Peter Ciraulo said he spent years watching his children take the stage in various activities, but now, at 74, the bodybuilder said it is his turn in the limelight.
“I initially, when I first did it, thought I have to be crazy to go in front of these few hundred people,” Ciraulo, a New Hyde Park resident, said. “I’ll tell you, once you go on stage and start hearing the clapping it’s unbelievable; it motivates you to stay and continue doing it.”
Ciraulo started strength training at 60 as therapy following his divorce.
He did his first competition at 68 years old in West Nyack, New York.
“If I didn’t do good, I didn’t want anyone to know who I was,” Ciraulo said.
Ciraulo has done well, though, and has since taken his craft across the state, country and globe – beating competitors decades younger than himself.
At the Northeast America competition in January held in Sommerville, New Jersey, Ciraulo said he took first place in the 50 and over category.
In most shows in the United States, Ciraulo said he has no competition in the 60 and over range.
That’s why he has taken his skill across the pond – where he has continued to place.
At the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation British Championships in October, Ciraulo came in second out of competitors from around the world.
He’s planning on heading back to Europe for the Swiss Natural Body Building Federation Championships for a two-day competition in October.
Preparing for a contest takes time and effort, Ciraulo said.
When a contest is approaching, Ciraulo goes to the gym seven days a week for two to three hours at a time, he said.
It also requires a restrictive diet – with limited carbs and lots of water, he added.
“It’s like studying for a test. If you do well then you don’t mind that you studied,” he said.
Ciraulo said his family, including his three children, is supportive of his bodybuilding.
“They strongly encourage me to do it because they see I don’t get sick,” Ciraulo said. “I don’t have any problems so it’s definitely beneficial.”
Ciraulo said his primary aim is to let people know it’s never too late.
He said he often gives talks where he’ll let people know that even if they can’t make it to the gym, there are strength and resistance activities they can do even with a standard kitchen chair.
“I usually tease my friends,” Ciraulo said. “I say, ‘I look this good at 74, I can’t wait till I’m 80.'”