34 New Things: Go To A Bodybuilding Competition

Each year on my birthday I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are difficult, some are shockingly mundane. You can read about past adventures here.

One of my absolute favorite things is watching people be incredibly passionate and committed to, well, just about anything. And sometimes?  It’s actually more fun to watch people who are committed to something I do not understand at all.  Like, not even a little bit.While I work out pretty regularly and there was once a time in my life when I could leg press more than my body weight, these days I just fanny around with those purple, 8-pound lady hand weights.  I am very, very unwilling to give up carbs or cheese and while I enjoy fitting into jeans I bought four years ago, I don’t enjoy spending more than 30 minutes a day working out.You know who will make you want to work out and stop it already with the noodles and butter? The people milling around the lobby of any bodybuilding competition.  AND THAT’S JUST THE AUDIENCE. That doesn’t even include the people competing.

Things of note:

1. All of the competitors had a ‘routine’ that they performed to music of their choice.  A sampling?  Stacy’s Mom, Britney’s I Wanna Go, and that one operatic piece of music that’s used in every slow-motion war scene in every Super Serious Movie.

2. A sampling of performance moves: skipping in a circle while pointing at the audience, stomping and flexing in time to the crescendos of the music, doing the robot.

3. There are two levels of competitors – ‘figure’ and ‘bodybuilding.’  Both groups are about a million times more fit than everyone else in the world, but the ‘bodybuilding’ group is what you think of when you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger. When you see two competitors of different levels standing next to each other, the difference is shocking.

4. Did you know you could have striated butt muscles?  BECA– USE YOU CAN.

5. As each contestant performed their routine, they worked their way through a series of poses that showcased different groups of muscles.  One of these poses involved turning their back to the audience and flexing their back and butt.  At one point, a male competitor apparently didn’t feel that his briefs showcased his gluts well enough because he hooked his thumbs into back panel and pulled it up to show more cheek.

5. Products sold in the lobby: protein drink powder, sparkly tiny swimsuits, tanning stuff, educational videos.

Reading through this post, it sounds as though I viewed this experience through a lens of snark.  But I really, really didn’t.  I mean it when I say that I’m impressed by anybody who’s excited about a hobby and committed to doing something difficult.  Honestly, watching this competition influenced me to buy a pair of ten pound weights!  Watch out, now.  It’s only a matter of time till I’m flexing my way around a stage to this song.

Have you ever watched a bodybuilding competition? Or lift weights seriously?

photo via naturalmnbodybuilding.com

Welcome to Yes & Yes!

Want to spend your time, money, and energy on purpose? I'll show you how.

You might also like…

New Thing: Forage For Mushrooms

New Thing: Forage For Mushrooms

What's hard to find, super valuable, and tastes heavenly with scrambled eggs? If you guessed a. the right romantic partner b. a really good pair of leather boots c. morel mushrooms you are correct. Every year, I make a list of new things to try and I've been wanting...

read more
New Thing: Be In My Life

New Thing: Be In My Life

Every year I make a list of new things to try. These New Things are a pretty predictable mix of physical challenges, weird foods, and books/movies that everyone-other-than-me is familiar with. But this year, I’m trying something different. Something that’s, honestly,...

read more
New Thing: Read East of Eden

New Thing: Read East of Eden

I always thought that I hated Steinbeck. His books seemed to be a never-ending parade of men and farms and depression and desperation. I remember dragging myself through Grapes of Wrath in 11th grade English, staring into the middle distance with bone-shaking boredom...

read more


  1. Lindsey

    I have been lifting weights and working out religiously for about 18 years. Before we moved to Manila this past May, I thought I might even try to compete in the Asian Int'l fitness competition (at the suggestion of a trainer in my old gym). Life got in the way … as it always does. I've always kinda been curious if I could do it — just dig in and get super duper fit. What a cool thing to be able to look back on right? "Remember when I was in that fitness competition 40 years ago?" But no matter what, I would always lean toward the fitness competitions and not the bodybuilding. I'm ok looking like I could kick a normal girl's ass but I'm not sure how I'd feel if my biceps were bigger than the hubs. 😉

  2. Morgan

    This post really needs more photos. Also, I'm pretty sure there a couple or so figure competitors who come to my gym sometimes.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Right?! I was too busy clapping with joy and intrigue! Also: I hate taking photos with a flash in public places 😉

  3. Rae

    My mom used to be a bodybuilder. She could beat you with a shoe like nobody's business.

  4. Michelle...

    I've a bunch of friends who have done figure competitions over the years. I'm always in awe of their commitment to gym time and competition prep.

  5. Rachel

    This is such an interesting hobby, because for those of us not in the inner circles of butt muscle striation, it just seems like… what is the POINT? What on earth could be the practical benefits of being a crazy buff-bot? But, I suppose, you could say the same for, say, needlepoint or watercolor painting. Whatever floats yer boat!

    My friend also grew up with a bodybuilder mom, and… wow. It's something, all right.

  6. Bowen

    Rachel's friend is me! I was just about to post a comment and then saw hers. (Hi, Rach!) But yeah, my mom (and my step-father) were champion bodybuilders in Minneapolis for about 10 years, mainly when I was in high school. If you went to this in the Twin Cities, I can almost guarantee they were there.

  7. dan

    Great post, very interesting.

Pin It on Pinterest