Review by Ian L. Sitren, SecondFocus
Sun, The Ocean.... And Muscle Beach!
Fewer places are more readily accepted as a view of the fun life than Muscle Beach at Venice Beach in California. The sun, sand and the ocean all come together where great bodies gather for the summer to walk down the Venice boardwalk in bikinis and shorts. I have heard it said over and over again that Venice and Muscle Beach might be the third most popular tourist attraction in the world only behind Disneyland and Las Vegas!
An Annual Tradition:
And International it is for a walk along the storefronts and beach will let you hear every language you can think of or guess at. Everyone carries two things, a camera and a sunburn! The sure signs of tourists and locals finally coming out into the sun for the first big holiday weekend of the year.
What the news media calls "An Annual Tradition", the Muscle Beach International Classic kicked off the Memorial Day weekend. Local competitors and competitors from 10 nations from around the world came on out to Venice to stand on the stage where muscles were born.
A record 77 athletes signed on up to flex in front of the thousands of people who came through and stood and sat around along with the global media. You could have seen video crews from local television and even German TV. Photo and story coverage by most of the magazines and special features being produced by others from here to the United Kingdom. Muscle Beach can be pretty exciting.
This competition takes place over two days starting on Sunday morning. It is kind of interesting to get out there early in the morning like I do between 8 to 9. It is typically overcast and kind of cold like it gets by the ocean. Everything has a kind of gray look to it. The athletes start checking in, many of them already already wearing color and all of them with a look of excitement and a little weariness from the dieting and prep.
Many of them have no idea what to expect having never done a show before or never even been to Southern California before. Then you also see all of the preparations going on; the vendors from supplement companies setting up, the first band setting up, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines setting up their very substantial displays and venues; the chairs getting set up, the supplies being brought in, Fire Marshall's checking it all out, all kinds of little interesting things going on especially when you consider that in a few hours it will all look different when the sun breaks and the crowds fill the place and it all comes to life.
The first part of the weekend is pre-judging but that is where a show is won and lost. This is when you want to peak. This is when you want to be the most cut and the most pumped. You see the athletes in the "Pit" putting a fine tune on with some lifting and flexing, putting on more color, practicing their poses.
Now at the "Pit" which is the weight pit at Muscle Beach you are not only doing this with all kinds of cameras and video crews from the media around you but also with hundreds of tourists watching around the fence and taking pictures and asking for a pose or two. Even a first time competitor here becomes a celebrity very quickly!
Getting on stage at Muscle Beach is also different than any other show. This is outside at the beach. And the sun does break out and it gets hot. So you can quickly start sweating up a storm while you are going through your mandatory poses and holding them as long as you can. And in the big classes like middle weight or heavy weight men you can be on stage for a long time.
Conditioning and dehydration are the big deal at times like this. But get throught it the athletes do for sure and at the end of the day they are ready for a break!
But there is still more to do because the rest of the day has bands and displays bringing everyone a lot of fun. You would have found our own World Champion, Bob Cicherillo, at the BodyBuilding.com booth along with the always huge and always enthusiastic Jerome "Hollywood" Ferguson and fitness model Brenda Kelly autographing copies of her layout in Iron Man Magazine.
You would have also run across the "X- Man" himself, Toney Freeman, showing you how he keeps a clean shave and shine on that head of his at the HeadBlade booth. And you would have seen all of the people on the board walk and on the beach checking out that big thing out there called the Pacific Ocean.
Monday morning starts out pretty much the same. This time it had a little change to it though. You would have caught a glance of a guy in military desert camos hanging around with some discreet black cases, and one orange one. No this was not some secret op, he was there for a special Memorial Day reason.
A little before noon he would head up to the roof of a building right behind the pit and set up the gear that would guide an Air Force C-17 Globemaster in right over us at noon sharp, low and slow. And so it was that with all of the athletes on stage with a military color guard and the National Anthem, swooping and rumbling in at noon sharp to honor the day, this huge 4 engine behemoth ,the size of a 757, came flying in to wow the crowd. And wow the crowd it did. I have to tell you that you don't even get that at the Olympia!
Another tradition at Muscle Beach is the Hall of Fame Awards going to those people who have best been a part of our sport. This Memorial Day they went to World Champion and Mr. America, Tony Pearson and also posthumously to DeForest "Moe" Most, who from the 1930's to the 1950's was called the king and ambassador of Muscle Beach.
And then it was another special moment with United States Air Force Brigadier General Ellen Palokowski swearing-in brand new Air Force recruits.
But on with the show. This is posing and awards day. Class after class gets brought on stage and gets to do their individual posing routines. This is the real fun part. They get to show off their stuff in front of an applauding and screaming crowd at Muscle Beach! "WOW!" - to quote my good friend and show producer, Joe Wheatley. Speaking of posing we had another special moment with IFBB Pro and super poser Melvin Anthony showing everyone what a pro can do. Moving across the stage as only "Marvelous Melvin Anthony" can do, he was a huge hit!
And speaking of huge we had another huge IFBB Pro on stage, the huge Gunter Schlierkamp! Gunter was looking good and was very very popular.
For some reason it seems like women like having their photo taken with him, they must think he is good looking or something. Gunter handed out some top trophies and he and I had a moment of biceps pose down, he on the stage and me from my photo position. I think I won but with all my camera gear I was at a disadvantage. And also not short on good looks at all was the stunning and always beautiful Sherry Goggins. I am always impressed with Sherry, she is hot!
We went through a lot of posing and a lot of trophies, and we had a record number of figure girls too. I know everybody likes that. And as we got down to it and all of the classes got their placings it came to the overall awards. The top men from each class and the top women from each class came out on stage and went through their last comparisons for the day.
And when tie was all over we had a couple of very deserving winners. Erin Lutz, tall class winner took home the top prize along with over 40 winner Carl Matthews Jr. Carl also won the award for best poser from TuffStuff Gym Equipment Company. These two looked more than great and their wins were well deserved.
At the end of the two days it was just fun for everyone and a tremendous way to start the summer. Personally I truly look forward to these shows at Muscle Beach. I have said it before; There is nothing like it! So come on out for the next ones on July 4th and on Labor Day. And by the way on Labor Day you just might find a certain movie star and Governor of the State of California around. But don't say I told you so! See you there!
2007 Muscle Beach Prejudging Pics!
Check out the pre-judging pics from our photographer Ian Sitren who was on scene...
2007 Muscle Beach Fun Pics!
Ian Sitren was on scene and captured plenty of fun pics from the weekend...
2007 Muscle Beach Finals Pics!
Check out the picture gallery from the finals and see who was presented the trophies...
2007 Muscle Beach Contest Results!
Check out the full contest results here! Gunter Schliekamp makes a special guest appearance and presents a few trophies...
[ View Results ]
Muscle Beach 2007 International Classic - Memorial Day.
At 12:00 noon on Memorial Day the event opened with a spectacular Flyover from an awesome C-17 Globe master from March Air Force Base... Admission is free at this event and this year was better than ever.
[ View The Review ]
Sunday, May 27th & Monday, May 28th, 2007
Sunday: 7:30 - 9:30 Registration
9:30 Athlete Briefing
Monday: Noon - Finals
Venice Beach Recreation Center
1800 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, California 90921
Contest Entry Fee:
Contest Entry Fee - $75* This competition is open to all amateur athletes. Active armed service personnel are encouraged to compete.