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Who Is Eli?

Eli Evangelista is Joao Neto’s Father and the founder of the original Eli’s Academia is Santos, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Eli worked at the port in Santos for many years but was always into health & fitness and his dream was to open a gym. His dream became reality in the late 70’s when Eli’s Academia began. It was one of the very first gym's in Santos and became popular very quickly. It was a family run business and Joao’s Mom and 3 sisters were always at the gym helping out ...

His Mom taught aerobics classes and his sisters would help keep the gym clean and tidy. Joao was his father’s right hand guy and would spend every day after school at the gym doing anything and everything. He was even taking new clients around and selling memberships as well as taking them through their first couple workouts as early as 13 years old. 

You could say that health & fitness is in Joao’s blood and its all thanks to his father being a great role model and inspiration. Eli had the reputation of being one of the strongest men in Santos and was known for his 21” biceps. Eli’s Academia closed in the 1990’s but still to this day when we are in Santos walking around town with Eli, Zenita & the family, we can’t walk too far without being stopped by someone to talk about Eli’s Academia and how that was the place to be back in the day. Joao’s goal when coming to the United States was to fulfill the health & fitness dream that was instilled in him as a child and to find his place in the fitness industry. 

Joao opened his first personal training fitness facility in Oakland Park, Florida in 2000 and without even having to think about it, named it Eli’s Fitness Studio after his family’s business back home in Brazil. Check out the pictures below of Eli and the gym. In today’s standards it may not look like much but back then this was the top of the line and Eli’s 21” biceps are still hard to beat!







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