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From Bike Crash to Heart Attack, Luis Gonzalez Keeps Bouncing Back

“If you can do this workout, then what else can you do? You can get your health back in order. You can go back to school and get that degree you always wanted. You can be who you always wanted to be. Go get it. Whatever it is, go get it.”

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Luis Gonzalez has been a fitness trainer for over 30 years, but there’s a stark dividing line in his career: before triathlon and after triathlon.

“I didn’t become the trainer I am today until I started endurance sports,” Gonzalez said. “It teaches you how to face adversity head-on, for long periods of time; it teaches planning and goal-setting. It teaches you that you are capable of so much more than you ever thought possible. For me, those are important L.I.F.E. lessons.”

Gonzalez centers his business around L.I.F.E—living intentional fitness every day. When he opened his Merillville, Indiana fitness center in 2013, he named it L.I.F.E. POWER to encapsulate how fitness can help people reclaim their power in life. Clients flock to train with Gonzalez because his focus is not on losing weight or getting six-pack abs, but instead to achieve their best, healthiest, and fullest life.

This mission is inspired in large part by his triathlon pursuits. Gonzalez came to the sport by way of injury; a meniscus tear while training for a marathon led him to take up cycling as a way of rehabilitation. From there, he decided to learn how to swim, and after placing third in his age group at his first sprint triathlon, he was hooked. But his triathlon journey hasn’t always been easy. At his first Ironman, he fell ill with salmonella poisoning. At his second, he suffered kidney damage due to dehydration. A bike crash at Ironman Wisconsin resulted in five broken ribs, a broken collarbone, a punctured lung and a concussion. When he returned for his redemption race the following year, he suffered a heart attack. Along the way, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Still, he endures. Most recently, with the blessing of his medical team, he completed Ironman races in Wisconsin and Indiana to earn his Legacy spot for the Ironman World Championship race in Hawaii.

“I keep coming back because I have a wife, and I want her to be proud of me. I want to show my kids they can overcome anything,” Gonzalez said. “And, of course, to show my clients that anything is possible if you want it badly enough and work for it. If I can help one person know they can overcome and accomplish something worthwhile, then it will have been worth it.”

When Gonzalez trains his clients at the gym, the conversation is often 5% about fitness and 95% about life. As he likes to say: “If you can do this workout, then what else can you do? You can get your health back in order. You can go back to school and get that degree you always wanted or were afraid to go back to get. You can start that business. You can fix that bad relationship. You can be who you always wanted to be. Go get it. Whatever it is, go get it.”

“This is what triathlon has done for me,” Gonzalez said. “It taught me about life and how to endure, so that I can still accomplish something wonderful. And that’s what I call putting power back into your life. This is the message I am trying to communicate.”

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