Competitors are backstage getting pumped up by lifting weights and holding muscular poses. Nerves are running high for many because this may be the first time they’ve been on stage in front of a crowd and judging panel.
Brandon hasn’t hosted a bodybuilding and fitness competition for more than 10 years, so the International Drug Free Athletics decision to choose Brandon for its Manitoba debut was a big deal to the local fitness community.
Ryan Jacobson, 37, of Brandon has been going to the gym since high school but this was his first time competing. He said the IDFA coming to Brandon is good for the community.
"There’s a big base of people here and a lot of gyms. So instead of having to go to Winnipeg to a show, it’s nice that we can do it here in Brandon," Jacobson said.
This is also Marc Olsen’s first competition. The 30-year-old from Brandon said "It’s great for the community because it draws people to Brandon and it gives an opportunity for kids to get involved in fitness."
Derek Krywyj, 29, is a former all-natural competitor who travelled from Winnipeg to volunteer at the event.
"I came because I’m a fan of fitness. I'm a fan of being healthy and to be able to support people of like mind is positive for me. How can you not be proud or happy for people who dedicate their life to fitness and health, and who have the courage to step on stage in front of strangers," Krywyj said.
Standing at the back of the room so she could keep an eye on the Gorilla Jack booth she was helping run, Melissa Nero applauded for the woman in the fitness model short novice division on stage.
"These competitors put in an incredible amount of hard work and dedication into their fitness. I think many of them are great role models" Nero said.
Samantha Peltier is one of the woman in the fitness model short class Nero was applauding. The 22-year-old drove in from Winnipeg for her first fitness competition. Peltier is a certified personal trainer and recently graduated from the University of Manitoba with a degree in kinesiology.
Peltier said the competition has been nerve wracking, but fun.
"First you have to spray tan, then the bikini bite—you have to glue on your bikini so nothing is sliding around because you don’t want that on stage. Then Glaze — everyone does their pump up by lifting weights so they look a bit more jacked before getting on stage," Peltier said.
"I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in," Pelter said. "You have to do it for you. If you’re doing it for someone else or just to look good and not because you just want to be in the best shape you have ever been in, then you’re going to hate the entire process."
Nikki Sheedy, 22, also drove in from Winnipeg for her first competition. She originally got into fitness because she got a tattoo on her side and decided she needed a fit body to go with it.
Sheedy said she was nervous coming into the competition, but found the IDFA Prairie Classic to have a positive atmosphere.
"Going into this I was a little bit skeptical because you would think that the other girls would be a bit catty towards you and size you up because you know how it’s like with other pretty girls and because of the diet we’re on. But everyone has been really supportive," Sheedy said.
The IDFA has promoted drug-free bodybuilding since it was founded in 2005.