Subject: Gregg Miele

Company: New York Strength & Conditioning Inc.

Career Orientation. Like many fitness professionals, Gregg Miele—owner of New York Strength & Conditioning Inc. in Hillburn, New York—fell in love with the fitness industry after achieving his own fitness-related successes.

Miele had always been athletic, but he didn’t fully realize his own potential until a bit of friendly rivalry sparked his interest. “One of my best friends was into strength training and became a power lifter,” he recalls. “I remember going to visit him and being awestruck because I couldn’t lift nearly as much as he could. I swore that the next time I visited I would be able to challenge him.” As Miele trained hard to make vast physical and mental improvements, that initial spark met tinder and his passion for health and fitness caught fire. Miele comes from a family of teachers and has a knack for educating others, so a career combining teaching and fitness was the perfect match.

Setting Priorities. After becoming a certified personal trainer, Miele was drawn to working with high-profile clients. In order to provide those clients with superior service, he began working at an upscale fitness facility in New York City. “They offered what many gyms didn’t,” he says. “They had beach volleyball courts that I used for sand drills; indoor basketball courts; a rock climbing wall; and more. They also had in-house education, so I could continue to learn.”

As Miele’s knowledge and aptitude grew, he set his sights on his target clientele; however, instead of directly courting those clients, he decided to make a more strategic move. “I knew that the only way I could move forward was to offer my services to gym management,” he says. By doing so, he believed management would feel comfortable referring clients to him. Miele’s gamble paid off, and facility management began to funnel “high-profile” clients his way.

Taking It to the Top. Eventually word spread about Miele’s effective services and positive demeanor, and his client base grew to include some of the top names in fashion, acting and music. “Early on I linked up with some musicians, and they asked me to go on tour with them,” he recalls. While the experience was exciting, Miele notes that his eagerness to tour with his music clients taught him a hard lesson. “My first tour was both good and bad. I had to refer out all my current clients, and I didn’t get paid very well for the tour. That was when I learned how to bid contracts.” Despite rocky beginnings, Miele continued to impress and eventually landed a major gig working with Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige during her 2006 world tour.

Training the Entourage. Miele believes that one of the most demanding aspects for trainers accompanying their clients on tour is creating an atmosphere of health and fitness. “You have one client, but you’ve also got to consider her entourage,” he says. “I always ask, ‘Who’s on your support team?’ I know that when I’m not with the client, the entourage is going to have an influence.” Miele’s strategy is to make small, manageable changes that affect all members of the tour. “I couldn’t create a healthy environment right off the bat,” he admits. “Instead of buying big sodas, I bought small ones. Even though the main focus is to keep the principal client healthy and fit, the trick is to get everyone around involved in the challenge so the client sees she’s not alone.”

The Celebrity Conundrum. Miele has experienced success with this very specific niche because his chief interest is in helping others make lasting lifestyle changes. Celebrities are naturally cautious, he says, as they’re continuously bombarded by people who want something from them. “One of the reasons these people choose to work with me is because I’m not trying to be an actor or get a record deal,” he says. “I’m a career personal trainer who simply works to help others achieve new heights in health and fitness. My clients recognize this and are then able to trust me.”