ANDERSON, Ind. —
“It really does a good job of bringing people together,” says Tijerina. “That’s what it’s all about – connecting people and seeing them accomplish things.”
Bringing the vision to Anderson
Tijerina came to Anderson about five years ago. His wife, Vanessa, works as controller at Anderson University. Tijerina earned his undergraduate degree there in 2012, and is now commencing his second year toward his masters in urban studies and community development through Eastern University in Pennsylvania. As part of his graduate work, Tijerina currently interns in the City of Anderson’s Community Development office.
Both Tijerina and Vanessa devote time to the EPIC initiative. So far, it has operated solely on donations, including the Tijerinas’ own money as well as some start-up dollars that came from his club in Ohio. The gym space is equipped with gloves and mitts, speed bags, double end bags, a wrecking ball bag, heavy bags, ropes, weights and more. Basketball, yoga and women’s workout sessions are also available at EPIC. Both husband and wife coach the people who come to the workouts.
“I have a lot of people from the west side of town,” says Tijerina. At the same time, his programs attract students from Anderson University. “It’s always fun to see the diversity of it.”Over the last two years, Tijerina has had a few hundred people come to the workouts, some as young as 7 years old, and others as old as 56. Seventy-five percent of them have been women.
Tijerina also established an accountability group for men in March. There’s currently about 14 guys who show up to work out, encourage each other and stay on track. “They have all been in trouble with the law,” says Tijerina. This group, however, is seeking to stay out of trouble and away from addictions like cigarettes and alcohol.