Anthony Tumbarello has an image saved on his phone. He looks at it like some people look at photos of their kids—daily and for inspiration, motivation, and a reminder of the value of hard work. It’s a screenshot of his bank account. The total at the bottom: only $63.
It wasn’t long ago that Tumbarello was broke—just two years prior—and it was because he was putting every dime he earned and every moment he had into starting his own gym, which is now open and called CTP: Coach Tumbarello Performance. “I look at it all the time,” Tumbarello, 31, says of that bank account screenshot. “Any time I’m thinking about taking it easy, I’ll look at it.”
His timing was terrible for opening a training business—it was the height of the pandemic—so the only option he had was to bring clients to a tiny speck of a place, a 250-square-foot garage where he was living in the St. Croix Apartments. He built it, in just a matter of months, into a place where locals go to get their asses handed to them; in a remarkably short time, it also became a place where pro athletes were lining up—including professional soccer, football, and baseball stars, the names you hear on ESPN.
Tumbarello grew up in a sports-obsessed household in New York. His dad was a Jets fan, his mom a diehard for the Dolphins (mostly because her maiden name was Marino); his brothers liked the Chargers and Tumbarello stayed loyal to his dad’s Jets. They’d go to church in their mismatched football jerseys. “Football was always the driving force for us,” Tumbarello says. They moved from New York to Naples in 2001, when Tumbarello was in middle school, and he grew up on the Bonita Springs used car lot his dad owned, a place that became his playground and where he learned business.
At 5-foot-6, Tumbarello ignored anyone who told him he didn’t have the stature to play football. “Yes, everybody’s going to look huge next to me,” he jokes. “It doesn’t even phase me. I always thought I was the biggest guy in the room.” He played football at Gulf Coast High and then St. John Neumann during his senior year. He played for Iona College but the school dropped its football team after his freshman year, so Tumbarello came back home to play semi-pro for the Collier Carnage. He tried out for the UFL and made the Omaha Nighthawks, but an injury ended his pro career before it really began.
Tumbarello had no idea what life looked like without football, so he took a job coaching for Estero High for two years. Then he worked at LA Fitness for a few years before becoming a trainer at Total Athletic Performance, where he met one of his mentors, Derek Touchette. In 2018, he took a job at a gym in Tampa that he says “just didn’t work out.” He worked as a marketing intern for a startup tech company, and when the relationship with his fiancée ended, Tumbarello took a screenshot of his two-digit bank account balance and moved in with his dad in Naples.
Tumbarello returned to working for Touchette and “that’s when we just blew up”—when he combined the marketing skills he had learned with what he knew about training. That summer, Tumbarello ended up with nine pro athletes to train, including Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew and Naples’ own wide receiver, Michael Walker, who recently got picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles. The pros kept telling their friends about Tumbarello; he was getting so many calls, he realized it was time to start his own thing. At first, he was running it out of that tiny garage and the field at North Collier High School.
He realized he needed a bigger space, and in September 2020, he opened a 2,000-square-foot facility in the Byrnwood Trade Center off Old 41. He got so busy so quickly that he brought on a couple trainers to help, and he figures he’ll be adding several more by the end of the year. “I’m very proud to say I paid for it all myself,” he says. Since expanding, he has worked with Krishawn Hogan of the Saints, pro soccer player Katie Johnson of the Chicago Red Stars, and Twins outfielder Max Kepler.
Twins’ lefty reliever Lewis Thorpe heard about Tumbarello from a friend. As soon as they started working together, Thorpe says they immediately had a connection. “You know, we just matched,” Thorpe says. “He was a good fit for me. He doesn’t just give everyone one program. He creates programs to what he sees what’s going with you and what you’re going to need to help you to succeed. He keeps things light and keeps it fun.”
Uncommon for pro ball, Thorpe grew up in Australia but was still one of the top prospects when he signed in 2012. The Twins sent him to the Gulf Coast League, but he had Tommy John surgery (UCL surgery) that caused him to miss all of 2015 and 2016. He made his comeback for the Fort Myers Miracle and then finally made it to the majors in June 2019, but had a season the Twins Daily blog called “an unmitigated disaster,” with Thorpe’s fastball dropping in velocity and an ERA of 6.06.
When Thorpe showed up to Tumbarello’s gym, he needed help, a regimen that could get him in killer shape before spring training this year. On March 7, he made his debut for 2021, striking at the top of the Rays’ batting order and helping solidify his chances of staying in the majors this year. He gives Tumbarello a lot of credit for getting him ready for the season, in part because Tumbarello shared his own story of nearly going broke. “He told me that story, and then I saw how he’s pushing himself every day to where he wants to be,” says Thorpe. “It’s inspiring. It makes you want to work harder.”
NFL wide receiver Michael Walker trained with Tumbarello this off-season. He was a free agent and needed to stay in playing shape while he tried out for a new team. Walker had back surgery last year, so Tumbarello tailored a workout to help his recovery. The work concentrates on the mechanics of the exercise, making sure Walker has a neutral spine, without arching his back or putting too much pressure on his injury. “That’s been huge for me,” Walker says. “A lot of guys can give you a standard workout, but Anthony sits down and figures out your goals and where you’re trying to go.” Though Walker ultimately had success, finding a home with the Eagles, he had a lot of adversity and challenges along the way but never gave up. This positivity and unrelenting drive are something he shares with Tumbarello. “He’s been through it all,” says Walker, who has known Tumbarello from the time they were both kids. “It is one of the coolest things, to see where he is at right now. He is not ready to stop. He’s got big dreams and big aspirations.”
This summer, Tumbarello worked with about a dozen professional athletes, who train alongside business professionals, moms, and even high-school athletes, all doing custom routines. He says that more than anything, his clients see his work ethic and it’s what pushes them to try harder.
“I grind my face off,” he says. “I’m up at 5 every morning and there are nights I don’t get home until 9 or 10 at night. My weekends are just programming, training, online marketing; I’ve been putting away 80 or 90 percent of my income for a while. My goal is to make this the biggest training facility in Florida and I think I can do that in a couple years.”