FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- For two hours Saturday, audience members at the Solomon Center watched as the 15 competitors in the post’s inaugural Natural Fitness and Bodybuilding Competition took to the stage and well, flexed their muscles.

The competition consisted of both figure and bodybuilding portions, with five female and 10 male competitors. All five women competed in the figure category. Two competed in the bodybuilding category. And though the women who competed were definitely muscular, Ron Emmons, head judge and a local personal trainer, said there is a difference between figure and bodybuilding.

“When it comes to figure, we don’t want them to be too muscular,” he said. In the bodybuilding category, he said, “We want to see muscles from head to toe. You want the muscles to look razor sharp.”

And that they did. Each competitor completed a series of quarter turns, flexing the appropriate muscle as requested by Emmons. But in addition to the standard bodybuilding judging, each competitor was also given a chance to show off his or her stuff with a 90-second routine, something the event coordinator said was a way for competitors to show off a little personality. Competitors danced, did intricate yoga moves and even knocked out a few one-handed push-ups.

“I did want to incorporate the essence of fitness, as well,” said Pam Greene, fitness programmer for the post’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, who planned the event. “It gave them the opportunity to not only show off their muscles, but to show off their health and fitness and ... personalities.”

Competitors ranged in age from 25 to 60, Greene said, and consisted of Soldiers, Seamen, spouses and retirees.

Greene said she thought the inaugural event was a success.

“I thought it was a big success for its first time out the block,” she said.
Emmons shared a similar sentiment.

“It was a very good turnout,” he said, adding that with enough notice, he thinks the event can be three to four times as big.

Greene said that she plans to announce the details of next year’s event this winter to give potential participants time to prepare.

“I want a bigger, better program, but I don’t want it to lose its essence,” she said.

Part of that “essence” included making the event family friendly, Greene said. Part of making it family friendly included having Travis Browne, Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, on hand to present awards, speak to the audience and sign autographs after the show.

One key aspect of the post competition is the focus on “natural,” which means competitors attain their muscles without using steroids or certain performance-enhancing supplements, Greene said.

For those thinking of participating next year, Emmons said preparation consists of just three things: training, nutrition and cardio.

You have to be disciplined,” said the one-time Mr. Berlin, who is also an Army retiree. “It’s that easy, but it’s that hard.”