Perspective: Men’s Physique – What’s The Deal?
By R. Knight
We are two years in, but for all purposes. The Men’s and Women’s Physique divisions have been a magnificent success for the NPC/IFBB. This year, both divisions crowned their first Olympia champions. Mark Anthony Wingson won the Men’s Physique Olympia title. While, Dana Linn Bailey claimed the Women’s Physique Olympia title. However, while Women’s Physique has become a welcomed addition to the NPC/IFBB Family. Men’s Physique is still looking for an identity and respect by old school followers. Who, for some reason, can’t see what the interest in MP is all about. To those who disdain MP, it’s a disgrace. But, to its supporters. They say its the new era of bodybuilding. MP’s critics are long and furious. But, The numbers are clearly with MP’s supporters.
To its critics, MP is nothing but a damn twink fest. That lowers the standard of true bodybuilding. It’s just a showcase for beach boys to catwalk on stage. While wearing ridiculous looking board shorts. That allows them to cover their legs. Thus, not having to worry about training them. Which makes MP detractors cry that it is bodybuilding without legs.
That probably doesn’t matter anyway. Since, it seems the guy who wins most MP competitions are usually the ones with the best hair and prettiest face. Which makes MP competitions look more like a model search contest than a bodybuilding contest. Some critics have gone as far to call Men’s Physique, “Men’s Bikini”.
Another thing that makes MP’s attackers blood boil is the time MP competitors add to shows that are already long thanks to Bikini. With Bikini and now MP, already dehydrated bodybuilders have to wait longer to get on stage. Bodybuilders usually go last during most competition events. These bodybuilders now have to wait for hours to show their wares. While having to endure tens of Figure, MP, and Bikini competitors. As, they go on stage before them. Which means the bodybuilding side of things doesn’t get decided until well after 12am or later.
MP’s supporters, of course, see it differently. They see MP as a new cash cow for the NPC/IFBB. Who have been searching for a fitness division that will spring into the mainstream for decades. MP’s biggest backers are bodybuilding promoters. who are making decent profits. Thanks to the large number of participants competing in MP. In some shows, MP competitors are outnumbering bodybuilders. In some cases, there are twice as many MP competitors than bodybuilders. The big participation in MP is not only during national events. But, for local and regional events, as well. Add the MP competitor’s girlfriend/boyfriend, family, and friends going to the show. Promoters are making money not only from entries but, from the ticket office as well.
Another large proponent of MP are the competitors themselves. Who are bodybuilders at heart. But, are not interested in pushing the envelope or trying to get big for big sake. MP has given them a chance to compete on stage. For some guys, they can’t achieve the mass that is needed to compete in bodybuilding contests. They see MP as the middle ground that allows them to successfully compete. While not having to go to the extreme.
Another factor that is on MP’s side are the supplement companies. Who are now signing MP competitors to help pimp their products to consumers. Companies are literally falling over themselves to get the next big MP athlete. Resulting in them no longer seeking bodybuilders to promote their products. MP critics see this as MP taking money away bodybuilders. Which they say will make more men want to become MP competitors instead of bodybuilders.
Here’s how I see it. Both sides of the MP debate have good points. But, let’s be frank. Bodybuilding contests are beauty pageants. How can bodybuilders who compete while dipped in oil and wearing thongs call anything a disgrace. Bodybuilders seem to love to rant about how society treats them. Yet, they are first in line to moan about other people’s lives and choices. It seems because of how society treats them, bodybuilders need to reflect some deep seeded insecurity upon the rest of us. So, they can get some necessary ego boost.
That being said, I can see myself saying the same thing about MP competitors in a few years. With their large numbers of participation and seemingly growing popularity, MP will claim to be bigger than bodybuilding. Then, MP competitors will demand that they be the main attraction during the Olympia. MP competitors will demand higher prize money. Which, in turn, the MP competitor will take the place of the bodybuilder as the insecure misfit needing an ego boost.
No matter what the future holds for both bodybuilding and Men’s Physique. It seems that neither will be dropping off the map anytime soon. So, both will have to learn to coexist, live together, and let destiny decide which one best showcases how muscle men are suppose to be.