Saturday, June 30, 2007
I've always loved female bodybuilding and have attended many shows over the last ten years and despite the dedication and incredibly hard work the sport suffers. It's best spokespeople can't be deciphered as male or female by their voices. Their bodies may look remarkable but the health risks of the top few are not worth the meager winnings.
I watch the American Gladiators on reruns on ESPN Classic and despite knowing the top competitors surely used some type of illegal substance they did not introduce the types and the quantities they do now. Recently there was a mandate for 20% less muscle in the female competitions but really they were asking for a 20% reduction in illegal substance so maybe they'd be less stubble and more feminine features to go along with the advance musculature.
Mainstream acceptance may never be 100% but right now it's almost nil. Cory and Rachel were ambassadors of the sport and gave the sport some legitimacy. So where Kim and Lenda. But where is it now?
The problem cited most often is cost, but now testing is less expensive then when last proposed with high schools across the country testing. There can't be any hesitation either. You decide and you implement. Those caught are given a three year ban. Caught again? And you're forever an armature bodybuilders.
The time has come for giving bodybuilders incentive to find natural ways to get huge and see who has the best genetics...That's what all sport is about. Hard work and Genetics. Once you get rid of the third factor you'll see interest increase as well as legitimate sponsors...and that's really what's needed most.
MAJ Anderson, a Maumelle resident who serves with the Arkansas National Guard's 87th Troop Command, competed in her first bodybuilding contest earlier this month. She didn't expect to win, but she did.
"I went to the Miss Arkansas competition last year, and I looked at the ladies on the stage and thought that this was something I wanted to do. I really like that kind of stuff," she explained.
The contest was the North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation's Northwest Arkansas competition. The group's events are for athletes who do not use chemical enhancements, and participants must pass drug screens to compete.
By winning, MAJ Anderson earned berths in regional events and plans to compete later this year in a statewide contest and in Oklahoma.
MAJ Anderson's past fitness regimen had consisted mainly of running. The major said she exercises at least two hours each day.
"I still run a lot. I probably run six miles in the morning and do upper body training," she said. "In the evening, I'll work my lower body. I'll get on a stair-climber or a different type of cardio, but I do double cardio every day."
To prepare for the contest, though, MAJ Anderson sought the help of North Little Rock police officer David Baxter.
"I always had a tight upper body, but the lower body has been a problem," she noted. "My trainer at Pro Gym in North Little Rock helped me get my legs 'cut up.'"
MAJ Anderson said training for a bodybuilding competition requires focus.
"You've got to be dedicated and motivated," she said. "A lot of the training that goes with bodybuilding is working out, but the key to success is your diet. You have to eat right, which means no junk food."
The major explained that her diet consists of grilled and baked chicken and fish, vegetables and other foods such as oatmeal and egg whites. She avoids starchy foods. The lifestyle not only keeps her fit but helps her military career, MAJ Anderson said.
"I think it keeps me more motivated. I know it keeps me more fit," she commented. "I'll probably be able to max out on my push-ups on my next physical training test. I usually score 290 or better, but I should score above 300 now."
The MAJ Anderson plans to continue to train and compete.
"I'm trying to get practice, and next year I'm going to try to get my pro card
Friday, June 29, 2007
Wanda Moore of the Jackson Sport and Fitness Club won the middleweight class in the junior nationals bodybuilding championship in Chicago on June 16.
"It was a dream. I can't believe I'm 45 and got to stand on stage and win my class," Moore said. "The whole reason was to show my clients that it doesn't matter about your age or how many children you have. If you set a goal, you can do it."Moore is a personal trainer at the Fitness Club. She started competing in bodybuilding in the early 1990s. Moore said she and husband Lance , who is the club's co-owner and general manager, moved to Jackson from Southaven, Miss., about four years ago.
Moore competed against 300 to win the title.
"I spend two hours a day training with weights and cardio," Moore said.
She will compete in the nationals in 2008 in Atlanta. If she wins, she receives her pro card.
"At the professional level you can start winning money," Moore said. "Plus, sponsorships can be lucrative."
And members of the club have taken notice.
"I train six other athletes besides (Wanda)," Lance said. "It takes a lot of dedication, and they have to be strict with their diet."
Lance said the competition is popular in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, three states where Wanda has competed and won.
The builders are judged on their physique during three rounds of posing.
"I'm going to the nationals in November (2008), and I want to put on a little more size," Wanda said.
Sports - Friday, June 29, 2007 @ 16:00
Sarnia bodybuilder Maria Mikola has a tough decision to make.
Does she compete in the Canadian or World bodybuilding championships. Or both?
The 39-year-old former gymnast/turned bodybuilder recently qualified to compete at both events, and is weighing her options.
Last week, Mikola competed in the Ontario Physique Association's Ontario Championships in London, where she finished second in the Masters division and third in heavyweight to qualify for the Canadian championships in Edmonton, Alta., on Aug. 18.
However, the week prior, Mikola participated at the Canadian world qualification competition held in Toronto, placing second in the Masters division, while winning the heavyweight competition. The top lightweight and top heavyweight qualified for the trip to Spain in September for the World Championships.
It's the timing of the two championship events that concerns the five-foot-two, 125 pound Mikola.
Being just one month apart, Mikola said it will be difficult to adapt her training schedule to peak at just the right time for both competitions.
As a result, she's leaning towards the trip to the World Championships.
"This one is paid," Mikola said, referring to the trip to Spain for the worlds championships.
If she chose to compete in the Canadian Championships in Edmonton she'd have to pay her own way.
"That's why I'm debating on if I should do the Canadians or not," said Mikola. "I should be focusing more than worlds than doing the Canadian and kind of messing my training up a little bit there."
Besides, her qualification to compete in the Canadian championships is good for two years, 2007 and 2008.
"I'm not too sure, but I think I should concentrate on the worlds right now seeing as I'm qualified for the Canadians I can always do that next year," she said.
Later adding, "if I didn't qualify for the worlds I would have done the Canadians for sure."
This year will mark the second time Mikola has competed in a World Championships having represented Canada in 2003, also in Spain.
So far this year, Mikola has competed in a total of four bodybuilding competitions.
In addition to qualifying for the Canadian and world championships, Mikola made her professional bodybuilding debut at the end of March with the World Natural Sports Organization, finishing first.
In April, Mikola travelled to Buffalo, New York, and competed in a International Natural Body Building Federation event.
"This one I won the Masters class. I won the heavyweight class. The overall, and I won a WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) pro card."
In Buffalo, Mikola also won the women's side of a bench press contest held during the intermission.
"I benched pressed 65 pounds for 62 reps. The guy just said give me the bar and I said 'OK'," she said with a giggle.
"The next highest was 45 or something like that and I could have kept going," she added. "You basically did half your body weigh as many times as you could."
Looking ahead to competing on the world stage, Mikola likes her chances.
"These last two competitions I've got a lot of positive comments. Judges were saying I have the physique for bodybuilding and that I had that X shape they are looking for," she said. "They were really impressed so that's got me excited."
Mikola, who works as a professional trainer through her own M2 Fitness and Nutrition, trains at both Iron Works Gym and Sharky's Athletic Club
"I didn't even know we had a club here," she said with a laugh. "I didn't know anything about it at all."
Four seasons of heavy lifting later, Williams is inviting you to hoist a four-ounce brat in her honor.
The 18-year-old is looking to raise some serious dough so she can compete in the World Sub-Juniors and Juniors Powerlifting Championships on Sept. 4-8 in La Garde, France.
How much are we talking? Try roughly $3,000 — cash Williams will try to earn by seeking donations from local businesses and through fund-raisers like a scheduled brat fry in front of Don's Quality Market in Seymour on July 19-20.
Granted, it's going to take a pile of Johnsonvilles to put a dent in that $3,000 price tag. But raising a few grand over the summer months should be a breeze compared to the amount of iron Williams will raise inside the weight room as she continues to prepare for world competition.
She found out in mid-May she had been selected to compete on the United States Junior squad, becoming the first Seymour powerlifter — boy or girl — to qualify for the world meet.
"I'm very, very surprised," said Williams, who lives in Black Creek and graduated from Seymour in May. "It was like a huge goal of mine to make it (to worlds), but I didn't think it would be this year. I thought I would have to work for it more."
Then again, this weightlifting stuff has proven to be easier than she thought.
Williams decided to give the sport a try as a freshman at the urging of Thunder coach Dave Bauer, who saw something in Williams that she didn't see in herself.
"He thought I'd be good at it," she said. "I was pretty doubtful, actually."
Nowadays, Williams is as cool as a fighter pilot. After all, she hasn't placed lower than third in any competition and capped a stellar four-year high school career by capturing the 114-pound state championship in early March with a total lift of 705 pounds. The total is determined by combining her top showings in the bench press, squat and dead lift.
"Right off the bat, I just started doing really well at meets," said Williams, who plans on attending the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point this fall. "I just kind of found out that I actually might go somewhere if I work at it. After winning state, I felt really good."
Not as good as when she read that e-mail telling her she would be competing for the United States at the world meet.
Williams advanced after putting up a personal-best 710 pounds (154 bench, 275 squat and 281 dead lift) during the national meet in March at Alexandria, La. That was second behind a 16-year-old in the 114-pound weight class, but best among the 19- to 23-year-old age group she will be competing at in worlds.
According to Williams, athletes at national competitions compete in weight classes, whereas the world meet also divides participants into age groups. Williams said she didn't compete in two other national meets, but neither saw her 710-pound total eclipsed in the 19-23 age bracket.
"My biggest goal would be placing in the top three," Williams said of the world meet. "At least top five is what I'd really like to do."
She's also hoping to soak up the experience. La Garde is located in southern France, far from the hustle and bustle of Paris and not too far from the Mediterranean Sea.
Cool stuff for a kid who has yet to venture outside of Uncle Sam's reach.
"I've never even seen an ocean before," Williams said. "That would be interesting. And I'm excited to see the small villages. People ask if I'm going to Paris, but I'm really excited about being in a rich culture where it's not so touristy."
But plenty of hard work remains between now and then.
There's the continued training, which includes workouts about four days a week. Some of those include sessions with the Neenah lifters since the Rockets are well-versed in sending athletes to the world meet.
"They've been really helping me out a lot," Williams said. "Just how to prepare, what to expect. I'm sure I'll get a lot more nervous because of not having experience at this level and not knowing what will happen."
Then there's the fund-raising, which Williams said has just gotten under way. She's also hoping to defray some of the cost through her gig as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the Seymour High School pool.
"I think it's a huge confidence builder," Williams said, reminding herself what she truly loves about powerlifting and all that goes into it. "You can see yourself improve and see yourself getting better. And in other sports, there's so much rivalry and head to head competition.
"In powerlifting, there's obviously competition and you want to do good, but people really are respected and help each other out, even if they're from another team."
Sounds like a great reason to wolf down a brat or two.
Women in Sports is a twice-a-month column featuring women athletes in or from the Fox Cities. Ideas for future columns can be submitted to Brett Christopherson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waverley mother and bodybuilder Esther Marson reached the medal podium recently, capturing third place in her division.
After competing at the 2007 FAME national championships in Toronto, Marson reflects that the competition was tough.
“It was the most difficult competition I have entered so far because I am now competing as an advanced level athlete,” said Marson, speaking recently with Simcoe.com.
Leading up to the June 9 event, Marson was forced to combat a combination of health issues and injuries.
“However, I managed to modify my training regimen to allow for rehabilitation and recovery in order to stay focused on my goal to compete in at least one competition for 2007,” said Marson.
The injuries and personal issues weighed so heavily on her that she seriously considered pulling out of the event. But having already paid her entry fee, she knew she was committed to the event.
Prior to the national finals, Marson suffered a burn on her forearm and an allergic reaction. She also admitted her self-confidence took a beating.
A death in the family also threw off her focus, but she dug deep inside and decided to continue with her training.
“On competition day, I felt very out of place backstage because my fellow competitors’ superior financial resources were made very evident to me. They weren’t shy boasting about the hundreds of dollars they spent on their outfits, hair, and makeup, or about how expensive their personal trainers are.”
However, by the time she hit the stage, Marson was ready to perform.
“When the MC announced my name and hometown of Waverley over the PA system, my heart swelled with pride and I was ready to fight for my position amongst the thoroughbreds of bodybuilders,” she said.
Marson elected to resurrect her roller-skating program, a routine she experienced success with in 2006.
“I chose to perform on roller skates again during my routine round since this is the only entertaining talent I can display. I like to give the audience something different to look at since most other competitors just do poses to music with very little else in between,” she said.
During the awards ceremony, Marson was presented with a sterling silver third-place necklace.
These necklaces represent the 10th anniversary of the World Natural Sports Organization and were presented to only the top three athletes of each division.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have earned such a trophy in light of the obstacles I faced to achieve this. I’m not certain what my future competitive plans will be,” said Marson.
Recently, Marson received her personal trainer specialist certification through Georgian College and hopes to be working by the fall.
Until then, Marson plans on keeping herself busy over the summer with home improvement projects, while also enjoying time with husband Greg and their children.
Women's sports may have become more mainstream, but violent, high-contact sports still carry a stigma
Christy Martin is proud of the career she made for herself. Just not so proud she wants to tell every person who asks.
“If we’re on a plane sitting next to someone who asks, ‘What do you do?’ I usually answer with ‘My degree is in education’ and leave it at that,” Martin says.
The fact is that Martin is one of the most decorated female boxers in history and was once the face of women’s boxing — having appeared on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” in 1996 after winning the most entertaining bout on the disappointing Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno card that March.
It’s not that Martin, who boasts a career record of 46-5-2, is reluctant to discuss her sport. It’s the inevitable reaction that spurs her silence.
“As soon as you say you’re a female boxer, the questions go crazy: ‘Why in the world would you want to do that? Why would any woman want to get hit?’” she says.
While Saturday’s 35th anniversary of the Title IX enactment shows how far the world of women’s sports has come, it also highlights an area of continued disparity — the difference between what sports are “OK” for women to play and what sports are “men’s sports.”
No men, no interest
Because of her success, it would be understandable if the differences between acceptable men’s sports and women’s sports never showed up on Martin’s radar. It’d be akin Alex Rodriguez pondering the minimum MLB salary, albeit on a smaller scale — though he has plenty of reasons he could care, he also has 252 million reasons not to.
Appearing on the “Sports Illustrated” cover gave Martin more attention and did more to help her boxing gain mainstream acceptance than perhaps any female combat athlete in the world. She has reportedly made as much as $150,000 for a single fight. Her bloodied face in the 1996 Deirdre Gogarty fight became the everlasting image for the sport and made her an icon.
Sounds like a pretty good life.
But if Martin ever gets too complacent about her lot in life as an athlete, she has a reminder when she gets home — her husband, Jim. As her manager and trainer, Jim is unfailing in his dedication to his wife’s career. Except for one thing.
He’s a male chauvinist.
“[He’s] a lot of a male chauvinist,” corrects Martin. “I was forced on him as far as training me.”
Jim was working for a Bristol, Tenn. businessman as a trainer when Martin was dropped into his lap. To prove how much distaste he had for working with a female boxer, Jim’s initial plan was simple — have Martin’s male sparring partner break her ribs so she would never come back.
The plan never went through — Martin’s mom showed up to the sparring session and Jim dropped his orders — and eventually he warmed up to the woman he would later call his wife.
“I think after he saw that I was willing to listen, I didn’t have thhe attitude that I could come in and kick all the guys’ butts, he lightened up on me,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean he has lightened up on the world of women’s sports.”
He’s not the only one. Even when it comes to sports like golf or basketball, many men have little use for following the women’s game.
“It just doesn’t do anything for me,” says WFAN sports talk host Chris Russo. “There’s so much basketball on, I don’t feel the need to watch the women’s basketball. I’m not going to run around to watch women play. Michelle Wie, I might turn it on for a minute, but, generally speaking, I’m just not that interested. I don’t think it’s the women per se´, I just get enough out of the men’s sports in golf and basketball that I don’t feel the need to go splurge and watch the women play.
“Is it a male thing? Well, I don’t see a lot of women watching it either.”
The question is, “Why?”
Creating an even playing field for women
“Women aren’t supposed to be violent,” Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer says. “[But] somebody’s got to be [less aggressive], and it’s not going to be the guy. And yet, what about the guy who doesn’t like those manly sports, or doesn’t want to be violent? [He’s] less than a man.”
Stringer’s path has intersected with the struggle for equality incessantly throughout her career — after all, she debuted as a college basketball head coach 35 years ago, the same year that Title IX was enacted. She may turn out to be best remembered for her role in this spring’s national controversy with radio host Don Imus, but her experiences with the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (among others) conveys a history that dates back well before Imus even knew who Stringer was.
These days, Stringer’s battles in basketball are less about tolerance and acceptance than they are about exposure and interest. By and large, women who play basketball have gained the approval of mainstream society today, making the next step about sharing the media coverage and the revenue generated by the men’s game.
But that doesn’t mean Stringer doesn’t understand the uphill battle that other female athletes face in trying to gain popular acceptance.
“Sports in itself is the one last domain of male dominance,” she says. “We know that women are not going to be as strong as guys, and it just falls in line like everything else — ‘I got that and you don’t.’”
That’s not to say that Stringer — or most people who support women’s sports — are claiming women can compete on the same field as men. Stringer admits that a woman won’t be able to dunk like Shaquille O’Neal anytime in the near future; Martin says a woman should never get in the ring against a man.
In reality, it’s about taking women out of the men’s domain and creating a separate arena of competition — one that provides an even field and equal opportunities for women. It’s a step that sports such as soccer and basketball have begun to take, but the contact sports still lag far behind.
“Ha, that’s funny,” says Ann Marie Saccurato when asked if she can make a living by boxing. Saccurato, who lives in White Plains, is the WBC women’s lightweight world champion. “I pretty much pay to box: I’m currently ranked No. 1 in my weight class in the world, and I’m lucky if I see $5,000 on a fight paycheck — and that’s for two title fights. Out of that, I’ll probably walk out with $2,000 or $2,500 after paying for all the medicals, after paying off my coaches, my cut man, anybody who works my corner.
“Honestly, I’ve never been in this much debt in my life.”
That requires a full-time job as a strength and conditioning coach, where Saccurato works early mornings and late nights sandwiched around her afternoon training schedule. Most days, she wakes at 4:30 a.m. to head to the gym for work and doesn’t return until 10:30 at night. Most of the time, she’s doing it so she can fight bouts that will pay her closer to a couple hundred bucks.
Meanwhile, even some low-level professional men’s boxers can earn several thousand dollars per bout (though there are also thousands who fight for three-figure purses as well).
It’s a burden that most people can’t tolerate.
“Financially, it’s hard,” the 29-year-old Saccurato says. “I know what fights I want right now, before I take a step back, and hopefully I can get those fights in the next six months to a year, and [then] probably take a look at taking a step back and doing my job.”
No support for contact sports
Women’s boxing doesn’t even have the worst of it.
At least in boxing, there are trainers and promoters who are looking to make a buck — and in order for them to cash in, the boxers have to get their turn.
The women who play professional football have no such luck.
While more and more girls are popping up on high school football teams across the country — including the younger sister of Jets center Nick Mangold, who played on the offensive line for her Archbishop Alter (Kettering, Ohio) High team — there are few who pursue the tackle version of the sport beyond the youngest levels. And those who do receive little support in their efforts, both monetarily and assistance-wise.
“Football is my love, especially because it’s something that people said we couldn’t do, we shouldn’t do,” says Crystal Turpin, general manager of the New York Sharks. “I have to support [the women’s sports movement] even more because we can do anything and the idea that we can’t is just going to make me work harder. …We have to make liars out of them.”
The Sharks, part of the Independent Women’s Football League, have become one of the premier teams in women’s tackle football, and they are doing their part to let people know football is for women, too.
Along with Sharks owner Andra Douglas and the help of the Giants, Turpin helped organize the first NFL Junior Player Development clinic for girls in March at Giants Stadium. She believes this will help spread the word, as well as spur new playing time for girls in middle and high school.
“I don’t think we have a pool to grab from and that’s upsetting to me, because we should,” says Turpin. “It’s important because women want to do this. When you get a girl that calls you and says, ‘Can you come out and see me play? I’m playing on the boys’ team,’ that’s just wrong. She shouldn’t have to do that. She should have a league of her own. She should have a women’s league somewhere.”
For adult women, there is a choice — along with the IWFL, there are at least two other national women’s football leagues (the Women’s Professional Football League and the National Women’s Football Association) for players to choose from.
Like many women’s boxers, though, these athletes pay to play rather than get paid. And most girls aren’t even aware of the opportunities that are available.
Sharks defensive tackle Shayna Pinckney said she didn’t know about women’s professional football until she was almost 20.
“It’s just part of the fabric of our culture and something that pulls us together to root for a common goal,” she said. “And for that to be taught and given the chance to girls in high school is really important because you don’t want to feel left out of something that is a part of our American culture.”
Breaking down patriarchy
It’s not solely the fault of men that women are often left out of the discussion when it comes to contact sports. After centuries of patriarchy and reinforced stereotypes, many women still believe in the principles that women should not participate in anything involving violent contact.
“It’s been so long that we don’t know any other way,” Stringer says. “We’re happy to see our 2-year-old son try to throw a baseball and he throws it four feet and he’s the next big baseball player or the next great football player. You probably wouldn’t think that of a little girl who might throw that same ball.
“If you have a doctor’s outfit and a nurse’s outfit, you don’t expect your son to put on that little white hat.”
“Before, we didn’t think a woman could run a marathon — her body pressure would implode or something,” says Olympic bronze medalist wrestler Patricia Miranda. But now we know that they can. “So now, we can picture a woman running, that’s OK. But a woman fighting, a woman getting bruised up is a later-developing concept for people.”
Miranda — who wrestled against men while at Stanford and finished with a 3-11 career collegiate record, including one win by forfeit — had to convince her father that it was OK for her to wrestle by promising she would keep a 4.0 grade average. Her dad reluctantly agreed, lamenting that the school wouldn’t keep her from hitting the mats.
“I told him, ‘This is America, Dad, you can only sue them if they don’t let me wrestle,’” she says with a laugh.
Like many female athletes, Miranda has had to do plenty of work to remind people that being an athlete doesn’t make her any different than another person — or another woman. The questions she has to answer reaffirm that for her often.
“‘Do I do it in mud? Is there oil involved?’” says Miranda, who received her law degree from Yale this spring. “And, ‘Oh, I thought you’d be a lot bigger.’ People have the image of the WWF/WWE kind of thing.”
For other contact sports, the sexual element might be removed, but the stigma remains.
“I think that’s the biggest misconception is that there’s something wrong with a woman that would want to play [football],” says Pinckney. “My teammates and myself are well-adjusted members of society — lawyers and teachers and students and artists.”
“At first maybe people thought it was a sideshow or a freak show,” says Martin. “And now I feel like me, professionally, in boxing, that I’ve crossed over — I think boxing fans and boxing people accept me as a boxer, period. Not a female boxer or anything. Christy’s a boxer.”
Awareness starts with NCAA, ends with changing view of women's bodies
The real way to accomplish what Christy Martin has — being known simply as an athlete who happens to play a women’s contact sport — is to start from the top, according to Brown University assistant wrestling coach Michael Burch.
“We want to see fully funded women’s varsity wrestling teams at Division I, II and III levels all over the country,” he says. “We want that college opportunity.”
Burch isn’t your typical wrestling coach. Before he was hired at Brown, where he has been for six years, he was fired from his head coaching position at University of California-Davis in 2001. Earlier this year, he reached a $750,000 settlement with UC-Davis to close a six-year lawsuit that said he was fired for supporting the Title IX rights of four women wrestlers on his team.
In many ways, that puts him at odds with fellow wrestling coaches, who feel that the equal-opportunity legislation and its application have led to the unfair elimination of many college wrestling programs.
Under Title IX, schools have to provide equal opportunities in athletics for men and women — including scholarships and funding.
Because of Title IX, many colleges and universities have cut men’s programs to stay compliant, rather than take on the cost of adding extra women’s programs to match. Non-revenue sports such as wrestling are the first to go, and since wrestling programs don’t have women’s teams, they are often the easiest for schools to cut.
According to the wrestling Web site Intermat.com, there have been 445 college wrestling programs eliminated since 1972, a fact that causes many in the sport to blame Title IX interpretations for the reduction in opportunities.
“Yeah, it feels funny that a lot of my colleagues don’t agree with me,” Burch said. “I do feel marginalized to a degree because of advocating for women’s wrestling and Title IX when, basically, all the wrestling coaches are crying about Title IX destroying wrestling. But I just don’t buy it. What they mean is that it’s destroying men’s wrestling.”
Instead, Burch would like to see the NCAA add women’s wrestling programs — a costly move, but one with the potential to have a profound societal impact.
“If they’re fully funded, those programs are going to carry with them scholarships,” he says. “And scholarships will start the interest at the high school level. If girls are going to get their education paid for through wrestling, their parents are going to be at their high school’s door saying, ‘We need a women’s wrestling program.’”
With that, Burch adds, there must be a greater realization: that the entire way that women and men are perceived — through their different body types — has to be thrown away.
“This kind of change in athletics is so targeted at us changing our view of women’s bodies, the nature of women’s bodies,” Burch says, “that I think it’s not just the next step in equality for women’s sports, but one of the very next steps for people understanding true equality for women in society.”
“I see some small important steps that are taking place.”
Of course, that’s what has been said for the last 35 years.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Anthony Miller did a photoshoot which you can view on flickr. Now that yahoo has dropped yahoo photos I think more people will use flickr since webshots seems to be lest artist friendly.
Check out Kirsten here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/89923536@N00/540921490/
I browsed their female fitness and bodybuilding competitors and found a few that I think should be introduced to the world.
Check out Stacy Cox: http://www.myfamestage.com/Stacyc
and my favorite Kirsten Groody: http://www.myfamestage.com/Kgroody
Friday, June 22, 2007
Whatever it is, her power must come from somewhere.
Brockway, a 31-year-old powerlifter from Waterville, has been named the strongest woman, pound-for-pound, at the Maine Games in each of the past two years. On Friday evening, she'll be carrying the torch at the opening ceremonies for this year's Maine Games in Waterville.
"She's a phenomenal athlete," said Jeff Scully, executive director of the Games. "I thought it was very important to have a Waterville athlete, in our first year in Waterville, to have that honor."
Brockway normally squats and dead-lifts 250 to 270 pounds, and has gotten as high as 295 on squats in the gym. Those are impressive numbers for anyone, but Brockway, at 5 feet 4 and 126 pounds, looks more like a high school student than a beefy weightlifting freak.
"You don't have to be big to be a powerlifter," Brockway said. "(People) look at me and they're like, 'You lift that much?' because I'm tiny, but a lot of it's just technique, and I just think I have strong legs."
Brockway grew up in Bucksport and was a three-sport athlete in high school. She didn't get into powerlifting until a couple of years ago, when she joined the fire department and "didn't want to be the little weakling." She set a goal of squatting 200 pounds, and hit that within about two months.
"I'm a paramedic for Delta Ambulance, so I lift every day," Brockway said. "I lift people off the floor. I lift in the ambulance. You get strong that way."
In the Maine Games, powerlifting is held each March at Brewer Auditorium, in part because May and June are popular times for national powerlifting competitions. In both years she has competed, Brockway was named Female Lifter of the Meet at the Games.
"My first meet, I was a nervous wreck," Brockway said. "I had the butterflies. I thought I was going to throw up before I went out and did my first lift. After my first lift, I was like, 'Wow! This is great!' I was hooked."
While Brockway won't be competing this weekend, she will come out with the torch in front of the athletes and fans at Seaverns Field, beginning three full days of competition in the fifth edition of the Maine Games.
"That's an honor," Brockway said. "I was flattered to even be asked."
By MICHAEL ZITZ
Chattier members of Gold's Gym in Fredericksburg should forgive 60-year-old Barbara Franklin for not taking a break from pumping iron long enough to talk about her six grandchildren.
Franklin's a genuinely friendly person.
But when she's at the gym, she's deadly serious, with just one thing on her mind:
"I don't come to the gym to socialize," she says. "I have to focus when I work out."
The 5-foot, 109-pound granny's seriousness is paying off with a lean, ripped physique that's the envy of at least one of those grandkids.
Kelsi Jones is a 13-year-old rising freshman at Massaponax High School. Sometimes they work out together. Kelsi says she wants to be just like her grandma.
It's a proud feeling for both.
"She likes my muscles and my abs," says Franklin, who was born in King George County and graduated from Stafford High School in 1965.
But few teens ever get as cut as Franklin, who recently won an over-45 division of a state bodybuilding and figure competition.
Because of her low body fat, she's lean and wiry as a greyhound. And while she's not bulky, she does have muscles that seem to pop out on top of her muscles, like those in a "Popeye" cartoon.
She's proud of the way she projects vitality and power. But feeling fabulous is more important to her.
"I have so much more energy now," she says. "And I like being stronger."
Franklin, who works for Cobra Fire Protection in North Stafford, a company that installs sprinkler systems, emphasizes that the changes in her body have all come naturally.
A friend, Donnell Odoms of Fredericksburg, trained her for four years, saw competitive potential and encouraged her to push herself to the next level. So in January, February, March and April, she worked out incredibly hard, training for the bodybuilding competition this spring.
"It was unbelievable," Odoms says. "Most people that age, it doesn't happen. But she trains like a 30-year-old. Any weight I'll put on or tell her to use, she will use. I guess she didn't want to be defeated."
She lost 4 percent of her body fat in four months, dropping it to 14 percent, which is very low for a woman of any age.
Another friend, Lisa Blake, helped her with diet tips and coached her on posing for competition.
Franklin took first place in the 45-and-over women's division at the OCB Natural Figure Bodybuilding Championship in Richmond.
"I love to go as far as I can go," she says, adding that she may compete in another event in October.
"Barbara has made awesome gains," says Blake, a national bodybuilding competitor who lives in Fredericksburg. "She just transformed her body. It was amazing. People at the gym really noticed."
Even among the fittest young gym rats, heads turn when Franklin enters the room. She's not only setting an example for people of all ages, but teaching others how to follow it. She recently became a part-time consultant at American Family Fitness in Massaponax, and is certifying to be a trainer.
Franklin is at Gold's virtually every day at 5 a.m., for 90 minutes of cardio and abs work to rev her metabolism and burn calories.
Then she puts in another 90 minutes to two hours of weight workouts on different parts of her body five days a week to build muscle and increase definition.
The results--and the reaction--have given her plenty of incentive to stay on her regimen, she said. So has the way she feels.
"I just love life," Franklin says. "I just can't imagine getting old and not staying active. I want to feel young for life. Hopefully, I have a lot of young years left."Michael Zitz: 540/374-5408
Reshaping life for fitness Genoa Township's Angel Pyle quits job in sales to devote herself to new lifestyle
Four years ago, Angel Pyle was living proof that thin isn't necessarily healthy.
Her frame remained tiny, despite poor eating habits. She had no muscle.
A trip to the doctor - a "medical wakeup call,'' she calls it - forced her to rethink her life.
"I was extremely unhealthy,'' she says, looking back now. "I just ate junk food. It was bad, bad. Not a single vegetable passed through my lips.''
Pyle has reshaped her body and her lifestyle the last three years around staying fit. The 40-year-old mother of two from Genoa Township says she quit a six-figure-salary job as the sales manager for a real estate developer to devote herself to fitness full-time.
She's getting a license to be a personal trainer, in hopes of helping other women. She's writing a book about her journey, scheduled to be published later this year.
To validate her newfound passion, she competed in the NPC Junior Michigan Bodybuilding and Melissa Frabbiele Figure and Fitness Classic in Detroit on June 2.
"I was the runt of the bunch,'' she says. "These girls were much younger and had been training for many years. I felt honored to be among them. It was the thrill of a lifetime.''
This weekend, she will show off her new physique in the Great Lakes-Ironman Natural Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness contest at the University of Michigan-Flint campus.
Skip Sanborn, the owner of Lady of Livingston Fitness Center off West Grand River Avenue in Brighton Township, has been impressed with Pyle's metamorphosis from skinny to sculpted. "She went from barely lifting a 2-pound weight to 20 pounds. She has done a total transformation,'' Sanborn says.
In March, National Fitness Hall of Fame & Museum founder John Figarelli was so taken aback by Pyle's story, he made her the hall of fame's first honorary member. The hall, created in 2004, is based in Minooka, Ill.
Pyle works out nearly every day, and regularly visits her nutritionist and posing coach. Ken Pyle calls his wife "the most dedicated person I've ever met.''
"She just shines when she walks in the room,'' he says. "She has a lot more confidence in herself.''
The lifestyle changes have trickled down to her family. Her daughter Aspen, 10, recently ran her first 5-kilometer race.
When offered a trip to Dairy Queen afterward, Aspen turned it down.
Jason Deegan can be reached at email@example.com or at 810-844-2012
THE size of Serena Williams's butt got people talking last summer, but now it's the triceps and biceps of her competitors that's causing a buzz. As Williams crushed her opposition at the Australian Open, including the-then lithe Maria Sharapova, all the talk was about her powerful and voluptuous physique.
These days the game is all about having power, and now, more than ever before, female tennis players are recruiting trainers to ensure they have the strength. Even Sharapova, usually the focus of attention for an evocative dress or an off-court appearance, strong-armed the headlines at the French Open this month with a bulkier frame taking her to the semi-finals.
Two years earlier, then 18, Sharapova predicted she'd be tougher to beat with "grown-up" muscles. "You wait until I get some big, grown-up muscles," she said in 2005.
Power is one of the keys to success on the tour, says top trainer Giselle Martin. Martin (nee Tirado), who has worked with Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and now Samantha Stosur, says most of the top 15 players have a full-time trainer with them on tour.
She believes Stosur is one of the fittest on tour along with world No.1 Justine Henin and world No.3 Jelena Jankovic.
"I'd hope Sam is one of the fittest," Martin said. "I told her I'd put my house on it. I hope she wouldn't let me down. I've done sandhills with her down in Cronulla - I've seen her go all day on those sandhills.
"I'd have to say, along with Sam, Jelena Jankovic is very fit, as is Israel's Shahar Peer [No.16]. Venus and Serena have got natural fitness. Serena, she's such a powerful person. I think she's just genetically like that. She's just naturally talented. Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo are also in the top tier. You can just tell by the points who are sucking in the big ones and who's not."
Martin believes that Jankovic has made the biggest advancement with her fitness in recent times, helping her rocket up the rankings. "Jankovic looks like she's really got stuck into her fitness because she's playing those longer matches," Martin said. "She's going a lot better because of her fitness."
This week Jankovic became the fastest woman since Chris Evert in 1974 to win 50 matches in a single season.
Martin, on the WTA tour for seven years, believe the Spanish players took up the personal trainer mantra after Navratilova had become the first to preach it.
"When I worked with Arantxa, the Spanish, they really believed in the trainers," Martin said. "Before them it was Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf who really worked on their fitness."
She also noted Mauresmo and Mary Pierce as two of the first players to concentrate on strength. Mauresmo's physique was particularly controversial when Martina Hingis dubbed her "half a man" in 1999. Lindsay Davenport fuelled the fire by adding that playing Mauresmo "was playing a guy - the shoulders looked huge to me". Today Mauresmo is not as muscular as she once was.
When Stosur first came to Martin, in November 2004, she was keen to improve her fitness to take her tennis to another level. In the time she has spent with Martin, Stosur has leapt from No.65 to No.28.
"I wouldn't say she was overweight when I first saw her but she toned up a lot more," Martin said. "She's more conscious of her physical being, she had to work a little bit harder at her physical fitness at that stage rather than her tennis. She realised how important it was to her tennis to have that physical strength."
"She works really hard for it."
Genetics may have blessed Serena Williams with a powerful body and game, but it also means the world No.7 has to contend with the criticism that comes with her size. After Williams won the Australian Open last January, she had the last laugh. She found the criticism "outrageous".
"I have a large arse and it always just looks like I'm bigger than the rest of the girls, but I have been the same weight for I don't know how long," Williams said. "If I lost 20 pounds, I'm still going to have these knockers, forgive me, and I'm still going to have this arse."
Friday, June 15, 2007
NDIAN HARBOUR BEACH - You could bounce a quarter off Karen Cramer's glacier-like abs and probably get change.
The 52-year-old mother of two, with more energy than a couple of Energizer bunnies, is proud of her rippled physique.
"Check out those calf muscles," she says, flexing her right leg and showing off a pattern of capillaries and veins that sort of resemble a road map of Rhode Island.
She's in the gym by 6 a.m. six days a week, hasn't eaten a Whopper in about seven years and feels like she's in the best shape of her life.
A few weeks ago, she won the Lightweight Open and Top Overall Female awards at the Hawk's Gym Brevard County Bodybuilding Contest at Eau Gallie High's auditorium.
"I was in a state of shock," she said. "I was so nervous. No matter what you see, I'm very scared on the inside, like maybe I'm not good enough."
It was Cramer's first competitive appearance in seven years after overcoming fibromyalgia, a connective tissue disorder that results in severe pain.
"To do your best at any age is something you strive for," she said. "I've done this in my 30s and 40s. But being up there in your 50s . . . it meant a lot."
Not bad for a former flower child who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and once hitchhiked to California wearing jeans and carrying a guitar.
"I was never athletic," she said. "I was a cheerleader in elementary school -- yecch! I hated high school sports. I was a hippie."
She admits her entire family was "big."
"I was on an ice cream diet," she said, laughing. "I always wanted to be thin, but just never knew what to do. I dieted, but the weight came back. I lifted weights, I got bulky. My life was out of balance."
Then, through trial and error, she found the proper balance -- the lessons she still teaches as a personal trainer and motivational life coach (she is a licensed clinical social worker) in her private practice, called "Coach for Life," and as a member of Our Club Health and Fitness Center.
"Finally, I found the right balance between cardio, diet and weight training," she said. "Everything in life is balanced and based on three things. It takes three points to draw a triangle. Water, light and heat are needed to make things grow. I see people try one path and wonder why it's not working. But you need all three."
Cramer is 5-foot-21/2 and 112 pounds, although she dropped to 107 for the contest, getting as "ripped" as she could be without "being deathly thin." Her body fat is a lean 5.7 percent. The American Council on Exercise classifies women as needing an essential 10-12% body fat.compared to say, baseball slugger, Barry Bonds, who once lowered his body fat from 12 to 8 percent, although reports of steroid use have been linked to him.
"I'm all natural," said Cramer, who has competed in both natural and drug-tested events. "In order to win, you need symmetry, size and definition. Well, just about everybody is bigger than me, so I have to rely on the other two."
Now, she has to compete against women who make gymnastics part of their stage routine, some in spiked heels and others who have had cosmetic enhancements.
Melbourne Beach's Sharon Schwarze, a long-time personal trainer at Our Club, has been impressed with Cramer's work ethic.
"She's very dedicated," Schwarze said, "and a good inspiration for everyone. With what she's achieved . . . I mean, if she can do what she does, then maybe I'd start thinking, 'Yeah, I can do that, too.' "
Cramer, who advertises her practice on her own Web site (KarenCramer.net) and has her Toyota Celica decorated with a photo of herself running on the beach in a sundress, usually works out for a few hours with free weights, picking up 45-pound dumbbells for the bench flys, and using 30- or 35-pound weights for arm curls.
"I'm not a weightlifter," said Cramer, who has never had a coach or who's never finished worse than second place in a bodybuilding competition. "I've learned to speed up my metabolism. When you do that, you have more energy.
"People always ask me how many sit-ups I do. It doesn't matter how many. It's the intensity and the desire, and you've got to have passion. More is not better."
She only sleeps 5 to 6 hours a night and, true to her faith, she rests on Saturday, the day of the Sabbath.
She said she eats five to seven times a day, but won't publicly disclose exactly what she consumes, although "protein, occasional chocolate and a wine glass or two" are part of her diet.
"I keep my food clean," she said. "None of that fast-food stuff. I prepare all my meals the previous day and have them all ready. It's all about discipline. Sure, if I go to a restaurant, I'll order a lean steak and a sweet potato or a plain baked potato. I see people ordering salads and just covering it up with dressing. Once you can't see the separation in your food, you're in trouble, and that's what I tell my clients."
She has many fans, including her husband, and her two children, Ethan, 19, a Marine Corps reservist who is headed to Iraq later this month, and Rachel, 22, who "doesn't do weights."
Our Club coordinator Chuck Slater, a former Marine who still has a chiseled body, enjoys Cramer's contagious, friendly personality.
"Karen is a very dynamic person, the kind who can inspire others," he said. "As pretty as she is outside, she is just as beautiful inside, a wonderful person."
"She's very motivated," said Shelly Kinner, who has trained with Cramer. "She pushes you, and she's generous with her knowledge to help you do it right."
Judging by the constant smile on her face, Cramer is enjoying life.
"I can't wait to get up in the morning -- I have to beat the sun," she said. "Tomorrow morning might be a different matter, so while some people would say party to the fullest now, I try to live the fullest through discipline."
After the bodybuilding event, she at least gets to ease back into her normal weight by gaining 5 to 10 pounds.
"I can get that right away," she said, smiling. "A couple of chocolate cakes, and I'm on my way."
Better make it three. Perfect balance, you know.
By NOELLE SHORT, Enterprise Sports Writer
Posted on: Friday, June 15, 2007SARANAC LAKE — Michelle Hunt loves working out in the gym, and it shows.
For the past two years, Hunt, 28, of Vermontville, has trained as a competitive bodybuilder with the United States Bodybuilding Federation, and she is already finishing at the top.
On March 31, in her third career competition, she earned a second-place overall finish in the Plattsburgh Pro/Am held at the Plattsburgh High School, and on May 5, she took first in the heavyweight division and earned the top poser award in another natural competition held in Plattsburgh.
Hunt, who grew up in Lake Clear and was a three-sport athlete while she attended Saranac Lake High School, said bodybuilding has been a new challenge for her and it came at a good time.
According to Hunt, she suffered several severe injuries while playing rugby for the women’s Mountaineer team from 1999 to 2003, including hip and rib injuries. Although she was a standout player for the Mountaineers, making the New England Select Side U-23 Team in 2003, and helping her team finish second in Division II at nationals held in Minnesota, she said she had no other choice but to take time off to rehabilitate.
“Once rugby is in your blood it’s really hard to not play. It’s a great sport” Hunt said. “Right now I am not playing because of injuries. I am not hurt right now, but I also don’t want to be. It took a long time to rehab those injuries.”
But, in 2005, Hunt was ready to begin training again. She said she became “fairly overweight” during her time off, and once she started hitting the gym she decided to focus her training toward bodybuilding.
“I’ve always enjoyed being in the gym. Even when I was playing rugby, I would go to the gym to step up and to be a little stronger. I’m always looking to take it to the next level,” she said. “I went back to the gym to lose weight to get healthy, and I found I was having remarkable results with my body, so I decided to pursue it. I am a very competitive person, and since I was not playing rugby, bodybuilding gave me an outlet and something to focus on. I like that edge.”
Hunt, who is a massage therapist and recently received her personal training certification, said aerobic exercise and lifting weights are something she has done for many years, but maintaining a bodybuilder’s diet has been a rewarding challenge.
“Diet is 90 percent of bodybuilding. It is huge,” she said. “There are very small things that really change the balance of your body. It is such a science in terms of how tight things are. It takes a lot of commitment and dedication, and you really have to be driven to do it. The diet is what makes or breaks it.”
Hunt said that in order to stay on track she always has food with her, whether she is at work, on the road or traveling with her family, she has a cooler full of things such as egg whites, chicken, rice, potatoes and vegetables.
“Everywhere I go, my cooler and food goes with me,” she said. “I have Tupperware containers everywhere. I always bring my own food with me, because I don’t know what will be available.”
Although Hunt said that she is committed to her diet, she does have special occasions when she splurges, including celebrating her six-year-old daughter Makayla’s birthday and a post-competition dinner.
“Balancing everything is very important,” she said. “My family is most important to me even though I am extremely passionate about bodybudiling.
“It is a very fun atmosphere, because everyone who is there has all gone through the same thing,” Hunt added of the competitions. “One of the biggest things for all of us is where we are going to eat after the shows. We all go out for big meal and get back on our diets the next day. It’s a lot of fun camaraderie.”
From here on out, Hunt said that she is sticking to her training at the Salon Mirage Fitness Center and Day Spa in Saranac Lake, and will soon be switching from the USBF to the National Physique Committee, which will allow her to pursue her goal of eventually becoming a professional.
Hunt noted her gratitude for the help that Tammy Patnode, of Lake Placid, who is also a bodybuilder, has provided her along the way.
“A phenomenal person who has helped me out is Tammy Patnode,” she said. “I can e-mail her, call her, and she’s right back to me with an answer. She has been a phenomenal help with the diet and the little tricks as I was getting closer and closer to competitions and needed to make those necessary improvements in my routine.”
Thursday, June 14, 2007
By Jonah Bronstein
Greater Niagara Newspapers
— Crystal DeLuke has packed on 35 pounds since meeting her future husband seven years ago.
And she’s never looked better.
DeLuke, 26, claimed the overall figure championship at the Ms. Buffalo competition in April. DeLuke’s fiancé, Ron Primerano, trained her for the show, which was DeLuke’s first competition.
Figure is a sport similar to bodybuilding, though greater emphasis is placed on aesthetics and symmetry than muscle mass.
The couple live in Wheatfield and plan to marry in August. They met in the fitness room at Fredonia State. At the time, DeLuke weighed less than 100 pounds, frequently ran on the treadmill for over an hour and only lifted weights that were coated in rubber.
Primerano, a former four-sport athlete at LaSalle High School who discovered the iron game at a family gym in Dunkirk, approached the petite co-ed and turned on the charm.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
Not exactly the most romantic how-we-met story. But DeLuke was interested in what Primerano had to offer.
“I knew that her obviously knew what he was doing, because he was built so well,” she said. “The first thing I noticed about him was his body.”
Primerano taught DeLuke how to train (she now pulls almost 300 pounds off the floor) and how to properly feed her muscles, allowing her to put on 35 pounds of lean body mass.
“I was just a skinny runner without an ounce of muscle,” DeLuke said. “And he turned me into a figure competitor.”
DeLuke, who was born in Niagara Falls but moved to Attica prior to high school, said winning Ms. Buffalo was her greatest accomplishment to date. It’s also the high water mark for Primerano’s personal training business, which operates out of Summitt Fitness Center. Another of Primerano’s client, Niagara Falls’ Colleen Palmeri, is the reigning Ms. Buffalo bodybuilding title.
“There are only two Ms. Buffaloes,” Primerano said. “That I trained them both gives my business that added credibility.
“... Their goal was to win a show. I have many women who come to me and say they just want to lose 10 pounds. I say, ‘OK, but I think you can lose 20.’ Reaching a goal is a win for me. I can train anybody that has a goal.”
Primerano qualified for USA Junior Nationals by winning the open heavyweight and novice classes at the 2006 Ironman Classic bodybuilding competition in Syracuse. But he said seeing his clients win titles was more fulfilling than winning himself.
He’s especially proud his future wife, as much for winning the competition as her dedicated preparation. As a pharmaceutical sales representative, DeLuke often finds herself entertaining clients in restaurants, politely passing on gourmet meals.
“Crystal is the most dedicated client I’ve ever had,” Primerano said. “She didn’t take one bite of something she wasn’t supposed to eat for 16 weeks (leading up to the competition).”
Following the victory, DeLuke and Primerano enjoyed a celebratory “cheat” meal at Denny’s. DeLuke, who had dieted down to an absurdly-lean 111 pounds, guiltlessly devoured a bacon cheeseburger and fries.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
DECATUR - Paula Falk tightly grips the metal ends of two cables attached to weights on each side of her. With a slight grimace, she pulls them across her body, focusing on the muscles of her chest.
After she's done with her repetitions, she moves quickly onto the next muscle group.
"I like to get in here and get it done," she said.
Her method seems to have proved successful. Falk has been getting it done since she first picked up the weights two years ago at age 38 and has since gone on to compete in six bodybuilding shows in 18 months. Getting better and better with each show, Falk stepped up her game in May to win a card that allows her to compete as a professional bodybuilder.
"I set a goal in May 2005 to do a show in November 2005, to see what I could do and what I could accomplish," she recalled. "I won as a novice (entry level) competitor. I said I'll keep doing this as long as it's fun, and it got more fun with each show. Then I said I'll keep going until I win my pro card."
But Falk is captivated and has no plans to slow down any time soon. There is less competition for women, she said, because although bodybuilding is becoming more popular for females, still not many are interested in the commitment or overall concept.
"There are not a lot of women out there who want to work that hard, lift that hard," she said. "And so many are taking care of mommy things and household things."
Falk was the same way at one point. While in high school, her reaction to bodybuilding was "Ew, gross. I would never want to be one of those muscle women," she said with a laugh. Falk changed her thinking after meeting bodybuilder John Bauler, who is now her fiance, while working out at Club Fitness.
"I wouldn't have gotten into bodybuilding if not for him; he never pushed me, but he encouraged me," she said.
Falk said her bodybuilding has taken nothing away from her job, fiance and role as a mother; in fact, her son and daughter enjoy watching her perform in competitions and can be found striking poses and flexing their muscles from time to time, she laughed. And although there might be some negative stereotypes associated with bodybuilding, especially for women, Falk said she has received complete support from family, friends and gym-goers at Club Fitness.
"It's quite an accomplishment," said Mike Lambdin, Club Fitness owner, of Falk achieving her pro card. "It's really what you train for as an amateur bodybuilder."
And don't be mistaken between the natural bodybuilding that Falk and Bauler do and the glowing, muscle-bound bodybuilders on ESPN, Lambdin said. Falk and Bauler decided to participate only in competitions put on by the National Gym Association, which performs drug testing on every participant, so each competitor is naturally built without the use of substances. This levels the playing field and makes competing more enjoyable, Falk said.
"Anybody can do steroids," Lambdin agreed. "This is natural; to do it naturally is unbelievable. I've owned a gym for 18 years. I know what it takes to diet daily; I know it's a big ordeal."
Falk said she has two diets, an "off season" diet and a stricter meal plan for the 12 weeks before a competition. Off season brings meals that include chicken, egg whites, fish, fruit and vegetables, lean beef, whole grains and low-fat dairy. When Falk begins "dieting down," though, she cuts many of those items out of her diet.
Twelve to six weeks before a show, she eliminates foods such as beef, dairy - including cheese - and whole grains. Eight weeks out, she begins drinking one to two gallons of water a day to flush her system, and six weeks out, she eats nothing but fish, egg whites, cream of wheat and broccoli.
But, Falk warned, while she is able to drop some weight with this strict diet, it is not meant to be used year-round.
"This is not a healthy lifestyle diet; this is a precontest diet only," she stressed.
Falk also trains six days a week, with "99 percent" of her workouts being weight lifting, she said.
"I do a lot of heavy lifting, focusing on different part of the body each day," Falk said. "My personal schedule and work schedule really allow me to do this."
While Falk and Bauler would like to be able to get to the gym together, their schedules only permit trips together on Saturdays. But their continued support for each other in their relationship remains constant, Bauler said.
"To be able to share that, especially with someone you're so close to, helps a lot," he said. "It takes commitment, training, dieting; if you don't have that support, it makes it difficult to do."
Falk and Bauler will be competing in their first professional show together in September, which takes place in Atlanta. Though "ecstatic" about this opportunity, Falk realizes bodybuilding is a hobby for her and has adopted a wait-and-see approach about competing professionally.
"We'll see what happens," she said. "All I know is that I'm going to go into the show and do the best I can."
Her attitude and commitment is exemplary, Bauler acknowledged. Through her bodybuilding, Falk proves that "40 means nothing really," Bauler said with a laugh.
"We see too many people accepting getting older," he said. "She shows that it's never too late to start; there are no limits."
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
She took a break from tennis to spent time with her boyfriend, Jackie Long, on Miami beach, not far from the home she shares with sister Venus in Palm Beach.
The curvy star showed off her fuller figure in a teeny black string bikini as she swam, photographed her boyfriend and played with seaweed on Miami beach.
Thunder thighs: Serena Williams has become as well known for her formidable figure as her tennis playing
With her thunder thighs and bulging biceps, she is a formidable opponent on the tennis court. She is a former world number one and has won eight Grand Slam singles titles.
But the heavyweight player proved that size isn't everything last week when she lost out at the French Open to diminutive Justine Henin, who went on to claim the women's title.
Serena will have to put aside her loss to face the courts in two weeks time when Wimbledon opens.
She is known to draw strength from her fans' support and her faith as a Jehovah's Witness.
In a prescient posting on her website, and a marked reference to her fluctuating weight, the day before she lost to Henin, Serena wrote:
"I can't thank those of Y'all who were with me through Thick and Thin (literally) enough.
"You know life sometimes come at you strange. One day you are on top of the world, and the next day you are fighting to hold on... physically and mentally.
"U grasp onto a small string that's holding u between sanity and insanity, groping in the dark trying to find the light that can lead u out of the dark tunnel.
"Then and only then u find and realize the true people that are your friends, and the ones that love u dearly:
"The ones that are willing to be there for you whether or not you are extremely successful, or just normal... the ones that don't disappear because u don't have the face of stone.
"So I wanna thank my God Jehovah, my family, and my Fans, my True Fans for being there for me for always supporting me for making me hold on to that string."
BOLINGBROOK -- A Bolingbrook mother's quest to develop the physique of her dreams has led her to become an award-winning bodybuilder.
It's the natural way to become trim and strong, said Janet O'Hara, who recently claimed the title Ms. Natural Illinois 2007.
Anyone who puts his or her mind to a schedule of bodybuilding activities can become stronger, slimmer and healthier, she said, as she reviewed a list of about 25 clients she trains as an independent contractor at the Bolingbrook Recreation and Aquatic Complex's Lifestyles Fitness Center.
O'Hara, 49, is the winner of the Great Northern 2007 Bodybuilding Classic. She placed first in the recent contest in the Masters Division and placed third in the Open Women's Class, going up against women half her age, she said.
But she wasn't always a bodybuilding master. A few years ago she was clueless about getting in shape.
After her last child was born, she weighed about 163 pounds. She was a stay-at-home mom, part-time hair stylist and frequent visitor to the refrigerator.
"Of course I wasn't. I thought, 'That's it. I've got to do something,' " O'Hara recalled. "I couldn't have said that was baby fat, because it was several years after my youngest child was born."
So she decided to give up her job as a hair stylist and try walking, weight lifting and learning about the nutritional needs of the body.
As soon as her youngest child stepped on the school bus each day she would begin her regimen of walking for 20 minutes. She walked briskly for 10 minutes away from her house, turned around and walked briskly 10 minutes back home.
"Then I started watching what I ate. I was eating snack cakes, ice cream and baking a lot, all kinds of goodies. I started watching what I was eating and walking for an hour a day. At that point I weighed about 148 pounds," she said.
When she began lifting weights she noticed a more shapely form revealing itself.
"I always tell people start out with small goals that you can do easily," she said.
"Exercise and healthy eating habits don't necessarily come naturally. It takes planning and commitment to obtain the results we all desire. The rewards of living a fitness lifestyle are well worth the effort, and I am exited to encourage others to go for it. See what your body can do," she said.
O'Hara said her husband, Gary, and children, Kelly, 23, Keith, 20, and Cody, 15, have been supportive in her journey to better health. In fact, it was her husband who encouraged her to tryout for the contests. He assured her she could win over the 18- or 20-year-olds who competed.
Women sometimes worry about bulking up a lot by developing huge muscles, but they don't have to worry, O'Hara said.
"One of the biggest misconceptions that women, I think, hold is that they are afraid to lift heavy. Don't be," she said. "They will see magazines where the woman in the magazine is slim and she is lifting little 5-pound weights. They think that's what they should do. If you lift 5-pound weights you are going to get 5-pound muscles. Then you are going to have to go heavier," O'Hara said.
"Muscles are very highly metabolically active tissues. If you don't have enough muscle on your body (and as we age we tend to lose it) then your metabolic rate drops. That is, how many calories you are burning when just sitting still. It drops.
"But we keep eating the same. Therefore we keep gaining weight," she said.
"Also, we can lose bone density as we age. There's a danger of osteoporosis. To build bone density it's a weight-lifting exercise," she said.
She advises lifting at home with dumbbells up to 15 pounds, provided there are no medical restrictions on one's activities.
"I want to have muscle on my body because that raises my metabolic weight. Every time you lift weights you are telling your body 'I need this muscle to be maintained,' " O'Hara said.
Her new clients often need education in the way the body works as well as guidance in using the machines that can help them reach their goals. She also offers guidelines on nutrition, although she is not a registered nutritionist.
O'Hara is a certified personal trainer with the National Council of Strength and Fitness and a certified group exercise instructor with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.
"They have directions on them, but I give my clients orientation on the machines to start with. Then if they are kind of a self-starter, or they feel they can handle that, they will go for it.
"Some of the people feel like, 'Boy I really could use some guidance,' " she said.
There's a difference between using the machines and lifting free weights, she points out.
Although O'Hara has achieved a coveted place in the ranks of strength and fitness gurus, she is not entirely satisfied.
Her goals now are to add more muscle to her 122-pound frame and compete in more contests where age is not a factor. It's all about being fit.
But it should also be fun, said the fitness champion, who currently lifts 32-pound dumbbells, one in each hand, with ease. Challenges are fun for this Bolingbrook mother.
"I try to lift heavy. I don't think I build muscle that easily. My goal has always been to see how much muscle I could build on my frame," O'Hara said.
Lacey Telford and her father Derek give Chronicle readers a little taste of their award-winning physiques.
By Keith Vass
Jun 12 2007
“How many people can say they worked out and went to a bodybuilding competition with their dad?” asks Ladysmith native Lacey Telford.
Probably not many, but that’s what Telford and her father, Derek, did in Nanaimo on May 26. Both were entrants in the Vancouver Island Western Naturals Bodybuilding Fitness and Figures competition.
And they both came home with trophies.
Lacey, competing for the first time, took second place in both the fitness model and figure categories.
Derek won his age category, the grand masters, for competitors age 50 and over. He also took home second place for all light-heavyweight men regardless of age.
“Not bad for a 50-year-old old fart,” he says.
Not bad, but also not a first for him. He won the masters division (for men up to 49-years-old) last year, in just his second year of serious fitness training.
Derek gives credit to his daughter for the final push that helped him hit peak form for the competition. He usually works out alone, but for the last week before the competition, the two teamed up.
That’s when they began a workout regimen called a ‘hyper-therapy full-body flush.’
“It’s like you do one set of bicep curls, but you do 100 (repetitions), and it’s no mercy,” says Lacey.
“It’s a lot of repetitions and it’s pretty tough to do it by yourself,” says Derek.
“You kind of need somebody there encouraging you. So my daughter and I worked together that last little bit, I’d push her and she’d push me.”
Lacey says when she doubted whether she could finish her sets, her dad pulled her through.
“It’s like, no I can do this. Dad’s standing there watching.”
After the competition, grueling training gives way to gluttonous eating. It’s called ‘fat-loading’, and though it sounds strange, bodybuilders rely on it to replenish their bodies after competitions. So father and daughter went to the grocery store and dropped $100 on junk food.
“Pizza, ice cream, king-size chocolate bars – you name it, we had it there.”
They eat in 15-minute frenzies, separated by two-hour rests. Even in the middle of the night, every two hours the alarm would ring, and it was time to hit the kitchen.
As for the trophies, they’re sitting above the TV at home, says Derek.
He says his wife doesn’t mind having them there. “She doesn’t bother dusting them though, so I guess I’ll have to dust them,” he says.
The challenge for next year? The Telfords hope to add another competitor to the family stable.
Lacey’s older sister had her own workout schedule on hold this year while studying at Malaspina University-College. But with her courses winding up, Derek and Lacey hope she’ll join them next year.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Women’s bobsledder and 2007 America’s Cup Champion Jamia Jackson (Flagstaff, Ariz.) finished third in the 69 kg weight class at US Weightlifting National Championships in Schaumburg, Ill., on Saturday, May 12.
“It was a great experience competing in my first national weightlifting meet,” Jackson said. “My performance wasn’t what I wanted it to be, because I’ve lifted more in training, so in that sense it was a little disappointing. But it was a learning experience and I had a good time.”
The US Weightlifting National Championships served as a qualifier for the Pan American Games and World Championships Teams, putting Jackson against the most competitive athletes vying for a spot on the team in only her first national weightlifting competition.
“I was nervous but also very excited,” Jackson said. “I was ready to go. Once the first lift was out of the way, I was able to relax.”
Jackson placed third in the snatch with 75 kg, third in the clean and jerk with 95 kg, giving her a third overall ranking in the 69 kg weight class.
“She looked incredibly strong,” United States Olympic Committee Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Jon Carlock said. “I was pleased to see the ease with which she completed her lifts. This was only her third competition and to place third at Nationals is a significant accomplishment. She has a lot more in her for sure.”
Jackson plans to continue pursuing Olympic weightlifting, although bobsledding will remain her primary focus.
“Olympic lifting isn’t going to hurt me, it will only help,” Jackson said. “Bobsledding is my first love, but I would enjoy doing weightlifting as well.”
“None of this would have been possible if it hadn’t been for Jon and Lisa Carlock [Finance Manager for the USBSF], who made the trip to Chicago to support me. If it hadn’t been for Jon, I would never have reached this level of competition.”
Jackson will continue her off-season training at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista before returning to Lake Placid, N.Y. in October for the start of the 2007-08 bobsledding season, where she will seek to add to her America’s Cup crown. Jackson won the 2007 America’s Cup title after winning five medals in six races.
“Jackson is one of our top up and coming bobsled drivers,” Executive Director for the US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Terry Kent said. “She has potential for 2010 and beyond.”
For complete results of the meet visit U.S. Weightlifting’s official site at http://www.msbn.tv/usavision/.
Editor’s Note: Jamia Jackson is the daughter of Zearah and Betty Jackson of Lake City, and the granddaughter of Zeffie Daniels and the late Willis Daniels, and the late Zearah and Lillie Jackson, all of Jasper.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
If you saw Lauryn Williams on the street, you wouldn’t think she was the reigning world champion in the 100-meter sprint. But the 5-foot-3, 127-pound Williams has always been faster than bigger, taller athletes; in elementary school, she outran boys five and six years her senior. “That’s when I started to know I had talent,” the 23-year-old Williams says. At 20, she won the silver medal in the 100-meter dash at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The next year she earned gold at the World Championships, a title she’ll defend this August in Osaka, Japan. So how is it that someone so small can run so fast?
Because she had short legs and an unorthodox technique, Williams wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. But the women’s track coach at the University of Miami, Amy Deem, saw her potential. The two have worked together ever since. “She had frequency,” Deem says, referring to Williams’s high stride rate. Most elite female sprinters take about 4.6 steps per second; Williams takes 4.9. What separates Williams from the pack is her ability to get her feet off the ground quickly. “The difference between not making the Olympic team in the sprints and making the team is a ground time of less than a hundredth of a second,” says Ralph Mann, who studies runners’ biomechanics for USA Track and Field. Williams reminds Mann of five-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson. “The coaches call them freaks,” Mann says, “because their turnover is simply out there.”
“If I want to decrease my ground time, I want to get very, very powerful so I can explode off the ground,” Mann says. So in the off-season, Williams builds strength. Squats and bench presses prepare her to burst out of the blocks and drive through each step. As the season approaches, she shifts to lighter weights to work on quickness. Her muscles, like those of most speed athletes, have a high percentage of fast-twitch fibers, which contract the muscles faster. “The slow-twitch fibers take longer to reach their peak tension, whereas the faster ones can peak really fast,” says Dr. Bob Adams, the head of USA Track and Field’s sports medicine and science committee.
Power is only a starting point. What’s essential is “the coordination of the firing of muscles at the right time in the right order in the right pattern,” says Lisa Kearns, Williams’s physical therapist. In a sport where hundredths of a second separate the best athletes from average ones, runners must have flawless technique and perfect balance. “The center of the body must be stable so there isn’t wasted motion,” Kearns adds. “The more they’re able to stabilize through their pelvis and their core, the more efficiently the legs will respond to the messages being sent by the brain.” When Williams was younger, she ran in an inefficient crouch. “She didn’t have a lot of what a track coach would call ‘front-side mechanics,’ ” Deem says. “Her hips were rotated back, she was leaning forward when she ran and everything was happening behind her.” Deem taught her to stand up straighter and keep her center of mass in line with her hips. This has lengthened her stride. “We’ve shifted her hips underneath her,” Deem says, “so that she can bring the knee and the leg through in a better range of motion.”
Even the best sprinters in the world slow down during the last 10 to 15 meters of the 100-meter dash. They just decelerate less than their competitors do. Williams trains at longer distances to develop stamina. The 100, she says, seems easy after sprinting for 250 meters: “That’s far. I call it the marathon.” Most sprinters are now so specialized that they have trouble at different distances.
None of this matters, though, without the requisite mental toughness, which would seem like a given but isn’t. A sprinter’s “talent is very fragile, and it requires tremendous dedication,” says Ralph Vernacchia, a performance consultant who has worked with the United States Olympic track team. “Williams is the kind of athlete who thrives on the big-race.” Deem says, “She’s, very competitive, and that’s what sets her apart in a lot of ways.” Well, that and pride. “My thing at the Olympics was, I would be on national TV,” Williams says. “I just couldn’t beout there losing with everybody in the whole country watching.”
Ambitious Becky Williamson is aiming to muscle in on the bodybuilding big time.
The mother of one has set her sights firmly on reaching the pinnacle of the amateur ranks.
Becky, 34, who has lived in Chorley for the last eight years, came runner-up in her section at the National Amateur Body Building Association (NABBA) Britain finals last month, held at Southport Theatre and Floral Hall.
In April she scooped the North West title and is now back in full training for a tilt at the Universe finals, also in Southport in October.
She finished second in the trained figure' section at the British finals, the Westhoughton-born single mum and was delighted with her placing.
She was runner-up in last year's Universe event and although she knew she had a lot more work to do, having taken a couple of years out from the competition circuit, the feedback from the judges was very positive.
"I was really pleased to come runner-up," said the former personal trainer, who took up bodybuilding initially to lose weight and tone up before being spotted by a nutrition company who offered her a sponsorship.
"I put a lot of hard work in. For four months, I sacrificed my friends, my social life, virtually everything. But it was worth it."
Her strict and punishing training regime is very tough and requires immense dedication and commitment.
"I do about three to five hours training every day as well as working full time as a cook in a local pub."
Becky trains at the Ironman Gym, Preston, and puts in hours of cardio work on the stepper' at her terraced Chorley home where she lives with her young son Hayden, seven, and pet terrier, Zak.
"Hayden's my rock, without him I couldn't have done it," stressed Becky, who also paid tribute to John Bridge, owner of Ironman, other supporters at the gym and all the close friends who have cheered her on.
Come this autumn, Becky could well have more than the world at her feet - it could be the Universe!