• Christina Stentiford, left, Toni Brown and Dawn Rippelmeyer strike poses after competing in the open women middleweight division at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championships.

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    Christina Stentiford, left, Toni Brown and Dawn Rippelmeyer strike poses after competing in the open women middleweight division at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championships.

  • Maurice Elder, NAS Whidbey, works out prior to competing in the open men heavyweight division.

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    Maurice Elder, NAS Whidbey, works out prior to competing in the open men heavyweight division.

  • The women’s figure competitors stand next to their trophies at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championship June 4 on JBLM.

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    The women’s figure competitors stand next to their trophies at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championship June 4 on JBLM.

  • Toni Brown, center, waits to compete in the open women middleweight division at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championship on JBLM.

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    Toni Brown, center, waits to compete in the open women middleweight division at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championship on JBLM.

  • Llewyn McFarlane, an Airman with 62nd AW, shows some muscle during the open men heavyweight competition at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championship June 4 at Nelson Recreation Center.

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    Llewyn McFarlane, an Airman with 62nd AW, shows some muscle during the open men heavyweight competition at the 2011 JBLM Bodybuilding Championship June 4 at Nelson Recreation Center.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- It’s an environment where spray tans, Speedos and sequins collide with weights and resistance bands " and for some it’s a total rush.

The annual bodybuilding competition, which took place Saturday at Nelson Recreation Center, has been going on at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for more than 20 years, and it’s seen a lot of changes. But even though the sport has moved away from the steroid-ridden days of the 1980s, it’s still nothing short of extreme.

“Some people bungee jump, some people skydive to get a rush,” Air Force Master Sgt. Llewyn McFarlane, 62nd Airlift Wing, said. “This is what I do.”

This was his second year in the JBLM competition and he admits it’s not for everyone " but for McFarlane, the atmosphere of almost-too-much is what keeps things interesting.
“This separates the boys from the men,” he said.

And really, it’s tough to blame him. Backstage at the event, competitors alternated between lifting dumbells, doing push-ups and getting rubbed down in a full-body coating of orange. Incredibly buff women stepped on resistance bands with their impossibly high, clear platforms, their make-up and French-tipped nails perfectly intact. Guys who might, in another context, be taken for tough perfected their posing in front of mirrors.

“It’s definitely a sport where vanity factors in,” guest poser and judge Gerri Deach-Davis said. “And it’s a very introverted sport.”

The nationally ranked heavyweight bodybuilder pointed out that the competition is all about the individual’s physique and pose, and as a result can get very me-focused. Still, achieving a competition-ready body takes dedication.

On top of intense workout regimens, participants adhere to strict diets and some extreme techniques " cutting down on water intake the week before competition, for instance, helps make muscles more defined.

Carbs and salt are also off-limits.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Dawn Rippelmeyer, 42nd Military Police Brigade, started each day with a
pre-workout protein shake, followed by six to eight egg whites, chicken breast, tuna and vegetables. Her one seasoning was salt-free Mrs. Dash.

“She became my friend,” she said.

Rippelmeyer makes a point of taking on new physical challenges, particularly around her birthday. The JBLM competition was the culmination of her first try at bodybuilding, just days before her 47th birthday.

For her, the effort was worth it if only because of her personal progress. She also likes to set an example.

“As a sergeant major it was important to me to do this show so I could show my Soldiers you can do this, you can be physically fit,” she said.

Many of the competitors were more than ready to ease off of their rigidly controlled pre-competition routines. But Deach-Davis, who made bodybuilding a lifestyle, knows that if you really want to win you have to be all in.

“I love the way muscle looks, I’m fascinated by the way it moves,” she said, an attitude on display in her broad and bulky frame.

She knows she isn’t exactly achieving the mainstream ideal of female beauty, but says the sport has made her physically, mentally and emotionally strong. It’s something that she does for herself " no matter who disapproves.

“If you don’t like it,” she said, “don’t look.”

Marisa Petrich: marisa.petrich@nwguardian.com

Page last updated Thu June 9th, 2011 at 00:00