Sunday, 26 February 2017

Then & Now: 2004

In the days before the Hot and Hard 100 voting closes (and you've only got 2 left by the way), FMS likes to avoid influencing your decisions unduly by bringing you some historical, rather than contemporary, female muscle. This year we've come up with a kind of time machine idea, used a random date generator, picked a contest winner from that year, and tried to find out what that special lady from the past is up to now.

Today, it's 2004. Christine Sabo wins the Overall title at the NPC Jr. Nationals.

THEN

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Christine was in her late 30s, had been lifting for nearly 20 years and competing for almost a decade by the time she won her first national level title. She was originally inspired after meeting a female bodybuilder on the beach in the mid-80s. I thought she looked awesome and said to myself "I will look like her one day", she recalls.

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These days, an Overall win at the Jr. Nationals will get you a pro card. Not so in 2004. In fact, another decade passed before Christine was able to achieve her ambition of professional status. Every single year she competed, often more than once. She won her (Light-heavyweight) class at the 2008 USA Championships. She finished 2nd in her class on five occasions, was rarely outside the top 3, and never outside the top 6.

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Finally, in 2013 at the IFBB North Americans, Christine's amateur journey comes to an end. At the age of 46, she wins her over 35 Masters class, and the Overall title.

NOW

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She actually gave herself a year off competition after that, but by 2015 she was back on stage. As a Light-heavyweight bodybuilder, a switch to the Physique division made perfect sense, and she made her long-awaited pro debut in her home state of Arizona at the Europa Phoenix. 48 years old, Christine placed 9th out of 18 women.

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Last year she competed twice more, at the Arizona Pro in September, and the Europa Phoenix again the following month. The hair was a bit different but overall I'd say she looks about, well, five to ten minutes older than she did back in 2004. In our final Then & Now post of the week we seem to have found a woman for whom the Now is no so very different from the Then. And this year - she'll turn 50 in August - the smart money would be on Christine not breaking the habit of a lifetime and returning to the stage yet again. What a great advert for the lifestyle and the sport she is. What a legend!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Then & Now: 2001

In the days before the Hot and Hard 100 voting closes (and you've only got 3 left by the way), FMS likes to avoid influencing your decisions unduly by bringing you some historical, rather than contemporary, female muscle. This year we've come up with a kind of time machine idea, used a random date generator, picked a contest winner from that year, and tried to find out what that special lady from the past is up to now.

Today, it's 2001. September 8th. In three days' time the world is going to be a very different place, but right now, all 5'4" of 43-year-old Lisa Aukland (you know, I have been spelling it Auckland all these years) is winning the Heavyweight class at the IFBB North Americans ahead of the 27-year-old rising star Colette Nelson.

THEN

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Lisa had been a successful competitive powerlifter for a decade, drug-tested competitions only, and had broken records and won a string of state and regional contests in her weight class. She had started bodybuilding competitively in the mid-90s, and won the Heavyweight and Overall titles at the (drug-tested) NPC Team Universe in 1999, 2000, and 2001, plus silver at the IFBB World Amateur Championships in 2000 before she arrived in Ontario on that September day.

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She gave up Powerlifting to focus on Bodybuilding after winning her pro card and, as we all know, went on to have a stellar career. It included another hat-trick of wins, in Atlantic City from 2007 to 2009, five top 6 Olympia finishes, and seven Ms Internationals including 3rd in 2008 and 4th at her last ever contest in 2010.

NOW

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Like Kristy Hawkins, who we caught up with earlier in the week, Lisa has a PhD - in Pharmacy - and left Bodybuilding to continue her career as a Specialist in Poison Information, which is exactly what she still does. She lives and works in Maryland.

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These pictures are a few years old, but you can clearly see she is looking good (and big) for a self-confessed "part-time fit bod" who is now, unbelievably, in her late 50s.

If you have an interest in "information and treatment regarding both intentional and unintentional poisonings and drug overdoses" then I recommend Lisa's Twitter.

Now, gentlemen, I have a feeling that if the Hot and Hard 100 had been around when Lisa was in her pomp, she would have been top 10 every year. Sadly, that wasn't the case, but you, dear reader, still have three days to decide on your personal choices for 2017's hottest hard women. Where? How? etc. explained here. Get voting!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Then & Now: 1989 (again)

In the days before the Hot and Hard 100 voting closes (and you've only got 4 left by the way), FMS likes to avoid influencing your decisions unduly by bringing you some historical, rather than contemporary, female muscle. This year we've come up with a kind of time machine idea, used a random date generator, picked a contest winner from that year, and tried to find out what that special lady from the past is up to now.

The first staging of the IFBB World Pro Championships had been in 1979, and after a year off in 1980, it was held every year until 1989. It was resurrected for one last hurrah a decade later before disappearing again, it seems forever this time.

As I forgot to tick the box on the random date generator that avoids duplicates, we are dropping our time machine into the said IFBB World Pro Championships in 1989. We emerge blinking into the auditorium, and what an amazing sight we see...

THEN

Anja Schreiner, Joy Nichols, Erika Mes... all placed outside the top 20. At 20 is Janice Ragain, Gillian Hodge at 19, Joanna McCartney at 18. Way down in 15th is Juliette Bergmann, and Rene Casella also finds herself placed outside the top 10 at 11. How much better can this contest line-up get? Well, hold on a second...

10 - Marie Mahabir, 9 - Lisa Lorio, 8 - Laura Creavalle. It's like a list of my female muscle lovin' early years fantasy women, maybe yours too... 7 - Tami Imbriale, 6 - Janet Tech, and into the top 5 we go with Italian goddess Claudia Profanter. Barely able to breathe, we collapse into some empty seats at the back, but the parade's not over yet, and next out comes 4th place Laura Beaudry and 3rd place Dorothy Herndon and after her runner-up Jackie Paisley...

Literally gasping for air we look at each other. No words are necessary, the wide eyes say it all. What uber-goddess could possibly have triumphed over this alpha field?

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Stepping forward into the spotlight, her victory pose as graceful and unique as every other she has hit during the contest, comes Diana Dennis, The Uber-Goddess.

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When Women's Bodybuilding came into vogue in the 80s we really had no role model for artistic female posing. We could leaf through Muscle and Fitness or Ironman and see some gentlemen posing, but then came Diana Dennis, a pioneer for us in the arena of artistic, imaginative routines. She elevated the display of muscle groups to a fine art of expression in motion for the decade she competed and then for the decades after that. She consistently lifted the bar in the art of female posing.

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It's not hard to find testimonials from the women who knew her and saw her perform. The words of Alison Brundage above, are typical. Even in the last ten years or so, long after Diana had retired from competition, female bodybuilders of then and now were paying gushing tributes to her on her Facebook page, often in response to her latest benefit performance - she was well over 50 by this stage - for one of the many good causes she has supported. Diana, as Helen Bouchard puts it, is the best.

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She continued to present her body in her own inimitable style for many years after her last competitive appearance, photographers only too happy to work with her.

NOW

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And even in her late 50s, there was no mistaking the fire in those eyes.

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This, possibly, is the most recent picture of Diana Dennis. It was posted on her Facebook page around Christmas last year. I still don't know quite what to make of it, which may well have been Diana's intention if she did indeed come up with this idea. If so, and it's the only thing she's shared in five years, it would be utterly fitting. Still looking for unique ways to portray herself, still pushing the boundaries...

It would be wrong to leave you today without a little taste of Diana in motion.

Here she is at the 1991 Ms Olympia. Enjoy!


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Then & Now: 2007

In the days before the Hot and Hard 100 voting closes (and you've only got 5 left by the way), FMS likes to avoid influencing your decisions unduly by bringing you some historical, rather than contemporary, female muscle. This year we've come up with a kind of time machine idea, used a random date generator, picked a contest winner from that year, and tried to find out what that special lady from the past is up to now.

Today, 2007, and Light-Heavyweight Kristy Hawkins is preparing to take the stage at the NPC Nationals. It's her third time at the show, and the competition is fierce.

THEN



In all, there were 60 women who competed in Bodybuilding that year. Kristy triumphed in her class against (check this out for a line-up!) Britt Miller, Karen Choat, Elena Seiple, Amy Neal and I could go on. To win the Overall title, she posed down with (again, this is mind-blowing) Lightweight winner Beni Lopez, Middleweight Tina Chandler, and Heavyweight Beverly DiRenzo. Fans certainly got their money's worth at the NPC Nationals that year, n'est-ce pas?

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Anyone winning a national title around that time had to be an exceptional bodybuilder. Kristy was, and is, clearly exceptional, and not just as a bodybuilder either. The year after her win at the Nationals - her first as a pro - she became Dr Kristy Hawkins when she completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering.

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Her pro career was short and lasted just two more years. 2009 was definitely its high point, with a runner-up placing in at the Atlantic City Pro, and a 7th place at her one and only Olympia - and yes, the line-up that year was truly exceptional.

NOW

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Staying in California after graduating from the Masters program at the California Institute of Technology, Kristy worked as a metabolic engineer, then as Director of a yeast engineering company. Most recently, she is one of four female partners who have set up Antheia, Inc., whose mission is "to make and fairly provide medicines to all who need them". I'm very proud of the company we are building, says Kristy.

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And if you think she still looks like she lifts a weight or two, it's because she does. She really lifts. A lot. Kristy transitioned into Powerlifting soon after retiring from Bodybuilding, and within a few years she was breaking world records for her weight for the squat, deadlift, and total. Her personal bests are currently listed at a hernia-inducing 496lbs (225kg) for the squat, and - don't try this at home - 537lbs (almost 244kg) for the deadlift. She can bench 319lbs (145kg). She's about 165kg herself.

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But Powerlifting doesn't even get top billing on her Instagram. The pugs do.

Kristy's got a few years before she hits 40. Again, that word - exceptional.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Then & Now: 1997

In the days before the Hot and Hard 100 voting closes (and you've only got 6 left by the way), FMS likes to avoid influencing your decisions unduly by bringing you some historical, rather than contemporary, female muscle. This year we've come up with a kind of time machine idea, used a random date generator, picked a contest winner from that year, and tried to find out what that special lady from the past is up to now.

Today, 1997, and at the NPC USAs, the posedown for the Overall title is under way...

THEN



She was known as "Amazon" - and in the sport of female bodybuilding, you're not going to get that nickname for being about the same size as most of the other competitors. Even in an era when the women all seemed to be massive, Lesa Lewis, all 5'10" (1.78m) of her, was perhaps the most massive, the most awe-inspiring of all.

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She made her pro debut the same year as her USA triumph - 5th at the Jan Tana Classic. The following year she was runner-up (to Yolanda Hughes) at the Ms International but was later disqualified (in good company - Denise Masino and Gayle Moher "tested positive" as well). However, she returned to the Jan Tana and won her first and ultimately only pro title, followed up by a 4th on her Olympia debut.

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She had a series of top 3 finishes at the Ms International and top 5 at the Olympia between 1999 and 2001, but by 2002, when she had placed 5th out of five Heavyweights at a lesser contest, the Show of Strength Championships, she called time on her professional career after less than five years and at the age of only 35.

NOW

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After that next to nothing was heard about her. She had been a construction worker in Kansas City before her bodybuilding career had taken off, and as far as anyone knew, that's what she'd gone back to. Then, around 2009, this picture made it onto the forums via the MySpace page of Lesa's smiling (can you blame him?) companion above.

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And then, three weeks ago, there she is again. In Kansas City at a Fitness Expo, dropping by the stall of KC natural bodybuilder and meal prep entrepreneur Leon Bowman (he hangs out with Holly Smith - I admire and hate him in equal measure). See those guns she still can't hide under her top? Lesa will be 50 this year!

I still have no idea what she's up to, but she looks good on it.

And staying in 2017 till tomorrow, don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Then & Now: 1994

In the days before the Hot and Hard 100 voting closes (and you've only got 7 left by the way), FMS likes to avoid influencing your decisions unduly by bringing you some historical, rather than contemporary, female muscle. This year we've come up with a kind of time machine idea, used a random date generator, picked a contest winner from that year, and tried to find out what that special lady from the past is up to now.

Today, 1994, and Katherine "Kat" Sartor has won the CBBF Nationals.

THEN

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It's a shame the only contest pics I could find of Kat were from two years before her Canadian Nationals win, if only because it would be great to see how she (Heavyweight winner), Patty Marciano (Lightweight), and Melissa Coates (Middleweight - Cathy Lefrançois was 2nd in class, Desiree Ellis 3rd!) posed down for the Overall title!

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Kat is probably most familiar to female muscle heads from her work with Ray Martin, who shot her as a pro in 1995, when she competed at the Jan Tana Classic.

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Kat exemplifies the perfect bodybuilding structure, superb from any angle, reads the entry on her Twixpix page. Ray Martin agreed, noting her physique was 'complete' in that no one body part over powered another. A lean, race-horse physique, he adds. Lots of sinewy muscular definition, topped off by a mane of curly red hair.

NOW

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The mane has lost its curls, but Kat's still fit and in the gym. She's been a personal trainer for over 20 years, winning a PT of the Year award in 2003, and still working in Vancouver today. She was also, until recently, heavily involved with the British Columbia Amateur Bodybuilding Association, ultimately as Head Judge. Check out Kat's website, where, among other things, you learn that when she was bodybuilding back in the early 90s, she was working for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police!

More Then & Now tomorrow.

Just one week left to vote for the 2017 FMS Hot and Hard 100.