Antione "Roc" Meredith, 34 

Owner, Stride Fitness

click to enlarge PATRICK BIEDRYCKI

Gather yourself. Dig deep. Fight for it. Such is the mantra of Antione "Roc" Meredith, as heard above the heavy metal music in a small weight room in North Richmond, any time from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"Roc has these sayings," says Stacy Rodriguez, 32, a mother of three who's trained with him for nearly two years. "For some reason, those words stick with you."

Meredith played quarterback for the football team at Virginia Union University, where in 1999 he earned a degree in biology. "Doing biology and playing sports wasn't easy," Meredith says, laughing. Soon after graduation he founded a personal training business, racking up client testimonials and recently winning two bodybuilding shows.

Competitive and driven? Perhaps. "I want to be the best personal trainer in Virginia," he says while switching out weights for Rodriguez. "That's the overall goal, honestly. I want to be a household name."

Next month Meredith will pack his bags and move his gym, Stride Fitness, to a spot at Cary and Robinson streets. There, he plans to offer zumba dance classes, a turf agility room for athletes and a heavy boxing bag.

Meredith may be chiseled like an NFL running back, but there's coolness about him too. He smiles a lot, speaks softly, and more significantly, participates in community outreach and offers his fitness expertise pro bono. Last year he helped coach a pee-wee football team in East Henrico. This year he's offered free boot camp workouts and nutrition lessons in various parks.

"I'm a giving person at heart," he says. "I want to give everybody the opportunity to succeed and, a lot of times, they don't have the funds."

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