Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More and more women plunge into body building

BEIJING, July 31 -- Lu Yiran walks out of the Pilates classroom with a group of girls and the 45-minute class has worn her out. She passes the weights area, but doesn't feel capable of doing her usual three successions of dumbbell lifts. She then tries to run on the treadmill and after a mere 5 minutes, stops breathlessly.
A model shows how to use a fitness machine at an international bodybuilding fair held in Beijing last Friday.Insert: Members of a gym follow their trainer in a workout session on May 3, 2006.

A model shows how to use a fitness machine at an international bodybuilding fair held in Beijing last Friday.Insert: Members of a gym follow their trainer in a workout session on May 3, 2006. The gym was packed during the week-long May Day holiday. (Xinhua Photo)
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"I have never felt that exercise can be so painful," says the 29-year-old.

"I was physically strong 10 years ago. I ran 3 kilometers every day and did 60 sit-ups in a row." As a member of the Mountain Climbing Team of Peking University, she once easily went through the intensified training.

Like many other white-collars, Lu sits for most of the time at work, and gave up physical exercise years ago. About a month ago she became obsessed with the extra fat on her waist and thighs, so she purchased an one-year membership at a gym near her apartment. But she can't guarantee a regular workout even on weekends.

"Sometimes I work overtime on Saturday. So on Sunday, I would rather sleep, go shopping and meet friends than workout," she says.

"It takes you hours to prepare, to exercise and to take a shower. When I'm back home, I'm too exhausted to go out and have fun. That is also why many people like me avoid the gym."

She wonders whether she can regain good curves before her enthusiasm for fitness burns out.

Her concerns are echoed by a large female population in the fitness centers, who, as the summer rolls on, plunge whole-heartedly into body building.

"During this time of the year, we usually see an increase of women members," says Chen Baobing, who works at a fitness center in Beijing. "Through training programs, they hope to fit perfectly into their short, tight clothes."
However, many female gym-goers agree that a workout is one of the hardest things they can do and many have unrealistic goals.

"About 95 percent of women come to lose weight, even though many of them actually don't need to," says Gao Xue, a personal trainer at a health club.

Gao says that many women are not plump, considering the percentage of their weight against height. But doing appropriate workouts can help reduce the amount of fat and build up muscles, which enables them to look slimmer even though their weight changes little.

But most women come into the gym in the hope of losing 10 kilograms or more quickly. They might weigh much less after the first few workouts. But a few weeks later, they will be disappointed that they achieve no further progress.

"They feel discouraged and thus cut down gym frequency till they finally quit," Gao says.

The expert suggests that keeping fit should be the first goal on people's workout agenda. And it is necessary to take a thorough physical assessment before people throw themselves on a treadmill.

"I keep all my assessment records," says Lu. "They help me get a better idea of my body and choose a proper training program.

"They also protect me from possibly getting hurt during exercise," she says, adding that many people do not realize the importance of a regular assessment. She says many people think it is some promotion trick.

Unlike the crowded treadmill area and spinning room, the weights room usually displays a noticeable gender imbalance as males overwhelmingly outnumber females. Women gym-goers passing by the weights room sometimes throw a careless but admiring look at the muscular guys working out there. But if they see girls lifting barbells under the instruction of personal trainers, they change into disapproving expressions.

Yan Yu used to share the same critical attitude. "Every time I walked across the area, I saw all men there, struggling with scary equipment," she says. "I said to myself: 'It is men's stuff, unsuitable for us'."

She lists another three reasons why girls avoid the strength training: It makes them look muscular, it is boring, and it brings wear and tear.

Yan started a personal strength-training program in March, and has almost completed the fourth session (12 classes per session).

The positive changes in her body have proved how absolutely wrong she used to be. "I became tired easily, and I felt terribly sore after the first few classes," she says.

"Now I can bear the intensity and my endurance has obviously improved. The class is not at all tedious, because my trainer teaches me a lot about workout in the right way.

"The most cheering thing is that I've lost nearly 10 kilograms. I am slim and my arms and legs do not look fat any more."

"Everyone needs strength training," says trainer Gao Xue. "It develops our muscles, shapes our bodies, protects our bones and stimulates our basic metabolism. It helps with the fat removal in aerobic activities." Gao emphasizes that women should add weights into their gym program.

Yu says that almost all her roommates engage in the strength training. "We see benefits and feel happy during the training. All the unreasonable worries and suspicion have faded away," she says.

Meanwhile, not all gym-goers gain improvement even after a period of regular trainings.

"If that happens, the problem is highly likely to be outside the gym, which means improper diet and irregular life," says Chen Baobing.

He explains that some members put on weight because they eat much more after workout than they previously did.

And it is not uncommon among girls to abandon rice and wheaten food or become vegetarian, mistakenly thinking that helps lose weight.

Yan Yu quit eating rice after she began working out at the gym four years ago. She saw instant results but her weight bounced back when she consumed too much meat. She tries to have more rice, bread, vegetables and fruits as her trainer suggests.

"I know I should readjust my eating habit. But it is just too difficult to control your mouth," she says.

Her trainer also asks her not to stay up late and to get up early to have breakfast. "I always have a feast-like dinner, and don't feel hungry at all in the morning," she adds.

Gao Xue asks his members who have the same problem to write down what they eat. "The way they live outside the gym is out of our trainers' control. We can tell them what to do, but it depends on themselves."

Both he and Chen believe that cultivating a regular workout habit is most important, whether people exercise in the gym or not.

"Chinese should incorporate the exercise into their lives, in which they really enjoy themselves," Gao says.

(Source: China Daily)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pumping Iron!

25 July 2007
Kina Elyassi
Bodybuilder tournaments are popular in America. While audience members shout encouragement to their favorite contestants…

ANNOUNCER: "Quarter turn to the right."


The bodybuilders smile and flex their muscles for the judges who are grading them.

Participants can be penalized if they do not correctly follow the announcer's instructions, which can sometimes be confusing.

ANNOUNCER: "All right, ladies. Now, what I want you to do is, number four, walk around behind the line behind you."

SPECTATOR: "What!" (laughter)

At this tournament, held at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC, some of the loudest applause was reserved for one female bodybuilder.

Kina Elyassi
Kina Elyassi
Her name is Kina Elyassi. Her goal is to excel at bodybuilding, for herself, and women everywhere, especially in Iran. Elyassi was born in Iran, where women's rights are a sensitive, contentious issue. "There (are) so many talented women in Iran, but you can't change culture overnight. It's something that takes time. That's something I can't do. But what I can do back here is to try and help them, and educate them by living a healthy lifestyle," she said.

A lifelong athlete, Elyassi's athletic career appeared to be on the downswing after injuries and giving birth to her two children. Bodybuilding changed all that.

"The reason I picked up bodybuilding is, one, I had gained so much weight with my second pregnancy. And I wanted to regain myself emotionally and, mostly, physically back."

Somewhere on the path to regaining her athletic form, Elyassi became passionate about bodybuilding. As with other sports she has played, Elyassi felt driven to be the best at it.

Jimmy Choy
Jimmy Choy
Jimmy Choy is Elyassi's publicist and a long-time friend. "Next thing I know, she's breaking, like, records in the bench press. And she's had interviews by other media personnel, saying here's a Potomac Mom, pushing five thousand pound (2200 kilograms) cars, or leg pressing 1,800 pounds (800 kilograms)! For a female with her body frame, that's unheard of."

Before bodybuilding, Elyassi was an amateur boxer and martial artist, excelling at both.

Elyassi gets her love of sports from her father, Mahmoud, who also plays several sports. In a way, Elyassi was following in her father's footsteps. "There were six girls in the family and one boy, my brother being the youngest. And my dad really wanted a boy. So he kind of handpicked me and showed me the ropes of pretty much every sport, from wrestling to boxing to tae kwon do."

Mahmoud Elyassi is also a martial arts expert. Knowledge of martial arts was a necessary skill in his former line of work: during the 1970s Mahmoud was chief bodyguard to Iran's King Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi. Mahmoud wanted to pass along his knowledge and love of sports to his children - especially his daughter Kina. "When I was, look at Kina, she was very interesting, for body, and strong kick. So she liked to continue the martial arts, or whatever. And then, from six or seven, she was always with me."

Elyassi's physical abilities, and her strong desire to win, have served her well. She has won more than 700 awards in boxing and martial arts. Now, she is looking to add some bodybuilding awards to her collection.

Elyassi placed second in this Washington tournament, good enough to qualify for Team Universe, a national level tournament held in mid-July. But second place is not good enough for Elyassi. Just two days after the tournament, she was back in the gym.

Sean Rhoden is one of Elyassi's trainers. A bodybuilder who once finished second in Team Universe, Sean sees in Elyassi considerable physical and emotional strength. "Kina is a different individual. She's not your average housewife. She's basically hardcore. It has to be loaded up or nothing at all."

Like most working mothers in the U.S., Elyassi must balance her professional career with raising her children. It is a challenge, but like other challenges in her life, one Elyassi is willing to accept. "It's tough. Especially if you have a family, and you have to have a career and work out the same time, it's tough. But if you find time, and you have the desire to achieve what you want, you can always find the time to do it. And you can do it."

Throughout her life, Elyassi has been driven by her desire to be the best, for herself and as an inspiration to others. Perhaps one way to better understand Elyassi can be found in her own words, from a 2001 interview: "The fruit at the end of the branch is the sweetest, but reserved for those that have the courage to reach for it."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pumped about pumping iron

By MARK SINGELAIS, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Saturday, July 21, 2007

ALBANY -- Rachael Mayer of East Greenbush left Columbia High School only three days into her senior year last fall. She decided to focus on her powerlifting career and her graduate equivalency degree

"I was just big into lifting and everything," Mayer explained last week. "It's not necessarily why I decided to (leave Columbia). I guess it was a lot of reasons. It wasn't any one thing, like 'I'm not going to school because I don't want to be educated.' "

Her classroom is a converted warehouse known as Cutting Edge Sports Sciences, the training facility off Central Avenue where Mayer has developed into an elite powerlifter.

Mayer, 17, is a three-time world champion aiming for a fourth title at the Amateur American Powerlifting Federation finals in Chicago on Aug. 4.

Mayer, competing in the 16-17 age group, is competing in the 165-pound class for the first time after winning titles at 132 (twice) and 148. She said her time away from school this year has helped her get bigger and stronger.

"Even though it's not necessarily why I left (school), it gave me more concentration," she said. "I didn't have to focus on other things like work and tests and people that I went to school with."

The 5-foot-4 Mayer has increased her personal bests in competition to 345 pounds in the squat, 198 in the bench press and 281 in the dead lift, for a total of 824 pounds.

Trainer and powerlifter Dyke Naughton, who runs Cutting Edge, said he's proud of Mayer's improvement.

"It's really exploded in the last six months," Naughton said. "Her bench has really exploded."

Mayer recently visited with Bill Crawford, an expert in bench training based in Lake George.

Yet she doesn't want to be known solely for her muscles. Her mother, Patti, said that led partly to her decision to depart Columbia.

"There's other elements to people's personalities," she said. "Even though she does this (powerlifting), she has a tendency to be sensitive toward how people feel and what they're thinking. And all the stuff that goes on at school, she just doesn't like it."

Rachael Mayer took the GED test in late June, a couple of days after her class graduated.

"I only had to take the test once, even though I'd been out of school for a year and didn't really do too much studying," she said.

Mayer plans to attend Hudson Valley Community College and might pursue a career in cosmetology. The blonde models part-time and won prizes for her entry in a Got Milk? campaign in Seventeen magazine two years ago.

"When people think of me they think I'm some huge, big, heavy girl, and I'm not," Mayer said.

Mayer also enjoys being behind the camera; she's an amateur photographer. But she feels most at home in Dyke Naughton's gym, with the sounds of AC/DC thumping in the background.

She began training at Cutting Edge as a 9-year-old gymnast before she got tired of the sport and switched to powerlifting at 12.

She spends two days a week, four hours at a time, pumping iron in the no-frills gymnasium.

"That's what I love abou

Singelais can be reached at 454-5509 or by e-mail at msingelais@timesunion.com.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Anabolic Steroids Have Unintended Effects In Women

One User Says She Has Developed Mannish Features
Many more women are abusing steroids, and the results can be both dangerous and disturbing to see.
Peggy, who did not want to provide her real name out of fear that she might lose her job, is one such woman.
She said her powerful addiction to anabolic steroids has changed her from head to toe, resulting in toned muscle development and mannish features.
Peggy said that the drug has made her lose sight of who she is. She said one day she walked into a locker room and someone said she was in the wrong place.
As a young woman, she was a marathon runner battling an eating disorder. She wanted to develop her muscles and was insecure, so she turned to the synthetic male hormone.
Officials said steroid abuse is not limited to high-school and college-age athletes. Researchers said girls as young as age 9 are using the drug to get a leaner, more toned look.
Peggy has spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery to correct an enlarged Adam's apple and man-sized bones in her face, all a result of abusing steroids.
Her hands are bigger than those of the average woman and even though the steroids made her stronger as a bodybuilder, her frame is now giving out.
She has three bulging lumbar discs and ruptured tendons in her biceps. She is also in constant pain.
She said she got very strong after taking the drugs, but she does not like the side effects, which include a lowered voice.
Personal trainer Al Biananci, owner of Bianaci Fitness Training and Rehabilitation in Sacramento, said he has seen anabolic steriods become an equal-opportunity drug for men and women.
In addition to the side effects you can see, woman who abuse steroids also have an increased risk of heart and artery disease.
Biancani said many body changes take place, including ligiment damage and problems with the liver and kidneys. Women who take the drug also experience changes in the jaw, facial hair, smaller breasts and smaller hips.
Despite the aches and pains and unwanted physical changes, Peggy is now injecting a popular underground steroid known as Masteron.
She said he has gotten use to living a neutral life, not quite being a woman and not quite becoming a man.
Peggy has divorced her husband and said she has instead developed a longterm relationship with the drug.
Copyright 2007 by KCRA.com.

Muscle & marriage: Bodybuilding champs redefine strong relationship

When Billy and LeQuida Sanders go to the grocery store, their first stops are the bakery and the candy aisle.

Just to look.

"We'll stare at all the stuff. I'll say, 'Ooh, I'd buy that' - meaning probably a pound cake. I crave pound cake," says LeQuida, 34. "And Billy loves candy.

"But then we'll go and get what we came for - water and grapefruit."

The Sanders are one of the few husband-wife bodybuilding couples in the Southeast. They will compete in Saturday's Mississippi Bodybuilding and Figure Championships at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson. About 60 competitors are expected.

"Bodybuilding takes a great commitment," says Billy, 41, a Jackson police officer. "And it's not just the workouts. Anybody can go to the gym. It's the dieting that keeps a lot of people from doing this. And having my wife go through it with me makes it a lot easier."

"The diet makes you grumpy," LeQuida says, laughing. "But at the end of the day, we realize it's the diet making us that way and it's not anything personal. We never go to bed without saying 'I love you' and we pray every morning before he goes out that door. Being a police officer, we know he might not come back home in one piece. So we make sure we keep things in perspective."

The "grumpy" diet consists of oatmeal, egg whites, turkey breast, fish (with no seasoning), asparagus, broccoli, grapefruit and up to three gallons of water daily. Supplements include B-12, B-6, Glutamine and an occasional fat burner.

They work out at the Courthouse Racquet & Fitness Center on Lakeland Drive twice a day Monday through Saturday - cardiovascular for 45 minutes in the morning followed by a two-hour workout in the evening. Sunday's session consists of cardio only.

Apparently, they have found the right formula. Billy and LeQuida won the overall titles at the NPC Southern Cup in Bossier City, La., in May.

Both had always worked out. "I'd get a (muscle) burn, but that would be about it," LeQuida says.

But in 2001, Billy attended the Mississippi Bodybuilding and Figure Championships.

He happened to take along his video camera. "We were watching the tape one night, and I just couldn't believe these people. I loved it right way," LeQuida says. "I told him right then, 'I'm going to do that.' I think he thought I was joking."

LeQuida sought the help of one of the women she had seen competing in figure, Kim Jones.

"I could hear her passion for it over the phone," says Jones, a personal trainer and owner of Miss Kim's Gymnastics and Cheerleading workout center in Raymond. "As a trainer, when you find someone who wants to soak up information like a sponge, it's awesome.

"But I put her through some tests," Jones laughs. "If we trained sort of easy one day, I'd be so hard on her the next day I thought she was going to quit. She would get upset, not answer her phone. But she would always show up the next day to work out."

After watching LeQuida in her first competition, in Tunica in 2002, Billy decided to start bodybuilding, too.

"I think I impressed him," LeQuida says with a smile.

Her first three years, LeQuida competed in the figure division, which focuses on lean and toned muscles rather than mass. "But I wanted more action," she says. Two years ago, she switched to bodybuilding.

She gets some stares.

"I have a lot of women turn their noses up at me," she says. "I've even been told 'That's not very lady like.' But I just smile. I tell them this is the lifestyle I've chosen, and as long as I put the Lord first, I know I'll be able to live it."

She and Billy also get the inevitable question about whether they used steroids. Competitors at this weekend's competition won't be tested for steroids, but LeQuida says, "I've never done steroids. It took me five years of hard work to look the way I do. You don't have to do steroids if you eat right and work out correctly."

Billy adds: "People bring it up all the time to me. What they don't realize is that we're in the gym seven days a week - rain, shine, sleet or snow. The way we look is not about steroids."

But LeQuida says she understands why people ask because her appearance changes - even her facial features - every year. "The more muscle I add, the more different I look," she says. "But that's OK with me."

Since she's been competing, LeQuida's biceps have grown from 9 inches to 20, her waist dipped from 25 to 18 and her body fat decreased from 16 to 9. She stands 5 feet 3 1/2 inches and weighs 143 pounds.

"I love it," says Billy, who is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds. "I want her to get bigger and bigger."

Their four children, ages 13 to 20, love it, too.

"They take pictures of us to school - and we always have to make career day," says LeQuida, who owns Lady Of America fitness gym in Flowood. "We'll have kids mashing and poking on us ... but all of that is part of the fun.

"Like I said, this is not for everybody. But it's perfect for Billy and me."


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An astronaut's voyage to good health

Say you're up in a space shuttle and an emergency requires you to evacuate. A small overhead window is your escape route: you fit through it in a bulky orange spacesuit or, well, it's "Houston, I've got a problem." That, quips NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham, is pretty good motivation to maintain a healthy weight.

The Seabrook woman was part of the seven-member Discovery crew in December 2006, a mission she spent years training for. Her healthy lifestyle includes a good diet, lots of exercise and looking out for others through the Gulf Coast Apollo Chapter of the Links Inc., and the Sickle Cell Association of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Her diet

Lots of turkey and seafood, veggies and fruit. When training, she often took her own food. But on board Discovery, well, space food isn't low fat or low cal.

Fitness regimen

She spent four years as a competitive bodybuilder (placed third in her first competition), but still does more routine strength training combined with running, bicycling and treadmill workouts 5 to 6 days a week.


Higginbotham says exercise is the key to alleviating stress. But sometimes she just likes to get away from everything and spend a weekend not worrying about work or other responsibilities.

Her guilty pleasures?

Red licorice.

Looking to build on her success; Bodybuilder set to compete at national level

Harrison SmithLisa Jemison

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - 12:00

Local news - For someone who got into bodybuilding "just to get into shape," Kim Birtch has more than succeeded.

Since 2000, Birtch has competed in bodybuilding competitions at the regional, provincial and national levels. Last month, she placed first in her weight class, and overall, in the Ontario Provincial Championships.

She also has a website on which she sells her own workout DVDs, and recently landed a small part in a movie, playing the role of a female bodybuilder. She's sponsored by Better Bodies Nutrition, who provide her with the necessary supplements as well as workout clothing. And she doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.

"I want to take it as far as I can go," said the 30-year-old Kingston resident.

Next month, she's headed to Edmonton to compete in the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation national championships.

"I'd like to win. Definitely, I want to place in the top five," she said.

And if she comes into the competition as she should, Birtch added, winning is a realistic goal.

"It all comes down to the day of the competition," Birtch said. "It doesn't matter how you look the day before or week before."

In the weeks before competing, every day, twice a day, Birtch does cardio workouts - often at the YMCA, where she's been training "since the beginning" - to tone up for the competition.

It's the days and hours just before the competition, however, that determine a successful performance.

Bodybuilders have to follow a strict diet in order to best accentuate their muscles on the day of the show. Birtch starts her pre-contest diet about 20 weeks before each competition, consuming a lot of protein in the days leading up to the show. She also carefully regulates her liquid intake in the days and hours before the competition.

Even being off by an hour, Birtch said, can affect the way you look going into the show.

A bodybuilding competition consists of two parts, she explained. The first half is the compulsory show, in which contestants hold five different poses in succession to show off almost every muscle set in the body.

Judges look for muscle composition, symmetry and overall conditioning, Birtch said. It can be tiring, she added, because, depending on how many women are competing in each class, you may have to hold your poses for up to 40 minutes while the judges study each contestant.

"The evening event is more for the audience," Birtch said. Each contestant prepares a 60- to 90-second routine in which they pose to music.

"I've done [that part] all on my own," she said. She picks her own music, and choreographs the poses.

For the provincial competition last month, Birtch had a friend who's a DJ remix S.O.S. by Rihanna for her.

"I won my weight class, and won overall in the comparison round," Birtch said. She competed in the heavyweight division.

"I compete in a tough class, against really good bodybuilders," she added.

"To beat them was fabulous."


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Woman muscles her way to title

Guns. The woman has guns.

Try to squeeze Janet Guenther's biceps and you'd better use both hands to wrap around the muscled mass of her upper arm. She makes bodybuilding her life and has the titles to prove it.

Not such a huge deal for a 24-year-old, but Guenther turns 57 in August. In April, the Edmonds Community College physical education and health instructor was named overall master champion in the women's master's bodybuilding over-50 class at the 2007 Emerald Cup Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships in Bellevue.

It's the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in our state, she said.

Next Guenther is off to the National Physique Committee Team, Collegiate and Masters Nationals at the end of July in Pittsburgh.

It's hard to believe her training regime. It's almost around the clock.

Especially since Guenther has diabetes and wears an insulin pump. Not only does she eat for fitness, she eats specifically to keep her diabetes in check.

We're talking a day with protein shakes, half a small potato, one wheat tortilla chip with peanut butter, teensy portions of chicken or fish, maybe an egg-white omelet and an ounce of hot cereal.

One ounce. Just a slurp for most of us.

When she finishes a competition, her splurge is one Starbucks blueberry scone.


After competing, she might reward herself with one Mexican beer.


She hits the weight room at 5:30 a.m. To switch things up, she runs stadium stairs for an hour.

"You can never be too strong," Guenther said. "You focus your whole life on it.

Not her whole life. She rides a Suzuki motorcycle, has taught at EdCC for almost 30 years, helped raise two stepchildren and owned a farm in Stanwood.

At the ranch, the former rodeo queen tossed 14 tons of hay in the barn in two days, by herself.

She is a total inspiration to Stephanie Singer, 20, from Arlington, who is a student at EdCC and a fledgling bodybuilder. Singer saw her idol compete.

"She was gorgeous, so fit, words can't even describe it," Singer said. "Her muscles popped. Jaw-dropping."

Singer said the superwoman took her along snowboarding last winter, a sport that also improves muscle tone.

"She is amazing. I get up at 4 a.m. to join her training. It's addicting."

Raised on farms in Eastern Washington, Guenther played Division 1 basketball at Washington State University. At EdCC, as she was training with a serious lifter, she entered a bodybuilding competition when she could bench press more than 200 pounds. She eyed a 50-year-old woman, in excellent shape, and decided to devote her life to the sport, she said.

There were setbacks. Diabetes came in 1991, but the diet fit nicely with her healthy competition eating habits. In 2003 she ruptured discs in her neck that required a spinal fusion and a year of recovery.

Guenther came back in the best shape of her life, she said. She weighs about 135 pounds, is 5 feet 7 inches tall and has less that 10 percent body fat.

We hear a lot about athletes taking steroids these days to bulk up.

"I'm a natural," Guenther said. "I can't compete with the chemical women."

As a typical female, she has least-liked and most-favorite parts of her body. She said her worst body part is her lower thighs, but she has great deltoids, including extreme definition in her back.

She practices competition poses for an hour a day.

There is a downside to bodybuilding, she said. Guenther has to shave, everywhere, including having someone run a razor down her back before she competes.

And folks keep asking her to move furniture.

Columnist Kristi O'Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@heraldnet.com.

Azle bodybuilding quartet places in ‘natural’ competition at AHS

Thursday, July 12, 2007
MARK K. CAMPBELLAzle bodybuilding quartet places in ‘natural’ competition at AHS

It took a lot of work – both by the athletes on stage and behind the scenes by volunteers – but the first American Bodybuilders Association (ABA) stop in the Metroplex at the Azle High auditorium July 7 was a rousing success.
Four local athletes picked up trophies in the competition.
Trey Derryberry, an Azle High student, won the 13-to-15 year old plaque.
oe Brownback, Class of ‘07, claimed a pair of runner-up awards – in Teen Open and Novice.
Azle resident Ashley Arellano, a Springtown High grad, won the Female Novice division and finished second Overall.
Mark Milton took third in Novice Men and fourth Overall.
“It was fun for the younger kids and older ones, too,” organizer Trey Shearer said.
Winners qualified to compete in a San Antonio ABA event in October.

All Azle athletes train locally at either Body Exchange or Workout, Etc.; both business assisted with the competition, Shearer said.
“Without them, we couldn’t have had the success we had,” he said.
A major player in the positive outcome of the show, Shearer said, was fellow bodybuilder Koan Bice, another Azle resident.
“He was behind the scenes taking care of the athletes, making sure they knew where they were supposed to go,” Shearer said.
“He was the backbone, the guts of the show. He helped find a venue, get trophies together, find sponsors – we’re a non-profit organization. Any money that comes in goes back to the athletes.”
Top winners received broadswords, shipped in from California, provided by organizational presidents.
The show was conducted under the strict auspices of the ABA, an organization that insists on athletes being drug free.
Immediately upon arrival, entrants had to provide a urine test. Any failure – after subsequent testing (a ‘B’ sample and a polygraph and, if necessary, a blood test) – results in permanent expulsion from the ABA.
“You are either natural or you aren’t,” Shearer said. “There are no ifs, ands, or buts.”
Aside from the bodybuilding competition, several women, many from Weatherford, competed in a fitness category.
Entrants came not only from nearby municipalities but distant Texas cities as well as from Louisiana and California. Far more than expected came to compete, Shearer said.
“It went well beyond anything we had expected,” he said. “We were hoping for ten athletes and we ended up with 32.”
A fine crowd arrived at the AHS auditorium to watch, too.
“Our attendance for the morning and evening show together was easily 500 to 600 people. It was such an awesome experience,” Shearer said.
He added that the success of the show meant that another one is planned for Azle. “The wheels are already turning; I’ve already started. Lord willing, it’ll be bigger and better,” Shearer said.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lyris Cappelle Profile

For those who like progression shots.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lenda Murry Interview on Bodybuilding.com

I miss Lenda Murray the competitor. She progressed the sport.

Bodybuilding.com, a great site to get your supplements - I do, has a interview with the 8 time Ms. O.


Monday, July 9, 2007

This is how you apply a show tan

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Weight Lifting Shapes the Mind and the Body

Rachel Kramer Bussel
The Huffington Post

What I'm about to write I would've found obnoxious and pretentious mere months ago but lately seem to tell everyone who so much as asks me how I'm doing: I have a personal trainer. Even now, it sounds like saying I have a chauffeur or money manager or lawyer; there's something haughty-sounding about the term that doesn't sit well with me.

However, the gym I joined, Crossfit NYC (an affiliate of the national gym Crossfit), couldn't be less haughty, and I've quickly become a devotee. The main reason I started going is because I wanted to lose weight, and though I'm a member of my local Y, I wasn't motivating myself to go as often as I'd like. I'd let any and every excuse worm its way into my consciousness, putting off exercise for last, until I had to admit that I simply wasn't going to do it that day, or week, or sometimes even month.

By committing to pay someone several times a week, I was making a commitment that I knew I couldn't flake out on. And my trainer is not just "someone," but a friend, Allison Bojarski (and, perhaps ironically, a fellow cupcake blogger). This is our tenth week working together, and I've learned so much -- about weight lifting, but also about myself. So while she was my introduction to the gym, what's kept me there is that I keep wanting to get better, to push myself farther.

"Do you have a goal?" my great-uncle asked me when I told him about my gym routine. He was asking if once I reach a certain point, I plan to stop, and I realized that I don't. While I'm trying to shed some pounds and go from a size 8 (or occasionally 10) to a size 6, my immediate goals have shifted. Don't get me wrong, I still want to drop a size or two and lose the flab under my arms and on my stomach, but that's no longer my only motivation. Now, it's about doing just a bit better than I did the day before. It's about pushing myself to my limits -- and figuring out what those limits are.

My first few weeks, I probably said, "I can't" with every other breath. Practically every exercise Allison had me do seemed like a struggle, if not impossible. When I'd say it, I really meant it; I thought I couldn't do the things being asked of me. I've had to train myself to visualize me succeeding at these exercises, and have been amazed at how much my mindset affects my abilities. Allison and the other trainers have given me many tips on how to think about what I'm doing, and while things like "push the earth away" didn't make sense at first, I'm starting to get the hang of it. These visualization techniques combined with using the proper form and breathing at the right moments can make the difference between a successful squat and an unsuccessful one. My former combativeness reminds me of the famous Lewis Carroll quote from Alice in Wonderland:

"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

I have another friend who sends me greeting cards; they arrive in random batches that I sift through, picking out the ones I want and giving the others to friends. One she sent recently reads: "Life does not put things in front of you that you are unable to handle." This could well be a mantra for my time at the gym (or, alternately, I could steal Allison's blog's motto: "it doesn't have to be fun to be fun.")

The skills I'm learning benefit me far beyond my physical health. They've forced me to confront many of my own phobias, superstitions, and overall stubbornness. I'm a perfectionist, and if I can't do something to the letter, I often figure I may as well not even try. This is a self-defeating attitude that has gotten me into plenty of trouble before, and yet it keeps me safe and secure if I never have to take risks. I had an "a-ha" moment when, during one weightlifting session, Allison told me that even if I'm not sure I'll be able to come up out of a squat, I should try, because doing half of the exercise and making the attempt is better than giving up too early. Yet to me, it seemed obvious that doing four perfect squats, versus four and a half, was the preferable outcome. I'd still rather end on a high note than have "failed," but I'm learning to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. Seeing people who can lift double the weight I can who are still pushing themselves to go further, to beat their own personal records, even if this means they increase the weight their using by one pound (or less) inspires me. The goal is, perhaps, not to have a goal; the goal is perseverance, stamina, and confidence.

Two weeks ago, I got on the scale for the first time in possibly a year (I honestly don't remember the last time I'd weighed myself -- perhaps during a doctor's visit). I've deliberately avoided scales because I can all too easily become obsessed with their output. The number I saw reflected back at me simply made me feel like the past two months of intense work had been for naught. I'll even tell you what it said, even though revealing one's weight seems as treacherous as revealing one's salary or number of sexual partners: 156. "You don't really weight that much!" a friend said when I complained about the number.

The reason I weighed myself was to find out if I was squatting the equivalent of my own weight. The point is now moot, because I'm now able to squat with 165 pounds on my back, and don't plan to weigh myself again for a good long while, but those red, glowing numbers still haunt me, making me even more determined to lower them (and to not set foot on a scale for a few months).

While I've been given some nutritional advice, the focus at Crossfit is not about looks per se, but strength and endurance. I hadn't realized just how proud I would feel of being able to do even simple things, like situps, which were virtually impossible for my lazy ass two months ago, and now have been enhanced with machinery and a medicine ball.

I've been introduced to a whole new vocabulary and community, and whatever self-consciousness I may have had (and still have) about my weight, they pretty much vanish during the time I'm actually at the gym. I sweat, I scream, I pant, I complain, I have to ask for help. One trainer said that during my recently deadlift I "looked like [I was] having an existential crises." It's not pretty, and it's not meant to be. I'm forced to take note of my self-consciousness, how often I apologize, and especially how my own fears play into my ability or inability to perform certain tasks.

I still care about what the scale says, and would like it to read, oh, about 30 pounds less. But the fact is, when I weighed 116 pounds in college, I could easily fit into size 6 jeans, but I weighed so little because I was literally starving myself. I don't want to go that route again, and I find myself eating now both out of hunger and from a sense of wanting to prepare myself for the physical challenges ahead.

Seeing the numbers on the weights I'm lifting increase, feeling the exercises get easier (at least until Allison finds a way to make them more challenging!), and knowing that I'm pushing myself beyond my comfort level, are all satisfying in ways that stepping on a scale can never convey. As Allison writes of her own marathon training, "Crossing that finish line gave me a unique sense of accomplishment, one that I couldn't compare to any other thing I'd ever done."

In the past two months, I've come full circle and now toss the words "trainer," "gym," "squat," and "deadlift" around like I've been using them my whole life, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. Who knows what new vocabulary -- and personal records -- await me?

Local sailor takes fitness to the next level

Carmel Ecker
Staff writer
July 9, 2007http://www.lookoutnewspaper.com/archive/20070709/photo4_sm.jpg

You wouldn’t know it to see her in a navy uniform, but MS Chrissy Wruck bears the buff muscles of a body builder.

A photo on her office wall in HMCS Calgary shows just how much work the boatswain puts into her physique.

In it she is tanned, perfectly poised with muscles flexed, and grinning from ear to ear as a panel of judges examines the definition and symmetry of her muscles.

The photo was taken at her first body building competition, held in Vancouver this April.

“I’m speechless when it comes to the excitement and adrenalin that was going through me. It was overwhelming,” she says of the competition.

Backstage, women were crammed into tiny cubicles spraying and pinning up their hair, frantically applying their makeup and covering their muscular bodies in lotion, or performing exercises to pump up their muscles.

Once on stage, their brilliant smiles came out as they all quarter turned and changed poses in unison at the judges’ command.

MS Wruck did everything just as she’d practiced in front of the mirror at home.

Her three and a half months of focused training paid off when the 37-year-old walked off the stage with second place in the Figure category.

Of course, it’s taken a lot longer than a few months for MS Wruck to reach body-building success.

Her journey began 13 years ago with aerobics and strength training at a civilian gym in Edmonton.

With two fitness-oriented parents, including a mother who spent 20 years instructing aerobics, MS Wruck has always been fit. But she didn’t have the muscle definition she desired.

Jumping head-first into a rigorous routine of aerobics and weight training, she was at the gym so much the instructors there encouraged her to begin teaching classes.

Building a passion for fitness

Within a year, she had her certification to instruct others in aerobics and strength training.

A part-time reservist then, she began teaching at the gym and within a year and a half she was managing the place.

Though she excelled at fitness instruction, the higher wage and structure of the military drew her to sign on as a Class B Reservist in 1998.

“The military could offer me a better future. That’s when I decided to go regular force,” she says.

Working as a recruiter in Edmonton, she scaled back on instructing at her gym and stopped completely once she received the call that she was posted to HMCS Vancouver with the rank of Leading Seaman in 2000.

Her love of fitness often had her teaching classes on the ship’s flight deck throughout Exercise Tandem Thrust and Operation Apollo in 2001.

She didn’t entertain the idea of pushing her fitness further until last year when a friend took her to an all-natural body building competition in Nanaimo in a bid to convince her to compete. It wasn’t the first time someone had suggested it to her.

“Many friends of mine have come up to me and said Chrissy, you work out, you look great, why not try to compete,” she says.

She tucked the idea in the back of her mind and did some Internet research into local competitions she could enter, and what it would take for her to stand alongside other fitness aficionados.

Though she was a “clean eater 90 per cent of the time,” her diet had to be tweaked to cut out any excess sugars and carbohydrates, while boosting her caloric intake with protein to help her build mass.

She needed a trainer to help her develop the right diet and refine her poses and stage presence. She also needed a choreographer to help her develop a stage routine.

Then came the entry fees ($110 per category), stage outfits ($100 and up) and travel costs ($2,000 on average for a weekend), plus extras such as photos ($110) and judges reports ($75).

Diet and exercise

She decided the gains were worth the cost and she found a former female body builder to get her on the right track. Her twice a day training regime was perfect, she was told.

Five to six days a week she does cardio from 6 to 7 a.m., rotating from the treadmill to the bicycle to the elliptical machine. From 3 to 4 p.m. she hits the weight room.

“[The trainer] stated to me that she wasn’t going to charge me for something that I already knew how to do. As far as the workouts, I knew proper technique and what I had to do to prepare myself. She was there to tweak me and to help me with my diet and posing and general stage presence.”

Because she already eats well, MS Wruck doesn’t have to make many changes to her diet until the month before a competition. “You’ve got to start to take out the sugars, watch the amount of sodium in your diet and drink plenty of water.”

Her diet consists mostly of yams, rice and vegetables for carbohydrates and egg whites, chicken and fish for protein. She can still have a coffee a day and enjoy a glass of red wine for a treat until the final week.

At that point, she reduces her calories and cuts out almost all sodium. Even the variety of vegetables she eats drops drastically and she must stretch one litre of water over the last three days. The result is a super lean physique most of us only dream of.


Her trainer’s insight into what the judges would look for was an invaluable resource for MS Wruck’s Vancouver competition, run by the World Natural Sports Organization. Her second place showing moved her to the next level - a Toronto competition in June.

A fourth place finish in Toronto has propelled her into the Elite Division, one below Pro. That would normally mean competing at the FAME North American Championships in Miami, FL, this November, but she’ll be on course in Halifax at that time, so she’ll have to wait a year to compete at that level.

In each of the four forms of natural body building — model, figure, fitness and muscle — there are several levels of competition. When a competitor finishes in the top five of any level, they earn the right to move up to the next level.

Each form has a different focus:

  • Model is for people who aspire to be fitness models and does not involve a routine, only poses.
  • Fitness is for dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders and skaters. It adds a gymnastic element to the routine and there is less emphasis on muscle mass.
  • Figure — MS Wruck’s category — adds a 90 second routine in which a competitor shows off their physical strength, but may not include tumbling.
  • Muscle is a step up from the figure category with a focus on more muscles mass. It is also the only category in which women don’t wear high heels for their poses.

Even though she’s been on a ship throughout her initiation into bodybuilding, MS Wruck hasn’t had any trouble maintaining her training schedule. There is a small gym area on board HMCS Calgary complete with free weights and a treadmill. Her food requirements were a bit tricky, but the galley staff has been very accommodating, she says.

The next step

Now posted to Fleet School, MS Wruck is looking forward to time ashore after seven years at sea.

The change of pace should give her the opportunity to focus on getting to the professional level, which will pit her against the best the natural body building world has to offer.

Asked how long she plans to stick with bodybuilding, she says it’s too soon to give her fitness aspirations an expiry date.

“A 65-year-old gentleman inspired me at the Toronto competition. He was an ex-U.S. Navy Captain and he was in the shape of a 16-year-old. I’m just going to go until I’m not physically capable of continuing

Monday, July 2, 2007


Another day. Another pay site. This time it's Flexette's turn. I browsed the site and was left confused. They have Amy Schmid, whom is a terrific athlete, but what you get for the money is bewildering. The Behaviors added don't work right. You open a sample and it doesn't hit the window you open. It's just poorly designed and executed site.

Big thumbs down for me. Not for content but for ease of use. I guess if you want more info you can email flexette@flexette.net . I hate email addresses like that. That's why I don't have email.


I think we've seen the end of wrestling as we know it. The findings came out today to what Chris Benoit was prescribed by his doctor.

Pharmacy records show that, from May 2006 to May 2007, Astin has prescribed Benoit, on average, “a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids every three to four weeks.”

If that doesn't scare you think about a whole industry filled with "actors" using these amounts. Wrestling has relied on roids for too long.

Bodybuilding's next. If I was running any shows I'd start introducing drug testing. It's time to get the drugs out. Now

Looking for a Bodybuilder?

Fitness Singles (http://www.fitness-singles.com) is a great sight for single bodybuilders, weightlifters or finding otherwise strong women. It's a pay to play site but at what cost is a lifetime of happiness and flexing.

Aloiai's a world champion mum

By JUSTIN LATIF - Western Leader | Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Meet Helen Aloiai - wife, mum, mental-health worker and world champion.

The 38-year-old has just returned from Sparta, Greece, where she won the physique section of the National Amateur Bodybuilders Association world championships.

The mother-of-four and wife of Sef has managed to find the perfect synergy between maintaining a happy home, working and gym training.

"It all fits in," she says.

"We don't sacrifice family to do this - there's always someone there to pick the children up and drop them off from school.

"They're my biggest fans."

Aloiai started competing in 2001.

"I like feeling healthy and it's also especially good for women with the softening of the bone as they get older," she says.

"And I don't feel tired."

Steroids are a major issue internationally but the Glen Eden resident says she is regularly tested by the sporting body in New Zealand.

"Some are on them and some are not," she says.

"But over here we are drug tested."

Aloiai puts her size down to good genes.

"I'm just a big unit," she says. "I was born big."

She trains four times a week, working a different muscle group during each hour-long session.

Aloiai also works with intellectually disabled people at Framework in Henderson when she's not pumping iron and gets a lot of satisfaction seeing them improve and gain confidence through her efforts.

"It's such a buzz."

But she says her lifestyle does have its pitfalls - especially when she's in the supermarket.

"The biggest challenge is people can't handle the way I look."

She often gets unwanted attention and abuse but she wishes people would keep it to themselves.

"I just want to do my shopping," Aloiai says.

Bodybuilding champ enjoys Greek odyssey

Tarren McCall is a world bodybuilding champion. The Manukau 45-year-old won the over-35 figure crown at the National Amateur Bodybuilders' Association world championship in Sparta, Greece, this month.

McCall is elated with the win but says it is not enough for her to retire.

"I'm not going to give up or stop until I'm not doing so well," says the mother-of-four.

She has only been in the sport for four years and says she still enjoys it.

Now she has her eyes on two other overseas events this year, the International Natural Body Building Association's Olympia in Greece in November and the Natural Body Building Association's Universe in Spain in December.

But her first assignment will be the South Pacific Natural Body Building Association's championship in Taupo in August.

She says she needs to do well at the Taupo event to qualify for Olympia.

McCall returned with lasting memories of her trip to Greece.

While competing in the historical town of Sparta, she says she felt the spirit of the ancient Olympics.

The Greek organisers put on an extravaganza the likes of which she?d never been in before, she says.

"It was held in the town square where more than 5000 people watched while dining or walking through the square.

"There were lights and smoke going off all night. I'd never been in a contest like this before."

The square was nearly four times the size of Auckland's Aotea Square.

McCall says travelling was the only downside. It took the eight-member New Zealand team 30 hours to get to Athens.

"We were then put on a bus and driven for another four hours to Sparta.

"We arrived after midnight. It was tough."

The competition on June 16 took seven hours.

"We started at 8pm and finished at three in the morning."

McCall's opponents were 10 years younger than her.

Bookmark This: Andressa Vieira's Home Page

This woman is a figure competitor. She is really what I think figure should be. Amazing.