Blog Post by Jill Taylor – Owner/Director of Activewear Online
Ok, I know, this topic is probably going to come as a massive shock to some of you – but hear me out. I haven’t suddenly decided that I’m going to give bikini, fitness or sports (BFS) modelling a shot! I am what I guess you would call a “purist” – that is, I prefer my bodybuilding shows to be “figure, fitness and bodybuilding”. Muscle is what drew me towards this industry, and I have until recently, vehemently lamented the fact that our ranks were now being infiltrated by these newer, more socially acceptable classes.
When I first started going to bodybuilding shows (the very first was a NABBA show years ago that was being held at La Trobe Bundoora – The only thing I really recall about the show was that Monica Wright did a Tomb Raider fitness routine that was one of the best things I had ever seen), there were just the straight Bodybuilding (male and female), fitness, and figure. It wasn’t long after I was hooked when slowly the federations began to drop the fitness categories for lack of competitors here in Australia. I remember a passion filled speech from Melissa Zimmerman during which she spoke about the fact that her federation had begun dropping her category in selected states. I didn’t really understand where she was coming from at the time but I remember her anger to this day.
It may have been my imagination, but the shows just seemed a little… lacklustre after that. They lost some of their entertainment value for me (and I love muscle!) and I stopped going to as many competitions. I am sure that I was not alone. The number of competitors seemed to be dwindling a little too although that may have just been my take on it. Now that I understand the industry and how the shows work a little better, I can see that at the very centre – bodybuilding shows are a business. It may not be a terribly lucrative one (or maybe it is, for some), but a business it definitely is. In business, if you continually make a loss or make too small a profit for the amount of time and energy that goes into making the event happen – you’re going to cease trade in the near future! And the outlet that all the girls and guys who love muscle have to go and compete and win those titles would be gone.
I’m sure it started with figure being introduced as a professional class in the IFBB. Somehow, mainstream society had to become interested in the competitions again so that tickets could be sold and sponsors could come on board – so that money could be made! Inevitably, the BFS model categories came into play.
At first I hated it! Like the other purists I thought this made a mockery of our sport – how dare they infiltrate our ranks and take the glory of a state or national title when they hardly have to train or diet?! This is a bodybuilding show, not a runway or a beauty pageant! Not only that, but I viewed it as the beginning of the death of the more muscular female categories if these new categories became popular – they already had the attention of most of the industry media, and seemed to be showing up more and more in supplement companies advertisements and securing sponsorships that normally would have gone to the figure girls.
One day I came to the realisation that these new divisions are not the beginning of the death of the muscular categories – but they are giving us life. I’m speaking metaphorically but let’s face it, bodybuilding shows are a business and they need income to survive. If the BFS girls bring sponsors to the table and more people buy tickets because of them – great! It means that we will (and I include the boy’s bodybuilding in this too because no category on its own is enough to bring a profitable crowd) continue to be able to do what we love doing.
So although I may not have come around willingly, I have accepted the fact that our less muscular sisters in iron will not be going anywhere. More and more will come – posting up their abdominal instagram shots on facebook and claiming to be the latest fitness gurus – but you know what? I can deal with that. Just don’t send me a fanpage join request.
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