ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. — Dave Paladino of Elmwood Park can watch the New York Yankees on TV and know he had a part in improving the team after several pro athletes trained at his Closter gym.
Paladino, a Lodi native and graduate of the high school, sees high-profile athletes like pitchers CC Sabathia and Dellin Betances of the Yankees enter his gym Strike Zone on Ruckman Road.
Other notable clients include Chris Canty, defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens and former New York Giant, and several professional boxers.
"It's a lot of fun," Paladino, 48, said. "You get to turn on the TV and you sit there and you wish for them to do well and perform. It's kind of like a reflection on you."
Paladino opened Strike Zone 15 years ago. He played for several of Lodi High School's sports teams and became more interested in weight lifting as he got older. He then wanted to share that knowledge with others, leading to opening his own gym.
He met most of the pro athletes through mutual friends, and many live nearby.
Betances and Sabathia work on boxing at Strike Zone, Paladino said.
"Unfortunately if CC comes in and gives up a home run I get 10 texts, or if Chris Canty misses a tackle," Paladino said. "It's rewarding, though, because you get to see the fruit of your labor delivered on a pro scale."
All of the pros who come to Strike Zone are kind and generous, Paladino said.
"They're all great guys," he said. "They'll sign baseballs and take pictures. These guys are really busy and they just got done working out. It's a really nice thing."
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