Wednesday, 18 January 2017

FBBUK: Brittany Rhodes and the BBC

Over the last few years, the number of young women in the UK taking up bodybuilding has increased dramatically. With a similar growth in interest across other forms of strength training, and weights starting to replace the treadmill as the new fitness norm, Adele Roberts wants to know why strong is now better than skinny for so many young women.

Adele, a former competitive bodybuilder, has spent 30 days following a strict diet and fitness regime in a bid to discover what it takes to become a superwoman.

Is this an empowering method for young women to take control of their bodies, or merely another fitness fad, causing women to question their natural body image? With help from personal trainers, competitive bodybuilders, doctors and dietitians, and those closest to her, Adele pushes herself to the limits to discover what she gains and loses, mentally and physically, during her month-long bodybuilding challenge.

As programme synopses go, that for Why Women Want Muscles (first broadcast on BBC Radio 1 Xtra at the beginning of December, still available to listen to/watch on the BBC iPlayer), was definitely one of the most interesting I have ever come across.

Roberts (above), as the programme reveals, had competed briefly many years ago, but is much better-known now as a BBC Radio DJ and former Big Brother contestant.

During her 30-day challenge, she gains muscle and shape, but the transformation went more than skin deep. The most important part of this transformation to me is I how feel inside, she revealed on her Instagram. I should have done it a long time ago.

Along the way, Roberts meets, among others, NABBA Toned Figure athlete Clair Willie, and is trained by UKBFF Bikini athlete Phoebe Hagan. But without doubt the star of the show - especially, as the camera absolutely loves her, in the shorter, for-TV version of the programme (Get Muscly in a Month), is another NABBA Toned Figure athlete, the 2016 NABBA Miss Toned Figure UK, Brittany Rhodes.

The 24-year-old recruitment consultant from Yorkshire only started lifting a couple of years ago because she thought she was too skinny. I was a size zero, she says. I lacked confidence. I wanted to actually have that curvy figure and that's why I got into training. I caught the bug and much to my delight it seems to be one I can’t shake.

I LOVE it. It takes a special mindset, discipline, patience, and consistency to compete. Bodybuilders are a special breed. We have goals that we are determined to reach, no matter what. This sport has taught me more about myself than any teacher, friend or family member ever could. Finally I'm a woman happy in her own skin.

Brittany uses social media to spread the pro-lifting message as loudly as anyone, and she was a keen participant in Adele Roberts' documentary, which concluded that this trend for bodybuilding among young women in the UK is much more about self-confidence, self-reliance, and empowerment than it is about muscles. I feel really privileged to be able to express my views about why women choose to bodybuild in this way, Brittany told her Instagram followers. It's time to lift women up!

Her message has got her a lot of followers, the vast majority female - I wouldn't want to be a 20-something man and read Brittany's posts every day (eg. I think we say "oh man" to express disappointment because men are so disappointing; eg. call a man by the wrong name today to remind them how unimportant they are, etc. etc.). I reckon that would have made young Swell have some kind of crisis of confidence. In fact, I'm not entirely sure it isn't giving me my own mid-life crisis of confidence now!

After competing for the first time in in 2015, last year saw Brittany take 4th place at the NABBA England and 3rd at the NABBA Universe in October, and then came NABBA UK win at the beginning of November. Everything is slowly coming together, she says, and I'll be chasing trophies in 2017. This is truly the start of an amazing journey for me and I can’t wait to see how far I can take it... I'm beyond excited!

She's part of something that has, it seems, stopped being a trend, and transformed into a full-blown movement for young British women. Seriously, if she doesn't inspire young women in the UK, young women all over the world even, to transform their bodies and find self-confidence, self-love, and the kind of inner contentment that Adele Roberts found during her 30-day challenge, then I don't know who will.

Here's Brittany at the 2016 NABBA Universe.

So, chaps... who's "beyond excited" now?

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Most Glamorous Night of the Year

Once again, the FMS New Year's Eve party was the female muscle place to be as we said goodbye to 2016 (good riddance, perhaps?) and "How you doing?" to 2017.

And once again the ladies didn't disappoint, even those who couldn't make it.

I'm not into the partying anymore, explained Rosie in her RSVP. Quiet night in for me, but I never miss an opportunity to get dolled up, so, I'll be there in spirit, sat in my house in my gold dress and full hair and make-up. It's New Year's Eve after all!

Maybe next year, Rosie. You were much missed.

Still, despite Rosie's absence, there was more than enough female muscle glamour to keep the paps busy and the FMS staff making regular trips to the bathroom.

Angelica Enberg "showed off her muscular curves in figure-hugging grey", according to Hello! magazine. Danni Teresa, despite the cold weather, was determined to show off her gains. My arms have really come on, don't you think? she told OK! magazine's reporter on the night. No way were they coming covered up to this party.

Puerto Rican Queen Yarishna Ayala dressed (for her) in a surprisingly modest style, but her Bikini body nevertheless impressed Closer's reporter so much we had to show the poor young man the door long before the clock had struck twelve. Meanwhile, our own photographer managed to catch Mmmmonique Jones - stunning in red, white and blue - in one of the rare moments when she wasn't dominating the dance floor.

Many ladies of muscle flew in from the US, so London's hotel rooms were busy with FMS' guests getting themselves dolled up. Selfie previews were requested, which as well as ramping up the anticipation and excitement before they'd even arrived, allowed us to advise them if they planned to wear anything that C. Moore Glootz wouldn't be able to handle, thus preventing any of the undignified scenes that marred 2015's event.

Beautiful Lacey Dunn, Jodi Miller, Maria Luisa Baeza Diaz (just) and Nicole Wilkins all got the FMS OK for their classy outfits in advance on the night, which isn't to say that C. Moore didn't get up to any shenanigans at all on the night, as his pic (below) of the bootilicious Kathryn Drayton proves. To get it, naughty C. Moore only went and glued poor Kathryn's iPhone to that log table. What a scamp!

Of course, there's much competition among the ladies to get themselves on the covers of those gossip magazines, and this year's models turned out to be the glorious Eleonora Dobrinina, who made the January cover of Heat with her big blond curls and "Snow White" see through (trust me, it was totally see through) top, and in a bit of a coup for the girl (and the office), Sara, our very own FMS intern, found herself the face (and body) of Now magazine's coverage of the event. We will all be sad to see her go, but agents haven't stopped ringing since the magazine hit the stands. Clearly this little lady is destined for bigger and better things than doing Swell's filing. Sigh.

FMS would like to thank all the ladies for making our annual shindig - once again - such a night to remember. With their strength and power and glamour and beauty, these goddesses have proved once again that muscle women really do have it all.

And to our dear readers, a belated Happy New Year!

We wish you only the (biggest and) best in 2017.

Monday, 16 January 2017

2017 Already Better Than 2016!

26th July 2016

I'm in Vegas this month, Sexy Sophie Arvebrink, one of our 2013 Women of the Year, told her Facebook followers. Seriously living life here with gym in the morning, school in the daytime, pool parties and clubs at night. Sounds interesting... If you want to do the same thing, she advised, check out @europeanbartenderschool.

Sophie seemed to be having fun, But some fans did not take this news well.

And when Sophie's Instagram got deleted, they took it worse.

I tell you, wrote one especially despondent soul, she'll never come back. She's deleted this from her past. Why? Because she can. She's still on Facebook, mate. Cheer up!

You have to accept that you must forget her as the woman you like, he continued, same as Sarah Bäckman. Forget her, it's the best thing you can do...


Well, predictably, the doomsayer's rather hysterical take on Sophie's "break" has not proved to be entirely accurate. Nor Sarah Bäckman's, but that's another post.

The good news is Sophie's back!

5th January 2017

My account got hacked, I did NOT delete it, Sophie told her new Instagram followers.

But I'm finally back on now and I'm here to stay.

Gains have been lost and my hair is gone...

But motivation is on top and goals have been set for this year. Love, Sophie.

So, there you are. She's back, OK, smaller, but stunning as ever and she could mix you just about any cocktail you care to order. The hair, I like it (you can see her angelic face better), however, already there have been some comments on her (new) IG.

I can tell some of you don't like my new hairstyle, Sophie responded. I've never had short hair before and I wanted to try. It's just hair, it will grow back out. Until then, I will enjoy doing sprints and running without my annoying long hair.

Annoying followers might be more difficult to get rid of.

Let's all be considerate IG stalkers in 2017.

We wouldn't want Sophie, Sarah, or any other of our female muscle favourites to feel the need to restrict or even close their social media accounts, would we?

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Marja of the Day

Marja's Best?

So, I decided to finish this week with "my favourite" shot of Marja. She's "one of the most photographed FBBs ever", but many of those pictures are very similar to each other. Actually I've already chosen this shot as a kind of "epitome of Marja" once, for the Fantasy Contest post back in 2012, and I haven't found a better one yet.

It is perhaps a shame that there's only upper body in the frame, but, as upper bodies go, Marja's is (by common consent if you're not an IFBB judge) one of the greatest. Those arms, the peaks grab the eye first, but soon the unreal thickness of her triceps draws your attention. Is this faked? A morph? Marja's are just the kind of monster muscles that make you wonder if some alterations have been made to the original.

"She can't be that big!"

But she was. And this - though I'm not exactly sure of the date - is pre-implant, pre-professional Marja, possibly at the 1999 Worlds or 2000 Europeans.

She got bigger!

And that's part of the reason why I like this pic so much, I suppose. Here she is on the cusp of joining the elite of her sport, and looking like she belongs up there with them.

And I reckon that glimmer in her eyes and the smile (smirk?) on her face tells you that she not only looks like she's an elite female bodybuilder - she feels like one too.

What's your favourite pic of Marja?

Send it (or a link) to with a short explanation why if possible.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Marja of the Day

Marja @ Ms Olympia 2004

Special thanks to JL, to whom today's post is dedicated.

For Marja, the 2004 Ms Olympia was the realisation of a long-held dream.

Qualifying for the Olympia beats all the experiences I had before, and will beat all I will have after, she said. When I remember how I felt, I well up with tears of joy.

Marja finished 3rd in the Lightweight class, behind winner Dayana Cadeau and runner-up Denise Masino. It was the first of just two Olympia appearances she made.

The following year weight classes were scrapped, and Marja placed 14th.

But it wasn't just the 3rd place that made 2004 such a special time for Marja. One of the greatest moments there was to see and meet Lenda Murray, who had been one of my inspirations ever since I first saw photos of women bodybuilders, she said.

It reminded me of those early years when I wondered how it would feel to be like Lenda, or Cory Everson, Anja Langer, or Juliette Bergman. It's amazing how long the road has been since then, but it's been worth the work and sacrifice.

And 2004 was the year when "costumes" were permitted at the Ms Olympia, so, as did some of the other competitors, Marja introduced a bit of "strip" to her routine.

Check out HerBiceps free gallery of Marja @ Ms Olympia 2004 here.


Friday, 13 January 2017

Marja of the Day

Marja, by the Collective "We"

I think this fan speaks for many...

Marja was definitely the lady that made me realize I liked 'em BIG!

And so thoughts turn to encountering our goddess...

What a muscle dynamo! I can't really imagine seeing her in the gym, I've just never been near anyone with that kinda shape. To see Marja in action throwing around iron would be mind blowing! I doubt I would even be able to speak.

More graphically...

If I were to see her in person I'd have a tough time hiding my excitement! She'd have me creaming my underwear the first one or two times she flexed!

And it's not going to get any more highbrow just yet...

A thousand years from now, muscle fans will still jerk off to Marja.

More objectively...

At her 2001-2004 peak she should have placed higher in competition in my opinion, but she must be one of the most photographed FBBs of all time nonetheless.

And in summary...

I've just got to say it, Marja is the best FBB ever! From head to toe everything is PERFECT about this woman. But huge beautiful muscles aside, Marja still has the sexiest eyes, smile, skin tone, hair... You name it, this woman's got it!

Well, she had it anyway.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Marja of the Day

Legs 11 (out of 10)

She's rightly famous for her arms "as big as her head", but Marja's legs were almost (if not just) as wondrous. One March on the forum whose first rule is she was voted Biceps Goddess of the Month, and the following month Legs Goddess of the Month.

Look at the girth!

And look closer...

When she was 15, a teacher recommended she try sprinting. The weight training involved in preparation for her sprints ultimately led her to discovering her love of bodybuilding, but I imagine it also meant that she had developed her legs as a sprinter before she started to develop them further as a bodybuilder. Perhaps this was how her legs got the head start they needed in order to become so special.

One of the things I always loved about Marja was her penchant for the quad shake. Now I love a good quad shake no matter who is doing it nor how big her legs are, but when Marja shakes those mammoth quads then suddenly flexes them, it's truly heavenly.

Nobody has ever done it better.

Enjoy some of that here, and we finish today with an FTVideo classic.