Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.
– article by Fenna Riethof
“My friends called me the night-time Mayor of Utrecht“
On the wall above Junny’s desk, there’s a framed certificate proclaiming him the ‘best personal trainer in the municipality of Utrecht’ (2017). He won more votes than all the other contestants. If you train here, you can look at this when things get tough. To Junny, the certificate symbolises what he stands for: daring to take that leap of faith.
“It’s a Marine mentality. I came to the Netherlands in 1998 to serve with the Marine Corps. It was my dream and I ended up serving for eleven years. At that time, you were practically drilled to jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute. Not literally obviously…” So when a friend asked him to come and work in his gym in Zuilen as a personal trainer in 2013, Junny didn’t hesitate. “It was as if my dream had come knocking. I grabbed it with both hands; after all, you never know when it will come knocking again.”
He had been driving a bus in Utrecht for five years at the time. His friends called him the ‘night-time mayor’ because after being decommissioned, he drove buses on all the routes through the city, mainly at night. He knew the city like the back of his hand – all the short-cuts, bus stops and street names, and the history of most of its residents. “On one occasion, I spent the trip from the station to Papendorp talking to a stranger. Before getting off, she said: ‘I got on with nothing, but I’m getting off with a story.’”
Utrecht BMX talent
After a year working as a personal trainer, Junny’s colleague accepted a job in Curacao so Junny got to take over the gym and start his own business. Once again, the ex-marine took a leap of faith: Domcity Personal Training was born. “What could be better than a full-time job helping people to build their confidence? I make them a schedule based on their personal requirements. But if someone is out of sorts and says: ‘I’ve had a bad day, shall we box?’, we box.”
Junny has been riding a BMX since he was ten. He’s taken part in five world championships and three European championships. The last European was Verona 2016, and he came second. He’s been teaching BMX at schools for a few years now, funded by the municipality and a sports foundation. He also arranges kids’ parties, company outings and hen/stag dos at the Ruigenhoek BMX circuit.
“The Dutch are good at cycling. There’s potential in every layer of society, but not everyone gets the chance to develop their talent. I noticed two really good Turkish and Moroccan girls during a BMX clinic in Kanaleneiland; they can be champions too. I think I’m good at giving these youngsters confidence. I can identify with them, speak their language – know the slang – and I gain their trust.”
Junny named his business after Utrecht, because he’s proud of his city. And he can rest assured that the city’s proud of him.
Name: Junny Brejita
Place of birth: Amerikanenkamp, Curaçao
Date of birth: 13 November 1976
Motto: ‘If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful’
Allemaal Utrechters is a series of interviews with people who moved to Utrecht from another country. We ask them about their background and their impression of Utrecht, revealing the true diversity of our city. The ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ series is a collaboration between DUIC and Culturele Zondagen, and has been made possible with help from Stichting Dialoog and the Municipality of Utrecht. We hope to showcase every nationality in Utrecht.