Thursday, 20 October 2016

Figure Phenoms: Figure UK

Today, we follow the recent fortunes of three of the UK's Bodyfitness stars from the recent Arnold Classic Europe, where two of them competed, via the UKBFF British Championships, to last weekend's IFBB Diamond Cup in Liverpool.

Caroline "Caz" Caine

Arnold Classic Europe: 10th (over 168cm class)
UKBFF British: 3rd (over 163cm class)
Diamond Cup: WINNER (over 168cm class)

A former swimmer and triathlete, Caz runs a personal training business with her beau in Lancaster. She decided to get into the Bodyfitness game in 2012, has been a consistent top 6 finisher at the British championships ever since, and represented the UK at European and world level, with a 4th place at the IFBB Worlds to her name.

At nearly 5'8" (172cm), she towers over many of her competitors on her long (and shapely) legs, and at the British Championships Flex UK editor John Plummer reckoned she was at her "best ever". Turned out her best ever result was just a couple of weeks away. OMG WON my class! gushed an elated Caroline afterwards. To win an international show is literally a dream come true.

For once, FMS got to watch the Diamond Cup live on stream, and was extremely impressed with Caroline's statuesque stage presence, those long legs, and her determination to look the judges in the eye no matter what angle she was coming at them from. It seemed as if she was telepathically demanding they give her the win!
Caz's progress - 2011 v 2016

In his Diamond Cup report, John Plummer, who clearly knows more about these things than I do (and by the way, get used to him, he's the only person reporting these events, and I'm very very grateful that he does, the muscle media in the UK, Plummer aside, is, shall we say, not exactly "on it") put Caroline's improved results this season down to "noticeable gains to her hamstrings and glutes to balance out her physique".

Caroline is on Instagram.

Kristina Vassilieva

Arnold Classic Europe: did not compete
UKBFF British: 2nd (over 163cm class)
Diamond Cup: 5th (over 168cm class)

Kristina, the only one of our British Bodyfitness stars today to have featured previously on FMS, is, you may recall, a former model who struggled with an eating disorder before she started turning her life around in 2012. She only competed for the first time last year, winning her first ever (regional) show, a runner's-up medal at the Scottosh Grand Prix, and coming 5th at the UKBFF British championships.

As one of her 60,000+ IG followers, I've enjoyed the extra muscle Kristina has packed on for her second season of competition, and the way she's been showing it off as she's grown. I'm especially partial to the occasional video tours she gives us of her abs, glutes and quads, like this example a few days before the British championships.
At the UKBFF British (right) with "partner in crime" Marzena Tkaczyk (aka Ink and Fitness)

I thought she looked amazing before the British finals, and with her deep deep tan and leanest ever look on the day - pictures I've seen anyway (here comes another moan) the UKBFF really does its utmost to make sure you never get to view images of their contests, really goes out of its way to do so - allied to her natural beauty...

In the end, being "the leanest in the class" and her "impressive overall muscularity" (John Plummer) were only good enough for 2nd place, and sadly she wasn't feeling too well last weekend in Liverpool, so she wasn't able to improve on her British finals showing there, but if Kristina comes back next year as improved as she was between 2015 and 2016, I (in my ignorance) confidently predict great things for her.

Join the 60,000 with Kristina on Instagram.

Natasha McFarlane

Arnold Classic Europe: 8th (over 168cm class)
UKBFF British: WINNER (over 163cm class)
Diamond Cup: 4th (over 168cm class)

Checking through the images of the British competitors as I prepared the recent FBBUK @ACE2016 post, I was stunned to find Natasha McFarlane among them. I'd never even heard of her before (in spite of John Plummer's best efforts), yet here she was, a British woman with, as far as I could see, all the genetic gifts one usually associates with the very top IFBB Figure competitors. That's quite a chassis she's got to work on there (or something along those lines!), I thought to myself...

A couple of weeks later and there was absolutely no excuse for the UK female muscle fan not to have heard of Natasha - she was crowned British champion. Estate agent Natasha McFarlane knows all about climbing the property ladder, now she knows about climbing the Bodyfitness ladder, reported John Plummer - nice, I see what you did there, John - by rising from second last year to first this time. Eh? She was second last year?! I really do need to pay more attention to the UK scene!

Plummer also revealed that Natasha was a former beauty queen - which was a lot less surprising to me than the fact that she's been competing for so long unbeknown to me. She has always had looks and shape, he continued, but in recent years she has learned how to acquire the necessary conditioning to make her qualities count.

Last weekend in Liverpool at the Diamond Cup it was a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show for Natasha, and she placed outside the medals. But, she promises, there is much more to come. I certainly hope so, feel like I've missed so much already!

Natasha is a modest "omgthebody" on Instagram.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Figure Phenoms: Ramona Arseni

We can all probably name a couple of famous FBBs from Romania, both bona fide stars of the sport, even if one of them is still waiting for her pro card to arrive in the post. Today's Figure Phenom is a compatriot of theirs, who, unlike the three Europeans we met yesterday, is already an IFBB pro, the first ever Figure pro from Romania.

Gentlemen, say buna to Ramona Maria Arseni.

Ramona won her pro card after completing a class and overall win double at last year's EBFF European Championships in Spain, since when she has competed just once, at the 2015 Nordic Pro. There, much smoother than she had been at the Europeans, she placed way down in 14th. Now, I've already said this week that when it comes to this division I'm far from an expert, but it seems to me that Ramona has taken that placing on board and has set about making substantial improvements to her (already impressive) physique with a view to coming back bigger and better next season.

And it's been apparent on the forums that I'm not the only one who's noticed this.

As one fan points out, there's "so much to admire" about Ramona, "an example for all women who want to do bodybuilding", with much of the admiration directed towards her incredible legs and her incredible glutes. Even, or perhaps that should be especially, when they are covered with a "second skin". So damn sexy, one poster remarks. Those quads exploding, trying to bust out of those leggings... But it isn't just what Ramona's got going on below her waist that fans are drawn to. My eyes could look you up and down all day, one of her Instagram followers tells her, while another compares Ramona, with her blond locks, to a more mainstream sex symbol, "a muscular version of Shakira", which I suppose is a compliment!

Ramona, probably unsurprisingly, has more than her fair share of female fans too, among them one of Britain's own IFBB pros, Carmen Knights, who congratulated Ramona on her ability to "pull off white leggings" (that's "pull off" as in "look good in them", not as in "take them off" by the way), a comment Ramona says "made her day" and has led to quite an ongoing IG conversation between the two.

Ramona's already a pro with an online coaching business, Weider sponsorship and an ever-growing number of male and female admirers, and she's still just 25. I imagine you'll be hearing a lot more about her in the future. Not least from me!

She also has a YouTube channel although it's not been updated for a while, but you can see Ramona in motion and her considerable stage presence when winning her class (here) and the overall (here) at the 2015 Europeans courtesy of IFBB TV's archive. Follow Ramona on Facebook if you must, but on Instagram you get the same pictures and more, and you also get to follow her chat with Carmen... Bonus!


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Figure Phenoms: Europe's Got Talent

Today's Figure phenoms are three of Europe's brightest Bodyfitness stars.

We've featured one of them, Swiss Miss Tea Save, briefly on FMS before, and you have seen Hungarian Arnold Classic Europe champ Szandra Hidasi (whether you knew so or not) if you watched our Clip of the Week II on 7th October, while vascular Raquel Arranz, reigning Spanish Bodyfitness champion, is new to the blog.

Raquel Arranz

Raquel, who hails from the Basque Country, has had a good year. Aside from the Spanish title, she won her class at the Olympia Amateur in Spain this year, and finished second in her class at the European Championships. Little wonder she's smiling.

I believe in strong women, says Raquel, who has a thing for horses, is not averse to holding a falcon for a photoshoot, nor to a bit of pole dancing.

We like her, we like her a lot. Those veins...

You'll need to request Raquel on Instagram, but her Facebook is open to all. And if you fancy a bit of Raquel doing her thing in a thing for Scitec at the ACE Expo, click here.

Szandra Hidasi

Being from Hungary and all, szexy Szandra has had the lens of female muscle photography legend Zoltan Veigh turned upon her on more than one occasion. Above we see Szandra as she was in 2013, when she finished 6th in her (short) Bodyfitness class at the Arnold Classic Europe, cos I know some of you love this comparison thing.

And here she was in Barcelona in 2016, winning not just her (still short, she hasn't grown in every direction) class but also the overall gold medal and pot.

She seems to have got a tad more confident about popping her togs on the chair, too.

All good! And I'm sure if you hang around Szandra's Instagram a few more of those, er, arty Richard Gyrcz photos might turn up. Szandra's gaining quite a few fans on the forums for her "unique" look. Shots like those I doubt will make her less popular.

Tea Save

Tea, who won the 2015 Arnold Classic Europe Junior Bodyfitness title, repeated the feat again this year, and won her (tall) class. She has also recently won her Bodyfitness class at the Ben Weider Legacy Cup in Finland. I think this may add up to a pro card.

And she's still 20. Born in 1995. Unreal!

We thought, when we featured her on FMS previously, that she might be Europe's answer to Shanique Grant (in the young, over-achieving in the Figure/Bodyfitness division sense). Well, with Shanique off to flex her muscles in Physique, perhaps the US needs an answer to Tea. Unless... Tea starts packing more muscle on her 5'6" (1.7m) frame and moves on up to Physique after she goes pro. Oh, please!

Anyway, you'll find out if that fantasy turns into reality on Tea's Instagram.


Another European Figure phenom tomorrow...