Bodybuilder Peter Ciraulo seeks tougher competition abroad

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Peter Ciraulo, 74, lifts his granddaughter, Carolyn, on a recent visit to Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Peter Ciraulo)

Peter Ciraulo is taking his muscles across the pond.

After dominating competitions around the New York metropolitan area, the 74-year-old Herricks bodybuilder will travel to Birmingham, England later this month for the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation British Championships on Oct. 1.

The contest will be the Ciraulo’s fourth this year, but his first ever in another country. He’s also seeking sponsorships to participate in the Swiss Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation’s Swiss Championships on Oct. 28 in Unterägeri, Switzerland.

Ciraulo — the oldest natural bodybuilder in the state — has won all three contests he’s entered this year, so he’s hoping to find more of a challenge in his age group abroad, he said.

“I’m looking for good competition,” Ciraulo said.

Ciraulo started working out regularly in 2004 and entered his first bodybuilding competition at age 68. He’s lost about 50 pounds in the past 12 years, he said.

Ciraulo is among just a handful of bodybuilders older than 50 in most local competitions, but there’s a larger pool that age in Europe, said Patrick Martin, Ciraulo’s trainer at the New York Sports Club gym in Garden City.

Ciraulo said he has entered a total of 19 contests in his competitive career. International competitions took notice of him because of his local success and clear love for the sport, said Martin, who is confident Ciraulo will take first place in England.

“The fact that he’s very inspirational and motivational has brought him this credit at the international level,” Martin said.

Ciraulo is on a stricter diet than usual and goes to the gym for about three hours each day as he trains for the British contest, he said. As a natural bodybuilder, he does not use steroids or hormones to build his muscles.

The goal is to maintain his upper body and bulk up his legs, “giving him a complete physique,” Martin said.

The thrill of showing off for big crowds, combined with the satisfaction of working out, has gotten Ciraulo “addicted” to bodybuilding,” he said. He’s also made many friends at competitions, he said.

“When I’m on stage, I can’t tell you — it just feels so good,” he said. “… You feel like you don’t want to get off stage once you get that rapport with the audience.”

But he plans to take a break after the competition in Switzerland so he can spend more time with his grandchildren. He visited his daughter and her three children in Chicago recently, he said.

“I really love the sport, but age hasn’t stopped,” Ciraulo said. “It’s still going forward.”

Bodybuilding has still made Ciraulo feel better than he has in years, he said. He’s even taken to teaching younger men at the gym how to build up their abs.

Martin said Ciraulo is a “testament” to the ways in which bodybuilding can make one’s life better.

“I myself sometimes can’t believe I’m 74,” Ciraulo said.

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