If you were a comic book nerd growing up, you need to come to a bodybuilding show.
My Grandpa said to me once, “It’s important for you to get out into the real world,” and bodybuilding is about as unreal as it gets. But there are a lot of elements to it that I’ve adapted to alarmingly easy. The self-control, the sex appeal, the Tupperware. I like bodybuilding. It’s different and mesmerizing. And, apart from the bonehead reputations they carry, the guys at the top will always make $50,000 more than you ever will.
Let no one accuse me of glamorizing bodybuilding, though. It’s 3% stage lights and fake tan and 97% sweat, sacrifice and persona. In retrospect, I’m not really sure why I was so drawn to it. Maybe because I’m the type of person that needs to feel physical discomfort to be able to give myself any kind of accredit. Or I used to be anyway.
AJ and I met in the kitchen last Saturday morning before heading to Cobourg for the Winston Invitational. I took the dog outside while he packed up our meals for the day and tidied the kitchen. He always finds a way to temporarily restore my faith in men.
When we arrived, we got out of the truck and walked through somewhat of a labyrinth of hallways in order to find the showroom. We finally found it when we saw one of our clients standing outside. I had never met him before because I train him online. Usually, if the client lives a decent drive from the studio, we get them to come see us a couple of times a month. But sometimes that’s an impossibility. Ali is one of those clients.
“What time will I go on?” he said as he approached us.
“Did you get a show program? I’m Brooke, by the way. Nice to finally meet you.”
“I’m Ali. Yeah, so, how do these things usually go?”
The show promoter came walking towards us with two tall women while AJ explained Ali’s next steps to him. Maybe it was just the sheer height of their shoes that made the women seem so statuesque. Something about their high heels and form fitting bandage dresses didn’t look right. I have few remaining illusions when it comes to these events, but the implicit nature of wearing next to nothing at a bodybuilding show has never made sense to me.
“Sorry, we’re late,” I said to the promoter,” We had to stop by the studio to make sure everything was taken care of there. Is it a good turn out?”
“Yes, I’m so glad you two were able to make it.” He was always gentle and sweet. It’s obvious that he loves the sport and genuinely enjoys himself. That’s why this was one of the shows that I like to support most. “How do you like the venue?”
“I love it here.”
I like Cobourg. It’s small, fairly obscure and it’s not unnecessarily snooty. They have a really good steakhouse right off the highway and a Tim Horton’s on every corner. Here’s a general tip though: don’t stay in a motel there. Think “Vacancy” circa 2007.
Local shows seem to split 70/30 between potential and not so much. You’ll rarely ever find pro status talent at a small local show. Occasionally, you’ll see an aesthetically gifted Men’s Physique competitor or a shredded lightweight bodybuilder, but it’ll take them a few more shows before they truly impress. We usually give our clients their show day instructions a week in advance, so that they’re prepared and organized. The clients at this show followed everything easily and I was thrilled. It meant that AJ and I could relax a little.
The show was a lot of fun. I went on stage for the first time to give the promoter his birthday cake and celebrate FitNOW’s second year anniversary. I was oddly comfortable up there.
For those few hours, all the bullshit melted away. It’s nice to be able to throw yourself into your clients excitement and happiness. I was Brooke the supporter, spectator and bodybuilding fan. I’ve stuck to this for a bunch of reasons. I excelled at the job when I realized I was helping people. When you’re making people happy, passion turns to fulfilment and that makes you happy. I love making people happy and I love making myself happy.