Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bodies beautiful strut stuff; super strong huff and puff

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WINNIPEG played host yesterday to hard-bodies downtown and hulks in Garden City.

At the Burton Cummings Theatre, 48 tanned, lean machines strutted their stuff for a wildly appreciative crowd of about 575 who were attending the Manitoba Provincial Bodybuilding and Women's Fitness/Figures Championships.

Meanwhile, at the Canad Inns on McPhillips Street, 36 giants from around the globe were pushing, pulling and lifting large, heavy objects during the opening day of the All-Strength Challenge.

It is a strongman series that was filmed to be broadcast at a later date on the Outdoor Life Network.

Six colossal Canadians joined competitors from the United States and Europe in the parking lot of Silverado's in a demonstration of brute strength and stamina.

Calgary resident Grant McReynolds had just finished loading three 260-pound cement-loaded fire hydrants onto the back of an emergency vehicle and then pulling the 17,300-pound truck about 75 feet under the blazing afternoon sun when he finally caught his breath for a few minutes to chat.

"It's an extreme sport," said McReynolds, his 6-foot-3, 319-pound frame balanced on a tiny folding chair. "It's enormous men moving enormous objects. What could be more fun than that?"

But make no mistake -- the muscular McReynolds, 40, is no muscle-head.

Strongman competitions are just his sideline. From 9 to 5, the former Winnipegger is a geo-physicist.

"These competitions appeal to everyone, because people can relate to these objects. It's not like watching someone lifting dumbbells, which is pretty boring. But if they see a guy lifting a block engine on his back, they know it has to be heavy."

When the challenge continues today, competitors will, among other things, be asked to lift an object up a flight of stairs. You can bet it'll be nothing like carrying the Christmas lights up from the cellar.

"You see that black block of steel? It weighs about 545 pounds," said Jim Davis, 42, the U.S. president of the International Federation of Strength Athletes, pointing to the package for the power stair event.

"What you're seeing is men pushing their bodies to super-human level. They do things people on the street simply can't do."

Standing in the parking lot, spectator Megan Deaust, 22, was in complete awe.

"I can't believe how big and strong they are . . . they're like four of me," she said.

seen it on television, but you don't get the effect of how large and powerful they are, and the emotion they have."

Over at the Burton Cummings Theatre, 25-year-old Kristen Verplaetse was making her stage debut.

Last year, she had marvelled at the well-oiled, sculptured physiques competing at the bodybuilding and fitness championships.

This time around, she was under the hot, bright lights -- with friends and family members screaming out her name.

"I was a member of the audience for years, but now I'm on stage," said Verplaetse, flashing a perfect smile of pearly whites -- in stark contrast to her dark complexion.

The massage therapist competed in the Fitness Tall event, and was judged on her physique and a 90-second, choreographed routine.

"It's a pure adrenaline rush when you're up there. I've been thinking about this day -- visualizing it -- for eight months. It's my first provincial, but it won't be the last."

The event featured the rippling builds of male and female competitors 21 to 58 years of age.

Marcel Perreault, a 50-year-old bodybuilder and former competitor, said the event always draws a passionate crowd.

"Everyone likes looking at lean, fit bodies," he said.

"You don't see this when you're walking down the street. When they strip down, it's motivational for people that maybe one day they can look like that."


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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