Friday, 2 December 2016

From Birmingham to Miami: The Women of the 2016 NABBA Universe & NPC Nationals

Every day this week, one of the women who competed in one of the Toned or Trained Figure classes at the NABBA Universe in Birmingham, UK, on October 29th. And from the NPC Nationals in Miami the following weekend, every day we'll enjoy one of the Female Bodybuilders or Women's Physique competitors, all trying to win their IFBB pro cards remember, taken from among the four classes in each division.

I'm not trying to compare and contrast the women or federations, or make any points here, I just thought it would be a bit different. And it gives us the best of both worlds too. While footage of the NABBA ladies' routines is plentiful, there are few pics. From the NPC Nationals the reverse is true. Little video, many pics. So, by doing it this way we get to enjoy some muscles in motion, as well as a selection of contest photos.

An old and a new favourite today.

Firstly, the woman transformed that is...

CINARA POLIDO
1st, Trained Figure II

We've been admiring Cinara - her ripped (and often twitching) glutes, and more recently that incredible pair of thighs - on FMS ever since she made her international NABBA bow in 2013. In Birmingham, for the second year in a row, the 2015 NABBA Ms World won her class but lost out to the class I winner in the overall posedown.



A week after the Universe though, happier news for Cinara at the WFF Worlds in Dublin, where she was crowned Ms "Superbody" (and awarded her WFF International pro card - whatever that is worth to her!). Watch the above routine from a slightly different angle here, and follow Cinara's glute-tastic adventures on Instagram.

And from Miami, a woman FMS introduced to readers just last month...

SUHA QASEM
2nd, Physique A

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"Peakfection" was how one reader described Suha's amazing bicep when FMS featured her (see Peaks Week: Split Star), and their incredible shape was once again much in evidence as she took to the stage at the Nationals. Suha didn't win her class, but as runner-up did secure her pro card, and was very happy about it. Only the best go pro, she said (modestly!) afterwards. Earned, not given. More reward to come.

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Less than two weeks before the show though, Suha suffered a head injury fighting off an attacker. He may now regret his choice of "victim". Suha defended herself so successfully in fact that she was "almost" arrested by the NYPD as a result. I took that SON OF A BITCH down to the ground! Yeah I got a bump on the head, she told her Instagram followers. But you should have seen his face! Blood everywhere!!!

Enjoy!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

From Birmingham to Miami: The Women of the 2016 NABBA Universe & NPC Nationals

Every day this week, one of the women who competed in one of the Toned or Trained Figure classes at the NABBA Universe in Birmingham, UK, on October 29th. And from the NPC Nationals in Miami the following weekend, every day we'll enjoy one of the Female Bodybuilders or Women's Physique competitors, all trying to win their IFBB pro cards remember, taken from among the four classes in each division.

I'm not trying to compare and contrast the women or federations, or make any points here, I just thought it would be a bit different. And it gives us the best of both worlds too. While footage of the NABBA ladies' routines is plentiful, there are few pics. From the NPC Nationals the reverse is true. Little video, many pics. So, by doing it this way we get to enjoy some muscles in motion, as well as a selection of contest photos.

A contrast in styles today.

From Brazil...

CAROL BITTENCOURT
2nd, Trained Figure I

The 2013 class champion had to settle for 2nd place on this occasion, bringing a typically Brazilian mixture of flexes and dance moves to her Universe routine.



Plenty of this actress, presenter and all-round muscle diva on YouTube, and you can also enjoy her Instagram. Watch the same routine from a different angle here, and if you want to revisit her winning 2013 routine, it's here. Ai karamba!

And flexing in Miami...

NATASCHA DONALD
4th, FBB Light-heavyweight

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From a very competitive Light-heavyweight class, Natascha Donald proves there's more than one way to be very muscular and very feminine. Virginia Sanchez Macias (and I've been saying for some time) should take note and ditch the wigs!

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This Southern Belle was coming 7th in one of the Physique classes this time last year, and doesn't get nearly enough love on the forums in my humble opinion. Her Instagram is a hymn to the joy of being a muscular woman. Highly recommended.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

From Birmingham to Miami: The Women of the 2016 NABBA Universe & NPC Nationals

Every day this week, one of the women who competed in one of the Toned or Trained Figure classes at the NABBA Universe in Birmingham, UK, on October 29th. And from the NPC Nationals in Miami the following weekend, every day we'll enjoy one of the Female Bodybuilders or Women's Physique competitors, all trying to win their IFBB pro cards remember, taken from among the four classes in each division.

I'm not trying to compare and contrast the women or federations, or make any points here, I just thought it would be a bit different. And it gives us the best of both worlds too. While footage of the NABBA ladies' routines is plentiful, there are few pics. From the NPC Nationals the reverse is true. Little video, many pics. So, by doing it this way we get to enjoy some muscles in motion, as well as a selection of contest photos.

Two larger ladies today.

From Australia to the Universe...

AISLING HICKEY
Trained Figure II

Not too sure where Aussie phenom Aisling Hickey placed in the end, but it was certainly outside the top 6. Way too big for the class, commented one fan after seeing her in action. I doubt said fan meant it as anything other than a compliment. Watching Aisling's beefy muscle show (and the crowd's enthusiastic appreciation) took me back to the days when the "Physique" (ie. FBB) ladies appeared at the Universe.



And if you'd like to see a routine of hers go on longer than just over a minute (I'm guessing you would), then check out this high quality offering from the NABBA/WFF Australian International Championships, which took place a couple of weeks before Aisling starred in Birmingham. So, out of the top placings, but had there been an audience award, I reckon Aisling would have definitely been a contender.

And in Miami...

ALLISON CHAIDEZ
3rd, FBB Heavyweight

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On Girls with Muscle there is but one picture of Allison Chaidez (not Chaiez as some websites have her) - and it's insane. Of course, there are those who can't wait to tell us how little love they have for the tats, but there's also plenty of jaws on the floor, amazed by her "gigantic cannonball" of a bicep. Count me among the latter.

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We have found her at national level back in 2014, and competing twice - at the NPC USAs and the IFBB North Americans, both at light-heavyweight, and at the North Americans also in the Masters class - in 2016. There is obviously more to the Allison Chaidez story than the FMS research team have unearthed so far. Stay tuned.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

From Birmingham to Miami: The Women of the 2016 NABBA Universe & NPC Nationals

Every day this week, one of the women who competed in one of the Toned or Trained Figure classes at the NABBA Universe in Birmingham, UK, on October 29th. And from the NPC Nationals in Miami the following weekend, every day we'll enjoy one of the Female Bodybuilders or Women's Physique competitors, all trying to win their IFBB pro cards remember, taken from among the four classes in each division.

I'm not trying to compare and contrast the women or federations, or make any points here, I just thought it would be a bit different. And it gives us the best of both worlds too. While footage of the NABBA ladies' routines is plentiful, there are few pics. From the NPC Nationals the reverse is true. Little video, many pics. So, by doing it this way we get to enjoy some muscles in motion, as well as a selection of contest photos.

And today's two stunners are...

From Birmingham...

LINDSEY ANGEL
2nd, Trained Figure II

Runner-up in her class, as she was at the NABBA Britain Finals earlier in the year, Lindsey Angel was obviously ripped and lovin' it. Bodybuilding is a way of life, according to her Facebook page, and she has obviously embraced it. She did five competitions last year, picking up a grand total of seven trophies, and in 2016, as well as her NABBA achievements, she's won the PCA British Muscle Figure title.



Same routine, different angle here. And you can also follow Lindsey on Instagram.

And from Miami...

RACHAEL CHASKEY
3rd, Physique C

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A few topless back selfies on her Instagram, a most muscular fest preview by Muscle Appeal, and suddenly Rachael Chaskey was all over the forums earlier in the year.

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We do all like a Figure to Physique success story, and Rachael's switch came after a Figure class 2nd place at the 2014 Jay Cutler Wyoming Classic (gallery here, you may not recognise her!). Last year she was runner-up in her Physique class at the Colorado State Championships (gallery here), but this year has seen her breakthrough not only among the fans, but also at national level. Her 3rd place in Miami followed a runners-up spot at the Jr Nationals in June (here). At the rate this 29-year-old beauty is developing, it surely won't be long before we see her among the pros.

Enjoy!

Monday, 28 November 2016

From Birmingham to Miami: The Women of the 2016 NABBA Universe & NPC Nationals

Thought this might be fun.

Fourteen women from the latest versions of two venerable contests.

Every day this week, one of the women who competed in one of the Toned or Trained Figure classes at the NABBA Universe in Birmingham, UK, on October 29th. And from the NPC Nationals in Miami the following weekend, every day we'll enjoy one of the Female Bodybuilders or Women's Physique competitors, all trying to win their IFBB pro cards remember, taken from among the four classes in each division.

I'm not trying to compare and contrast the women or federations, or make any points here, I just thought it would be a bit different. And it gives us the best of both worlds too. While footage of the NABBA ladies' routines is plentiful, there are few pics. From the NPC Nationals the reverse is true. Little video, many pics. So, by doing it this way we get to enjoy some muscles in motion, as well as a selection of contest photos.

Today, two runners-up.

From Birmingham...

MONICA BRANT
2nd, Toned Figure

Yes, that's right, Monica Brant. The former Ms Fitness Olympia and two-time WBFF Pro Figure champion decided to take to a NABBA stage at the age of 46 having competed at a bodybuilding show only once since 2010. After announcing her return though, she was, apparently, contacted by the UK PCA (Physical Culture Association), and appeared at their Birmingham show the weekend before she appeared here.



See winner Amy Wilson's disbelief that she's just beaten the Monica Brant in the Toned Figure Awards clip, and you can also check out Monica's routine from a slightly different angle here. The interview she gave to announce her comeback is here, and you can listen to her the day before the NABBA Universe interviewed by This Is Bodybuilding on Soundcloud, and follow her on YouTube for more.

And from Miami...

PAULINE NELSON
2nd, FBB Heavyweight

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When I saw the prejudging photos of the Heavyweights, I feared that Theresa Ivancik would have to settle for second place yet again, because Pauline Nelson (see previously on FMS), looked like a real threat. As it turned out though, the judges went for Theresa, though if there had been an award for "Best Emoting During the Abs & Thigh pose", Pauline would have been downright impossible to beat.

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After a break of three years, Pauline made a winning return to the stage this year at the NPC Eastern USA Championships (gallery here) before heading for Miami. You can follow the self-styled "Miss Making-it-happen" on her Instagram.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

On Fandom: Chapter 7

A guy starts a blog...

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The first four pics on FMS, 1st May 2011

He has a vague notion that he should be putting these thoughts online, thoughts that he's rarely, if ever, articulated, thoughts about the women he has adored for so much of his life. He wants to champion these women, sure, but most of all he wants to find others who have lived the same experiences, to know that he is not alone...

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At the time of writing, my latest "discovery", Alicia Bell

Times have changed, and continue to change. Female Muscle Fandom was a very different situation when I first saw a female bodybuilder, and it even feels as though it was a very different place when I started FMS in 2011. There are now, without question, more women in the world building muscle than ever, and thanks to social media, they have more admirers, both male and female, than ever before.

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Transforming bodies, transforming lives

More and more women compete as well. Many of them are not what you or I might call "Female Bodybuilders" capital F capital B, but that's what the mainstream calls them, and in case you haven't been reading FMS, the mainstream are more and more interested in these Bikini and Figure girls and their pro-lifting, pro-muscle message. If you go to a gym the chances are there are women lifting there, and though it's not always easy to see beyond the gym and internet when you are as obsessed as I am with female muscle, it's not just there that female muscle is going mainstream.

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Jody Poulter transforms on prime time TV

Turn on Modern Family and check out Julie Bowen's arms and shoulders. If you're in the UK, check out the first episode of This Time Next Year on catch-up. Presented by Davina McCall, who, as you may know, has her own fitness range, she and the audience celebrate the achievement of a woman who vows to become a competitive bodybuilder small b in a year, and comes out oiled, ripped and flexing in her posing suit. Laura Madge on Ninja Warrior - two seasons in a row... I could go on.

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The highest level

And even Female Bodybuilding capital F capital B, which seemed to be in danger of disappearing altogether at the highest level, has enjoyed a mini-resurgence under the guidance of Wings of Strength and with fan-generated funding, and this looks set to continue for the foreseeable future at least. This most extreme - and for many fans most exciting - form of the "sport" may never be mainstream, but it has survived.

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And there's Moore: Chareece Johnson (aka Chareece Moore), new IFBB pro

Is there a point to all this blabbing on this week? Well, I did say at the outset I wouldn't have too many answers! But I guess, if I have to make a point, it would be that as the perception of women with muscle shifts, the perception of the men who, as Tanya Bunsell puts it, "celebrate these women in all their complex beauty", will change as well. Perhaps in the not too distant future the idea that "you think of a guy who is very socially awkward, he's a weirdo, he's a pervert, he obviously has some mental issue because he's attracted to extremely muscular women" will become as outdated as the idea that women who lift heavy weights will end up looking like men.

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"Complex beauty": Kelsey Nicole

Your thoughts on this, or any of the other issues raised this week, are most welcome, as are any comments or suggestions you have for the blog in general. As the world of female muscle grows, more than ever I need your help in keeping up with it, so please, do get in touch if you feel I'm missing someone or something relevant.

Thanks for reading.

6ft1swell@gmail.com

Saturday, 26 November 2016

On Fandom: Chapter 6

A fan of the sport?

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As a fan, I know that Wings of Strength "launched" the 2017 pro female bodybuilding season recently. They announced the same line-up of pro shows as 2016, plus the new open amateur contest, the Ms Wings International, which will take place the day before the Chicago Pro at the same venue, and give the winner the chance to make (I imagine) the fastest pro debut in history the very next day. Once again, the season will reach its climax in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Rising Phoenix. Lots to look forward to.

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However, I also know that Margie Martin won't be defending her title there. Fortunately I’m in a position where I feel like female bodybuilding is going to last beyond me competing, she said recently in an interview with Anomaly Athletics. What I want to do is to make new female bodybuilders and to recruit - even if I have to train them myself! Well if they all turn out like her protégé Brittney O'Veal, I for one won't be complaining. And Margie also took a swing at Iris Kyle. I felt confused about why Iris was making such a hoopla, she said. After competing for a while, you should use it as a platform to elevate yourself into a position where you don’t need the prize money or the adulation. Ouch! She's not saying never again though, just not next year. Those mighty quads may yet thunder across the stage again.

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And I know that Greek Goddess Anastasia Papoutsaki became IFBB Mediterranean Physique champion in Lisbon recently. And that those ex-sprinter legs of hers are finally starting to realise their full potential. And that her next stop will be the IFBB Diamond Cup in Athens this weekend and that there's a pro card on offer. As always when she's competing, I will be eagerly waiting for news of her placing.

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I do this kind of thing a lot. If one of my favourite muscle women is taking the stage somewhere, I make it a priority to know how she's done as soon as I can. I can get particularly excitable when a Brit takes the stage in one of the US pro shows, or a whole bunch of British female muscle takes part in one of the big amateur shows like the Arnold Europe or the NABBA Worlds or NABBA Universe. I don't know if this makes me a "fan", but it certainly feels like it does. I certainly felt like a fan when Corinne Ingman - who time and again I have reported as having got no love at all from the judges at shows organised by a whole range of federations - finally had her day in the sun at the WFF Worlds recently. Her title? Ms Super Body. How very very apt.

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This fascination, perhaps obsession, with contests doesn't mean I'm under any illusions about female muscle "sport". The subjective, and often bizarre judging; the almost total lack of drama beyond the first callout; the seemingly ever-decreasing importance of the performance aspect of routines etc. etc. There's so much that's wrong about it.

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A win and a pro card at the amateur shows is by no means a passport to stardom and riches, but it's important to so many of the women to be able to say they are a pro, to be able to compete with the best of their peers. Outside the NPC and North America the women generally have far less opportunity to join the pro ranks. And yet compete they do, going through the rigours of contest prep, driven perhaps by the sheer joy of competing, by the camaraderie of their sisters of iron, or by the challenge, or the love of the sport, or by all of the above or none. This is the moment the women train for, perhaps - however amazing I or any of their myriad fans, think they look on a daily basis - the one and only time they feel truly happy with their physiques.

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It was all very different in the past. In the Magazine Years, when I first felt the attraction of female muscle, contest news was weeks, perhaps months, old. I appreciated the pictures of Cory, Anja et al on stage, of course I did, but I didn't have that anticiaption for the results like I do now because it all seemed so remote. Thanks to social media (a much more immediate source of news than the federations' websites or the sites with big contest galleries, by the way) I can learn, for example, that Anastasia has won as soon as she's got backstage and taken her phone out.

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What hasn't changed though is that I rarely actually witness any of the shows, either in person or (these days) on a live feed. Almost never. Yes, I watch clips if and when they are posted days or weeks later, but by then I know the outcome and it's simply not as exciting. Finding out moments after the event via Instagram that Theresa Ivancik (who we have followed on the blog for years as she's tried again and again to win a national show and become a pro) had finally won her class at the NPC Nationals last weekend was infinitely more exciting than watching her win in this clip days later.



Perhaps I'm not really a fan of the sport then, even though I follow it closely, but a fan of the competitors. A woman who never competes can, like Cass Martin who I was swooning all over the other day, interest me, but she doesn't take me on the same journey that Margie, or Anastasia, or Corinne, or Theresa have taken me. As I follow them going through what they have to go through, I emotionally engage. If they want to win, I want them to win. And I celebrate (inwardly, secretly) when they do.

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And judging by the reaction to Theresa's good news in the messages on her Instagram and on the fan forums, I'm not the only one who has these feelings. Are we, to return to some of Marcie Simmons thoughts thoughts earlier in the week, "supporting" her? Are we "helping her grow as a brand"? Probably not. But it must be nice for her to get those messages of congratulations, to - perhaps - read those happy posts on a clandestine visit to "Schmoeville". Perhaps even (be still my burning heart!) she has enjoyed one of the (many) tributes we have put together for her here on FMS.

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It must be nice for Theresa to know she has fans. A lot of fans. And though they might not be in the audience, or "support her financially", or even send her some words of encouragement every now and then, they are, in a sense, with her on her journey.

to be continued...