Baseball was Tom Banicky’s sport in college, but it did not take him long to decide on a new path when he realized professional play was not in the cards. He took his passion for athletics and strength and conditioning—and his college hobby of training others—and his degree in sports management and kinesiology and launched into the fitness industry.

Now Banicky is a successful fitness manager at 24 Hour Fitness. Although he is no longer training a full day of appointments, he loves working with his team. “I think it’s even more rewarding to see trainers that struggle end up being successful because you help them out.” Already, two of his proteges have been promoted to fitness manager in the last couple of years.

Banicky also finds time to compete in fitness, and recently placed second in a physique competition that qualified him for national events, and his sights are set on summer of 2020. 24Life caught up with him on a break between shoots with the Denver Broncos cheer squad for the Denver Broncos Fitness Challenge.

24Life: What would you say makes the effort at fitness worth it?

Tom Banicky: Definitely the mental and spiritual growth, not just the physical impact. It’s just as important—anytime I’m in a bad mood or I’ve got something going on that’s bugging me, it’s always been a way for me to just kind of disconnect from everything, put some headphones on, and just get the work jam going.

24Life: It’s the time of year when people make resolutions—and may not keep them. What’s your advice about goals?

TB: Absolutely make them—and get in the habit of setting more goals throughout the year. A lot of times, people make one goal for the year and they don’t follow through with it. I believe in setting short-, mid- and long-term goals.

I’m big on tracking progression. Are my clients increasing muscle mass? Decreasing body fat? Losing weight? Whatever their goal may be, I’m tracking that monthly, for sure. Making more goals is only going to make you stay more regimented and focused on accomplishing things.

24Life: Is there a client who stands out in your mind?

TB: There’s hundreds of them, but the first one who comes to mind is a gentleman who was 365 pounds when we started. He was very shy, and uncomfortable with himself. I saw him in the gym frequently on this one machine, so I suggested that we go over a few things to make the most of his time there. He’s down to 230 pounds now from 365.

The whole gym saw him transform. He trained five days a week for about a year straight, followed everything to the letter, including nutrition and training. He never really had the confidence to talk to women, and he actually just got married too. I still have a really good relationship with him today.

24Life: Although you’re a fitness professional, you still have to get fitness into your own schedule—and in your case, you compete, as well. How do you start your day and make sure it happens?

TB: A lot of people talk about being prepared and having a game plan, but I write everything down every day. I wake up at 5 a.m. every day and eat, and walk about two miles on a treadmill—nothing crazy, just to get my brain moving. I drink some coffee. And then, I usually prepare all my meals in the morning. I usually work out from 1 to 2:30, and it’s just regimented: I have a [workout] plan every day. If I can’t work out midday, I’ll work out at night and then just switch up my meal plan accordingly to that day.

24Life: You’re preparing for competition; do you have a power food or a food you can’t live without?

TB: Cream of rice. I really enjoy weird foods. People are always saying, “That looks disgusting.” I’m like, “I love it.” I love avocados too. I eat about 400 grams of avocados a day right now.

24Life: Source of inspiration?

TB: My family back home. I grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania. Whenever I think I’m working hard, I know they’re working harder still.

Photo credit: Windstar; Tom Banicky

Editor’s note: 24 Hour Fitness is hosting Denver Broncos takeovers with Broncos workouts, giveaways and more. Visit to find a participating club near you.