Friday, 19 December 2014

FBBUK: Rebecca Maughan, All Smiles

Normally, I put the clip at the end. But not today.

Watch this...

Now, if that didn't get your female muscle lovin' juices flowin', you should really get yourself some medical attention because, mate, you are dead below the waist.

Rebecca Maughan. Previously on FMS in June. Just a couple of paragraphs. We tell you she's from Hull, she was NABBA Miss Britain (Toned Figure) in 2013. She's "very beautiful", we say. And we predict we'll be seeing her again. We were not wrong.

Admittedly we don't know much more about Rebecca now but we have learned a little. That 2013 NABBA Britain win, for example, came, we now know, in her very first year of competition. 2014 has been her second, then. We've learned she's got a bit of a thing for baseball caps. Not the sort that fit snugly around the top of your head. Rebecca likes a high crown, as I believe they are called. We've found out her supplements are provided by PhD Nutrition, and that her favourite body part to train is her glutes.

So now we can give you Rebecca's entire contest history.

Year 1: 2013
NABBA North-East, Toned Figure, 2nd
NABBA Britain, Toned Figure, 1st
NABBA Universe, Toned Figure, 6th

Year 2: 2014
NABBA Britain, Toned Figure, 2nd
NABBA Worlds, Toned Figure, 4th
NABBA Universe, Toned Figure, no placing
NABBA UK, Athletic Figure, 1st

Notice the last contest. The new category. More muscle than Toned Figure.

2011. Rebecca is preparing to go to Ibiza. I really wanted to get toned to look good for the holiday, she says. 2012. Rebecca continues training. Well and truly bitten by the workout bug. 2013. Competition. Rebecca grows, Rebecca tones. Rebecca goes through contest prep three times. She finds she enjoys competing. She can't stop smiling after she comes off stage. 2014. More muscle. She preps for the NABBA Universe with Sarah Hallett. Results are not so good in terms of placings. Her body has outgrown the category she started in, and she decided to give the new 'Athletic Figure' a try. By the end of the year she's NABBA Miss UK.

And she can't stop smiling...

With her looks, sponsors are queuing up. PhD Nutrition we've mentioned. But she's also got a blog for Monster Supplements as a "Fitness Guru". She also has a blog on Fresh Food Guru. Previously on FMS we reported her dream was to become a professional fitness model. Looks like it's coming true. Another reason why she's smiling, perhaps?

Rebecca says: I've always said if I can inspire 1 person to live a healthier life by exercising & eating healthy to achieve a toned figure then my job's done. I would like to think I have helped some girls lift weights and put an end to endless cardio.

Check her Instagram, check her Facebook. Check the comments. Ignore the ones posted by guys like you and me. Don't you agree that Rebecca has inspired considerably more than 1 person? She probably inspires five a day. Job done.

More smiles.

But most of all, FMS gets the impression that Rebecca is smiling because she's gaining muscle. And she likes it. Loves it. Loves the body she is building, the progress she's making. The muscle that's growing, Check her Instagram again if you must. Check her Facebook. Go back to the beginning and watch her progress chronologically. Is it just me or is the smile getting wider and wider as she grows and grows?

2015. Year 3 in Rebecca Maughan's competitive career. In the first two she's already outgrown one category and moved up to the next - and the move led to an instant success. By the end of next year I wouldn't be surprised if I was talking about Rebecca Maughan, Trained Figure competitor. And her smile (along with her legs, her arms, her shoulders, her back...) will be even wider than now.

Today my journey for 2015 begins.
I will work 100 per cent 365 after yesterday's win.
I will stay hungry!

Rebecca Maughan, after her 2014 NABBA UK win

Normally, I finish up my posts by encouraging you to 'Enjoy!'. Not today.

Today I'm going to tell you how much I enjoy putting these posts together.

Researching these amazing women is a consistently rewarding experience. Finding out about the women, looking beyond their magnificent physiques and into their lives only increases my admiration and respect for them, one and all. But the more remarkable the woman, the more enjoyable it is to compile the post. Some posts are more of a pleasure to put together than others. Today's has been one of them. In fact, I'd say that this one of the three or four most enjoyable experiences of all.

I know you'll remember her body. I know you'll remember her smile.

Well, research her for yourself if you are not convinced, but I'm telling you, this is one very very special young woman. Remember the name. Rebecca Maughan.

[Well, we've only been back for a couple of weeks but it's time for our Christmas break. Don't worry, there will be posts, but instead of daily posts there will be 'Year in Review' type stuff - Winners of 2014; our end-of-year selection of images from 2014, and our fourth annual selection of our six Women of the Year. So stay tuned. Daily posts will return in early January. Have a lovely holiday season. 6ft1Swell]

Thursday, 18 December 2014

FBBUK: The Fit Writer

OK, let's start with a question.

Can you name Britain's one reigning World Champion female bodybuilder?

Didn't think so.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn't have known the answer to the question either. Wouldn't have known that Britain even had a female World Champion. But we do.

It's time we met her. Say hello to Nicola Joyce, World Champion.

The fact that Nicola is a World Champion yet remains unknown even to fans of female muscle is easily explained. You see, she's a natural bodybuilder, competing in natural shows and let's face it, these natural shows and natural women get only a fraction of the attention that non-natural contests attract - unless, of course, Jodie Marsh is competing, in which case they are on TV and all over the print media!

Actually, Nicola is not just a World Champion, she's a two-time World Champion, having recently retained the title she first won last year in Boston in November.

She is also a distance runner, an international triathlete, and an open water swimmer with a string of achievements - for example, she's swum up Lake Windermere, swum round the island of Jersey, and swum across the English Channel - twice.

But it's what's going on between Nicola's ears that has really got my attention.

Despite her physical prowess, I found out about Nicola via her blog.

"The Fit Writer", as she calls it, has reports of her runs, her triathlons, her open water swims, and her bodybuilding contests. It has fitness-related product reviews, and advice for bodybuilding competitors (both male and female). But of most interest to me, and I'm guessing to you too, dear reader, is the insight it provides into her own daily bodybuilding life. If you want to know how crazy a female bodybuilder can go when she's prepping for a contest, her blog will tell you. Ever dreamed of dating a female bodybuilder? Nicola will tell you what you'd be letting yourself in for. Know a female bodybuilder and want to say the right things? Check with Nicola.

But it's not just the content of the blog that I like. Nicola writes with some style.

Here she is at the UKDFBA this year. The winner will get a WNBF pro card...

I’ve either won it or... I haven’t, frankly. One matters, one doesn’t matter. That’s how I see it. One is a win, the other is not a win.

The head judge was saying that it was incredibly close... that, in fact, it was a tie-break. We were tied for first place, and the result of the tie-break is...

"In second place..."



OK. Smile, smile, don’t cry, look up, smile, walk forward, shake the winner’s hand, stand there and smile.

The winner was then called forward, and offered WNBF Pro status.

My emotions have been up, down and all over the place since. At the time I felt absolutely gutted and disappointed, but not so bad. I felt happy, in that I knew I was my best ever (so far!), very happy personally in how I looked and how I’d posed, etc. Happy that I’d improved a placing in a year (I was 3rd at UKDFBA last year) and happy (although it’s a bitter happiness!!) that it was so close. You can’t ask for much more (other than winning, obviously) than being in a tie break situation.

But I have also gone through a slew of negative emotions: sadness, disappointment, feeling absolutely gutted, and (if I’m honest), angry. I’m not sure at what. Myself, I think. Angry that I didn’t get on stage absolutely dominant, that I left it up to the judges to make the decision, that I didn’t step up there and make their job easier for them. I won’t be making the same mistake again. Believe me, there’s nothing like losing something so important to you on a tie-break decision to focus the mind.

A compelling read, don't you think?

Unsurprisingly, given her ability to tell a story and her all round way with words, Nicola earns her corn as a freelance Sport and Fitness Writer and Fitness Copywriter. One who just happens to be a runner, a triathlete, an open water swimmer, and, er...
Oh yeah, I almost forgot! A two-time natural bodybuilding World Champion.

Please enjoy Nicola's blog responsibly!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

FBBUK@ NABBA Universe 2014

On October 26th the oldest bodybuilding show of them all, the NABBA Universe, took place at its long-time home of Southport on Merseyside. Since 1966, a Ms Universe has been crowned - 48 consecutive years by my reckoning - and Ms Universe 2014 was Brazil's Dora Rodrigues. But, as always, there was a large contingent of fine British female physiques in the three "Figure" classes, doing their thing in their thongs.


In recent years, this class has been the one where British women have enjoyed the most success, and this show was no exception, with Brits first and second.

You have to think that sooner or later that former UKBFF British Bikini champ Kelsey Yung (aka "TinkerKel") will walk off with the winner's trophy. She finished second (to the gorgeous Nicola Bentham) at the 2013 Universe, and also finished second (to Brazil's Caroline Crozeta) at this year's NABBA Worlds in Belfast in June. And here, once again, Barrow-in-Furness' finest had to settle for second place, though the fact that she is the reigning NABBA Ms Britain is probably some consolation.

Beating Kelsey on this occasion was 26-year-old Charlotte MacGill from Bolton in Lancashire. Charlotte works (all these NABBA women are amateurs remember) as a sports rehab physio. It was only when she got her current job that she began training, inspired and encouraged by her bodybuilding boss, Stuart Cosgrove. He got me interested in weight training, she told a local newspaper after her win. I started to notice the changes in my body and went from there.

Within a year she had won the NABBA North-West show, and now has her first international title. Competing in international competitions is very rewarding and a lot of fun, she says. Especially so when you leave as the champ, I imagine!


This class was packed with quality. This year's and last year's Overall Ms Universe winners (Dora Rodrigues and Italian NABBA veteran Flora Conte), the reigning NABBA Ms World (Auren Malvestiti of Brazil) and FMS fave Cinara Polido (with her involuntarily twitching glutes) made up the top four. However, two British women muscled their way into the placings, finishing in the same order as they had done at the NABBA Britain five months previously.

Corinne Ingman from Harlow in Essex was awarded 6th place. She's a British powerlifting champion, a NABBA Figure competitor, and for her next trick she fancies taking on the UKBFF Physique class and gaining her pro card, apparently. Given the current trend towards muscularity in that class, she looks as if she has a great chance of making her mark there, which is slightly ironic when you learn that officials from the UKBFF once told her she was "too muscular" to be a Physique competitor!

I think Corinne looks like the kind of woman who's prepared to strip down to the bare minimum and give everyone in the gym a good gander at her progress anytime she's feeling nice and pumped. In other words, she looks like FMS' kind of woman. One to watch for sure - and you can do so via her (regularly updated) Instagram.

Sadly, there's no video we can find of Corinne at the NABBA Universe, but we did find a clip of her routine at the NABBA Britain in May. So why not?

But we had the opposite problem for the woman who beat Corinne to the NABBA Britain title and finished one place above her again here. Despite an exhaustive search, we failed to turn up a single new picture of NABBA favourite Kay Goodwin that didn't have a big bad watermark on it - though we did find video (see below). You may remember Kay from previous posts, when, among other things, we reported that she had moved category from Toned to Trained Figure this year.

Success has followed. In 2014 she won her first (regional) show in the class, took the Ms Britain title, and has finished as top Brit at both the NABBA Worlds and now the NABBA Universe. Guess more muscle suits her! I first caught the "bodybuilding bug" after going to see a friend compete in a show, Kay says. Seeing all the girls on stage, all glammed up looking fabulous and the physiques on display was inspiring and got me thinking "could I really do that?" Turns out she could. She really really could.


Northern Ireland's positively Amazonian Linda Cassidy finished 5th in the taller of the two Trained Figure classes, and I can pretty much guarantee that though her routine (as with all NABBA routines) is over too quickly for my liking, you will not forget it once you've seen it. Linda is a personal trainer at The Columbia Gym in Banbridge, County Down, who specialises in "high risk" clients - ones who have been referred to the gym via their GP, that is. Seems to me having Linda put you through your paces would be pretty "high risk" to most male heart rates...

And finally, the familiar face of Wales' most muscular female firefighter, Sarah Hallett, who placed 3rd, higher than any other British Trained Figure competitor.

She says she's gone through some "big life changes this year", but the package she brought to the Universe stage was just as hard and vascular as she always seems to be. Readers may be familiar with her work for Fit Vids, and I can assure you that if you do decide to put your hand in your pocket and fork out for the whole video set, you will be treated to some of the most insane vascularity you have ever seen. Highlights include the cameraman's audible gasp as Sarah flexes her abs, and a seemingly never-ending set of bicep curls that leaves her entire upper body covered in pumping cord-like veins. Seriously, buy it (he said, shamelessly angling for a free Fit Vids pass!!!)

Sarah's on Instagram

Congratulations to all the UK's NABBA Universe women, whether they've made it into the post or not. We'll be meeting one more on Friday, but in the meantime, enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

FBBUK: Rene Goes Public (FMS Stays Private)

When was the last time female muscle fans were in the mainstream media?

As far as the UK is concerned, the last time I can recall was the rather infamous segment of Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends when the eponymous presenter meets a few at the Jan Tana, as well as Maria Calo and her (then?) husband.

Since then, Brian Eno has said he likes a muscular woman (see FMS passim), but I really can't remember another instance - and please to tell me if I'm wrong - where us fans of female bodybuilding have been given either airtime or column inches.

But a couple of weeks ago, FBB fans found themselves in the very mainstream UK magazine Closer as part of a story about the ever-beautiful Rene Campbell.

Strangers love my muscles and beg me to marry them! it reads on the front cover.

Inside, under the headline: Bodybuilding Mum: "Men think my muscles are sexy – strangers ask to marry me!", we learn that Bigorexic Rene Campbell says she gets more attention from men as a bodybuilder than when she was a petite size eight.

There's Rene, NUDE! And only her tastefully positioned legs and well-placed arm preventing that week's Closer from having to be displayed on the topmost shelf.

Her muscles, the story continues, have made her an unlikely sex symbol with thousands of men viewing her pictures online everyday. Well, OK. I, and I dare say you, dear reader, may have been guilty of a bit of that. But there's more...

Rene, 37, has had more than 10 marriage proposals from strangers and last Valentine's Day received several bouquets of flowers from secret admirers. "Men tell me I’m sexy and I’ve had marriage proposals from guys all over the world."


I've been writing this blog a while now, and as a result I've had the pleasure of contact with a number of fellow female muscle fans from both the UK and elsewhere. Now, I wouldn't say that all of them are exactly what you'd call "normal" (who among us is?) but they are most certainly not in the business of asking Rene Campbell - or any of their favourite female bodybuilders for that matter - to marry them.

So, who the hell are these guys, these poor souls who, without any hint of irony, write forum posts like 'If only Aleesha Young were single...'? Who are they and why do they get all the attention? Why isn't Closer writing about professional men in their late 30s, not at all the kind of timid, skinny live-with-mother types some would paint all female muscle fans as. They're moderately successful, they're property-owning, educated, eloquent guys who just happen to have a thing for muscular women...

Well, I have a confession to make.

I had the opportunity to talk to a journalist from Closer and I didn't take it.

Now, unlike the marry-me-Rene brigade, I am not deluded - well, not as deluded at least. I'm not saying it would have changed anything about the Rene story, nor that Closer would have been interested in what I have to say and published 'my' story instead or as well as Rene's. If I'd made out I was a proposal maker or bouquet sender then maybe - maybe - I'd have had a little quote in there somewhere.

In fact, I procrastinated for some time after I was contacted (not by the magazine, note, but by an intermediary), and let the moment pass. Now I somewhat regret that the opportunity to represent the silent majority of female muscle fans, to paint an alternative picture of us, has gone, but, though tempted, being the spokesperson for the entire female muscle lovin' brethren is not something I would want to be.

But anyway, about Rene.

Seems she's on a bit of a publicity mission. Not only has she got her name (and naked body, remember) in mainstream print, but she also made an appearance, in late November, on The X-Factor (about as mainstream and prime time a TV show as you are ever going to get) as part of a backing act for one of the performances.

And Rene has starred in a music video as well. I mean, really starred.

The Closer story then (new pictures of Rene and bonus clip of her working out all pumped up aside), not really worth the read. The X-Factor appearance (aside from Rene's own Facebook pictures of the day), not really worth bothering with.

But the music video, which was directed by Jack Newman for Bullion Productions, is definitely worth four minutes and twenty-four seconds of your time.

Oh, what a surprise - I recommended by far the least mainstream thing!

This is 6ft1swell, for FMS, staying well out of the limelight...

Monday, 15 December 2014

FBBUK: Exciting Times with Laura Madge

It seems to me, having done my research (of course), that there is a wave of new young British female muscle talent on the cusp of international success. Yesterday, for example, we highlighted the prodigious achievements of our 23-year-old Fitness champ Emma Paveley. Readers will already be familiar with the likes of Ria Ward and Hayley Brylewski, who have already competed in the US, and Georgina McConnell, who will surely be doing the same before long. And later in the week we will be meeting an emerging talent competing in the world of NABBA.

Exciting times.

Laura Madge is another of these emerging talents. As gorgeous and muscular as any of the women in this British new wave, it could be argued that Laura is, perhaps, our most exciting prospect of all, simply because she has, uniquely among her peers, already won an international amateur competition and achieved professional status.

Her win came in Las Vegas this August at the WBFF Worlds. Laura was crowned Diva Figure Model, achieving pro status in only her second year of competition.

True, the WBFF (World Beauty Fitness & Fashion Inc.) isn't exactly the IFBB, but all the same, she's now entitled to go sparkly bikini to sparkly bikini with some high calibre physiques. Emily Stirling, Anne-Marie Lassere and Louise van der Nat are all top WBFF Pro Figure competitors, as is Northern Ireland's finest, Leslie-Ann Armstrong, who became a pro after having finished runner-up to Laura in Las Vegas.

For Laura to have gone from winning her very first show as a Bodyfitness competitor - a regional UKBFF national qualifier - to winning her pro card in a touch over twelve months is impressive stuff. I am so proud of what I have achieved in a short space of time, says Laura. And FMS, at least, thinks she damn well should be.

Her success is no doubt partly down to the fact that from the age of 5 to the age of 23, when an injury ended her career, Laura was a gymnast. Her professional and personal alliance with her fiancĂ© Scott Leeson, himself a successful WBFF Pro, and the man who has been her coach since the beginning of her muscle journey has also been crucial - and at this point I should warn fragile egos who are going to get depressed when they see the body of the man who snags a woman like Laura that Mr Leeson features prominently (and always shirtless) on her Facebook and Instagram.

Sport and training have always been a massive part of my life since such an early age, she says, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a lifestyle. And you wouldn't bet against Laura's relentless energy and competitive nature taking her to the very top of the WBFF very very soon. [I'm] Already so excited about competing at the WBFF Worlds Pro Figure next year, already working hard on my weaknesses.

So I guess this is where I have to admit that the aforementioned Mr Leeson is probably a better trainer than I could ever be, because when I look at Laura, I'm afraid I don't see any "weaknesses" at all. And by the way, he's also a photographer, so he gets to snap his soon-to-be missus in lingerie in their down time, don't you just hate him?!

And we leave you today with Laura's trailer for her work with FitVids.

Enjoy! And remember no fragile egos on her Facebook or Instagram!