Training the Future

This personal trainer helps athletes reach their potential.
By Ellen Nam
Personal trainer Mike Nunziato holding on to the resistance bands that are around the waists of two athletes pushing weights.
Personal trainer Mike Nunziato (center) helps young athletes train to be physically fit.

Mike Nunziato always had a passion for sports. “I’ve always worked out. I always loved training. I love sports,” he says. “I was a three-sport athlete. I played baseball, football, and wrestled.” 

Now Nunziato is a personal trainer and the owner of the TNT (Total Nunziato Training) gym, in Paramus, New Jersey. He specializes in training athletes to be the best they can be, both on and off the field. “It’s more than just working out,” he says. “It’s . . . teaching them core values of how to manage situations [and] how to talk to other kids.” 

Two young athletes test how high they can go on vertical jump mats.

Nunziato believes that training young athletes is critical. “There hasn’t been enough emphasis on keeping kids healthy,” he says. “It’s so important for them at this age to be a part of something, or in the gym and training in a community.” 

As a personal trainer, Nunziato works with a variety of groups, from 6-year-olds to professional athletes. With 15 years of training experience, he looks for two key characteristics when hiring personal trainers for TNT: “work ethic and patience.” 

What makes a personal trainer different from a P.E. teacher? Nunziato says personal trainers are more specialized. “We don’t see 30 kids in a class,” he says. “We don’t follow a curriculum, we follow our own program.” Personal trainers establish a strong relationship with their clients and see progression over time. And they often hold certifications and degrees in health and fitness.

A young athlete works his muscles with supervision by his personal trainer.

According to Nunziato, the personal training industry is still relatively new. “Trainer wasn’t really a profession when I was growing up,” Nunziato says. “Now I have a ton of kids that want to be trainers. . . . Now it’s widely seen and available.” 

On their way to becoming personal trainers, most people take courses in health and fitness. A college degree and certification are helpful in landing a job at a gym.

Though he says there isn’t one direct path to this career, Nunziato has advice for kids who want to become personal trainers. “Listen and take knowledge,” he says. “Step back and actually listen to what your coaches are telling you. If you listen and you’re able to teach someone else that, that’s everything.”