Body Builders Take Center Stage At Dwyer High For A National Qualifying Competition This Weekend

Lifting weights won't happen just at the gym this weekend when area body builders take center stage at Dwyer High for a national qualifying competition.

Frank Dalto, owner of Mother Nature's Pantry and promoter for the competition, said the competition will consist of three different events — a bodybuilding competition for men and women, figure and fitness competitions just for women and a competition for contestants in wheelchairs, running for its 14th year.

The Sunshine Classic Body Building Show, Sunshine Classic Figure and Fitness Show and the National Physical Committee Wheelchair Nationals competition will be held at Dwyer High on Saturday. The competition will begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $30 each.

Dalto, who's been a local bodybuilding show promoter for more than 25 years, knows the interest the competition brings.

"They start working out and they like it — figure is in right now," he said.

At last year's competition there were 106 contestants, Dalto noted. This year he expects the turnout to be about the same.

Many people of different ages and levels of difficulty compete at the show. Dalto said the bodybuilding competition has a 13-19 year group, an over 30 group and even an over 80 group.

"There are over 30 guys who've competed in the over 80 category for a few years," he said.

The figure and fitness competitions have a teen category, over 30, 40 and 50 age groups and an open category where contestants can compete against any age group. The wheelchair competition has a teen division, a novice division and a masters division for people over 40-years-old.

Dalto said contestants in the wheelchair competition "use a lot of dumbbells and they have people help them."

The women's figure and fitness competitions are different from the other two-bodybuilding shows.

"Fitness has a lot of flips and turns — similar to gymnastics," Dalto said. About the figure competition, he noted, "it's not a whole dance routine like the fitness competition. You pose to music and it's not really dancing."

Office Manager for Palm Beach Skin and Laser and Part-time Personal Trainer Jennifer Bishop, said she's been competing in the figure competition "off and on since 2003, and this is only my second time doing fitness."

Bishop, 32, said she got into competing after hearing about the competition at Jupiter Fitness Gym, where she used to work as a manager

She described herself as scrawny and said, "I went from never working out to jumping onstage."

The figure and fitness competitions may have different routines, but they are both physically demanding.

"In the figure the judges look at your physique in a whole-piece and a two-piece bathing suit, and you walk across the stage doing quarter turns."

The fitness competition differs because "at the national competition you have set moves," Bishop said. "It's more holding your presses (than doing full gymnastic movements)."

Although the fitness competition is different from regular gymnastics, it is still equally hard to compete in, according to Bishop.

"It's just really, really hard," she said. "Most of us have broken something."

Bishop said she competes for more than just a trophy.

"Even if you don't win a trophy, just to be able to have accomplished this is enough," she said.

To prepare for the upcoming competition, Bishop said she has been dieting and training for 12 weeks.

"I diet in three phases," she said. "Phase one is high protein-low carbs, phase two is carb rotation and phase three is a bowl of chicken and distilled water."

Bishop, a single mother who trains on her own for the competitions, said she goes to the gym "three times a day for a month before a competition."

To prepare for the competition, she said she has to do cardio and weight training. Each day she goes to the gym at 6 a.m. to workout, before taking her nine-year-old daughter to school. Then she will workout again in the evening.

"Being able to look back at what you were able to accomplish is such a motivation," she said.

Dalto agrees.

"Talk about determination," he said. "Last year she trained so hard. She's such a great athlete."

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