From Paralegal to Personal Trainer to Club Owner

Ambitious Athletics

Carmen Sturniolo was always in good shape. An athlete in high school and dedicated to consistent workouts throughout college, he kept himself healthy. And as it turns out, he was pretty good at helping others stay in shape too.

After a brief stint in sales post-college, Sturniolo became a paralegal. It was during this time his passion for personal training was sparked. “I ended up becoming friendly with these lawyers and helping a bunch of them lose weight — I found my calling down in a basement gym at a law firm,” he recalled. “When I knew that road was opening up, I jumped into the personal training field.”

Sturniolo started out at a karate studio, which allowed him to sublease space in which to train clients. “I was fortunate to meet someone really nice who understood my vision and gave me the opportunity to sublease their space at 5:30 in the morning when they weren’t using it.”

It was through building this community he developed a fascination with why people were or weren’t able to stay in shape, and most importantly, what role he could play in helping improve his client’s quality of life.

“I started evaluating human development, so I went on to get a certification through the IYCA — the International Youth and Conditioning Association — because I was trying to figure out where people’s bodies failed them or where people failed their bodies,” said Sturniolo. “I wanted to be able to connect the missing links together and really bring a complete resource, training program and community to the masses.”

The result was Ambitious Athletics, a gym focused on member results.

At the foundation of this focus is a program Sturniolo calls The Practical Strength and Conditioning Program for the Everyday Athlete. “I truly believe we’re all athletic in our own way,” he said. “It really comes back to the exercise selections for each individual and educating them on why we’re doing them. It’s always been about the results.”

On their journey to achieving peak physical fitness, members at Ambitious Athletics can expect a full slate of offerings, including functional fitness, nutrition education and much more.

“I modeled my business after collegiate strength and conditioning professional training, where you have nutrition elements, athletic trainers and access to chiropractors or physical therapists,” explained Sturniolo. “I really started building on motor development and strength and conditioning programs.”

Developing a strong community and workout concept wasn’t the only challenge in executing his vision, however. Sturniolo also experienced the same growing pains of every successful gym: adequate space.

“The next big thing was having my own facility [outside the karate studio],” said Sturniolo. “I had to find a place that was affordable in Washington, D.C. In any kind of metropolitan area, prices per square foot are going to be expensive.”

He was eventually able to find a space that could accommodate the gym, just a few blocks north of the Lincoln Memorial in the heart of Washington D.C.

No matter the challenges, changing lives is the most important goal of Ambitious Athletics, just as it was when Sturniolo left the law office all those years ago. It is, and will be, his greatest motivation.

“Any club has to take into consideration the bottom line,” said Sturniolo. “But the bottom line becomes irrelevant when you develop a good product and educate people, rather than looking at your members as dollar signs. [You should be] making an impact, to impact their family and friends and pay it forward. If you’re in business to deliver a great product and really make an impact, money becomes irrelevant.” 

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