Ad
Ad
Ad
Author

David Ford

Browsing

July 31, 2021. Sherwood Park, AB. Story by David Ford.

The 2021 TNT Muscle Showdown led off the post-Covid lockdown with an exciting Canadian Physique Alliance event in Sherwood Park, Alberta. Athletes were excited to get back on stage and show off their hard work over the past year and there was a special buzz around this event promoted by Tara Laviolette.

Registration ran smoothly and after the athlete meeting, the athletes were able to retire to their rooms in the same facility as the event the following day. This is extremely convenient and every athlete I spoke with was incredibly happy with the setup. There was no stress-fighting traffic to be ready on time. The Muscle Metamorphosis Tanning team prepared the athletes’ colour for stage quickly and efficiently while the hair and make-up teams consisted of several teams joining forces to provide the best experience and results.

It was great to see Canadian Physique Alliance Head Judge Rudy Jambrosic at registration. Rudy runs a tight ship and keeps the show moving. The athletes would appreciate his expertise behind the mic at the judging table.

The Status Fitness Magazine team, led by Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang, was warmly greeted on Friday by Tara, her volunteers, and the host of competing athletes. Athletes were very impressed the magazine was there in full to benefit the athletes, after all, it’s all about the athletes. The excitement for the first Status Fitness Magazine Model Search of the year was high. Competitors of all levels and divisions wanted to be part of this event aimed specifically to promote the athletes.

With 172 competitors, including crossovers, prepped to step on stage it was set to be a competitive showdown. There were Novice classes for first-time competitors and Open classes for those looking to move up to the pro-qualifiers. This show had it all! In our coverage, we will focus on the Open classes.

BODYBUILDING

Bodybuilding saw several high-level competitors ready to battle it out for the overall title including Martyn Jennings from Heavyweight and Trevor Jackson from Super Heavyweight but in the end, Light Heavyweight Lui Zappitelli from Winnipeg, MB, emerged victorious and held up the overall trophy.

Light Heavyweight Bodybuilding & Bodybuilding Overall Lui Zappitelli – Priolo Photography

Lui looked amazing. He put on so much mass without compromising his conditioning in such at short timeframe. Look for Lui to be battling for a Pro Card in the near future. Congratulations champ. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Heavyweight Bodybuilding Winner – Martin Jennings – Priolo Photography

Martin looked great on stage. Well deserved! ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Super Heavyweight – Trevor Jackson – Priolo Photography

A true specimen. Congratulation Trevor. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

MEN’S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE

Men’s Classic Physique saw John Mark Nicolet and Brady Johnson give massive Anthony Malott some competition but, in the end, there were unable to match Anthony’s overall size and muscularity. Watch for Anthony to make a splash at the pro-qualifiers. Overshadowed by big Anthony Malott was Jatinder Purewal in the D Class. Jatinder brought a strong package and was dialed in. Keep an eye out for him at the pro-qualifiers.

Men’s Classic Physique Overall – Anthony Malott – Priolo Photography

A star of the show. Anthony Malott will be a pro one day soon. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Open Class C Men’s Classic Physique – Brady Johnson – Priolo Photography

Shredded! ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Open Class B Men’s Classic Physique – John Mark Nicolet – Priolo Photography

John looked great. I’m sure it have a lot to do with his crazy workouts… Beast!! ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Open Class D Men’s Classic Physique – Jatinder Purewal – Priolo Photography

A true Classic Physique. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

MEN’S PHYSIQUE

Men’s Physique was competitive throughout all four classes. Hermel Deluna, as always, was conditioned and ready to battle. New to the sport Khelyn Kull brought a thick muscular package that clearly revealed his extensive athleticism in football, a sport he played through his young 23 years. Watch this guy as he has swagger and charisma in addition to a great physique. Zachery Mitchell showed up in Class C looking conditioned with good symmetry and clearly had his eyes set on an overall title, however, it was Jeff Magnuson from Class D who the judges liked best on this morning rewarding the Edmonton competitor with the Overall Men’s Physique title. Jeff has a marketable look. His physique is complete from broad shoulders through well-developed calves. With his proportions, conditioning, and good looks, he will be someone to watch at his pro-qualifier debut.

I want to take a moment to give a shout-out to Michael Lim who really left an impact on myself and Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang. We met Michael in the Edmonton airport and immediately knew he was in town to compete. His amazing energy was contagious and we had to learn a little more about this great guy. Michael is a nurse who works in the Vancouver area in large part with the homeless residents of the city. I can only imagine the impact Michael makes in his chosen field. Look to learn more about Michael in an upcoming feature where he shares more about himself and his work.

Men’s Physique Overall – Jeff Magnuson – Priolo Photography

Jeff looked great on stage. With the right improvements, there is a pro card in his future.~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Men’s Physique Class A 1st – Hermel Deluna – Priolo Photography

Hermel always comes in looking great. The TNT was no exception ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Men’s Physique Masters 40+ 1st Open Class A 2nd – Michael Lim – Priolo Photography

Michael had great stage presence. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Men’s Physique Class B – Khelyn Kull – Priolo Photography

WOW! Khelyn’s upper body was full and mature, well ahead of his age. Big future! ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Men’s Physique Class C – Zachery Mitchell – Priolo Photography

Zachery looked great up there. Fan favorite. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 


STATUS FITNESS MODEL SEARCH

During the three-hour intermission, the popular Status Fitness Magazine Model Search took place. These events give athletes a chance to showcase both their physiques and marketability on stage in front of magazine editors, talent agents, and top industry photographers. This event included the inspiring Transformation division as well where we heard some remarkable stories of will and perseverance through extreme situations. Watch for these stories, as well as other competitor stories, to be shared separately by Status Fitness. Many of the top competitors from the TNT show entered as well as others who flew into Edmonton specifically for the contest. After the judging was complete Jeff Magnuson won the Men’s Open Model class followed by Levi Tate and Kehlyn Kull. Michael Lim was first in the Men’s Model Legend Class. Karlie Kitt placed first in the Women’s Open Model Class followed closely by Marilyn Mcffadden and Celia Koehler. Alison Asplund was first in the Women’s Model Legend Class with Sherri Labant and Tina Charters,  and Karla Thompson in close succession. In addition to the medals, the contestants won an opportunity to shoot for Status Fitness Magazine where they will share their respective stories.

Status Fitness Model Search Winner – Jeff Magnuson – David Ford Photography

Congratulations Jeff. Total marketable package. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

Status Fitness Female Model Open Winner – Karlie Kitt – David Ford Photography

Karlie stood out with her great look and amazing story. Thank you for sharing with all of us. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine


WOMEN’S BODYBUILDING

We all like Women’s Bodybuilding and it was great to see it at a regional level show once again. Without the division, we saw the ladies in other classes growing in muscularity and seemingly losing the focus of what the other divisions were created for. Women’s Bodybuilding was about femininity and muscle. There were a lot of asymmetric physiques over the years and at the TNT show, Paola Viveros and Vanessa Quinney both brought that desired look that was sought so many years before when George Synder added the first IFBB-sanctioned Women’s Bodybuilding to his show on August 18, 1979.  Both ladies were great on stage and had strong physiques and routines but in the end, Paola had better shape and size and took first.

Women’s Bodybuilding & Women’s Physique Overall – Paola Viveros. Photo Credit: CanadianPhysiqueAlliance.com – Twixpix Photography

Great to see Paola on stage and looking great. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE

Women’s Physique saw a few more competitors than Women’s Bodybuilding as was expected. In the Open Class A, Celia Koehler won all first-place scores. Second place went to Shannon Mclean who brought her best package to stage and presented it well. In third was Vanessa Quinney with Kerri Skladan in fourth. Celia would go on to face Paola Viveros for the Overall who was fresh off her bodybuilding win. Often in regional shows, you’ll see cross-overs as competitors work towards finding the avenue that suits them best. Paola was wise to enter both with the aim to qualify in both classes at the pro-qualifying level. Her physique was strong here and she was clear winner in both bodybuilding and Women’s Physique but at the higher levels, she will likely decide on one avenue to follow as she builds size while maintaining her beautiful symmetry. Adding size too quickly can often take away from the symmetry that makes a physique so beautiful, and it takes time to achieve these goals.

FIGURE

Women’s Figure was a division I was excited to watch. Kim Gramlich was back on stage, and she always brings her best. What makes the shows extra exciting is you never know who else is showing up and with what package. It wasn’t going to be an easy Overall title for anyone to win as it turned out Alicia Kennedy, Celia Koehler, Brandi Smith as well as several other beautiful ladies brought their A-game and were after the same title. Alicia Kennedy took first in Open Class B, Celia Koehler emerged from Class C and Brandi Smith from Class D. After a number of comparisons turns the judges determined that Brandi, from Regina, SK, was their choice for Overall Figure winner.

Figure Overall – Brandi Smith. Photo Credit: CanadianPhysiqueAlliance.com – Twixpix Photography

Brandi looked amazing winning her crown. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

WOMEN’S WELLNESS

Women’s Wellness is a popular class from regionals through the highest levels. These ladies have muscle and shape and are very marketable for the sport itself. At the beginning, when the division was first added we would see Bikini girls who weren’t quite lean enough jumping into this class but now in its second year, we are seeing muscular girls as was the intension. In Class A Rose Stodalka was the clear winner. I have seen Rose from her first show and it’s remarkable to see the work this young lady has put in – both in the gym and in her presentation. Rose is what the Wellness division is all about. In Class B, Hope Lalonde placed first. In Class C we saw Katherine Dromparis edge out Lee Ann Howe for first. Lee Ann had won both the #5+ and 45+ Wellness classes so a big kudos to her. In the Overall Wellness showdown Rose was the clear winner from the start. She is ready to push for a pro card at her next pro-qualifier.

Women’s Wellness Overall – Rose Stodalka. Photo Credit: CanadianPhysiqueAlliance.com – Twixpix Photography

Rose Stodalka looked made for the Wellness Division. I expect a pro card in the near future. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

BIKINI

Bikini was large as one would expect. There were six competitive classes, so we were going to be treated to an exciting finish. In Bikini A we saw Karla Thompson place first. Bikini B was won by the beautiful Alannah Webster wearing a lovely red bikini that complimented her shape nicely. Bikini C was taken by Nikki Kiani who is well on her way to becoming a pro competitor. She is beautiful and graceful on stage and has the “wow factor” for marketability. Class D went to Sadie Brenner sporting a lovely teal/green suit. Class E saw Carolyn Kirk got the nod from all the judges and Class F saw competitor 75, Kalyn Mcintyre captures first.

IFBB Pro Natalie Pennington and MMA Legend Tito Ortiz shared the Status Fitness Magazine cover. Photographed by David Ford.

In second place Class F I must mention Kyre Thompson who has a very marketable look that reminds me a little of Status Fitness cover model Natalie Pennington who was featured alongside MMA superstar Tito Ortiz on issue 12 (Cover shown above.). Watch for Kyre to make a splash in fitness modeling if she decides to go that route.

Bikini F, Kyre Thompson. Photo Credit: CanadianPhysiqueAlliance.com – Twixpix Photography

Incredible presentation Kyre ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

With six worthy class winners going head-to-head for the TNT Muscle Showdown Bikini title it was an exciting way to end the afternoon show. After the dust settled, it was clear who the winner was. Class C winner Nikki Kiani was crowned the winner.

Bikini Overall – Nikki Kiani. Photo Credit: CanadianPhysiqueAlliance.com – Twixpix Photography

Nikki Kiani looked great. Such a marketable talent. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

FITNESS

Fitness is a difficult class. It is fun to watch but is hard on the body of the competitors. Having worked with IFBB Pro Jenny Hendershott some years ago I was able to see firsthand the toll it takes on the body. Today’s competitors work hard to execute difficult moves and hold through 60 exciting seconds of their routine. It’s not for everyone which is why we have seen the numbers dwindle with the addition of Bikini and Wellness. That said, the TNT Muscle Showdown was treat with a great routine by the lone open competitor Sydney Allison. Sydney’s athleticism showed as she bound effortlessly across the stage. She now qualifies for the next level on her fitness journey.

Fitness Winner – Sydney Allison – Priolo Photography

Sydney Allison fired up the crowd with a tantalizing performance. ~ Rodney Jang, Status Fitness Magazine

 

THANK YOU FROM THE PROMOTER

The TNT Muscle Showdown July 2021 was an achievement for many.  The community needed a full event to fuel us and celebrate.  We just “needed it” after all of the restrictions and heavy atmosphere from it all.  I had taken a very tenacious position for 2021 that TNT was going to have an event even if it meant bare bones, but we were able to have a full on event.

The event was not without a few hiccups in production but getting through them really spoke to the team of volunteers TNT had to support it.  Our head judge Rudy Jambrosic kept me grounded, adjusting the show flow to allow time to make the necessary fixes.

TNT’s volunteers rallied and pivoted without question where they needed to and the level of gratitude I have for their investment in TNT’s success is beyond measure.  We are all better at what we do at events as a result.

Status Model Search provided a new flavor to the environment.  I appreciated all the enthusiasm Status Fitness encouraged and the fun interaction the competitors had with it.

I am heading into TNT 2.0 Special Edition on December 4, 2021 and we will polish up a few things, going back to the traditional prejudging and finals to allow for that authentic flow.  That said I am ready to make adjustments if Covid has other plans come December.

~ Tara Laviolette, TNT Muscle Showdown Promoter

Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang with TNT Muscle Showdown Promoter Tara Laviolette.

 

CONGRATULATIONS & THANK YOU

Congratulations to all the athletes who competed in the exciting show this year. A big shout out to Tara and her team for putting on an exceptional event that will leave a positive impact on the competitors as they continue their fitness journeys. Thank you for the warm welcome to our Status Fitness team. The reception by you, your volunteers, and the athletes were incredible. Thank you to all the exhibitors who came out to support the competitors. Also, a big thank you to the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre staff who were most accommodating for the show – the athletes, Tara and her team, the exhibitors, and the Status Fitness team.

 

Select photos provided by CanadianPhysiqueAlliance.com as credited.

Vancouver, BC. The 2016 Popeye’s Fall Classic promoted by Tarik Rahiman took place on November 12 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver. The last show in the BCABBA schedule was full of excitement and suspense as almost every class had contenders vying for top honors.

[Promoter Terik Rahiman addresses the audience at the start of the Finals alongside co-emcees Bert Sims and Stefan Lyren.]

I have been photographing this fall event for more than a decade and I am always impressed with the level of competition BC produces. Many at this regional level could have stepped on the National stage and pushed for top placements.

MANY COMPETITORS AT THIS REGIONAL LEVEL COULD HAVE STEPPED ON THE NATIONAL STAGE AND PUSHED FOR TOP PLACEMENTS.

There were a number of highlights throughout the day including a guest performance by IFBB Pro League Bodybuilder Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden who moved from two third place finishes at the Olympia to a strong second place. Shawn shared a little of his story and how he moved from soccer (football) to the gym. It took him a little bit before the wins started to roll. Now his goal is to take the Olympia title – and sooner the better for him.

[Guest Poser Shawn Rhoden takes to the stage at the 2016 Popeye’s Fall Classic]

[Guest Poser – Shawn Rhoden jumps into the audience to hit some poses and selfies.]

[Guest Poser Shawn Rhoden says a few words after his appearance alongside promoter Tarik Rahiman]

[2016 Popeye’s Trophy Presenting Team]

[BCABBA Judging Panel, Statisticians, Stage Marshalls, and Media Executive]

Always a highlight were seeing some of the volunteers I had met at the Knight of Champions early in September and at the Vancouver Pro/Am – it is always great to see familiar faces. It is because of people like these that the show can go on and run smoothly.

I hope you enjoy my insights into the show. All photos in this special feature have been prepared from registration. If you would like your photo package from the show, please click here.

BODYBUILDING

Junior Bodybuilding is alive and well in BC. I was especially impressed with the size and shape of third place competitor Quin Leroy. I look forward to watching this young man take his time and develop over the next several years. He definitely has the size and shape to take this passion to the National level. Winning this class was the conditioned Nicholas Archibald. Andrew Schmittling placed second.

[Nicholas Archibald]

In Lightweight, we were treated to a very competitive class. All three men were in great shape and each presented nicely through their respective posing routines. At the end of the night, Dane Makuch, who has been featured in Status Fitness magazine in the past, placed first. Second place went to Douglas Jang and third to JL Lino.

Middleweight was very competitive. Big Dustin Reaume took first place honors, Dwight Marples second and third place was taken by Shawn Joy.

[Shawn Joy]

Light Heavyweight saw some very aesthetic physiques battle it out. Ola Alagboro placed first. Colin Brown second and Jordan King a close third.

[Jordan King]

[Ola Alagboro]

Like each of the other classes, Heavyweight was also quite competitive. I thought Jordan Gladman would win the class, however, he had to settle for second place. Steven Bentley took first, and Wayne Crow came third.

[Wayne Crow]

The Master, over 40 class, was competitive. Wayne Crow, Duane Borsa and Shawn Joy each were gunning for top place but Wayne went on to win with Duane a close second and Shawn rounding out the top three.

It is always great to see the Master, over 50 class, show up. These guys were in quality shape and showed no slowing down. Big Andy Alexiou took first, Arthur Laskowski second and Mark Slessor third.

[Andy Alexiou]

In the Overall, all eyes were on Ola Alabboro. His aesthetic look kept pulling our eyes towards him. That said, both Dustin Reaume and Dana Makuch were pushing Ola hard. Both Dustin and Dana had Ola slightly out-conditioned, however, it was hard to get past Ola’s round muscle bellies and overall genetics. I am interested in seeing Dana add more size over the next couple years as he is showing where his genetics and hard work can take him. He’s added a fair bit of quality mass since he graced the Status Fitness pages a year or so ago. He possesses a small waist and broad shoulders and I know he is driven.

WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE

The Women’s Physique class is always entertaining. The creativity of this class continues to grow and I almost find myself sitting back watching rather than taking pictures. There were two classes in this show with three ladies in the A and two ladies in the B. In Open A, Leah Owen took first. Leah has nice shape but will need to come in harder at the Provincial level to push for a top three placement. In second was Danica Barden and in third was Amy Mathys. Open B was the class I was really interested in. The master winner was Ruth Saunders and she looked great. In the B class she was up against the striking Kelsey DeCamillis. Ruth’s conditioning and muscle maturity was too much for Kelsey and Ruth placed first and would go on to win the Physique overall. Kelsey settled for a second place but also caught my attention. You will be seeing more of this young lady in the near future. Keep an eye here on this website.

[Ruth Saunders]

[Kelsey DeCamillis]

CLASSIC PHYSIQUE

There were three competitive Classic Physique classes. The A class saw four competitive men battle hard for the top three. Dane Makuch, coming off his Bodybuilding Lightweight win took first. Second place went to Chris O’Leary and third went to Gord Broderick.

Classic Physique B saw nine men step on stage – consisting of a wide variety of physiques. Ronald Hernandez-Lebron had nice shape and took first place. I personally felt there was a strong argument for Jordan King, placing second, to take first in this class but that was not to be. Gavin Gambhir has great shape and if he came in slightly tighter, would have been a real threat for first. Good work guys. Nice to see another very competitive class.

[Gavin Gambhir]

Classic Physique C was a lot of fun. Jordan Gladman deserved first and clearly won it. He has a great look – marketable with nice shape and stage presence. He is well spoken and it was interesting to hear his interview after going on to win the Classic Physique Overall. Second place went to Wayne Crow who had previously won the Master Bodybuilding – over 40 class earlier in the night. Third was taken by Parker Henderson who had a lot of great energy on stage. Nice work guys.

Classic Physique Overall was a showdown between Jordan Gladman, Ronald Hernandez-Lebron and Dane Makuch. Both Ronald and Dane have a slightly better shoulder to waist ratio than Jordan but it is hard to beat Jordan’s shape and thickness. All three were similarly conditioned with Dane possibly taking that aspect. In the quarter turns Jordan’s quads and hamstrings separated him clearly. I liked Ronald’s delts and back in the back pose – he possesses a wide flair and a tiny waist. Although he has clear separation in his delt/arm tie in, his chest lacks the thickness Jordan possesses. Dane looked great too but will need a little more mass to compete against the bigger classes. As the dust settled Jordan emerged with the win and deserved it.

[Classic Physique Overall – Jordan Gladman, Ronald Hernandez-Lebron and Dane Makuch]

FIGURE

There were six classes of Figure in this show which was great to see. At times Figure seems to give way to Bikini as that category tends to swallow the others. All six classes in Figure were competitive and showed equal numbers throughout – five to seven competitors each.

Figure A was won by Nina Azimikor who looked great – quality muscle, nice shape and well-conditioned. Second place went to the beautiful Tessa Barresi and third to Jo-Danielle De Belen.

[Tessa Barresi]

[Jo-Danielle De Belen]

Figure B saw Francesca Bolton out-muscle the others for the clear win. Robyn Allen has some great lines and with a few more pounds of quality muscle will be a force in her height class. Leah Owen took third place.

[Robyn Allen]

Figure C was quite competitive. Leanne Bodnar took first, edging out Jen Ullett, and Kayla Johnson wasn’t far behind. All three ladies had great presence on stage and looked to be enjoying themselves which is always nice to see from the audience. Great work ladies.

[Leanne Bodnar]

Figure D was ultra-competitive between first and second – with the only exception being we had previously seen both ladies battle it out for the Master Figure Overall a little earlier. Ruthie Unaegbu had won the Master 35+ class and Michelle Troll the 45+ class. I hadn’t seen Michelle on stage since 2005, I believe. Not much has changed for Michelle as she continues to look fantastic, making it near impossible to believe she is over 50 years young. What a way to represent Michelle. Be proud of your accomplishments. You will be motivating many in your fitness journey. In this open class, like in the Master Overall, Ruthie would take first just ahead of Michelle. Ruthie’s shape is what solidified the first place. She looked great and possessed nice round muscles with just the right amount of separation. Ruthie has a pro level physique if she can trim her legs down and come in tighter in the lower half. I look forward to seeing what she does for Provincials in July. Michelle will be a force at the Provincial level in both the masters 45+ and the Open. Watch out ladies, she will be pushing hard for first in both. Third place went to Simone Artz.

 

Master Figure 35+ saw Ruthie Unaegbu taking first. Jen Ullett taking second and Shelly Lessard taking third.

[Jen Ullett]

Master Figure 45+ was won by Michelle Troll, the ever pleasant and energetic Zeng Allardyce placed second and Cheryl Hutchinson took third.

[Figure Overall – Front Pose – Francesca Bolton, Nina Azimikor, Leanne Bodnar, and Ruthie Unaegbu]

[Figure Overall – Back Pose – Ruthie Unaegbu, Leanne Bodnar, Francesca Bolton and Nina Azimikor]

[Figure Overall – Winner Ruthie Unaegbu]

MEN’S PHYSIQUE

Men’s Physique was competitive across the board. Every class was a battle and the judges had their work cut out for them. As the show progresses and we see only two categories left, we sometimes feel the show will see a quick ending but that is never the case. Men’s Physique and Bikini both test the judges and I’m sure leave many test judges scratching their heads. What tends to separate the competitors in this category is the tightness and leanness of the waists. Sure, most can build thicker chest and wider delts, but you need to do your homework and come in tight to compete for the highest spots… and don’t neglect those calves. Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, I have seen many placements decided because of the shape or size of the calf muscles. Do as Arnold did and hit those bad boys multiple times a week – perhaps even seven times a week to break through any limitations.

The Master class saw Brian Nevins take first. Brian always looks great and this show was no exception. Second place went to David Purcell and third to Stephen MacKinnon.

[Brian Nevins]

Class A was a lot of fun. This group knows how to pose and typically no one stands still. This was the case for a few competitors in the class. Raphiel Del Rosario placed first. Second went to Mehrdad Ahghari and third to the slick poser Gi Beom Gron who made it hard to grab great shots.

[Mehrdad Ahghari]

[Gi Beom Gron]

Class B was tight. James Song shared his story with Status Fitness before his previous show so it was with great expectation I looked to see him this show. James didn’t disappoint and added some quality size but had to accept second place behind Ronald Hernandez-Lebron who would go on to take the Overall title this show. Third place went to Zachary Khan.

[James Song]

Class C was exciting to watch. Jordan Barth knows how to move and combined with some quality shape and size he took first. Second place went to Benjamin Jacuk and third to Brendan Banser.

[Jordan Barth]

[Brandon Banser]

Like each of the other classes, Class D was also competitive. I liked Arman Ayazi’s shape and musculature and thought he could have taken first place with some quality posing. Watch for Arman at Provincials. Cameron Richard possessed a nice V taper – wide delts and back and a slender waist. Combined with good posing he was the one to beat and no one did this night. Cameron took first. Third place went to Nathaniel Vail.

[Arman Ayazi]

In the Men’s Physique Overall battle we saw Raphiel Del Rosario hold off all challengers to take the coveted title. Raphiel’s waist is small, mid-length with higher lat insertions which adds to the aesthetic appeal. It isn’t until you have each class champion side by side that you start to see the noticeable differences. I felt Jordan Barth had the nicest upper body – delts, back, arms and chest, but his waist didn’t show at the same level as Raphiel. Cameron Richard has nice brought delts and fairly small waist proportionately however he needs a little more width on his pecs to push Raphiel. His conditioning was on, though, and I look forward to seeing him on stage next July.

[Men’s Physique Overall – Cameron Richard, Ronald Hernandez-Lebron, Raphiel Del Rosario, Jordan Barth]

BIKINI

Bikini saw nine classes total this show. One Master 45+, two Master 35+ and then six open classes. The largest class was C with twenty-two competitors. The smallest open class was Open A which is where I will start this section.

There were a number of very marketable competitors in Bikini this year. One being Brittney Ward who was a stand out in this class. Brittney has amazing shape and is a graceful poser. I have seen hundreds of shows and I truly feel she has the potential to turn pro over the next five years. Slow and steady wins the race and with Brittney’s genetics, I know she can go far. Second place in this class went to Katrina de Mesa and third to Chloe Logan. What I noticed about Chloe is what I didn’t notice. She possesses a strong physique but she seems somewhat subdued on stage. I would love to see Chloe own the stage – smile more and keeping perfecting her poses. They are quite good where she is but I know the combination could be slightly better and this will lead to higher placements.

[Brittney Ward]

Sarah Taylor had a great night. I am sure I have seen Sarah compete before but this was the first time I really noticed her. Her physique was on point and her posing was eye catching. She took home first place and as well the Overall title a little later in the night. Second place went to the beautiful Frances Ahn. What Frances possesses can’t be developed through hard training – a beautiful face and a striking smile and stage presence. She will need to keep training hard to push hard at Provincials but she definitely stood out to me and made my marketable list of the night. Third place went to Rhonda Gunderson. PoOn Yeung was another stand out in this class as far as marketability goes. A very pretty girl, PoOn will need to add more muscle in order to make a bigger impact in competition.

[Sarah Taylor]

[Frances Ahn]

[PoOn Yeung]

Open Class C was very interesting. I’m thankful I wasn’t a judge as I guessed the final placements incorrectly in this class. I wasn’t sure how it would go. We had Nissa Wellman with her wide shoulders and strong physique. We had Sarah Ramadan who I had thought would take first and then we had Jasmine De Torres who had an amazing energy on stage. From a primarily physique viewpoint, I thought Sarah had the best look of the three. Great quad sweep, nice delts, high glutes and good calves – a complete package if you will. I felt Jasmine’s traps were a little over-powering taking away from her delt caps. The judges didn’t see it this way and rewarded Jasmine with first place, Sarah with second and Nissa with third.

[Jasmine De Torres]

[Nissa Wellman]

Kiera Nielsen was on this show. Not only beautiful, Kiera continues to make improvements to her physique and she placed a deservedly first place in the Open D Class. Brea Guy placed second and Nicole Downie came third. Kiera is another competitor I feel has a marketable look. She was very pleasant at registration and I was impressed with all aspects of her stage time. Well done.

[Kiera Nielsen]

[Nicole Downie]

Open E class went to Kristyna Diaczuk, second place to Sherilyn Sutton and third to Ashley Schwab. In this class I liked what Ashley brought to the stage. I felt her posing could have been slightly better and perhaps she didn’t show her physique as well as she could but she has nice lines and shape. With a little added muscle, watch for her to make a splash at Provincials. In this class I was impressed with the marketable look and stage presence of Kat Easterbrook. Kat’s posing and energy caught my attention. I look forward to seeing her improve in the next year.

[Kat Easterbrook]

In the Open F Class, I wasn’t sure what direction the judges were going to go in. Cassie Keeping has muscle and it is very evident. I am a big fan of muscle and appreciated seeing her take to the stage. The big question was, would it be too much muscle? I overheard a few people in the audience say they felt it was, and others were picking her to win. My feeling is in most cases it would be considered a little much but the rest of the class had some catching up to do and rather than reward someone with considerably less muscle, it was prudent to give Cassie first place. I have seen many pro shows and she would be more muscular than most Bikini pros at both the Arnold and Olympia so hopefully she doesn’t add any more size or if she does, she moves into Figure. That is her call and only she can make it. At this show, she came in her best and the judges decided they would reward her for it and deservingly she took first. Second place went to Stephanie Jamieson and third went to the striking Erin Elliott. In this class my attention was captured by fourth place finisher Erin Bjornson. Erin is graceful on stage and has a striking look. She will need to add a little more muscle mass in order to place higher at the regional shows.

[Erin Bjornson]

In the Master 35+ A Class we saw Sadaf Imanian take first place. Sadaf looked great and definitely deserved first. Second went to Christina Cherban and third to Angela Evans.

[Sadaf Imanian]

Masters 35+ B Class was close. Kristyna Diaczuk took first place. Erin Kelly placed second and Jasmin Kohl took third.

The Master Bikini 45+ was impressive. Kristin Maine was the winner but I would need to see her DL to ensure she is actually 45+. The lady looks fantastic and not a year over 30. Wow. I am impressed. Second went to the charismatic Marlene Long who looked fantastic and third went to Tanya Goudie who looked like she was thoroughly enjoying every moment on stage. All three of you ladies deserve a HUGH applause. Well done!!

The Bikini Overall was fun to watch as always. Each lady brings something different to the stage and it is fun to compare and see who will eventually emerge with the title. Going into the final I was favoring Sarah Taylor and Brittany Ward for the simple fact they are well proportioned and have similar shape and musculature. In this show, Sarah out posed Brittany and showcased her physique well. You don’t always need to be hitting your poses hard as it can show too much muscle. Sarah posed perfectly and seemed relaxed. Brittany seemed to be trying a little too hard and it took away from her lines. Kiera Nielsen posed very well and is closing in on being a viable threat at the next level. As she brings her legs in, keep an eye out for her to push everyone. She has a very beautiful look and will continue to do damage if she takes things slow over the next couple years. At the end of the night it was Sarah who deservingly took home first spot. Congratulations Sarah on the big win.

[Bikini Overall – Front and Back poses]

BACKSTAGE PHOTOSHOOTS & FUN

It is always a lot of fun to go backstage and see what everyone is up to during the intermission. Status Fitness photographer Ali Sohrab is at the BCABBA shows conducting the masses backstage and having fun photographing as many adventurous souls as he can with no obligation to purhase his packages. I thought about that opportunity and decided to take him up on it. Of course a few curious souls stopped by to watch me work my “magic” – some of which was caught on social media – thanks Julie!! That said, I had to get her to put her actions where her… well you get the picture… and so you shall. Here is the magic of Ali photographing yours truly alongside superstar volunteer Julie McGraa.

[David Ford and superstar volunteer Julie McGraa experiencing the magic of Ali Sohrab backstage]

[David Ford headshot backstage with photographer Ali Sohrab]

I’m not sure how many competitors took advantage of Ali’s set up backstage but I know if I was competing again, I would definitely be taking advantage of this opportunity. Everyone puts in hours of hard work over 6-20 weeks and it’s the best way to commemorate the entire journey. Photos are forever – sometimes that is bad – but more times than not it is great to have something to look back on. Whenever there is a fire, photos are the main things people try to take with them. Not only for the sake of memories but for the sake of fun and a great experience – the next time you see Ali, come out of your comfort zone and get some great photos as well. I have only heard positive remarks about Ali’s interaction with the competitors/volunteers and his work back stage. If you shot with Ali backstage and haven’t had a chance to follow up with him, be sure to drop him a quick email here to ensure you get your photo set.

THANK YOU

Thank you to Tarik Rahiman for putting on an exciting second fall 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 BCABBA here.

PHOTOSHOOT OPPORTUNITIES

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.

Please note, we will be adding a few more images as time permits.

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 ArsenaultKim 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.

FIGURE

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.

[Rylee Davies]

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.

[Kaitlyn Holt]

[Charlene Cantu]

[Jackie Ramjohn]

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.

[Charity Mohr]

[Danielle Dennis]

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.

[Mandy Strandring]

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]

[Tammy Charpentier]

[Teresa Popowicz]

CLASSIC PHYSIQUE

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.

[Mel Cantos]

[Karlo Alonday]

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!!

[Ian Brander]

[Deven Bingley]

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.

[Zach Boss]

[Julian Clayton]

[Dustin Lavigne]

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.

WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE

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 LifeHelene 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.

[Sherry Esparo]

[Kryssy Daoud]

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

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.

[Craig Falconer]

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.

[Naveen Sarma]

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.

[Scott Clark]

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]

[Bryan Mathaoo]

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

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.

[Serena Stoicescu]

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.

[Hannah Dawson]

[Pauline Marie]

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!

[Nicole Neaumann]

[Jessica Liu]

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.

[Serena Stoicescu]

[Nicole Blake]

[Jessica Kwasny]

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.

[Lacey Noel]

[Janine Krause]

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.

[Tanis Moore]

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.

MARKETABLE COMPETITORS

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!!

[Hazel Rainnie]

[Bella Shank]

[Kera Amero]

[Olivia Jones]

[Rachel Jones]

[Rachel Sananes]

[Samantha Gaucher]

[Juliet Powell Clark]

THANK YOU

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.

PHOTOSHOOT OPPORTUNITIES

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.

Edmonton, AB – The Muscle Beach Fall Bodybuilding Classic completes the Alberta Body Building Association 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.

It’s widely known that 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. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected. Including cross overs 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 ArsenaultKim 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. Lead 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.

[ABBA President Jim Mah addresses a packed house at the Winspear in Edmonton]

[Guest Poser – IFBB Pro Shawn Rhoden]

[Muscle Beach emcee Marty MacPhee sporting the best hair in the building]

We went back to the original format for this show which gave competitors the opportunity to take to the stage in two shows – prejudging and finals. I have seen competitors spill over between shows but everyone stayed tight through the day and looked great which made some of the classes tough to judge. That is always a good problem to have.

In this show review, I am going to look at the Bodybuilding classes. Review on the other classes will be added to this or in a new report.

FEMALE BODYBUILDING

Female bodybuilding has lost some of it’s shine over the past several years, especially at the regional level. This show saw one competitor which is disappointing, however, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Chantal Thompson did her due diligence and came in conditioned and with a great attitude. Typically, the bodybuilders are the most depleted and this can result in low energy but Chantal didn’t show any signs of this as she entertained the audience with a great routine and some good humour directed at the fact she was the only competitor in both her classes. Awesome Chantal. You looked great!!

[Women’s Bodybuilding Heavyweight & Master Winner – Chantal Thompson]

MALE BODYBUILDING

It was great to see many familiar faces in the Men’s bodybuilding classes. A number of the classes were quite competitive. That said, the moment I saw Denis LeBlanc step on stage in the Grandmaster class I knew he would be hard to beat. Saeed Majdnia pushed him and I have to add – had one of my favorite routine music choices of the night. What is especially noteworthy is that Saeed has overcome many challenges on his journey to the stage, including beating Grade 3 Astrocytoma brain tumour. Keep up the good work Saeed. John Drebert rounded out the top three.

[Grandmaster Winner and Bodybuilding Overall Winner – Denis LeBlanc]

[Saeed Majdnia – Second Grandmasters]

Men’s Masters bodybuilding was interesting. Elliot Taylor is a big guy and has incredible muscle development. The moment he takes to the stage he looks like he’s competed for many years. I don’t know too much about his competitive background, however, the judges tend to go for tight shape over mass in the twenty or so years I have attended shows. I know Elliot was disappointed and could make the argument about muscle size but he still needs to come in tighter. Although he was tighter than the last time I saw him take to the stage, there is room to still tighten up and make the most of his muscularity. Jason Torrance was on point with his conditioning and took first. Jason Sherban came second, Elliot third and Abhishek Singh took forth.

[Elliot Taylor – Third Place Masters]

[Jason Torrance – Light Heavy Winner and Master Winner]

Men’s Lightweight saw four gentlemen take to the stage. The judges always have their work cut out for them. I see some guys hitting on all cylinders in posing their upper body, sometimes forgetting about heir foundations. Other guys are tight through the legs but forget to keep their abs tight. Chris Tralnberg had a well balanced physique and kept tight through the middle while hitting most of his poses. This gave him the edge over Max Obeidat who took second. In third was Abhishek Singh with Craig Kaliel rounding out the top four.

[Chris Tralnberg – Winner Lightweight]

[Max Obeidat – Second Lightweight]

Men’s Middleweight was competitive. All five guys brought strong physiques and showcased their strengths well. That said, it was hard for anyone to compete with Grandmaster winner Denis LeBlancJesse Scholtes looked to be pushing Denis though and fittingly used the music All The Way Up for his routine. In the end, Denis took first. In third was Danny Lavergne who possesses a very aesthetic build. Posing to Metallica Danny was entertaining. Look for this young guy to continue to improve over the next year. Saeed Majdnia placed forth and John Teed rounded out the top five.

[Jesse Scholtes – Second Middelweight]

[Danny Lavergne – Third Middelweight]

Light-Heavy weight was made up of five competitors. Master winner Jason Torrance had the best conditioning and deservedly took first. Second place went to Ali Albuquerque who possesses nice shape but couldn’t compete with Jason in the conditioning department. Third went to Martyn Jennings. Forth to Spencer Jensen and fifth to Neil Peterson.

[Ali Abuquerque – Light Heavyweight – Second Place]

I was interested in the Heavyweight class as I learned in the week leading up to the show that Kevin Nephin was competing. I have known Kevin for a number of years and know the guy won’t step on stage unless he is in shape. He was but who else might show up? Patrick Plowman, that’s who. Patrick is several inches shorter than Kevin and perhaps edged him on thickness which threw a wrench into Kevin’s plans of taking home a first place trophy. Kevin was on point as was Patrick so I would believe their placements were quite close. In third place was Mike Fish who carried the most size in the class and has great shape. Had Mike come in a little tighter it would have been a real battle for first. Watch for Mike to make an impact at Provincials if he decides to do it next June. Forth place went to Jason Sherban with Daniel Hagan rounding out the top five.

[Heavyweight Winner – Patrick Plowman]

[Heavyweight – Kevin Nephin – Second Place]

[Heavyweight – Mike Fish – Third Place]

 

THANK YOU

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.

PHOTO SHOOT OPPORTUNITIES

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.

Surrey, BCThe 2016 Knight of Champions was the second show promoted by national level bodybuilder Tamara Knight at the Chandos Pattison Auditorium in Surrey, BC. I have known Tamara for many years and know the energy she puts into her show. Her commitment to putting on the best show possible is evident from the positive comments I hear from competitors, vendors and volunteers. Her experience as a competitor shines through in her attention to every detail as a promoter.

Tamara always puts on a first-class show for the competitors. I was very impressed with the quality of show – the level of competitors for a regional show but also the organization of the event. Tamara leads a quality team of volunteers and the competitors, audience, and vendors are the beneficiaries. This year was noticeably larger than 2015 and I predict 2017 will that much larger. You can be sure Status Fitness will be there fully supporting Tamara’s efforts.” ~ Rodney Jang, Editor-in-Chief, Status Fitness Magazine

[BCABBA President Ross Duncan posing with Knight of Champion Promoter Tamara Knight – Photo by Ali Sohrab]

VOLUNTEERS

What can be said about the amazing volunteers? This group was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Every time I ran back stage I had a hard time making my way back out to the front because everyone was so easy to talk to. It was a very pleasant energy to be around and this carried over to the competitors that were sometimes running on a low energy level. I spoke with quite a few competitors about the show and they all said it was much more memorable because everyone was so nice and helpful. This is how a show grows. Positive word of mouth is always the best advertisement if you will and I know the Knight of Champions show garners a lot of it.

[Some of the volunteers with Tamara and Troy Knight]

In between shows I had a chance to visit many of the vendors set up in the efficiently laid out lobby. Everyone was busy and said it was worth being there and they would definitely be back in 2017 to support Tamara and once again showcase their respective businesses.

BODYBUILDING

For all intents and purposes this turned out to be Michael Gorenstein’s show. Not only did Michael win his class and the bodybuilding overall, he went on to rightly win his classic physique class and overall as well. You don’t see this happening too often but his physique and posing were such that he deserved both. Well done Michael.

[Michael Gorenstein – Bodybuilding Overall]

[Michael Gorenstein – Classic Physique Overall]

WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE

Women’s Physique still seems to be working hard to attract competitors. When the women’s bodybuilding classes were being encouraged to move to physique I expected to see a steady influx but that hasn’t happened to the degree I personally expected. Why is that? Many have moved to Figure? I have heard that point raised. There still are those that prefer to do bodybuilding. For sure. The opportunity to do a routine may intimidate some but others enjoy that the most and that keeps some from the Figure ranks. Regardless of the numbers in the Women’s Physique classes, the quality is there and that is the bottom line when everything is said and done. At this show we were treated by a nice routine from Tanya Tymchuk who also showcased a very fit, aesthetically pleasing physique. Well done Tanya.

[Tanya Tymchuk – Women’s Physique Overall]

FIGURE

The Figure division always come ready to battle. There is always a stand out lady in this area and at this show that went to Jazmin Gillespie. Jazmin’s physique was very strong. In fact, she could have pushed for a Physique title as well. Her shape and musculature is national level and I expect to see her move up the ranks quickly if she continues to hit her conditioning and posing.

[Jazmin Gillespie – Figure Overall]

FITNESS

Fitness has almost died off completely. Almost. But don’t tell that to Mandy Nider who wowed the audience with her strong physique and entertaining routine. Mandy works hard, very hard and that is clearly evident. She deserved to win the Fitness division and will push hard for the Provincial title in July 17. Well done Mandy. Keep working hard and inspiring those around you.

[Mandy Nider – Fitness Overall]

MEN’S PHYSIQUE

Men’s Physique is always interesting to me. I photograph many of the top names in the industry and always imagine the guys on stage in front of a camera shooting for a top publication. Do they have the size and shape? Do they have the face and the expressions? How do they move and pose? How do they carry themselves when they walk out? For me, all these points count. I have had the opportunity to watch and photograph this division at the Arnold and Olympia since it was introduced. Some of these guys are quite large – ex-bodybuilders in fact. Men’s Physique is not something you just diet down and go on stage for. You need to put in the work. Bikini girls, are you listening? This holds true for you too. At the Knight of Champions there was one that stood out for me and he went on to win his class and the overall. Salvatore Balletta. Great work Salvatore! Deserved.

[Salvatore Balletta – Men’s Physique Overall]

BIKINI

So far, my David Ford Choice Award has always gone to a bikini competitor. I am reminded of that from time to time and I do my best to consider competitors from the men’s divisions and the other female divisions. What is marketable to someone is almost as subjective as judging a show so that is where my experience in the industry comes in. Who am I targeting? I look for someone that will inspire not only industry people but those outside the industry as well. I am hoping to choose a Figure girl or a Men’s Physique, Classic Physique or Bodybuilder at some point but to date, it has been a bikini girl that has stood out for me and so far the consensus of those who talk with me after my decision is made known is that I picked the right person.

[Maxine Somov – Bikini Overall]

For the most part, I try my best to choose someone that is not going to be the winner of the show. At the Leigh Brandt Classic Alia Dunhill won and she won her class but didn’t take overall. This time my choice coincided with that of the judging panel and Maxine Semov took her class, the overall and my award. It was deserved and I wouldn’t change it afterwards. Maxine looked great. A nice balance of fit and beauty. She carried herself nicely on stage and her posing was on point. Well done Maxine. I look forward to working with Maxine leading up to the BC Provincials next summer.

[Maxine Somov – Bikini Overall]

[Maxine Somov – David Ford Choice Award Winner – Photo by Ramirez Creative]

THANK YOU

Thank you to Tamara Knight 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.

PHOTO SHOOT OPPORTUNITIES

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. Be sure to submit your professional photo shoot pictures to Status Fitness for publication consideration.

MORE COVERAGE

Read Interviews and View Photos of Knight of Champion Competitors from Backstage here.

Getting in top physical shape, as Status Fitness readers will no doubt appreciate, demands much dedication to high-level training, nutrition, and supplementation. But is this enough? Might we be overlooking an equally important variable that, when fully employed, can significantly increase lean mass-building? If psychological stress is a problem in your life, as it is for many others, then the answer is a resounding yes! A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances, psychological stress can in many ways deleteriously affect health and wellness. Negative stress is experienced by many bodybuilders, to the detriment of muscle-building progress. Simply put: stress places the body in a catabolic state, drains valuable energy reserves, and directs focus away from factors of importance to muscle building and fat loss (like training intensity and proper nutrition). But not all stress is bad. In fact, some stress is necessary. For example, the mental stress associated with learning a new task is critical to mastering it. Likewise, the physical stress resulting from intensive training is a key requirement when seeking a new suit of quality muscle. Such stress plays an important role in promoting positive adaptations to new experiences, engendering the motivation to excel and strengthening our reactions to and ability to overcome potentially harmful environmental stressors. Carefully managed, positive stress can be beneficial and healthy. It’s the prolonged, unwanted stress that kills (both fitness gains and, often, those who routinely experience it).

SIMPLY PUT: STRESS PLACES THE BODY IN A CATABOLIC STATE, DRAINS VALUABLE ENERGY RESERVES, AND DIRECTS FOCUS AWAY FROM FACTORS OF IMPORTANCE TO MUSCLE BUILDING AND FAT LOSS (LIKE TRAINING INTENSITY AND PROPER NUTRITION).

Stress becomes a problem when we worry about things beyond our control; respond to trivial events with extreme anger; routinely overwork and overtrain; prepare for non-existent threats; and adopt a pessimistic attitude to life. We may also become negatively stressed when an event or situation calls for a response that exceeds our coping mechanisms. Could it be that the best way to counter negative stress is simply to remove it from our lives? If only it were this easy. Like death, taxes and Phil Heath winning yet another Olympia title, stress is inevitable. It is pervasive and unpredictable. Thus it is always lurking in shadows, ready to influence our lives – for good or for ill. However, we can, and must, neutralize the negative stress that undermines our health and fitness. To fast-track muscle gains, we must banish such stress. Want to know how? Read on.

HORMONAL HAVOC

Chronic, unchecked stress can lead to such markers of ill health as heart disease, high blood pressure and suppressed immune function. While these undoubtedly affect muscle-building progress, there is one additional stress factor that can directly destroy muscle gains: cortisol. Released during periods of high stress, cortisol (an energy conservation hormone) is often considered a bodybuilder’s worst enemy. While useful in preparing the body for environmental stressors this catabolic hormone is also released in abundance in those who experience ongoing psychological stress. By rallying energy resources (fats and carbohydrates) cortisol prepares the body for action in anticipation of an environmental threat (real or imaginary). Sadly for stressed-out bodybuilders, cortisol (having put the brakes on carbohydrate utilization) requires an additional energy source to meet physical demand. Can you guess where this energy comes from? That’s right: muscle. To increase blood glucose in times of stress, cortisol engages a process called gluconeogenesis (literally, glucose from new sources) whereby amino acids are pulled from muscle tissue to produce more glucose. Muscle gains cannot be achieved when cortisol is flowing. In fact, by limiting cortisol production via the suppression of stress we will have addressed one of the single most important growth variables of all.

FAILURE TO FOCUS

The psychological impact of negative stress is immense. Whenever we overreact to a stressor, we are no longer in complete control of our thoughts and actions; the brain has been hijacked by an external threat (legitimate or otherwise) and our ability to focus and think rationally can be severely compromised. Try training all-out after receiving stressful news (the loss of a job or relationship, for example). Rumination over a ‘hopeless situation’ coupled with an agitated mindset makes generating the requisite intensity all but impossible. A scattered focus brought about by stressful events can derail the most dedicated efforts. Indeed, an inability to effectively deal with or prevent stress from occurring in the first place can adversely affect all areas of our lives – from relationships to employment to training. We simply cannot reach our full potential as humans when stress controls our behaviors and rules our thoughts.

INDEED, AN INABILITY TO EFFECTIVELY DEAL WITH OR PREVENT STRESS FROM OCCURRING IN THE FIRST PLACE CAN ADVERSELY AFFECT ALL AREAS OF OUR LIVES – FROM RELATIONSHIPS TO EMPLOYMENT TO TRAINING.

DIGESTION DANGERS

It is apt that the expressions ‘choked’, ‘gut wrenching’ and ‘hard to stomach’ are often used to describe traumatic, stress-inducing events. Of all the negative effects resulting from stress, digestion problems are, for bodybuilders, among the worst. Whenever stress activates the famed fight or flight response, the central nervous system (which controls the enteric nervous system which governs digestion) limits the contractibility of the digestive muscles; shuts down blood flow that aids digestion; causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal system; reduces secretions needed for digestion; increases stomach acid (thus causing indigestion); and may also precipitate esophageal spasms. All of this adds up to the improper digestion and assimilation of essential muscle-building nutrients. Healthy digestion is a critical cornerstone of the fitness lifestyle. Aside from breaking down muscle tissue for energy, added stress may also affect the uptake of nutrients. When both of these adverse reactions are combined, you can be assured that your gym efforts will no longer produce a return on investment.

BEATING STRESS

We all encounter stress. It is how we deal with it that determines its impact. Here are five proven methods for staying in control when life threatens to bring us down. Use them daily to keep muscle growth on the increase.

1. DETACH 

Potentially stressful events are a constant part of life. A missed workout, an unanswered email, a disagreement or full-blown argument…the list goes on. While each of these events (and countless others) has the potential to create much inner turmoil, it is our mindset that ultimately determines how we view the problem and the level of importance we assign to it. Though important events that require our immediate attention must not be glossed over, there are as many or more that can simply be ignored (for example, we should not agonize over a slow driver to where ‘road rage’ becomes a real concern or overthink the judgments of an ill-informed person). Indeed, the ability to detach from irritating and annoying, though trivial, events can, over time, go a long way toward keeping cortisol at bay. Even more significant events (the loss of a friend or loved one, for example), though traumatizing, must be accepted and dealt with in a manner conducive to proper healing. Letting traumatic events fester or, even worse, suppressing them with alcohol or other drugs and/or denial, will only magnify one’s stress levels in the long run. And as for those argumentative drama-seekers who love nothing more than to see the bad in everything and everyone? Do yourself a favor and stay clear of them. Remember, the way we view a problem determines our response to it. Detach from the trivial and constructively deal with genuinely stressful events.

POTENTIALLY STRESSFUL EVENTS ARE A CONSTANT PART OF LIFE.

2. EXERCISE

One of the best ways to manage negative stress is to engage in regular exercise. Often described as nature’s antidepressant, exercise (whatever form it may take) creates a cascade of positive chemicals (serotonin, dopamine and the endorphins, to name but three) that calm the mind and energize the brain. It’s extremely difficult to become stressed or think negatively during or in the immediate aftermath of an intensive training session. Exercise requires that we constructively channel our focus. Such focus serves as a welcome distraction to stressful events. A stronger and more resilient body is also less susceptible to various illnesses which can be both stressful in their own right and prevent us from dealing with additional stressors.

3. STRETCH

A vastly underrated fitness component, full body stretching is crucial to keeping the body injury free and improving athletic performance. Proper stretching is also a great way to de-stress. An influx of cortisol is not the only concern following the triggering of the body’s fight or flight mechanism. Muscle tissue also tenses up. And wherever such tension is held, chronic pain inevitably arises (the lower back, shoulders, neck and head being common sites). Psychological stress is thus increased. Stretching lessens the defensive response to stress (chronic pain and stiffness). The subsequent relief is not just physical. Mental tranquility and elevated mood is also achieved due to an increase in fresh blood to the brain resulting from improved circulation. Through stretching, the pain-suppressing endorphins are also released in abundance. The opiate-like effect of these endorphins (endogenous neuropeptides produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland)produce a state of tranquility that allows us to better manage stress. Regular stretching (4-5 times per week for 25 minutes per session) is proven to relieve pain and calm the mind. At least one stretch for each muscle group can be chosen. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds and relax for five seconds. Repeat this sequence three more times.

THROUGH STRETCHING, THE PAIN-SUPPRESSING ENDORPHINS ARE ALSO RELEASED IN ABUNDANCE.

5. SUPPLEMENT

Stress is unavoidable. Even the stress we are able to detach from can adversely affect us on a subconscious level. In fact, an accumulation of subtle, insidious stressors (like impending deadlines and financial concerns) can prompt the release of cortisol and agitate the mind, albeit to a lesser degree than, say, a physical altercation or relationship breakup. Whenever cortisol is released and allowed to circulate, aminos are taken from muscle and mass gains are compromised. An amino acid supplement taken 2-3 times a day may help to offset stress-induced muscle catabolism. Whey protein is another supplement that rapidly nourishes muscle with a full complement of valuable aminos while also providing immune factors to keep infection and illness from adding to one’s stress levels. Certain micronutrients (notably magnesium and the B complex vitamins) can have a profound effect on stress reduction. Magnesium (often referred to as the anti-stress mineral) is crucial for energy production and storage in the body. Whenever stress is encountered, the adrenal glands are strained. This in turn compromises the magnesium-dependent energy systems of the body. Without enough magnesium (600-800mg per day for hard training athletes) this energy depletion is magnified and may lead to fatigue and listlessness. The ability to effectively manage stress is thus weakened, which further stresses the adrenals. Without sufficient magnesium the nerve cells become excitable and over-reactive. This promotes greater sensitivity and nervousness independent of stressful events. Magnesium also calms the mind and is often prescribed as a sleep aid for this very reason. The eight B vitamins work synergistically to influence a vast number of physiological functions. Among these is the conversion of foods into usable energy. Without optimal B vitamin intake, the carbohydrates, proteins and fats needed for proper mental functioning cannot be fully utilized. In addition, B1 helps to alleviate anxiety, B3 is involved in the production of the calming neurotransmitter serotonin, and B5 supports adrenal function to modulate stress. A full spectrum multivitamin/mineral supplement combined with supplemental proteins and amino acids can be of major benefit to minimizing stress levels.

STRESS IS UNAVOIDABLE. EVEN THE STRESS WE ARE ABLE TO DETACH FROM CAN ADVERSELY AFFECT US ON A SUBCONSCIOUS LEVEL.

5. RELAX

While an obvious solution to stress, deep relaxation can be very difficult to achieve. While a fast-paced life with many commitments can be all-consuming for many, there are those who choose to take a step back once in a while. Just as the rest periods between workouts are as important as the training itself, it is the time away from any activity (work, time with family and friends) that invariably makes us better at what we do. Through strategic relaxation we get to recharge and renew our energy supply. Without sufficient time to completely let go of the demands of daily life (to read, watch movies, or simply to sit and think) we become increasingly more stressed. Just as a muscle needs a certain amount of time to recover and grow between workouts, our mind also requires regular periods of respite to recover from the stresses of daily life.

IT IS THE TIME AWAY FROM ANY ACTIVITY (WORK, TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS) THAT INVARIABLY MAKES US BETTER AT WHAT WE DO.

DE-STRESS TO IMPRESS

Constant negative stress makes crafting impressive muscularity a near-impossible task. Protein is leeched from muscles, digestion is compromised and the sustained focus needed to stimulate muscle growth is decreased whenever the body is threatened by the invisible foe of underlying psychological stress. Doing whatever is necessary to banish stress is a frequently overlooked yet hugely beneficial way to improve fitness and build muscle. By following the steps outlined above you can lessen the negative impact of stress. By making stress reduction as much of a priority as high protein feedings and intensive workouts you will fast track your progress not just in the gym, but in the arena of life – guaranteed.

The Webster definition of an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina”. From the start, Status Fitness has always included features for athletes every issue. We all enjoy watching athletes perform – from the Olympic games, the major sports to even our local sporting activities – athletes are exciting to watch as they push themselves to higher levels every outing.

AN ATHLETE IS A PERSON WHO IS TRAINED OR SKILLED IN EXERCISES, SPORTS, OR GAMES REQUIRING PHYSICAL STRENGTH, AGILITY OR STAMINA.

I am starting an online feature titled Athlete Series where I will photograph and interview athletes – many of whom take to the physique stage to push themselves in new ways. I met Kelsey DeCamillis at registration for the BCABBA Popeye’s Fall Classic. I meet hundreds, if not thousands, of amazing and inspiring people every year but there continues to be a few people that stand out. Kelsey was positive and full of life despite the depleted condition she was in.

It was Kelsey’s first show and I’m sure she was just as nervous as everyone else but her friendliness and smile stood out and any nervousness did not show. What I found particularly interesting about Kelsey was her athletic background. Kelsey has competed at the university level in shot put but rather than I tell her story, I’m going to let Kelsey share in her own words.

The gym photos included below are part of a one-hour photo shoot. They were taken at X Club Fitness in Port Coquitlam on November 24, twelve days after Kelsey’s Popeye’s Fall Classic show. The competition photos were taken during Kelsey’s time on stage at the Popeye’s Fall Classic on November 12.

ATHLETIC BACKGROUND

Kelsey, tell me a little about your athletic background. What sports did you play growing up and at what point did you make the decision to go the route you did in university?

I’ve always been involved in sports since an early age and as a kid I tried some gymnastics/trampoline, swimming/diving lessons, softball, took some taekwondo lessons and got also involved in skiing and skied every winter up until around age 11. I also did a lot of ice skating and figure skated until I transitioned over to hockey and played defense from ages 12-17. Throughout high school while playing hockey I also played volleyball, basketball, field hockey, track and field (javelin, discus, shot put) and even pushed myself to do a season of cross country running in my senior year of high school so I could stay in shape for my final track and field season.

I started the throwing events in grade eight at around age 13. My P.E. teacher saw me throw a volleyball across the entire gym and encouraged me to try javelin and so I did. That soon progressed into me participating in javelin, discus, and shot put. By the end of high school, it was clear to me that my strongest potential was in the shot put for continuing after high school. It was between hockey or track and field when I started my first year at UBC. I felt my time with hockey was done and felt so strongly about continuing in shot put because I hadn’t had any formal training and was curious to see what could happen with that. I enjoyed being on the track team and enjoyed the individual aspect of it.

I started formal training with the Vancouver Thunderbirds and threw shot put for the UBC Track and Field Team from 2003-2005. My best meets were Canadian Junior Nationals in 2003 where I won bronze, and in 2005 I competed for BC Athletics in the Canada Summer Games and won bronze in shot put. Also in 2005, I started transitioning into hammer throw as it was felt there was even more potential with this event for me, and I stopped going to UBC and moved to Kamloops in 2005 to begin training under a world-renowned coach with other elite throwers.

TRANSITION FROM ATHLETICS TO PHYSIQUE TRAINING

Very impressive Kelsey. You have been far more involved in sport and athletics than I had realized. You are a very well-rounded athlete. What made you decide to step on a physique stage? What was the transition like from athletics to physique/weight training?

I have unfinished athletic business. Training gives me life. I’m in my element when I lift and train. My happy place is in the gym with the iron and it makes me feel alive and so decided to step on a physique stage means reclaiming my identity as an athlete. This has been a wonderfully healing thing for me. I have missed competing in sports. At the time I moved to Kamloops to train in the hammer throw, I was really struggling with some things going on in my personal life including trying to manage severe depression, and encountering events that just stopped me dead in my tracks and ended what was just the beginning of a very promising throwing career. It would have required some years of training, but I have no doubt in my mind that I would have developed into a world-class hammer thrower with my body type, strength, and athletic ability. This has always been a sore spot in my life.

I reached a breaking point and had to take care of myself and moved back to Vancouver in 2007 and I barely set foot in a gym for nearly two years, maybe a handful of times during my absence from training. I started going back to the gym around 2009/2010 for the sake of building myself back up and things just started progressing from there over the years. I was working in a clinic in 2011 and someone there was prepping for a figure competition. I started considering it and thought this would be a great sport for me to settle into now as the training required for this is what I love to do. So, ever since then it’s been a thought to do a bodybuilding show. I didn’t know if or when it would happen or how.

[Kelsey on stage at the 2016 Popeye’s Fall Classic in Vancouver.]

As soon as I got rejected from nursing school in 2014, and still unhappy, I asked myself if I had it my way and could be doing anything, what would it be? I’d still be training and throwing, and competing. So right then and there I decided that I’m going to put everything into training full time, taking my physique as far as I can on my own while learning as much as I can before considering a coach and feeling ready for expert guidance to take things to the next level. I trained hard for a full two years, twice a day, and was ready to hire a coach and did so in March of this year and set my sights on the Popeye’s Fall Classic as a great first show to compete in.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ATHLETIC TRAINING & PHYSIQUE TRAINING

You are not alone in finding solace in the iron Kelsey. It is reassuring knowing that one thing will always be constant and no matter what attitude you show up with, it will be the same. It will challenge you. It will push you. Some days you’ll feel like walking away, and at times you might, but the iron will always be waiting. The training is quite different between athletics and physique bodybuilding. What have you found to be different?

Training for athletics involved a lot of technical work with event-specific training in the throwing circle, and lots of power/speed development with focusing on building strength and explosiveness. We did a lot of sprints, some tempo running, plyometrics for both upper and lower body and of course training in the weight room. Training for throwing involved learning the powerlifting movements, Olympic lifts, and lots of accessory movements as well. We did a lot of heavy lifting and I love how physique training is like what we did in the weight room.

Physique training is different because it doesn’t require explosive movements like Olympic lifting and low rep schemes with the powerlifting movements. I’m focused now on every body part and muscle group, using high volume lifting and using techniques to build upon my foundation of muscle that I developed in athletics. The goal is to look at my body like a sculpture and build the best physique I possibly can while maintaining balance and symmetry for a look that is powerful and strong, yet feminine and aesthetically pleasing. Physique training also requires cardio training as well, especially during contest prep, which was not necessary for my athletics training.

[Kelsey on stage at the 2016 Popeye’s Fall Classic in Vancouver.]

PHYSIQUE COACHING & TRAINING

Informative Kelsey and well described. I’m sure your new coach takes all this into account and utilizes your background when putting together your current training routine. Who is your coach and how does he adjust your training to push you to grow? With your background, I’m sure it takes a fair bit more than it does for a non-athlete.

My coach is Darren Toma – Custom Built Training. I made sure he was aware of my athletic background prior to starting training with him. I knew what I was capable in the gym and specifically searched for a male bodybuilder for a coach who would not hold back on me as far as training goes. I chose Darren because of his many years of experience in coaching other athletes who have done incredibly well under his guidance and being a professional bodybuilder himself and knowing what it takes from the athlete side of things. I thought that he could relate to me well being an elite athlete himself and hoped that my history would help him structure my training specifically to what I am capable of.

He incorporates the big lifts that I like to do such as deadlifts, squats, and all the variations of those movements and keeps the style of training consistent with what my physique requires. He’s got a great eye and I love the training he has me doing. It’s heavy, high volume, and intense – the way I like it. If the training is structured to fit my physique goals, I’m happy with performing these lifts and all the other movements with different set and rep schemes. It’s challenging and my body has been responding very well. I do love lifting heavy and there is something so satisfying about moving big weight.

EXPERIENCE IN FIRST PHYSIQUE SHOW

I’m glad to hear you are finding the right path for you Kelsey. That will be rewarding. Let’s jump over to your first physique competition, the 2016 Popeye’s Fall Classic. What was your experience like?

It was an incredible day! I felt nervous and excited the whole day. This show for me was the first step in the biggest comeback of my life so it meant a great deal to me. The promoters and organizers for the show did an amazing job at making sure all the athletes were well taken care of. The volunteers were so helpful and it was great to finally experience what it’s like backstage. Sharing the stage with the other incredible athletes was wonderful and getting to know new friends and what their journey has been like has been so inspiring. There was a lot of positive energy backstage from everybody and you could feel it. It was amazing. Being on stage was so much fun! I loved it. At times, I felt stressed and nervous but always pulled back from that because I kept telling myself to enjoy every moment throughout the day and especially that posing routine! It was all about presenting my physique the best that I could and all this hard work is done now and should be celebrated. Some fabulous new memories were created and I’ll never forget that day.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

So much dedication goes into one show. For each person, there are so many variables. What was a typical day like for you?

A typical day would be get up at 4:00am, get to Gold’s Burnaby for 5:00am, do my morning cardio session, commute to my office job at UBC Hospital and work 8:00-4:00 and then head back to Gold’s Burnaby to train. Most days were 18-20 hours long. I had some fabulous friends who would give me a ride to the gym every single morning, weekends too, and other than that I would spend at least 3 hours a day on transit getting everywhere I needed to be, between UBC, Burnaby, downtown Vancouver and out to Langley for check ins with my coach and posing practices. I really was only home on Saturdays between 10am-3pm, so you can imagine how tough it was to get everything done. I would be up late cooking some nights. Whenever I could get tasks done, I did. You just have to find a way to make it work. Even Sundays were at least 12 hour days, leaving early and not getting back home until late. It was a crazy schedule but nothing good comes easy. I just did what I needed to do with the current set-up to get all the work done.

SUNSHINE & RAINBOWS?

That is a pretty intense schedule Kelsey. How did the full contest prep affect you physically and mentally? It can be emotionally draining to say the least. Is it all sunshine and rainbows or are there some tough days in the mix?

It is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows. There were a lot of tough days and moments. If this were easy, everybody would do it. With my schedule and the commuting, I was sleep deprived at times, felt exhausted, but the end result kept me going. There were times I cried during training. There were tons of emotional moments and you’ve just got to allow it to happen and push through. You are pushing your body and mind to the max, every day, for weeks on end.

There have been many times in my life where I’ve struggled with a lot of anxiety, and severe depression too. In all honesty, having experience in dealing with those struggles helped immensely with contest prep. The feelings were very similar at times; however, I was aware that the cause was for different reasons and so this helped manage those not-so-fun feelings during prep. I went into contest prep fully expecting that there are going to be a lot of tough days and I think going into it with that mind set also helped me manage.

[Kelsey on stage performing her routine at the 2016 Popeye’s Fall Classic in Vancouver.]

Physically nearing the end of prep was the toughest. Even just walking up the street to the grocery store required what felt like an all-out effort. Sometimes I would just feel like I was moving in slow motion. Strange sensations physically, but even through the tougher moments, overall I absolutely enjoyed every part of the experience of prep, and can’t wait to do it again.

ADVICE TO FIRST TIME COMPETITORS

What advice would you give to a first-time competitor considering to do their first show that has no idea of what is involved but likes the “image” they have from seeing fit photos all over social media?

The “image” you see in pictures all over social media and magazines, is an image of somebody who is putting in hundreds upon hundreds of hours of training, if not years and years of training, thousands and thousands of pounds of iron lifted in the gym, carefully prepared meals day in and day out, with lots of sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears… literally.

First time competitors should know that some days you’ll feel good, some days you won’t. There is a huge psychological component to this and you need to be able to manage your emotional health throughout this process to ensure you stay healthy and well, even through the days that feel really rough. It is hard, hard work to attain this desired ‘image’.

Also, it is unreasonable to think you can maintain that ‘shredded’ look all year round. Stage leanness is temporary. It is normal to put back on some weight after competing or after a photo shoot. Health and wellness should always be kept top priority in my opinion.

POST SHOW REALITY

What is the reality of post-show? What feelings and thoughts have you experienced since your show?

Post-show has been a strange experience and I really didn’t know what to expect post-show. It is weird feeling your body go back to normal to what your more natural state is. The stage abs slowly disappear and all those wicked cut lines fade a little. I know it’s not normal and definitely not healthy to be stage lean all the time. Telling myself this over and over has helped and also knowing that I can’t build upon my current physique if I don’t put back on some weight. I had been thinking a lot about post-show training and reverse dieting and aware that I need to be careful coming out of my first show, food wise especially. I like to eat and I can be a bottomless pit and just keep eating and eating. Of course I wanted to allow myself some treat meals and foods but at the same time not go crazy. I do not want to blow up undo all the hard work that was done over the last several months, and come up from stage weight safely and slowly. It’s been helpful to have a goal weight range to come up to and maintain during off season time.

It’s been hard but I feel I’ve been doing well with it. To be honest I’ve been sticking mostly with regular pre-contest meals during the day for the last couple weeks and then losing it a bit at night, and that’s been okay. My treat meals and foods are always real, whole food, and I avoid heavily processed foods and packaged food with a lot of chemicals in them.  I’ve felt anxious, frozen at home and not sure what to do, shed some tears, and also have felt relieved and excited about what’s ahead. This has also been a great opportunity to take some time and reflect and analyse the experience and see what I’ve learned and can take away from this to improve upon for next time.

I’ve struggled with allowing myself time away from the gym. I’ve been putting pressure on myself to go back but then just getting stressed out about it. Deep down I know I’ve needed some rest so I’ve been working on accepting that, and putting that into practice. The gym is my happy place but it turns out my body needed a break! No real surprise there. I had it in my head that I’d be back training right away, continuing with some cardio, but that hasn’t been the case at all. I’ve only been to the gym twice since the competition and it’s nearly been two weeks since, and this has been okay even though sometimes it doesn’t feel okay to be taking a break. I do a lot of self-talk and self-coaching to help me accept that this is good for my body. I pushed myself incredibly hard for a long time, and I think it is reasonable to allow time away to recover and heal. After all, off season training starts up very soon and so this has actually been a nice break for me. I want to feel re-charged and re-energized ready to attack off season like a beast. I don’t think I could do that if I didn’t take a bit of time away. I also believe that my body will respond better when I get back at it.

Everybody is going to be different, but I think listening to your body is key and taking some time away is okay, not for long, but necessary to just wind down, physically and mentally, after such an intense period of training.

OFF SEASON PLANS

What are your plans during the off season? Training and also time away from the gym? Any plans for the holidays?

Time away from the gym post-competition has been great because I’ve been catching up with my family and close friends, and enjoying spending time with everybody I care so much about. It was such a whirlwind for many months and it’s nice to slow it down and reconnect with everybody who supported me and encouraged me the whole way through contest prep.

Off season training starts up now at the end of November – there is four months of off season training ahead, so I want to get back into it. I feel a couple of weeks away has been the right amount of rest time for me. I’ll be in staying in town for the holidays and enjoying lots of family dinners and get-togethers while keeping up with training.

WHAT IS YOUR NEXT SHOW?

What is your next show and what changes are you looking to bring to the stage at that show?

My next show is the BC Championships in July 2017. I definitely want to put more time into posing, routine, and stage presence. I’m very happy with the physique and level of conditioning I brought to the stage for my first show so it can only get better from here. I think some more work on my upper body is needed while keeping my strong legs in check, and work harder to improve my conditioning for next time. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds over the next several months.

LONG TERM GOALS?

Kelsey, what are your long-term goals from competing?

I’ve always wanted to be a professional athlete. It was always the sport I was doing at the time, first figure skating, then maybe hockey, and then when I settled into shot put and finally hammer throw – I thought hammer throw was going to be my best chance to get me to that professional level of athlete.

As mentioned before, I’ve got unfinished athletic business, and here I am now going for it full force. From Popeye’s my main goal was to get in the best shape of my life and qualify for BCs, which I did. I want to qualify for Nationals from BCs, and just keep taking things step by step until it happens. I also have my certification in personal training. Although I’ve only trained myself, I feel some career in the fitness industry is definitely where I’m headed while competing as well.

THANK YOU

Thank you so much Kelsey for sharing. It was fun getting to know you through our photo shoot together and through chatting about your background and your goals. Have fun in the off season and all the best as you prepare for the BCABBA Provincials in July 2017.

Thank you so much David for the opportunity to share my story.

PHOTO SHOOT OPPORTUNITIES

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 around your 2017 show.

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 Asha@statusfitness.com 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.

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.

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.

Calgary has been asking for an ABBA event for some time and on February 27, John Dirks and Paramount Performance delivered – in a big way! With close to 200 competitors, and a full house, there was an energy that hasn’t been felt in years. Promoter John Dirks sat beside me a couple times to share that he hasn’t seen anything like it before. If you are a competitor in Calgary, or anywhere in Alberta and you missed stepping on stage at this event, you definitely missed out.

PROMOTER JOHN DIRKS SAT BESIDE ME A COUPLE OF TIMES TO SHARE THAT HE HASN’T SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE.

Congratulations to all the Winter Classic competitors. Great to see so many of you participating in the various categories. John Dirks and his team did an outstanding job putting on such an exciting event for everyone in Alberta. Status Fitness Magazine looks forward to featuring many of you in various different forms of Status.

It’s been almost six years since the ABBA last did a show in the Stampede city. It was June 19, 2010 at the Archie Boyce Theatre that the ABBA last saw action south of the Red Deer River. Years before, the ABBA would regularly hold events, however, that ended on June 17, 2006, at the Grand Theatre. With the response we witness at the Winter Classic you can rest assured the ABBA will be back in 2017 even bigger.

(Paramount Performance Promoter – John Dirks – ABBA Winter Classic Promoter)

When the audience was asked who was at their first ABBA event, more than half of the hands went up. That was exciting to see. Quite a few people commented to me that there is something unique about the ABBA. They felt a family feeling and they appreciated seeing the support everyone was giving to every competitor that stepped on stage.

QUITE A FEW PEOPLE COMMENTED TO ME THAT THERE IS SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT THE ABBA.

During a time when the economy in Alberta has been hit hard, it was good to see so many exhibitors at this event. Throughout the day there was a steady stream of visitors and the feedback I received was – it was well worth the time and money to have a booth space at this event. Everyone I spoke with said they would definitely be back in 2017. With this response, I imagine there will be doubled the number of booths set up.

Let’s get to the show itself.

MORNING SHOW

Men’s Classic Physique

I’m going to jump ahead in the show and start with this class as it is one the entire country was excited to see. This was the first Men’s Classic Physique class in the Province, perhaps in the country. I was interested to see who would show up and whether they would do their homework. The IFBB is looking to get back to its roots. Remember the beginning with Steve Reeves, Clancey Ross, John Grimek, and Reg Park? There were three competitors in the class and although all three did very well and brought us back to the 60s, it was Ryan Keen that took the class to the level we all envisioned. Classic posing and black trunks complimented a physique, and mustache, straight out of Joe Weider’s Muscle Builder magazine. Christopher Boyse placed second and Dan Wischniwsky rounded out the top 3.

(ABBA Men’s Classic Physique Winner – Ryan Keen)

CLASSIC POSING AND BLACK TRUNKS COMPLIMENTED A PHYSIQUE, AND MUSTACHE, STRAIGHT OUT OF JOE WEIDER’S MUSCLE BUILDER MAGAZINE.

(ABBA Men’s Classic Physique Winner – Ryan Keen)

Junior Bodybuilding

It is always interesting to see the calibre of Junior Bodybuilders starting their journey. Some years there is a big discrepancy between the physiques and at other times the class is quite competitive. At this show, all three competitors came ready to battle. Each had done their homework and had followed their respective training and nutritional plan to a “T”. Allen Jalali took first place. Brandon Bell and Justin Ingram rounded out the top three.

Men’s Master Bodybuilding

The Master and Grandmaster Bodybuilding classes are inspiring to say the least. How many of us complain about pain in the mornings, and find it hard to find an hour to train in our busy schedules? Well, these gentlemen don’t complain and they get the job done and look fantastic because of it. In the Master class I was especially excited to see long time friend Kevin Gramlich step on stage. I know this was huge for him. He and his beautiful wife Kim put so much time and effort into the association back stage and behind the scenes so I was proud to see this journey come to fruition. Well done Kevin. You accomplished what most will never do.

Kevin wasn’t the only competitor in the class and the other 4 men beside Kevin all put in their work as well. It was competitive to say the least. Coming in first place was Preston Kurash, who was chiselled and showcased polished posing. Second place went to the big man himself, Lee Frank. Lee possesses amazing shape and continues to improve. Wait till this guy comes dialled in. He will be a force!! Third place went to Tyler Brownfield who also came in ripped but lacked the size that Preston and Lee carried. Rounding out the top five were Glenn Happner and Kevin Gramlich.

Men’s Grandmaster Bodybuilding

The only category more inspiring than Master Bodybuilding is Grand Master Bodybuilding. The age requirement to step on stage in this category is 50+. Both gentlemen were 60+ in this class and showed great sportsmanship, not to mention, great physiques. Alan Williams took first place just ahead of Rick Newcombe. They exemplify what hard work and discipline can achieve. Well done guys.

Bantamweight Bodybuilding

Kevin Gramlich was the lone competitor in this class and stepped on stage to accomplish one of his goals. Congratulations Kevin on acheiving this goal. You deserved to be up there.

Lightweight Bodybuilding

Although there was only one competitor in the Lightweight class, Tyler Brownfield came ready to compete. He looked great. Watch for Tyler at Provincials in June.

Middleweight Bodybuilding

The middleweight class was the most competitive of the morning. Six competitors battled hard to see who would emerge victorious and take the Winter Classic class crown. Try saying that ten times fast. All three Junior Bodybuilders were in this class, as well as others I have seen compete previously. Sixth place went to Junior Justin Ingram, with fellow Junior Brandon Bell cracking the top five. Forth place went to Mike Coughlin who looked the best I have seen him. He continues to improve and made the judge’s jobs quite difficult. Third place went to Junior Allen Jalali, then there was the battle for first. I would guarantee this was a close decision as both men brought complete packages. In the end, second place went to Sam Jasim and first to Dwayne Collins.

Light Heavyweight Bodybuilding

The Light Heavyweight Bodybuilding class can sometimes be the biggest class in a bodybuilding show but this year that title went to the Middleweight class. Josh Hunt came in lean and had good hard muscularity to take first place ahead of Master Bodybuilder Lee Frank and Drew Hayes. I look forward to seeing all three at Provincials in June.

Men’s Heavyweight Bodybuilding

Heavyweight Bodybuilding can be a difficult class to judge at times. I have seen guys 5’5” up against guys over 6 feet. This show, had a mixture of physiques. Forth place went to Jim Ambrus who has the genetics to do very well in this class. Jim has good size and shape, however, needed to come in leaner. With some work on his posing, watch for him to do damage at Provincials. Third place went to Master Bodybuilder Preston Kurash. Preston was well conditioned but lacked the size of Bradford Thompson who looked like he just walked off the cover of Status Fitness. First place deservingly went to Husam Al-salih who brought the right amount of size and conditioning to the stage. Watch for Husam at Provincials in June.

Overall Bodybuilding

The battle for the overall title is always entertaining. The top competitor from each class are compared and given the chance to go head to head. It is often a lot of fun and the lighter guys will jump in front of the heavier guys. I’ve seen it all over the years. This show was a lot of fun too. In the end Middleweight winner Dwayne Collins emerged victorious. Congratulations Dwayne. Well deserved.

(ABBA Men’s Bodybuilding Overall Winner – Dwayne Collins)

Women’s Physique

The Women’s Physique category has been growing more slowly than I had anticipated after Women’s Bodybuilding was removed from many of the shows across North America. It is unfortunate as there are many incredible female bodybuilders in the sport that have been limited to only a few shows each year. I, along with many others, thought there would be a bigger shift towards Physique, but it seems many women have decided to hang up their posing suits altogether, or compete in Figure. I for one am glad that this class has been introduced though as there needs to be an outlet for women who like to build muscle. I find Women’s Physique very entertaining. Each competitor gets a full 60 seconds to show case their hard work with an exciting routine. Many of these routines are quite captivating as the competitors pose smoothly to their favorite music.

The Women’s Physique discipline saw five competitors in total, four of which were Master competitors too. The Master class saw Tracy Atto take first place, ahead of Patricia Hurlburt who had a very entertaining routine that generated loud cheers from the audience. Third place went to Gail Flint and forth was rewarded to Joelene Potter.

(ABBA Women’s Master Physique Top Placements – Joelene Potter, Patricia Hurlburt, Tracy Atto, and Gail Flint)

Women’s Physique A had just one competitor, but a quality competitor it was – Tracy Atto, winner of the Master class and eventual winner of the overall title. Congratulations Tracy. Well done.

In the Women’s Physique B class we saw three of the four competitors earlier in the Master class. Rounding out the class was Janelle Romanko who has great genetics for this class. Janelle presented an entertaining routine, however, when the judging was complete, she had to settle for third place. Forth went to Joelene Potter, Second to Gail Flint and first to Patricia Hurlburt.

(ABBA Women’s Physique B Top Placements – Joelle Potter, Gail Flint, Patricia Hurlburt and Janelle Romanko)

EVENING SHOW

Men’s Physique

Men’s Physique is the fastest growing category in the sport. At some shows, the numbers are quickly approaching those of Bikini. These competitors work hard day in day out and have built physiques that motivate, inspire and literally could be found on the cover of top fitness magazines. In fact, it is this group that Status Fitness Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang looks to for editorial training layouts and even covers. What I have personally noticed is that most of the guys in this division are content to train hard, hit the stage, and then head back to the gym to pursue perfection missing the opportunity to photograph for exposure opportunities that can elevate their careers in a new direction. Reputable exposure in print is what separates many of today’s top fitness models. Look at the physiques you admire and it is guaranteed they can be found in magazines around the world.

The ABBA sees a growing number of quality competitors at the Provincial level, National level and even Pro level. This show saw thirty six competitors take to the stage in search of the first Winter Classic Overall title. In the Master Men’s class Alfred Voit took first place, followed by Joe Forte and Sean Steifel in third. Forth place went to Mike Francis, with Kevin Danschinko placing fifth and James Hightshoe in sixth.

(ABBA Men’s Physique Masters Top Placements – James Hightshoe, Mike Francis, Joe Forte, Alfred Voit, Sean Streifel and Keven Danschinko)

All three of the Men’s Physique Open Classes were competitive. The A class saw a variety of physiques make the top five. Judging physique can be tricky. This category requires size, but not quite the size of a bodybuilder, or now, a classic physique competitor. That means if someone is too big, they will be marked down. That said, conditioning is important so a big conditioned guy will typically place higher than a guy with possibly the right amount of muscle but poorer conditioning. It is left to the judges’ discretion which is why it is important to have five to seven judges on the panel with the high and low scores omitted from the final total.

Eibi Likcani combined the right amount of size and conditioning, with great stage presence and took first place. Abdulrahman Samad was a close second combining a tiny waist with broad shoulders, quality conditioning, good posing and stage presence. Master competitor Joe Forte took home third place, Thomas Bosma came forth and Ryan Ordonez rounded out the top 5.

(Men’s Physique A Top 5)

Class B saw a variety of physiques crack the top five. Clay Upson came in tight with good size to place first. Second went to Bertrand Roy, and third to Adrian Boettcher. Adrian is someone to watch. He is very charismatic and professional. Ahead of this show, he reached out to me to inquire about stage photos and was very appreciative. That attribute goes a long way, not to mention his desire to learn and best present himself ahead of time. In the next couple years, I see great things coming to Adrian. Rounding out the top five was Joshua Dakin in forth and Matt Porayko in fifth.

(Men’s Physique B Top 5)

Class C saw more consistency in the top five. All the guys carried similar muscle mass and were separated by shape and stage presence. The top three positions were very close. First place went to Michael Blackwell who went on to win the overall title too. Michael has a great look and a strong physique. This combined with great stage presence made him impossible to beat at this show. Watch for him to compete hard for the Alberta title come June. Second place was a tight race. In the end it went to Eric Bradbury. Close in third was Narek Khachatryan who will do very well at the Provincial and I predict at the National level as well. Narek has strong look, a small waist with wide shoulders and good stage presence. He will push Michael at Provincials. Forth place went to Cody Paradis who has a marketable look. Fifth went to the well conditioned Tyson Elberg.

(Men’s Physique C Top 5)

Please keep checking back for more coverage coming over the next couple weeks. Still to come Figure and Bikini.

What is it like to do a shoot with David Ford? Check out IFBB Pro Bikini Eboney Chipman’s video above. David will be in Alberta doing shoots for magazines throughout May and June this summer. Be sure to book with him in advance for your opportunity to get published.

To learn more about the Alberta Bodybuilding Association and the various avenues for competing they offer, please check out their website: www.abba.ab.ca

Keep up to date on the status of ABBA Winter Classic Stage Photo Packages at www.davidfordphotography.com in the News & Travel section. If you didn’t order photos, please contact David Ford immediately to secure pre-show pricing. Cut off for pre-show pricing is Sunday, February 28, 8pm. After this time, packages are still available with a $50 late fee.

The Knight of Champions made a positive impact in the province of British Columbia for the BCABBA this past weekend at the Chandos Pattison Auditorium, Surrey, B.C.. Tamara Knight has long been one of the country’s top bodybuilders and has devoted countless hours over the years volunteering in various capacities. This past weekend she made the dream of hosting her own show a reality and as a competitor herself she delivered on everything she felt amateur competitors deserved in a novice show.

THIS PAST WEEKEND TAMARA KNIGHT MADE THE DREAM OF HOSTING HER OWN SHOW A REALITY AND AS A COMPETITOR HERSELF SHE DELIVERED ON EVERYTHING SHE FELT AMATEUR COMPETITORS DESERVED IN A NOVICE SHOW.

Between shows and after the evening concluded I had the opportunity to speak with several competitors to see what their first hand experiences were. Here are a few responses. “It was my first show and it was even more than I imagined.” Another shared, “I have done a couple shows and this one was the most organized. The swag bag was great and the trophy I won was by far the nicest I’ve been given. Kudos to the promoter.” From someone who has competed in other organizations: “I have done shows in other organizations but I felt this was the most fairly judged based on my physique. The show ran smoothly and was well-organized back stage. I will definitely recommend it to my friends.”

THE SHOW RAN SMOOTHLY AND WAS WELL-ORGANIZED BACK STAGE. I WILL DEFINITELY RECOMMEND IT TO MY FRIENDS.

Being one of the new shows added to the 2015 BCABBA schedule, and coming at the end of the summer, I was interested to see how the reception would be by the competitors, the audience and sponsors. I was pleasantly surprised in all areas. Competitors that stepped on stage Saturday had for-gone many temptations over the summer months and it was apparent everyone deserved to be on stage. The benefit to an early show like this is that now the Top 5 can focus on nearly 10 months of prep before Provincials (date yet to be announced) in 2016. That time frame allows for some significant opportunities to adjust physiques, not just perfect posing. Many of those who placed will be contenders for Provincial title honours next summer.

Magnum Nutraceuticals was title sponsor at the show and had one of the most popular booths in the lobby. I have seen the growth, both in product line and integrity, of Magnum since I met owner Markus Kaulius more than eight years ago. I know how much work he and his team put into the company and it’s great to see them give back to the competitors in many shows each year. By observation, every booth that was present saw a lot of traffic. The venue was set up nicely so that the audience had a chance to conveniently visit each of the booths during intermission and between shows. Well done Tamara.

Women’s Physique

The day began with Women’s Physique. I’m somewhat surprised at the slow response this division has seen since it began. I had anticipated more bodybuilders to participate as well as more of the more muscular figure competitors. That said, the numbers are still relatively low, however, the quality has been present both in BC and Alberta and I would venture across the country as well. Very rarely have I noticed someone that was completely out of place in this class and at the Knight of Champions both competitors showed up ready to compete. At registration on Friday, the moment I saw Jill Foley I stated “there is your physique winner right there”. Even before seeing who her competition was, I knew this girl had an advanced physique that has potential to continue to the highest levels in the country. What I didn’t realize was that Rhea Proulx wasn’t about to let Jill easily walk away with a win and came in conditioned and ready to compete. Rhea battled hard but in the end, Jill’s proportions and conditioning were hard to beat and she placed first with Rhea in second. Well done ladies.

(Above – Women’s Physique Winner – Jill Foley)

Men’s Bodybuilding

At registration when I met Sean Bennett, I learned it had been twelve years since he last stepped on stage. Not to be fooled, I could see it in Sean’s face that he was on point and was bringing his A-game ready to battle. Fortunately for others, Sean was the lone competitor in his master’s bodybuilding class. His conditioning was on as you can see in his photo.

In the Lightweight Bodybuilding Class Voltaire Gragasin’s size and shape edged out Jesse Browne and Jerry White.

Middleweight Bodybuilding saw a competitive class battle for position. What was interesting, and is always a challenge for the judges, is the question, do you favor conditioning over proportions?  In this class the judges went with conditioning and gave first place to razor sharp Azad PalaniNick Cosgrove placed second, Aaron Marshall third, Sunny Gill in forth, and Mike Jacuk in fifth.

Light-heavy weight saw a battle of some big boys. David Mardell took top honors and went on to win the Overall title. Master winner Sean Bennett placed second, Benjamin Wondga third, and Damian Nardini fourth.

In the heavyweight division, we saw one competitor Greg Greenough who has nice shape. With added size and conditioning, watch for him at Provincials in 2016.

For the Overalls, we saw Voltaire, Azad, David and Greg battle it out. David’s proportions and conditioning was enough to win him the overall Knight of Champions title. Congratulations David.

(Above – Men’s Master’s Winner – Sean Bennett)

(Above – Men’s Lightweight Winner – Voltaire Gragasin)

(Above – Men’s Middleweight Winner – Azad Palani)

(Above – Men’s Light-Heavyweight & Overall Winner – David Mardell)

(Above – Men’s Heavyweight Winner – Greg Greenough)

Figure

The Figure classes proved competitive despite the smaller numbers. Figure Grandmaster class went to Lisa Cindrich, with Lynn Willard placing second. Lisa is motivating and has an inspiring story to share which we will be sharing on our website shortly – be sure to check it out. Figure Masters saw Nicole Forrest placing first, Natasha Sauer second. Figure Short saw good competition between Nicole Forrest and Lisa Cindrich. At the end of the evening Lisa placed first. The Figure Tall Class had five competitors with Rachel Cornell placing first. She was followed by Christina ShellardNatasha SauerSelishia Smith and Lynn WillardRachel Cornell took home overall Figure honours.

(Above – Figure Grandmaster & Short Winner – Lisa Cindrich)

(Above – Figure Tall & Overall Winner – Rachel Cornell)

Guest Poser – Zoa Linsey

Following the Figure division we were treated to a guest performance by IFBB Physique pro Zoa Linsey. Over the past five years Zoa has made a name for herself across the industry. She has competed in both the Arnold and the Olympia, the pinnacle event of the sport. Zoa’s husband Joseph sat right behind me and had his video ready to record. I could tell by his energy we were in for a treat and of course Zoa delivered. Thank you Zoa, it was great to see you bring a well-conditioned physique to the stage as well as a well-rehearsed routine that was entertaining while showcasing such an elite physique. That said, what I was almost most impressed by was how quickly Zoa recuperated and was able to address the audience. The majority of times after an exhausting performance, it takes several minutes for guest posers to catch their breath. Goes to show that physique athletes are just that, athletes.

THANK YOU ZOA, IT WAS GREAT TO SEE YOU BRING A WELL-CONDITIONED PHYSIQUE TO THE STAGE

(Above – Guest Poser – IFBB Pro – Zoa Linsey)

Men’s Physique

Men’s Physique is a very quickly growing category. In past shows I have seen ex-bodybuilders trying to “sneak” into this division, posing to ultimately hide the fact they still pack a lot of muscle mass. At this show, these silent monsters were absent and the division appeared more in line with what is being set at the highest levels – the Arnold and the Olympia.

In Men’s Physique Short we saw four men “gallop” on stage, as our MC so eloquently put it. James Song, who many of you have met leading up to the show in his Success Story shared on our Status Fitness website, brought a complete package of size, symmetry and conditioning and took first place. Terry Burgess had the judges’ votes for second place, Ketan Arora placed third and Mike Anthony came in forth.

GURJINDER VIRK AND BENJAMIN EDU WERE NECK AND NECK ALL DAY

Men’s Physique Tall was a competitive class to say the least. The top five callout gave good indication that the judges were looking to see who would best present their physiques. One or two competitors were called up, a couple sent back into the line-up before a final six were compared for final positions. Even as the night was coming to an end, the decision hadn’t been finalized and a tie vote was decided before the Top 5 placements were announced. Gurjinder Virk and Benjamin Edu were neck and neck all day but at the end of the evening it was Gurjinder who took home first place and eventually the Overall win. Both Gurjinder and Benjamin had 10 points each going into the final decision. Benjamin had nice size and great stage presence that saw him end up in a very close second position. Both Gurjinder and Benjamin will do damage at the Provincials in 2016. Cody Harker wasn’t about to let the title slip by easily and placed a very close third with a total of 13 points. Rounding out the Top Five were Daniel Siu and Mike Leslie.

(Above – Men’s Physique Short Winner – James Song)

(Above – Men’s Physique Tall Competitor – Benjamin Edu)

(Above – Men’s Physique Tall & Overall Winner – Gurjinder Virk)

Bikini

The Bikini Classes rounded out the show and provided the audience with some close competition. I, for one, was off on a couple of my calls.

In the Master Class, Yelena Yermolenko was the clear choice of the judges as she received all first place votes. Charmane Learning brought her A-Game too and had to settle for second. Tammy McDonald took home a third place trophy. Nice work ladies.

The Bikini A class was competitive. That said, I felt no one brought an entire package of shape, conditioning and posing which is why this class turned out to be more competitive than it was at first glance. Posing is an element that is sometimes overlooked during practice leading up to a show and it is something that can see placements vary which I felt happened here. I have witnessed dozens of bikini competitions over the years, have judged many, but couldn’t pick a favorite to win this class on this day. Those judging this class had their work cut out as evident by the final votes. Kristy Jacobs presented the most complete package of the day and tallied 12 points. I felt Cassidy McKeown had the strongest physique in the class but was off slightly with her posing which gave her a point total of 13. Arlene Neufeld kept things interesting and brought great stage presence, good posing and a good physique to the stage for a total of 14 points. Billy-Jean Nye and Danielle Dewar rounded out the Top 5.

Bikini B saw Sheriece Kowch receive first place votes across the board for a total score of 5. The beautiful Negar Saberi placed second, Master winner Yelena Yermolenko came third, Angelica Paris-Thompson fourth and the striking Kate Kryger in fifth.

Bikini C was competitive and saw a tie for first between Tae Kwon Do instructor Rachael Brew and Natalie Amoore. The tie was broken and Rachael received the first place trophy as a result. Coming in third place was Madeline Angus, with Charmane Learning in forth, Nicole Bates in fifth and Jessica Crome in sixth. I’d like to take a moment to recognize Jessica. Although she wasn’t “on” at this show, she exemplifies fitness beautifully. She was graceful and pretty on stage, professional in all correspondance, and was my choice for Most Marketable athlete in this show.

With all the first place winners decided, I was interested to see who would take home the Overall Knight of Champions Bikini title. At first, I was leaning towards the Bikini A winner Kristy Jacobs, but after the “Bikini walk” I started to lean towards Rachael Brew. I wasn’t right in either case as Class B winner Sheriece Kowch won the judges’ votes for first overall. Sheriece has a great physique but I would like to see her work on her stage presence and confidence. If she improves in these areas, she will definitely be someone to watch out for in the Provincials in 2016. Congratulations Sheriece on your win.

(Above – Bikini Master Winner – Yelena Yermolenko)

(Above – Bikini A Competitor – Arlene Neufeld)

(Above – Bikini A Competitor – Cassidy McKeown)

(Above – Bikini A Winner – Kristy Jacobs)

(Above – Bikini B & Overall Winner – Sheriece Kowch)

(Above – Bikini C Competitor – David Ford’s Choice – Most Marketable – Jessica Crome)

(Above – Bikini C Winner – Rachel Brew)

THANK YOU TO TAMARA, ALL HER VOLUNTEERS AND EACH COMPETITOR WHO TOOK TO THE STAGE

Thank you to Tamara Knight 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.