The 2007 Vyotech Nutritionals Shawn Ray Pro/Am Classic, hosted by the one and only Bodybuilding.com, was Colorado's most highly anticipated bodybuilding event. Not only is it Colorado's only pro show, it's our biggest bodybuilding and figure event all year round.
I had the great privilege and pleasure to be working for the National Physique Committee (NPC) through LifeSports, which is Rocky Mountain Head NPC Chairman, Jeff Taylor's company. Jeff Taylor also co-promoted this year's show with Mr. Shawn Ray.
I had earned this privilege through volunteering and working at some of the smaller shows previous to this one. Although I have been to many regional shows as a competing figure athlete, as well as a fan of the sport of bodybuilding, this was my first IFBB Pro show, and to say I was looking forward to it with great anticipation is an understatement.
I watched the Bodybuilding.com live web cast of last year's Shawn Ray Pro/Am classic from my living room, but this was live, backstage and in person.
View Replays Of The 2007 Colorado Pro Webcast.
Thursday, May 31
Figure Athlete Posing Seminar:
I reported to the NPC portion of the athlete check-in Thursday night, May 31st and to my surprise the room was not packed wall-to-wall as it normally is. Immediately prior to check-in, I was invited to attend a Figure Athlete Posing Seminar held by IFBB Figure Pro and local Colorado girl Chaundra Tanji.
The seminar was also attended by Colorado NPC Head Judge Rick, who answered many of the figure athletes questions, and gave a lot of good advice and tips for those wanting to pursue NPC Women's Figure; I am writing a separate piece covering the seminar on NPC Women's Figure and will have video as well that will prove very helpful for those wanting to compete in this sanctioned category.
After the seminar concluded, several NPC athletes arrived for check in. Well conditioned athletes, looking tired, depleted and thirsty, with overly tanned faces, girls wandering about, covering up their tanner covered bodies in black velour jump suits and everyone smelling of Pro-Tan, it was turning out to be another great event already.
Jeff Taylor, typical promoter, had the cell phone glued to his ear back and forth with Shawn Ray who was eventually in attendance and looking large and in charge, no pun intended!
Thursday night there were only NPC athletes checking in, volunteers stuffing goodie bags which were provided by BSN Nutrition, and chalk full of samples and such from the likes of Vyotech, Met-Rx, Labrada, Gaspari, AXIS Labs and TwinLab.
These were defiantly the most well-stocked athlete grab bags I had come across thus far.
Already at the NPC athletes check in, there was chatter and phone conversation about some guy in charge that wasn't happy... named David. Everything had to go through David, and when he walked in, looking very serious.
I suddenly realized the David in charge was Bodybuilding.com writer Dr. David Ryan. I had read many of his well written, intelligent articles and walked up to inquire if he was in fact, Dr. Ryan, he was modest, but pleasantly confirmed his identity, insisting we just call him Dr. David, he went back to bossing people around.
Here is a few shots of Dr. David and myself, and him showing off his powerlifting skills... to my surprise at the time! An awesome guy and a brain you definitely want to pick if given the chance (this guy's brain is huuuuuuge)!
|DR. RYAN'S REVIEW|
Shortly before I left for the evening, famed photog Isaac Hinds of LiftStudios showed up, hugged Jeff Taylor and inquired where he should set up, I took the opportunity to shake his hand as he is a consummate professional and takes phenomenal photos. After the NPC athlete check in was concluded I was issued my all-access NPC Staff badge and told to report back first thing in the morning to the Hyatt Regency to start the dirty work.
|ISAAC HINDS' REVIEW|
Friday, June 1
The Pro show is set up a bit different. The Women's IFBB Pro Figure were to compete Friday evening, followed by the Men's NPC Bodybuilding afterwards; and then on Saturday the NPC Women's Figure, NPC Women's Bodybuilding competed in the morning, and the IFBB Pro Men's Bodybuilding was in the early afternoon.
This seemed an odd set up but it was to keep the NPC and Pro competing athletes apart. Friday morning, we arrived and began stage set up. The Colorado Convention Center is a very large facility, covering roughly 6 blocks of downtown Denver.
Setting Up The Stage:
The Fitness Expo being held alongside the show was located at one end of the convention center and the Bodybuilding and Figure show located clear at the other end, this is the first dilemma, as we (volunteers and staff) were constantly running back and forth from one spot to the other... whilst the convention center security zoomed by on their Seguay personal mobility vehicles. Here is one time I think such a device is necessary.
Stage set up was easy as the Colorado Convention Center provided their own union based staff to do the majority of it for us, this proved to be helpful and not so much as we were made to stand by and watch a lot of the set up, while the union guys went back and forth with what we are allowed to do. The stage had to be made larger for the great amount of athletes scheduled to compete this morning.
It was while I was onstage assisting Dr. David and a large, stereotypically Italian, but very sweet guy named Vinnie set up the athlete placement, when I noticed The Fit Show was in the house, and setting up their cameras right in front of me.
I wondered if the cameras were running or who was watching. I suppose I should have done my hair or something, as I was caught on camera and posted that morning, that lovely shot of me sans make-up and good hair can be seen here, thanks to Webmaster. I yelled "hey fit show guy" as he ran by many times, and he pleasantly but in a rush waved several times.
IFBB Pro Women:
After stage set up, we began setting up a very long brown paper trail for the athletes to walk on from backstage in the dressing rooms, all the way to the stage. The pump up room was set up, Team Pro Tan was on-hand and set up backstage and testing out new product... sans mirrors.
I was given the job of expeditor, one of four; my job was to call the time for the athletes, men and women, backstage, and call them from the dressing rooms to the pump up room, and then line them up, in order and walk them to Ken Bobbitt, who also happens to be an NPC judge, although not judging at this event, he was head expediter.
From there, Ken sent the athletes one by one to the stage. I have to admit, as a competing and always dieting figure athlete I was very eager to see the IFBB Pro Women, how they prepare for stage and of course, their world class physiques. The first of many Pro women began to arrive, wearing jumpsuits, pajamas and some draped in plastic ponchos.
The feeling in the air changed a bit when Pro Chastity Slone, and Mari Kudla walked out of their dressing rooms to pump up, looking fantastic. Mari Kudla walked up and asked if I would assist her in blending in her Jan Tana on her back... I gladly obliged remarking on her exquisite condition to which she replied "I hope I look good, I haven't been back in two years since the Arnold."
View More Pics Of Chastity Slone Here.
Click Image To Enlarge.
View More Pics Of Mari Kudla Here.
She looked great, as did all the Pro Women. I have to say however, that I am not totally bias, but I am a great fan and admirer of Vyotech Sponsored Athlete, IFBB Pro and friend of Bodybuilding.com Valerie Waugaman.
When she walked out of the dressing room, intent and focused, headphones on, looking as though she was on her way to kick someone's @ss - with her friend and business partner Sarah Sharp following closely behind with the video camera - I was a bit star struck.
1. Valerie Waugaman.
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She walked up and politely asked me to hook the top of her stunning green goddess one-piece suit for her. I of course happily did so, but sheepishly said nothing but "no problem". Valerie's physique was impeccable, she spoke to no other competitor, walked around repeating her mantra "Valerie... champion" to herself.
I had the pleasure of speaking with her business partner, Sarah Sharp, who answered a lot of questions about Valerie's training, her motto and passions with wellness and nutrition, as well as her plans for the future. I did not want to bother Valerie before she went on-stage, but Sarah insisted, and Valerie allowed me to take many photos as she waited to hit the stage.
Sarah Sharp is also a client of Valerie's and has competed in three previous NPC events. She was also competing in the NPC Women's Figure portion of the 2007 Shawn Ray Pro/Am. Sarah stated that Valerie's true spirit and energy was integral in her own success as an aspiring figure athlete, and that training alongside Valerie Waugaman everyday was motivating in and of itself!
Here is a shot of Sarah Sharp right before she hit the stage! Stuffing her face as she said and is that Valerie's two-piece suit from last year? It's beautiful!
I, as well as many others male an female, assisted the Pro women as they asked for oil, to check for lipstick on teeth, were suits, boobs and straps all straight... whatever they need, we did it! Many people still to this day scoff at Women's Figure being involved in any way with body building as a sport, this serves as a direct insult to me, as well as many other aspiring NPC Figure Athletes and Pros alike.
Attend any standard 'bikini competition' and the difference in training, preparation and the final product is immediately apparent. Figure athletes may stand on stage looking poised and pretty in the end, but it is a long road of heavy weight training, stringent dieting and endless bouts of cardio and posing before one pedicured toe ever sets foot onstage for all to judge.
Standing backstage with the Pro women, some of the world's finest physiques is inspiring to say the least. They were led one by one to the stage, where each athlete's presentation seemed to me, flawless. It seemed to be over as quickly as it had begun, and they were off stage, throwing the five inch heels to the side, and hurrying out the door.
View Figure Pro Pre-Judging Pics By Isaac Hinds Here.
NPC Men's Bodybuilding Pre-Judging:
The NPC Men's Bodybuilding pre-judging was next. There was some drama earlier in the day at late check in when one would-be competitor called in to ask if he could be late, and was told no, and was scratched; while another was led clear to the stage, and upon my calling him into his line up, began ranting and raving about being placed in the welter weight class, and decided to scratch at the last minute and stormed out angry.
There was no light weight class in this NPC line up, it began at welter. The men looked good, some better than others, all seemed to be rushed and complained of no mirrors in the pump up room as well as other minute issues that always seem to come up at these shows.
View NPC Men's Bodybuilding Pre-Judging Pics Here.
Expo & Pro Men's Meeting:
As the men's NPC line up were involved in pre-judging, we headed up to the Expo portion, at the other end of the convention center ~ the booths set up were crazy, full scale props and stages being prepped for the arm wrestling, and MMA shows (which were interrupted, to many people's dismay, by the Darque Tan Model Search).
We then headed over, six blocks away to the Hyatt Regency for the Pro Men's Meeting to see who we could spot. Immediately upon entering the room, I noticed a very familiar face, Mr. Bob Cicherillo sitting atop what seemed to be a very tiny table beneath him.
I also noted in attendance was Mr. Darrem Charles, Kai Greene in line with his registration forms, and Branch Warren hiding in the back corner. There were many photographers, press and video cameras about. We found a spot on the back wall on the floor and sat down to listen.
All basic info, I was more fascinated by the sheer size of Will Harris when he walked in; he had to turn side ways to come through the door! When the Pro Men's meeting concluded they scattered quite fast.
In the midst of all the commotion, during our very small break in the afternoon, I actually managed to get my cardio in at the modest workout facility located in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. I was quite pleased with myself. After returning, I unpacked and sorted through trophies, getting them ready for labeling the following day, and we were out of there at nearly midnight to return Saturday for the Women's NPC Figure & Bodybuilding, and the IFBB Pro Men.
View Athlete Meeting Pics By Isaac Hinds Here.
Saturday, June 2
Many girls I have come to know within the Colorado competition circuit were competing and looked outstanding. Some had competed in three shows in the last two months, but seemed just as ready to hit the stage as ever. The female bodybuilders looked rock hard and impressive and ready to take it all.
NPC Figure went off without a hitch, with the largest figure group boasting 17 competitors! They were brought out only five at a time for comparisons and many of the backstage predictions held true in the end.
View NPC Figure Finals Pics By Isaac Hinds Here.
IFBB Men's Pro Pre-Judging:
Then came the big boys, it was time for the IFBB Men's Pro pre-judging. Watching them in the pump up room was impressive, although some seemed a little more bloated than others, they all looked dialed in and ready.
Standing in the line, I was given the opportunity to speak for a few moments with Kai Greene's current trainer and he was really positive, saying that Kai came into Pro bodybuilding with a lot of fear and doubt and that his physique and stage presentation of late was the direct result of him getting rid of these fears and doubts, his wife returning and his family life going really well.
I must admit that Kai Green's overall conditioning and look was top notch, everything was etched and full and he had his game face on. Nearly every Pro was doing push ups in line, Branch Warren requested more oil to which I gladly obliged and then ended up blotting too much oil off of Darrem Charles' very large traps.
Watching the Pro's hit the stage was surreal, one by one they grunted and groaned through the mandatory poses and came off stage, I was at the exit point from here on out, right off stage when the men came down, we offered them water, and we blotted them with towels to get the sweat off, the water sat untouched and we escorted them to the other side.
There are many people backstage when the Pro men come down, as they tend to pass out after posing, and we are literally there making sure they don't hit the floor. It was beyond me how I was going to hold up a 225 lb man if his knees went out, but I would do my best! Kai Greene was bent over a table, with shaky knees several times, but refused water.
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Kai Greene At The 2007 Colorado Pro.
View More Pics Of Kai Greene Here.
1. Kai Greene.
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View Men's Pro Pre-Judging Pics By Isaac Hinds Here.
The Night Show:
The night show, where all hit the stage was packing a full house. The Expo was in full swing: Mr. Shawn Ray was back and forth throughout the night, I was lucky enough to beg an extra shirt off him, and he provided all of us staff and volunteers with meal vouchers, paid parking and free tickets to the event for family and friends - talk about perks!
There were hip-hop dancers that greatly impressed the crowd, Miss Teen Fitness (who is only ten years old) performed, and there was also a traditional Japanese Tae Kwon Do demonstration that blew everyone away.
I have to say that when Bob Chic walked in, dressed in a polished black suit and set up five feet away - with the Fit Show, Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Radio, and Jamie Eason - I was a bit star struck again. I got to stand right next to them and listen as Bob commentated like a complete professional during the live web cast.
Aside from a few major snafus with the Pro's music, one pro threatening the music guy, and what was universally deemed as an inept performance by MC Tom T., the night was an overall success.
After the awards were given out, Shawn Ray, Jeff Taylor and Flex Wheeler all took the stage to welcome the audience and declare this another successful Pro/Am; it was then that a few others and I took the stage to throw t-shirts at the audience, at which point we learned that t-shirts do not fly easily, so the majority were thrown onto judges, camera crews and the first three rows.
Kai Green was on one side speaking to a small group of press, while Valerie Waugaman was on the other side speaking to a video crew and thanking her sponsor Vyotech Nutritionals.
And then her business partner/friend Sarah offered me up for this photo with Valerie:
During the awards presentation, I walked the trophies from the curtain to just off stage to hand them to the trophy girls... they didn't want to walk down the stairs over and over again.
It was during this time I had the opportunity to shake the hand of Mr. Flex Wheeler, who was just monstrous in size and a total gentlemen. At the end of the night, most predictions rang true, for the IFBB and the NPC 2007 Shawn Ray Pro/Am Classic, the overall wins were:
IFBB Men's Overall Winner: Kai Greene
Click Image To Enlarge.
Kai Greene At The 2007 Colorado Pro.
View More Pics Of Kai Greene Here.
IFBB Women's Figure Overall Winner: Valerie Waugaman
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Valerie Waugaman At The 2007 Colorado Pro.
View More Pics Of Valerie Waugaman Here.
NPC Men's Master's Overall Winner: Mike Black
NPC Figure Overall Winner: Sarah Hurrle
Overall my experience at the 2007 Shawn Ray Colorado Pro/Am was a straight up success. I met dozens of awesome people, brushed elbows with some of the most beautiful physiques male and female alike, and I learned so much about the production and behind the scenes action that goes into putting on such an extravaganza.
This event has done nothing but strengthen my love of the sport of bodybuilding and figure, and I was honored to be a part of it. I have been invited back to assist at several more shows and am eager to learn all I can about an industry I truly love and support. I think I am looking for other Pro shows within driving distance... I am officially addicted!