Karla Medina is a well-sought after movement coach, international presenter, trainer and the owner and founder of Sudor Taino Group Fitness (STGF). Karla is a faith-builder and movement expert known for her fusion techniques and the gift of finding what moves people. She enjoys sharing her inspirational life’s story and its faith and fitness connection. Additionally, she is the author of the book Divinely Fit and is the producer of the yearly Divinely Fit Summit.
The STGF mission is inspired by Karla’s journey. After battles with weight, injuries, including major back surgeries, she ventured into the fitness industry with a fresh philosophy – “Fitness & Life with Passion”. She never fit into any particular mold in fitness and was able to use her personal story to fuel her passion for fitness.
“I never thought growing up I would help people find what moves them. I was always athletic but lacked self confidence and struggled with weight, eating disorders and abuse,” said Karla. “I grew up in a single parent household in one of the Hartford projects and I remember just wanting to be a source of light and to help people. So I went off to college and returned to become a city police officer where I grew up.”
Then, a near-death experience and an encounter with God set her on another path to become healthier and help others in a different way.
“I gained and lost 80 pounds and I believe that process refined me. It created a different trajectory for my life,” she said. “Yes, as a police officer I was helping the community and the officers that worked for me, but it wasn’t enough. Seeing so much brokenness allowed me to examine my own. This is where finding what moved me ignited a fire to help others find what moved them.”
She began with workshops and working at different box gyms. When she first started teaching, over 20 years ago, she showed up with a “police officer command presence” —confident in what she could bring, yet she looked different than anyone else in the Connecticut fitness scene at the time.
“It was a struggle to show up as a passionate Latina pre-Zumba days and not a size zero. But I continued to show up and branched out on my own because I wanted to workout hard and play a motivational Christian song without being told that it was not allowed.”
Finally, in 2012, Karla opened Sudor Taino Group Fitness, combining her years of training and experience with the different genres of fitness, exercises, and music. She was called to pioneer a spirit, mind, and body approach centered around faith. Her goal is to use her story and passion to showcase faith and fitness on both small and large platforms.
The name “Sudor Taino” also has cultural connections for Karla.
“The connection to the name is simple, the Taino tribe cultivated my native Puerto Rico with their sweat, and we cultivate people through sweat using a workout as a template for life – if you can push through a workout then you can push through any obstacle in life,” she said.
“Through my very own struggles, failures and triumphs I have seen how self limiting beliefs, negative cycles, low self esteem and the lack of motivation is crushed when a spirit, mind, and body approach is adopted. Our studio floors have been blessed to see many people conquer a spirit, mind and body transparency and be reborn from the inside-out.”
Karla and her team were fortunate to weather the storm that was COVID-19, closing and re-opening in a new space and taking advantage of virtual fitness right from the start of the pandemic.
Currently, Karla mentors many businesses behind the scenes and she is looking forward to continuing to cultivate others and lead from behind the scenes.
“Training other trainers and police officers has allowed me to use all my training and experience to help others reach their potential. Has it been hard? Yes. As a woman, as a Latina, as a business owner, presenter, as a trainer, as a mother, as a wife, police officer, and as a Christian. But I truly believe that it has made me who I am and allowed me to see people. I show up confident in my ability to be strong yet gentle, stern yet compassionate and most of all an authentic servant.”
To other Latinas and minority women embarking on new journeys in your career or business, Karla challenges you to take a step back and really look at your clients, members, and employees.
“We can be personal and purposeful and professional,” said Karla. “We can pray for them and acknowledge them and look at every encounter as an opportunity. That is success.”
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