With gyms closed and international competitions cancelled during the COVID pandemic, six Caymanian athletes came together with a vision to help the community “invest in their health”.
Leading the charge to open a new fitness facility was Cayman’s national bodybuilder Damenian Maxwell, who partnered with Robert Thompson Jr, Anthony Chin, Amadello Mena-Hebbert, Matthew Powell and Nicholas Ross to create Lift Studio.
“It’s been a rocky road but a good one,” Mena-Hebbert told the Cayman Compass. “I met… guys that I didn’t know only a year ago and we came together. I actually feel like I have a family.”
The George Town gym has been in the works for over a year after previous occupants Strike MMA closed down months after Cayman went into lockdown. Revamping the old fighting grounds was not without its challenges, Ross said.
“It was really difficult to put this together because we had this planned midway through COVID and it was very hard to get the resources and bring certain [pieces of] equipment to the island,” he said. “Every single man on this team had their own task and their own duties and we all executed. Every single week we communicated very well.”
Ross described each of his partners: “Dayo (Mena-Hebbert) brings a lot of opinions and ideas and has a lot to offer with his thinking. Damenian is a very hard worker, he’ll stop what he’s doing to get things done. Anthony Chin is very good when it comes to labour and communication. Matthew is really the foundation, building everything, and has done a lot of sourcing when it comes to our T-shirts and merchandise, and Robert Thompson has great contacts for our renovations.”
The ultimate goal of all that hard work, is to open a gym that will keep members fit despite the challenges of a global pandemic. “Obviously we have a vaccine that has a high success rate to combat that, but I think one of the biggest contributing factors to your health is staying physically fit, how you carry yourself, your mental health and your diet; those are all massive things,” Ross said.
Among the six co-owners, they have participated in over 15 amateur and professional bodybuilding competitions, including events under the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation, where both Ross and Maxwell made the podium for the Cayman Islands.
Ross said opening the gym will be a childhood dream come true.
“We’ve been working out since we were teenagers,” he said. “For someone who is a gym-goer, it is their dream to one day open a gym.”
Lift Studio is expected to open later this month.