Body builders flexed for Portsmouth show

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When we think of art, we think of oils on a canvas, music in our ears and even fine food on a plate.

But to some, a well-trained and toned human body also qualifies as a form of art.

Connor Newby (19) from Copnor Portsmouth and Jessica Dubb (19) from Cowplain will both compete in the UKBFF Bodybuilding Show at Portsmouth Guildhall ''Picture by:  Malcolm Wells (150414-5211)

Connor Newby (19) from Copnor Portsmouth and Jessica Dubb (19) from Cowplain will both compete in the UKBFF Bodybuilding Show at Portsmouth Guildhall ''Picture by: Malcolm Wells (150414-5211)

The practice of bodybuilding involves a huge amount of dedication and is all about aesthetics, similar to conventional forms of art.

Anyone can do it, but there are not too many people who can do it really well, just like painting a picture.

‘You are judged on symmetry, proportion and muscular definition,’ says James Kennedy, a 33-year-old bodybuilder from Fareham.

‘Contrary to what people think it’s not primarily about muscular size, but definition.

‘I’ve always tried to present a classic physique where everything is balanced and in proportion.’

James will be among about 200 fitness fanatics taking part in the region’s biggest event of its kind – the South Coast Bodybuilding Show, overseen by the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation.

Tomorrow at the Portsmouth Guildhall, the competition includes 26 different divisions covering everything from a beginners’ contest to a men’s over-100kg bodybuilding division.

Winners will go through to a national championships to be held in Nottingham in October.

The show has been organised by 42-year-old Paul Smith from Waterlooville for the past 12 years.

Paul says this year’s show will include an expansion of the ‘bikini’ and ‘physique’ classes, in which the competitors don’t bulge with as much bulk as in the bodybuilding classes.

He says these categories have boosted the sport’s popularity among both men and women.

‘Bodybuilding is always going to be a bit of a subculture in a way, but the new classes have brought in a lot of people that probably wouldn’t have gone to a show in the past,’ Paul says.

‘The physique and bikini classes have really attracted a lot more people to the competition, and they have brought the numbers up.

‘It’s a bit more attainable for people and it’s not such an extreme look.

‘The guys wear board shorts instead of little posing shorts and it’s good for a lot of girls, who want to have a toned physique but not necessarily a lot of muscle.

‘But there is still a lot of work that goes into both those classes.’

So what actually happens at a bodybuilding competition?

Paul explains: ‘In the bodybuilding section they do a series of set poses.

‘At the end they have 60 seconds to do their own routine.’

Paul says the routines could include anything from a robot dance to a series of somersaults.

‘It can be very entertaining to watch,’ he says.

The posing is less regimented in the physique and bikini classes.

Paul says most bodybuilders undergo an intense 12-week diet regime prior to a competition, which requires tremendous discipline to maintain.

‘The diet is probably harder than the training itself because it’s 24 hours a day,’ he says.

‘Your nights out with your friends generally go out the window in that period.’

Paul says that unlike a lot of sporting events there is a real sense of encouragement and camaraderie between competitors.

He puts that down to the fact that the bodies cannot improve once they get to ‘game day’.

Paul says: ‘There is never any animosity because all the preparation for the event has already been done.

‘The amount of work that goes into it beforehand that you don’t see is just phenomenal.

‘And it’s all just for that few minutes on stage.’

Paul says the show is always family-friendly.

‘The atmosphere can really be amazing because everyone who is competing on stage has brought along with them some people to cheer them on.

‘We don’t charge for kids under 16 and we have a face painter going around as well to to entertain them.’

There is also a ‘posing’ competition, where youngsters can get on stage and try a few of the same moves as the bodybuilders.

UKBFF South Coast Bodybuilding Show

Where: Portsmouth Guildhall

When: Sunday, April 26. Doors open to spectators at midday. Registrations and weighing-in for competitors starts at 9am.

Competitors can register on the day or fill out an entry form at the website below.

Admission: £20 for adults, children under 16 go free.


Contact: E-mail Paul Smith on or call (023) 9223 0445.