For the competitors of the International Natural Bodybuilding Federation Cecil Phillips Classic, bodybuilding is a noble art, an aesthetic endeavor in which performance enhancing drugs such as steroids are out of the question. Their art is judged based on symmetry, conditioning, posing, stage presence and, of course, overall muscularity.
The INBF Cecil Phillips Classic takes place July 22 in Eugene and competitors range from juniors to over-40 masters.
We often imagine bodybuilders as muscle bound, ’roided up behemoths who carry around chicken and tuna in a lunchbox everywhere they go. Bodybuilding is a sport that some find unappealing because it can produce what some see as visually unattractive physiques due to the use of anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs, but that’s the opposite of what the Cecil Phillips Classic is about.
Alejandra Collazo Gonzalez will be competing in women’s bodybuilding and the fit body division, and she holds a pro card in fit body in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. For Gonzalez, bodybuilding is a means of inspiration. “I think it’s a very empowering thing as a woman to do,” she says. “I also have a 13-year-old daughter, and I like to show her that beauty is not being thin or skinny, but you can actually sculpt your body because that’s literally what you’re doing with bodybuilding.”
For Gonzalez, it is kind of like an art form. “As you are prepping for a competition”, she says, “the sculpting comes in because you can take off some clay, or you’re putting on a little bit more clay to build on the muscle… You’re a clay sculpture.”
This will be Gonzalez’s first endeavor in women’s bodybuilding, a division which requires more muscle, definition and conditioning rather than the femininity and high heels of fit body.
Aesthetics in bodybuilding was popularized by the late Steve Reeves, a bodybuilder best known for his elegant frame who showcased his wide shoulders, thick arms and legs, wide back, massive calves and chiseled abs. His physique rivaled that of the marble Farnese Hercules statue or Michelangelo’s David — one that wasn’t overly blocky and had balanced proportions.
Many bodybuilders around the world wish to capture Reeves’ classic proportions, a body that many consider the pinnacle of bodybuilding’s art. Bodybuilding is also a sport of illusion, as the poses can hide less developed areas of the athlete’s physique, while highlighting stronger points. According to local trainer and competitor Rock Hunsacker, “A good poser will always place ahead of the guy who is bigger.”
Depending on the division, the bodybuilders go through a one minute posing routine to a song of their choice. Posing routines can vary from the elegant, to the serious, to the outright funny. At the 2021 Cecil Phillips Classic, Dr. Charlie Stanton did his posing routine with a construction helmet and hammer to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.”
Stanton is a 68-year-old general surgeon who got into bodybuilding in 2019 as an attempt to lose weight and have better health. Stanton will be competing in the Men’s Master Bodybuilding 40+ division and is planning to have his one minute posing routine accompanied by The Beatles’ “When I am 64.”
“If I win masters,” he says, “I’ll be really happy, but I am not in it for that reason, I’m just going to go up there, have fun and not look like an idiot.” The process of bodybuilding is something he says he enjoys very much, as it has allowed him to lose 32 pounds and be stronger in his 60s than when he was in his 40s. “I guess there aren’t that many crazy 68-year-old guys doing this,” he says, adding,“I miss pizza.”