You would be surprised looking at Lori-Ann Marchese-Napolitano to know that she had body issues when she was in her late teens.
"I wasn't really overweight but I was chubby and I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin," Marchese-Napolitano said. "I knew I had to do something, so I joined a gym and started working with a trainer. I got a little bored, so I decided to give myself a goal of competing in a fitness competition. I liked it. I liked competing and I especially liked the healthy lifestyle."
Marchese-Napolitano, 28, has made fitness a lifestyle and gained numerous awards and accolades for it. Her biggest achievement came Saturday night when she was crowned Mrs. Connecticut 2013 at Foxwoods Resort and Casino. With the win, she is now eligible to compete in Mrs. America in August in Tuscon, Arizona. The only difference between this pageant and Miss America is that Mrs. America is a married woman.
Marchese-Napolitano, who grew up in New Britain, won championships in several amateur fitness competitions, winning Miss Bikini, Miss Model and Miss Bikini-New York. The highlight of her fitness career came when she took the top overall prize at the New England Fitness Atlantic Championship. That win automatically catapulted her to a World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) professional.
Once she became a professional, however, she could no longer compete in amateur events. That led Marchese-Napolitano to another path, beauty pageants. She entered Mrs. Connecticut in 2012 and finished as a runner-up and then capped off her preparation with the 2013 title Saturday night.
"I was hoping for a top five," Marchese-Napolitano said of the Mrs. America Pageant. "I went into this to have fun and just be me. When they said I made the top five, I was really, really happy. Then I got down to the last two girls and when I heard her name announced as the runner-up I couldn't believe it. It was a complete surprise."
Marchese-Napolitano is a six-time fitness cover model and is a published author on many topics. She has worked with celebrity trainer Robert Brace on the Food Network show "Fat Chefs" and was chosen to appear on the cover of his workout DVD. She has also modeled since she was 18-years old.
Her current vocation is her business, Body Construct, LLC. While she trains the women in her club in Berlin, the business will soon move three miles down the road to New Britain for more space.
"I only train women," she said. "I never wanted to train men. I know as a woman that when I worked with male trainers they struggled to know the problem areas for women. I know that glutes, legs and stomach are the key areas for most women and having gone through it, I know how to help them. I'm not saying a male trainer can't help them I'm just saying that I'm more in tune with what they are going through. I take all of the frustration that I had going through the process and share those struggles with the girls."
She works on women of all fitness levels. She has worked with clients who have lost more than 100 pounds and also trained elite athletes who went on to compete in fitness competitions. You can see amazing before and after photos on the Body Construct website.
"My girls are amazing," Marchese-Napolitano said. "It's kind of like a club. I don't advertise. All of the people I work with come by word of mouth. I started with just a few women and then they asked if they could bring a friend and then another. It has grown so much, it's incredible."
She is currently registering people for a 90-day challenge with the winner taking home a crystal crown, sash and prizes. Women can register (by mid-April) by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her website http://bodyconstructllc.com.
"My goal is to help as many women as possible," Marchese-Napolitano said. "It has been a whirlwind and I want to thank my husband John, my coaches Charlie Margolis, 2012 winner Vanessa Sebastian, Sherry Carature, my mom Enza, father Nate, sisters Jennifer and Andrea Marchese, all my family and friends and the directors of the pageant Elaine and Ray Paolo and Melissa Coccaran. I also want to thank Ruby Barba from Pasarela Tutoring and all the Body Construct girls who came and were the loudest cheering section. They really helped with my energy on stage. Also thank you to all my sponsors who helped me make this dream of competing come true."