Healthy Inspiration

Rebuilding the body'
Written by Chris Gerbasi

A former trainer and competitor rediscovers the joys of fitness.

Belinda Snow Gattuso couldn’t believe it. She had been a competitive bodybuilder, personal trainer and aerobics instructor, but now she felt lousy and had no energy to go to the gym. She was staring at 20 extra pounds on the scale and a diagnosis of prediabetes. 

“That was a wakeup call,” says Belinda, 65, of Leesburg. “But I never lost my passion. I just let my guard down too long, and you can’t do that.”

Belinda let her guard down when she divorced at 55—she married at 16. She was on her own for the first time, working full time, socializing more, eating out and drifting away from the gym. After the wakeup call about a year and a half ago, Belinda decided it was never too late to rebuild her former lifestyle by eating healthy and working out.

“It’s the key to feeling good,” she says of hitting the gym. “You never leave it out of your life. It’s a part of your life.”

Despite her fitness background, Belinda didn’t start training for bodybuilding until she was approaching 50.

“I thought, ‘Wow, it isn’t too late for me to try something like this,’ so it was quite an experience. Amazing, actually,” she says.

Photo: Anthony Rao

In just her second bodybuilding event, Belinda captured the 40-and-older division title and the overall title—winning over a woman in her 30s—at the Florida Masters at Tampa. She also won a figure competition at the Debbie Kruck Classic in Daytona Beach.

After a couple of years, however, the commitment required to train at that level took its toll on her social life and she stopped competing. Later, her social life took its toll on her health.

Now she’s training hard again and may even return to competition.

“I’ll never say never because I love a challenge for sure,” Belinda says. “I’m like a different person when I get in (the gym). I get all excited and positive and thinking anything’s possible.”

In the gym

Belinda works out at least three days a week. She recommends light weightlifting, resistance training and working on two muscle groups during each trip—don’t forget the cardio. Newcomers should learn the best forms for using the equipment to get maximum benefit. 

About the author'

Chris Gerbasi

Chris Gerbasi has been a journalist for more than 30 years, writing and copy editing for newspapers and magazines throughout Michigan and Florida, and covering everything from city hall to spring training.

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