Fredd Londoño: from modeling to martial artsAfter 10 years of working as a model, it was martial arts that made the Venezuelan feel alive again.
Growing up, Fredd Londoño was known as the handsome blonde boy in his Venezuelan neighborhood, which was enough for bullies to single him out.
He turned to martial arts so he could defend himself from frequent punches to the face, which turned out to be a wise move: It was that same face that took him around the world as a model for 10 years.
But Londoño’s martial arts training never left him. After years of wearing clothes for a living, he decided to ditch the suits and open a fitness club called El Barrio (The Neighborhood) in Mexico City. These days the only suit that matters to him is his keikogi.
THE RED BULLETIN: You’ve walked a pretty interesting path to get where you are.
FREDD LONDOÑO: Yes. I was raised in the city of Maracay in Venezuela. I left home at 17 and, after a few ups and downs, I met someone who offered me work as a model. I was studying civil engineering at the time, but they offered me a three- month contract in South Beach, Miami. I had to avoid injuring myself, so it meant I took a break from sports.
So how did you go from modeling in Miami to owning a gym in Mexico?
After modeling, acting would have been the natural career progression, but I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. I looked back on what I had done in my life and thought of jujitsu and martial arts. I wasn’t into having a camera in my face anymore—I felt more at home in a keikogi, on a tatami mat. I think people should do things that they’re passionate about, so it doesn’t feel like hard work. That was when I made the decision: It’s about what I want to be and what I feel comfortable doing.
How do you feel when you put on your keikogi?
It feels like home! It’s hard to explain. Lots of people like wearing tailor-made suits, but for me it’s the opposite— I’ve always known I wasn’t into that. For me, the keikogi feels like being at peace.
How does your gym help other people to share
A neighborhood is about developing ties and feeling secure. We try to avoid pigeonholing ourselves, but the thing I like most about El Barrio is that it takes people out of their comfort zones.
What’s the secret to embracing change?
You can’t change on your own. The first rule is to be yourself. We don’t want anyone coming here with airs and graces. There are no stereotypes. Become part of the gang, be accepted by the gang. Once you have like- minded people around you, changing your life is easier. That’s why I wanted to set this place up: There’s boxing, a tatami mat, CrossFit, and I share it all with my friends, with my gang.