Sunday, 26 June 2016

Oh Canada! Jodi Boam

You might not expect Jodi Boam to have too much in common with Janeen Lankowski, but both began as gymnasts who reached national level, both had their gymnastics careers ended by injury, and both consequently took the discipline and dedication they had learned while competing in that sport into fitness.
The same drive for success that served me well for gymnastics has stuck with me, Jodi has said. I won my division at my very first show when I was 19 years old, then the following year, I placed fifth on my very first time hitting the national stage. I knew there was no quitting until I reached the top and in August 2010, at age 23, I earned my pro card. She was, at the time, Canada's youngest IFBB pro.

In 2011, her first year as a pro, she won in Toronto and went to the Olympia. The following year she won in Pittsburgh and again in Toronto and went to the Olympia for the second time. This sport fits my personality so perfectly, she said.

But just as with her gymnastics career, her fitness career was ended by injury. In late 2012, she was practising her moves. I landed crooked and the whole knee just kind of snapped, she says. Despite surgery, three years on the knee had still not recovered to the point where it would be able to withstand the demands of a fitness routine.

In the meantime, Jodi expanded her personal training business, building her own brand, KA-BOAM, with it's very own purpose built "prep house" training facility. According to her website blurb, she can help with everything from your basic weight loss to competition prep, and posing and choreography for your routine. Whatever the goal, I love helping others achieve and succeed, she says.

But though helping others might be one of her passions, her biggest passion remained competition. Being onstage is a ton of fun, and the adrenaline rush is unbelievable! she says. It’s the best possible feeling to hear the crowd, see the judges and know your extreme hard work is paying off. She decided to move into Physique, and nearly three years after her knee injury, she made her WPD debut in Vancouver last year.

We don't have the time to pay too much attention to what's happening in the Fitness division here at FMS - if you'd care to become our Fitness correspondent please get in touch - but when Jodi started adding more muscle to her 5'2" frame after her injury, we couldn't help but sit up and take notice. We first featured her here back in May 2014, stretching the definition of what a T-shirt is to include her in our Ts of the Day series.

What a difference a couple of years' training for Physique has made!

As I was saying to a (virtual) friend the other day, definition goes a long way with me. Sure, Jodi is never going to be the biggest woman in a Physique line-up, but lawdy she comes in in fantastic shape. And Toronto 2016 was no exception. In fact Jodi was probably in her best shape ever, and she looked like she felt she was too.

No wonder some of her peers are prepared to part with their money to have her help them fine tune their physiques in the final weeks of their own prep. And it's not just the conditioning. From the hair and the make-up and the tan to the (still fairly stressful on that knee I would imagine - careful Jodi!) routine, her package was pure class.

She's become a real beauty as well (if I may get all gooey for one last time this week), her younger, elfin-like prettiness blossoming into something altogether more womanly and stunning. She's strong, she's sexy, she runs her own successful business. Quite the role model for your 21st century daughters, and the latest of this fan's favourite Canadian women of iron. AND (have you noticed?) no WPD chest pose for Jodi. For her, in all her tanned, ripped vascular glory, it's the PROPER side chest.


And finally, that 100 Canadian Muscle Goddesses list in full.

Top to bottom and left to right: Dawn Alison, Kim Birtch, Carmen Tocheniuk, CeaAnna Kerr, Michelle Russell, Tatiana Anderson, Mary Lynn MacKenzie, Jen Reece, Emily Zelinka, Melody Spetko, Louise St. Pierre, Roseanne Desmarais (Blackburn) 1975-2010, Astrid Falconi, Jill St. Laurent, Rhonda Lee Quaresma, Carmen Unger, Cassie Liberatore, Debbie Leung, Kat Sartor, Danielle Ruban, Sue Ling Yip, Amelie Bourget, Heather Manuel, Helen Bouchard, Laura Binetti, Wendy Lindquist, Trina Gillis, Sheila Burgess, Autumn Raby, Athena Signakis, Sophie Duquette, Laura Creavalle, Deanna Panting, Amanda Aivaliotis, Sheri McKnight, Steph Park, Jennifer Jewell, Joanne Williams, Maria Mikola, Nicole Ball, Sandra Blackie, Rita Dyutco, Leah Johnson, Tracy Beckham, Laura Carolan, Melissa Bumstead, Jodi Michaels, Nathalee Thompson, Nancy Richard, Nancy Clark, Marnie Holley, Emilija Martic, Johanna Dejager, Cynthia Benoit, Tamara Qureshi, Tananarive McGowan, Macey Boudreau, Marnie Power, Nadia Nardi, Negrita Jayde 1958-2009, Colette Guimond, Kailash Persaud, Pam Howard, Karen Smith, Eleonora Dobrinina, Sharon Mould, Wendy McMaster, Desiree Ellis, Gillian Kovack, Shawn Tan, Fabiola Boulanger, Melissa Coates, Christine Roth, Zoa Linsey, Robin Hillis, Mona Poursaleh, Iris Swatuk, Lisa Arksey, Jody Wald, Cindy Phillips, Shelly Yakimchuk, Melanie Noel, Aleisha Hart, Antonia Grady, Fiona Harris, Michelle Krack, Lisa Bavington, Tara Silzer, Myriam Capes, Jamie Senuk, Joy Nichols, Lisa Giesbrecht, Lyris Cappelle, Azaria Glaim aka Brooke Black, Emmanuelle Ethier, Mindi O'Brien, Sharon Bruneau, Julie Bourassa, Dayana Cadeau, and Cathy Lefran├žois.

Thank you Canada!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Oh Canada! Janeen Lankowski

My entire life revolves around fitness, I’ve never known anything else.

She really hasn't. Born in 1974 in Kitchener, Ontario Janeen's parents got her enrolled at a local gymnastics club at the age of 2. She dedicated herself to her sport, trained hard. I won many titles in my early years, she says. Gymnastics showed me a way to success. She was good enough to have realistic expectations of making the Canadian team for the Seoul Olympics, but a training injury prevented her from actually competing at the trials. As a result, she needed to do something different, and she began weight training in her early teens, "playing around with the weights" as she puts it. Eventually I entered a bench press contest at my school and won. And that’s when I realized that I really had a passion for the way the body works.

She went on to obtain Personal Training and Fitness Consulting qualifications at university and to teach Gymnastics for 11 years, after which she decided the time was right for a change. She chose Fitness and began preparing to compete, but once again she was to have her plans thwarted by an accident. A very serious one. With my first show only two weeks away, I was involved in a head-on collision with another car. She sustained severe internal as well as external injuries. Doctors explained that her athletic background had probably saved her life, but recovery was long. Undergoing physiotherapy after the accident, she devised a plan that got her back to training with weights. This time her goal was to get to where she could start training seriously enough to compete. And in September 2003 she entered her first show.

It took about five years for her to reach national level, and it was around the same time that the female muscle lovin' community began to take notice of this "amazing", "very very hot" young bodybuilder from Canada. They raved about her "great big stripey delts", her "mega biceps". Such a fantastic, hugely-muscled physique! wrote one forum poster, reflecting the views of many of the silent majority. I'm just glad to see that pure bodybuilding (no implants, no toning down size) is still alive.

And it was Janeen in roaring contest condition that most impressed us. A REAL female bodybuilder, they called her, again referencing her lack of enhancement in the chest area. Her body looks like a sculpture, a masterpiece! wrote one fan after seeing her at the 2011 IFBB North Americans, the show after which this "masterpiece" turned pro. "A sexy beast", with "absolute power" carrying "raw muscle"... You get the idea.

The brethren were excited, and you might well be feeling quite excited yourself right now, whether you're revisiting these images or seeing them for the first time. But even if you're immune to her charms, make no mistake. Seeing Janeen Lankowski in 2011-12 was, for many fans, like seeing their muscle woman dream come true.

If fans were judges, Janeen would certainly have enjoyed a lot more success than the little she did as a pro bodybuilder. She was 6th in Toronto on her debut and a promising 3rd in Tampa the same year - with only Sarah Hayes and Sheila Bleck beating her, and the likes of Kim Perez, Tazzie Colomb and Debbie Bramwell trailing in her considerable wake. But in 2013 and 2014 she never placed better than 13th in the four shows she graced, and half the time she did not place at all.

But if fans were judges, the majority of female bodybuilding shows would, I guess, have different results. So just because Janeen wasn't getting much love from the judges in 2013-14, there was still plenty coming from her devotees, who continued to heap praise on their "smokin' hot goddess", her terrific pecs", her "back that could stand toe to toe with Iris" (you know what they mean). She's so underrated, reckoned one forum poster. One of my all-time favourites. One of the best physiques ever.

However, towards the end of 2014, Janeen had some news. From 2015 she was going to be competing in Physique. This was not what a lot of fans wanted to hear. But nevertheless, when she turned up for her first WPD show in Orlando, yes, OK, she was smaller than she had been, but saying anyone is smaller than Janeen Lankowski the bodybuilder is never saying much. She still had the shoulders, she still had the pecs, and the back. And she still didn't get much love from the judges. Her highest placing in any Open Physique class remains to this day a lowly 14th at that first show.

But Janeen still had the power to send jaws all the way to the floor. In the lobby I got high watching Janeen Lankowski, one fan who attended the show confessed. The V-shaped back, bulging glutes and monster calves. Another warned would-be audience members to be on their guard should they ever make it to a show. These women will literally drive you insane. I keep forgetting how big some of the Physique women are. In Tampa Janeen was the most impressive in terms of muscle, particularly her broad, deep chest. She looks like she could bench a Mini Cooper.

And this year, as I was looking through the galleries of the New York Pro, admiring Shanique and Asha and all and working my way down the placings, one fine woman after another, I clicked on Janeen's name, and her gallery came up. I was stunned, pure and simple. Here was female muscle at its most thrilling. Its most raw.

I've looked at the images of Janeen from that show over and over since then. And they thrill me every time. Her hands above her head as she prepares to hit her abs and thigh, she's not even flexing and her arms are impossibly thick, showing me her gorgeous muscle pits backed by her thick, wide lats. On her knees, back facing the judges at the start of her routine, her bronzed skin shimmering with oil, the straps of her suit straining to surround those lats, cutting into the muscle almost - as if they could! Lying back on her shoulders, her legs pointing skywards, toes curled, her glutes and thighs so thick and powerful. And the most muscular, her shoulders, arms and chest exploding, a bodybuilder's upper body in everything but name.

You may have wondered where Janeen was in our 100 Canadian Muscle Goddesses on Thursday. Well, I didn't forget her. How could anyone forget her once they've seen her? And here she is, competing as a Bodybuilder, competing in Physique... Whatever. Here she is in all her raw and raging muscular glory.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Oh Canada! Tara Ostafichuk

Not the most familiar name (though I see one ahead-of-the-curve member of the brethren has slightly stolen my thunder by opening a thread for her just days before this post on the forum whose first rule is...) but Tara is the latest, 2015 version in a long line of illustrious CBBF Canadian Champions, many of whom featured here yesterday.

In the last few years Canadian champions have not exactly set the FBB world alight after their victories though. In 2014 Wendy McMaster won, and hasn't competed since. Tananarive McGowan (2013) competed a couple of times the year after her win but failed to make the top 10 at either show. Joanne Williams (2012) fared a little better on her 2014 pro debut in Toronto but not much, actually placing 10th.

Of the Canadian champions from the last five years, only Fabiola Boulanger has enjoyed any success at all in the IFBB Pro League. After three years and the disappearance of much of the muscle which had won her her pro card, she switched to the Physique division and placed 3rd in New York in 2014 on her pro debut.
Tara checks in for her pro debut

So it's almost a relief to see that although Tara has chosen the Fabiola route into Physique, she hasn't waited years before making her pro debut, but months. And her 4th place at the inaugural Arctic Pro in Alaska at the start of June represents one of the better results recent Canadian Female Bodybuilding champions have enjoyed.
Having "an amazing weekend" at the Arctic Pro

I'd love to give you the full Tara story, but in order to do so I'd have to find it for myself first. She gave a whole series of interviews to a local radio station in her hometown of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta as she progressed from regional to national triumphs last year, but frustratingly the audio files of those interviews are no longer online.

What we can report though that Tara had been training for nine years before she became national champion and that her role model is Lenda Murray. We've also learned that one of her coaches, Daphne Madigin, is a veteran Canadian female bodybuilder, and the other is the former Olympian Helen Bouchard.

And, er, that's about it. We can't even reliably tell you how old Tara is, but we can tell you she's somewhere between 40 and 50. She didn't compete in the 50+ "Grand Masters", but as well as the Heavyweight and Overall titles at the CBBF Nationals last year, she took home the Masters (40+) Heavyweight and Overall titles. A clean sweep which meant that of the two pro cards awarded at the show, Tara won both!

A big winner on the night, but as I mentioned above, also a "low key" winner. The female muscle lovin' world has been slow to spot her despite her being so gorgeous and the unbelievable (dare I say "Boulanger-esque") shape she was in for her Nationals win. Those who have noticed her have been impressed. She's "seriusly ripped", "a beast in a good way!" And there's even evidence of one-handed typing - So darn Hotttt.

You can follow Tara on Instagram. She might not be so much the ripped beast that she was in 2015 now, but nevertheless she is, like the man says, still very very "hotttt".