Miami Tech & Startup News

54D brings fitness program online, expands in Broward and digitally

54D brings fitness program online, expands in Broward and digitally

By Riley Kaminer

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to Miami living is the climate, which creates an environment where getting exercise is more of a pleasure than a chore. So it makes sense that one of Latin America’s biggest fitness crazes has chosen Miami as the hub for its rapid expansion.

Meet 54D, a fitness experience that aims to train customers’ minds and bodies. Founded by Rodrigo Garduño, a former professional soccer star, the program takes participants through what 54D calls a ‘human transformation’ in 54 days. The company creates a cohesive cohort – a “generation” in 54D terminology – among its participants, which includes celebrities such as A-Rod and Adriana Lima.

The idea is that participants show up every day across those couple of months to take part in group training sessions. The program also includes recovery therapy and guidance about nutrition.

Prior to the pandemic, the company was already expanding its footprint – growing from Mexico City to Bogotá and Miami, where it has locations in Coral Gables and the Design District. The Covid-induced lockdowns threatened the future of the rapidly-growing company, challenging the very model of its business.

But under the wings of CEO Omar Yunes, Covid actually offered an unparalleled opportunity for 54D: pivoting to digital.

54D CEO Omar Yunes, left, and Founder Rodrigo Garduño

“When the pandemic first hit, we decided to start streaming for free,” Yunes explained to Refresh Miami. “We were trying to help people who were stuck at home, going crazy.”54D

At that time, Garduño – who remains the face of 54D – had around 10,000 followers on social media. But these livestreams led to his Instagram account growing to more than a million followers, with 16 million video views between March and September 2020 (compared to 100,000 views during the previous six months). His classes were averaging 33,000 viewers each – an impressive figure considering Peloton’s most attended class had 23,000 participants.

“Instagram felt like the natural place to continue to build our community,” Garduño said in an interview with the social media app’s parent company, Meta. “We already had a presence there, and it was easy to interact with our followers, invite guests to join our live training sessions, share our users’ stories, and more. Each part played a key component to the overall success of the initiative.”

From this early success, Yunes knew that they were on to something. He then began to digitize 54D. “We decided to mimic what we do, but do it online – rather than just set up a paywall and charge $15 a month for a bunch of videos,” he explained. The virtual 54D class, just like its in-person counterpart, has the same concept of the community and a program that starts and ends.

After working on the development for a few months, which included both developing the virtual platform as well as the content to go alongside it, the virtual version had a successful launch. “We sold out our first generation in 15 minutes and we had to open more spaces,” asserted Yunes. “After the fourth hour, we had to stop selling because we didn’t have enough capacity.” Earlier this year, they also partnered with Amazon Alexa to create an Alexa Skill for 54D.

Yunes’ advice for other brick and mortar companies hoping to add a virtual component to their business? “Focus on building something that is specific to digital. It can’t be just an add on to what happens to what happens in person.”

Going forward, Yunes expressed excitement to expand both on the in-person and virtual versions of 54D. One of these new locations will be in Hallandale. He also expects for his 200-person team to continue growing. Many of these employees – including Yunes – were members before they started working at 54D.

Yunes also shared that the company plans to expand into nutrition supplements, as well as to more effectively leverage all the data that they are now collecting. All this with the mission to help their clients best achieve their fitness goals.


Riley Kaminer