As the world entered lockdowns and quarantines during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were left wondering how to go about our daily routines—including workouts—from the confinement of our homes. That’s when former professional soccer player Rodrigo Garduño created a global fitness movement.
Every morning (Monday to Saturday) at 11 a.m., Garduño would go live on his Instagram account, offering an intense hour-long class from his home in Miami. Emblazoned on his athletic gear was “54D,” the name of the human transformation program he created in 2012 in his native Mexico City. The rigorous 9-week program combines high-intensity group training with custom nutrition, recovery therapy, and the inspiration to live one’s best life.
The livestreams also featured Rodrigo “Rorris” De Ovando, the lead trainer at 54D’s U.S. outpost on Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables, which opened in 2019. Across his five 54D locations—3 in Mexico and one in Colombia—the brand has helped 20,000 members and counting, including former pro-baseball player Alex Rodriguez. “I thought, ‘If I can help people around the world to have [motivation], to stand up daily, even if they’re locked in their houses—to create energy, to move their body—we can help a lot of people,” says Garduño of his at-home videos.
In the beginning, only 54D members tuned in to get their sweat on. Soon, more than 1,000 viewers joined in; numbers grew exponentially in the days that followed. Professional athletes from soccer teams Real Madrid and Juventus and celebs like Adriana Lima joined Garduño and De Ovando’s sessions. “We never expected to have such an explosion,” says Garduño of the nearly 30,000-plus people who tuned in at the same time each morning for more than six months, breaking Instagram records of the most devices connected during a live workout. At the end of the day, each video got nearly 200,000 views.
“I think the brand has everything a human being needs to improve their life,” says Garduño, 43. “We start from fitness, from feeling better to looking better, but at the same time, we focus on ‘How can we make the people … believe in themselves?’”
The brand’s philosophies are rooted in attitude, discipline, and commitment—three words Garduño takes seriously. His enthusiasm for empowering others is infectious and is key to 54D’s success. “The way I teach the classes is with a lot of passion, because that’s me,” he shares. “I cannot be without passion in everything I do because I really do believe in what I’m doing and take it seriously.”
Last summer, Garduño launched his app, 54D On, showcasing a sampling of the workouts offered at his physical locations, but tailored for people working out at home. It’s available in 75 countries, and members get access to a food plan, daily one-hour training videos, a global online community, and live guidance from a coach.
Garduño also launched the initiative 54D Heroes in March to give away 5,400 54D On memberships to first responders. “It’s an amazing initiative because, for us, we need to help those that are helping us right now,” he says. “I know what my program is capable [of doing] in people’s lives, so if they do this, they’re going to feel more strength and more energy to confront what they’re dealing with every day in the hospitals.”
Now, Garduño has plans to open a second 54D facility in the Miami Design District by end of the year and is in talks with additional South Florida locations. He also is working to open an outpost in New York City by 2022.
“I think this is the beginning of an amazing journey of this brand in this amazing country,” says Garduño, who is married and raising two young daughters. “This was my dream in the past to come here with the brand because I always thought that 54D has everything to be in the best market in the world, so I’m thankful. I think we’re showing what’s needed to be a brand that competes in the highest level.”