We began the year on FMS admiring the history and current healthy (and sexy) state of Swedish female muscle with the help of (among others) Angelica Enberg. We drooled over Kayla Rassatti's Australian assets, and begged entry into the (apparently wonderful) world of Jennifer Zeff. We - quite frankly - shat ourselves when we received news that "Adult" blogs were going to become member-only affairs, and even seriously considered a move to another blogging platform. Then, the news that FMS would survive in its familiar state, and when the celebration had finished, it was time to see who you had voted into our second annual Hot and Hard 100.
More or less daily posting resumed again, and before long we were swooning at the brains, biceps and beauty of Brittni Kent and digging the rising Physique star Brooke Walker just as she won her pro card. The first pro female bodybuilding contests of the year were suddenly upon us, Britain's Lisa Cross winning in Omaha, Christine Envall in Toronto. Other Brits picking up first place trophies were Christal Cornick, IPA Ms Britain, and Sarah Mura, British NABBA champ.
Helle Trevino triumphed in Chicago in July, I moaned that no one else had voted for Twana Barnett-Ferguson in the Hot and Hard 100, and we got "truly, disgustingly peeled" with shredded Brit Corinne Ingman and Australia's Taylor Smith. Also in July, we found out - in a totally made up way - what a selection of Greece's female muscle goddesses thought about their country's fiscal crisis, or, as some have claimed, found an excuse to spend time with Anastasia Papoutsaki.
In August we took a break but kept you posted. News came of Georgina McConnell's new body goals,and we found several reasons to be cheerful at the NPC USAs. Then, it was time for the first ever Rising Phoenix to exceed both our expectations as well as all records for female bodybuilding prize money. We were drunk on muscle in September, featuring beef so prime it's only divisible by one and itself - see Micaela Viscido.
Post-Olympia we dug the ladies of the Physique division, my personal most digged being the sensational beauty of Erica Blockman, and after that we swooned all over the UK for a couple of weeks, most notably celebrating Carly Thornton's achievement in becoming the UK's first ever IFBB Physique Pro. We welcomed C. Moore Glootz back onto the staff just as Rosie Harte became Britain's second ever IFBB Physique Pro, and there was sweat, and there was muscle at the NPC Nationals.
And that pretty much brings us up to date.
It's been harder than ever to choose the final six this year. All of the women mentioned above were on the long list, and after due consideration and many changes of mind, Figure phenomenon Shanique Grant, Olympia runner-up Kira Neuman, and the Beast from the East Natalia Trukhina were in the running to the very end.
We may see them next year, but, in no particular order, this year belonged to...
The FMS WOMEN of the YEAR 2015
MARGIE MARTIN: Queen of Muscle
3½ years ago I started this journey. I loved lifting weight but I loved eating more, wrote the triumphant first ever Ms Rising Phoenix World Champion after her victory. Once I made the commitment, it was a labor of love. This wasn't about just losing weight it was about living a dream. She's certainly been living that dream since.
She competed in every pro female bodybuilding event in 2015, only qualifying for the Rising Phoenix at her final attempt, when she won the Tampa Pro. Looks to me, I wrote at the time, like she went out there - after all her hard work and the three previous shows in 2015 where she hadn't got what she deserved - and demanded the judges give her the damn title. And it was more of the same in San Antonio.
And as World Champion, the #1 female bodybuilder in the world this year, a representative of her sport, Margie has done it her own way. I don't care, was her response to a post-Phoenix interview question about the IFBB's "killing" of female bodybuilding, and with her unprecedented prize money (and the jeep) - neither of which the IFBB had anything to do with - can you blame her? Instead, she's just continued to be Margie, although perhaps with a little more swagger than before. Love how muscle just makes the dress pop! reads her note attached to the picture below, and there, in a nutshell, is Margie. She's cheeky, she's big, she's bold, and she's curvaceous. She's feminine, she's strong, she's sexy, and she's glamorous.
And she's all those things at the same time all the time. Exactly how you would want the premier female bodybuilder in the world to be - or at least how I would like her to be. I've never made any secret of my admiration for this incredible woman, and she was such a popular winner that I think in 2015 a whole lot more female muscle heads also started feeling Margie for real. If you haven't been following her Instagram or Facebook, then you've been missing out. She's the self-styled "Queen of Quads", "The Bringer of Quadgasms", and now, for this year at least, The Queen of Muscle.
ELEONORA DOBRININA: Ms Freaky
This may sound like a wacky statement, but sometimes it can be a GOOD thing when a federation cancels a whole division. No, really. A whole division. Bear with me...
At the start of 2014, Eleonora Dobrinina had been a WBFF Fitness competitor. Too much muscle, said the judges, so Ella switched to Figure. Then, the division was cancelled (not forever, but for 2015 at least), apparently due to the lack of competitors. [I was] in the middle of preparation, said Ella soon afterwards. And I CAN'T STOP mentally, it's insane. For a few years I was thinking about taking a different path and when the door smashed my face, I made my decision and I will be stepping on stage with the IFBB at the OPA Toronto on May 16th...
And we've been documenting her year on FMS right from just before her first show until after the Nationals when she captured a priceless elevator moment. At every turn we've been mesmerised by her dancing abs, and fallen for her raucous love of life, her infectious laughter, her shall we say "colourful" language, and her candid and emotional responses to the messages of support she has received from her fans.
As a result of that decision, Ella is now looking forward to 2016 as an IFBB pro with ambitions to qualify for her first Ms Physique Olympia. And she has some cause for optimism. Her record as a Physique competitor is four wins from four shows - and at one of them she also picked up a "Ms Freaky" award - including a class win at the Canadian Nationals. Looks like I'm making history, she wrote on her wonderful Instagram in July. I am honoured and proud! 2015 is my year!! I'M UNSTOPPABLE!!!
CRISTINA GOY ARELLANO: Something Else
Like our first two Women of the Year, our third, Cristina Goy Arellano is another who we have featured heavily on FMS this year. Noting at the end of last year how much muscle she was carrying and how much heat she was emitting, we followed her 2015 contest season via a topless beach holiday and a preview clip that almost killed me. We found that as in Physique shows in America in 2015, Cristina's musclebound look found less favour with European judges at some shows, and much more at others.
But female muscle heads are a lot more consistent than IFBB judges, and the musclebound Physique look is always a winner with us. Especially when it's packaged so beautifully. Ye gods, wrote one forum poster. This woman is something else. That combo of the Latin complexion with probably the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen on a female bodybuilder, PLUS that physique. She is awesome and she deserves all the attention she's getting in Europe and beyond. I couldn't have put it better.
Although he has forgotten one thing - that smile. And I have to say I've been particlarly enamoured with that smile of hers this year when she's been pumping the muscle in some video or other and you can see it swelling and she looks down at the muscle and turns those fierce bright eyes direct to camera and smiles...
She's smiling for me, you know. And you perhaps. But mostly me.
MARTHE SUNDBY: Passionately Peeled
Surely, if any woman passes Corinne Ingman's "don't call yourself shredded until you are truly, disgustingly peeled" test, then it is Marthe. How much more f***ing ripped can she get? we wondered back at the end of August, and the answer, excitingly, was A LOT, because at that stage she was still two weeks out from her show. OMFG! commented one of our favourite (and most excited) readers in response to that post. That's just insane condition. Must be hard as a rock. So freakin' hot and sexy!!!
The contest - her first as an IFBB pro - was in Atlantic City, and FMS spent a whole week with this magnificent piece of muscular womanhood before, during and after it in September. And once again, some of the many muscular reasons why our reader, and countless other fans love Marthe turned out to be not exactly what the judges were looking for. She finished a lowly 14th, despite - or because of - what commentators described as her "huge quads", her "great arms", her "freaky hamstrings and glutes".
Time of my life, she said - again and again - about her American adventure, the judges verdict an irrelevance. She turned 40 in April, beautiful, powerful, and utterly at ease with herself. She is obviously aroused by the pump she can achieve in the gym, and equally obviously loves showing off the freakier results of all her hard work there.
Lifting is my passion, she says, and it would take little more than the briefest of visits to her Instagram or Facebook to see that this is quite true. And besides, how else to explain why this amazing, stunning woman should so often find herself single?!
SIERRA MANGUS: Professional Gymrat
My whole world has revolved around this [getting my pro card] for the last few years, she wrote after the NPC USAs in July. It's weird to wrap my head around, that tonight was the last time I'd pose on an NPC stage. But the weirdest thing ever was I had people come up and say they were fans tonight! I'm just a gymrat. I beg to differ.
First of all, your average "gymrat" doesn't have the title IFBB Pro before their name, and Sierra has had that since this year's NPC USAs, where she finished 2nd in her class - not high enough for my liking, but good enough for that pro card. I completely forgot my finals routine onstage, and ended up making up as I went along, she admitted after the show. You wouldn't have known it was spontaneous, but perhaps the routine was all the better for it. As she always seems to be on stage, Sierra looked poised, polished, stunningly beautiful, and muscle sexy from head to toe. I guess when you look that graceful, you can just wing it, commented one of Sierra's legion of fans.
Which kind of brings us to one of Sierra's less obvious qualities - her mind. Now I wouldn't for a minute claim that by following Sierra or anyone else via social media you get to really know them, but if you want something a bit different from the usual platitudes and self-congratulation, then you could do a lot worse than following "maniacmangus". Sierra undoubtedly takes a mean selfie, but the main attraction is that each post is a kind of Thought for the Day, a mini-essay on subjects as varied as Sierra's adventures among the NARPs, what we can learn from the air safety instruction to "put your own oxygen mask on first", and our heroine's thoughts on the "scowling" competitors backstage at the USAs, all written in an engaging first person confessional style. A cross between a diary (one that's worth reading) and a Taoist text. Including me, 22,300 (male and female) followers think she's worth reading anyway.
Not "just a gymrat". And not just an exceptionally graceful and effortlessly sexy Physique competitor either, but a unique and gifted young woman. I for one can't wait to see her line up with the pros next year. It is where, without question, she belongs.
THERESA IVANCIK: Most Shock and Awe
One way or another, Theresa has been in our thoughts and on our blog all year. She started off 2015 as our highest new entry in the Hot and Hard 100 poll, but she's truly dominated since late summer, when we checked up on her progress before the IFBB North Americans right up until just two weeks ago, when we followed her adventures in Miami at the NPC Nationals. She's hardly flexed this year without FMS immediately passing on the news to our lovely readers. Until I actually hear that you have had enough of the glorious Theresa, I'm just going to go ahead and carry on compiling posts in her honour, I warned you recently. No complaints so far.
And the more we've featured her, the harder we've fallen. It seemed impossible, but she's been even bigger and better this year. Some of her fully pumped gym candids have been so utterly overwhelming that I've found myself in the clutches of The Madness at home, at work and all manner of places in between. In her 2015 post-contest glamour shoots she has smouldered as powerfully as ever, and on stage she has been at her most shock and awe. The only thing I haven't loved about Theresa this year - and I loved the hair by the way - has been her treatment by the IFBB/NPC judges.
Though she did win her class at the North Americans, she wasn't deemed good enough for the pro card there, and nor was she a winner at the Nationals, where she finished runner-up to Tischa Thomas. The Miami decision was probably the more controversial with commentators and fans alike, but looking back at it now, I think she was really robbed at the North Americans. Despite the disappointment of others though, Theresa has taken everything in her classy stride, congratulating all those she has stood in competition with, and vowing to turn those weaknesses (clue: it ain't her upper body) into strengths in 2016. Each show I have been able to add size and bring a different more conditioned package, she says. New game plan. "I'll be back"!
Imagine Theresa, a couple of weeks out, that mouth-watering mass of upper body muscle even more refined PLUS ripped, rippling, sweeping pro class quads... And so the author became lost in reverie, dreaming of Theresa and the other female muscle feasts to gorge on in the coming year even before this one had drawn to a close!
Regular posts back soon. Comments and ideas are, as ever, most welcome.