Sergio Rojas, like many of us, found his calling to fitness by happenstance just over 20 years ago. The son of Columbian immigrants seeking the American Dream, Sergio’s journey to success has been inspired by serendipitous wake-up calls, seemingly chance meetings, and an unwavering desire to share with others his passion for vitality and longevity.
For the better part of his teens and early 20s, Sergio battled depression and anger. He watched his parents struggle and saw his father being taken advantage of in business. His parents came from a hard life and it angered him that his father wasn’t being treated the way he deserved. His father, one of nine brothers and two sisters, witnessed the passing of his father and many of his brothers before their 60s. These early tragedies were a wake-up call for Sergio’s father; he stopped smoking and committed to eating better so he could have better control over the trajectory of his life.
Seeing the impact of his father’s commitment to his health, Sergio, while in college, decided he wanted to buy a motorcycle. He worked two part-time jobs and committed to taking care of his health by working out and eating better. Just four months later, as he was riding the streets of Chicago on his new motorcycle, he realized he was no longer depressed or angry. Sergio knew he felt better, not because of the motorcycle, but because of the exercise and the direct connection between his physical and emotional health.
This wake-up call, much like his father’s, changed the trajectory of Sergio’s life. He decided to pursue personal training and learned all he could about the field. In 1996, he became a personal trainer and just one year later was promoted to managing director of personal training at one location of Chicago’s Lakeshore Athletic Club. Shortly thereafter, he became the managing director of all of the company’s clubs. This was just the beginning of Sergio’s journey to success.
As Sergio’s career began to take off, and he was exposed to more facets of fitness, he recalls looking at what were viewed as “traditional” methods of exercise and eating and realized it did not feel right to him. As he gained experience as a fitness professional, studying and applying functional exercise and clean eating to his practice, Sergio became increasingly passionate about finding out what would really help people the most. He wanted to learn the science and be able to weed-out the gimmicks. He sought out proven ways to improve mobility, reduce pain, increase body, spatial and emotional awareness, and began applying a more holistic approach to health. Ultimately, he was passionate about what could give someone lifelong vitality.
Sergio also realized early on that he wanted to create longevity and vitality, not only for those he served, but in his own career. He knew he didn’t want to get up early and train late day-in and day-out. At two distinct times of his career – as head trainer at Lakeshore Athletic Club and again years later as owner of his gym – he realized he was spinning his wheels and felt confined by the all-to-familiar daily life of a trainer. He was determined to create a career that gave him “banker’s hours,” all while expanding his career, giving him more opportunity to share his message of vitality, allowing him to spend time with his family and offering him the financial reward for his work.
Sergio’s resume has no shortage of remarkable achievements. For more than 11 years, he was a member of the Chicago NBC 5 fitness team with weekly segments on the popular news program. He was the strength and conditioning coach for the Chicago Sky women’s basketball team and built a reputable clientele boasting professional athletes, CEOs and a successful corporate wellness clientele. In 2010, he opened his own gym where he continued to train his high-profile clientele.
But Sergio knew he had a deep desire to do more. While his clientele was impressive, and he financially felt rewarded for his work, he wanted to give back and sought out opportunities that were more meaningful. It was when he came across the prediction by the New England Journal of Medicine that this generation of children may live shorter lives than their parents, in large part due to obesity, Sergio was immediately compelled to take action. He began volunteering in the Chicago public schools and teaching community exercise classes. He started working with Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago public schools, and this led to the opportunity to apply to the White House as the Director of President’s Council on Fitness and Nutrition. Though he never expected the appointment, he accepted the task. After a period of service in the prestigious position, he made the difficult decision to pursue his vision by returning to his business, as he wasn’t able to do both.
In 2010, Sergio opened a gym in Chicago. Though that was seemingly the next logical step to building his business, a few years later he realized he wasn’t happy, he felt limited and boxed-in. Once again, he saw greater opportunity and knew he wanted to create and offer a more holistic program to those who needed it most. Sergio began going into companies to offer corporate wellness programs and serendipitously met a brilliant woman with three PhDs (psychology, divinity and preaching). She had developed a successful behavioral change model she integrated into companies since the 1980s and early '90s. She and Sergio soon discovered the possibilities of bridging their expertise by overlaying his proven fitness and wellness program with her proven behavior change model.
The success of the program reaffirmed the great need they both knew existed. Sergio was even offered full-time positions at three of four of the first companies where the program was introduced. Sergio - once again - made the decision to take his journey in a new direction and accepted a full-time position as Director of Wellness - that came along with the relocation of he and his family - for a trucking company, Hirschbach Motor Lines, based in Dubuque, Iowa. Sergio unequivocally attests that this decision has led to the most joyous, rewarding and meaningful work he has ever done in his career thus far.
Sergio has a very clear vision of making this holistic health coaching program and behavior change model accessible to fitness professionals, so they too can integrate it into companies; all while helping them create meaningful, lifelong careers in this great industry. His vision is to empower fitness professionals to become educators on health, mindfulness, happiness and help clients understand behavior change so that exercise becomes viewed as a gift, not a chore.
Sergio Rojas is as authentic as they come. His competitive spirit has always driven him to seek the best in all he does, and his success is a testament to his unwavering commitment to give the gift of vitality to as many as he can reach. Sergio’s journey to success began on that fateful first motorcycle ride through the streets of Chicago, and his journey continues on as he pursues his vision of vitality.