Terra Castro on Business, Building Community, and Doing Good
“I am where I am at because of my grandfather, and LUNA Bar,” says 35-year-old Terra Castro, an IronMan triathlete-turned ultra-distance trail runner and passionate businesswoman. She got her start in high school when she did a multisport race with her grandfather and qualified for the Duathlon World Championships in Germany. That trip to the World Championships would become the first of a half dozen for Castro and one of 15 or so for her grandpa, Bill Olsen. The two have raced together all over the world. For them, it’s not work; it’s all about being healthy and finding joy in the sport.
Through her teens and 20s, Castro rose through the ranks in multisport racing, becoming a professional triathlete who excelled at the IronMan distance. She joined the LUNA family back in 2005, racing for LUNA Chix as a triathlete, and now serves as a brand ambassador. “LUNA has the same core values as me,” says the Detroit local. “They’re bold. They want to make an impact. We’re on the same mission.”
When Castro says, “bold,” she means it. She’s been a pioneer in fitness training and has continually broken with traditional business models as founder of the “”. In early summer of 2005, she took her fitness business mobile when she moved her training programs into a giant cargo van. The van is outfitted with all the equipment for boot camps and offers swimming, biking, running and injury prevention sessions all around the city.
This past May, Castro once again evolved her business by opening a brick-and-mortar gym called the “Detroit Body Garage,” which now serves as a home base for her, her crew and her clients. Although she hasn’t retired the van just yet—it will still be on the road for special pop-up events.
The common thread in Terra’s ever-evolving training business is her focus on building community and doing good. All of her events have a strong community vibe that not only generate a good sweat, but personal relationships. She often connects workouts to food, like a yoga and brunch combo, and encourages attendees to hang out and connect with people they might not know. “The focus is being a vehicle of change through movement and community,” says Castro. “That’s the whole idea of community. For a member, why can’t we make her meals and send her workouts if she’s in need? What if it’s in the richness of helping others?”
When the Flint Water Crisis of 2014 hit, Castro and members of her Be Bold Training Crew started offering free workouts in exchange for clean water in Detroit. “We rallied the troops in a ‘Stuff the Bus’ campaign, and drove five buses of water to the shelter in Flint,” she says.
When she learned about a similar water crisis in her home city of Detroit, she organized an Earth Day event offering free workouts in exchange for water donations. The classes utilized gallons of water for bicep curls and overhead presses. “What’s amazing is that we have this Detroit fitness family,” she says. “We’re in the trenches, and everyone comes together.”
Castro, who had a busy month of May both opening the Detroit Body Garage and running her first 50K trail running race (which she won) says that she draws power from her love of community and the love she gets back. “Athletes thank me for their PR but I don’t think they know the impact they make on me,” she says. “They make me a better person, and that’s the whole idea of community. You do life together.”
She’s constantly seeking balance and thinks that’s the key to longevity—both in her career, and in sport. Her transition to trail running over the past few years has helped her find peace and quiet, while continuing her love of movement and pushing herself. “On a trail run, I think I get clearer thoughts and I can relax,” she says. “I go to the woods and I need to run for hours.” (Castro often runs with her blue heeler, named “Luna.”)
“I see I have a lot left in me as a racer,” says Castro, who has her sights set on doing a 100-mile ultramarathon in the next few years. “I will probably race, like my grandfather, into my 80s.”
And when she does, she’ll be wearing her grandfather on her arm. Castro wears a tattoo of Olsen’s name, and the Danish flag (he’s from Denmark). “Right now, I see myself as an athlete, a whole woman, and entrepreneur,” says Castro. “I see myself as an athlete on a mission, and I use my sport to share my story.”