Hello and welcome to The Jungle Gym! My name is Victor Lazzari, formerly of Maryland, currently residing in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ”Jungle Gym” concept came about as a hybrid between my two passions: landscaping and bodybuilding.
Growing up, I was always interested in plants and vegetation - specifically, how they could be used to organize and decorate outdoor spaces. It fascinated me that, just like interior architecture uses walls, ceilings, and furniture to create functional space, plants could be used in the same manner outdoors: Trees as overhead structure, hedges to create partitions, flowers to add color like artwork in a room, and so forth.
Soon my dad let me join him on his weekend trips to Home Depot for his DIY landscape projects. Picking just the right flowers and trees became important to me. When our family moved into a new home when I was 14, my Dad, who was more than happy to be relieved of duty, told me to design and plant whatever I wanted around the yard. This was my first real life attempt at residential landscaping.
At the same time that I explored landscaping, I also explored bodybuilding and weightlifting. I idolized my big brother Richard, who served in the US Navy. When not deployed, Richard spent his days lifting weights and flipping through magazines such as “MuscleMag” and “Muscular Development.” This was during the early 1990s, the golden age of such bodybuilding icons as Bob Paris, Dorian Yates, and Kevin Levrone. Richard would let me read through his magazines as he did bicep curls in his bedroom. I instantly became hooked; for a small, skinny kid like myself, seeing glossy pages of superhuman physiques was awesome and inspiring. I began lifting weights with Richard as soon as I turned 18, and continued to lift by myself when I went away to college.
I pursued landscape architecture at both the undergrad and graduate level, eventually walking away with a BS in Landscape Design (UMD), a MA in Landscape Architecture (FIU), and a Masters Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture (FIU).
While enrolled in graduate school, I joined the campus gym and soon realized that bodybuilding was my main outlet for relieving the stress of classes and projects. Prior to graduate school, I just lifted weights casually. Now I began spending focused, dedicated amounts of time working out. I also began reading up on advanced training techniques, nutrition, supplementation and so forth. My progress skyrocketed and for the first time in my life, people also started to comment on my gains at the gym. People started asking me if I was a trainer or coach. After a dozen such inquiries, I decided to “just go for it” and become certified as a personal trainer - at the same time that I was finishing my two graduate degrees!
It was stressful, but by June 2013 I had proudly achieved all three.
I began interviewing for full-time jobs shortly thereafter and realized I had a problem on my hands: I couldn’t choose between landscaping and training. I loved both equally. Around the same time, friends and family began suggesting that I start my own company. Some wanted me to start a landscape company, others wanted me to be a full time trainer. I still couldn’t decide.
Finally, my answer came in the form of a taco commercial on TV, of all things. A family cannot decide between crunchy or soft tacos for dinner. Sides are drawn and a fight is moments away. Then, the family’s young daughter asks, “Why not both?” and is met with cheers and applause.
Why not both? It was so simple.
This became the origins of The Jungle Gym: unable to choose just one career path, I decided to offer both services to my clients.
Welcome once again to The Jungle Gym - I’ll get you AND your yard into shape!