APOPKA, Florida. – A Central Florida man is using faith and fitness to make a difference in his community.
Curtis Huggins, 32, is currently a student at the University of Central Florida, studying kinesiology which focuses on exercise and how the body moves. But that’s not all he does. In addition to going to school full time, he has Hiit Fit Group, a fitness company, he is the father of two young boys and spends his free time motivating people to exercise their faith.
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Huggins, a Kansas native, moved to central Florida about 13 years ago and currently resides in Apopka. He’s always been an athletic guy, but going to college and becoming a fitness trainer wasn’t his first choice. Before becoming a certified personal trainer, Huggins joined the military in 2011 and served in the navy for four years.
While serving in the Navy, he completed a special warfare program called Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen, or SWCC. Members of this elite crew are extensively trained to execute high-risk warfare and reconnaissance missions on rivers and coasts. SWCC assists SEAL teams in special operations missions. There were 300 people who started in this program, but Huggins said he was the only black man in the group. He told News 6 that he was always successful in all the sports he played growing up, but was soon faced with reality while going through this rigorous schedule.
“I was always the best growing up, and it was a totally different ball game there. I had to overcome the mentality of being the best but being the worst,” Huggins said.
According to Navy website, a SWCC operator will undergo one of the most demanding physical and mental training in the world. And understandably, Huggins said this program was one of the hardest things he’s ever done in his life. But he is also grateful for this rewarding opportunity because it made him the person he is today.
“Being in training was divine for me. He had immense discipline. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Huggin said.
Huggins’ grandmother is his number one fan. He told News 6 that he promised her to go to college and get a degree. He is now set to graduate from UCF in 2023.
As a teenager, Huggins didn’t always have it so easy. He had to go through a lot of hardships at a very young age. Like the sudden death of his father when he was only 8 years old.
But says he is grateful for the memories they shared together. Huggins said he remembers his father being really into sports and it was something he always enjoyed. This inspired and motivated Huggins to immerse himself in all things sports. He said he also had his grandmother to thank for that, as she was always there for him when his parents couldn’t be. He has played every sport under the sun, from basketball to football to soccer to track and field. The track ended up being her pathway to college.
“Growing up when I didn’t have my dad, I always wanted to get involved in sports. My interests came through his interests,” he said, “I was doing all the sports, even when nobody was there.
Huggins said he had changed a lot since his teenage years and mentioned that he was mostly focused on being the best and not on his connection to God.
“I was very competitive. I tried to display that when he was younger, but then I realized it wasn’t about that,” he said.
But all that has changed now. Huggins does everything he can to help others, so everyone can be on the same level. He said he learned a lot from his life experiences and was so grateful to be able to help others in need. And more importantly, being able to be there for your children and teach them all the lessons of life.
“I’m so grateful, every day I try to have a moment of gratitude. I’m so grateful that things happened the way they did,” Huggins said. “I’m in my life two boys, where my dad wasn’t part of mine. So grateful to be able to be there and talk to them about everything, school, interests, girls. I can cheer them on, because I never I had no one to cheer me on. I’m just grateful for that, it’s such a blessing.
Huggins said he had faith to thank for his success and wouldn’t be where he is today without it.
“Faith was my foundation. God has always provided for my needs,” he said. “I wouldn’t be a coach if it weren’t for God’s sake. I give him the glory.
He has been a member of the First Baptist Church for about 10 years now. He started attending their programs early on and now helps with weekly mentoring groups. He said it was so rewarding because it was something he wished he had growing up as a teenager.
Currently, he is helping two troubled teenagers by motivating them and sharing his personal experiences to guide them through life. He also leads a group of men aiming to establish a spiritual relationship to overcome difficulties so that they can live a healthy life. In addition to mentoring groups, he also hosts a weekly Monday evening prayer session on his social media.
“It’s so important on every level in every aspect, you have to grab it and help others if you’re on a higher level,” he said.
He told News 6 that it’s important to him to share his gift and he’s received a lot of positive feedback because of it.
“I was in a dark place and got help. You never know who needs a prayer. Some people will say to me, ‘I just needed to hear those words today.’ Spiritual, physical or mental – we all need it,” Huggins said.
He wants people to know they are not alone.
“I contribute in any way I can, we’re all in this together,” Huggins said.
Faith and fitness go hand in hand for Huggins. He wants to be able to reach and help as many people as possible. This mindset helped launch his personal training business.
Before COVID hit, he was mostly focused on in-person personal training. But then a global pandemic hit, and he said it was really a game-changer for him.
“When COVID hit, I ended up doing virtual boot camps. Every day I was going online,” he said.
Soon after, he did a live workout with well-known fitness influencer John Gaines, and Huggins’ social media exploded.
“I will never forget that day. I received two to three hundred inquiries from that day,” he said.
Many requests asked him to do online workouts, so he changed his game plan and went virtual.
“Everything worked. I changed my way of doing things. Fast forward 2 years later, 90% is now virtual. I’m finding the same success rate and loving it just as much, if not more,” Huggins said.
HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training and that’s what his company, Hiit Fit Groupfocus on now.
Customers of Hiit Fit Group can expect to receive personalized fitness goals, diet plans, virtual workouts, sports performance, group workouts, exercise programs, and workouts that meet their specific needs . Huggins will guide you every step of the way while creating a fun and engaging environment.
What started as a dream has now become a reality for Huggins. He now trains with two well-known companies, in addition to his one-on-one trainings and boot camps. He does these sessions in person and virtually to accommodate everyone.
“One of my goals is to reach as many people as possible. So, I started thinking outside the box, looking for health and fitness programs,” he said.
When News 6 asked where he found the time to do all these things, he said creating a plan was key.
“It’s about planning to find the time to do all of this and do it all,” Huggins said.
Huggins is happy that his children can admire him and he is lucky to be able to make his grandmother proud. He also added that it is inspiring for others to see his path.
“I am able to help and inspire other people and be successful and be a black business owner and love God the same way,” he said.
Huggins said when he thinks of Black History Month, one specific word comes to mind.
“When I hear BHM, I always think of opportunities the first thing that comes to mind. It shows how many opportunities were given and what we were able to overcome,” he said.
And that’s what he did. Overcome adversity and motivate others to do the same.
The sky is the limit for Huggins and he plans to continue to grow his business while helping others achieve their goals.
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