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Coach Catherine in Training


What is a Figure competition anyway?
Figure is still a relatively new sport. The first Figure competitions were held in 2003 and since then, the sport has risen dramatically in not only competitor participation but in audience attendance as well. The “look” is very aesthetically pleasing and very attainable to mainstream populations. You do not have to be a super athlete to look like a Figure competitor; and who doesn’t like a tight, toned and sculpted body? Coach Catherine, the only Figure Pro in the history of the state of WI, is currently training for her next Professional Figure competition and wanted to share a bit more with you about the sport itself. Figure contests sanctioned by the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness (IFBB) are the Figure Olympia and the Figure International.

Fitness and Figure are two distinct forms of competition. In a Fitness contest, the competitors show off their physiques (still not as big as bodybuilders) and perform a demanding aerobic routine. In a Figure contest, the emphasis is on the feminine and there is not a routine round. Curves are compulsory, and facial beauty is prized. However, the physique guidelines are similar, and many women cross over from one to the other. The division emerged on the scene when the numbers for Fitness competitions started to dwindle due to the lack of dancers and gymnasts entering local and national competitions…mostly due to the injury sustained over long term pounding to joints. Typically these competitions are held as part of the same events as bodybuilding contests.

Figure competition is a newer sub-category of Fitness contests. Figure shows exclude the routine round common to Fitness shows. The competitors are judged solely on muscular symmetry and tone – so really, a tight feminine physique, low body fat but still feminine; as in Fitness shows, muscle size is downplayed. Figure competitions appeal most to women who want to compete in a body competition, but wish to avoid Fitness shows’ additional athletic and creative demands (the routine round), or bodybuilding’s demands for heavy muscle mass and widespread “synthetic” supplementation.
A typical figure competition in the past consisted of two rounds, though this has changed recently and only consists now of a 2-pc round. In the symmetry round, the competitors appeared on stage in high-heeled shoes and a one-piece competition suit in a side-by-side line that faces the judges. They execute a series of quarter-turns to the right, allowing the judges to view and compare them from all sides for symmetry, presentation, and other aesthetic qualities such as skin tone, hair, make-up, and stylishness of clothing. In the next round (the group comparisons), competitors return in high heels and a two-piece competition suit, executing a series of quarter-turns. At this stage, they are judged more critically against the others for conditioning, leanness, and how “feminine” and “athletic” (as opposed to brawny) their muscularity is. Included in either of these rounds, or perhaps just the evening show, the competitors come out individually on stage for a model walk where they are judged on presentation, gracefulness, confidence, poise, and professionalism. Many competitors are moms, ex-competitive athletes, women wanting a serious goal, and everyone in between. A focus on nutrition and training are the prime components of a successful competitor. Keep your eyes posted on Coach Catherine’s video journals and blogs to get an inside look at the life of a competitor during contest preparation.

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