APOPKA, Fla. – One 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 owns Hiit Fit Group, a fitness training business, he’s a 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 type, but attending college and becoming a fitness trainer was not his first choice. Before becoming a certified personal trainer, Huggins joined the military in 2011 and was 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 in rivers and coastlines. SWCC assist the 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 he was always successful in every sport he played growing up, but quickly got a reality check while completing this rigorous program.
“I was always the best growing up, and it was a totally different ball game there. I had to overcome the mental of being the best but being the worst,” Huggins said.
According to the Navy’s website, a SWCC operator will undergo some of the most demanding physical and mental training in the world. And understandably so, Huggins said this program was one of the hardest things he’s ever done in his life. But he’s also grateful for this rewarding opportunity because it shaped him into the person he is today.
“Being in the training was divining for me. It had an immense amount of discipline. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.” said Huggins.
Huggins’ grandmother is his number one fan. He told News 6, he made her a promise that he would go to college and get a degree. He’s now set to graduate from UCF with his bachelor’s degree in 2023.
Growing up as an adolescent, Huggins didn’t always have it so easy. He had to undergo a lot of hardships at a very young age. Like the sudden death of his father when he was just 8 years old.
But said he’s grateful for the memories they shared together. Huggins said he remembers that his dad was really into sports and it was something he always enjoyed. This inspired and motivated Huggins to be immersed in all things sports. He said he also has his grandma to thank for that, because she was always there for him when his parents weren’t able to be. He played every sport under the sun, from basketball to football to soccer and track. Track ended up being his pathway to college.
“Growing up when I didn’t have my father, I was always wanting to get involved in sports. My interests came through his interests,” he said, “I was doing all the sports, even when no one was there.”
Huggins said he’s changed a lot since he was teen, and mentioned that he was primarily focused on being the best and not as focused on his connection with God.
“I was very competitive. I tried to flaunt that when he was younger, but then realized it wasn’t about that,” he said.
But all that has changed now. Huggins does anything and everything he can to help others, so everyone can be on the same level. He said he’s learned a lot from his life experiences and is so grateful to be in a position to help others in need. And more importantly, to be able to be there for his kids and teach them every life lesson.
“I’m so thankful, every day I try to have a moment of gratitude. I’m so just grateful that things have happened the way they happened,” Huggins said. “I get to be in my two boys life, where my father wasn’t a part of mine. So thankful I can be there and talk to them about whatever, school, interests, girls. I can cheer them on, because I never had anyone to cheer me on. I’m just grateful for that, it’s such a blessing.”
Huggins said he has faith to thank for his success and that he wouldn’t be in spot he is today without it.
“Faith has been my foundation. God has always provided for me,” he said. “I wouldn’t be a trainer if it wasn’t for God. I give him the glory.”
He’s been a member of First Baptist Church for about 10 years now. He started attending their programs at the beginning and now assists with mentorship groups every week. He said it is so gratifying because it’s something he wishes he had growing up as a teen.
Currently, he’s helping two troubled teens by motivating them and sharing his personal experiences to help guide them through life. He also leads a men’s group aimed at building a spiritual relationship to overcome hardships to be able to live a healthy life. In addition to the mentorship groups, he also holds a Monday night prayer session on his social media every week.
“It’s so important on any level in every aspect, you need to grab and help other people if you’re at a level higher,” he said.
He told News 6, it’s important for him to share his gift and he’s received a lot of positive feedback because of it.
“I was in a dark place, and I was helped. You never know who needs a prayer. Some people will tell me, ‘I just needed to hear those words today.’ Spiritual, or physical, or mental — we all need it,” Huggins said.
He wants people to know that they’re not alone.
“I make my contributions 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 jumpstart his personal training business.
Before the start of COVID, he was primarily focused on in-person personal training. But then a global pandemic hit, and he said that really changed the game for him.
“When COVID came, I ended up doing a virtual boot camps. Every day I would go online,” he said.
Shortly after, he did a live workout with a well-known fitness influencer, John Gaines, and Huggins’ social media following blew up.
“I will never forget that day. I got two to three hundred requests from that day,” he said.
A lot of requests were asking him to do online workouts, so he switched up his game plan and went virtual.
“Everything has been working out. I changed the way I’ve been doing things. Fast forward 2 years later, 90% is now virtual. I find the same success rate and I love 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 Group, focuses on now.
Clients of Hiit Fit Group can expect to receive personalized fitness goals, diet plans, virtual training sessions, sports performance, group training, exercise programs, and workouts that fit their specific needs. Huggins will guide you through each step along the way while creating a fun and engaging environment.
What started as a dream, has now become a reality for Huggins. He is now training with two well-known companies, in addition to his one-on-one training and boot camps. He does these sessions both in-person and virtually to accommodate everyone.
“One of my goals is I want to touch as many people as I can. So, I started thinking outside the box, looking into health and fitness programs,” he said.
When News 6 asked, where he finds the time to do all these things, he affirmed that creating a plan is key.
“It’s all about planning when finding the time to do all this and getting everything done,” Huggins said.
Huggins is glad his kids can look up to him and he’s fortunate to be able to make his grandmother proud. He also added, it’s inspiring for others to see his path.
“I’m 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, there’s one specific word that comes to mind.
“When I hear BHM, I always think opportunities the first thing that comes to my head. It shows how much opportunity has been afforded and what we’ve been able to overcome,” he said.
And that’s what he’s done. Overcoming adversity and motivating others to do the same.
The sky is the limit for Huggins and he plans to keep expanding his business while helping others achieve their goals.