Sunday, November 7, 2010

The State of Women's Bodybuilding in the NPC and IFBB (By C-Ray)

Woah...I had no clue how late I was with my posting. I apologize to all of you for that. As I promised a lifetime ago, my first post would be about the state of female bodybuilding. I actually wrote about this around the beginning of my FitGems blog, so I'm going to take that piece that I wrote and post it here and let's see what has changed between now and the time I've posted this almost two years ago:

I discovered this after I found out about women’s fitness. This category is basically a toss-up; either you love it or you don’t, plain and simple. I personally LOVE it. The dedication of these women to take their bodies and put it to unbelievable limits is unlike anything else in the world. You must be dedicated and motivated and be prepared to make sacrifices in order to achieve your ultimate goal. The sacrifices that are made differ for each female, but the ending result remains the same: to achieve the best possible physique you can, and by best I mean the body YOU want.

The first female bodybuilder I looked at and instantly loved was Cory Everson, which turned out to be one of the pioneers of the sport and someone that I believe 95% of all female competitors today (regardless of category) respect. Her and the first Olympia champion Rachel McLish put the sport on the map. Both are in their late 40s-early 50s now, and they continue to practice what they preach and look absolutely fantastic. For anyone that wants to look amazing long after their competition days are over, take their advice seriously. They know the sport like the back of their hand. I mean, they aren’t hall-of-famers for nothing, ya know.

Back in their prime, their bodies would be what most bodies of fitness/figure athletes are considered now. Boy, have times changed. As the sport got bigger, so did the bodies. What decreased though was the attendance of the Ms. Olympia competition. At one point, the physiques got so big, according to IFBB standards, that they was thinking about getting rid of the Ms. Olympia contest altogether. Ouch! But that didn’t happen; instead, it got moved to the Expo part of the show back in 2002-2003 (someone correct me on this, please), which is obviously a far cry from the main stage. But hey, having the show at a expo hall is better then not having the show at all, or at least that’s how I see it.

After the 2004 Olympia, a new rule was put into play: The 20% rule. This meant that the women had to decrease their muscularity by 20 percent. (This rule applied for female bodybuilding, fitness, and figure). This was supposedly created for safety reasons for the women. But…if that were the case, wouldn’t the men be applied this same rule as well? I know men and women are made differently, but still. Basically, most fans of the female muscle athletes saw this as IFBB’s way of saying to the fans, “We know you better than you know yourselves”. I’m just calling it like I see it; my words are not law, remember?!?

Anywho, according to what I’ve seen on the boards and judging from the competitions in the past, the support amongst the competitors of this sport has never been stronger. Every way they can, you see the competitors and fans finding simple ways to keep the sport alive. There are shirts made that say “Support Women’s Bodybuilding”. Some competitors have found ways to get on mainstream television to promote the sport, more mainstream than ever before. Colette Nelson, for example, has become quite the mainstream “leader”, sorta speak. She, along with Vicki Nixon, Sheri Owens, and Nicole Bass were part of the Montell Williams show on July 4. Colette also teamed with Jamie Reed, Lena Squarciafico, & Antonia Schmitt for “Flex and the City”, a parody of the widely popular series and movie “Sex and the City”. And most recently, Collette was part a very popular campaign video supporting Republican presidential nominee John McClain as she portrayed Incredible McCain Girl, which also promoted the very successful summer movie “The Incredible Hulk”, which has close to 2 million hits so far on Youtube. Speaking of Youtube, this has seemed to become a female bodybuilder’s best friend. Female bodybuilding clips are among the most popular clips on the Internet video website. I’m not kidding; I can’t go to the top favorites section without seeing at least one FBB clip in the top 100. Yep, it looks to me like as long as there’s support from the true fans and women who are willing to go the distance, I don’t see women’s bodybuilding going away anytime soon.

Fast forward to today, and a few things have changed, but a few have not. As you probably have heard, there's a possible new women's physique division coming to the NPC and possibly the IFBB as soon as next year. It has been said that this was made for those not big enough for women's bodybuilding and those too big for figure. Some have said that this division was made to slowly phase out women's bodybuilding, while others have said that women's bodybuilding won't be going away. To be perfectly honest, I don't know what's going on with this, other than the fact that people in 2011 might be wanting to bring a pillow or something, cause there could be some LONG shows next year (there's going to be a Men's Physique as well). But personally, I'd rather have long shows where everyone is properly represented then short shows that only showcase a few of the divisions (just my opinion).

What I have noticed is that there are those in figure that decided to go the women's bodybuilding route, and they have done well for the most part. Natalie "A-Train" Ariel is a former figure competitor who has made a great transisition to bodybuilding, being dubbed as a future IFBB Pro by many (including yours truly). Marina Lopez, Sarah Hayes, and Jennifer Scarpetta were all former figure competitors who went on to become IFBB pros in women's bodybuilding this year. Tracy Bodner's amazing conditioning is a bit too much for figure (regardless of how much she downsized), so she decided to enter the world of female bodybuilding and it has fit her better (even though there are those that feel she would be the PERFECT candidate for the new women's physique division). Beni Lopez is arguably the most successful crossover, went from low-placed figure competitor to top nationally-ranked bodybuilder to IFBB pro female bodybuilder. While today's figure standards have made a few people ill, it's has brought some much-needed new life into women's bodybuilding. But will it be enough to save it from extinction? Only time will tell.

I'd thought I'd end this blog post the same way I ended my blog post about female bodybuilding on FitGems two year ago with a great quote I saw on (an awesome board that I’m begging you to join, if you haven't done so already!). This quote sums up my thoughts about this division (I take no credit for coming up with this at all):

Bodybuilding is an art

Of the body

Designed by

Yourself in time and it is

Beautiful because you are

Using your body as a sculpture

In a pure state of

Living for a

Dream from within and

Inside your heart and soul it is

Never to be compromised, because there is no

Greater feeling then that moment

I hope you all enjoyed my post about the state of women's bodybuilding. My next blog post will be on the state of NPC/IFBB fitness. Hopefully, my next post won't be a long way's off this time.


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