Thursday, 30 June 2016

A Nation - No, the WORLD - Sighs

The other week I was catching up on the clips in my YouTube subscription feed...


And it was new footage - 2016!!!

Now this was a very welcome and somewhat unexpected treat.

The last time we featured Rene on the blog was after a video that popped up on (of all places) The Guardian website, documenting Rene's rather unhappy experience competing in the US in 2015. The clip ended with news that she had experienced "physical difficulties" during that last show, and an emotional Rene reporting that she'd been told to "get rid of her muscles" for the good of her health.

With her social media and website all but put into storage, FMS feared the worst, but news came from a loyal reader that actually Rene was in very good health, The break from competition (and social media, no doubt) had done wonders. And she hadn't "got rid of her muscles", but, in the words of our reader, "looked amazing as ever".


And now, here was new footage...

Our reader wasn't wrong. A-MAZING!

Did you watch to the very end?

The blurb on the clip on YouTube breaks the news equally suddenly.

Rene Campbell returns to and looks insane! The final 'retirement' sessions with Rene as she prepares to compete for the last time...

When that will be I'm afraid I can't tell you. Chicago is this weekend, and, fittingly, it would see her bow out at the very place where she was due to compete when those "physical difficulties" had struck last year. I haven't seen a competitor list for the show though, so it could equally well be at the other remaining Female Bodybuilding events this year. In a couple of weeks' time there's the new "Lenda Murray Pro-Am" event, then there's Tampa in August, or perhaps, in what would also be a way for her to end her competitive career on a high, Rene's got an invite to the Rising Phoenix?

We'll wait till the fat lady - sorry, the muscular lady sings (and the posing suit gets hung up for the last time) before we pay our own (no doubt week-long) tribute to this exceptional British female bodybuilder. For now, you might want to head over to Rene's resurrected Facebook page to add your own voice to the tributes that have been flooding in from (men and women) around the world since news of her impending retirement broke. And Rene's even been having a good look back at her own career and her own experience of bodybuilding, and it's well worth a read.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

That Guest Posing Routine

It's not often that I'm more excited about seeing images and video of a guest posing routine than I am at the prospect of images and video of the actual show, but the recent Omaha Pro was one of those rare occasions. I hope the fine ladies who lined up that day will forgive me, but the prospect of Elena Oana Hreapca, primed by Alina Popa, strutting her considerable stuff on the stage there was just too tantalising, especially given the shape she was in a couple of weeks before her appearance.

And though expectations were ridiculously high, she didn't disappoint.

Starting by taking stuff off. And quickly. The song may have been You Can Leave Your Hat On, but hers was off before the end of the first verse had faded and the chorus kicked in. There wasn't much "tease" in the strip, she didn't hang about.

The body was out. And it suddenly made perfect sense why she wasn't keen to keep it covered up. All the best bits you expect from Oana were there. The upper body, the abs, the ABS!!! But Alina had done her work. This was a whole new level for Oana. Legs. Not the first thing you think of when you think of Oana, but they were stunning. Those calves! So BIG!!! She faces rear, and it's breathtaking. The thickness. The meat on her. And the detail! Striations on her glutes! She was spectacular.

Would she have won the contest if she'd entered it?

I wouldn't like to say, but the general opinion is that, yes, she would have been, in all probability, as Michelle Neil used to say in her day, hard to keep out of the top 1.

But one thing is certain. No one comes close to Oana in the abs department.

No one is even in the same postcode.

I need to see video, was my first thought. I NEED to see video...

And courtesy of one of the WPD competiors at the show, my prayer was answered.

If you haven't seen it. Click on that. And enjoy!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Nation Celebrates (Again!)

In 1999, Britain's Gayle Moher won the Jan Tana Pro Classic. It wasn't until Lisa Cross won in Omaha last year that the UK had reason to celebrate a win at an IFBB Pro show. Not that there was bunting in the street or Lisa's triumph was mentioned on the national news or anything like that. But many of us did, in our own way, celebrate.

Sixteen years it had taken. Now our IFBB Pro wins are coming along like buses.

Nina Ross, as reported recently on FMS, won the Mozolani Pro Bikini title in May.

And just 4 weeks later, another win. Rosanna Harte, on her pro debut, outrascaled and outclassed the field at the Dallas Europa, giving the UK its first ever IFBB Women's Pro Physique champion. Rosie's only gone and got herself a ticket to the Olympia!

First callout, centre stage, Rosie reported after the first day's judging was done. Final callout, centre stage. Back again tomorrow, for more posing and bringing out the big guns for the rascal routine. Ah, yes, one of her famous routines. Reckon she knew she'd won already? Women's physique with the most beautiful fitting bikini, a fit perfect for my classic and dainty frame, so perfect for my dance and posing routines.

Waking to the most splendiferous news that Rosie Rascal Chops has only gone n bloody done it, wrote FMS fave Linda Gartside, pretty much catching the mood of those who sent our heroine their congratulations. Make no mistake, she's a popular lady over here. 1st pro show & wins, now off to the biggest show in a BB's dangly carrot eyesight, "The Olympia" - get in!!! Rosie is the most down to earth pocket rocket, has never let go of her dreams or of the person she is, & with Giles by her side they make an incredible team. So proud of you Rosie!

The Giles of Linda's message is Rosie's other half. And he reckons that his Rascal is simply "WPD perfection". Physiques like THIS is what the class was created for, he wrote as the pair of them went off to celebrate. Texas-style, apparently.

Look out Las vegas, Leeds is coming!

If you dream big, don't give up when things get tough, work your arse off, and be genuine and kind to people, I do believe you can achieve anything, Rosie said afterwards. And I do believe she is flexing dancing posing proof that is very true.

Congratulations Rosie!

Follow her progress to the Big Show on Instagram.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Reader Request: Simone, Toronto 2014

I'm always asking for suggestions, for help putting this blog together, and lately there's been a terrifc response. You know we are rapidly approaching the 3m page views mark here, and maybe that's small potatoes to some, but it's a milestone nonetheless, and I couldn't have done it without you and all that. I keep doing this because people get in touch and say nice things like "been catching up on the blog - fantastic posts as usual".

How could I refuse a request after that?

Anyway, the posts said complimentary reader had been catching up on were the recent week of Size Matters posts, and last week's tributes to the muscle women of Canada. And that combination made him think of... a Brazilian?!

Thinking of size queens, I always think of the Brazilians, he explained, so this came to mind. It combines size and Canada.

Well, it certainly has size. And I suppose, yes, it took place in Canada...

One of the best posing videos I've seen (and I've seen plenty), he says. Anyone who thinks that female bodybuilders aren't sexual needs to take a long, hard look at Simone on stage.

Well, we're probably preaching to the converted here, but let's do that, shall we?

Thanks to AW for this (and other) suggestions.

Clip by and taken from the mighty watatiwatatio's YouTube channel.

Now, what's your "best ever" contest posing video?

Suggestions please!

And thank you, again, for reading.

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.