Can it really be less than two weeks till the Los Angeles Fitness Expo featuring the newly revived NPC IRON MAN Magazine Naturally Bodybuilding, Figure and Bikini Championships, which will hit the Los Angeles Convention Center on January 29 and 30? I believe it at last because of the way the weather here in L.A. has changed, big time, from the rainstorms and (relative) cold we’ve enjoyed throughout the winter. Since I’m not involved in the planning and execution of the big expo weekend (someone’s got to put out the magazine), it has long been on my radar as something that’s happening “in the future.” This past weekend, however, as I watched football games taking place in the bitter cold and blinding snow in my hometown, Pittsburgh, and my second hometown, Chicago, from the comfort of 79 degrees and sunshine, I was struck by two thoughts: The first had to do with how much I love living in Southern California. The second: It was time to wake up from a long winter’s nap and start thinking about bodybuilding (plus fitness, figure, bikini and physique).
Of course, anyone who’s competing in the IRON MAN Magazine Naturally—or the IRON MAN Magazine Presents the 2011 BodySpace Model Search—has been thinking about it for some time, not to mention dieting. Another guy who’s been thinking about it is IM’s Lonnie Teper, who has worked his butt off (at least figuratively) to bring a talented amateur lineup from across the country to compete at the IM Mag Naturally. I’ve been sworn to secrecy on some of the names, or I would spill. If I know L.T., there will be a good mix of beginners as well as experienced athletes onstage, which to me is—as much fun as all the pro shows and pro qualifiers are—the real heart of physique competition. I’m truly looking forward to the IM Naturally, which is polygraph-tested and an NPC Team Universe qualifier. It takes place on the expo stage on Saturday, January 29, from 3 to 6 p,m. Entry is free with your Los Angeles Fitness Expo ticket.
Speaking of which, one of the cool things about not being involved in the production of the expo et al. is that I get to experience it more as a member of the public, albeit with a camera and/or microphone in my hand. Each year I am always surprised and pleased to see how the event has grown. I would not begin to list the entire slate of fitness- and training-related exhibits or the many sponsors, but it’s worth noting how many competitions of interest to lovers of strength training and bodybuilding will be taking place. In addition to the IM Mag Naturally and the BodySpace Model Search, there are a few new events, like the UAL Arm wrestling Qualifier II, the L.A. Champions Martial Arts Competition and the Vise Grip Viking Challenge, as well as returning favorites, including the Gracie U.S. Nationals & Kids World Championships, the All-American Strongman Challenge, the Scot Mendelson Bench Pro Classic, the Warriors Wrestling Competition, the USPA American Cup Powerlifting Championships, and the L.A. Fitness Expo Benchpress and Deadlift Championships—15 competitions in all.
As for the 2011 BodySpace Model Search, an interesting note about the five finalists produced by preliminary rounds of online voting: The group includes a couple of hot IFBB pros, Felicia Romero and Kathleen Tesori. Last year Felicia’s fellow figure pro Erin Stern was the runner-up (to Jacquelyn Roberts) at the model search and then a month or so later duplicated that finish at the Figure International. Coincidence? Undoubtedly. Still, I’ll be watching Felicia’s performance at the expo for a predictor of how she’ll do in Columbus, Ohio, on March 4, at the ’11 Figure I (where she’ll face Nicole Wilkins-Lee, who won it last year and Stern, who won the ’10 Olympia).
Before that, though, Erin and Kathleen will face Lindsay Kaye, Laura Bailey and Jennifer Rankin in the BodySpace Model Search finals. Good luck to all.
For info on all things to do with the Los Angeles Fitness Expo, the IRON MAN Magazine Naturally Championships or IRON MAN Presents the 2011 BodySpace Model Search, go to www.thefitnexpo.com.
I make no promises, but I think the weather’s going to be beautiful. I will see you there!