070608 Body Builder -

James Neiss/staff photographer City of Tonawanda, NY - Body builder Colleen Palmeri of Niagara Falls, winner of the 2007 Miss Buffalo Woman� Body Building competition, found time to work out while on the job. Her and her husband own two Dairy Queen stores in Niagara Falls and the City of Tonawanda.

Hot eats, cool treats — and dumbbell curls?

Colleen Palmeri has a nearly-flawless physique after 43 years and five children. One wouldn’t expect to see her within a thousand walking lunges of an ice cream parlor.

Yet that’s exactly where the Niagara Falls native spends most mornings. Palmeri, who won the overall bodybuilding championship at the Ms. Buffalo competition in April, owns and operates Dairy Queen franchises in Niagara Falls and the City of Tonawanda.

In the months leading up to her bodybuilding competitions, Palmeri goes to great lengths to avoid ingesting any ice cream at work.

“When it gets on my hands I immediately stick them in water so I’m not tempted to lick,” she said. “That happens several times a day.”

Palmeri has also turned her Dairy Queens into a gym away from the gym, bringing a pair of dumbbells to use during down time at work. Palmeri said she also does calisthenics at work and will often drag the five-gallon crates of ice cream around the walk-in cooler for additional exercise.

“It’s total dedication,” said Ron Primerano, Palmeri’s personal trainer. “When you own two Dairy Queens — which supply the most fattening foods on the planet — and you have five kids and a husband to take care of, and you still make time to do everything that’s necessary.

“I don’t take excuses from any other clients when I have a client like Colleen to compare them to.”

Primerano, a competitive bodybuilder and former four-sport athlete at LaSalle High School, said none of the nearly 700 women he’s trained at Summit Fitness Center come close to matching Palmeri’s intensity.

“She’s had a goal in mind from day one that she wanted to dominate the bodybuilding scene,” Primerano said. “I’ve been training her the same way I would train a male with that potential. And she has all the potential in the world.”

Once a dedicated distance runner, Palmeri grew frustrated with her body about three years ago. She couldn’t understand why pounding the pavement every day didn’t give her the toned body she wanted. After meeting Primerano and agreeing to a trial week of training sessions, Palmeri discovered the joy of pumping iron.

Working with Primerano six days a week for six months, Palmeri won her first competition, the Tri-State Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships in Erie, Pa., in 2006, which earned her a two-year open invitation to the national competition. Her Ms. Buffalo title extended that invitation to the summer of 2009.

The daughter of a military man, Palmeri was raised by regiment, and is happy to have carried that discipline into her adult life.

“I like knowing that you have to do A, B and C in order to get D,” she said.

This helps her acquiesce to the demands of working out with Primerano, who also trained his fiancé, Crystal DeLuke, to become the overall figure champion at the Ms. Buffalo competition.

“I don’t second guess him,” Palmeri said. “If Ron told me to go out and eat dog (expletive) because it would make me better, I’d do it.”

“... I wouldn’t have been able to even do a show without Ron. I had talked to other trainers before him and I just didn’t get the same vibe from them.”

Palmeri hopes to compete again in October and is currently enjoying the benefits of her commitment to bodybuilding.

“I like seeing the improvements in my body and the strength improvements,” she said. “My blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. I can do cardio with any 18-, 19-, or 20-year old.”

Palmeri said winning the Ms. Buffalo title was “a high” but that she enjoyed the process of perfecting her body more than the actual competition. Except for one aspect.

“It was amazing for me that the runner-up was a 24 year old,” she said.

Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein

at 282-2311, ext. 2258.

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