Since bodybuilding began coming into the public eye, probably first due to the 1976 film Pumping Iron, the activity has grown by leaps and bounds, much like the muscles on any of its competitors. In fact, bodybuilding can even be officially called a sport; the International Federation of Body Builders recently received provisional Olympic status. And as the sport has gained wider acceptance, it has had to change with the times.
Proof of this change can be seen at this year's National Physique Committee's Southern States Bodybuilding, Fitness, and Figure Championships. In previous years, the bodybuilding competition's oldest category for women was an age-30-and-older bracket, but this year, "women over 40" and "women over 50" categories have been added. This is due in large part to activism by the competitors themselves.
Iris Davis, who is 58 years old and already has seven first-place titles, plans to compete this year after doing a great deal to persuade competitions to increase their age categories. A number of women, including locals Pamela Hendrick, Dominique Biet, and Kathleen O'Donoghue, have signed up to compete in the "women over 40" category. And aside from the bodybuilding, the fitness and figure part of the event has also added new categories for women.
Men have enjoyed such age brackets for some time; the addition of equal female categories has come pretty late in the game, but is nonetheless commendable.
Those who want to see who has the fittest body should check out the competitions Friday; but if you want to see who is the biggest man and woman out there, Saturday's bodybuilding competition is your stop. Also on Saturday, the public is offered a free seminar with bodybuilding pros Darrem Charles, Kim Chizevsky, and King Kamali. They'll offer tips on how you too can bulk up and leave your puny, girly-man days behind.
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