Edmonton, AB. The Muscle Beach Fall Bodybuilding Classic completes the Alberta Body Building Association‘s competition season. It is always a fun and exciting show. I haven’t missed an event since promoter Ty Hamden launched it. I have seen a number of Alberta’s IFBB pros begin their respective careers at this show and I eagerly anticipate the event each year to see new talent emerge to push for Alberta and national titles and perhaps that elusive IFBB pro card status.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY FIRST MUSCLE BEACH REVIEW THAT COVERED THE BODYBUILDING CLASSES. THIS REVIEW TOUCHES ON FIGURE, CLASSIC PHYSIQUE, PHYSIQUE AND BIKINI.
The province of Alberta has been hit extremely hard with complex conditions – financial and physical. Between the hard hit oil industry and the fires of Fort McMurray we have seen a steady decline in the number of competitors over the past couple years. Instagram feeds are full of people leaving Alberta to return to their home provinces, or provinces where there is an increased chance for work. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected. Including crossovers, this show saw approximately 180 competitors take to the stage.
There were a number of highlights throughout the day including a guest performance by IFBB Bodybuilding Pro Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden who moved from two third place finishes in 2014 and 2015 at the prestigious Mr. Olympia to second place at this year’s event in Las Vegas, Nevada. Another highlight was the always incredible volunteer team. The moment I walked through the door I was greeted by smiles from Wes Arsenault, Kim and Kevin Gramlich, IFBB Pro Nicole Ball, ABBA president Jim Mah and many others including many of the competitors. Of course it always a highlight seeing Marty MacPhee take the podium as the show’s emcee. Good work Marty. While I am giving out kudos, I want to thank the judging panel as well. Led by Nathalie Mulder, the team did a great job. At times the classes were tough in multiple ways but they managed to work through and deliver the final placements.
Please continue to check out my review of each class in the show. I am including select photos of competitors that were top three and open to coverage letting us know at registration when they ordered their stage packages. At the end of the review, I will be sharing some photos of a few competitors that I feel have a marketable look and I hope they continue to train hard in the off season leading up to their next show, because they have huge potential either as models or as inspirations to others.
To read 2016 MUSCLE BEACH SHOW REVIEW PART 1, covering the Bodybuilding portion of the show, please follow this link.
Alberta has always been strong in the Figure classes. This show was no exception. All class winners looked fantastic and made for a competitive final overall comparison round. Rylee Rae Davies took first in Figure A ahead of Taylor Rein.
Kaityln Holt brought in a very tight, symmetrical physique to win a competitive class edging out muscular Charlene Cantu and Jackie Ramjohn. Kaityln hit on all cylinders and nailed this show perfectly. She would go on to win the overall Figure title as well. Charlene possesses a lot of hard earned muscle and looked great in this show. It can sometimes be tough to know how to place someone with such muscularity and the judges had their work cut out. In the muscularity department, Charlene was the clear winner. She was much bigger and harder than all the others in the class. Was she too muscular? A second place finish says no. I look forward to seeing the package Charlene brings to Provincials. Jackie Ramjohn is marketable and possesses incredible shape – including long legs and great lines – and as she develops her physique in the years to come, I see her making a push for a national title and perhaps even a pro card. A person’s potential is largely determined by genetics and this girl has it.
Charity Mohr was the clear winner in the Figure C class. She balanced muscularity with symmetry. Similar to Charlene in Figure B, Charity out-muscled this class and I am interested to see the package she brings to Provincials in June. Rounding out the top three were Jodi Gibbons and Danielle Dennis. Danielle is someone I have photographed a number of times and it’s been great to see her continue to improve. Competitors need to realize it takes time to develop and transform their bodies and Danielle is living proof of this. Great work Danielle.
Mandy Strandring stepped on stage for the first time at this show and you would never know it. Mandy has a marketable look and balances nice symmetry with quality muscularity. If she trains hard through to Provincials I can see her pushing for a top position in Alberta’s big show. Colleen Van Dam never disappoints and it is a treat to see her compete. She placed second with Amy Romeril rounding out the top three.
In the Figure Overall round I felt Kaityln Holt was the clear winner. While every girl brought a great package, Kaitlyn’s genetically small waist was impossible to miss. Charity Mohr would push Kaitlyn and win in some areas due to her muscularity, however, from all angles Kaitlyn’s waist was the deciding factor for me.
Figure Masters and Grandmasters saw five and three competitors respectively. Age aside, each lady looked great and the years of hard work was evident. In Grandmasters, Colleen Van Dam was unbeatable and looked great. Tammy Charpentier placed second and Teresa Popowicz was third. In the Master class Charlene Cantu was dominant and took first place. Danielle Dennis was second and Christine Bogle placed third. Congratulations ladies. Well done.
[Colleen Van Dam]
Classic Physique is just rounding out its inaugural year. This class is meant to bring us back to the “golden” age of bodybuilding and a lot of competitors understand this and do a very good job doing so. That said, I find we are seeing guys treating it as if it is just a broader bodybuilding class. From music choices to posing it doesn’t look any different than most of the bodybuilding classes. I hope this changes in the new year as this class has the potential to really live up to its purpose. That said I want to single out one competitor that hit the nail on the head in this show. Tony My, from Classic Physique A class. Can this guy pose!! Wow. He easily had the best routine of the evening and entertained us all with the precise posing style we hoped to see. Who thought Zamfir – a Romanian pan flute artist would steal the show – perfect song choice Tony.
In the Classic Physique A class we saw past Bodybuilder Emilito Cantos place first. Emilito has great shape and I look forward to seeing him nail his conditioning at Provincials in June. Second place went to Karlo Alonday who always looks like he is having fun on stage. If someone told me he ever had a bad day it would be hard to believe. I enjoyed Karlo’s posing routine to Phantom of the Opera. Great work Karlo. Rounding out this class was the poser of the night Tony My. I look forward to seeing Tony continue to work hard as he has the foundation to continue to build nice shape that will compete at the higher levels.
Ian Brander took first in Classic Physique B. Ian showcased great shape and conditioning. I would like to see him continue working on his classic poses between now and Provincials as I feel he can do well at the next level. Second place went to Deven Bingley. Although he wasn’t quite as muscular as Ian, Deven was hitting some nice poses throughout the night which was great to see. Keep up the hard work Deven. I look forward to seeing you at Provincials. Third place went to Sangmin Han who has a lot of potential. Sangmin has a very strong pair of wheels and I expect to see his upper body balance more at his next few shows. If he brings up his balance and comes in a little tighter – watch out!!
I have seen Zach Boss compete a number of times over the years and he definitely has a marketable look. He continues to add size to his physique and had a successful outing in Classic Physique C taking first place. If Zach comes into Provincials tighter and works on his posing I expect to see him push for a class win and possibly the overall. Julian Clayton nailed his conditioning and was ready to battle for first place but settled for a close second. Zachery Thomas rounded out the top three. I want to take a moment to mention Dustin Lavigne who placed fourth in this class. Dustin had my favorite posing routine in the class and deserves a shout out for keeping the purpose of the class alive and well. Well done Dustin.
The Classic Physique overall was a battle between Emilito, Ian and Zach. Emilito was the best poser of the three but wasn’t as conditioned. Zach possesses a small waist and with the extra height, has a good classic look. Congratulations to Zach on being the first Muscle Beach Classic Physique overall winner.
I sound like a broken record when I repeatedly say I expected to see this class grow as the Women’s Bodybuilding classes began to shrink but it hasn’t. Perhaps I need to accept that this is the way of the future and more women are interested in doing Figure and Bikini. Both of those classes continue to grow which is great to see but I wish more women would step on stage and show their personalities through routines like they can in the Physique classes.
On this night we saw three competitors each in both the A and B classes. In the A class, Sherry Esparo took first place. Sherry was the leanest in the class and each pose showcased this clearly. Second place went to Kryssy Daoud. Kryssy has very nice shape and muscle fullness and was a standout for me. I enjoyed her routine to Nicki Minaj – Moment for Life. Helene Trembley took home third place. In the B class Jessica Liubicich took first place. Jessica has worked hard and has great shape for this class. I look forward to seeing the package she brings to Provincials. Had she been a little leaner in this show she would have taken the overall title. Second place went to Gail Flint who posed to Thunderstruck by AC/DC, and Denise Kirkpatrick rounded out the class.
The overall was a battle between Sherry Esparo and Jessica Liubicich. Although Jessica had Sherry on size, Sherry edged Jessica on conditioning and from experience, conditioning typically wins out. That said, well done to all the ladies in both classes. Good work.
[Sherry and Jessica posing in the Women’s Physique Overall]
Men’s Physique is growing quickly which is exciting to see. I remember a number of years ago this same Muscle Beach show had less than forty competitors in all classes combined. Now Men’s Physique and Bikini make up more than half of almost every show I attend. Like Bikini, this category can be quite subjective. I see guys who would win a bodybuilding class donning board shorts and stepping on stage alongside first time physique competitors. That is quite the contrast indeed. I myself, like to look beyond the comparisons I see before me and knowing the end goal is to win a pro card, I compare competitors at all levels against the pros I see at the Arnold or Olympia. If some of the guys entering regional shows are bigger than the pros, I immediately conclude they should be in Bodybuilding or Classic Physique. I cannot limit a guy’s placing based on who they stand beside and I am glad to see the judges doing the same for the most part.
In the Men’s Physique Master class we saw three competitors. Dion Wandler placed first, Guillaume Petit came second and Darran Lorne placed third.
Craig Falconer come into this show in great condition which was a deciding factor in him winning Men’s Physique A. Second place went to Milad Habibi who has shape made for this class. With a little added size and more conditioning, watch for Milad to push hard for first at the Provincial level. Third place went to Michal Sopiarz.
Men’s Physique B was quite competitive between the top three competitors. The judges had their hands full but in the end came to the same conclusion I had. Naveen Sarma deserved first as he was in great shape and possessed the smallest waist and had nice proportions for a very symmetrical look. Second place went to Chris Ney who pushed hard for top place. I feel Naveen’s small waist was part of the factor of final placings. Third place went to muscular Dan Gilroy.
Scott Clark took first in Men’s Physique C. Scott is quite the athlete competing at high levels in other sports as well. His calm demeanor on stage, combined with a conditioned, proportional physique was enough to edge out Cody Peters. Cody has great genetics and with some work on posing will be a force at Provincials. Third place went to Christopher Lindsay.
I have seen Mark Mitchell compete a number of times. I always saw the potential he possessed and was glad to see him bring everything together for this show. The result – a class and overall win. I was intrigued by Mark and reached out to find out more about the champ.
[Mark Mitchell – D Class Winner & Overall Champion]
MEET MARK MITCHELL
“I am 24 years of age and a 2016 graduate, with distinction, from the University of Alberta, double majoring in Economics and Mandarin Chinese. I am also a world traveler, personal trainer at World Health in Edmonton, Physique competitor and overall fitness enthusiast.
I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not active and athletic. But, my real fitness journey began about six years ago when I was attending university in Beijing, China. Insulated on campus, and isolated in a very foreign culture, my focus on fitness sharpened to a commitment. During those two years in China my passion for fitness grew, as did my fluency in Mandarin Chinese. In 2012 I returned to Canada to continue my academic program at the University of Alberta – and to pursue my growing passion for fitness through a sensible, monitored and disciplined regime of training and competitions.
At the 2016 Muscle Beach Fall Classic at Edmonton, Alberta, I was fortunate enough to win my class – and then be awarded the overall Men’s Physique title.
As every serious competitor knows, time management is the bottom-line life skill necessary to balance intense training with the practicalities of life. I believe I have learned this critical skill as a direct result of my commitment to fitness. However, while fitness is my passion, my habit and the glue that holds my world together, it does not altogether define who I am.
First and foremost, I am a student. In January, 2017, pending a successful GMAT examination, I will commence a Master’s Degree program in International Business at the Ivey School of Business at Western University. I look forward to a program of studies that will take me from London, Ontario to Beijing, China, thence to Bangalore, India and on to Barcelona, Spain. My purpose will be to study business concepts, models and strategies in a variety of emerging world markets – and to do so in both an academic and a practicum-based setting.
The challenges are daunting, but the opportunities are exciting. Clearly, I owe so much to a lifestyle shaped by and based on physical fitness – because I am convinced that without the discipline and dogged determination I learned through my pursuit of fitness, I could never have achieved admission to such a dynamic, cutting edge program, much less be at the doorway into the fast-paced world of international business.
In addition to my studies, personal training and passion for bodybuilding, myself along with my best friend and trainer, Kevin Nephin and our graphic design and photographer partner, Matt French have recently launched our fitness apparel brand, “Ultimate Physique Apparel”.
My goal is to ultimately find a healthy balance between my love of bodybuilding, academia, personal business ventures and consistent personal growth.” @markusjames1992 (personal instagram) @weareupa (ultimate physique apparel instagram)
What was especially amusing after Mark’s win, when he was posing for his stage photos, I asked Mark to lift the trophy over his head for a classic winner photo. The trophy slipped and shattered on the stage. The look on Mark’s face was priceless. Check out the next two photos below! Second place in the D class went to Bryan Mathaoo and third to Kyle Rushton.
[Fun shots! Mark Mitchell breaks his trophy before he can lift it overhead for the winner’s pose]
Men’s Physique Overall was competitive. Mark Mitchell possessed the widest shoulders and wore shorts that fit well and revealed a little of his strong thighs. I’m surprised sometimes by competitors that grab a pair of board shorts off the shelf and wear them as they are without having them custom fit or custom made. The shorts play a big role in how your physique shows on stage so it is something that needs careful attention. I thought Darren Clark was the most conditioned of the four class winners and had the strongest calves of the group. Craig Falconer also had quality calves but wasn’t as broad in the shoulders as Mark. Naveen Sarma had good delt caps and a small waist but his calves didn’t match up to Mark’s and in the end Mark had the most complete physique to take first overall. I was happy to see this knowing how hard Mark has worked the past few years towards this goal.
MEET HAYDEN ERICKSON
Competing means something different to everyone that steps on stage. A competitor stood out to me in the D class – Hayden Erickson. I had the chance to visit with Hayden after the show and he shared a little of his story. I want to take a moment and share it with you here.
“Fitness is a discipline that can create a unique understanding that joy, strength, beauty and human progress is born through suffering and resistance. This is the law of nature. Fitness is a teacher of appreciation of the human struggle. To be organic (made of blood, muscle and bone) and to wish for progress means to be faced with this very real human struggle. As a child and young teen I used to run from resistance. The struggle of life is difficult, it doesn’t feel good and there is always that voice in the back of your head relentlessly nagging you to settle for the path of least resistance. As a young teen I remember being the smallest guy on my football team. I got destroyed, bullied and you better believe I went home with tears in my eyes begging my parents to let me quit. That day my father did me the biggest favor anyone has ever done for me in my entire life. He didn’t let me quit. He forced me to face my demons; the voice in my head that said I was weak and always would be. A week or two later I took up lifting and fell in love with pushing back against that little voice in my head. I embraced the struggle and have even grown to appreciate it. In my first year of lifting I put on around 40 pounds of lean mass. That was 7 years ago and I have been grinding away ever since.
THAT DAY MY FATHER DID ME THE BIGGEST FAVOR ANYONE HAS EVER DONE FOR ME IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. HE DIDN’T LET ME QUIT.
This year I did my first Muscle Beach Classic show and could not be prouder of myself. I didn’t crack the top five but I had many other victories just by stepping on stage. I don’t lift weights to win bodybuilding shows nor to compare myself with others. I love fitness because with every rep I take a single step towards winning a mental battle of achieving all virtues held dear. Strength, discipline, humility, self-confidence, freedom and patience. I believe that if a man can conquer his mind (the self) then he has nothing left to fear. No fear but rather complete and utter freedom. The process of becoming the best me has been more rewarding than any trophy or outside approval I could receive. Over the past year I battled through a 6-year relationship ending, a car accident (rear ended/totally outside my control) that totaled my poor Jetta (3 months out) and left me with whiplash and weeks of physio, not to mention the usual self-doubt and ridicule any bodybuilding athlete faces just to prep for a show. I stepped on stage, on my own with no coach or anyone by my side and in doing so I took a giant step forward in the direction of self-improvement. I am very excited to continue my journey, inspire others to begin their own and push to make a name for myself in the fitness world! In the words of the legend of Schwarzenegger… I’ll be back!”
Bikini is the most subjective division at every show I attend. With the largest numbers I see the widest variety of body shapes as well as levels of muscularity and conditioning. At some shows the girls have distinct abs, lines through their quads and delt caps. At other shows there is little to no definition. It can be a challenge to place someone that has it all but might be bordering on the edge of too muscular against someone that has trained for six months and genetically has nice shape but doesn’t yet have the definition etc.
One point I want to make very clear here, as I often hear it in Bikini, is that if someone looks great that doesn’t mean they are taking drugs. Sure some competitors are open to going this route but just because someone wins a class, or even the overall, it does not mean they are supplementing on drugs. I have known competitors win at the regional level, the provincial level and the national level while maintaining a drug free approach. Nothing beats genetics, time and hard work. Sometimes people joke about competing in Bikini on less than a year of training and we all know competitors who do this and there is nothing wrong with it but because it requires a smaller amount of muscle doesn’t mean that someone can compete and win their first show. I have years of experience in this industry and often times those that win their first show have been training seriously for many years. Every person needs a unique training program that will work best for them. For some the emphasis will be on cardio and for others it could be on heavy lifting. I have seen both and everything in between. I want everyone reading this to realize that there is no easy way to the top for most competitors. Put in your hard work daily and you will appreciate the win that much more when it comes.
Alright, I have that out of my system. Let’s take a look at the six Bikini classes starting with Masters. The top five in the Master Bikini class were very strong. How strong? Serena Stoicescu not only won the Master class but also won the Bikini C class that I will touch on shortly below. This lady had poise, grace, a marketable look and of course a fantastic physique. She was definitely one of the standouts in the entire Bikini division this year. Second place went to Carol Bailey who possesses a strong physique. Third place went to Janine Krause who also had an advanced physique. I expect all three ladies to do well at Provincials.
Bikini A saw Hannah Dawson take first place. Destinee San Pedro take second and Pauline Gerona Marie take third. All three ladies have very marketable looks and I expect to see them gracing the pages of magazines like Status Fitness in the next couple years.
Bikini B was the largest class of the day with nineteen competitors so it comes as no surprise that the overall winner would emerge from this group. Ashleigh Macdonald had everything the judges wanted from quality posing, to great symmetry and conditioning. Second place went to Nicole Neumann who has a much stronger physique than she really showed on stage and the judges noticed this. With some practice in the off season, Nicole could really be a threat for a class win at Provincials. Third place went to the ever smiling Jessica Liu. I loved Jessica’s presence on stage and she continuously caught my attention. Well done ladies!
Bikini C was competitive. Plain and simple. I’m certain the top five were all very close in this class. Master winner Serena Stoicescu showed everyone she could compete with anyone regardless of age. She looked great. Also looking great in this class were Kimberlee Elliott who placed second and Nicole Blake who placed third. Two of my favorites in the Bikini class was Jessica Kwasny who has a unique, marketable look and Kiesha Plumridge whom I had the privilege of photographing leading up to the show. Keisha is incredibly photogenic and although she placed six in this event, I expect to see her quickly move up as she puts more hard training under her belt.
Bikini D was close. Lacey Noel edged out Justine Wiese for top spot. I have seen Justine compete before and felt her posing wasn’t quite where it could have been. Had she nailed her stage presence and posing I feel she could have switched positions with Lacey. That said, Lacey could bring things up too with her posing. I hope both competitors do Provincials as I think both can do well with simple adjustments in the posing department alone. Add to that physique improvements and they both could be battling in the overall for a Provincial title. Third place in this class went to Master competitor Janine Krause. Janine has great lines and was conditioned perfectly. I would venture the judges’ score cards were very close between all three girls.
Bikini E was the smallest group of the Bikini classes but both girls came to compete and have fun. I’m not sure if they knew each other before the show but they looked like great friends by the end of the night as they didn’t give me the opportunity to get a good photo of them both. Tanis Moore took first and Patricia Dworkowski placed second.
The Bikini overall saw the five class winners battle hard for the overall title. I thought Ashleigh Macdonald was the clear favorite with the stiffest competition coming from Master and Bikini C winner Serena Stoicescu. Ashleigh possesses it all winning this show and I can see her winning the Provincial title next June all things considered. We will have to wait and see if that prediction is close as I know there are several other girls who will have something to say about that come show time. I can’t wait! It is definitely going to be a very competitive division.
There were a number of competitors that didn’t place where I am sure they would have liked but they did not go unnoticed. I want to take a moment to bring your attention to a number of girls that have marketable looks and with more training and posing practice, I expect to see them do well. These girls have looks that every magazine would like to showcase and I’m sure when they get a chance to do a professional shoot you will see them gracing pages in Status Fitness Magazine. Keep up the hard work!!
[Juliet Powell Clark]
Thank you to Ty Hamden once again for putting on a wonderful show. Thank you to all the volunteers who allowed things to run so smoothly both on stage and backstage and to all the competitors who took to the stage. You all worked extremely hard and deserved to be up there!! Be proud of your journey. Learn more about the ABBA here.
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 David Ford has photographed already published in 2016. Want to be noticed by peers, company heads, supplement companies, trainers, photographers and editors? Contact David to schedule your professional fitness photo shoot before your 2017 show.