Ever stand on stage and wonder what the heck the judges were thinking? As a physique athlete it can be mind boggling sometimes, but now there is some help. Ty Ropeman Felder has been a judge for over 20 years and his opinion is sought by the tops in the world of professional and national competitors.
"Rope," as he is commonly known, used to train Lee Haney and other greats of bodybuilding. It is common for his opinion to be asked for in the hours before a competition. The hours before the last Arnold Fitness Weekend '07 were no different and several pros asked his advice once again.
Rope explained to me, "The idea hit me after several competitors asked me for my opinion hours before they stepped on stage. My partner Juliet Waldman suggested that I run a seminar to help the athletes prepare for their competitions. I finally thought, wait, why not have a seminar to look at the athletes 8-10 weeks out."
Later that day, Rope spoke with Jim Manion, president of the NPC, and asked if any type of seminar like this has ever been performed? Mr. Manion indicated, "No, not since I have been with the NPC, and I started it." Rope basically laid out his game plan for evaluation of the athletes using national level NPC and IFBB professional judges. Mr. Manion offered his blessing to the endeavor.
Rope's Main Idea:
- Bring in national level athletes and those aspiring to the national level for an evaluation seminar.
- Provide a panel of national NPC and IFBB staff judges.
- Offer both group and individual critiques relative to the athlete's particular sport.
- Provide a written list of items the athlete will need to correct prior to their next competition.
- Take photos for the athlete so they can step away from themselves and look at the pictures with the judges. It's a fact, that pictures are worth a thousand words and they don't lie.
This seminar was made available to all athletes in the NPC and was held in Atlanta, Georgia. The seminar lasted one day and approximately 30 athletes attended. Shannon Meteraud, IFBB Pro Figure, and the host of the Jr. USA's held every spring attended the competition to help tune her up for the Pittsburgh Pro.
Another attending was Ginger Redeker, a national Level figure athlete/writer/fitness cook/model. Ginger is 8 weeks out from the USA's in Chicago scheduled for the weekend of June 15, 16, and 17th. Ginger is providing a week to week, month to month summary of contest competition for BB.com.
"The Physique Critique is a great tool for the serious competitor to take advantage of because it allows you to stand in front of the same judges who will be evaluating you at the national and pro level shows. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear the comments that the judges had to say about my physique and it gave me direction as to what I need to improve on for my upcoming contests.
It also gave me the confidence and motivation to do my best in Chicago, my first show of the season. The judges were all very helpful and gave me great tips and suggestions to help make my physique more complete. With all the changes in figure over the past few years, how can you not want that kind of help?
I felt like this opportunity to meet with the judges one on one, was will worth the time and money to attend and I would like to thank all the judges; Rope and Vickie Gates for their time and honesty, Linda who was wonderful and showed me some posing pointers right there on the spot and Eric who had some great tips for my abs and hamstrings.
It is so great to take away the guessing game from the competition. I have come away from this seminar with a clear direction as to what my trainer, Mike Davies and I, need to focus on to prepare me for Jr. Nationals.
Many competitors have walked off the stage wondering what the judges are looking for, but if you go to Atlanta, they will tell you exactly what they are looking for and what you as a competitor needs to work on and improve. I just loved it." -Ginger Redeker
Not Just Figure Athletes
Don't get the idea that this was directed only towards figure athletes. Male and female bodybuilders and fitness competitors are also judged by the same the elite panel. Get ready for the "Tough Love" provided to help correct your faults that you may have been aware of or painfully overlooking.
Personally, I feel this is a huge step for the NPC and only hope that they continue with this kind of creative progress in the sport to make it more understandable for the athletes who make it all possible.
This is a great opportunity to get to the "Real truth" about who you are and where you are, relative to contest preparation.
There are several seminars left for this year and you have to get your name in early, since there are only 50 spots open per event. This allows the judges to spend maximal and adequate time with each and every athlete in attendance.
This idea is far superior to trying to corner a judge after a one or today long competition to gain some hopeful insight towards future training/competition. It is in the athlete's best interest to spend the time wisely and add this seminar to your pre-contest preparation.
Some suggestions for getting more out of the event are to include the following:
- Book your attendance to this seminar at least six weeks prior to competition.
- Book your attendance to this seminar early to avoid being left out.
- Take your trainer with you to allow them to listen to what the judges are advising.
- Come to the event wearing your actual competition outfit and as close of a tan that you can manage.
- If you fly into the Atlanta Airport, take the Northeast train to Doraville and get off at the last stop. The host Holiday Inn hotel is just two blocks away. The hotel will send a shuttle for you.
- Ropeman's Fitness Center is less than a 1/4 of mile away, but it is along a highway, so you might want to catch a taxi or have some other transportation available to you.
- Take some items to do cardio at the gym while you might be waiting for your private interview.
Just attending this event, doesn't assure you a win, but it does point you in the right direction. The judges are careful not to offer training advice. They are leaving that up to you and/or your trainer. They are merely doing what they do at any contest by giving you their opinion. In the end, the advice you get is only as good as what you do with it.