Alex Savva, president and founder of CircuitFIT gym near Mount Pleasant Road and Davisville Avenue, grew up in Flemingdon Park and found the right path despite knowing many who did not.
“It was a pretty tough neighbourhood and fitness was a positive outlet for me,” he said. “I had a lot of friends who got involved with crime, gangs and violence.” Because of this, Savva has begun inviting at-risk youth from the Chalkfarm community to drop by his gym for regular competitions. By taking part in the events, the youth are kept off the streets and offered a better way to channel their energy.
“I know this works from my own experience,” he said.
The competitions, known as GoodFit Battles, originally saw Savva bring his training to the Chalkfarm community.
Recently, the gym owner has started bringing as many as 30 youngsters and teens aged 12 to 17 from that area to the midtown gym to compete, with local residents and CircuitFIT members invited in to join in or cheer them on.
“I tailor each competition differently, but the goal is to make it fun and get kids out to the gym,” Savva said. “It’s a good way to get people from the two communities together.”
Teen Lincoln McIntosh was one of the competitors at the most recent session. He said the competition was a fun way to spend a day.
“We did some cardio, some tire flips, they gave us a bag of weights and had us run up some stairs,” he said. “It was hard, but it was fun to be in the competition and the people were really nice.”
McIntosh added someone he knows at his gym in the Chalkfarm community signed him up for the competition and, while it was a sudden decision, he was happy to get a chance to contribute.
“I only got a few days training in, but I think I finished third,” he said.
The competitions take place monthly.