2006 IFBB Palm Beach Pro - Sun, Sand & Big Cardboard Checks.
While most think of palm trees and sand castles when they hear West Palm Beach, Florida, the only thing on these athletes' minds was a hard-earned title, and an early IFBB Fitness or Figure Olympia 2007 qualification...
All of the Fitness and Figure athletes competing this last Saturday were conditioned, determined and ready to take the stage and shine like the southern Florida sun. The competitor list included stunning and talented professional Fitness and Figure athletes from all over the world - but this was no ordinary pro show.
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Three In A Row
In addition to the pleasant mix of cultures and international competitors, there were also those making a pro debut, some having made a name for themselves and after taking time off were returning to the competition stage, as well as those up and comers who have been competing all year at nearly every show, in some cases this being the third weekend in a row travelling and competing.
For many, the Palm Beach Pro was the third such show, with the 2006 Atlantic Pro two weekends before, and the 2006 Olympia just the previous weekend. (Read my review of the Olympia on the 2006 Olympia blog.) And, of course, the prize money and the chance at an early qualification for next year's Olympia was the motivating factor for most!
Being a fitness competitor in the show myself, I don't get the same view of the show as the audience; but nonetheless, as all of us competitors know, there's a whole show going on behind the scenes that most ticket holders and fans rarely get to read about, no less see with their own eyes.
The venue was absolutely beautiful and the promoters were kind enough to turn the back of the house office/kitchen area into a make-shift dressing room for the athletes. It was amazing... they had huge full-length mirrors set up (they looked to be at least 10 feet tall!) and plenty of long mirrors on tables for the 35 some-odd women to get tanned, glammed, suited-up, sparkled, oiled, straightened, curled, glued, glossed and powder their noses (you get the idea).
We had plenty of electrical outlets and changing room, and even a folding screen to change behind for those more modest competitors. The promoters were also kind enough to allow Jan Tana, makeup artists, and guest posers in back to help and assist the girls.
The only thing we seemed to be short was bathrooms (toilets), but it didn't pose that much of a problem and we all made do - it was a little cramped but it always is, and was actually much roomier than most NPC/IFBB show venues have allowed in the past. Plus, isn't that the stuff memories are made of anyway? LOL.
| What Do IFBB And NPC Stand For?
IFBB stands for the "International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness". Visit their website at http://www.ifbb.com/. (The IFBB is for professional competitors.)
NPC stands for "National Physique Committee, Inc." Visit their website at http://www.npcnewsonline.com/. (The NPC is for amateur competitors.)
For the fitness competitors, the stage was much much smaller than usual, but we were all given notice weeks in advance and were also given ample opportunity on the stage to mark our routines and make any necessary changes.
Helpful & Accommodating
The promotors and expeditors were all very accommodating, friendly, and helped in every way they could. For example, Matt (one of the expediters) even offered me his half-full cup of black, regular Starbucks coffee if I wanted it and said I could pay him back later!
Another sweet bonus was that the venue was right in the heart of "CityPlace" - a beautiful fascinating outdoor mall with shops, Starbucks, restaurants, movie theatres, sports bars, fountains, lights, and palms... it was breathtaking to say the least, and all within walking distance... another huge plus for athletes with no rental cars!
All in all, it went very smoothly actually. The music system was awesome - everyone's music sounded great and it was loud enough for the competitors and crowd both to get into and enjoy. The stage lighting was beautiful and the seating was great - even standing in the back (which I did after I got my placing) it was still a great view.
Not only could you both see and hear the show, but you could totally mingle with the competitors and guest posers as they came out from backstage throughout the evening.
One extraordinary detail not at most shows was the opportunity for VIP ticket holders to purchase tickets for the show along with a classy candlelight, fine dining experience on the upper level with servers in black tie - and they had a bird's eye view of the entire show and seemed to enjoy it very much! The tickets were a little pricey, but made us feel all the more privileged for being able to perform there and give them a good show.
Well, from a competitor's standpoint, it was a great show and had some added extras - including Valerie Waugaman's awesome 2 minute figure routine. It was so neat to see someone take steps to evolve the figure sport into something similar to bodybuilding and possibly allow the athletes some solo stage time to express and present themselves in their best light and show their enthusiasm, creativity and passion for the sport.
We all do this as a form of artistic self-expression and watching her really made it seem like we will be hearing and seeing more of this in the coming years. What a pioneer in the sport - and a beautifully breathtaking one... she was stunning!
In addition, we had some really big names guest posing, including top bodybuilder, Debi Lasewski - on her way to NPC Nationals in Miami and on the quest for her pro card; Darrem Charles looking and presenting his flawless best.
And, of course, we also have the pleasure of seeing our very own 2006 Ms. Fitness Olympia herself, Adela Garcia-Friedmansky showcasing her fantastic, high-energy, to-be-envied 2 minute fitness routine - looking more like something right out of a stunt movie!
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2006 Fitness Olympia Winner, Adela Garcia-Friedmansky.
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She's a firecracker, that one - incredible beauty, athleticism, and character. Wow - what a weekend! To say the least, it was fun, action-packed, and I know I'm not the only one looking forward to this show again next year.
Many thanks to the promoters, sponsors, and IFBB judges, fans, and athletes... it was the best day at the beach ever!