By Mr F., LA Muscle's Creative Man
The ANB World Championships were held in Zaandam, Holland. This was a drug-free event and all competitors were tested to make sure they have not taken any hormones, unnatural diuretics and so on. Many people consider this event more important than the Olympia or EFBB shows as this event is much more about correct training, diet and supplementation. Illegal drug users have no place here and will not be able to compete in the ANB.
LA Muscle sent Mike, Ed and I over to cover the event and to support our main sponsored athlete, Ben Agboke. We didn't go there to put up a stand and sell supplements or to try and get more customers; it was purely because we wanted to see the event and support Ben in what was one of the most important events of his life.
Ed has been to almost every country in the world. For some reason, these days he is not too fond of flying. He puts it down to watching a TV programme on channel 4, called Black Box. Anyhow, Mike and I were messing around with him and teasing him on the flight to Amsterdam. That was until the pilot commanded everyone to fasten their seatbelts on "tightly" (emphasised). The plane got hit by 3 bouts of lightning and everyone on the plane was panicking in a bad way. Everyone, apart from Ed that was. Go figure!
We were very close to our hotel at around 8.55 in the evening. Mike was moaning about having gone without his protein and was in a rush to find the hotel. From Dam Square, I wanted to go straight ahead, but Ed suggested what he assumed to be a short-cut.
We took the shortcut and got to the hotel around 9:00. After checking in and Mike downing some LA Whey, we came out of the hotel around 9:30. Next to the hotel we saw a crowd gathered outside this Japanese Restaurant. There were police everywhere and camera crews filming the scene.
Apparently a lunatic had gone into this bar, wearing a "gorilla mask" and shot dead 3 tourists. But wait for the freaky part: Had it not been for Mike's LA Whey withdrawal symptoms and the short-cut which was suggested by Ed, we would have been right outside this bar exactly at the time of the shooting. That would have been very convenient for our competitors, but not so good for our newly ironed LA V-Shirts! You may have read about this in the papers. Apparently Amsterdam is becoming a bit of a gang-orientated city.
There were a few bodybuilders out and about in Amsterdam, but nothing like the turnout you get for shows in the UK. Ben had missed his flight and arrived late, so we didn't get a chance to meet up with him that night. Just as well because Ed and I were having just too good a time in this Irish pub! Mike somehow found this Swedish bodybuilder and was talking about bodybuilding for most of the night. I am sure he was having a good time too, in his own way!
Zaandam is a small town about 15 minutes away by train from Amsterdam. Maybe it was because it was Sunday, but I have rarely come across a town as dead as this one. Nothing was open. No-one was in the streets apart from a handful of people, a prostitute and a tramp.
As we were walking towards the venue we met a couple of guys who were competing in the show. They were in desperate search for some wine to help them dry out just before the competition; they assured us this was purely for competitive reasons (who were we to argue!). Picture this: dead town, no-one around, streets deserted, overcast sky, rain pouring down… suddenly what do we see? 3 clubs in the same deserted street with the biggest bouncers you have ever seen, standing outside. Apparently these were 24 hour dancing clubs (I leave the rest to your imagination). The guys who we had met were so happy. They could now get some alcohol, albeit at extortionate prices!
The show had a good turnout. There were many fitness competitors there, alongside the vast array of competing and non-competing bodybuilders. The venue was called the Zaanteatre and was next to a river.
It was very nice to see the competitors in different "team" clothing. There was a real atmosphere of unity amongst the teams. For example, in the UK team you had Antoinette, who had just won the ANB women's contest, Mike Williams, Charles and Ben. They were all representing Britain, so even if they all didn't place first, they were all there to do their best for Britain.
We had a nice conversation with Antoinette, who is a very charming and intelligent woman. Watch this space, as we will be bringing you more information about her very soon. This lady came from nowhere and won the UK ANB championships. Her boyfriend Markus is a regular user of LA Muscle supplements and will be entering the forthcoming Stars of Tomorrow competition. This is a qualifier for the EFBBs.
It wasn't surprising not to see anyone else from the UK supplements scene there. All too often bodybuilding competitions are about money and whether a supplement company can make money from a show. This is why you don't see people from other UK companies going abroad to support British Athletes or Bodybuilders as this is a non-profitable exercise and seen as a waste of time.
LA Muscle has never been about money. We try to do our best to support the athletes we sponsor as much as we can. This is why when we finally met up with Ben, we could tell from his face that he was very happy to see us. We weren't there to sell supplements or for a holiday. We were there for him and to show him that we go that extra mile for those who are dedicated and willing to surpass their boundaries.
Ben was there with his coach Dionne. We hadn't met Dione before, but after meeting him, we realised that there is much more to Ben than just his dedication and our supplements. His coach was cool, calm, intelligent and very pleasant.
Bodybuilding shows are fun, but not for everyone. Many competitors have to sit around for hours waiting for their name to be called up. We got to the show at around 1:00 p.m.. Some of the guys weren't going to be on stage until about 8:00 at night! That's a long wait in a dead town!
The show itself was phenomenal. Many contestants wouldn't have looked out of place in non-drug-tested competitions. Antoinette placed 3rd, which is phenomenal for someone who has just competed 3 times! This means she is now the third best natural bodybuilder in the World in her category. Mike Williams won the Seniors and would you believe it:
our very own Ben won the ANB Heavyweight Championship of the World.
Ben's legs, arms and abs were amazing. With his size and condition, this man was the talk of the competition. The competition went on way past midnight. A very long day indeed.
Two things struck me about Ben. One was his modesty and just how humble he really is. I mean this guy had just won the UK heavyweight and the UK overall title a few weeks ago. Now he was the World Heavyweight Champion and it was like he had always been the champion.
The other thing about Ben is how cool he is about the whole thing. You will never see him wearing the usual vests or sleeveless T-shirts that many other competitors wear. Ben is always covered up and never tries to intimidate people with his size. There were many big bodybuilders there, walking around like they had a fridge under each arm, but not Ben. This man was the UK Champion and he was cool. Now, this is what we like about him and that's why we make the effort to go and support people like Ben.
I hope you enjoyed my account of our trip. It was a great weekend and a great privilidge to be there. We at LA Muscle are always encouraging you to attend bodybuilding events. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise this point. Whether you are an aspiring professional or your average guy trying to get a decent physique, remember that there is no better motivating tool than attending a bodybuilding competition.
We have been going to competitions for the last ten years and it has always been great fun. Try going to a few and see for yourself.