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As well as organizing the Goodfit Battles, a monthly fitness competition in north Toronto, Alex Savva donates equipment and prizes.

MOE DOIRON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The Gift: Creating the Goodfit Battles

The Reason: To develop fitness programs for young people in high-risk neighbourhoods

When Alex Savva was growing up in a tough part of Toronto known as Flemingdon Park, he found refuge in a fitness program at a local community centre.

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"There was a lot of crime, violence and drug use," Mr. Savva, 35, recalled from his office in Toronto. "I found fitness gave me something to focus on."

Mr. Savva eventually took up bodybuilding and now runs Pharmafreak Technologies Inc., a line of nutrition supplements, as well as CircuitFit, a personal training studio.

A few months ago, he partnered with Doorsteps Neighbourhood Services, a non-profit organization in Toronto that offers a variety of programs for young people in at-risk neighbourhoods.

Together they developed the Goodfit Battles, a monthly fitness competition in north Toronto that includes events such as tire flips, boxing, chin-ups and kettlebell swings, as well as live bands, speakers and DJs.

Now in its third month, the free competition has become a popular community event with roughly 100 participants of all ages and a lively audience. As well as organizing the battles, Mr. Savva donates equipment and prizes.

"To see a whole community come out, to see them all come together, it's amazing," said Mr. Savva, who is hosting this month's event on June 8.

"I wish I had something like this when I was growing up."

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pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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