño are also looking at a New York City location in the spring of 2021. Long term, the two partners are focused on smart growth with an emphasis on brand excellence. They’re also true believers that the brick and mortar business model will not become a thing of the past. Yunes points to recent demand and the very nature of our human existence as reasons why.
“Even during this pandemic, we have four times as many requests for in-person training as we did before,” he said. “Humans are social by nature. We want to be around other people. We feed off the energy, dedication and enthusiasm of others.”
What advice does Yunes have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “There’s definitely a financial risk with starting your own business,” he said. “It’s important to really sit down and run your numbers and prepare yourself for the grind. You have to be extremely focused on what it is you want to achieve. Stick to what you believe in, rather than focusing on how to make as much money as possible. For the past seven years, we’ve focused on doing what we know is better for our members, not what’s most profitable for us. Our members respect that about us. As a result, it’s brought us a significant amount of credibility. Ultimately, people have to believe in you – if so, they’ll support you.”