Ballwin-Linked Athletes Make Strong Showing
Local athletes Chrissie Riess and Torre Bremerkamp participate in a local bodybuilding show, representing the Ballwin-Ellisville community. Riess finished 1st in one of the day's categories.
This weekend in St. Louis, amid smells of spray tan and the gleam of muscle glaze, participants in the NPC Midwest Championship from the area got the chance to show off the work several months in the making.
The NPC, or National Physique Committee, is the amateur regulating body for the International Federation of Body Building (or IFBB), though Saturday's contest also had a professional portion. To compete as a pro, athletes must first place in their class at a nationally qualifying show, and then compete at the higher level and place in order to compete professionally.
As some readers may know, this contest was my second amateur competition, in the Bikini Division. Men's divisions include the traditional Bodybuilding section, and the newer Physique section. Women's bodybuilding divisions have showed great growth over the past few years, and women of many builds can compete in Fitness (with gymnastics-level routines), traditional Bodybuilding, Physique (the newest category), Figure, and Bikini.
While the traditional look of bodybuilding is still appreciated and well-represented at these contests, the new categories allowed people with different frames and ideals to represent their hard work.
Chrissie Reiss, 41, teaches Zumba and yoga at Club Fitness in Ballwin and competes in the Bikini division. A married mother of two, Reiss first heard about the division while competing in a "Mrs." pageant in which married woman compete in talent, poise and beauty portions. Reiss was told she was too skinny for the swimsuit portion, but a fellow contestant thought she would do well with the athletic look of the NPC.
The "bikini" moniker of the division throws many people off, she finds.
"People think that its a spring-break-bar or wet-T-shirt type contest, something that is tawdy or trashy," Reiss said. "I usually have to describe that I'm a fitness competitor, and that it is part of a bodybuilding competition, but the least muscled of the divisions."
Preperation lasts for several months, and all division atheletes endure a rigorous diet and exercise schedule, sacrificing old behaviors like cocktails for happy hour.
Reiss found much support, but said one or two friends weren't as happy with her choices to not imbibe at parties. That experience illustrated a common lesson about health and the environments we put ourselves in.
"I'm still fun to hang out with," Reiss said. "I can just have a club soda, or I can bring my food with me and enjoy your company."
Many bodybuilding athletes use the competition dates as a motivational milestone towards their personal fitness and body goals. While placing is a nice reward, seeing the change in your body in itself is rewarding.
"I got into body building because I needed some type of physical goal," he said. "I found myself just staying in shape instead of trying to get in better shape."
Bremerkamp is a personal trainer and went for the Light Heavyweight division of bodybuilding. In Shape had 17 clients competing in this show, and several placings.
"Being a personal trainer for five years you come across different people with a wide range of excuses and problems," Bremerkamp said. "I knew that taking my dedication to the next level would also be a good way to show clients what you can achieve if you really want it."
Reiss also finds that bodybuilding is a way to live the life she encourages her clients to: embracing the unknown and putting effort out into something that highlights your passions.
"I’m always trying to get people out of their comfort zone," Reiss said. "Get up and take a class and push yourself, feel good about yourself, this is a way to do that."
Reiss placed second in Bikini Class A, and first place in Master's Class Bikini.