Body building itself has gained popularity along with the tide to increased physical fitness among Americans, but it is still a dedicated minority that works out and diets for the purpose of accentuating virtually every muscle in the body.
That’s what is judged in a body building competition, said Keefner, who has judged them before.
Judges look for symmetrical physique, vascularity and muscularity, which he said is the degree of visibility of muscles in the body. The judges also assess how well a contestant poses.
An exhibition like this wweekend’s in Albany for some could count as the first step on a long ladder toward national competition and turning professional.
But for the 23-year-old Keefner, the main idea behind entering competition is to ease the boredom of constant repetition by setting a goal. A dozen weeks before a competition – this will be the eighth for the Rexford resident – he begins paying extra attention to his diet and steps up the intensity of his workouts. The pre- competition regimen lasts right up to the minutes before going out on stage, when he and the other body builders “pump up” – lift weights backstage to draw blood into the desired muscles.
Keefner said Saturday’s event, expected to draw 50 competitors, would be his first mixed pairs competition – men and women bodybuilders competing as a team.
His partner is Amber Hurt, 33. “We match really well. I’m 5 (feet) 8 and she’s 5 foot, so we are really complementary. We have similar strong points, and I don’t overpower her.” Keefner said he thinks their routine is pretty good, but adds, “I’ve never done (pairs) before, but we watched some tapes by others and picked out a song and put a routine together. We don’t do any really difficult moves in it, but it’s a fun routine to watch.
Some mixed pairs go through elaborate routines that involve lifting one partner off the stage.
Saturday’s event will include some “guest posers,” including Pat Lanzillo, owner of Champions. The aim of body building “not just to increase the size of every muscle in your body,” said Keefner, who got into the sport when attending colleges in North Carolina and Ohio. “The idea is to create an aesthetic body that is nice to look at, not just a big bulky block of muscle.”
What is sought is a sense of proportion.If you look in the bathroom mirror and all you see is a big block of muscle – or worse – Keefner said, there are limits on what an aspiring body builder can do to fight “genetics.” Really long legs, for example are hard to compensate in body building, and naturally narrow hips and broad shoulders help.
For Keefner, the appeal to body building is being different. “It’s nice to be different, and it’s not a bad kind of different. It’s the kind of different that people … I don’t want to say respect, and I don’t want to say envy, but it’s something between that.” The Champions Body Building Classic begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theater, North Pearl Street and Clinton Avenue, Albany. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets, priced at $20 for reserved seating and $12 for general admission, are available at Champions Training Center, 22 Fourth St., Troy, or at the door.