Considering that as of a week or so ago there were only two athletes signed up to compete in the Phoenix Pro Fitness competition, no one could have predicted that veteran diva and Olympia top-fiver Julie Palmer would be the winner. Especially not once Tanji Johnson, runner-up at the ’09 Fitness O, threw her talents into the pool. Nevertheless, that’s what happened at the Mesa Arts Center on Saturday night, February 20: Jules, who’s got one of the best bodies in fitness, beat Tanji by a fairly slim five points, while ’09 NPC Junior National champ Camala Rodriguez made a tremendous pro debut with a third-place finish and an invite to compete at the O in September as the result, with Oksana Grishina and Bridgette Murray-Ward rounding out the top five.
I have to admit, I’m regretting my decision not to pull the trigger on promoter Stryker Salman’s pay-per-view Webcast (because I could not watch it in real time). Now I wish I’d seen the routines.
By the score sheets, Palmer won the physique comparisons and took second to Johnson in the routines, beating Grishina, Rodriguez, Nita Marquez and Yenny Polanco, among other noted preformers. She must have given one helluva performance. Palmer is one of the hardest-working fitness athletes around and has improved her routine by leaps and bounds, literally, in her efforts to get to and stay in the winner’s circle over the years. Still, I could not have handicapped that finishing order in the fitness round (except possibly for Tanji’s win).
So good for Jules—and good for all the gals who jumped into this show at the last minute. I’ll never again complain that the stars are taking up all the Olympia qualifications by doing the smaller shows. In case you’re coming late to that conversation, a couple of weeks ago a thread was started at SiouxCountry.com by NPC News correspondent (among his many hats) J.M. Manion about the future of fitness in general and the lack of ladies signed up for this show in specific, Tanji, Jules and a number of others jumped in to bring the lineup to eight, but the conversation about why pro-fitness shows that are not the International are not attracting big lineups will continue. More on that in future.
For now here are the complete results from Arizona:
’10 Phoenix Pro Fitness
1) Julie Palmer*
2) Tanji Johnson*
3) Camala Rodriguez*
4) Oksana Grishina
5) Bridgette Murray-Ward
6) Nita Marquez
7) Yenny Polanco
8) Stefanie Bambrough
*Qualifies for the ’10 Fitness Olympia.