We’re excited to continue our blog series, Client Q&A! Each month we will interview a Physique 57 client that we find inspirational. This month we are featuring Regina Calcaterra, Executive Director to NYS Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission, New York Times best-selling author and advocate for foster children. Regina recently published her first book titled, “Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island.” This inspirational and triumphant story describes how her and her siblings survived a painful childhood of neglect and abuse. Read below to learn more about Regina’s book, her inspirational motto and more!
If you are an NYC local, stop by Regina’s first book signing on September 12th at 7pm at Nicole Miller Soho Studio located at 77 Greene Street. Come meet the amazing woman behind this truly inspiring story.
Your new book walks us through your toughest days and after 40+ years you’ve decided to tell your story of child abuse, the foster care system and beating the odds. Why?
For over 6 years I served as a board member of You Gotta Believe, an organization that works to get older foster children adopted into forever homes. Through my efforts with YGB I learned that over 40,000 teens and young adults age out of the system annually to no one but themselves. I wrote this to give them and the hundreds of thousands of impoverished, abused and foster care children an understanding that they have control of their destiny. That although they were dealt a bad hand, they need to learn how to play it and use their self-determination to pull themselves up and out of their situation. Also to let them know that they are the only ones who can change the path they are walking on, if they want to move forward then they need to begin by putting one foot in front of the other and create their own future. Etched in Sand chronicles how children without safety nets or solid parents have a long, hard and sometimes dark journey but if they believe in their own light, they will be able to pull through.
I also wrote it as an effort to increase public awareness regarding a need for us to pay attention to the children around us. There are children in every community living on the fringe of society that are marginalized because of their status. You have the opportunity to touch them, albeit momentarily, in such a positive way. They will remember it and it will impact how they perceive themselves. Pay attention and please be kind.
Tell us what motto or affirmation has always carried you through difficult situations – both in your past and presently.
What my childhood experiences have given me is perspective on what is important in life and to embrace the little things that bring joy. I will never have it as tough as I did as a child so this part of my life is easy. I am learning to enjoy it more and more.
Why did you start taking Physique 57 and what keeps you coming back?
As Etched in Sand chronicles my sister Camille, just three years older than me, suffered a massive stroke last fall. As the last page of Etched in Sand mentions Camille was very fortunate and recovered quickly. Regardless, I knew that I needed to begin to take my health and fitness seriously. I also sought to be in shape by the time Etched in Sand was released since its release would result in very public appearances. So I had three goals – cardiovascular strength, weight loss and muscle tone.
In the past I would start and stop as nothing kept my interest for too long. I took a few Physique 57 classes in the past but I used the excuse of my schedule to not fully commit but enjoyed every moment of it. Since I needed to commit to a regime that I enjoyed I signed up for Physique 57 in Bridgehampton on the weekends with the lively and lovely Meredith and in SoHo during with week with the endearing Holly and other uber instructors. I don’t live in the Hamptons, but about an hour away on the North Fork of Long Island so every Saturday and Sunday, even in snow storms, I would make my way around the forks to Bridgehampton. Meredith always made it worth the trip, as did the strength and optimism of my fellow Physiquers. Within 1 month I began seeing a difference in my cardio strength and muscle tone. Since then I have lost 2 dress sizes and became leaner and stronger. Now I have formed friendships at both studios and go to maintain my health but also to see the smiling faces of Physique 57 staff members welcoming me every morning as I walk into the studio and some incredibly strong women in my classes that I have began to bond with too.
Plus an added benefit is that the two key women responsible for publishing Etched in Sand, Lisa Sharkey and Amy Bendell of HarperCollins, are Physiquers as well so we get to sign off on some of our emails saying “up an inch, down an inch.”
Despite all the difficult moments you have experienced, what now gives you the greatest joy? What activities?
I love being in my home on the North Fork of Long Island. It is my sanctuary. When there I participate in my favorite activities such as attending Physique 57 classes, joining close friends at a bucolic winery, walking my cocker spaniels down to the beach so they can play in sand and swim in the water, kayaking, bike riding or just sitting on the beach. All of these activities bring me peace – which is something that we all know is not easily attainable in our fast paced lives.
What do you consider your single greatest achievement thus far?
My single greatest achievement is one shared by my siblings. Our collective goal was to break the cycle of abuse, poverty and substance addiction. Together we broke that cycle and they then went on to raise 12 compassionate children who are now giving back to church and charity. It is only with our collective strength and cohesiveness that we were able to accomplish so much in such a short time.
What about your job as Executive Director to NYS Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption do you find to be the most fulfilling?
Since our investigation is confidential I cannot comment specifically. However, one of the themes of Etched in Sand is the power of government and the impact it has upon our lives, both good and bad and that it really does matter who we have in elected positions because they are charged with protecting our limited tax resources. So I am fulfilled that I am in a position that plays a role in identifying when our tax dollars are used for self-gain or impropriety and alongside the Commission‘s prestigious members, make recommendations on how to prevent such conduct from reoccurring.
What is a fun fact someone might not know about you?
I take pride in the weird fact that I can spell antidisestablishmentarianism, one of the longest words in the English dictionary, in less than 5.2 seconds. When you read Etched in Sand see if you can figure out when and where I began learning this bizarre mental exercise.
Thanks again to Regina Calcaterra for taking the time to chat with us! We love learning more about you beyond the barre.