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Mike Vaccaro

May 07, 2015

Olympic Weightlifter/TNG Gym Owner/Coach

Passions: Olympic Style Weightlifting, Competing, Coaching

Philosophy: "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will."
- Gandhi

Mike lives to lift and show the barbell who’s boss. “The feeling of putting weight over your head that you know could crush you is a crazy feeling” explains the driven competitor and coach. “I love that I can always get better.”

Mike overcame serious setbacks to qualify and compete in a national meet. He had 7 orthopedic surgeries from various sport injuries, but refused to quit when warned “you are going to be in a wheelchair when you are 30.”

Mike pours his passion into competing and helping athletes reach their goals at his Olympic-style weightlifting gym, Taken Not Given. The name reflects Mike’s motto: “Work hard for what you want. Things aren't handed to you. You have to earn them.” He won’t stop until he earns what he’s working for- a podium finish at a national meet and Hawaii State Records for the 69kg weight class that have been untouchable since 1998. The negative people who think it’s a long shot fuel his fire. Mike believes if your goals are not laughable then they are not set high enough. He has 3 things on his wish list: Snatch 123kg and Clean and jerk 146 in a meet and to learn how to ride a motorcycle.


What 3 words best describe you?

Driven, Fun, and heartfelt 

Do you have a favorite song or ritual to get pumped up for competition?

I always have to wear the same singlet, socks, underwear, shirt, and headband for meets. Pre competition I ALWAYS have a GR3EN to rehydrate me from the weight cut then I'll have some sort of carbohydrate meal to get me through the meet. 

What's your favorite thing to do on a rest day?

My favorite thing to do on rest days is go to the beach and get some salt water and sun in. I believe the ocean is one of the best recovery tools, and I just so happen to live on an island! Also I like to lay around and watch Netflix. 


  • Snatch- 106kg
  • Clean and jerk -130kg   
  • Squat- 182kg
  • Ranked Top 50 in the US for 69kg lifters

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