Sunday, 15 October 2017

Physique Dream: Alena Hatvani

5th in the taller (over 163cm) of the two Physique classes, the big and beautiful Czech dream Alena Hatvani was Swoon of the Show as far as ol' Swell here is concerned.

She seemed slightly nonplussed by her placing, and though that may just be me projecting my own feelings onto her facial expression as she held her trophy, it wouldn't be the first time the biggest, most muscular woman in a Physique line-up was put out by a decision. Alena had more luck earlier in the season though, winning in New Zealand and Malta, and finishing 2nd and 3rd in Malta and Australia respectively.

She's been busy. This was Alena's sixth contest of the year, in fact, the first year she hasn't competed in a "natural" federation, the first year she has competed since 2014.

My preparation for the IFBB shows lasted for 19 months, she told earlier in the year. I wanted to work on my shortcomings, it takes time. I devoted a lot of energy and time to myself, to getting some muscles. She certainly succeeded.

You look at her and you see a Bodybuilder with a capital B, don't you? And perhaps she'd rather be competing in that division. It is a shame that Female Bodybuilding has fallen on hard times, she says, but I believe that better times will come. Until then, a European beast like Alena has no choice but to walk the fine line between approval and disapproval from Physique judges. Only if she wins one of the big shows such as this one will she be able to compete in the IFBB in a Female Bodybuilding division. These are hard times indeed for women like Alena, but what a treat to watch her struggle.

See Alena fresh from the stage - it's not a long clip, but she's glowing (and glistening with sweat and oil, so...) here, and you may want to drop by her Facebook too.

FMS will be off for a week next week. See you on the 23rd.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Tube of the Week Part II

Well, why not?


Longer, and containing more names I can identify than the first of his edits from this year's Expo, FMS fave Hevumisa brings you Candice Lewis-Carter (doing a most muscular no less!), Doina Gorun, (lots) more Jessica Reyes Padilla and Joanna Romano, Bikini abs goddess Anita Herbert and many many more stunners.

Get fluids in. Sit back, relax. Enjoy.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Physique Dream: Laura Pintado
"You can let go of my arm now..." (Can you blame him?)

It seems like a dream to me, Laura Pintado told Muscular Devlopment Latino after the Arnold Europe. I still do not believe I won the Overall. It's a dream come true. A few years ago competing was unthinkable but it's clear that anything is possible.

Laura was Spanish champion last year, and is now an "IFBB Elite pro", which may or may not be the same as an "IFBB pro", we are not 100% clear on these things.

We're also not 100% clear how long Laura has been training, though in the same interview as quoted above, she reveals that she had always been a sporty type, but the gym she went to for her general fitness had posters of Cory Everson, Juliette Bergman and Lenda Murray adorning the walls, so that may be a clue. I wondered what they did to look like this, she says. What did they eat? How did they train?

If we think of events like this as the kind of Euro-equivalent of the NPC national level shows in the USA, what is clear is that the general standard is not great, but you can't argue with the winners it has produced since 2011 - Jacqueline Fuchs and Virginia Sanchez from Bodybuilding (back when they were allowed near Arnold); Ekaterina Grima was Overall Physique champ in 2015 and recently made her Olympia debut, as did Italy's Doina Gorun, who was the Arnold Europe Figure champion that year.
Abs & Thighs Before and During: Laura at the ACE 2017

Laura clearly has the sort of classy Physique that could see her emulate the feats of these Euro-champions past, and this professional chef has already caused a fair bit of chatter on the forums with her sultry looks and pre-show hotel room snaps.

You might want to follow her on Instagram now.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

FBBUK: The Retransformation of Linda Gartside
Linda the NABBA Champion - note the smile.

A long long time ago, well, four years ago, FMS brought you The Transformation of Linda Gartside, the story of how a binge-eating teenager with a love of Arnold became NABBA Ms Universe 2012. Like Rocky in Rochdale but with an FBB protagonist.

It's one of my personal favourite posts, not least because it's one and only comment is from the woman herself. She read it. And she liked it. And she said I was "very kind".

The swoon lasted weeks as I recall.

Now, fast forward from that 2012 NABBA Universe moment to 2017. The girl who was too embarrassed to join a gym and instead worked out with dumbbells in her garage as Arnold looked on from the cover of his book is about to go on stage at his event and perform under his banner. Her "soul dream", she calls it, is about to come true.

She's 47.

Since switching to the UKBFF and the Physique division, Linda has progressed slowly but surely upwards. She was 3rd at the British Championships in 2014, but 6th the following year. However, she followed that disappointment with 2nd (behind Rosanna Harte, who got the pro card) at the British Olympia Amateur the following week. Last year she competed at the British Championships again, and placed 2nd again, then at the IFBB Diamond Cup in Liverpool a week later, she was 3rd.

Was she happy?

In a word, no.

I had forgotten who I was, and why I competed, she told her Instagram followers after she'd returned from Barcelona. I was lost in a race, leaving "me" behind.
"A post show rack of ribs causes gains n veins". Hell yes!

"Me" has a name. The name she uses on social media, the name she signed on the bottom of my 2013 post (with an x - weeks that swoon lasted, I tell you) - Linny.

Linny had been lost for some time, continues Rochdale's finest, the Arnold Classic Europe was where I found "me" again. The moment I gave up the chase for winning, I regained my inner freedom, and found my happiness. Once I stopped chasing, Linny caught up, and now I have found the "me" that I lost five years ago.

There she is, then. October 2017, the REtransformation of Linda Gartside into the woman she was when we last met her. She has a good man beside her now, two grown up children, and they all came to Barcelona to cheer her on and were all, as Linda tells it, integral in persuading her she was good enough to compete. You see she doesn't seem quite to have lost that teenage girl who was so overwhelmed when she first walked into a gym and turned and ran home. And why should she? That girl was Linny too. And though it's completely irrelevant, she has two new silver medals - for 2nds in both the up to 163cam and the Masters classes to add to what must be the biggest collection of her silver and bronze in British Female Bodybuilding!

More importantly, she says "the smile is back".

It's so good to see her happy.

Congratulations Linda!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


A couple of years ago, FMS was getting quite excited about the fact that there were forty British women in the various Amateur classes at the Arnold Classic Europe.

Well, check it out - this year... SEVENTY!

Yesterday we met the very highest of these achievers, Danielle Osborn, who won her Bodyfitness class (and, I think I neglected to mention, was awarded 3rd in the Overall posedown). Today we meet (almost all of) the best - in terms of placings - of the rest. Sadly this time there were no women from the UK in the Fitness classes to follow in the powerfully bouncy footsteps of our new Olympian Emma Paveley, but we had British representatives in "Wellness" (you'll see), Bikini, Bodyfitness and Physique.


Sandra Mackie
5th, Open

OK, so what exactly is "Wellness"? you may ask. Well, as far as I can ascertain, it's pretty much the same as Bikini in terms of presentation, but with that Brazilian-style chunkiness below the waist. So we can see why our Sandra did so well. Apparently, this class is growing like mad here in the UK, and quite honestly I'm not sure how I feel. It's not exactly what I think about when I think about female muscle, but trawling through images of the Wellness ladies to find a couple of Sandra has been far from unpleasant.


With 39 of the 70 UK ladies in Barcelona competing in one of the myriad Bikini classes, I'm afraid there are simply too many to mention here today, so we've had to edit this down to mentions for those that placed, and special mentions to the two women - one a Master, one a Junior - who placed in the top 3 in (one of) their respective classes.

First, the Master!

Zulmira Woodrow
2nd, Masters up to 163cm; 3rd, Open up to 160cm

It’s a massive confidence boost for me knowing I’m competing against girls who are in their 20s and beating them, says the 39-year-old current British Bikini champ, who beat a few younger women in her Open class in finishing 3rd, and took a silver in her Masters class. Her husband is said to be "really proud" of her. I bet he is. Lucky devil.

Marta Mila
2nd, Junior over 166cm; 4th, Open up to 172cm

I am obsessed with becoming a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, says Marta, who seemed fairly comfortable on the biggest stage she's been on so far. Marta is coached by our British IFBB Bikini pro Karina Skowronska, and has to be one of the favourites to challenge Zulmira for the British title in Nottingham this weekend.

And the other placing UK Bikini ladies were: Rose Inglesias (5th, Junior over 166cm), Carlie Davies (9th, Open up to 158cm), Sally Legg (10th, Open up to 162cm), Keeley Johnson (5th) and Jayne Lo (9th, both Open up to 164cm), Nikki Harvey (8th, Open up to 166cm), and Agnes Lucaszek (10th, Open over 172cm).


When we met our Arnold Europe Amateur Bodyfitness champ Danielle Osborn yesterday, I mentioned that I thought this was the division the UK has the most talent and potential in, and the placings British women obtained in the various Bodyfitness classes here certainly don't hurt my theory any. Of our 19 Bodyfitness competitors this year in Madrid, almost half of them placed. Here they all are, in reverse placing order, if you see what I mean. See if you agree that the UK's Bodyfitness future is bright.

Sandra Lippingwell
9th, Masters

Sandra, according to Flex Magazine UK's John Plummer, has "a terrific sculpted shape", with "eye-catching legs". Great smile too. This Masters competitor provides conclusive proof that being over 35 is no barrier to success in Bodyfitness, adds Plummer.

Katalin Jasztrab
8th, Open over 168cm; 10th, Masters

After placing 2nd in her class in Barcelona in 2016, an achievement she repeated at the Arnolds in Ohio this March, the smart money would have been on Katalin being the most successful Brit at the show. Not quite how things panned out, but, as always, this (for real) former tennis pro's head-turning beauty and statuesque frame made her one of the more striking competitors from any country. Love her abs. And so does she.

Barbara Kiss
8th, Open up to 163cm

Am I disappointed that I didn't win or make top 6? Very! says Barbara, British champion in the up to 163cm class she competed in here. But... Show after show I have learned more and more about the sport and accepted that the only thing I have control of is my own performance, that I do everything possible to bring my absolute best and improve every time I step on stage. And she was "very proud" of the package she brought to Madrid, rightly so I think - her legs are simply amazing. This sport can be very unfair at times, adds Barbara philosophically. But such is life. Accept it.

Emi Wokoma
6th, Open over 168cm

Emi only made her competitive debut last year but has already made waves in the UKBFF Bodyfitness world, winning that debut show - the Kent Classic - and the Fitcon Classic and South Coast Championships this year. "Tall, beautiful, superbly balanced, her proportions are breathtaking," gushes John Plummer. UK readers may think Emi is strangely familiar. Well, if you watch Eastenders, Casualty or the daytime TV soap Doctors you might have seen her in her other life as an actress. Or you might have seen her as Tina Turner in the West End musioal Soul Sister. I wasn't intending on competing at the Arnolds but very glad upon reflection that I did. I learnt an incredible amount. she said. So, this is her not 100% prepared then... Wow.

Connie Slyziut
5th, Junior; 9th, Open over 168cm

Still only 21, Connie is, for my money, getting better all the time. Stage shots don't perhaps do her justice like her early morning or post-workout Instagram selfies do, and, like Emi Wokoma, there's more going on with this talented young woman than "just" muscles - did you, for example, know she plays the viola? She has had better ACE's than this one but she doesn't give a monkey's about her placing here now I would guess because last weekend she won her class at the Ben Weider Legacy Cup in Finland, which may or may not make her a pro, but she did describe it as "a dream come true". You could think of her as Britain's answer to Natalia Coehlo. Or something.

Samantha Forbes
3rd, Open up to 163cm

Same placing as last year, but Samantha was happy because "it was twice as hard". And she was well worth the bronze I reckon. Huge quads, tight abs, deliciously meaty lats... looking awesome! Who the hell beat her?! Can we ask for a stewards enquiry, please?

Watch Samantha strutting her considerable stuff in Barcelona here.

Do you believe me now when I say Britain's got Bodyfitness talent?


Lorna MacDonald
9th, Open up to 163cm

Lorna was a somewhat surprising judges' choice as British Physique champion this time last year, and she's found it hard to find judges as sympathetic since. The trend towards smaller women continued... with Lorna's tight physique finding favour with the judges, noted John Plummer in his 2016 UKBFF British report, rather damning her with faint praise methinks. Hardly Lorna's fault she rode the zeitgeist to that British trophy, and if she keeps turning up in the condition she was in here, I'm sure she'll find some more sympathetic judges again sooner rather than later. I thought her chest looked absolutely spectacular on this occasion. Too spectacular for the judges?!

No UK representatives in the taller of the two Physique classes, but also flexing open-handed for Britain in the up to 163cms were Ade Bishop, Ece Kilkis, and...

Find out who tomorrow.