Exhausting fitness craze hits luxury realtors hard: 54D

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Amid the company’s financial woes, the peloton’s golden age may be coming to an end.

But luxury real estate agents tell Inman that a new fitness craze that started gaining momentum during the pandemic has them all excited — 54D.

Barbara Estella | Credit: One Sotheby’s International Realty

“You become addicted to [54D] because you rely on these people day in and day out and it’s like your therapy,” Barbara Estela, realtor at One Sotheby’s International Realty in Coral Gables, told Inman. “It’s like my coffee in the morning – instead of my coffee, I’m like, ‘I want to go to the gym!'”

54D is a 54-day, nine-week high-intensity fitness, nutrition, and recovery program that was founded in 2012 in Mexico City by former professional soccer player Rodrigo Garduño. It is currently offered live from studios in Miami, Mexico City and Bogotá. Participants emphasized to Inman that this is not just a gym program, but a way of life. Garduño calls it a “human transformation program”.

The program is no joke compared to other fitness regimens like this. Participants who want to join cannot simply show up and expect to be admitted. There is an interview process where the coaches determine if you are mentally and physically ready for the challenge. Then, once they determine that a candidate is suitable for the program, the candidate must sign a contract stating that they will fully commit, which means one hour a day, six days a week for 54 days.

Participants who miss more than three days of the program are expelled. (They will also be reimbursed for the cost of the program prorated to the number of classes they attended.)

Punctuality is also imperative. Members who arrive a few seconds late to class will be reprimanded with burpees. Members arriving more than three minutes late will not be admitted to class.

Multiple classes are available per day, but participants should also stick to a single hour class once they start, which helps build a team mentality among the approximately 20-30 people accepted into each Classes.

Angel Nicholas | Credit: Compass

All of those rules — including the strict nutrition plans that promote healthy eating and avoid alcohol and a $3,900 prize — are a pretty big commitment. But luxury agents Inman spoke to said it was worth it.

Angel Nicolas of the Nicolas de Compass group in Miami, who has an athletic background (he was briefly under contract with the San Francisco Giants years ago before an injury sidelined him), said the program had helped him out of a fitness rut, and he and his wife have been hooked since they first tried it in 2018.

“It’s about the mentality of breaking through that barrier, pushing your limits every day and doing things that you don’t think you can do,” Nicolas told Inman. “When you’re in that kind of environment, where everyone’s going through the same struggle, by week two there’s a strong bond, then by week four you feel like brothers, you feel like to be part of a team.”

The start of the pandemic obviously disrupted the program a bit with the closing of the gymnasiums. But founder Garduño didn’t want program members to feel like they were on their own. So he took to Instagram Live and started streaming classes that were open and free to everyone, which helped blow up the following program.

54D CEO Omar Yunes told Inman in an email that the number of devices logging in to watch those first Instagram Live sessions started at around 600, and in about three weeks it grew to around 35. 000 devices connecting live. Additionally, approximately 120,000 devices were streaming on-demand courses after they were live streamed.

Omar Yunes | Credit: 54D

“[Rodrigo’s] the idea was to use these free sessions [during the pandemic] as a way to get your body moving, and therefore getting it to release hormones that help you fight anxiety and stress and keep your mind distracted by having at least one thing to look forward to each day,” Yunes said. “Sometimes just doing the right thing for the right reasons is the way to go, and it’s proven to be the case.”

Estela is one of the people who discovered the 54D virtually for the first time in those early dark days of the pandemic.

“I started the pandemic when I was super depressed myself,” Estela said. “And I had pain at first. My body was hurting me and I wanted to give up…but I’ve never given up on anything in my life — I mean, I’m a real estate agent. And it certainly helped me with the work. It helped me, when I negotiate something, to assert myself, to have more confidence in myself.

Estela actually ended up giving up virtual classes after a few weeks because she’s “not one to do things online,” she said. But it was enough to give her a taste of the program and to know that she had to join one of the cycles in person as soon as they became available again. She was able to take advantage of this opportunity in the summer of 2021, and since then she has been doing well.

Garduño still hosts free Instagram workouts once a week, but now 54D also officially has an online program that people can sign up for at a cost of $385 per nine-week cycle, which requires no special equipment other than an exercise mat.

Once 54D became a program that wasn’t tied to physical locations in certain cities, Nicolas said he started hearing about people in his network across the country jumping on the 54D bandwagon.

“It got to the point in my business where I was talking to people from New York, Connecticut, California, wherever, and they were like, ‘Oh, you know those guys from 54D?’ and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? How do you know them? And they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m doing their workouts online.’ And it just exploded.

This surge in popularity is prompting the company to consider expanding its studios to several U.S. cities and locations in Latin America through 2023, including New York, Los Angeles and two other major U.S. metropolitan areas yet to be determined, said Yunes to Inman. The company will also soon launch a new outdoor program called 54D Runners, aimed at graduates of the program who want to focus on running as a discipline.

So what makes the program particularly appealing to luxury real estate professionals? Of the agents Inman spoke with, it helps them hone in on the character traits inherent in many luxury agents that help them succeed.

Valentina Ghersi | Credit: Compass

“It gives you the discipline to show up on time every day for 54 days,” Valentina Ghersi, Nicolas Group agent at Compass in Miami, told Inman. “The energy in the room really keeps you going…it adds to your life in every way.”

“For real estate agents, I think it’s phenomenal because the relationships you build there are great,” Nicolas said. (The program has been raved about by celebrities like Alex Rodriguez and Adriana Lima.) “But outside of networking, it’s a program where they never start late, they always finish on time, and it helps you create a structure in life outside the gym.”

Yes, the program is a physical program that trains the body, Estela said, but it’s also a mental training program that “pushes you to the next level.”

“You have this community of individuals who are professionals, which is why I think a lot of real estate agents participate in it,” she said. “It teaches you time management, it teaches you commitment, it teaches you a lot about yourself, to be quite honest. Because at that point, when you’re training, the only no one who makes or breaks is you.

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