Thursday, 19 December 2013

Part 5: How we can improve our bodybuilding events

6. Judges and Athletes

As one bodybuilder said to me, "Hindi po mapapakain ng medalya ang aking pamilya". Medals won't be able to feed my family. So obviously some cash prizes will attract more athletes. Yes there are people who are happy by the title alone. But no one will complain if there are some prizes as well. So far in the Philippines, we seem to be lucky enough that even some events with token prizes still gets a fair amount of bodybuilders. 

However, with  this increase in prizes comes with it the headache when complaints come in after the contest questioning the result. So you better get some reputable judges. For me, a judge needs to have two qualities - integrity and know how, in that order of importance. It doesn't matter that a person has passed a judge certification course, if he has a history of criminal misconduct, I wouldn't spend the time of day on him. Remember it is you who's going to get the complaints from the bodybuilders and their supporters if the judging becomes questionable, not the judges themselves.

If you really must put sponsors as judges then ensure that you have a method of dropping the top and lowest scores for each athlete to ensure fairness. This is in fact the way other artistic events in the olympics are judged.

There has also been a change in the bodybuilding scene over the years. The preference has switched from size, to symmetry, to definition, to all of the above. So the organizer should ensure that there is a  judges meeting before the event to have a consistent scoring among the judges. Discuss with them any point deduction system you want to put in place for the event.

Lastly, though this is still a pipe dream, it would nice to flash the bodybuilder's score right after their freeposing routine, as I don't think they actually do judge the posing routine anyway (This I'am not sure). This can easily be done through existing technology.  Though it might break protocol on most of the existing bodybuilding organizations, so again, it's just my pipe dream.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Part 4: How we can improve our bodybuilding events

5. Lights, Camera, Action

Well not really like in the movies, but a stage, lights and sound will definitely enhance any show. I know a few organizers actually spends a small fortune on these. The one in Hong Kong is definitely a showcase like no other. They have female models wielding light sabers, revolving stage, laser lights, smoke machines, etc. The only gimmick I haven't seen from them would be the athletes making an entrance suspended by ropes or sprouting out from the stage floor.  

Ok, now back to reality, if you can't afford the convention centers or the grand ballroom, then make the most of what you have. The usual stage setup that I usually see is a stage with a left and right entrance. If you do not have a stage, then take advantage of the different ambiance of the closeness of the athletes to the audience. 

Most stage managers will try to arrange the bodybuilders in a semi circle if there are a lot of athletes. This will work up to some point, up until the guys at the edge needs to face sideways in order to fit on the stage. Remember, they may form a semi circle, but all of them should still be facing the front. Otherwise, if the front double bicep pose is called, the judges will only see the sides of the bodybuilders positioned on the edge of the stage.

Some will try to line them into different rows, which for me, creates undue distractions as the guys at the back goes through endless fidgeting while the bodybuilders in front do their poses.

I would rather have them stand by the wings of the stage, or move out the stage altogether to be called once it is their turn. They should be out of the direct eye line of the judges. The only time I find acceptable to have that many people on stage is during the introduction and the finale.

I haven't seen such garish lighting as the one used inside a movie theater. Now don't get me wrong, it is not that they didn't have lighting, they just have bad lighting. Sometimes we have too many bells and whistles that the basic lighting is ignored. 

If lighting is limited, or if your lighting guy can't illuminate the whole stage properly, make sure you mark the stage to inform the bodybuilders on where to stand to get good lighting. Sometimes bodybuilders get carried away and goes to the stage's edge in the mistaken notion that they would look better when in fact the judges and the audience could only see their outline once they've crossed the line.

One of the most common sights in birthdays, anniversaries or any celebrations nowadays in the Philippines is the tarpaulin. Unfortunately, I haven't seen one in matte that would not reflect the light back. If the tarpaulin is used as the stage backdrop, the spotlight will ultimately shine on it. The reflected light will provide glare to the audience, making it uncomfortable to watch the proceedings. If you must have it to acknowledge the sponsor,  put it on the sides of the stage. Keep the stage backdrop as matte as possible so that the spotlight can work it's magic on the athlete and not provide undue distraction instead.

to be continued...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Part 3: How can we improve our bodybuilding events

3. Communication

One of the most important thing for a show to run smoothly is the effective communication between the major players behind the scenes. The stage director needs to get the cue from the emcees while he gives the cue to the sound and lighting guy as well as the smoke machine guy, and finally the athlete. Only through this can they properly introduce the athletes. The judges as well need to communicate with the stage manager on which athletes he wants to call out for comparisons. As well as the order of the athletes he wants to compare.

If budget is a concern on renting these gadgets, plan an alternative, like hand signals, sms, or for multi-party communication try whatsapp or viber so that everyone is aware of their cue.

The security team needs this as well to be on top of things. Providing order when the crowd suddenly all stand up blocking the view of the audience seated at the back. Or worse those who move around to occupy the front seats.

4. The Run Through

I had experienced the nightmare of waiting for more than two hours outside the main hall because the director needed the athletes to do the rehearsals before the afternoon (which turned out to be an evening) show. I was like, how difficult could it be walking into the mike, saying your name and place of residence? I was not happy with the wait, but the show did run rather smoothly.

The need for rehearsals boils down to the different degree of understanding of each athlete. No one can read your mind, not everyone can comprehend tagalog or english. So the best way is to do the rehearsals.  

Ensure the athletes know where they should stand during the introduction, the call outs, the free posing, and the awarding ceremony. Sometimes the prize announcement and victory pose is the most chaotic part of the event. 

Actual demonstration on how to do it is better than giving instructions. 

While we're on this topics, emcees need to run through the athletes and judges' name, so that hey can introduce them correctly.  We have a myriad of dialects in the Philippines which makes pronouncing the unfamiliar surnames a challenge. Add to that the parents seems to have been getting creative when picking their kid's name. So there are a lot of variations from the normal Juan and Pedro to the unusual Novs and Skylove. This problem is compounded by foreign names which are tongue twisters by themselves.

The organizers should also have a backup spiel for the emcees, just in case there are technical troubles. These spiels could be as short as thanking the sponsors to as long as describing how the sponsor's product is going to be beneficial to the audience - an ad placement, plain and simple. Nobody wants dead air, where the audience is left wondering what's happening or what is next to come.

to be continued...

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Part 2: How can we improve our bodybuilding events?

2. Provide time for the athlete's 15 minutes of fame

Organizers might need to adjust the length of the show depending on the number of entries. I know this is a pain for the organizers because of last minute entry. The smaller organizers might not be able to stomach this as registration fees are one way for them to earn money. But the only way to go forward is to be strict with entry deadlines.

I  know of an organization that mandates that all athletes should be called out for comparisons, regardless whether the judges specifically asked for them. This is to ensure no athletes are missed out. At least that's what stated in their rule book. Whether it is actually enforced, I don't know. The other way of doing it is to limit the number of athletes in your show.  The Mr. Kadayawan event in Davao has been notable in this aspect.

Now if you have 40 athletes competing in a category, this will be tough. Allocating time for them to do their introductory pose and their comparison call outs will help in better judging. Again the time is dependent on the size of your stage, though I wouldn't put more than 10 athletes at a time, for the photographer's sake.  Some organizations pick up the top 15 just by their quarter turns before delving deeper into the competition. This is a shame.

If you plan to put more than 10 people on stage, at least give the judge a second look at the athletes. As shown in the picture above, don't make the mistake of taking the easy way out and do the switch like the second row. This will not give the guys on the edge visibility to the judges. The guys at the center will remain at the center. The better, but a bit more confusing switch would be the bottom row. This give the guys on the edge a chance to be seen at the center, where presumably the better lighting can be found.

In the Jakarta competition they ask athletes in a couple of categories to do their introductory pose, I reckon they could have saved time if instead of calling 1 athlete at a time, they had 2 or 3 athletes do their poses together as the stage was fairly big anyway. The audience interest would've waned after the first 10 athletes.

One last thing, do you really need to have that intermission dance or song number in the contest? Why not allocate that time for the proper comparison call outs instead? Remove any unnecessary items in the program. Only consider these add-ons if you find yourself lacking in athletes or if you have a certified celebrity guest.

to be continued...

How can we make our Bodybuilding events better?

It's been a long time since I've updated this blog, so let's start the ball rolling once again with this year-ender post. But first, I want to greet everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I've been lucky enough to visit some interesting places this year with the help of some friends, and have experienced how different organizers put up their shows. In this post, I will list down points I believe are essential to put on a successful competition.

1. Start on time.  

It does not make sense for the organizer to put a very early start time when everyone knows that it won't start on time. I know this is widely practiced for weddings, where invitations lists the ceremony an hour early to ensure all the guest arrives before the actual ceremony begins. But this is a bodybuilding competition, where diets, pump, loading, etc are timed so that the athletes reach their peak condition when they step onstage.

We should stop using Filipino time, we should be on time. 

OK, so what about if one of the VIPs or judges has not arrived yet? 
My simple answer would be start the program without them. 

For the case of the late judge, the odd number rule of thumb doesn't guarantee that there won't be a tie anyway. It would just make it harder, but not impossible. If you're out of luck and there is indeed a tie, have the head judge break the tie. When the late judge arrives, you can add him in the next category.

For the case of  the late VIP, usually a local politician or a major sponsor, acknowledge them appropriately after they arrive at the venue during the lull or a logical break in the event.

to be continued...

Monday, 11 March 2013

Trip Report - Arnold Classic Pumproom

Ok, as I mentioned on yesterday's post, I was originally approved the pump room access only. So here's a short preview of what I would have covered if I were not given the media pit access.

 To be continued...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Trip Report: Arnold Classic 2013 - day 1

There were a few things that discouraged me in going to the Arnold Classic. First, the flying time to reach Columbus, Ohio was more than 24 hours. As I will be spending my own money for this trip, flying business class is not an option. So I had to really think hard on how to be able to get through those 24 hours in coach.  Second, the weather report shows near freezing temperatures in Columbus. All my winter clothing had been donated long ago as I have no use for them in this hot and humid country. So that means I need to shop of winter wear once again.

Fortunately, these factors did not hinder me from making the trip to the 25th Anniversary of the Arnold Classic. I arrived a week before the event, and it was a good decision as it took about a couple of days for me to get over the jet lag.  I don't know how Dondon Cortuna and Kevin Gan survived last year's contest flying just a few days before the competition.

I stayed with the only Filipino athlete in the Arnold Classic, Rowena Marcaida Walters, for the whole duration of my stay in the US. It was here where I experience her early morning (4.30am!!!) cardio and gym training with her coach Gib Osbert Ang. 

Ok. Let's fast forward to the first day of the event, Thursday February 28. The weigh-in for the athletes and time for me to collect my Media pass courtesy of Maximum Muscle Magazine. We went to Veterans Memorial, and saw hundreds of athletes waiting to be weighed in, undoubtedly being on a no carb diet days before. It was a long queue, but the security made sure every thing was moving, barking orders that only athletes are allowed in the area. Meron talagang pasaway kahit saan ka man pumunta!

When I reached the place, very helpful staff  provided me with my Media pass for the pump room. I was about to leave when I remembered that Matt Lorz, our main contact for the media accreditation, told me to look for him in case I might get upgraded to  Media Pit. Well it turns out, that he is there. He asked for my details, and said "yes you are at the top of the waiting list". Then there was a short pause, and I wait, and the silence was uninterrupted, and I wait. He then instructs his staff to make another pass for me. He told me that one of the German photographers called in sick, so I could have his place. I can't believe my luck. I was grateful and thanked him and his staff for the new pass. 

Now I circled back to the pump room, which for the time being is where the weigh in is supposed to happen. They had 3 counters setup on the 3 sides of the room. One for the physique, where they weigh you and get your height. One for the bodybuilding for men and women. And the last one for bikini, fitness and bodyfitness. In the center of the room are some weight equipment used by athletes to pump their muscles before going on stage.

It is here that I waited for Weng to finish her weigh in. During that time, lo and behold, IFBB Pro Dennis James found us.

to be continued...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Contest Field Report: UBC1 First Blood

This event promises to change the way Filipinos view bodybuilding, and the inaugural competition certainly did just that. First off, the prize of 100,000 pesos or roughly 2,500 USD and a championship belt for the overall champion. This is arguably one of the biggest purse money in local bodybuilding history. Second, there was 10 compulsory poses to show off both the left and right limbs of the athletes. That's 3 more from the normal 7 compulsory poses. Third, the rival round, where an athlete will call out a competitor to do a pose of his choice. This will hopefully show off the athlete's strength or his competitor's weakness. Fourth, there is no 1 minute time limit to the posing routine - it is up to the athlete how long his posing routing will be. So you don't see  hurried and forced poses that does not sync with the music just so as to fit the whole routine in  1 minute. Last, but not the least is the live band which provides the added oomph, to the pose down portion. The pose down portion is actually for the audience, I don't think there is any judging happening at this point. Maybe on the next event, they can come down and pose near the audience just like in the Olympia.

I arrived at the venue early as I never been to this area of the metro before and was afraid to get lost.  I was  surprised with the place as I was expecting a mall like SM or Robinson's -- guess that's another stereotype broken.  Since it was a little after 2pm I decided to have lunch before proceeding to the foodcourt where the stage was setup.

After greeting the organizers, Mr. Lee Soriano and Mr. Rocky Dauden, and some bodybuilder friends who were assisting in the event, I went around backstage to see what's happening. It turned out that there were already a few competitors there resting, flexing and chatting.

After chatting with Lakay Smith, I was told that there was a good Baguio contingent competing in the event. This is a good sign, as the folks in Baguio are known for good muscle conditioning. In my mind, this will indeed be one great competition.

As the hours passed, more and more athletes arrived and did their registration and weigh in. An hour before the start time, I went front stage to get a good seat. By this time, they have started playing the UBC Anthem over the excellent sound system, light test was also being done, and the IWATA portable air conditioners was blowing cool air in the audience. This food court has a different vibe to it, I can only compare it to the now defunct uniwide cubao food court. Where it is actually an inuman kinda place, so a rowdy audience will sit in just fine.Some of the supporters actually had an inuman session while the contest was going on.

There were around 55 athletes that competed that night, most of them in the novice category. There was a little above 10 athletes in each weight division, except for the open category which had less than 5 if my memory is correct. Here are some preview of the novice line up before I go into the details of the top 5 of each category in the succeeding posts.

The overall winner was announced around 11pm, and the live band was still playing while I left the venue. The event was covered by PTV-4 and I saw Jonathan Casimiro being interviewed right after the competition.

Congratulations to the athletes and see you in UBC2 Ultimate Boracay - Insha'Allah

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Mr. Tagum 2012 Bodybuilding Championships

Earlier last month, in the province of Davao del Norte, in the peaceful city of Tagum, there was war...

The 2012 2nd Mr. Tagum Bodybuilding Championship!!!

This is the back (right) that won the Best back in the competition.

Congratulations to Jawn Fajardo for also winning the Best Abs of the night!

And if you think that wasn't enough, Jawn Fajardo was the Category winner of the Medium-Tall Class.

And he also took the OVERALL title of MR. TAGUM 2012!!!

Congratulations Jawn, and may your success continue in the next year*

* That is assuming today is not be the end of the world. :)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Athelete in Focus: Jawn Fajardo

There are different ways that can get you noticed in Bodybuilding, a freaking huge body,  superb conditioning, an awesome posing routine or a pretty face. The first time I noticed him was in the Mr Asia Pacific competition in Boracay with his unusual gyrating hips routine.

He started bodybuilding in 2007, he weighed a measly 41kg then. I can only imagine a twiggy boy, as he stands at 5'7". He was a band vocalist then, and some of the buffed rap artists like 50 cents were his inspiration to go into the sport so that he would have the complete package while he does his performance on stage. Today, he competes at 75 to 80 kg.

He trains 4 to 6 times a week in his gym, PowerShape Fitness Gym and Spa in Valencia City,  in Bukidnon and sometimes in its branch at Malaybalay City. He has high praises for the gym's instructors and the extra facilities it offers like ample carpark, steam bath, hot shower, clean lockers. They even have a wifi zone.

His ambition is to compete in Mr Olympia someday, but for now he is preparing to compete in the Mr. Universe in Germany next week.

I've seen him compete successfully in the athletic category in both Cebu and Boracay. This category constrains the athlete's weight based on his height. This is also the category which is often labelled as the model physique category. His unusual posing routine is usually the crowd favorite. 

His proudest moment in this sport was when he got the  Mr. Bukidnon title. And this year, he is one of the member of the Philippine team to compete Mr. Universe in Germany. Not to mention he is one of the top models of MuscleGallery

Aside from bodybuilding, Jawn also does motocross,  off road and big bike racing. He is also performing in a band, and a tattoo artist.

So as the performing arts people say... Break a leg in Germany Jawn!!!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Searching for the best protein supplements

In the past few weeks, I've been trying to find the good meal replacement shake to control my diet. I've gotten a few helpful ideas from friends. Along the way of searching for that perfect product, a few protein supplements seems to always come up in the search results. I am sharing the info below as it seems to provide a good overview of the different protein products in the market today. 

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing this brand, this is provided  for informational purpose only. I do not own the copyright of these images.