Rule of thumb when public speaking to put yourself at ease - imagine the audience in their underwear.
This weekend, bodybuilders from across the state will be doing the opposite -- literally. They'll actually be the ones in their own skintight skivvies.
Hopefully, that will put all the audience members at ease.
Local bodybuilders are pumping up for the second Kenai Peninsula Natural Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships Saturday at the Soldotna High Auditorium.
After returning from the Alaska State Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships in Anchorage in March with several titles, Peninsula residents are ready to compete on home turf. At the Anchorage competition, Josh Braud of Soldotna won Mr. Alaska and The Fitness place took home the team award.
"I don't think you'll ever see a group of more fit people assembled at one place at one time," said Bernie Pendergast, the main organizer behind the Peninsula's Bodybuilding competition, about Saturday's competition.
Bodybuilding as a sport has been beefing up on the Peninsula with representation at the Anchorage championship and the area's own competition. The Peninsula Athletic Club and the Fitness Place have an active bodybuilding community.
"It's growing and it's growing mainly because we have some healthy people down here on the Peninsula," Pendergast said.
The "natural" part of the bodybuilding championships means no drugs or performance enhancers whatsoever. Period.
"We test our athletes and they have to be drug-free," he said. "If we suspect it they have to give us a urinalysis."
This is something Pendergast takes very seriously. He wants to be assured that the competitors in the bodybuilding got their forms "through good nutrition and good, sound weight training."
In this way, bodybuilders are truly jocks, and the competition should be encouraged like any other sporting match, he said.
"It's no different than attending a good basketball game or football game," he said. "Make some noise, give it up for your favorite athletes."
While the training is rigorous and the diet is strict, practices for these bodybuilding athletes are a little different than say, a typical baseball training.
Lissa Cristiano, 26, of Soldotna, who placed second in Women's Figure 5-foot-4 and Over in Anchorage, said she has been practicing walking in high heels for weeks. Spray tan is also not what one would think as regular sporting equipment.
"I'm spray tanning this whole week," Cristiano said about her other preparations for Saturday's championship.
Sarge Truesdell, 34, who place second for novice men in Anchorage and is the assistant principal of Soldotna Middle School, has been practicing his muscle poses -- including eight mandatory ones -- for months.
"Front double bicep, back lat spread," he said, listing off all the different ones. "And it is fatiguing, extremely fatiguing under the lights holding poses."
But in the end, for Truesdell, it all comes down to feeling good in his own skin, as well as the junk food he's going to eat after the championship.
"I intend to eat a huge, beefy nacho plate," Truesdell said. "I've got that on my mind."
At the competition Saturday, women will be competing in three different categories of bodybuilding, physique and figure with different heights and age classes.
Men will be competing in different age classes for bodybuilding titles for lightweight (under 176 pounds) and heavyweight (more than 176 pounds).
"It's going to be a good show," Pendergast said, adding that there are competitors in every category from all across the state. "It will exceed last year in quality."
The Natural bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships pre-judging, which is open to the public, begins at noon on Saturday at the Soldotna High School Auditorium. The evening show starts at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $25 at the door and also available at the Fitness Place, GNC, the Peninsula Athletic Club and at Signature Salon.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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