Meet Gio Llinas Rosa: strong, kind, dedicated, and really really tall.
By Sarah Gonsiorowski
Gio came to us for consistency. A former collegiate athlete, he needed space to replant his athletic roots—and keep growing. He played volleyball for Lewis University and the Puerto Rican National Team; both high-level, competitive organizations. When his seasons ended, he took a break from the sport, but not from being an athlete.
After volleyball, Gio needed a new approach to training and a community to keep him accountable. So before he found Defined, he did exactly what most of us do when we’re looking for answers: He Googled us.
Gio joined Defined over a year ago, and now we can’t imagine this place without him. He trains mainly with our Powerlifting Team, but he also prioritizes attending workshops, community events, and the occasional CrossFit workout. When he steps onto the training floor, his energy is contagious: Gio is genuinely happy to be at the gym—and his teammates and coaches can feel it.
We’re spotlighting Gio for his impeccable work ethic, focused approach to training, and optimistic and open mindset; along with the success he continues to see simply by being himself. Read our full interview below to learn more about his journey and the results he’s seen from redefining his routine.
Sarah Gonsiorowski: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How has your lifestyle affected and contributed to your approach to training?
Gio Llinas Rosa: Honestly, my lifestyle prior to beginning a health and fitness routine was different in many ways. Prior to Defined, I played collegiate volleyball for an NCAA Division I/II institution, Lewis University, which is known for being one of the powerhouses of volleyball in the Midwest; and I played internationally for the Puerto Rican National Team. Playing volleyball at such a high-level was amazing in many ways, especially for the discipline and routine it instilled in my lifestyle.
However, once it was over, finding that same routine was somewhat taxing, both mentally and physically. My body went through changes I wasn’t expecting, let alone the mental battle. I started noticing that I needed to find something that would keep me centered and healthy. That’s when I realized I needed to go to the gym and grind it out.
[Defined] has affected my overall energy, mood, stamina, and health in inexplicable ways. Definitely having an athletic background helped with learning and discipline, but the coaching provided at the gym has been an incredible factor in how I approach training nowadays.
SG: How did you find us? And why did you stay?
GLR: One day I was looking up CrossFit gyms in Lakeview, and saw that Defined had good reviews; so I decided to check it out. Once I walked in, I had a quick chat with Cara. I got to see a couple of people working out and was able to understand how classes worked. I told Cara I wanted to try Foundations to get acquainted with the gym.
A year and a half has gone by; 70+ lbs less, an established routine, and a happier version of myself is what has been provided thus far. Do I still need to say why I stayed?
Coaches at Defined NEVER pushed me in uncomfortable ways, but instead found multiple ways to assist and motivate me to go harder every single workout. All of them work on fixing the form of multiple athletes, find different exercises athletes can do if injuries are present, work hard in and out of class, and most importantly, lead by example. My favorite part of my day used to be watching Netflix shows after work. Now my favorite part of the day is being able to go to a gym where the energy is so contagious that I want to push myself in ways I haven’t thought possible. Needless to say, it has become a part of who I am rather than a hobby.
SG: You’ve experienced a little bit of everything at Defined: Daily Training, Powerlifting, Nutrition Workshops, etc. What does your current training look like?
GLR: As of right now, I try to train 5 times per week at Defined for about 1.5-2 hours. I’m currently following the Powerlifting program, but I still do some Daily Training classes. The intensity of the workouts is amazing. When it comes to nutrition, my diet has drastically changed to fit the needs of my workout regimine and overall health goals. Finishing the nutrition workshop was important for me because I learned how to nourish my body to perform at its highest level.
SG: What were your training goals when you found us? And what are your goals now?
GLR: My short-term training goal was to go to the gym 2-3 times per week and get through a whole workout. I understood that a healthy and long-term change in my body would take time. My diet was horrible, and my sleeping habits were definitely not the best. But I just focused on establishing a routine that I could handle—and that I enjoyed. I was 280 lbs when I started and wanted to lose at least 20 lbs within 3-4 months. Something reasonable and attainable.
I now sit somewhere between 210-220 lbs and feel the healthiest I’ve ever been. I go to the gym at least 4 times per week. My nutrition and sleep improved after reaching my initial goals throughout the year. Now, my new goal is to start counting macros because I want to continue gaining muscle mass and losing fat. Never thought I’d be doing this, but I enjoy it very much!
I also have a small goal of doing an extra Daily Programming class per week—or at least some of the workout.
SG: What does success in training look like to you?
GLR: Failing. I know it sounds weird, but pushing my body until failure feels like success during the training session. At times, I used to only work within my comfort zone—which might be important if I were injured or otherwise. But ever since I started to understand my body—and the coaches started pushing me to go harder—all I dream about is to fail until my ability to lift more weight increases.
As a competitor, I used to measure success by being the best in the room. No matter what gym, arena, or stage I walked into, my mindset was set on being the best. Now, I understand that the only person I have to be better than is myself. This is another way I measure success: by keeping track of my overall ability and continuing to track progress to be better than I was before.
SG: What’s something you’re really proud of?
GLR: I’m proud of my work ethic. In school, work, and out of school. When my mind and body are set on something, my work ethic is what gets me there. I may not be the strongest, smartest, or most talented [in any given room], but I know I will work until I am. Or until my desired goal is achieved.
SG: Do you have a mantra? Or something you tell yourself right before you’re about to attempt something challenging?
GLR: Go big or go home. This encompasses everything in my life. Work, academics, dating, etc. I want to go to bed and know I gave it my 100%. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so might as well take the shot—and a couple extra.