2013 ANB Fitness Mania

ANB Fitness Mania! The First show of the year and a new one to the ever expanding stable of ANB events, so it was going to be interesting to see how it would go.

I arrived at the hall in a bit of a flurry – I have just started a new training split and it meant that I had to train on a Sunday and of course gyms don’t open till later, so dashing into the hall, bags a-flapping with only about 10 minutes before curtain up (in theory!)  I hurriedly unpacked cameras, phones, ipads, pots of almonds, water, chicken and salad and got myself settled next to Randall who was videoing the event and Leticia who was covering it for Iron Man Magazine. Steve Romic was also there along with Ross Brownsdon, Paul France and Vicki’s photographer Mark!

Word had obviously got out…the paparazzi was in da house!

There was a reasonable crowd, not as big as for Natural Mania or the state and national titles, but that was only to be expected for this debutant in the events calendar, but there were plenty of familiar faces – Vicki, Tony, Lindy Olsen, Greg, Aaron, Nat, Dave, Wendy, Alysha, Cam, Dani…this is why the ANB becomes like a family reunion 🙂

I probably should mention Bruce – he’ll get upset if I don’t and then he’ll sulk, and then who will I get to (willingly!) tan my (significantly smaller I hope) backside in October?

Ok, lets not go there.

The stage was different from usual – it was T shaped with an extra walkway extending towards the centre of the room, which I figured would be for the model categories. There had obviously been some extra planning behind the scenes, so I was intrigued to see how it would be used.

The format of the show had also been changed – in the morning would be the bodybuilding categories and the afternoon was the models. I’m wondering if this is going to become a more common format given how popular and how rapidly the model/fitness categories are growing at every show regardless of federation.

First on stage was the novice figure, with 2 competitors, both of whom had good solid physiques. One thing that struck me was that both of them actually appeared really confident, none of the first time nerves appeared to be evident – both seemed to be having fun up there – particularly Eley May who was being cheered on by a very vocal support crew from Definitions 352 in Doncaster.

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Another thing I noticed was that both of them had clearly been practising their posing and walking on those shoes a lot and it translated to their performance. I know I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record on this topic, but one comment I had from a judge after I won my novice category was ‘it’s so nice to see a novice who can pose…’

Folks take note, your posing is your key to showing the best of yourself and also to minimising or hiding your weaknesses.

Eley May won to a huge roar of approval from the Definitions crew.

The next group was the intermediate figure and there were only 3 competitors in this field. I recognised one competitor, Kate Marie from one of Vicki’s posing class a few weeks ago, so I was looking for her to present herself well. The three competitors all had quite different physiques and slightly different level s of conditioning, and again it was good to see that they all posed well and got the best out of themselves. With such a small field there was no need for a callout, so one round of symmetry and compulsories was all that was needed before they ladies did their routines. One of the competitors did a lovely routine and it clearly showed that she had a dance background. Then Kate came cloaked from head to foot in a bright red cape for a fierce and very striking routine.

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Kate won, with Lyndsay Gannon second and Paulette Touma third.

The Novice Men were up next and also the masters men – there were only 3 competitors in the novice and 1 in the masters so it made sense to have them all out on stage together. Tony Haranas was mc’ing this group and he mentioned to the crowd that he’d seen Basilio compete before and then told us all how old Basilio was – we were all stunned when Tony told us Basilio was 62! No Way! He looked awesome and he certainly held his own. Tony also congratulated Basilio on being in the best condition he’d ever seen him in.

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Chris Herod won the novice and of course Basilio won the masters.

The Junior and Intermediate categories were also combined as there was only one competitor in each and the competitors had completely different physiques which really highlighted what an extra few years of serious training can create.

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Xavier in the intermediate category did his routine to ‘Ave Maria’, which gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, and clearly also had deep meaning to Xavier as he did most of his routine with his eyes shut, just letting the music move his body.

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After the men, it was back to the women for the Masters figure. This was the biggest group of the day so far with 7 competitors, including Paulette who had been in the intermediate category earlier, and Denise Bird and Joanna Skrodzka, which surprised me – I had no idea they were thinking of competing at this show. These 2 ladies are fab. They do everything together and have been featured in Oxygen Magazine as Inspirational Aussies – and they are. Nothing stops them from having a go and whatever it is they decide to do, they always have a ton of fun doing it. Lindy Olsen made a special mention of them as well.

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Symmetry and compulsory rounds were done, then there was a callout – the first of the day! Another ANB ‘family’ member, Brenda Milne was in the callout.

Then it was the routines – I was looking forward to seeing what Joanna would come up with this time. Last year she posed to ‘I workout’ and came on stage with a huge beat box and a barbell as her props. She didn’t disappoint – this time is was P!nk and ‘So What’ – another one of my favourites – complete with fake guitar which she promptly ‘smashed up’.  Brilliant.

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She duly won best routine – way to go Joanna.

Wendy Young won the category, with paulette 2nd and Brenda 3rd. Then (much to her total surprise) there was a special recognition award for Brenda for being such a consistent and long time competitor with the ANB. This is something that I do like about the ANB is the fact that you are recognized for your contribution to the federation. It’s a great credit to Maria, that she attracts and acknowledges such loyalty.

Next was the womens Physique category and again only one competitor, Dara Holland who I’d seen that Vicki’s posing workshop as well. This was Dara’s first time on stage – ever! And to go it alone as well…that’s a very brave thing to do. Well done Dara. She looked great and posed beautifully too. I was pleased to see that she used Vicki’s new ‘relaxed’ stance for physique – its much more like the figure style relaxed pose, so much more feminine.

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We were rattling through the categories today – with such small lineups and no callouts, only one round of symmetry and compulsories was required.

The Open Figure Tall category was next, and 3 competitors, 2 of whom had been on stage in other categories and the third I recognised from a show the week before.

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Maria Tsikouris did a great routine and clearly loved the spotlight! Usually once a competitor has done their routine they don’t do it again if they are in another category, but Brenda had a different routine prepared for this category. She came on stage with a big blanket so I was wondering how she was going to incorporate that into her routine. But she didn’t…until right at the end when she finished up by lying on the blanket and her husband came on stage and dragged her off!

Kate Marie won the category, Maria Tsikouris 2nd and Brenda Milne 3rd.

All of a sudden we were into the overalls.

First it was the women – 3 competitors, Kate Marie who had won 2 categories, Eley May and Wendy Young. Eley May was still having fun helped along by the Definitions crew.

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This was going to be a tough call, Wendy was completely shredded, but the other girls were bigger overall and both had good balance to their physiques.

After the posedown whilst the judges votes were tallied, Eley May was named the overall champion, to her absolute delight and her support crew went wild 🙂

The mens overall had 4 competitors, novice, intermediate, junior and masters winners and 4 very different physiques which would make it difficult for the judges. For me, I had it between the novice and intermediate category winners.

Symmetry and compulsories complete, it was straight into the posedown until Tony announced that Chris Herod, the novice category winner, was the overall winner.

Overall best routines went to Maria Tsikouris and Johnny Starr one of the novice competitors – he actually had cramp backstage before doing his routine, but and he hobbled onto the stage, gritting his teeth all the way – it was worth it.

It was time for a break before the afternoon session when the fitness models were on.

The first group after the break was the Fitness Models under 30 and it was a huge group – 17 competitors, now we would get to see how the stage was going to be used.

So the first competitor walked to the middle of the stage at the back and posed, then walked to where the centre of the T extended toward the crowd and posed whilst the next competitor moved to the middle back of the stage. The first model then walked to the right of the stage by Lindy’s podium, the second competitor moved to the centre of the T extension and the third competitor moved to the middle back of the stage. The first competitor then came right to the front of the T, the second moved to Lindy’s Podium on the right, the third came to the centre of the T extension and the 4th competitor moved to the middle back of the stage.

Then the first competitor then moved to the far left of the stage, the second came to the front centre of the T, the third moved to the right next to Lindy’s podium, the 4th came to the centre of the T extension and the 5th moved into the middle back of the stage. So now the stage was loaded.

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With such a big group this format allowed all the judges multiple opportunities to look at each competitor – how they walked, how they moved, their confidence, how they posed. Visually it provided much more movement and action for the crowd.

It was all a bit crowded once all the competitors were on stage, there was hardly room for the quarters turns so there was definitely a need for some callouts. The first callout was the odd numbers, the next callout was the even numbers…

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then there were another 4 callouts!

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Eventually the judges were happy and the group left the stage.

The next group was the Fitness Models 30+ and there were only 7 in this group and a few faces that I recognised – Erin Blandford who had done Fitx 2 weeks earlier and DJ Kitty Kat who did well in the Novice and Rookie show the previous week.

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The walkthrough pattern went much quicker this time with the smaller group and after one round of quarters turns, the group was split in half and swapped for another round of quarters turns and then only one callout was required. I was pleased to see Erin made it to the callout.

The next group was the Male Models under 30 and another big group of 13. The same walkthrough was done and there was a lot more noise from the crowd especially as each competitor got to the front of the stage and milked their centre spot for all they were worth. This is something that I’ve noticed with the male model groups – they all seem to have large amounts of very vocal supporters, more so than the girls.

I noticed Chase Baker, who had competed at Fitx 2 weeks before and was unlucky not to have at least got a place (IMHO) was in the lineup, along with ‘Spanner’ who I’d also seen the previous week in the Novices show. Spanner was very popular with the crowd.

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Johnny Starr was also in this lineup, which may have been a bit confusing for some as he’d also just been on stage for the novice bodybuilding category.  This prompted an explanation from Vicki of how this category was different from bodybuilding and what the judges were looking for.

The quarters turns were done then there was one callout, which included Chase, Spanner and Johnny Starr

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After the judges were happy, the guys left the stage and the Male Models 30+ were on.

Oh dear, they got the walkthrough wrong! All the other groups had worked it without a hitch, whether they just forgot I don’t know, but after some frantic gesturing from Vicki they got back on track.

There was only 4 competitors in this lineup and Basilio – the masters bodybuilder was back on stage wearing his darkest shades and baseball cap on backwards – too cool for school!

One round of quarters turns was all that was required and the guys left the stage.

Now it was the fitness Model under 30 in their fitness gear, as always supplied by Black and Blue, and it was the camo look again. After the walkthrough there was only one round of quarter turns before the group left the stage and the Fitness Models 30+ came on in their fitness  gear.

The fitness gear round is the guys opportunity for a bit of individualism and most of them choose a sport that they love doing so there’s always plenty of variety. Chase came on with baseball bat and white slacks and I have to say looked damned good (IMHO of course!). Ok I know I’m supposed to be providing an objective write up here – but I’m only human and if womens fitness mags had any sense about them they’d put Chase on the cover and do a full page spread – that would boost their circulation numbers! Reckon Mens fitness mags would do ok as well 🙂

If you want an objective perspective, then from a photographers point of view lets just say Chase is very photogenic.

Hmm…

Its not flying is it?

Ok, ok, Chase is hot and I wanted him to win.

Happy now? 🙂

Is this where I should probably include one of those disclaimer things…?

blah, blah, views expressed, blah, are the writers own and do not reflect the views and opinions on the ANB in any way shape or form, blah blah…

so now I can say what I like?

think I’ve made it fairly clear! 🙂

Then we had a Roman Legionnaire in his cape and leather ‘kilt’, Steve Irwin complete with blonde wig and crocodile, we had runners, rock climbers, Bob the Builder (everyone loves a hot tradie!), basketball (ironically from one of the shorter guys!), boxers, martial artists and Spanner was a spear fisherman. Johnny Starr stole the show – again! He came on in golfing getup, laid out a patch of green and rested a ball on the tee and lined up to hit it.

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Surely he wasn’t actually going to hit the ball? Did he not see what happened last year when Jimmy tried to volley his beach ball into the crowd and hit the judges? I cringed for him hoping that he would hit it out of the hall!

Fortunately he did – phew.

In the Male Models 30+ we had Scuba Steve who made the crowd laugh because he was wearing enormous flippers and had to come up the stairs backwards. Wolverine also made a guest appearance and it was the perfect ‘outfit’ for the competitor who was definitely of the more rugged ilk and it seemed like he also took on a bit of the wolverine character. In the previous round, he’d seemed a little uncomfortable and nervous , but once he got the claws on he really grew into the act and worked it – much to the approval of his rowdy cheer squad.

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Things had been moving along quite fast and there was still the evening wear round to go, so another short break was called, an opportunity to grab a coffee and some water.

Ok, right about now, I know there is one category that I haven’t mentioned (it might be 2 depending on whether there was a short and tall competitor). After the fitness models and before the guys, two other competitors had their turn on stage – one came on with white feathers and did a routine, the other did a more military style routine. They then followed that up by a bikini round.

Now I don’t even know what the category was, I haven’t taken any photos of the category because I just don’t know what the purpose of it was. Both competitors were relatively lean, they were certainly as lean as some of the fitness models so why were they not in those  groups? I didn’t get it.

Given that the bikini and fitness categories in all federations are growing very rapidly in popularity and we are seeing ever increasing numbers of competitors, to have only 2 competitors in what appeared to be a bikini type category sort of implies that I might not be the only one who doesn’t understand what the category is and that the competitors also are not sure of it either and have avoided entering it.

It is certainly an anomaly given the current trend in the fitness and bikini category world, and maybe if it was called ‘Bikini’ or ‘Swimsuit Model’ then I think we’d see a huge amount of competitors enter it.

Break was over, it was time for the evening wear rounds. In the under 30 fitness group there were a couple of absolute knockout gowns – clearly the competitors had gone to a lot of effort and they really shone. It’s a shame there isn’t a prize for best gown, but how would you judge that? It’s even more subjective than judging a physique – at least there are guidelines for judging a physique. Judging a gown is totally subjective.

But here’s my faves anyway 🙂

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When they were all lined up together it did look good

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Next was the fitness models 30+ and here the gowns were very different, in general more conservative, with less of the really bright colours that we’d seen in the previous group and I guess they reflected each competitors personality.

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With this round each competitor got opportunity to do a t walk by themselves as Lindy read out their profile, goals, motivation and thank you’s. There was no need to do any quarter turns here.

After the fitness models it was the Male models under 30 – they all scrubbed up well too. Most had gone for the straight 2 piece suit in varying shades of grey, a few had gone with the more ‘scholarly’ approach with waistcoat and scarf – Johnny Starr was even wearing scarf and gloves! He must have been cooking under the lights!

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The Male models 30+ were a little more relaxed in general, Wolverine had opted for waistcoat over tshirt and dark jeans, scuba Steve had gone for the 2 piece, Ben ruso went for the classic 3 piece suite and Basilio was a bit more business casual wearing his shirt open necked with no tie.

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Again each got their turn to do a T walk whilst their profile was read out to the audience.

After the male models 30+ had filed off stage the only thing left to do for the day was to award the prizes

The fitness Models under 30 the winner was Laura Nitoli (she would have got my prize for best gown as well!), 2nd was Gladysha Sudarkan, 3rd Zoe Dawe

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Fitness Models 30+ the winner was Kitty Kat Slema and she was clearly a bit overwhelmed by it, Bianca Paton was 2nd and Skye Lee, 3rd

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The Male Models under 30 was a very close result and it took the judges several attempts to tally up the scores, double check and make sure it was all correct. Eventually James Taylor, ‘Spanner’, won much to the delight of his big cheer squad and it turned out that it was his birthday as well – what a great birthday present!  Chase Baker was 2nd and Ryan Hurst 3rd

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The Male Models 30+ Ben Raso was the winner, Stephen ‘Scuba Steve’ Neal 2nd and Stuart ‘Wolverine’ Bedford 3rd

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Awards for most inspiration male went to Stuart Bedford, and most inspirational female was Olivia Smith.

All in all, it was a really good day. For a new show, I have to say it worked well – the new format with the bodybuilding categories on in the morning and then the models in the afternoon kept things moving along nice and quickly. The stage setup and making more of a show with the model categories, I think gave everybody a bit more action to watch and enjoy. And if they could just get some good lighting right at the end of the central T that would be great – for both judges and photographers alike. Thanks! 🙂

The quality of the model lineups was good overall, and if the intention behind the show is as a launching pad for fitness models careers, then with buy in from people like Lindy, I can see this show growing in stature and occupying its own distinct niche in the ever increasing number of events that are appearing.

Congratulations everyone involved in putting on the event and of course everyone who helped out – it couldn’t work without you!

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