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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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‘The Biggest Loser’ Trainer Packs A Punch

Nearly a decade ago, Cara Castronuova was not only a Hofstra University student, but also climbing to #2 on USA Boxing’s list of top-ranked amateur fighters, having won the coveted Golden Gloves at Madison Square Garden.

“When I wear my Golden Gloves, guys always come up to me and ask who my boyfriend is. They know the necklace and assume a guy won them for me,” said Castronuova, who plans on fighting again, possibly internationally.

“I fought at 119 pounds,” Castronuova explained, during a recent interview, adding it was only a little less than the 125 pounds she typically weighs. “I was squeezing the last bit of fat off my body by eating like a nun, and running my neighborhood every night after work.”

This mentality also made the Elmont native one of the few students to ever leave a college campus lighter than when they arrived.

She’ll be returning to Hofstra next month as the instructor of a four-session Women Warriors Boot Camp, starting on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and continuing every Saturday through March 8. The classes, being offered through Hofstra’s Continuing Education program, will be held in the David S. Mack Fitness Center. Open to women of all ages, a few openings remained as of this writing. Her mission with these boot camps, she says, is to instill a fighter’s mentality in trainees, as well as create a sense of sisterhood.

“It’ll be 50 percent working out, and 50 percent nutrition,” Castronuova continued, discussing the Boot Camp’s curriculum, with the exercise portion focusing on running around an indoor track, the lifting of free weights, and stretching. “We want to keep your body functioning, loose and limber.”

She is already a familiar face to viewers of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, having been one the show’s on-air trainers in 2009-2010. On the program, overweight contestants compete against one another to see who can lose the most weight through a combination of intense workouts and a balanced diet.

“They really liked the fact that I’d been a boxer,” Castronuova stated, referring to The Biggest Loser’s casting directors, who were sent an audition tape by her manager. Soon thereafter, Castronuova was off to The Biggest Loser ranch in Calabasas, Calif., where, for months, she put the show’s participants through their paces. To this day, Castronuova, who resides in New York City, is occasionally recognized on the street by some of the program’s fans.

“People always say I look so familiar and try to guess how they know me,” she said. “My look is deceiving in real life because I am a glamour girl and do not look like a tough trainer or boxer. I look different than I do on TV when I get dressed up.”

Besides being a personal trainer for private clients, Castronuova keeps busy as the founder and program director at Camp Kid Warrior, where parents seeking a personalized exercise program for their son or daughter, coupled with exposure to proper eating habits, can have them spend anywhere from one to five weeks in upstate New York. Financial assistance and/or scholarships are available for those who qualify, she said. More details about the camp, which is held in June and July and also aims to boost its campers’ self-confidence, can be found online at campkidwarrior.com or by calling 1-844-227-2348.

“A lot of the habits you develop as a kid stay with you for the rest of your life,” Castronuova added.

She is also putting to use her Hofstra communications degree, writing editorial content and appearing as a personal online trainer for www.u-improved.com, a website targeting women who want to improve their overall health “from the inside out.” Castronuova is developing a “feminist fitness” book proposal, too.

On top of that, she keeps busy with Knockout Obesity, a foundation she established in 2010, and Fighter Fitness Corp., an enterprise where she works with various sporting goods companies to promote health and wellness through athletics. Castronuova practices what she preaches.

“I run outside every single day in the coldest weather, which is one of my top five favorite things to do. All my ‘ingenious’ problem-solving ideas hit me when I am jogging,” she said. Castronuova usually logs anywhere from three to four miles daily, per trip, and tries to get it over with early in the morning. Before she asks anyone else to push themselves, Castronuova pushes herself.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net