- May 28, 2010
Companies: Certified Automotive Repair and Tire Specialties, both in Fort Myers
Fitness goal: To win overall gold medal at the world masters' powerlifting championships this fall in Orlando.
How he got started: Esposito started lifting weights at age 14, but family obligations with four children and a growing auto-repair business kept him from competing like he did when he was younger. When one of his four sons joined the powerlifting team at Florida Gulf Coast University in 2009 and urged him to get back into the sport, he initially resisted. “No, I'm 50,” Esposito told his son, Tyler. But the elder Esposito relented and started lifting again. “The ligaments and tendons didn't settle in as fast as I thought they would,” he chuckles.
How he balances work: Esposito's auto-repair business has 10 bays and handles 20 to 30 cars a day. He arrives at work at 7 a.m. and leaves at 5:30 p.m. But he looks forward to working out afterwards for two hours or longer. “When I walk through that door, everything goes away,” he says. “It's a total mental release.” When competition nears, Esposito says he leans on his employees and stays off his feet. “I try to limit my workload in the last two weeks,” he says. “I need to save every ounce of strength.” Over the years, Esposito says he's built a team of employees he can trust. “They run the show for me while I'm gone,” he says. “It takes time to build that team.”
Winning strategy: Esposito holds several records including dead-lifting 512 pounds (lifting the barbell off the ground from a bent-over position), squatting 429.75 pounds and bench pressing 292 pounds. His training varies from week to week and it runs in cycles that culminate in competition. “You constantly have to change the routine,” Esposito says. “If you did the same week in and week out, the body would stop responding.”
Have a plan: Esposito says he follows a strict plan to achieve a winning record. “Each week you have a number you have to meet,” he says. For example, he might squat 250 pounds one week and 260 pounds the next. “If you don't hit the numbers, you'll fall behind.” But Esposito listens to his body. “Some weeks you have to back away from lifting and play catch up,” he says.
How he manages pain: “A lot of ice and Aleve,” Esposito says. Training in the summer when it's hot in Florida is especially difficult, but it prepares you mentally for the rigor of competition, he says. “It comes from the mental drive instead of the physical.”
The competition: Esposito will stay at a hotel and rest for two days before a competition, and he's usually alone without any distractions. Competitions are thrilling as hundreds of athletes gather, he says. “It's a great atmosphere; it's intense,” he says. His son Tyler helps him warm up and makes sure his equipment is ready. “I try not to suppress nerves too much because it helps you rise to the occasion,” Esposito says. Older athletes in their 70s are an inspiration. “Don't let age fool you,” Esposito says. “The competition is very steep.”
The diet: Esposito has to keep a strict diet to stay in the weight class for which he's training to compete. He eats a bagel for breakfast and a sandwich and salad for lunch, but with no mayonnaise or salad dressing. For dinner, Esposito eats a lot of chicken and vegetables. He eats protein bars made by Met-Rx and drinks shakes made from whey protein with water instead of milk. The 5-foot-4 Esposito weighs 145 pounds.
Cost: The biggest cost for powerlifting is the travel and hotels, especially if he's attending an international competition overseas. The gym membership costs about $700 a year. Gear includes knee wraps, wrist wraps, lifting belt and suits that cost $100 to $200 each. Esposito always travels to competitions with three or four suits so he's prepared in case one or more of them rips. “I'll bring five sets of knee wraps,” he says.