Bodybuilders compete at the Ohio Union
Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 22:06
Kimberly Ichrist had her sights set on one thing after competing in the Natural Buckeye Classic on Saturday night: a can of whipped cream.
Backstage at the event, the air smelled strongly of tanning lotion, and the most frequent topic of conversation was where to eat after the competition.
Most competitors spent close to five months training for the event.
This included eating a strict diet of lean meats and leafy greens.
Ichrist ate six meals a day during her training but was denied her favorite snack, whipped cream straight from the can.
"My friends would tease me, asking me if I wanted some whipped cream because they knew I couldn't have it," Ichrist said. "Well after tonight, I'm going to eat about a whole can."
The Urbana native trained three hours a day for four-and-a-half months leading up to competing in the Women's Masters Figure and the Women's Open Figure Short categories of the second-annual bodybuilding competition held at the Ohio Union Performance Hall.
Among 112 competitors from nine states, Ichrist has only been competing in bodybuilding for two years. After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she switched from running marathons to showing off her muscles, she said.
Rich Lauro, a World Natural Bodybuilding Federation professional natural bodybuilder and personal trainer, first organized the Natural Buckeye Classic in 2009.
"I created it so people who want more from their gym experience can have room to compete," Lauro said. "These are everyday individuals, coworkers and parents with tremendous work ethic."
The bodybuilding aspect of the competition is for both men and women and is judged on muscularity, muscle symmetry and conditioning.
The figure portion, or "fitness pageantry," is only for women and is judged on beauty, presentation and walk, Lauro said.
"These women look like what you would see on the cover of Oxygen and Shape," Lauro said. "It's a softer look, not overly muscular like bodybuilding."
Ichrist, who is a nurse at Ohio State's Medical Center, would not reveal her age because "it's been a secret for so long that I can't give it away now," she said. However, Ichrist competed in the Masters Figure category, a group for adults older than 40.
Lauro emphasized that participants must be drug-free for seven years to compete in his show.
"This is a stringent standard that includes illegal fat burners and even over-the-counter testosterone boosters … things you can buy at GNC," Lauro said. "Seven years is the minimum because we feel like whatever you may have done before won't be able to help you at that point."
All participants were polygraph tested before the event began, and winners were urine tested, Lauro said.
After pre-judging, all contestants returned for finals at 6 p.m.
"If people know they aren't going to make the top five in the finals, they'll go out and eat a bunch of pasta before finals because they don't care anymore," Ichrist said. "And you can definitely tell who does that."
Aaron Feldman of Akron was busy eating pretzel rods right before his event in the Men's Open Lightweight.
Feldman said the salt content of the pretzels helped fill him out before he went on stage to give him a larger appearance.
The 23-year-old asked where the nearest Chipotle restaurant was after arriving at his hotel because he planned on going there as soon as the event was over, he said.
Feldman, a personal trainer, said he participates in bodybuilding competitions because he believes he must practice what he preaches. But with this altruistic attitude comes sacrifice.
"I miss pizza the most," Feldman said. "It was rough when my friends were eating pizza and I was eating a container of mushrooms while we were watching the Super Bowl this year."
While most were thinking about what carbohydrates to ingest after the finals, two competitors were focused on winning rookie pro cards, which allow them to compete in pro events during the calendar year. Jim Collins was the Men's Overall winner and Jacqueline Zediker was the Women's Overall Figure winner.