Profile of Vero Beach Resident Boxing Trainer and Gym Owner Gus Curren
We sat down and had a conversation with Gus Curren of House of Champions.
House of Champions – Gus Curren
What are 3 things you cannot live without?
1. My English bulldog, Luca, 2. my iPod, and 3. coffee.
How long have you lived and worked in Vero? What brought you here?
I moved to Vero in 1984 with my parents when they left New Jersey. My mom always liked Florida, and my father had an uncle who lived in Vero Beach. My mom fell in love with Vero, so we landed here permanently. I opened my gym in October of 1996.
How did you get into training?
I started boxing to workout and people began to notice I had talent. When I was 18, some local professionals asked me to train them. Lou Duva had connections at the gym I was working at and contacted me. We became good friends. I think he recognized my commitment and natural ability, but I was more interested in training other people over fighting. I would go to the gym and study the trainers more than the fighters. Lou saw this was where my passion was, so he mentored me. I started training the local pros and some kids, too, as young as nine years old. We would work out in the park, which ultimately led me to open my own gym by the time I was 22.
Tell us about some of the boxers you have trained?
I have trained kids as amateurs who turned pro, one who was ranked third in the nation. I have trained Olympic fighters, as well as the Chinese Olympic team. I have trained a world champion and national regional champions, lightweights and all the way to 420 pounds at the professional level.
Is it more difficult to train professionals over the average person just trying to get into shape?
Yes and no. White collar boxing requires me to wear a different hat, entirely. I have to be a psychologist with the everyday boxer. What is this person looking for? Does she want a Crossfit-type workout? Does she want to learn self-defense? Is he just trying to stay fit? Pros are easy in the sense that they have been boxing for a lifetime already and they pick things up very quickly. If I ask pros to do something, they understand and can deliver immediately, whereas the white collar boxer has no experience. Regardless of background or expertise, everyone gets equal treatment. We focus on avoiding injuries, we learn the fundamentals, and I teach everyone the tough mental aspect of the sport. I love training both groups. I am in a different zone when I am training pros for a fight, but I am very focused, regardless of whom I am working with – even those who just come into gossip.
What consists of a “normal” training day/routine for you?
Some days I start training people as early as 4:00 am, but most often I start the day at 6:00 am and work until 7:00 pm. I train men and women of all ages, as well as kids. There is a lot of diversity that comes through my door, which keeps it interesting hour to hour. I have private clients, but I also work with small groups of people of likeability and fitness. We are focused, but we also have a lot of fun.
What do you dislike about your work?
I can honestly say I cannot think of anything I don’t like about my job.
What do you like about your work?
I love what I do. I love the different people I work with and how very different their needs are. I love the exhilaration of working with pros, but I love working toward goals with the white collar boxers, as well. There is nothing like helping people achieve those goals, whether winning a fight or getting in shape.
Tell us more about the Chinese Olympic team you trained?
I started training the team at the end of 2010 through the end of 2011. They came here, but I also had to travel to China to work with the team. That was an amazing experience. I was there specifically to train the athletes, so we were in the Olympic Village. I would get up early and walk around. I saw a lot of little kids up and out early, too. They didn’t speak any English, and my Chinese was poor, but I found it interesting that we could communicate just through our actions. I would work with them – the kids were eager to learn to box – and we could count together. They were very disciplined and wanted to learn. I was there to teach the athletes, but I learned a lot from those dedicated little kids.
Who would win in about: Lady Gaga or Avril Lavigne?
I couldn’t tell you. Maybe Lady Gaga?
How different is training women than men?
Women pick things up faster than men. They have more rhythm and tend to be more coordinated.
Your standard weekday breakfast/dinner is?
For breakfast, I usually eat Greek yogurt with fruit and granola. My favorite dinner is probably pasta with red sauce.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Guilty pleasure? I love to eat – anything and everything, and I eat A LOT! I guess I would have to say Maryland Fried Chicken, and I don’t eat fried food. I like chocolate, too.
What superpower would you like to have and why?
Have you seen my abs lately? I am a superhero (sarcasm).
What celebrity do people say you most resemble?
I don’t know that anyone has ever said I look like someone famous. Among friends, we joke that we are “Good Fellas”.
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
I like being me.
What is the soundtrack of your life?
Run-D.M.C. “King of Rock”. I love the whole album, but that song is the best.
Photos by Elaine Ryan
Originally Published on Vero Home Life & Design