Thursday, 8 December 2016

FBBUK: Ayme De Oliveira Goes Global

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Recognise her?

Perhaps this selection of headlines might help. How's your Hungarian? Ayme Oliveira testépítő a legizmosabb légikísérő. Or your Vietnamese? Ayme Oliveira: Ai mà ngờ được nữ tiếp viên hàng không xinh đẹp này lại là lực sĩ thể hình cuồn cuộn cơ bắp.

Yes, that's right, it's... Ayme Oliveira, stjuardesa bodybuilder.

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Wherever you live in the world, the chances are the Mail Online's story of the "bodybuilding air hostess who claims passengers don't notice her stunningly sculpted physique except when they see her lifting baggage" has made some sort of impression in your local media. From the Mail, Ayme's Instagram photos did the rounds of the UK tabloids the following day, and from there... well, to infinity and beyond.

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I can confidently say I would notice

My story went global! Ayme told her (suddenly considerably more numerous) Instagram followers last week. India, Beijing, Albania, Brazil, UK, Russia, Kosovo are just the ones I know about. And then one of those followers helpfully pointed out she was in the Croatian news too. Thank you! she replied. Online or newspaper?

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Of course, I'm very happy to see yet another positive "female bodybuilder" story out there, and as adverts for the lifestyle go, let's face it, we could do a lot worse than Ayme (who despite the exotic name hails from the very unexotic Chelmsford). She's sexy, she's glamorous, she's feminine, and she's got some proper muscles.

Those abs look especially yummy.

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However, what's really impressive is the self-promotion. It could almost be a blueprint for women who would like to further their fitness careers. Do some competitions, attract a bit of interest from sponsors. Now, you need to get more coverage. Media. OK, so I need some hot pictures, and a "story". I'm a Mum, I'm a flight attendant...

I'm a flight attendant whose passengers don't notice my muscles!

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Throw in the bog standard "bodybuilder" stuff, ie. "I train for [insert surprisingly high number] hours a day" and "I eat [insert surprisingly high number] meals a day", and you are, if you'll forgive the pun, flying. Online media sources need content like supplement companies need free advertising, and suddenly you are all over the online press, and if you are really good, the print media too. Overnight, your social media following has increased in both number and range. Happy happy sponsors.

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Am I being overly-cynical? Maybe someone from the Mail just came across Ayme and knew a good story when they saw one and contacted her. Well, if that really is how online media sources get their "female bodybuilder" stories then I am impressed, but I sincerely doubt that's how it happens. Perhaps it's the supplement companies sending their athletes "How to..." packs with the first batch of powders and pills.

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Virgin, in case you were wondering (and I would notice)

Or maybe Ayme is just very very savvy as well as very very sexy.

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However it happened, Amy De Oliveira (somehow the "De" got lost in the media, but anyway) has travelled around the world two ways now, and has become known, if only briefly and then forgotten, by millions. The female muscle lovin' community isn't likely to be so fickle though, and, I'm pleased (and rather proud) to say, had picked up on Amy and her muscles about a year and a half before the UK online media did.

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If they want another gorgeous, glamorous, unthreateningly muscular but nonetheless muscular lady "bodybuilder" to fill their column inches with, I have a few names.

Thanks to Aiden for the, er, heads up!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

FBBUK: Pic of the Week

You may be familiar with the late, great American comedian Bill Hicks. He used to have a bit about the "ultimate TV commercial", the advert that would take the notion that "sex sells" to its logical conclusion. The commercial "they'd like to do if they could".

Watch the man in full flow here.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, our FBBUK: Pic of the Week this week isn't a brand new pic. I believe it dates from a few months ago, around the time of the Rising Phoenix. Bill Hicks is relevant because it seems to me that with this ad for her supplement company sponsors, Lisa Cross has only gone and actually made that "ultimate commercial" already!

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What a woman, what a pioneer she is!

I'm sure NAPA appreciate everything she does for them.

More FBBUK, less Media Studies tomorrow!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

FBBUK: The Return of Niki Shaw

The 1997 EFBB Championships...



The history that Nicola "Niki" Shaw made during the show was to become the first Lightweight competitor to win the Overall title and with it, her IFBB pro card.

Niki had been competing for less than three years, but soon after her win, she retired.

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Now, if you listened to the clip as well as watched it, you would have heard her announced as Nicola Thomas. Thomas. We know another, more famous, British female bodybuilder with that name, don't we? Well, common name though it may be, it's no coincidence. Nicola "Niki" Shaw is Joanna Thomas' older sister.

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In fact, it was because her older sister had got into bodybuilding that Joanna became interested in it herself. And in 1997 Niki beat Joanna (who was 3rd) in that Lightweight class, as far as I know the only time that they competed together.

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The Thomas sisters. Lock up your sons!

Niki, apparently, became an A&E nurse, got married, had twin daughters - not necessarily in that order. And the next time we hear about her is on Joanna's blog in July 2012: My sister is now training to do time trial cycling and other types of bike comps. She was on her bike and a car did not see her so she gets hit and she goes over the top of the car. Thank God she was wearing a helmet as it saved her life. She took the brunt of the hit with her jaw and her shoulder, and then onto the floor. It ended up she fractured her jaw both sides and her collarbone. She had to go for surgery that day and have several titanium plates put into her face. She told me she doesn't remember anything but being on her bike one minute, and the next she thought she was waking up in her bed but she was on the pavement and thought "What am I doing here?" She is an ER nurse, 37, a mother of twin 6-year-old girls. She has had to take off 2 months from her job. My sister and I have not always seen eye to eye, but this last year we have become very close again and I love her dearly.

Thankfully, Niki made a full recovery. And earlier this year, there was more news of her. A post on the forum whose first rule is... from a fan who had never forgotten her:
I used to ask Joanna (frequently!) for pics of Niki when I chatted to Jo on the Diana the Valkyrie boards, but was never able to get any from her! (Probably annoyed her that I wanted pics of Niki rather than her, though I did buy hard copies of her pics!). However, I have recently, through the new amazing medium of social media, exchanged a few messages with Niki, and said how surprised, and pleased I was to be able to communicate with her after all these years, and how pleased I was to see her back training. She says she wants to return to compete in Physique, and is well on track with her contest prep. Evidence seems to confirm. No further info received, I do not know which contests she is prepping for, but great to see her. I never dared dream that she would ever be seen in contest shape again.

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I'm back, Niki announced in one of the first posts on her new Instagram in October.

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And since then, she hasn't stopped posting, throwing a few pictures of her late 1990s self in with the many of her as she is now. She's not shy about showing herself off (it obviously runs in the family!), with more than a few shots about as naughty as Instagram will allow. Niki is, it seems, feeling the joy of muscle once again.

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I should thank the forum bods who have made this post possible - without them, my knowledge of the career and current situation of Niki Shaw would be non-existent, before I read their posts I didn't even know that Joanna Thomas had a sister!

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And incidentally, their posts have got more than a few fans thinking about which British FBBs of the 1990s they would like to see return to competition. Claire Wheeler, Colleen Yates, Bev Hahn, and the young Joanne Lee have all been mentioned, along with Paula Bircumshaw, Pat King... And they're just the ladies I've managed to find pictures of. It's certainly made me realise how much shredded talent, not to mention sheer muscle mass, there was in Britain then, as now.

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So, can't say that I've been a fan for long, but I'm very happy to have made Niki's (virtual) acquaintance now! FMS hopes to bring you news of Niki's return to the stage before long. And we've gone with the one "k" Niki rather than "Nikki", as her name is often spelt, as this is how she has it on her Instagram and how her long-time fan from the forums spells it too, and we reckon if anyone should know, they should.

More FBBUK tomorrow!

Monday, 5 December 2016

FBBUK: Everybody Loves Sarah

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The judges love Sarah. Well, some of them anyway. At the end of November the 2014 UKBFF British Physique champion Sarah Williams was crowned the 2016 WABBA International Ms Universe - and, as the above photo of the triumphant Sarah suggests, this time she was back where she began, in a Women's Bodybuilding class.

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She hasn't always got so much love from the judges - her mighty muscles were a bit scary to judges of the IFBB variety at the Amateur Olympia UK last year and she finished down in 8th. But I reckon she's forgotten all about that now. Being announced as the [Universe] winner was a little overwhelming for me, she told her Instagram followers. That special moment when you realise all the sacrifice, hard work and dedication you put in has finally paid off. I tried hard to fight back the tears!

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Sarah finishes 8th in the Physique class at the IFBB Amateur Olympia UK 2015 (left); WABBA British Grand Prix 2016 champion (middle), and WABBA International Ms Universe 2016

This was the seoond time this year that Sarah has had that feeling. In July she was crowned British champion (2nd time) in Women's Bodybuilding (1st time) at the WABBA British Grand Prix. Seems that while the UKBFF judges can be fickle, the WABBA judges know a quality female physique when they see one.

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UKBFF British Physique champion 2014

Just like the fans do really. And while, yes, there are some dissenting voices regarding Sarah, they get shouted down pretty quick. We, the "collective we", love Sarah, and have done ever since she became widely known after her UKBFF British Physique triumph. She's awesome, noted one forum poster at the time the first few photos of Sarah went up on the boards. Pictures like these make me wonder why the entire male population isn't crazy about female bodybuilders! Me too, buddy. Me too.

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The only problem female muscle heads had with Sarah was her apparent lack of social media - at the time she didn't have a mobile phone, let alone a Facebook page! However, unlike many IFBB judges, female muscle subscription websites know a great body when they see one, and Awefilms, Muscle Angels and Muscle Appeal were quick to track Sarah down, help her change into something revealing, and point a lens at her.

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Sometimes the models you least expect become popular, says Jason Lynch of Muscle Appeal. I did not anticipate the popularity of Sarah Williams. To this day, every time I travel to bodybuilding shows and I meet some fans, they always tell me how much they like her. I try to work with her as much as I can because she is fun to be around. And because, like many FBB fans, I have a crush on her.

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Me too, buddy. Me too.

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Eight weeks out before the 2016 WABBA International Universe

Sarah is on Facebook these days. And Instagram. Fill yer boots!

More from the WABBA International Universe later in the week on FMS.

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FBBUK ALL week!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

From Birmingham to Miami: The Women of the 2016 NABBA Universe & NPC Nationals

Every day this week, one of the women who competed in one of the Toned or Trained Figure classes at the NABBA Universe in Birmingham, UK, on October 29th. And from the NPC Nationals in Miami the following weekend, every day we'll enjoy one of the Female Bodybuilders or Women's Physique competitors, all trying to win their IFBB pro cards remember, taken from among the four classes in each division.

I'm not trying to compare and contrast the women or federations, or make any points here, I just thought it would be a bit different. And it gives us the best of both worlds too. While footage of the NABBA ladies' routines is plentiful, there are few pics. From the NPC Nationals the reverse is true. Little video, many pics. So, by doing it this way we get to enjoy some muscles in motion, as well as a selection of contest photos.

Today, the Trained Figure and Female Bodybuilding overall champions.

Crowned in Birmingham...

EMMA GORMLEY
Ms Universe 2016

NABBA Ms Northern Ireland, Ms Britain, and now Ms Universe, and all in the same year (oh, and PCA Ms Ireland, by the way). Five contests in 2016, and four titles for Emma Gormley. To put her win in context, the last time a British woman won the Overall title at any international NABBA event was four years ago when Leslie Ann-Armstrong (also from Northern Ireland) won the Worlds. The last time a British woman won a NABBA Universe title was way back in the 1990s - when Julie Abel was Physique (ie. Bodybuilding champion). The last British woman to win the Overall Figure Ms Universe title was Helen Maderson in 1991, 25 years ago.



How did she celebrate her momentous achievement? Well, according to the blog of the Pro Gym in Derry, where she works, Emma was back at work the following Monday, and it was business as usual. She opened up the gym at 7am, took a PT client through her paces, hoovered around my feet and then bounced off upstairs to take care of something else... See Emma previously this year on FMS (when we discovered she had won her Northern Ireland title less than a year after giving birth to a daughter and that her contest prep coach is a very familiar name). Watch her performing her routine from that slightly different angle here, posing down against Cinara Polido for the Overall win here, and being interviewed fresh off the stage here.

And crowned in Miami...

CHAREECE JOHNSON
NPC Nationals Women's Bodybuilding Overall Champion 2016

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I'm a real bodybuilder now! Chareece told her Instagram followers after her win. Victory is mine today! This was Chareece's third Nationals, and as far as I know her fifth national level show. She'd always previously competed in Physique, twice finishing 5th. Becoming a "proper bodybuilder" has worked out, the second year in a row that the Lightweight champion has won the Overall title at the NPC Nationals.

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Taking inspiration from Lenda Murray (the victory pose we featured from Chareece last week is pure Lenda), she says that you shouldn't have to sacrifice beauty and femininity - this is Female Bodybuilding. Now with this goal taken care of Chareece has got her sights set on another, and you might be disappointed to hear it isn't competing as a pro. Well, not immediately anyway. Instead, she'll be finishing her degree. I'm a Strong and Smart Black Woman, she says (her capitals). Believe.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

From Birmingham to Miami: The Women of the 2016 NABBA Universe & NPC Nationals

Every day this week, one of the women who competed in one of the Toned or Trained Figure classes at the NABBA Universe in Birmingham, UK, on October 29th. And from the NPC Nationals in Miami the following weekend, every day we'll enjoy one of the Female Bodybuilders or Women's Physique competitors, all trying to win their IFBB pro cards remember, taken from among the four classes in each division.

I'm not trying to compare and contrast the women or federations, or make any points here, I just thought it would be a bit different. And it gives us the best of both worlds too. While footage of the NABBA ladies' routines is plentiful, there are few pics. From the NPC Nationals the reverse is true. Little video, many pics. So, by doing it this way we get to enjoy some muscles in motion, as well as a selection of contest photos.

Today, two absolutely sizzling displays of sexy female muscle.

From the NABBA Universe...

KAY GOODWIN
4th, Trained Figure II

Kay competed in the Toned Figure category for some years, winning NABBA England and finishing 2nd at the World in 2013. In 2014, she switched to Trained Figure ("a great move"), and immediately won the NABBA Britain title. My strong points, says Kay, are my stage presence and my bum. And clearly, Kay wants the judges to focus on her "strong points" - that thong is teeny weeny even by NABBA standards, and I love how she even bows with her back to the audience at the end of her routine!



Kay finished 2nd at the Worlds in Brazil earlier in the year (see her routine - and über-tan - here) but for my money has never looked better than she did in Birmingham, despite the lower placing. Fans of comparisons might like to review the above routine from a different angle (here) and then check out her 2013 Worlds Toned Figure routine. Or the other way around perhaps. And I'm sure you can be trusted to follow this sensational woman on Facebook with the respect she deserves.

And from the NPC Nationals...

PAM HAMMAN
3rd, FBB Light-heavyweight

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At 48, the outstanding competitor in the Light-heavyweight class, and never better. Sadly, though, the judges didn't agree. You don't have to like the post-contest rant - I guess the NPC doesn't want a woman who will represent the sport and promote it, a woman who is beautiful, confident and outspoken - but when Pamela says, I was more conditioned, [had] better vascular definition, and [was a] better poser than either of these women [who finished 1st and 2nd], and you compare her with the top two (galleries 1st here, 2nd here), you have to admit that she's got a point.

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Perhaps it was Pam's apparent determination to expose as much of her body as possible while she was on stage that swayed the judges against her. This kind of muscle sexhibitionism is a winner with me, for sure, but you know, those judges don't always care for that sort of thing. Once again, the best doesn't win, and this amazing woman, who started competing when I was in my teens (the '80s), will have to try again next year - perhaps the new Ms Wings International might suit her, she certainly fits the profile of late 40s female muscle veterans (Angela Rayburn, Lora Ottenad etc.) whose careers have unexpectedly flourished in the last couple of years. Just a thought. And in the meantime, you might like to show her some love on Instagram.

Enjoy!