Muscle classic: Bodybuilders at Okinawa competition turn from their own worst critic to best salesman
June 9, 2009
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Bodybuilders live a mixed reality. On one hand, they serve as their own worst critic, believing there’s always room to improve. On the other, they must unabashedly market themselves to the judges, prove that there is absolutely nobody better on stage at that moment.
"While you’re training, you’re your own worst enemy, but when you get here, you flip the switch," said Matthew Smilek, winner of the men’s overall title in Sunday’s 3rd Pacific Muscle Classic at Kadena’s Keystone Theater. "You’re everybody else’s worst enemy and the judges’ best friend."
Sunday’s event was the first competition for Smilek, a Camp Schwab-based Marine. He has been lifting for five and a half years and said he trained for competition for two years.
"Pretty amazing," Smilek said of his victory.
Star Kirkwood of Kadena Air Base took the women’s overall bodybuilding title and best poser award. Kim Keefer of Camp Foster won the women’s overall figure title. Mitsuhiro Gima of Itoman was the men’s masters (over-40) winner.
All told, 35 entrants competed for two and a half hours before more than 800 people.
Professional figure competitor Jackie Roberts and pro bodybuilder Hidetada Yamagishi wowed the crowd with guest posing routines midway through the competition.
The competitors completed their 90-second routines with apparent ease, but that skill, they say, is the result of months of strict dieting and a grueling regimen of weightlifting, stretching and other exercises.
"Every show I do is a culmination of all that training. You’re on stage for maybe five or 10 minutes, but you’re training for a year" or longer, said professional trainer Zoa Linsey of Torii Station, who’s been competing for 10 years and coaching for three. She coached six women and two men who competed in the event.
The show itself is the "glamour part," Linsey said. "The rest of the time is spent in the weight room, hair pinned back, no makeup or tanning lotion and iPod blasting music as you lift."
"You’re eating premeasured meals, maybe six or seven a day, high in protein and low on fat," Linsey said.
Not everybody subscribes to that, including Smilek, whose diet went against all conventional bodybuilding wisdom: "Burger King and Subway," he said.
"He’s a genetic freak," said his coach, Jon Goll.
Whatever the diet, bodybuilding takes the firmest of dedication, said Jason Tingler, a Kadena-based technical sergeant who placed fourth the men’s light-heavyweight division, Smilek’s weight group.
Of those in the weight room, "you know which ones are committed," he said, adding that the hardest part is getting started.
"Make the commitment and be serious about it. We’re our own worst critics. You never feel like you’re ready, that there’s always something else you can do to become better."