Artwork inspired by bodybuilding

May 30, 2013

Bit of a different type of post today!

I was approached a few months ago by a GCSE art student who was preparing for her final project. Her teacher is a family member of mine. When the student said she was interested in exploring notions of the body in performance, “Miss” suggested she get in touch with me to see if she could take any inspiration from my bodybuilding and stage photos.

Remember when a primary teacher friend asked if I’d help her class of 7- and 8-year olds with a school project about fitness? I was really pleased to help them, and equally pleased to help this GSCE student with her project. (It has to be said I really didn’t do a lot – allowed her access to all my prep and contest photos and answered a few questions via email – she did all the hard work!)

I thought you might like to see the photos I’ve been sent of some of her final project. I think they’re amazing. Grace (who is 15) is just taking her GCSEs at Ardingly College and will continue into the sixth form next year, to continue developing her artistic skills for the next two years within the brilliant art department my relative runs πŸ™‚

Some of the images have little bits of the student’s text – here’s what she wrote:

“I explored the artist Edward Muybridge, because I loved how he used multiple images to illustrate movement. He inspired me to look into the movement of sports such as bodybuilding and ballet. It also helped me to realise the similarities of both sports. In the judging process of bodybuilding, some of the poses are very elegant and dance-like, similar to those of ballerinas. Therefore, I’ve used Muybridge’s monochrome, old-fashioned style to highlight the elegance and beauty of bodybuilding, which is not very often considered as it is stereotypically more of a manly sport.”

“Although my mannequin has the 1950s shape, I am going to make it appear to have very big muscles, like a bodybuilder. I chose to collaborate these two extremes of a ‘perfect body’, because it emphasises the huge steps that we have gone through with regards to fashion. Having a bodybuilder as a mannequin, instead of our size-6 models, would be very controversial. Recently, the makeup brand M.A.C released a new campaign called ‘Strength’, in which they had a bodybuilder as the model. This raised a lot of controversy, as people aren’t used to bodybuilders becoming role models, which they are.”













Compare these pieces of GCSE artwork with the children’s drawings πŸ˜€

Love it! Well done, Grace – and thanks for asking me to help you πŸ™‚

Artwork inspired by bodybuilding is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

TheFitDog on fitness video shoots

March 26, 2013

*This is a blog post from Frankie the office dog*

Hey guys! It’s been ages since I blogged but I know you’re all interested in what I get up to (can’t blame you) so I thought I’d put paw to keypad and tell you about yesterday.

Most of my working days are pretty boring really, sleeping in my bed whilst Nic types, or sleeping in my bed whilst Nic is at meetings, or helping Nic think by whining or chomping loudly on a chew. But some days I really have to step up to the plate and basically be Nic’s assistant.

(^^^ my thinking face)

Yesterday we drove to East Grinstead to help out on a DVD and photoshoot for Muscle & Fitness magazine. It was really cool and I thought you should all know what happens on one of these days.

Remember the time I went to The Training Lab gym, met WBFF World Champ Shaun Stafford and was sick on the floor ? That was for a photoshoot and magazine article (inexplicably, the magazine didn’t want me in the photos – I am still waiting for the Editor to get back to me with exact answers on that).

It was the same yesterday, I wasn’t so much required to be in the DVD but, like Nic, I was a very important part of the behind-the-scenes activity.

Nic’s jobs:
– to sit down
– to write stuff down
– to talk to people and ask them things
– to remember all the funny things that were said and write them down for later
– to think a lot

Well now take a look at my list of jobs and I think you’ll start to see that I’m just as important:
– to lie down
– to get patted by people and try to lick them
– to watch all the funny things happening
– to think a lot (whilst sleeping)
– to guard the gym door so nobody came in during filming
– to guard the camera equipment
– to not get in the way
– to be a team mascot so all the people being filmed were chilled out and happy

Um… HELLO… how can a day like that happen without me? I haven’t asked Muscle & Fitness what my fee for the day is but I’m sure they’ll let me know in due course. Probably they will add it on to my fee for the other time when I was so helpful with the photoshoot.

Every time I do one of these jobs I make lots of cool new friends. Me and Andy McKenzie, who owns and runs The Training Lab gym, are basically best friends now. Especially since I wasn’t sick on his floor this time!


But also yesterday I met a man called Nick “Headhunter” Chapman, who was really big and sort of scary but secretly I think he’s not that scary at all, it’s just his job (he is an MMA fighter, which means Mixed Martial Arts). I caught him smiling at me when he walked past and he said “hellooooo there!” which really wasn’t very scary. But shhh don’t tell anyone, in case any of his MMA opponents are reading.

I also met a nice man called Mike who is very clever and invented a thing called a Unikurve (which is the fitness equipment we were making the DVD about). He showed me photos of his own dog and even gave Nic some advice on my bald patch (too embarrassing to blog about), thank you Mike.

Finally I met a cool dude called Wayne who gave me lot of cuddles, here is a picture of us (sorry I am a bit blurry, I was very excited). Wayne used to be in a TV show called Gladiators where his character was called Doom, but personally I think that’s silly because he wasn’t Doomy or Gloomy at all. And I know just how annoying it can be when strangers only refer to you by your stage-name (I am so famous all around the town for my dog-coat modelling, sometimes I just want to free myself from the shackles of fame and cry out “but my name is Frankie!”) So I was very respectful to him and didn’t call him Doom once, just Wayne, which is his proper name.


Anyway that’s enough chit-chat for today. I will be back soon with a more fitness-themed post, probably on the topic of powerwalking and why it is my cardio of choice.

I hope you enjoyed this unique insight into what it is like to be a dog working in the fitness industry.

Until next time, bye!

TheFitDog on fitness video shoots is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

NPA British Final 2012 photos

November 9, 2012

Sorry for being AWOL – I’ve been moving house πŸ™‚ I still don’t have broadband or a phone (<— self-employed person's problems) but I’m making do with dongles.

Anyway, 2 minutes ago I realised that I’d promised you a second blog post about the NPA British Final (my write-up is here) once I’d got the official photographer‘s pics. Well, he sent them ages ago, but I forgot.

Here they are! Enjoy πŸ™‚ (I think you click on them to make them bigger if you want) And all the very best to the British Team who are preparing to step on stage at the INBF/WNBF Worlds today and tomorrow in Atlantic City.

I’ll be back soon with a blog post about breakfast. Yes, it’s the off-season, which means eating and baking and cooking oh my!

NPA British Final 2012 report is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

NPA British Final 2012 report

October 31, 2012

Hello! I owe you a show report – Sunday was the NPA British Final, my last comp of the year.

Well, guys, I don’t really know what to say because… I came last. Yup! 6 in my class (Ladies Physique 55kg+) and I came 6th.

There it is. There’s no point sugar-coating it, or giving it all the “yes I came last but think of all the people who didn’t even compete!” or any of that balls. 6 of us in my class, and I placed 6th.

Obviously it wasn’t what I wanted, hoped for or (honestly) expected even right up until the moment my name was called (perhaps I’ve got reverse body dysmorphia, where I think I look OK when really I look shit haha!) But hey, it is what it is, and if this “annus horribilis” of mine has convinced me of anything, it’s that, really, it’s not a big deal. Not a bodybuilding result, not anything really! Has anyone died? No. Then we’re OK.

Despite a disappointing and upsetting result, I had a great day, and I’m happy to tell you a bit about it. I’ll also post some of the pro photographer’s pics (Fivos Photography) when I get them (regardless of what I looked like, the photos will still be fantastic because Fivos is the man!)

As with all my comps this year, my sister joined me for the weekend, making it a wonderful weekend away. The hotel we’d been recommended by the NPA was lovely! We hunkered down for the evening, sis with her room-service dinner and me with my tin foil parcels of cold turkey breast, and she popped a couple of coats of tan on me during Strictly Come Dancing.

I slept pretty well and was very pleased with how I was looking in the morning. I know I didn’t write much during the weeks between the UKDFBA comp and this one but that’s partly because I dieted SO hard and did a lot of extra training (mostly cardio) in a bid to come in with better conditioning. I didn’t have the time or energy to blog much and didn’t have a lot to say. Anyway, I really felt as though those two weeks of hell, fish and cardio had paid off: I looked tight and lean and was drying out nicely. I was really happy with how I was looking and felt I’d continue to improve throughout the day of the comp, too.

At the venue I checked in, weighing in a smidgen heavier than at last year’s NPA Final (57.1kgs, and they split Ladies Physique into under 55kg and 55kg+). There were 5 of us (and 4 in the lightweights) and the other 4 ladies were imposing names. I knew it would be a fantastic contest – as it should be, this being a British Final!

Then came the news that one of the favourites had weighed in a smidge over the cut-off, so – joy of joys! – she and her washboard abs would now be in our class. One more competitor, and what a competitor! I knew this would make our class even tougher, but I didn’t feel outclassed, I knew I probably wasn’t challenging for top 3 (I’d had so much to do getting condition back on track), but felt quite happy at the idea of battling it out for the other spots. And nothing would stop me from giving it 100%, after all, first place is there to be taken and nothing’s decided until they call the results!

A happy twist of fate happened when I found myself in a little dressing room with 7 times NPA British Champion, Carol Streeter. There was only room for one other person and I got lucky when I knocked on the door before anyone else. So, for the rest of the day, I shared the company of this lovely and inspirational woman who was a joy to be around. Thank you Carol for the chat, the posing tips and the feedback πŸ™‚

On we went for “prejudging”, the bit in plain bikinis where you do your quarter turns (symmetry) and compulsory poses. I’d had a sneaky look at the other ladies, of course, and realised that I wasn’t the leanest (but also didn’t think I was the un-leanest), nor was I the biggest (but I wasn’t convinced I was the smallest either), and I felt happy about my symmetry and balance. In short, I still felt that I probably wouldn’t be troubling the top ladies but that the bottom half of the placings were all to play for.

Prejudge went well, I felt as if I hit my poses just fine and was certainly posing very hard! I’m told we were onstage posing for 15 minutes, which if true is ages! I was sweating and aching and shaking – a good workout!

We were all sent to the back of the stage, before the judges called us forward in turn for our “call out”. Everyone was called forward and arranged around the woman in the middle (first to be called out). Name after name was called… and then mine. Last. Now, people say it doesn’t matter where you are in the call out but I think it does. If the judges want to see you, they’ll call you first/second/third so you’re right there in the middle being compared side by side with the others. Then they stick the ones they’re not so fussed about out on the end. I was out on the end. I felt gutted, but knew there was no point acting defeated whilst I still had time on stage. Besides, I was enjoying myself! So I continued to pose as hard as before – harder, in fact. I don’t think I’ve ever posed that hard! Someone should set up a camera in the back of the stage sometime because I’m sure the faces we pull when we’re facing the back, doing our rear poses, are hilarious (mine certainly must be!)

We were sent off and I felt… I don’t know. In some ways I felt deflated because I gathered from my call out (and the fact that I’d tried to make eye contact with the judges and hadn’t noticed their gaze lingering on me at all) that I hadn’t made an impression. But I’d felt so good up there, and was personally pleased with how I was looking. Perhaps I’m deluded! Oh well.

I watched some of the show with my family and friends, chatted more with Carol and her husband and enjoyed the show, before it was time to get ready for the night show (sparkly bikinis and individual posing routines).

My routine went by in a flash and I was worried I hadn’t done it justice, because it seemed to be over before it had begun, but I got some great feedback on it and people said they really enjoyed it. Phew, cos I really enjoy it too!

We were asked to do a couple of poses (not the whole lot as we’re sometimes asked to do at the nightshow) before the fun of the posedown – always a laugh and no different this time! I was still feeling great and dared to think I might be in 4th or 5th place, although to be perfectly honest I had no idea at all.

We lined up at the back of the stage and 6th place was called.


Oh, hi! I came last!

Hey ho. I can’t tell you how I felt, not shocked or upset but just… sad, really. I haven’t yet asked for judges’ feedback (if any of you are reading, I’d welcome it!) but will do so because I would love to know where I went wrong. I’d like to think that I was just the “worst of a good bunch” – it was certainly a very strong line up of fantastic women, and perhaps I was just the weakest of a very good bunch. But, of course, I’d love have some detailed feedback so I can improve. It’s the only way!

How do I feel now? Well, I move house/office/life in three days time and have work to finish up, a house and office to pack, and an awful lot of emotional goodbyes to do. I don’t feel that I have the time or emotional “space” to think much about how I’m feeling about the result of the comp. I feel tired, very very tired. This year has sucked a lot from me, and I do feel that competition prep has taken, and taken, and given very little. I’m hoping that once I’ve moved, and settled, and drawn breath, I’ll be able to look back and assess where I went wrong, what I could have done differently (if indeed I could have done anything differently!) and what I could change for next time. And, of course, what I can learn from it all. Because there’s a lesson in everything. I just need to find it.

Thanks for reading. Photos to come!

(Puppy says he doesn’t care that it says 6th place. He can’t read anyway!)

NPA British Final 2012 report is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Wordless Wednesday: a day in the life of a bodybuilder 4 days out from a comp

October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: a day in the life of a bodybuilder 4 days out from a comp is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

NPA South East championships 2012 – show report part 2

September 14, 2012

Last Sunday, I competed in the NPA (Natural Physique Association) South East Championships, a qualifier for the NPA’s British Final. Part 1 of the report is here.

“Oh sh*t”, I believe I said to my sister. Because over there was Chiara, the lady who placed 1st at the BNBF Finals last year (winning her BNBF Pro Card in the process) when I placed 2nd. The last person I expected to see, and pretty much top of my “competitors likely to make me say “oh sh*t” when I’m not in my best condition” list. ;D

However, that’s the nature of this sport: you never know who’s going to turn up on the day, and you never know what they’ll be looking like, either. I reminded myself that, even though I wasn’t as lean as I wanted to be, I’d improved a lot since last year, that the class was anyone’s to win, and that my main goal was to qualify and move through to the Final.

Backstage, I found myself a corner and popped my feet up. My Mum came to find me, and told me that loads of friends and family had arrived. I had a massive support crew, most of whom had never been to a bodybuilding competition before.

My sister was flying back and forth tanning me up, taking pics of me posing so I could see how I was looking, and generally keeping me smiling. We were giggling like mad when she was doing my Dream Tan: you have to slap it on, almost smacking the competitor with your palms. She’d smack my tan on (“slap! slap slap slap! slap! slap slap!”) and pause for breath, at which point we could hear Fran next door being Dream Tanned up by her trainer Ian (“slap slap! slap slap! slap slap slap!”) It sounded like two woodpeckers trying to out-peck each other in the woods. My sister started taking her tanning responsibilities very seriously. “Ian is slapping a lot more slowly than me!” she fretted. “Am I doing it wrong?” “He’s got more people than you to tan up,” I told her. “He’s just conserving his energy. Plus he’s dieting for the Worlds. Don’t worry, you’re doing a great job.”

Before long I was tanned, in my bikini and ready to go and pump up.

On stage, I found myself in the middle thanks to my number – a great place to be. I felt really good, confident and very happy. I just love being on stage, and the fact that I had so many supporters made it even easier for me to smile. The judges put us through our 1/4 turns, then our compulsory poses. The head judge reminded the crowd that you don’t need a big class for it to be a tough one. I got the impression that things were pretty close, and I worked as hard as I could. I’d forgotten how much posing “for real” hurts! My lower back was aching and my legs were shaking even before the judges asked us to go through the poses a second time.

We got shuffled around (so the judges could compare us as they wanted to) and went through everything one more time. I was working as hard as I could and trying to remember everything, but found it very hard to tell how I was doing. Although the three of us were competing with each other, there was a really friendly atmosphere on stage. It’s hard to explain, but you know it when you experience it! Chiara bumped elbows with me during a double bicep pose and whispered “I’m sorry!” At one point, when we turned to the back of the stage, we all started huffing and puffing with the effort, caught each others eye, and smiled.

We were sent off stage to prepare for our individual posing routines, and chatted to each other, cheered each other on and shared water. It was nice! I’ve met and competed with both ladies before and it was genuinely a pleasure to be on stage with them.

My routine went well – I remembered it all for a start! – and people seemed to enjoy it. I stood backstage watching the others, shaking a bit with effort, excitement and nerves, and wondering how I’d place. I really had no idea at all. I knew Chiara looked good: she carries more muscle than I do, and it’s thicker, denser muscle. She’s shorter than I am, too, so all that muscle is packed down onto a more compact frame. And of course she’s shown how good she is by winning a Pro Card with another federation. But… I felt good. By no means did I feel sure I’d won, but I dared to think that I could have done.

After we’d all done our routines, we were called back on stage to go through the poses one more time and then do a posedown. I got a sense that the judges were having a bit of a tough time coming to a decision, but before long we were told to line up to hear the results.

Third place was lovely Fran.

This is it… this is it… have I won?

Second place… Nicola Joyce. I’d taken second to Chiara again, and I felt disappointed but not surprised. I could see why she’d won, and was happy to take second place to such an accomplished competitor.

We posed for our group photo and then Fran and I left the stage whilst Chiara had her winner’s photo. I felt OK. I would have loved to have won but, honestly, as soon as I knew Chiara was in the class I knew it would be a big ask. Just one question remained: had I qualified for the Final?

I sought out the head judge and he told me that yes, I certainly had. Phew! Mission accomplished, then, even if it wasn’t quite in the most decisive way!

The rest of the day was great fun: chatting at length with Fran and Chiara backstage, cheering on the Figure ladies who competed a little later, sitting with family, friends and my bodybuilding buddies and watching the rest of the show.

I ended up the night going out for dinner with my sister, something we haven’t done in a long time. I felt good: I’d made it on to the stage after a very difficult period in my life and, whilst I hadn’t won, I’d placed 2nd and qualified for the Finals. Done, and done.

The professional photos in this post are from official show photographer Fivos Averkiou photographer.

Thank you so much to my sister for everything (not just the excellent tanning) and to everyone else who came to watch – I really appreciate it!

NPA South East championships 2012 – show report part 2 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

NPA South East championships 2012 – show report part 1

September 14, 2012

Last Sunday, I competed in the NPA (Natural Physique Association) South East Championships, a qualifier for the NPA’s British Final. I did this show last year (the report of the NPA South East 2011 is here) and have very happy memories of that day: I won, and loads of my family came along to support, and it was a great day all in all!

My goal for this year was to qualify, whether or not that meant winning (usually the judges will put 1st and 2nd place in each class through to the Final). Obviously (and not so secretly!) I really wanted to win, but – as ever in this sport – I simply couldn’t predict what would happen. For one thing, I had no idea who else was in my class. I didn’t even know if anyone else was in my class at all! In fact, I had a horrible feeling I was going to be the only one… ! And for another thing, I was very aware that I wasn’t in the kind of condition I’d intended on achieving way back when I started dieting for the season. Prep hadn’t gone as smoothly as I’d expected and, as a result, I could have done with a good few extra weeks dieting. Such is life.

I pulled it together really well in the final three weeks, but couldn’t catch up and, as a result, knew I was going in to this show carrying more body fat than I wanted to.

Having said that, I was pleased with how I was looking: bigger than last year (in the right way!), fuller and with a much nicer shape. My posing had improved a lot, and I had a great new routine which I couldn’t wait to perform. I had a new (to me) bikini and a lovely bit of bling for my hair (made by my clever friend Lizzie – see her website for bodybuilding stage jewellery here).

My weekend started with a panic when the salon tan I’d booked went tits up. Long story but suffice to say I ended up driving to Kent ghostly-white and hoping my lovely sister would be willing and able to tan me up. She sure was! We spent a somewhat hilarious evening which gave new meaning to the question “are you close to your sister?” ;D

As an aside, I found this photo earlier. Seems my little sister was getting her practice in as my stage tanner as far back as 1985! πŸ˜‰

Compared to the view I had of her tanning me up this weekend. Tee hee!

As always, I slept pretty badly the night before the comp: nervous, excited, ready to get it done and eager to step on stage! But soon the rest of the household were up and we were on the road.

We turned up at the venue and that’s when I saw her…

(to be continued)

NPA South East championships 2012 – show report part 1 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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