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Shooting Stars! In the Gym with Canada’s Best Competitors

  • Written by Doug Schneider

hd_pubpage_230hBeing involved in the fitness industry the way I am affords me opportunities few others get. One opportunity is to shoot photos of Canada’s best physique competitors, oftentimes when they’re working out. It’s not just interesting to do, but it is also an opportunity to learn their "secrets" and to see firsthand how they train.

I photographed and videotaped Mindi O'Brien in 2006 when she was just three weeks out from the Fitness International competition that's part of the Arnold Sports Festival. Another example is the photoshoot I did with Ben Pakulski last year. Ben is the 2008 CBBF Canadian Bodybuilding Champion who is now competing as an IFBB pro. I shot Ben just 12 days before he made his pro debut at the 2009 IFBB Europa Super Show and placed third. Last year, I also got to shoot Denis Pedneault as he trained just three weeks before he placed fourth at the 2009 IFBB Men’s World Bodybuilding Championships. Shooting these competitors just before their big competitions is fascinating.

My most recent photoshoot happened on March 28, 2010, in Montreal, Quebec. It was with Dickens Lambert and Mymuna Nasrin, two of Canada’s best competitors. Dickens is the IDFA’s reigning Pro Universe champion (2009) and Mymuna is a top-ranked figure and bikini competitor who just placed third in her class at the 2010 IFBB Arnold Amateur Bikini Championships. You can see one of the shots I took of them training below. There’s another in the "Iron Shots" section for April.


The photos can convey quite a bit about the look and feel of what it’s like to be there, but they obviously can’t tell the entire story. It’s simply a moment in time. As a result, people who know I do this kind of work often ask me what it’s like to actually watch these people train and, of course, they usually want to know what it is about their training that helps to create their amazing physiques. Is there something they know that others don't?

The answer isn’t easy and I can only say this to people who ask me: There’s not one particular thing that you can single out in their training that can be attributed to their success. The fact is, everyone I’ve photographed trains differently, using what they feel are the best exercises for them, and with whatever set-and-rep scheme suits them best. There is obviously more than one way to skin a cat. People who think there’s "one right way to train" should probably rethink that idea. I've also never seen someone train and do something unique only to them. Everyone I've photographed uses well-known training methods that have been used for decades.

But when push comes to shove and someone really wants to know if there is one thing common in the training for everyone I’ve photographed, I can say this: They all exhibit a certain intensity in their training that makes other people working out appear as if they’re simply standing around. In other words, they train harder and with far better focus than the average person in the gym. Mymuna and Dickens exhibited these traits when I shot them on March 28. They didn’t just lift weights for the sake of doing so – they attacked the weights with a sense of purpose and determination that signaled that they were doing more than simply working out. Gym time isn’t playtime for these champs; the best competitors train with a higher purpose in mind, displaying effort and intensity with each rep and set that most others simply can’t match. Frankly, that shouldn’t surprise anyone – it’s the hardest workers who usually get the furthest ahead.

Bodybuilding photoshoots allow me glimpses into places that most folks never see, and it’s taught me firsthand what it takes to become a champ. You will continue to see some of these pictures that I shoot, here on as well as in magazines I contribute to, such as Inside Fitness. Photographing these physique stars as they work in the gym is work I enjoy doing and plan to continue with in the months and years to come. It’s an opportunity few others have and I don’t want to waste it.

. . . Doug Schneider, Publisher

Doug Schneider is the publisher and chief photographer for logo

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Recommended Reading logoPublisher: Doug Schneider

Art director: Karen Fanas

Contributors: Denis Pedneault, Dave Paul, Steve Duperre, Francois Beauregard, Erik Alstrup, Al Kabia

Proofreader: Janet Dingle

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