‘Pump You Up’… naturally5/29/2013
Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lou Ferrigno. SNL’s Hans and Franz. If you know the names, then you know what these men have in common: professional bodybuilding. These are men who have taken physical fitness to the extreme, transforming their bodies into real-life Hulks, save for the green pigment. To some, this sport is nothing more than muscle-bound meat-heads who shoot themselves so full of steroids it’s a wonder their skin is able to hold their mass. But for others, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
See for yourself this Saturday, June 1, when Des Moines will again host more than 100 competitors from all around the nation for the 19th annual Nutri-Sport Natural Iowa and Central Midwest Bodybuilding, Xtreme Fit, Bikini and Figure Championships.
The key word here is “natural.” That means no steroids, no enhancement drugs and no pro hormones of any kind. Participants are a part of the North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (NANBF), which means they are proven to be at least seven years drug-free having passed both a urinalysis and a polygraph test.
“[Bodybuilding is getting more popular], especially in the natural, drug-free competitions,” said Ryan Irwin, International Fitness and Physique Association (IFPA) Pro Natural Bodybuilder and producer of this event. “I believe the growth has been due to the public learning about competitions and seeing it as a way to work toward getting in the best shape of their life and having a goal to shoot for. With the new bikini division, it also allows females, who might not have as much muscle for bodybuilding, a division to compete in.”
Those competing have pushed their bodies further than many could possibly imagine. Some bodies are thicker than others, while others might boast as much as an eight-pack abdomen. Others still will show off a tamer but tightly toned body that has the makings for a future bodybuilder competitor. It all depends on the class.
“Bodybuilding is the most muscular and leanest look. Both the male and female competitors are working to come in not only having as much muscle as possible but also as lean as they can. Figure is for women only, and while they are still lean and have muscle, it is not to the extent of bodybuilding,” Irwin said. “Also the difference between these two is that bodybuilding does mandatory poses, whereas figure is just four-quarter turns. ‘Bikini’ is a softer look than ‘Figure,’ with women still being fit and tone but not to the extent of the figure competitors.
“Finally, ‘Xtreme Fit’ is a fit look but is most defined by having a fitness routine choreographed to music.”
Men and women from all around Iowa, the Midwest and the country will flock to Hoyt Sherman Place to get in on this action. is sanctioned by the NANBF and is a pro-qualifier for the IFPA. The top prize is the chance to win a pro card and compete professionally. CV
David Rowley is cinefile/journalist/gumshoe from Des Moines who is always prepared with a pen in his pocket feverishly searching for that “perfect level of ridiculous that makes the absurd desirable.”