Photo courtesy of Nicholas Sibilia
As you look around the gym for an open treadmill or a date for Friday night, it is likely you’ll notice guys and girls alike lifting, running and sweating. Mixed in among the student athletes and freshman-fifteen-fearing college kids, there are bodybuilders training for their upcoming competitions.
Bodybuilding has evolved from being male dominated to being a co-ed industry. With categories including bodybuilding, fitness, figure, bikini and physique, a super sized man with bulging muscles is no longer the quintessence of the sport.
Junior Nicholas Trimarco, sophomore Nicholas Sibilia and sophomore Michelle Rozalski have competed in National Physique Committee (NPC) competitions, the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the U.S. recognized by the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness.
Trimarco placed first in the teen division at the Mid Atlantic competition in May, Sibilia won his division and won the teen overall at the NPC Garden State Championships in June and Rozalski placed eighth at the NYC Metropolitan competition in April as a NPC bikini competitor.
“Being called a bodybuilder is big,” Trimarco said. “It’s a title that is earned. It’s not just going to the gym and working out. It’s the whole lifestyle.”
According to Trimarco it’s a lifestyle not many could handle, with a strict diet, high intensity workouts, sacrifices, mental and physical feats. The more pain and suffering you experience the more likely you are to win, Trimarco said.
Both Trimarco and Sibilia said it takes a lot of dedication, especially in the weeks before a competition.
“It’s hard enough for college kids to eat healthy as it is and get to the gym every day, but when you start your cut (the period in which building lean muscle and definition is the goal) that’s when it really comes into play,” Sibilia said. “You start losing focus, you start to get tired, you’re always hungry and you have to try to push more cardio—you really have to have the mindset for it.”
Rozalski, who is just weeks away from her competition on Nov. 15, said when you’re preparing for a show the gym becomes your life.
Although most competitions see the highest numbers of contestants in the bikini category, Rozalski said competing as a female in an industry that is thought to be male dominated was intimidating at first, but now she owns it.
“I walk in the gym with my earbuds in and am in the zone. I no longer pay attention to who’s working out next to me, who’s watching me lift or who’s judging me,” Rozalski said. “Now instead of me being the one intimidated, I think some of the guys in the gym are intimidated by me.”
In the industry of posing and judging, Rozalski said bodybuilding is a sport where individuals compete to look flawless.
“Bodybuilding is a way to express all of the hard work and dedication it takes to have that sculpted body that everyone dreams to have,” Rozalski said.
For Trimarco, that ideal image is ever-changing.
“Seeing yourself each day and knowing you’re not happy with it, you always want more,” Trimarco said. “You’re never going to be satisfied with bodybuilding. There’s so much that you can put into it that you can never work hard enough.”
When the time comes to step on stage before the judges and the crowd starts clapping, you realize the pain and suffering was all worth it, knowing that you gave it your all, Trimarco said.
As for their thoughts while on stage, neither Trimarco nor Sibilia said they were nervous. With the fast-paced system of the competitions in the pre-judging round, Sibilia said as you are hitting one pose the judges are calling out the next leaving no time to think about nerves.
“Most people’s biggest fear is standing in front of a crowd in their boxers and I’m in a little speedo trying to remember my posing routine,” Trimarco said.
Overall both Trimarco and Sibilia said the industry is misunderstood. Looked upon as a freak show or an industry of stuck up individuals, it is not often understood that bodybuilding is about dedicated individuals working arduously to a few simple goals: eat well, train hard, inspire others and never stop improving.
Michelle Foti can be reached at email@example.com.