The Beginning of Cigar City CrossFit



Allow Myself to Introduce... Myself

Welcome to the Cigar City CrossFit's weekly Blog. This forum is a way for Cigar City CrossFit to share content about exercise, diet, lifestyle, and the general concerns of CrossFit Athletes. I am the head coach and author, Benjamin Bunn, CEO and co-founder. I'll do my best to captivate our subscribers with fresh topics, relevant content, and hilarious musings. Whether you’re looking for advice on supplements, or want a brief respite from the doldrums of your cubicle, I'm here for YOU!



This box is the realization of a long time dream of both Michael Verdi and myself, the owners of Cigar City CrossFit. In 2010 I started a CrossFit Club Affiliate on the University of Tampa campus. The box operated out of a small storage room in the back of the ROTC building. The equipment was pieced together from hand me downs, donations, and a small cash injection from John Sykes. I ran the box with the help of a few trusted companions until I graduated in 2011.

The gym stayed open for another year, but as the original members graduated and the ROTC building moved, the gym slowly faded into the ether. I never forgot the gym. I loved serving my country, but I often longingly reminisced about my time running a club affiliate out of a ramshackle storage room. I continued to coach and volunteer at CrossFit boxes wherever I went, never letting my passion dwindle.

In 2015 I decided to separate from Active Duty service and start an affiliate CrossFit Gym. I spent my free time building a business plan from scratch. I listened to podcasts, read Dale Carnegie novels, and incessantly discussed the minutia of my imaginary gym with my girlfriend. Slowly my flights of fancy started taking shape. Whiteboard scribble became word documents. Sketches became digital images. The gym was becoming a reality.

In the late summer of 2015 my now partner, Michael Verdi, reached out to me in an email. Mike and I were Resident Advisors in the same building for a year while in college. We had different ideas about diet and nutrition, but shared the common bond of general distaste for typical workout regimes. Mike was fickle with his fancy tech job in San Francisco. He was anxious to hop off the hamster wheel. Mike was intrigued at the idea of starting his own business. He loved CrossFit, and liked the idea of wearing lulu lemon gear to work every day. A partnership was born.

Fast forward to now. We’re in the final stages of opening the largest and best equipped CrossFit Facility in the Tampa area. Our facility is 15,000 square feet (not a typo) which sets us apart from any other gym in the area. We have plans to not only create a top notch CrossFit gym, but a world class fitness facility dedicated to health, wellness, and community. Get on the ground floor and watch us grow. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Our name, Cigar City CrossFit, is a shout-out to the historic moniker for Ybor City. We are both longtime residents of Tampa, and I was born and raised in the area. We can give you sound advice on how to fix your air squat, score good strawberry shortcake (plant city), where the best chicken wings are (hattricks), or where to buy a good café con leche (like two blocks from us). Tampa isn’t just a place we’re running a business, it’s our home. Just like the name of our gym, our roots run deep.



Life shouldn’t just be about work. Too many people punch the clock, drive home, and spend the hours before they crawl into bed basked in the light of a T.V. or computer. There’s more to life. People should see, hear and touch other people. We should smile, laugh, curse out loud, and even gasp for air on occasion. We should seek out environments where we can move and play. Places where we can test our limits. Places where we can pull back the curtain on life and find something meaningful, something more.

Cigar City CrossFit is that place. Even if we only get you for an hour, we’ll work hard to make that hour the best one of your day. We want to build a community that encourages personal growth, constant improvement, mental toughness, and strength. Come to Cigar City CrossFit. We’ll give you the tools to not just achieve your fitness goals, but to make your life better.



We intend to spend the next year working furiously to build a community that our athletes will come to intimately know and love. We have close relationships with the University of Tampa entrepreneurship program and ROTC program. You can expect to see an obvious presence from both organizations in the gym. We intend to provide consistent outreach to our old alma mater.

The Veteran Community is extremely important to us. We’ll provide outreach to veterans in the community as much as possible. We intend to build relationships with the local Department of Veterans Affairs, Team Red White and Blue, Go-Ruck, and of course our brothers and sisters in uniform at MacDill Air Force base. We also offer special pricing for any service member currently serving on active duty.

Our facility is large. We have equally large plans to fill some of that space with services and partners that will enrich the athlete experience in our box. Some of the ancillary benefits of the gym will be quarterly seminars on exercise, diet and lifestyle, a free happy hour hosted by the gym on the first Friday of every month and quarterly fiestas for our founding members. We have some additional plans in the works, but we don’t want to spoil the surprise.

Finally, we promise to work hard. We've put it all on the line. We’ve left lucrative jobs and the security of a 9 to 5 to open a gym and do something we care about. We’ve done so because we’re truly passionate about this. That passion will be reflected in the gym every day. Take this journey with us, I promise it’ll be kick ass.


Coach Bunny



Thanks for all the love and support we’ve received along the way. This has been a huge gamble and we couldn’t have done it without the support, encouragement, and blind faith from our friends and family. Special thanks to my Mother, Father, Sister, Dani Rivera, Mark Kane, Chris K., and all the other people rooting for us on the sidelines. 

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