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New Westminster, BC. Xtreme Promotions know how to run an event. Dean and Leigh Brandt have competed extensively and this gives a promoter an inside glimpse into what makes a show memorable for the competitors. Ultra popular MC Kim Farrison and a live DJ set the tone for a fun, well run event but Xtreme Promotions weren’t done there! To top it all off they brought in the legend himself – the Titan and Status Fitness contributor Mike O’Hearn to guest pose and have some fun with the sold out Massey Theatre audience. On Sunday morning at Gold’s Gym Burnaby, Mike held a training and nutrition seminar that was part of his popular Titan Tour. People travelled from all over BC to take part in this special opportunity organized by Dean and Leigh.

[Xtreme Promoters – Dean & Leigh Brandt]

[MC – Kim Farrison]

[Guest Poser – Titan – Mike O’Hearn]

“Leah and Dean Brant work tirelessly to create an amazing show for the athletes. This show was a great example. Over 200 competitors entertained a full house. I shared my time at the show between sitting in the audience, visiting with competitors and mingling with the sponsor’s at their booths.

The Brandt’s really outdid themselves by bringing in a legend for the guest poser – Mike O’Hearn. O’Hearn is not only a bodybuilding hall of famer, he is a Status Fitness magazines featured columnist. Be sure to learn from one of the greatest.

Speaking of Status Fitness Magazine, we are interested in your photos and stories. Be sure to get your stage photos and photo shoot images along with your bios into us at Status. You can email with your stories and submissions.

Again I want to thank Dean and Leigh, as well as everyone else involved, for creating such a enjoyable and successful show for the competitors. See you next year.” – Rodney Jang

I have known Dean and Leigh for close to 10 years. In fact, Leigh was one of the first Status Symbols that I had published in Status Fitness back around 2008 I believe. Both Dean and Leigh appreciate the significance of media and the opportunities of being published hold a special place as Leigh has since gone on to grace many fitness covers and Dean has seen his share of magazine features. The opportunity for me to attend this event and offer my highly sought David Ford Choice Award to one competitor was exciting for me.


British Columbia has seen an increasing growth in bodybuilding and fitness over the years. I have attended BCABBA shows since the early 2000s and I am always impressed with the quality of physiques the province has to offer which is obvious through the growing number of pros.

In this 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic special show review I want to single out a number of competitors that caught my attention – that I feel will make a significant impact in the mainstream, as well as in the fitness industry as a whole and in their respective categories through competition at the provincial level and some quite soon at the national level.

Let’s start with Men’s Bodybuilding. Two competitors jumped out at me. First was lightweight Leigh Abat. Leigh possesses the classic X shape that is coveted by so many that step on stage. This body shape starts with good genetics but Leigh is putting in the work too and I am interested to watch as he continues in bodybuilding. With quality muscle sweeps, small waist and joints, I can see him continuing to nationals in the next few years and doing very well.

[Leigh Abat]

The second Bodybuilder that caught my attention was Alan Dyck in the light heavyweight class. Alan has a natural marketable look, with good shape. As a taller bodybuilder, it takes time to add the muscle mass needed to compete hard at the national level, but I expect to see him do well at the provincial level over the next couple years and qualify for the national stage.

[Alan Dyck]

Women’s Physique has seen a much slower growth than I expected. That said, the category is always entertaining and produces some beautiful marketable physiques. In this show, the one competitor who caught my attention was Morgan Neufeld. She was graceful on stage, had a beautiful smile and possessed a marketable physique. I see the direction of Women’s Physique meandering in the direction of women’s bodybuilding 20 years ago, so the bigger and harder physiques will likely place higher but that doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities in the industry for smaller physiques. I am excited to see what comes available for Morgan in the next few years.

[Morgan Neufeld]

Men’s Classic Physique is a new category and already in the few shows I have seen of it; it is proving to be quite entertaining as it tends to bring us back to the beginning of modern bodybuilding. It is quite apparent that guys are putting more time into their routines here than many do in bodybuilding. I have seen several competitors take the category literally – growing mustaches, and posing like Frank Zane, Steve Reeves, Serge Nubret and Reg Park. Unlike Bodybuilding, Classic Physique rewards the less hard look of bodybuilding. I have seen a number of bodybuilders try their hand at Classic Physique and not do very well because their conditioning, shape, posing and overall look didn’t quite fit in. It is obviously subjective and it will take a couple years to sort itself out but so far I have appreciated the effort I have seen. At this show Matt Froese stepped up and brought us back a few years with his posing and classic shape. Well done Matt. I look forward to seeing Matt compete at the provincials in July.

[Matt Froese]

The Figure category remains consistent with strong physiques and strict posing guidelines which means the ladies are limited from showing much of their personality but I always appreciate the hard work Nicole Gyurkovits puts in. She is working hard to create a more balanced physique and it shows. Nicole not only stands out because of her height and presence, but she is a beautiful girl that possesses looks that I expect to see in magazines sooner than later. Watch for her at provincials when she decides to step up to that next level.

[Nicole Gyurkovits]

Men’s Physique is providing some of the most marketable male competitors in the industry today. It is this class that seem ready to embrace the opportunities of becoming published models as many request photo shoots around the events. In the coming years, there will be a good many BCABBA men featured in Status Fitness which will be very exciting for the BCABBA. In the A class, Abdul Murad stood out for me. He possesses broad shoulders, a very tight core with round muscle bellies including canon ball delts that easily had him winning his A class. I expect to see Abdul push the guys at the provincial level and compete for a national qualifying placement.

[Abdul Murad]

The second competitor in Men’s Physique that I see doing very well going forward, both on stage, and in magazines if he so choses, is Kodie Laughlin. Like Abdul, Kodie is ready for the provincial test in July. I expect to see him place well and qualify for nationals.

[Kodie Laughlin]

Bikini has exploded over the past 5 years. I have met many competitors that have just started weight training and already are planning for their first show. Good on them! It is nice to set goals and continue improving. For the majority though it will take several years of quality training to reach the provincial and national levels and this is normal. It takes time to develop strong physiques that can compete at these levels. In a category where genetics plays a big part, there is still a lot of work to lift the glutes, build hamstrings, calves, back and delts.

On top of the training, especially at the regional shows, I see a lot of poor posing. This is due to lack of practice with qualified posing coaches. It takes more than a good physique to rise to the top in this category and I often see posing and stage presence limit the placements of many girls. What is especially exciting about Bikini is that it gives the girls an opportunity to shine on stage – that’s right – it allows personality to shine through. If you are a quiet person, or a nervous person, practice, practice, practice! I have seen very introverted girls win pro cards because they practiced and some even imagined they were someone else when they took to the stage. There is no reason to walk awkwardly in your shoes or hit poses that do not flatter your physique but it does require time in your heels in front of a mirror with the direction of a good posing coach. I know it can be an expensive hobby but if you are putting in the work, you don’t want to miss out in areas that can make a big difference in placement. That said, all the girls that stood out to me in the Bikini category had done their homework and looked great in every area. Let’s meet them.

In Bikini A, Vanessa Chung jumped out at me. It is apparent Vanessa has put in the work as she possesses a strong physique. Her confidence is growing as her posing reveals. Last year she placed ninth, this year she took her class. With continued focus on her posing, watch for Vanessa to push her class at the provincial level.

[Vanessa Chung]

Bikini Class B saw one of my favorite competitors of the night. In fact, she was a serious consideration for my David Ford Choice Award. Caitlin Botterill, placed first in Bikini B last year, has a great physique that I know will continue to improve in the next couple years as she makes her way to the national level. Caitlin’s posing was on point and she doesn’t really have any noticeable weaknesses which resulted in her winning the overall title at this show. Well done Caitlin. I look forward to photographing you again at provincials in July.

[Caitlin Botterill]

Alia Dunnill has a very marketable look which resulted in her winning my David Ford Choice Award that includes my Gold photo package this year valued at $6999. The combination of a pretty face with smooth posing and poise on stage saw her win the C class. Alia is planning to take time off to develop her physique for the provincial level in 2017 but we are planning to connect and do our shoot this summer which we will be excited to share with everyone through Status Fitness.

[Alia Dunnill]

Two competitors in Bikini D caught my attention – Macda Haddish and Carly Pinchin. Macda has an exotic look that I know will attract photographers and magazines over the next couple years as does Carly. I’m certain we will see both girls gracing the pages of fitness magazines soon.

[Macda Haddish]

[Carly Pinchin]

I look forward to seeing many of these competitors, as well as many others qualified, at the BCABBA Provincials where I will be photographing the show for the BCABBA and the competitors, as well as Status Fitness Magazine. Be sure to check back in July for my show review as well as shots from the Vancouver Pro Show taking place that same weekend.

Special thank you once again to Dean and Leigh Brandt for putting on such an amazing event. Be sure to check out two other events coming later this year. June 4, the tested BC Cup, and the 2016 National Figure, Fitness & Physique Championships on August 13

Photo Shoot Opportunities in Vancouver

Winning a show feels great and is rewarding, however, this opportunity is limited to only one person per class. A professional photo shoot with the opportunity to be published is open to everyone and if you have a marketable look then it is a near guarantee. The above banner shows just a few of the athletes I have photographed – already published in 2016. Becoming a printed model separates you from other models. It guarantees you are noticed by peers, advertising partners, company heads, supplement companies, trainers, photographers and editors. I have reserved limited times in Vancouver in July for BCABBA competitors from the Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.

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UFC and fitness celebrity cover photographer David Ford is a world renowned, multi-accredited professional photographer by the Professional Photographers of Canada and the Professional Photographers of America, an international author and public speaker. The foundations of David's business include his professionalism, knowledge and skill set.

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