CLASS TIME: 5:30AM, weekdays. 8AM on Saturdays.



WHY WE CHOSE HIM: His dedication, strength, and consistency inspire us. His training approach is deliberate, and his mindset keeps him connected to his movement, inside and outside of the gym. Trevor always respects the standard, and it shows.

If you’re ever at the gym before the sun rises, you know Trevor Thomas is usually the third person to arrive after the doors open: Alan Bremerkamp’s always first, and usually Min Yun’s second. Training at this hour isn’t always about motivation. It’s sometimes about work demands. But it’s often about discipline. What this hour sometimes lacks in sunshine, it makes up for in grit. 

For Trevor, training without purpose isn’t an option. Early mornings keep him connected to his community, values, and the why behind his training. Since being diagnosed with T1 diabetes at the age of  13, he’s had multiple doctors tell him to stop training hard. As someone who loves a challenge, he used this feedback as a way to better understand his health and how to continually challenge his capabilities.

Read his full interview below to share in his knowledge and connect to his story!  

Coach Sarah: What year did you start training at Defined?  

Trevor Thomas: I officially started at Defined in May of 2016, but I’ve known about the gym since 2011. Fun fact: once upon a time, I was a personal trainer at a gym in Lakeview. In 2013, I left Chicago to coach at the gym I did my internship at (in Bloomington, IL). When I left, I told a handful of my training clients that they should check out Defined, not knowing anyone or anything about it. A few of them are still Defined members today, which is why I knew it was the gym I would join when I came back in 2016.    

CS: What’s the WHY behind your training? And how does that connect to how you approach your training?  

TT: I train because I love a challenge. I enjoy pushing myself and knowing what I’m capable of. 

I also train to stay “healthy”. I use quotes because I’m referring to my own definition of health. 

I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes when I was 13, and I’ve had multiple doctors tell me I should stop training so hard, or focus more on “this or that.” This has motivated me to be better, train harder, and understand how my body responds to external stimuli (food, exercise, etc.). When I approach my training, I always try to figure out how my body is going to respond. What is going to be the hardest part of the workout, and what is the easiest? How do I make the hardest part easier for next time? It usually boils down to understanding how to move with purpose, efficiency, and intensity. These are skills I will always look to improve.  

CS: What do you say to yourself during a really uncomfortable workout to help keep you moving?  

TT: I constantly tell myself to “suck it up and do better”.  There will always be room for improvement, regardless of the training; so understanding where I can improve and listening to the coaches will always be my focus. Another thing I tell myself is that I’m not alone: We’re all tired. We’re all sore. But we’re all here together. And we’ll all push each other to be better. 

CS: What time of day do you train and why? 

TT: 5:30AM. I won’t lie: When I was a coach, I used to open the gym and tell the early morning crew how crazy they were. I never thought I would be able to exercise that early in the morning.  Then I caught the bug and have not looked back since. One of the biggest reasons I’ve stayed at 5:30AM is because I’m surrounded by so many people similar to me.  We get up, get our training in, and then have the entire day for everything else. I’ve realized that if I don’t workout first thing in the morning, I probably won’t workout at all.  

CS: Tell us a few of your favorite CrossFit workouts. And your least favorite? 

TT: I’ll start with my least favorite because after doing CrossFit for 10+ years now, it hasn’t changed: DT. Heavy, barbell-only workouts destroy me. I need ALL of the internal and external motivation during DT and always feel like I barely make it out alive. I know I’ll get shit for this, but one of my favorite workouts is Karen. I love doing wallballs, and that workout is such a grind.  High rep, low weight; just moving your body. I also love anything with weighted step ups and toes-to-bar.

Want to nominate a DEFINED SPOTLIGHT ATHLETE? Email [email protected] and tell us WHO and WHY!

*Special thanks to Andrew Glatt for filming and cutting our athlete spotlight video.