Sunday, April 23, 2006

Emerald Cup Bodybuilding Championships

Orange, Protein, Bars
Bellevue, WA

I am physically the weakest person in this room, and there are babies here. Don't get me wrong, I can do THOUSANDS of wine glass curls, even with a heavy wine like cabernet. But there are so many pumped up muscles around me that I feel like a flabby Before. I'm not alone - a woman next to me worries aloud that she will be ejected from the event because she has more than 4% body fat.

The Emerald Cup Bodybuilding Championships looks like a big deal based on the number of people here, but the applause for each competitor is so half-hearted that we soon realize people are holding back for the big guns to come out, pun intended. Before that can happen, we need to get through the taut and crinkled skin sheathing the muscles of the over-60 set. Please lord let me not look this good when I am old.

While the seniors show off their stuff on stage (oldest competitor: 89), we tour the trade show areas to look at the protein bars, supplements, and something called Muscle Milk, with which Chip is instantly enamored. The flood of samples means our entire dinner can be consumed in three bites. Chip is talked in to buying an entire box of bars, each of which contains more protein than a case of Costco jerky. Women with Met-RX bags walk by in "No pain, no gain" t-shirts, and men proudly flaunt the names of their gyms. I am shocked and delighted to discover they have a bar here, as clearly we will require reinforcement.

During the young men's finals, I park myself directly behind the three trainers of a competitor. Chase is their golden boy, and they shout encouragements like "flex that calf!" and "more lat, Chase!" All of this must work, because Chase wins, even though he looks like he's been microwaved on High for ten hours. Actually, most of the competitors are orange - at least the white ones. And many of the women have blonde hair, bleached and fried to the point of desperation. This whole thing is exactly like the AVN awards, except with smaller boobs and less vodka.

As you will see from this video, one of the bodybuilders drags his children on stage and makes them dance to religious hip-hop. The whole thing turns into a gospel revival, with dad in the center striking poses once in a while. The crowd loves it, his family freaks out, but the judges aren't buying it and he ends up in 5th place. You'll also note the excellent jockeying for position during the women's freestyle pose-off.

A long line of bodybuilders in training wait to have their pictures taken with the more famous competitors, like the terrifying Jay Cutler. ("Dude - did you see these pictures of Jay? I had to delete a bunch of family trip pictures to fit them on my camera.") We opt out of the finals, creeped out enough by the women's high testosterone count, the men's nearly incapacitating lack of flexibility, and the orange skin. GOD, THE ORANGE. However, this is heaven for hundreds of people whose bodies are temples. I'll keep doing my toasting reps in their honor until I get it right.


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