At Defined, movement is for everyone and age is an advantage. We train for many reasons; but for our athletes over 60, it’s all about prioritizing strength for the long haul: to ski with grandkids as they age, build strength to combat bone loss, and to stay independent, healthy, and mobile. For Michael Rosinus, 63, there’s endless value in training and how it translates to everyday living: “The mental toughness we need to train as hard as we do transfers to the mental toughness needed to overcome many challenges life throws at you. And when you have this kind of toughness, you can set and achieve your goals no matter how difficult.”

Along with Michael, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Spotlight Athletes, Sharon Wilson, 65, and Thelma Vickroy, 63; all early-risers that lift before the sun comes up. “I’ve always been a morning person,” Sharon tells us. “ I like starting my day in calm, not chaos.”

We’re interested in their stories because effective training requires consistency and resilience. It demands a mindset that prioritizes growth and connection: the ability to continually revisit the why behind the movement. Experience comes with age; so undeniably, we have a lot to learn from these three. 

Discover how they found us and why they stay. Read on to enjoy their full interview. 

Sarah Gonsiorowski: Okay, first things first: Why do you train?

Michael Rosinus: There are many reasons. But the principal reason is to maintain a high level of fitness, far above that of the average human. Strength, agility and mobility all decline as you age; high level training increases all three of these. It’s a never ending battle. Also, I have four grandchildren, and I want to be able to ski with them when they get older.

Thelma Vickroy: Three years ago, I was diagnosed with bone loss. I started CrossFit then because I knew I needed to gain strength. My youngest son had been participating in CrossFit for years and was excited to get me started. Once I started, I loved it. I think the workouts are well balanced, I’m able to modify to fit my limitations, and it’s an hour.

Sharon Wilson: I train to stay healthy, independent and mobile. It makes me feel good.

SG: You’ve all landed at Defined. How’d you find us, and why do you choose us?

SW: I found Defined on Yelp. I was looking for a place to strength train that had early morning classes. Every reviewer gave Defined a 5-star rating. Since joining, I’ve posted two 5-star ratings myself. 

MR: We moved to the city a few years ago from Winnetka after becoming empty nesters. I was hoping to find a place we liked that was in close proximity to a CrossFit gym. I went to a great CrossFit gym in Wilmette and wanted to keep that going. It was pure luck that the building we chose to live in is also a reasonably short walk to Defined. 

TV: I moved to Chicago in July 2020 and knew that even in the middle of the pandemic, I had to find a place to train. I found Defined on a search of area gyms. I tried a gym down the street from where I lived but didn’t like the vibe. I walked into Defined on Sunday and Kevin’s smiling face and bright attitude greeted me. I knew it was going to be the right fit for me.

SG: Tell us a bit about your movement background. Have you always been interested in strength and conditioning? If not, what caused the shift?

TV: I haven’t been one to exercise or train inside a gym. When I was younger, I participated in backpacking, tennis, skiing, dance, and road cycling. But as I aged, these sports didn’t fit my  lifestyle. I wish I would have found strength training when I was younger, but it wasn’t available or accessible to women. Which is why I’m always excited to see young women participate in training.

SW: I have always wanted to strength train. I’ve been to numerous workout studios within the last ten years. Defined is the only place where I’ve actually gotten what I was looking for.  Every workout is not only challenging, but also fun and engaging. I’m very happy here.

MR: I’ve been involved in sports and athletic activities all my life. I had a long basketball and tennis career in my younger days. Later in life, I started training in a boxing gym and enjoyed that very much; except the body blows. When the boxing gym closed, I switched to a CrossFit gym. That was 6 years ago. 

SG: When it comes to training, you’re all very consistent athletes. What keeps you coming back?

MR: Commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle is first and foremost. However, the coaching at Defined is top notch. Without this great team of coaches, I would most likely have gone elsewhere. We are very fortunate to have you as our fitness leaders.

TV: I want to make sure I never have to take medication for bone loss. If I stay strong and fit, I will age well. Having been athletic all my life, I know that it’s all about consistency and showing up. I’m also one of those crazy people who likes a routine. 

SW: I love working out with the 5:30 a.m. crew! Everyone is committed, focused and pleasant to be around. I also sincerely appreciate that, although I’m older and have some challenges with certain moves, every instructor (Sarah, Kevin and Cara) has been very helpful in assisting me with exercises that I can do that still challenge me and allow me to keep pace with the rest of the class.

SG: Do you have a favorite workout or movement? Least favorite? ​

TV: Deadlift is my favorite movement. My least favorite is the overhead squat.

SW: I like deadlifting and back squats. When I started at Defined I could only lift 25 pounds.  In the 6 months since I’ve been training, I can now lift 100 pounds. I dislike burpees.

MR: I can’t say that most of what we do can be considered fun. What is fun is rising to the challenge of completing a hard workout or reaching a PR in a certain movement/lift. If I had to pick, I like the Hero WODs best (Murph in particular) and the various “girls” that make us stare into the abyss from time to time.

SG: How does your training compliment your lifestyle? Can you think of any moments lately where you thought, “This is what I train for”?

MR: ​It affects everything in daily life. From simple stuff like carrying 5 gallon water jugs to the kitchen dispenser,  walking with grocery bags home from the store etc. But what it really does is develop a high level of endurance which is needed to tackle large and complex projects in life. The mental toughness we need to train as hard as we do transfers to the mental toughness needed to overcome many challenges life throws at you. And when you have this kind of toughness you can set and achieve your goals no matter how difficult.

SW: My training has allowed me to easily handle transporting groceries. I feel so good in the mornings after my workout; I’m like a windup toy that just got spun into her day. It gives me the energy I need to get through it. My day starts around 1:30 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m..  I’m usually in bed around 7:30 p.m.

TV: I say, “This is what I train for” almost every day. I feel good, with lots of energy.

 SG: You inspire us. But who inspires you? And why? 

MR: I’m obsessed with all the things that make champions. Why does one great athlete win over and over again while others with the same physical gifts don’t? What is it that makes them great? If I can even experience a small glimpse of what that “X” factor is through some level of achievement at the gym, it unlocks a piece of this mystery that very few are fortunate enough to ever see or feel.

SW: I’m inspired by the people that workout around me. Coach Matt, Pete, Steve, Taylor, Andrew, and Trevor. They’re all pros! I’ll often look to them if I need to perfect my form or to push myself to add more weight to a movement.

TV: I’m inspired by the young women that train. I was just back in California and one of the women at my old gym is 5’4″ and was back squatting 300 pounds; almost 3 times her weight. It’s impressive: the amount of work it takes to obtain that level of strength and fitness. Also, my current coaches inspire me; they’re all so helpful and positive when it comes to helping me with my training. As a fellow teacher, I know that coaches play a big role in the overall enjoyment of a place.

SG: If older you could give advice to younger you, what would it be? 

TV: I would tell younger me to workout with weights and strength train. I would not have bone loss if that was something I participated in before I turned 60. 

MV: ​Don’t do drugs! Learn how to dance.

SW: My older self would tell my younger self to start working out at Defined sooner! 

SG: You all workout fairly early. What makes you morning people? 

SW: I’ve always been a morning person. I like starting my day in calm, not chaos.

TV: I have to workout in the morning. I don’t have the energy to workout after work.

MR: I have an aversion to laziness. Early morning is the only time of the day that we own. No work calls or other annoying interruptions/dramas, etc.  generally occur early in the morning. Get up and get going. Life is short.