Sunday, May 25, 2008

The state of IFBB/NPC women's fitness

I have a question for all fitness fans out there, and I would like to see if any of you know the answer to it…WHAT IN THE HELL HAS HAPPENED TO THE SPORT?!?! Why does it feel like women’s fitness is dying a slow death? I’m not saying it is; I’m just basing all of this from what has been going on in the world of female muscle. Women’s bodybuilding has become pretty popular in terms of participation. Figure is UNREAL in terms of how many ladies participate in it. But fitness, the sport that got me loving female muscle in the first place, is going nowhere fast. Wait a minute…that was a little harsh. Actually fitness isn’t going as well as it should be. Why is that?

Is the figure division to blame for the decline of the fitness division? Is the lack of support from the fitness division itself to blame? Is President George W. Bush to blame? I wish I knew the answer to this question, but sadly I don’t. Personally, I think having or lacking a gymnastics or dance background is an overrated excuse on why fitness isn’t as big as it should be, considering that one of the most popular fitness competitors of all time, Adela Garcia, didn’t have either one of those backgrounds. Guess what? You can’t talk about the sport without talking about Adela. She’s that good.

Is something being done about the fitness division…other than talking about the obvious number problem? Fortunately, the answer is yes.

One shine of hope is that IFBB Pro Shannon Meteraud, one of figure’s top stars, might…might be returning to her fitness roots and compete in fitness again. Notice that I said “might” because Shannon has not come right out and said anything. I’m just going by what I’ve read on Issac Hinds’s Hardbody News blog ( If she returns, all signs are pointing to Houston on Independence Day. With Shannon already a veteran in the business, and the caliber of rising figure stars continuing to expand practically day in and day out, now would be a good time as any for Shannon to show the IFBB why she’s one of the best out there…fitness OR figure. Who knows? Maybe there will be others to follow the trend and help out balance the number of competitors in all the female muscle categories.

Something else that might spark up the fitness numbers is the creation of the NPC Teen Fitness division. Personally I LOVE this idea. I think-if done correctly-this division within the NPC could raise fitness numbers not only in the NPC but IFBB as well. Feminine Bodybuilding posted the rules, regulations, and other legal mumbo-jumbo on their forum (which I’m a moderator of…cheap plug, I know.) But here’s their main objective of the division:

The objectives of the Teen Fitness Division are to promote a fun, safe and
comfortable atmosphere for young athletes from the age of 8 to 19 years of age.
Teen Fitness events will provide a positive environment so that the young
athletes will be excited to participate in the sport. The rules for Teen Fitness
are standardized for all NPC Districts. Standardizing the Teen Fitness events
will ensure quality and credibility.

You can read the entire thing at this link (

One more thing that could be a key factor of fitness’s survival is the unbelievable efforts of IFBB Fitness Competitor Tanji Johnson, who was Stealth on season one of NBC’s American Gladiators. There may very well be no one in the entire IFBB fitness division (at least not yet) that has so much dedication to seeing this sport survive than Tanji. She has launched a campaign with other IFBB fitness stars called “Save the Fitness Competitor”. Seriously, if you happen to be thinking of attend one of Tanji’s clinics, please do so. You’ll be learning from one of the best in the business.

Okay…now that I’ve talked about what is being done right now to improve the fitness numbers, here’s what I would do, and encourage all of you in WebWorld to do…note: you must not be on your desktop, laptop, or web-based PDA or cell-phone to do this. LOL. I would go to whoever runs the IFBB/NPC shows and see if they can add fitness to the shows. For those that DO have fitness on their shows, get permission to videotape some of the fitness routines and physique rounds and post them on Youtube or get your local television news station to run this on their program. The more publicity, the better.

I heard this saying once, and I think this holds true here: “There are those that want to talk about, and there are those that want to BE ABOUT IT!!!” Bottom line, if we as fans and fellow competitors come together as a united front, maybe we can see a fitness boom in the very near future.

Women’s Fitness (whether it’s NPC or IFBB) is a treasure, not a fad. It’s time this sport got treated like one.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sharing a TenSpot with...Jane Awad

In addition to giving my thoughts on the female muscle industry, I'll be doing interviews with members of the female muscle industry (competitors, fans, judges, photographers, fellow experts, etc.). These special interviews are called "Sharing a TenSpot". It's just basically an interview conducted by email or instant messenging and put on here. Expect at least one to two of these each month, possibly more during Arnold and Olympia time.

Today, I'm Sharing a TenSpot with one of IFBB's top figure competitors, Jane Awad!

(photo courtesy of
Last time she competed was at the 2007 Jan Tana Figure competition and was one point shy of qualifying for the 2007 Figure Olympia...ONE FREAKING POINT! It doesn't get any closer than that, folks. She will be looking to show the figure world that she belong with the elite as she is preparing for the Houston Pro (her first contest this year) during the Foruth of July weekend. And with the pro figure letter that was released after the Arnold Classic, I think Jane has an incredble chance to make a name for herself along the Gina Aliotti, Jennifer Gates, Amy Fry, and Nicole Wilkins aka the IFBB New Breed. Most fans recognize her do to her long legs, as she is blessed with good genetics. With the intro out of the way, let's get down to the TenSpot, shall we?

FitGems: State your name and profession (fitness/figure/female bodybuilding/other).
Jane Awad: Jane Awad, IFBB Pro Figure Champion, owner of Train With Jane Personal Training Studio.

FitGems: How many years have you competed?
Jane: 6years

FitGems: What are your best lifts in the gym (that you are most proud of)?
Jane: Incline chest press 45lb plates on each side

FitGems: Why did you choose the profession you’re currently in in the first place?
Jane: I am the owner of a personal training studio called Train With Jane

FitGems: What (if anything) would you change about your profession?
Jane: Nothing I love what I do.

FitGems: Although it isn’t much right now, do you like the positive mainstream exposure of female muscle so far?
Jane: Yes, I think there are many women that work hard in the gym and love to be inspired by others. If I can be inspirational to people that is a true blessing.

FitGems: Who or whom do you look up to the most for your inspiration?
Jane:I have always looked to my father. He is a great person with solid values and has taught me so much about life.

FitGems: What accomplishment are you proud of the most as of right now?
Jane: I am proud of opening up my own training studio. I love helping others and my studio allows people to come to me for advice and for training.

FitGems: If there was any celebrity that would be a perfect fit in a fitness/figure/female bodybuilding competition, if giving time to condition themselves, who or whom would it be?
Jane: Jennifer Garner, she always plays fit roles and has great structure

FitGems: What are your future plans in the female muscle industry?
Jane: I will be competing in the Houston Pro July 4th weekend and know I will continue to help other achieve their fitness goals in my studio Train With Jane.

For those that would like to know more about Jane, check out the following links:

There will be more TenSpots in the future, so stay tuned!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My personal thoughts on NPC/IFBB figure

My first official blog post (I’m not counting my introduction) won’t be on a competitor, but on an entire division. To be more specifically, I’m gonna talk about the IFBB and NPC figure divisions. By far, figure in the United States is the biggest division due to sheer size, as in how many women are in figure. However, there’s one thing that’s seriously missing from the sport…consistency. Picking a standard in figure is like picking out hay in a needle stack. I mean, COME ON PEOPLE!! The other two divisions (female bodybuilding and fitness) have (to me) clear constant standards that the judges judged on. Female bodybuilding is judged by bringing size and shape yet maintain their femininity, plus your posing routine can make or break you. The top two at this year’s Arnold Classic (Yaxeni Oriquen and Dayana Cadeau) resemble that to a T. Fitness has the flowing defined physique as well (obviously not as big as FBB), but the fitness routines is what will ultimately seperate the women from the girls. Jenny Hendershott, Adela Garcia, and Kim Klein seem to be what fitness should be all about, as they are highly respected by judges and fans alike. IFBB figure has…quarter turns. Yep, that’s it. Just quarter turns. Not the most exciting thing to watch, huh? Well, while it might not be the Super Bowl, I sure as hell would watch on my TV far quicker than hot dogs contest that ESPN would put on their networks. Now, I’m gonna ask a few of figure’s biggest questions to myself…

Is figure a real sport?
Well…DUH! I mean these women train for up to a year just to be in the right condition to even think about stepping on stage. These women work their a$$es off to go out there on stage, drained from carbs (carb-depleted), make sure their suits are on right, and this and that has to be perfect! I won’t get into all the details, as all figure competitors know what I’m talking about. And there are those that have the right to denounce this as a sport and say that they don’t belong in the ranks of female bodybuilding and fitness?!?! GIVE ME A BREAK, PLEASE?!?!

Will the “pro figure letter” work in the long run?
To me, this is too early to answer this question. Issac Hinds (one of the top people in the female muscle industry) mentioned that the ladies at the 2008 Pittsburgh Pro listened to the mandate and said that it was a good thing. Oh wait a minute…exactly what is the pro figure letter? Well, here’s what the meat of the letter says:

"After the first figure event for 2008, The Figure International, the IFBB Professional League wants to see less muscularity and hardness in the figure competitors. The Deltoids are too big and cut and the thigh cuts are too deep. The next IFBB professional figure event is the 2008 Pittsburgh Pro Figure to be held on May 3/2008 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Beginning with this event the judges will be marking down competitors with excessive hardness and muscular separation"

In other words, the IFBB is looking for an athletic, not too hard, & symmetrical physique, and "pretty" face. Well, too many figure skeptics, this furthers their original thoughts on the sport, by calling it nothing more than a “bonafied Hawaiian Tropic bikini contest.” And to a point, it could be true. In my honest opinion, I would have the competitors themselves determine the ideal physique or criteria that IFBB figure should be about and not leave it up to men that think they know the sport better than the actual competitors (that’s who runs the IFBB, by the way.) But I’m not a figure competitor in any way, shape, or form; I’m just a fan of the female muscle world, that’s all.

However, I asked one of my favorite figure competitors, Jennifer Gates, aka the “figure John Cena” (I’m giving her this nickname due to her rise to the top of IFBB figure. No, Jenn is not pursuing the WWE Raw superstar, as Jenn is happily married to someone else, so there! HAHA!) Anyways, here’s a tad of what she told me a while back, which makes a lot of sense if you think about it:

So, on the record I think it's a good thing. They are asking us to look athletic and not so bodybuilderish. Which I have already learned my lesson about that. I competed in 2006 12 pounds heavier than 2007 and 2008. So I have already streamlined my look. I am happy withthe way I look now...I didn't need all that mass...I still look just as muscular at 110 than I did at 122. Plus I have better luck with fitting into jeans now.And honestly I like training for a more streamlined athletic look's not so much weights. It's more cardio and conditioning. I run bleachers, hill sprints, sprints, long distance running, all sorts of cardio programs, bootcamp classes, you get my point. It doesn't get boring, change it up, and I feel like an athlete.

When an actual competitor puts it all into perceptive, it’s not as bad or degrading as some make it out to be. But still, I have to see how the remaining of the 2008 season and beyond to see if this letter will bring out the best in the competitors…or just another way of keeping the competitors from bringing their best. For the record, as long as the fans are happy and, most importantly, the competitors are happy, then the “pro figure letter” will be considered a success. For now, I’m calling it a test, and after the 2008 Figure Olympia, we’ll see if this letter is a success or a failure with the people that count the most: the competitors and the fans of IFBB figure.

Does IFBB/NPC figure need a posing round?
Ohh…hmm…uhh…well, if it were me, yep. But you know what? I’m gonna get opinions from other people and see what they have to say on the matter, and I’ll get back to you on that on a later post.

Until then, I hope you have read this and be able to draw your own conclusions about IFBB/NPC figure. If you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, etc., please contact me by the following emails ( or Also don’t forget to leave me a comment on the page. I would like to hear your thoughts on these topics, whether they are positive or negative.

Take care and God Bless you all!