The Dynamic Duo, as they have been referred to in the past, continues to thrive and contribute to the families in Oakland Park. Desiree and Travis Castellon have known each other since they were in elementary school and really grew close as friends after the 7th grade. As romance blossomed between them, they knew they wanted to build a life, and a business, together. In June of 2018, they opened their doors to Champions World Boxing in Downtown Oakland Park. Their immediate message was that they are very family oriented and want to provide a service for children to blossom. Through the practice of martial arts, they hope children would gain athleticism, confidence, and inner strength. With two children of their own, they know how important these qualities are to them.
Travis had ventured into the world of martial arts when he was 6 years old after having some disciplinary difficulties. At age 13, he was already working alongside experienced maters and trainers. Through love of the art, and experience, he went on in life to compete as a professional boxer. In 2018, he put his professional career aside to raise a family with his wife Desiree and to open his own boxing gym. Having had a background and experience in how martial arts helped him, he now caters specifically to help children.
Travis and Desiree’s target clientele are children from ages 5 all the way to focus on preteens and teens between ages 12 and 15. Their facility even has a game room, where children can entertain themselves while they’re not actively participating in their exercises. Childhood development is very important to the pair. They have a new instructor who has over 25 years of experience and is “Skillz” Certified. It is a curriculum for age appropriate childhood development which is proven to work wonders in martial arts. She is Terah, and she is also Travis’ mother! This is quite the family-oriented business!
Their main focus is to make sure to educate children that boxing is a discipline and is more than an aggressive sport. The curriculum includes education on how to not bully others. Desiree says, “I want this to be a place where the children have fun, feel safe, and when they’re picked up, they’re being picked up from home, and not just an after school care”.
In 2018, the pair opened their gym in Downtown Oakland Park. However in early 2020, COVID-19 put a stop to all operations. They had plans for a Summer program, but they could not offer that. Instead of breaking, in the challenge posed by the quarantine they saw an opportunity to move in to a much larger space at 1024 NE 43rd Court.
According to their website, they offer Boxing Fitness, Sparring classes, Kids Boxing and Obstacle Course, and Personal Training. They are looking forward to opening up their After-School back on October 5th and are currently accepting registrations.
While closed for quarantine and moving to a new and larger space, they realized they had yet another opportunity before them. They revisited the services they offer to the community but more importantly how they offer them. They decided to put together an after school program with at-home pick-up rather than after school pick-up. Desiree conveyed that by doing this Champions could not only continue to help kids learn self-defense and build self-confidence but also make it easy for parents get a break by picking the kids up from home.
In order to run the after school program they have gone to great lengths to run the program in a way that is COVID-19 safety compliant. The gym is continuously cleaned, class sizes are limited and social distancing is enforced as much as possible. They want parents to know and be assured that when their kids are with them, they are in a safe environment.
Desiree and Travis have been very involved in the community. They have participated in most of Oakland Park’s events. Past events have included Summer Sweat, Boxing on the Beach, Women’s Self Defense, Fitness and Pumpkin Painting, Sparring with Champions, and a Halloween Parents’ Night Out.
For Champions in December, they had a ceremony, or graduation of sorts, in which some children followed a martial arts routine to the song “The Eye of the Tiger”. The mother of one of those children said, “During the COVID crisis, they kept classes going for the kids in a virtual environment, which was perfect because it kept a sense of normalcy during a tough time for the kids. And for everyone. My son has gained confidence in himself. Coach Travis also helped reinforce good behavior at home and at school. I would say my son has definitely gained self-confidence and his self esteem has improved”.
Desiree and Travis look on to help other families in this way as well. They hope to create “Parent and Me Classes”. These classes would offer an opportunity for parent and child to create a family bond. This is also a great opportunity for parents to include their children in martial arts, but who are still hesitant about enrolling them in an after-school program. This way, they can participate with them. Like Desiree says, it is a very family-oriented place. Desiree says, “Our gym slogan is that this gym is for the whole family” and a safe, healthy place where the whole family can work out and create a bond.
Anamaria Moreno is an Elementary school teacher. Born in Costa Rica, but mostly raised in Venezuela, Ms. Moreno came to South Florida in 1996 where she has resided ever since. She graduated from Lynn University, with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has taught in the classroom for 18 years, most recently teaching the first grade for the past seven years. Before becoming a teacher, Ms. Moreno was involved in volunteer work with the Child Life Specialists Department at Miami Children’s Hospital. She also served as member of the Board of Directors for “A Caring Pregnancy Center” in Miami. Most recently, Ms. Moreno has taught at an elementary school in Oakland Park. Ms. Moreno also teaches ESOL to Adults in Night School. When Ms. Moreno is not in the classroom, she enjoys baking custom specialty cakes, face painting, and enjoys creating Arts and Crafts.