Fitness Guide to Physique Contest Categories
In the past 20 years
bodybuilding has seen many changes. In the days of Arnold and Lou there was only
bodybuilding as an option for 'legitimate' physique contests leaving the good
old wet T shirt contest at drunken bar gatherings as an option for women! When
I say legitimate I use that word loosely because at that time there was no such
thing as a natural contest. This only narrowed down the options even more leaving
women left to choose bodybuilding as their only physique option. This also meant
that most likely, these women had to delve into some type of anabolic drug in
order to keep up with the other women competing.
As time progressed, natural
competitions started to arise at novice and amateur levels for local contests
bringing in a few more women but the others were not competing because they just
did not want to get muscular even at a natural level, nor did they want to diet
Coming into the 90s Fitness Competitions started to show up but
because this was meant for a softer look, there was a routine element to the category.
This opened doors to gymnasts and dancers who were once considered over the hill
in their sport by age 20! The body types of these sports are well suited to the
physique needed for a fitness contest so the athlete only had to diet down a fraction
of what a bodybuilder does.
With Fitness there were still a number of women
being left out, who wanted to compete in the physique portion only but not the
routine. Then Figure was born. The late 90s was the beginning to Figure competition
and soon to follow was Fitness Model which looks for a smaller less cut body.
Figure began with a routine as well since Bodybuilding and Fitness both had a
routine element, so this was only fair to add a routine to Figure.
Figure routines, inverted movements were not allowed and you had to incorporate
open handed bodybuilding poses as well as using high platform heels for the physique
round. This came about due to the compliment it gives the legs and tush. Still
leery of routines, many federations decided to keep a Figure contest with only
the physique portion, similar to the Model category but with a more serious physique
with cut and muscle yet not as serious as bodybuilding.
Now when you go
to a contest you will the most popular classes with the most entrants are the
Model and Figure categories. So much so that some believe we need to 'save Fitness'.
There a few IFBB pros out there such as Tanji Johnson who are making a serious
effort to recruit more fitness competitors and really spread the word that gymnastics
are not a MUST in fitness, helping open the doors for more women to come back
over to Fitness.
So when you go to one of these contests and are not sure
which class is which because of the many women's categories now available as well
as many women cross competing in more than one class, you can better understand
who you are watching. Morning shows do not normally have any announcements but
the night show will tell you which category is on stage as you are watching. Morning
shows are more of a family event meant for pre judging so that by the night show
the decisions are made, the trophies come out at night and in cases where there
are larger numbers of entrants, they only allow top 5 or top 10 to come out.