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The IFBB Introduces Pro Figure in 2003|
By Rob Wilkins, Special Assistant to the IFBB
In 2003, the IFBB and its Pro Division introduced Figure to its lineup of professional sport disciplines. Figure responds to the demand for fitness competition without the need to perform a routine. The emphasis in Figure is placed on aesthetics - beauty combined with an athletic physique.
"The creation and development of Figure competition provides the IFBB with yet another way to promote the sport of bodybuilding and fitness worldwide," said Ben Weider, IFBB President. "By adding this new discipline, we are able to further expand our federation and, just as important, to provide a means for Figure athletes to compete on a professional stage."
I recently spoke with Wayne DeMilia, IFBB Vice President Pro Division, concerning the new sport of Figure. For nearly thirty years, DeMilia, along with the Weiders, has led the rapid growth of the IFBB Pro Division and, thanks to their efforts; prize money has escalated from $1,000, for the 1965 Mr. Olympia, to over $530,000 for the 2003 Olympia weekend.
|Wayne DeMilia, interviewed by Rob Wilkins.|
Figure will provide many women with a fantastic opportunity to compete on the IFBB stage. Commenting on the creation of this new discipline are Fitness Pro's Amy Yanagisawa and Beth Horn.
"My thoughts about Figure are mixed," said Yanagisawa, the 1998 NPC Team Universe Fitness runner-up (short-class).
"Recently, Jim Manion sent out a letter to better clarify what the judges are looking for and this should help establish a standard for which all IFBB Competitors will be judged. Sometimes the women who come in softer and not so muscular win while at other competitions, the most muscular and leanest win. While the addition of Figure may be great for the sport, I think there needs to be definite criteria for the Figure women to be judged. This guidance would be a big help in a competitors contest preparation," she said.
"I feel it may be a good idea to add casting directors, photographers, hair/make-up artists, and magazine editors to the judging panel. Also, if there was a unified athletes council whose purpose was to represent the fitness/figure women and address our concerns with IFBB officials, that would be great and lead to less confusion and open dialog," said Yanagisawa.
The 2000 NPC National Fitness Champion Beth Horn said, "I feel the addition of Figure is a wonderful opportunity for women to display their awesome physiques, their femininity and beauty."
"It will be a very positive addition to the IFBB, which will allow fitness and beauty to become more main-stream. It also provides more women the ability to compete without the pressures of having to do gymnastics and performances. Personally, I prefer the fitness aspect of the competitions because I love performing and being creative," Horn said.
Notes: Figure, or "Body Fitness" as it is currently called at the international amateur level, has been very popular for several years throughout the world, particularly within Europe.
In 2002, Body Fitness Championships were held at the European Championships and, for the first time, at the Women's World Amateur Bodybuilding & Fitness Championships in Brno, Czech Republic.
The 2003 Body Fitness World Amateur Championships are being held in conjunction with the Women's World Amateur Bodybuilding & Fitness Championships in Santa Susana, Spain, September 26-29.
The IFBB Rules for Pro Figure and for Body Fitness may be found at www.ifbb.com.
Rob Wilkins, originally from Linden, N.J., is a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force stationed at The Pentagon, Washington, DC. Wilkins is also a Special Assistant for the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) and a recipient of the IFBB Gold Medal. To contact Wilkins e-mail him at Robifbb@yahoo.com. The article was written in April 2003.