The Texas Shredder is held at a local high school gym. The day is divided into two sections: prejudging, which takes place in the morning and the actual show, which starts at 6pm and where the awards are given out. I attend the prejudging, because it is a) only $10 vs. $25 at the night show and b) I’m really interested to see what this whole body building thing is about and what makes a person win.
The place is mobbed and I am sitting in the top bleachers. The first thing that hits you is an overwhelming scent of spray tan. The crowd is a mixture of bodybuilder types and “normal” people. The bodybuilder peeps wear shirts that say things like, “House of Pain,” “Eat Clean/Train Dirty,” and “Moms Kick Butt.” (I bought the Moms Kick Butt shirt…)
There are different groups and I’m trying to understand what’s going on. The women are led on stage in groups of 15 it seems, but there must be over 40 of them on the stage. The man leading them is big, bald, and bored. The women look like they just drank 6 Red Bulls before coming on stage. High energy and nerves aside, they look fantastic. I mean really fantastic. These women are not thin; they are strong. I can’t help but think that each person’s body represents at least $2,000 of supplements, training, gym memberships, bikinis, heels, spray tans, sparkly earrings, blood, sweat and tears.
The first group of women do four poses: front stance, side stance, other side, then back. They all pull their hair over one shoulder and stick their butts out and hold their chests up. Their bikinis glitter in the lights and a crisscross connects the top and bottom portion of their suits. Everyone wears a number on her left hip and after the initial poses the handler makes them stand in a V. Then judges call out five numbers and the women stand on X’s on the stage. The judges make them switch places and remove one person and call in another. Photographers snap photos. Women leave the stage.
Now the men enter. What a contrast! Whereas the women were lean and packed on stage like sardines, the men seemed HUGE! Five bodies filled the entire stage. And…is that Daniel? I think it is. It’s hard to tell because a) I’m sitting in the nosebleed section of the bleachers, b) everyone is spray tanned and looks like they’ve joined a new ethnicity and, c) I’ve only ever seen Daniel in knee length gym shorts and a red 24 Hour Fitness shirt and all the men here are in posing suits.
A crowd of people in the front part of the auditorium shout, “Daniel!” so I’m assuming that must be his family. One competitor seems to have had an issue with the tanning spray: he’s bright red instead of tan and looks like his skin was peeled back to expose his muscles. Another is pasty white and you can’t see any muscle definition whatsoever.
The men do their individual poses. Daniel looks nervous but his family shouts again and he laughs and his poses look a lot better when he is at ease. Then they do the call outs, 5 at a time. The first man stands in the middle and then they call Daniel’s number! He’s being considered for 2nd place! They call out the others and have to do a front pose where their arms are lifted above their chest. Well, 1st place guy gets into Daniel’s space, so Daniel takes his arm and puts it in front of the other guy. Oh snap! Can you smell the testosterone?
The judges say, “Guys, give each other space.” They are told to do another pose. 1st place guy does it again! Daniel moves his arm in front. Then the other guy moves his arm in front and now I’m getting really interested because for an instant it seems like this is going to become bodybuilding boxing. How cool would that be?
But the judge tells the 1st place guy to go back on his mark. Then when they are told to go the rude guy pats Daniel on his shoulder and says something laughing and Daniel laughs too. I have no idea what just transpired. Maybe it’s just a guy thing?
I’ve been texting pictures of everything to my husband, who used to be a bodybuilder in his 20’s. He writes back, “only a few look like they are on steroids.” “Oh, no, Henri, everyone is drug tested,” I reply. “My sweet, naive wife, there are ways to cheat a drug test.” Hmm.
Two women next to me are talking about just that. Some supplement to take to kick up your workouts. But then the bikini women enter the stage and the whole crowd becomes alert. These women have spunk. The figure women were structured and their poses were very crisp. Not the bikini babes. They were all about sassy swagger. They stuck their booties out, lifted their breasts up and rocked those bikinis.
OMG, how am I ever going to do that? Before the competition Daniel told me not to get intimidated by the other women. In his Jedi Master way the message rang loud and clear: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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