Sports: Ultrabodies IX competitors do their best flexing, posing at the Galaxy Club
July 2, 2008
UK weekly edition, Wednesday, July 2, 2008
RAF MILDENHALL — Months, if not years, of grueling training, extreme dieting and intense preparation came down to mere minutes on stage Saturday for the 20 competitors at Ultrabodies IX.
Fuelled by constant shouts of encouragement from the crowd of 200 at the Galaxy Club, the swimsuit-clad crew of bodybuilders was nothing less than poised, pumped and practiced.
"It takes so much time, so much effort. You feel a lot of pride when you get here," said Senior Airman Justin Schomig, 25, with the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Mildenhall.
The glory was fleeting and only a few people took home trophies, but most contestants said the challenge of getting ready for a show like Ultrabodies, not necessarily winning it, has them hooked.
"It kind of got addictive," said Alexandra Goncalves, 25, a personal trainer at Spangdahlem Air Base and one of a handful who flew in from Italy and Germany to compete.
"The reward is stepping on stage and knowing you did your best," said Goncalves, who has done three shows in the past year. "You just make so many friends, and it’s an excuse to travel. It really is awesome."
Those who placed first are now qualified to compete in an upcoming professional event thanks to the contest’s new affiliation with the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation, which Air Force organizers said should draw even more contenders to Ultrabodies next year.
For 1st Lt. Katie Swenson, one of several first-timers, the contest was a learning experience. Though she’s moving back to the States in a few months, the 26-year-old is considering coming back to enter the professional event in Britain later this year.
"Yeah, sure, why not? Then you don’t have to go through the stress of qualifying again," said Swenson, who trained five months for Ultrabodies and took home first place in the women’s middle weight class.
For more-seasoned competitors, it’s always about the next show.
"It’s constant dedication," said Christopher Williams, a civilian employee from Aviano Air Base who has competed in bodybuilding shows for three years.
Though judging is based purely on physical characteristics, the toughest challenge is the mental fortitude needed to persevere through the intense training process, said Williams, 40, who took home the men’s overall title.
"If you get focused you can achieve anything," said Williams. "If you want to change your body, you can change your body. It’s all up to you."