AUSTIN, Texas - At a time where about half of the COVID cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are in the Austin/Travis County Hispanic community, a small business gym owner is doing what he can to make sure his community is seen and stays healthy.
Daniel Hinojosa, CEO and founder of LIFT ATX, says he took the plunge in opening a gym in the middle of a pandemic when many other businesses were closing.
"We just grind, we work hard, and sometimes if that means we need to take a chance in our dreams and that's pretty much what I did," Hinojosa says.
He's been documenting his fitness transformation journey on social media, posting everything from the time they got keys to their warehouse off Springdale and Airport, to when they got equipment delivered into their gym.
"We got lucky, we made some smart decisions, and we were lucky enough to open on September 1st," Hinojosa remembers.
He calls it luck, but really, this has been in the works for years.
"It was a lot of thought, a lot of planning, a lot of long conversations about if this was going to be the right thing for me to do..." Hinojosa shares.
His passion for fitness came out of his own transformation and the need to help others.
"I battled with my weight for the last 30 something years," Hinojosa, the former middle school coach says. "Health is everything and it's all that we have at the end of the day it's all that we have."
In a pandemic where 46% of the COVID cases, 46.5% of COVID hospitalizations, and 48% of the deaths are in the Austin/Travis County Hispanic community, he's on a mission to create a place where his community can be seen.
"So we might as well try to get in better shape so that we can fight off some of these diseases and some of the sicknesses, especially COVID-19," Hinojosa says.
And they have fun doing it, a way to create a safe space for a group he says has long been ignored.
"I wanted to create a place where Austinites that are left here, can call home and can take pride in, because there's not a lot of O.G. born and raised Austinites left, and all a lot of them have been pushed out South or North," Hinojosa says, describing common results of gentrification.
"There's old neighborhoods, that right smack in between a house that was built in the 60s, is a multi-million dollar house," Hinojosa says, driving through the neighborhood he’s called home for 20 years. "So, I think a lot of our members, a lot of our familia, feel pride when they come to the gym, they feel pride to be a part of Lift ATX," Hinojosa says, describing it as a place with vibras y cultura, good vibes and culture.
"It's definitely a place where I feel like now, the people feel like they've been seen and feel like they have a voice, which is, I think, it was one of the goals for me, you know?" Hinojosa says.
Hinojosa says safety is their top priority. They have strict mask policies based on occupancy and work out in an open air space.
If you’re interested in more information, you can find them on their website.