HOLYOKE — Walking into 413 Family Fitness is like stepping into a 1990s time warp. There is neon graffiti on the bright blue walls, strobe lighting and a giant boombox with cassette tapes decorating the one-room gym.
Juan and Elsie Vazquez opened the gym two years ago. Until the coronovirus pandemic shut down most gyms, the couple had built a successful business offering multiple group exercise classes a day, as well as personal training sessions.
“When we got into business we just jumped in. Neither of us had run a business before, but we knew we wanted to do this, and before COVID-19 it was great,” said Juan Vazquez, who is not only a personal trainer, but a weight-loss success story as well.
“Ten years ago I used to weigh 310 pounds. When I started my weight-loss journey what helped me the most besides nutrition was cardio hip-hop. I just loved to dance,” he said.
It took Vazquez about a year to lose 100 pounds, and he has kept it off through sharing his love of dancing with others.
“When you lose weight, people always ask you how you did it, and I decided if I studied this and got certified I could help other people do what I did,” he said.
He became a certified personal trainer, got a job at the Holyoke YMCA and pitched the idea of teaching a cardio hip-hop class.
“I showed them what I could do and they gave me a chance. It took off from there,” he said.