Sophia Gigante was tired of hearing people tell her no. Born with hydrocephalus and then later developing hypotonia, she was tired of sitting on the sidelines during P.E. class in school, tired of not participating in any sports, tired of not being able to walk correctly. But at age 16, a trip to the gym helped her realize that she was stronger than any of her health conditions.
Gigante had her first brain surgery at just three weeks old to have a shunt placed to manage her hydrocephalus. A few years later, she was fitted with a leg brace to help her walk since she lacked physical strength on the right side of her body due to the hypotonia. Then, at 9 years old, she developed a seizure disorder and also had her second brain surgery to have her shunt replaced.
“My life was a series of doctor visits, MRIs, and physical therapy,” she recalled.
She also had a lot of anxiety about her hydrocephalus, fearing that her shunt could stop working at any moment, and didn’t like talking openly about her condition.
“I spent years struggling with anxiety and PTSD due to my childhood and was never confident or courageous enough to speak out about my experiences. It felt like no one around me knew what hydrocephalus was and I didn’t like having to explain it to people,” she said.
“I started falling in love with fitness and how it felt to get stronger. From then on, I decided that I wanted to show other people that anything is achievable,” Gigante said.
Now, the 22-year-old owns her own fitness company called SRG Fitness, where she provides personal training, health coaching and nutrition counseling. She especially loves training people with hydrocephalus and special needs. She started her business to help others learn to be in control of their bodies.
“I want to show the world that you can overcome anything and you shouldn’t let challenges and your own negative thoughts stop you from achieving your goals. ‘I’m in control’ is what I say to myself all the time. By strengthening my body, my hypotonia improved. I definitely still have imbalances and am misaligned but it doesn’t stop me. I try my hardest and get through it,” she said.
Gigante’s clients are often surprised to learn that she has hydrocephalus and hypotonia because she seems so fearless and strong. That’s why she is coming out with a book about her life, called “Strength, Resilience, Growth: How I Defied Physical and Mental Limitations and Took Control of My Future.”
Through her book she hopes to inspire others living with a neurological disorder, or other conditions, so they can learn to find the strength within them and live life to the fullest.
“The book is about my life and the challenges I’ve overcome. I spent my whole life walking on eggshells and now I’m in control of my body. I like to think of this book as the underdog story and how anything is possible,” Gigante explained. “I feel like I spent my whole life dealing with doctors telling me no. If there is one thing I want people to take away from my story is to never let anybody tell you can’t do something. By being strong and having faith in yourself, you’re able to achieve anything if you put your mind to it.”
Gigante’s book will be available on Amazon in September. To learn more about her story, watch this video about her life:
Also check out this song inspired by Gigante’s life produced by her uncle Michael Gigante and actor John Stamos.