2012 IFBB Desert Muscle Classic Preview

This weekend, the first IFBB Pro Bikini contest takes place in Mesa, Arizona. Despite only six competitors entering the Desert Muscle Classic, it’s anyone’s show to win. The weekend also marks the start of a new division in the pro ranks, Women’s Physique. Eleven women have entered the inaugural show in hopes of making history of being crowned the first winner of the Physique division.


The Men’s 212 show only has four competitors, which may be the lowest turn out of any pro division in history. One of the four men will qualify for the 212 Olympia. One talking point in the pro ranks is that only the winner will qualify for the Olympia. In year’s past most shows would qualify at least three competitors. Is it a good move? Time will tell if it effects the number of competitors entering shows over the course of the year. There are a number of reasons why one could point to a low turn out for this show. My guess is that we’ll see far more competitors in upcoming shows.

Stacy Alexander – Stacy will make her IFBB Pro debut after winning her class at the 2011 NPC Nationals. She has a number of things working in her favor at this show and could be the dark horse to take top honors. If she doesn’t let first time jitters get the best of her she’ll be in the mix.

Narmin Assria – Narmin has held her own in each of her pro shows and continues to improve. She’s a pint sized competitor who will check in under 100lbs but don’t let that fool ya. She’s a natural on stage and poses with ease. She’ll be a contender for the top spot.

Jennifer Chapman – Jennifer wasted no time jumping into the pro ranks after turning pro at the 2011 NPC Nationals. She entered the Florida Pro last December and finished 4th. I would have placed her in the top three and look for her to be a contender for the title here. Can she win her first pro show in just her second outing?

Ashley Harbour – Ashley is one of the newest IFBB Bikini Pros from Canada. She was awarded IFBB pro status at the 2011 CBBF Championships and will try her hand in the states for the first time. She wrote on her blog that she came down with a cold and hasn’t been able to train as she liked. An unfortunate turn of events for anyone’s pro debut. We’ll see how she fairs this weekend.

Bernadett Matassa – Bernadett last competed at the Florida Pro Bikini where she finished 13th out of 15 competitors. She’ll have a tough time winning this show but she has show improvements since being awarded pro status. Most notably in her posing, which was a bit over the top early on but has toned it down.

Christina Vargas – Christina is the only competitor in the line up who will be headed to Columbus next week. She’s coming off her first pro win, when she took top honors at the Houston Pro. She’s the “veteran” of the group and the odds on favorite to win, at least on paper. If she comes in less than 100% she’ll be out of the winner’s circle. If she comes in on the money, she’ll take home her second pro win and head to Columbus with some momentum against a much tougher line up.

I have mixed feelings about this division. My biggest issue with the division is that it doesn’t bring anyone new into competing like Bikini did. The bikini division brought in hundreds of new people to the NPC ranks and then into the IFBB. Those women are also more marketable and when you look at who is getting sponsorship and published in magazines most of them are bikini. The Physique division, in my opinion, only appeals to those who are already competing and “don’t fit” into a current division. Those not familiar with the new division it’s a smaller version of bodybuilding or a bulked up Figure competitor. The direction that the division is intended to head is a more “classic” look and the more muscular Figure competitors will likely fair better than the toned down bodybuilders. While a couple of the women in this line up do have supplement sponsors, it’s not a look that is appealing to people outside of the core bodybuilding audience who already follow the industry. No disrespect intended to the division or the competitors but unless you’re a fan of female bodybuilding you’ll likely not be a big fan of this division. Will it replace female bodybuilding? Some say no while others say it’s only a matter of time. The women in this show undoubtedly train hard and bust their asses, that’s never been questioned. The question is what is it doing or will it do to expand the industry and attract more fans?

The judges will have their work cut out for them at this show. The thing to keep in mind is this division will evolve and like bikini it will morph as it goes. The judges can only judge what is on stage and pick the ideal of that line up, on that day. It doesn’t mean that the winner of this show is “the look” of the division moving forward. It only means that the winner was the closest thing to the ideal on that day. The line up for this show is a like a bag of mixed nuts. You’ll see former bodybuilders competing against past Figure competitors. Some of the women competed as pros in bodybuilding, others in Figure and the rest will be making their pro debut. Your guess is as good as mine on who will win this one. My gut tells me we won’t see what the “ideal” look tomorrow. We’ll likely see women way too ripped and way too muscular for what the “ideal” of this new division is but we’ll see what the judges decide tomorrow.

Prejudging starts at 10am, Saturday Feb. 25, 2012 and the finals will be held at 6pm. Both prejudging and the finals will be held at the Mesa Arts Center. For more information on the show visit http://www.desertmuscleclassic.com.

Disclaimer: Reader discretion advised, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.