Peter Ciraulo is getting better with age.
The 73-year-old bodybuilder from Herricks won first place in his division at the May 7 International Natural Bodybuilding Federation Northeast America Bodybuilding competition in Somerville, N.J., just two weeks after winning two first-place honors at a similar contest in Rochester.
Now, Ciraulo is gearing up for another contest in early June, his third so far this year. He’s hoping to go to Italy for a fourth contest in July, he said, and will probably compete in as many as five events this year.
That’s an unusually high number, as most bodybuilders only compete two to three times a year said Karen Monetti, a bodybuilding promoter who organized this month’s New Jersey competition with her husband, Anthony.
“I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to do this, but while I feel good, I just can’t help it,” Ciraulo said. “I’m on a roll. I just feel so good.”
Ciraulo, who turns 74 this August, entered his first bodybuilding contest at 68. He started working out regularly in 2004, finding it therapeutic while caring for this mother and going through a divorce.
Since his entry into natural bodybuilding, in which competitors don’t use steroids or hormones, Ciraulo has competed in about 18 contests and won 29 trophies, he said. In September, he won two first-place awards and one third-place honor at the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation’s Naturalmania contest in Manhattan.
He’s often among only three or four men in his age group, but no matter what, being on stage and soaking up the applause “rejuvenates” him, he said.
“It’s him, it’s who Peter is, and again, I think that passion that he has helps him out big time,” Monetti said.
Ciraulo is now trying to get more men his age to get into bodybuilding at the New York Sports Club gym in Garden City Park, where he works out. Some are hesitant, he said, but he tells them it’s never to late to get started.
“It’s like getting behind the wheel of a car — once you start driving, it becomes easy,” Ciraulo said.
Ciraulo keeps a busy schedule, he said — he regularly trains five or six days a week, but goes to the gym every day when a competition is near. He also volunteers once a week at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill.
His training regimen and strict diet make it hard for him to travel and see his grandchildren, which he said is one of the biggest drawbacks of his new career.
But bodybuilding is keeping him healthy at a time in his life when his friends are bogged down with the ailments of old age, he said.
“I’d rather spend time at the gym than spend time at the doctor’s office,” Ciraulo said.