My first men’s physique show
By Kyle Finneron
“Men’s physique debut, you’re on deck!” the announcer said.
The other competitors and I looked at each other in a panic. I grabbed a handful of tanner and started to smear it all over my chest and arms.
Let me back up, just a bit, to the day before the show. I felt good and lean and I had finally bought a pair of trunks for the show. In a men’s physique show, the men wear board shorts, which was great for me since it meant I could use the swimsuit this summer. (The women unfortunately have to buy incredibly intricate and bedazzled swimsuits, that will never see water. When I heard how much one of them cost I almost spit up my coffee.)
My lady friend and I had arrived the night before the show to check into our hotel and because I had to take a polygraph test. Organization of Competition Bodies (OCB) Men’s Physique shows are natural, or drug free, competitions. There is a long list of substances that, if you have taken them in the last seven years, you would not be able to compete. The polygraph was probably the least stressful part of the whole ordeal as I was confident that I would pass. After the polygraph we went out to grab some last minute essentials, preparation H, plastic wrap and dandelion root. That’s right, Preparation H and plastic wrap. There is an old bodybuilding trick of putting preparation H on your stomach and wrapping it in plastic wrap the night before a show to help you shrink the cells holding water on your stomach. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I absolutely tried it. In all honesty,the only thing it did was make sleep uncomfortable the night before and earned me a confused look from the Target checkout girl.
On competition day, I arrived at the venue at 8 a.m., half an hour before the show was to start. I had done a trial run with the self tanner and it took about 15 minutes to apply. As I walked into the auditorium they were having a competitors’ meeting (something I was unaware of) where they go over the different rules and etiquette for posing. While listening, I was constantly checking my watch for the time. Most of the other competitors were already spray tanned and ready to go. My heart started to beat a little faster. The nerves and stress were getting to me as it hit 8:15 a.m. and the meeting was still taking place.
Finally, at 8:20 a.m., the meeting wrapped up and they told us to get ready. After a mad dash to find a space backstage, I start tanning my pasty Vermont winter body. Then I heard the master of ceremonies yell, “Men’s Classic Physique line up, Men’s Physique Debut you’re on deck!” I thought we had more time since the Men’s Classic physique was first, but little did I know there were only four men competing in that division!
I run to line up. As I round the corner I see my competition: a few younger kids that are a little smaller than me, one competitor that’s close to my size and two men that I have a hard time believing it was truly their first show. It was obvious, however, that most of us were nervous. They shuffled us onto the stage and the cheering began.
When you pose in a men’s physique show you have a front pose, then you will make four quarter turns to the right to show the different sides of your physique. Judges then will move competitors next to their closest match in body type and repeat the process.
When I first walked out on stage all I could see are bright lights and maybe the first two rows of seats. As I went to hit my first pose, it dawned on me, I’ve never done any of these poses without a mirror in front of me. This was a troubling revelation at a very inopportune time! I tried everything I could to flex and contort my body to give the small waist and wide shoulder illusion. After about five minutes it was over. They sent us off stage and that was that.
Months of training for five minutes on stage.
My heart was racing as I walked off stage, but I felt alright. I didn’t feel as lean as the day before but I still felt like I did well. Stress has a funny way of making you hold extra water and look puffy. I tried to not beat myself up over the posing but it was hard to get away from.
After they went through all of the other divisions it was time for the T-walks and awards. The T-walk is your individual time on stage. You walk out, do a few poses on the different sides of the stage and walk off. I decided to walk out to “September” by Earth Wind and Fire, old school. I did spend a good amount of time preparing my T-walk but ended up winging-it when I forgot my second pose. Hearing the crowd cheer as I hit the different poses was a surreal feeling. I had been practicing a golden era, Think Arnold and Frank Zane, type of posing and the crowd loved it. I had a handful of competitors come up and compliment my walk afterward, which was a great feeling. I later found out that the T-walk had nothing to do with placing in your group and was mostly just for fun.
It finally came time for awards.
They told us, “if you are a finalist thanks for coming up but you did not make the top five.” Men’s Debut lined up and they called numbers 5, 8 and 4. I was number 4 and I was not happy. Not even making the top five was heartbreaking. I thought I would at least make the top five especially compared to some of the other competitors. I took my trophy and walked backstage. I was happy for the people that won their divisions but I was mad at myself for being so arrogant as to think I could win the division with no one else’s help.
After the show I looked at some pictures people took and I could see my problem, my posing was garbage and my conditioning (leanness) wasn’t where it should have been. Not being as comfortable as I should have been, I made avoidable mistakes that made my body look blocky and asymmetrical. Looking back, I think being a “Finalist” was the best thing that could have happened. If I won the division or did well I probably would have grabbed the trophy and moved on. Now there is a new fire lit under me and a show coming up in Albany in a few months. Sometimes things don’t workout when you first try them. That’s usually the way new endeavors go. The key is to remember to stay humble in your preparation. Ask a lot of questions from people who’ve been there and remember to enjoy what you are doing. Even if the results may not be exactly what you were hoping for, you will gain a wealth of knowledge to use the next time you walk out on stage.