Fitness America and Musclemania will be teaming to conduct a body-palooza Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center, as more than 100 competitors ranging from bodybuilders to models are expected to flaunt their stuff on stage.
For many of the competitors it’s largely a way to measure themselves against like folks in a fun atmosphere.
For others, the gold ring is the opportunity to earn a “pro card” by winning the overall competition in their classification.
That’s what’s driving Santa Fe’s Tolga Koseoglu, a 38-year-old a software engineer. He’s in the men’s physique category, which is a class a little less intense than bodybuilding.
“I don’t look at this as another possible career, but more as a side project,” he said. “With a pro card I’ll be able to compete in events where there’s prize money, although that’s not my incentive, which is to stay healthy and do the right things. But this would allow me to compete internationally and go to a higher level.”
Men can vie in the categories of bodybuilding, physique and model. The women’s options are physique, figure, bikini, fitness and model.
“It’s kind of two shows in one,” said Albuquerque’s Chris Kirkpatrick, a judge for this event. He was the first person from New Mexico to win his pro card at a national event when he won a Musclemania bodybuilding competition in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2014.
“In each category, we have five criteria that we judge off of,” Kirkpatrick said. “You’re looking at their conditioning, you’re judging size, you’re judging symmetry, stage presence. … A lot of people in the crowd think we’re just looking at the person and saying, ‘That guy looks better than that guy.’ There’s a lot more to it than that.”
Event promoter Cristin Kiburz, also of Albuquerque, earned her pro card in fitness in 2012 at the age of 40. She stresses that bodybuilding, physique and figure competitors are drug-tested to help ensure a level playing field.
“We do a urinalysis that’s sent off to a lab,” she said. “We test for growth hormones and steroids. That’s the best way and most cost-effective way to try to ensure all competitors are natural.”
Kirkpatrick said none of the competitors should expect to get rich quick, though.
“Even when I won last year and got my pro card, all I got were a couple of trophies and a handshake,” he said.
Henry Padilla, a 20-year-old bodybuilder from Albuquerque, can’t wait to participate. At age 17, he won the junior and open lightweight classes in a Musclemania event: “I’m pretty addicted to going on stage,” he said at a workout at Liberty Gym on Saturday. “I really love the audience because they are acknowledging your hard work.”
Here’s a breakdown of the events:
■ Men’s bodybuilding is broken up into weight categories, whereas other categories are divided by height. In this grouping, it’s all about the upper body. Kirkpatrick says judges will want competitors to have more of a harder, leaner, natural look, a tiny waste and the “V factor.”
“They’re not looking for freaky huge guys who weigh 290 pounds who’s just a monster,” he said. “They want more of an aesthetic look.”
Bodybuilding is a step above physique, a class in which you can get penalized for being too muscular.
■ The women’s equivalent of bodybuilding is physique.
“It’s technically bodybuilding,” Kirkpatrick said, “but we want them a little bit more feminine but still a muscular girl. Figure is going to be a little toned down from that, but the girls should still be nice and hard, with good abs and shredded legs.
In bikini, “they want more of a softer look,” Kirkpatrick said. “The don’t want you to have crazy abs, more of a natural look of a girl walking down the beach.”
■ In model, in both men and women, the competitors won’t be flexing, but going through three stages – wearing clubwear attire, sportswear and swimwear. In fitness, women will have swimsuit judging and later perform a fitness routine.
Santa Fe’s Danyelle Valdez, 28, joined by husband Loren, who’s a bodybuilder, have been preparing for this competition full bore of late. She’s entered in the figure competition, but isn’t consumed with thoughts of coming in first place.
“It’s not so important to win, it’s more about improving myself,” said Danyelle, who also was at Liberty Gym on Saturday. “It’s important to stay in shape. It’s a year-round goal and competing helps me with that.”
Kirkpatrick said Saturday will be an all-day affair.
“As in any bodybuilding show, prejudging (in the morning) is pretty much when 90 percent of your score is determined,” he said. “It’s in the night show, when the competitors get to do their posing routine, that the final 10 percent of their score is determined. That’s where the crowd gets to see the full routines; the energy level is a little higher.”
And, if you attend, Kirkpatrick said it’s nice to applaud for everyone.
“The last thing you want to do is come out on stage half naked and nobody cheers for you,” he said.
2015 Fitness New Mexico Championships, Albuquerque Convention Center
■ Men’s categories: Bodybuilding, physique, model
■ Women’s categories: Physique, figure, bikini, fitness, model
■ Tickets: $10 for 10 a.m. preliminary judging, with doors opening 9 a.m; $25-$60 for 6 p.m. final judging, with doors opening at 5.