Sunday, 23 October 2016

Figure Phenoms: Rach White

As promised, for the last of our Figure Phenoms, we venture into the world of World Beauty Fitness & Fashion, Inc. It's a "bodybuilding" federation that most female muscle fans would normally pay scant attention to. However, once in a while we collectively find a woman who competes within its self-proclaimed "most glamorous shows in fitness" simply irresistible - Andrea Brazier, for example. And Australian Rachael "Rach" White, the 2016 WBFF Pro Figure World Champion, is the latest.

Surprisingly, at least to me, we find that WBFF Pro Figure is a lot more muscular than its IFBB 2nd cousin once-removed. Rach could, I imagine, quite easily transition to the IFBB's Women's Physique Division and do well. Very well... Unless in fact she actually has too much muscle for the IFBB. Maybe it's best she stays right where she is!

IFBB Figure is where Rach started her competitive career in 2011, winning state (Victorian) and national titles, and repeating the state title the following year, when she finished 3rd at the Australian Nationals. The following year she failed to place at either show. Had she got too muscular? It's a theory that would fit my purposes perfectly right now, but I haven't been able to confirm it. Whatever the reason though, by 2015 she had switched to the WBFF, and she won and was awarded her pro card at her very first show, and then became world champion at her second.

It was between those two shows that the world of female muscle fandom really started to take notice of this "super muscle goddess" from Down Under. With her looks and enhancements and the fact she competes in "Figure", she appeals to those who don't like their muscle women too big. But at the same time she appeals to fans of the bigger girls with her lean, yet thickly-muscled physique - veins crisscrossing her abs, thick arms, those calves... In terms of popular appeal, her combination of beauty, femininity and muscle makes her, as one fan noted, "about as good as it gets".

I was the skinny kid, she says. In high school, I was often accused of being anorexic, which embarrassed me because I ate like a horse! I then proceeded to join a gym, but not for the reason most would join, I wanted to add some curves to my tiny frame. I grew muscle quickly and I loved the way my body looked, so I continued to lift heavier and before I knew it I was targeting specific areas.

Before competing, my goal was to build a physique similar to that of Larissa Reis or Monica Brant. I loved the fuller, rounder look of each muscle belly. I was determined not to step on stage until I felt I had developed each muscle to the best of my ability, yet still remaining symmetrical. I have always admired the old school [male] physiques, but my ultimate inspiration is Cory Everson.

Now it is Rach herself who provides the "ultimate inspiration". Her 34,000+ IG followers aren't, I can confirm, not all guys like you and me! You motivate me so much, one fellow WBFF Diva tells her, just one of the many women inside and outside the fitness industry who have adopted Rach as their role model.

Her prep for this year's WBFF Worlds, or rather, the images she has posted of that prep, have proved to have immense appeal. She looks so good, and some parts of her physique so damn big, that some have questioned the authenticity of the images. "Those calves can't be real!" sort of thing. Well, they are. So is the rest of her.

And isn't she spectacular?!

It's Figure, Jim. But not as we know it...


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Figure Phenoms: North America's Got Talent

Today, we feature three women from North America, where, it seems to me, Figure competitors tend to carry rather more muscle than their European (Bodyfitness) counterparts. Two of them are from the USA - New Yorker Odalys Ferreira and Texan Tonya Wheatfall, both of whom won pro cards in 2016. The third hails from the production line of female muscle that is Canada, and though she is still working towards her pro card, may well be the best-known of our trio - Victoria D'Ariano.

Victoria D'Ariano

This year, Victoria had to settle for 4th at the Canadian Championships, and more recently at the IFBB North Americans she was 7th in her class. But with her Instagram following approaching 150,000, the YouTube channel she shares with her beau boasting 17,000+ subscribers, and pages and pages of images of her available on female muscle fan forums, I doubt this is the first time you've come across her.

Like all Figure and Bodyfitness competitors, Victoria doesn't get to do a whole lot of flexing on stage. Off it though, there's absolutely no stopping her. Pecs, peaks, abs... Listening to your body is important, she says, and so is FLEXING!

She puts A LOT out there. Her archive of IG clips could easily, if edited together, run to the length of a typical a feature film. I chose a random week and counted 12 images and 7 clips on her Instagram. And this is what has "endeared" her to so many of the female muscle lovin' brethren - I'm especially fond of her irresistible "shaved and exfoliated" post-shower selfies! She revels in her muscle, in the pump, the veins, the striations. Her love of muscle, of being muscular, comes across loud and clear.


Tonya Wheatfall

It was only in 2012, after she'd had the last of her three children, that Tonya decided it was time to start exercising regularly again. She'd been a dancer from the age of 6, and a college track star, and she soon rediscovered her passion for fitness. By that November she had gained the first of her many personal training qualifications.
Tonya before, in a whole different kind of contest

Her early internet aliases ("mom4fitness" and "fitpilatesdoll", which she still uses as her Twitter account), illustrate that she did not immediately set pout to be a Figure competitor. But after some time in the Bikini division, that's where she's ended up.

As far as I can tell, it's only taken her a couple of years and a few Figure contests - two of them national level shows - to go from a Figure novice to a Figure pro. This July at the NPC USAs, Tonya won both her class and the overall title.

It's a genuine shame there aren't more pictures of Tonya I can show you, because - the incredible Figure physique aside - she is a stunning beauty. You can follow her on Facebook or the abovementioned Twitter. And see her moment of glory, when she won the overall Figure title at the NPC USAs (all 20 seconds of it!) on YouTube.

Odalys Ferreira

I love being on stage, says IFBB North Americans Figure champion Odalys Ferreira. I did school talent shows since I was in elementary school. I’ve never been that shy girl, I love being in front of people especially once you've put hard work and dedication into your body. Why not feel confident and show it off? I love wearing my heels and getting glamorous. I feel like Miss America for one day.

Odalys, like Tonya Wheatfall, is a new Figure pro this year, and also like Tonya, started out on her journey after the birth of a child. My daughter was the kick start of it all, she says. I'd worked out since I was 15 but I wanted to take my body to the extreme. I wanted to build muscle and become a lean mean fighting machine!

Mission accomplished! Though it has taken her a few more years to get her pro card than it did Tonya, she's done it while looking even more beautiful and glamorous than any beauty queen - just imagine if Miss Americas really did look like Odalys! Next goal? The Olympia of course! My coach and I are discussing Pro shows, she says. I'll try to win one and get on the Olympia stage. The ultimate goal - a mom to win the Olympia!

It's a very fine goal indeed, and you can follow her adventures on Instagram, her blog ("Body by Ody", of course!) and watch her interviewed right after she'd won the overall at the North Americans (looking almost impossibly beautiful and glamorous - with MUSCLE! - on NPC News Online's YouTube channel.

And for our last post of the week tomorrow, we leave the IFBB and its feeder federations to meet a whole different species of female Figure animal.

Wait and see. Enjoy!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Figure Phenoms: Nay Jones

Whenever I come on this site [Girls with Muscle] there is (literally) always a physique that knocks me sideways, reads the comment. This girl has one killer body. Now, this poster was talking about a completely different picture of a completely different woman, but as a description of every single new picture of Renee "Nay" Jones I've seen there, it's perfect. And Nay is so damn perfect I have often wondered whether she actually exists or is a figment of my overactive (not to mention somewhat sordid) imagination. But I can reveal that research strongly suggests that she is, in fact, real. And I've had a fine old time choosing today's selection of pictures, I can tell you!

And check this out, Nay got (back) into the gym after a break-up. I decided I was going to get fit, I was going to get sexy, she says. My body changed really quick. A month or two in and people started to ask me 'Are you about to compete?' See what I mean? Unreal! Though I'd bet good money that her ex is wishing this was all a bad dream...

Of course she did end up competing, initially using a picture of FMS fave Shanique Grant as the goal she would be working towards. She won her first couple of contests in 2015 and then went to the NPC Nationals, finishing 4th. This year, at the IFBB North Americans, she came 7th. I'll say that again. 7th! There were, according to the judges, 6 better Figure physiques than Nay's on stage in the "C" class that day. For real.

I was told I look like the Figure pros and not to change anything, Nay said of the judges' feedback. Eh?! It's easy to see why female competitors get a bit confused from time to time about what it is the NPC/IFBB want, isn't it? I know I'm confused! Happily, Nay seems to have been able to laugh it off though. Guess I was just standing in front of the wrong judge! she told her 250,000+ Instagram followers afterwards.

Nay says she feels sexiest in the gym, in Nike shorts and a sports bra, adding, I don't really like wearing clothes. Wow. Guess the gym she frequents becomes a little more crowded than usual whenever she struts in at her regular time. I know I'd schedule my entire f***ing life around Nay's workout program (seven days a week, by the way) if I was on the same continent. Sadly though, all I get is to look at all the sweaty selfies of Nay wearing outfits tiny and/or tight enough to satisfy her distaste for covering up.

Poor me.

Though there's always consolation. Clips like this one here, for example, featuring the overhead kettlebell squat. My new favourite movement. To watch. Un-REAL!

OK, I'm going to pull myself together for a minute. Nay is originally from Augusta, Georgia (there's another reason to visit the Masters one day), and won a scholarship to her home state university due to her prowess on the track. After an injury ended her track career, she enlisted in the Army, where she spent four years before going back to college to do a degree in Nursing. Now, when she isn't preparing for a contest (at which the judges will rob her), she aims to provide the clients of her personal training business with "motivation and confidence through fitness". Phew! Did it!!!

And I think I'd better leave it there for today, because I sense if I don't this will once more descend into "look at her bum in those leggings" drool swoon swoon drool...