2013 INBA Novice Rising Star & Rookie of the Year

Like all of the Bodybuilding Federations, the INBA is constantly changing and adapting to meet the needs of its current members and members to be. It has well established city and state title competitions in every state in Australia spread throughout the year and all are well attended by competitors and audience alike.

But to get on stage for your first time as a novice at the State level can be a daunting prospect – I know, because the Vic Titles was my first time on stage – and you just don’t know who you’re going to be up against – there could be people who have competed for other federations who are in the novice categories for the INBA because it is the first time they have competed for the INBA.

You can tell me that I’m barking up the wrong tree and that it doesn’t happen, but it does – I have been on stage with competitors who have won national titles for one federation, then gone on and competed in the novice category for another federation a few months later (mine were not the only raised eyebrows at that one!)

How is that fair to an absolute beginner?

The advent of the Novice Rising Star and Rookie of the Year competition is the INBA’s way of leveling the playing field, Novice means ‘has never stepped on stage anywhere before’, Rookie means ‘not competed in more than 4 competitions’ (regardless of federation). It is a chance for competitors to get their feet wet in the competition arena without being intimidated by those who may have a lot more experience.

So last night I headed down to Glen Eira Town Hall in Caulfield for the first show of the INBA’s extensive 23 show season. This venue holds fond memories for me, because it was where I went to my first show, 2011 All Female Classic, and where this whole journey of mine kicked off. As a venue its quite small – the backstage area is a bit of a rabbit warren, but the stage is a good one – spacious, beautiful polished boards which are easy to turn on, but also tricky for those who are less confident on their heels. And the lighting is great – certainly from my perspective taking photos, I think this venue has the best lighting of any show I’ve been to.

The competitors were not the only novices at this show. Fred Liberatore was taking up the role of MC for the first time too, any pre-stage nerves were not in evidence, as him and Tony did a great job in keeping the action moving along in a timely manner and keeping the show running pretty much to time.

Fred Liberatore Tony Lanciano INBA Australia

First up was the Novice Bikini, and it was a relatively big group of 10. Fred called each girl out in turn for their individual pose in front of the judges, then all were called forward to go through the compulsory turns. Next the group was split and swapped so all of the judges got to have a good look at each girl. Every competitor had a different personality, some appeared terribly nervous and a little shy, some rocked it and were all confidence and there was everything in between.

As a novice, at your first time on stage there is one thing you absolutely do not want to happen – it is your worst nightmare if it does – and that is to trip over your heels or fall over. Unfortunately that is exactly what happened to of the competitors just as the line was being split and swapped. She fell over, which elicited a few gasps from the crowd, but like a trouper she got up, carried on and smiled through the rest of the poses, even though I can only imagine that she would have been mortified with embarrassment and probably just wished the ground would open up and swallow her.

This brings me to a point that I’m sure most female competitors are sick of hearing – but it is so essential – ladies you MUST practice on those heels. You can’t just buy a pair, wear them a couple of times and expect it to be all ok.  They MUST become like your most comfortable slippers.

You might be SJP personified and have been wearing stilettos since you were just out of nappies, but on stage its a different matter altogether – you’re tired, dehydrated, carb depleted, nervous, the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether you’re going to fall off your platforms.

I think in every one of the female categories there were competitors who couldn’t concentrate properly on their posing because they were too busy concentrating on trying to stay upright and balanced on their heels. And when you’re doing that, your posing and presentation is going to suffer, which means you won’t be able to show yourself and your hard work to the best of your ability. Whatever category you are in, stage presentation is a factor in the scoring, the judges notice every little detail, so do yourself a favour and practice on your heels so you have one less thing to worry about on the day.

Trust me on this, once you know you can strut your stuff in those heels – you know you can do anything! 🙂


Ok, mini rant over 🙂

where were we?

The novice bikini passed without further incident and we moved on to the Novice beach body under 180cm…



Hellooo…anyone there?


oh sorry,

er…what can I say?



YAY for the front row seat!

I’m sure most of you who have been following my blogs for a while now, know I’m a BIG fan of this category – and who wouldn’t be?

These guys are HOT! And Ripped!

All the guys had great conditioning – and they weren’t exactly shy about showing it!

I don’t think the judges even needed to call for the abs pose…that was a given 🙂

Trophies were then presented for the Novice bikini and the Novice Beach body under 180cm – the girls with the best conditioning and the ‘smaller’/more lithe of the guys were the winners.

INBA Novice Rising Star & Rookie of the Year  INBA Australia

Next up was the Novice Fitness under 166.5 cm and this was also a relatively big group of 8. The difference between the bikini girls and the fitness girls is that the fitness girls are supposed to be leaner and have abs…some had nailed it and some hadn’t quite got there, but then that happens in every group. Confidence and personality levels also varied quite a lot. It always fascinates me to see how some people seem to thrive in the spotlight and right from their first time appear like they were born to do this, whereas for others it is obviously a lot harder – and takes a great deal of courage and bravery to conquer their fears and put themselves out there to be judged…


The group went through their compulsory poses, then the lineup was split and swapped before a single callout was made. The ladies then left the stage to get ready for their fitness wear round.

Then it was the turn of the Novice Fitness over 166.5. Again there was a mix of conditioning levels with a few who had really come in well and looked awesome.

INBA Novice Rising Star & Rookie of the Year  INBA Australia

Next up was the Novice Beach Body over 180cm…

its ok, I’m not going to go off into la-la land again



but seriously – these guys were even hotter than the previous category!!

someone turn the air con on!


INBA Novice Rising Star & Rookie of the Year  INBA AustraliaIMG_3250

I’m glad I wasn’t one of the judges, this was going to be a very tough group to call.

Compulsory poses, a split and swap then a few callouts – there was a lot of noise from the crowd as most of the guys seemed to have big groups of fans cheering them on.

Me? I was cheering for all of them..quietly of course 🙂

Then the novice fitness girls came back on in their camo Black and Blue gear – I think black and blue come up with a different set of fitness wear for each and every show they supply outfits for as I hadn’t seen the camo look before – and the girls looked good.

Time for some more trophies.

In the under 166.5cm category, just after the trophies had been handed out and the photos taken, the ladies were about to file off stage, when all of a sudden a little blonde haired boy ran on to the stage,straight over to his mummy and grabbed her trophy – she had just won the category, and it was lovely to see how excited he was for his mum. Then another little person, the winners daughter also escaped the restraining hands of her father and ran up onto stage to give her mummy a hug.


It was great to see, a real family moment and goes to show that competing is not just for younger girls – it can be for anyone who sets their mind to achieve it.

Took me 42 years to get there! 🙂

The Beach body over 180cm I think caught a few people by surprise, when one of the equal 4th placed competitors got called as 4th it was not the most popular decision and there was definitely a bit of heckling from the audience.

This is the thing with Men’s Physique – its a relatively new category, across all federations and I think its still a bit of a work in progress as to what the criteria and guidelines are. It definitely not bodybuilding and in the few shows that I have seen with this type of category there does seem to be a trend towards awarding the leaner, less bulky guys. Guys who have entered the beach body then later turned up in the bodybuilding categories have more often than not, not even placed in the beach body groups despite having amazing physiques.

This is a good thing I believe, because the purpose of this category is to get guys involved, provide a much more achievable platform through which they can also showcase their hard work. Just because a guy doesn’t go the whole hog and do bodybuilding, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t put a lot of effort into his physique – and just like you wouldn’t mix up a fitness/sports model with a figure/physique girl, by the same token the physique category should be kept different from the bodybuilding categories.

I do think its a bit of a shame that they cover their lovely legs with long boardies though…but thats just me 🙂

hmm… the fitness models get 2 rounds…why not the guys…maybe a budgie smuggler round…?

You wouldn’t get any complaints from me! ;-p


Alright, how are we doing?

Onto the rookies!

The rookies are competitors who have been in up to 4 competitions before and in the bikini, fitness and beach body groups there were a few familiar faces. In general there were less nerves present, all competitors came across really well, confident in their poses, in really good condition and in some cases playing to the crowd much more than the novices had done, which led to a much greater involvement from the audience calling out their favourites and trying to sway the judges opinions.

These groups were all smaller than the novice groups which allowed the show to progress rapidly as there was much less need for the judges to swap the lines and do callouts.

For me the standout competitor was the winner of the rookie fitness group – she had a lovely balanced physique, lean, beautifully capped shoulders and arm definition..and abs. Just like the guideline picture shows on the INBA website!


After the trophies for the rookies had been handed out, there was a short break before we got into the figure and bodybuilding categories.

I needed to eat so I went and checked out the Derrimut stand – healthy food!!!

Chicken and Broccoli, Chicken and Sweet Potato, Chicken and Brown rice, fruit salad, protein balls…


I opted for the mango yoghurt…YUM!

I really hope Derrimut becomes a feature at ALL bodybuilding events, not just the INBA – its about time that there was an alternative to junk food at events that are supposed to be showcasing the pinnacle of health and fitness.


Fat and happy, I caught up with a few people who I knew. With this show being the first of the season and not like the ‘star studded’ shows that you get later in the year, there were much fewer familiar faces in the crowd. DHS was there as they always are supporting their girls, and Dohertys, but it was the smaller less well known and independent gyms and trainers who were there, taking the opportunity for a shot at the spotlight, which can only be good for the sport.

Ok back on stage, the Novice Teenage men.

A small group of 3, and it was very clear how this was going to pan out so the judges only needed to see the compulsory poses.


Then it was the turn of the novice junior men, and a group of 5 arrived, all of them looked good, but one guy stood out

he was built like the proverbial brick ****house!


just wait till he grows up – he is going to smash competitions in year to come!

Novice Rising Star?

He just arrived.


Again only the compulsories were required and it was good to see that ‘the tank’ was obviously good mates with one of the other competitors – there seemed to be a bit of a running private joke going on between them the whole time, which had them both smiling and trying not to laugh all the way through the poses.

The winner of the Novice teenage was a standout, with incredible conditioning and was definitely the crowd favourite – a huge roar of approval cemented his win.


The tank duly won the junior category again to a huge roar of approval from the crowd and congratulations from his mate who came second.


Its always good to see when competitors can have a bit of a joke and a laugh on stage.

Next up was Novice Physique. Again a very small group of 3, and probably the most diverse group of competitors I have ever seen in all aspects – height, conditioning, physique and posing – all very different. The nerves were also back, with a lot of concentration going into not falling over. Again just one round of symmetry and compulsories were required for the judges to be happy.


Rookie Physique was another small diverse group of 4 and again the judges were able to run through the symmetry and compulsories very quickly.


The next 2 groups – the masters men and masters physique both only had 2 competitors so again the judges were able to run through very quickly, and in the masters physique there was only actually one new competitor as one of the competitors had just been on stage in the novice physique category.

Phew. Things were moving along quite quickly with such small groups and we were now at the pointy end of the comp. -The Rising Star and Rookie of the Year groups.

But the next category that came on stage was a bit confusing – I think it was Novice Physique Rising Star, but I couldn’t decide what it was since all of the competitors had just been of stage in each of the last 3 physique categories and there was still only 4 ladies on stage! For such a small group, again it only required one round of symmetry and compulsories before the judges were happy.

After that there was a complete change – the biggest group of the night – Novice Mens Rising Star, and most of the competitors had been on stage before either in the beach body categories or the earlier bodybuilding categories. It was interesting to note that the guys who had been in the beach body categories, had not placed in those categories…but the good thing about this was – they were now doing a budgie smuggler round!

Nice Legs! 🙂

IMG_3569 IMG_3570 IMG_3571

There was also a mystery competitor. All the competitors had been announced and then a final competitor appeared on stage much to the surprise of Tony and Fred. Tony quickly hurried to the end of the line to get the name of the mystery man.

One we all knew who Mr Mystery was, it was time for the symmetry. There were almost too many competitors to fit on stage so in the front and back poses which require a bit of space to spread wings there was a fair bit of jostling and shuffling to try and create enough space.

The line was split and swapped and the symmetry was repeated. Then it was on to the compulsories – front double bicep…

oh dear!

This was not going to work with everyone in a single line, there simply wasn’t the space. So Fred stepped in and got the guys in the middle to take various sized steps backwards to try and create a staggered horseshoe so that every one could at least make a decent attempt at their pose. There was understandably a little reluctance on the part of the competitors to move out of the spotlight!

Once the compulsories were done every one stepped to the back of the stage for the callouts. There was only one callout which included ‘the Tank’, Mr Mystery and 2 of the beach body guys – and they all looked incredible. The judges put them through their symmetry and compulsories again, and then they were done.


After the presentation for the Novice Physique Rising Star, the guys were brought back on for a posedown – we’d only had one posedown up till now and this was good – with plenty of encouragement from Tony and Fred, there was a bit of showmanship and one upmanship going on trying to out do each other, much to the approval of the crowd who were making it known who their favourites were.

IMG_3632 IMG_3631

There were really no surprises when ‘The Tank’ was announced as the winner.

The last 2 categories – Rookie of the Year Physique and Rookie of the Year Mens had 3 and 2 competitors respectively, who we’d seen before in other categories  The judges would already have had a fair idea of who was going to win, so both groups were quickly run through their symmetry and compulsories and the winners duly announced.

And then it was all done. I looked at the time, as it felt like it was about midnight, but to my surprise it was about 9:15 – we had almost finished on time – good job!

The flurry of activity now turned from the stage to packing up and heading off home. Sponsors taking down their banners and stuffing product into boxes, the judges were allowed to take home meals from the Derrimut cafe stand. What remained of the audience, evaporated, so with a few last minute chats and goodbyes and ‘see you at the next show’s and I was out into the cold wet melbourne night, cycling through the rain, mulling over in my head what I was going to write.

The first show of the season is over, and as with every show  there are triumphs, disappointments and a few surprises.

For me this is a good show to watch, as it gives me an idea of who might go on to more success later in the year, I like to be able follow a competitors progress through the year – watch them grow and develop as a competitor. Its not necessarily the category winners who do this, sometimes its the 2nd or 3rd placegetter, sometimes its the unplaced competitor who takes what they have learned from this show and really apply themselves to improving and then come back with a much better package later in the year.

You never know what comes next, but it’ll be fascinating to wait and see.

Well done to all of the competitors, use what you learned come back bigger and betetr next time.

And ladies – practice, practice, practice on those heels – wouldn’t you feel more comfortable wearing your slippers on stage?


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