hd_pubpage_230hBodybuilder Bernard Issogola Amaya is featured on our cover this month. Bernard was born in Cameroon, Africa, and now lives in Paris, France. He flew to Canada last October to compete in the 2009 IDFA Eastern Canadian Classic that was held in Montreal, where I shot the photo. Bernard won his class at that event and earned an IDFA pro card. In November, Bernard flew to Canada again and competed in Toronto at the IDFA’s Pro Universe contest where he took third place behind Dickens Lambert and Erik Alstrup, who placed first and second respectively.

Bernard isn’t the first bodybuilder from outside Canada to compete in the IDFA. I’ve seen competitors from the United States and even from the Cayman Islands on its stage. But he is the first from Europe, and his arrival in Montreal last year signals that the organization is now becoming known overseas and that athletes are willing to travel to Canada to compete. We’ll likely see more competitors from Europe and other places in future shows. And when a whole slew of competitors arrives from overseas, the IDFA can lay claim to being a truly international organization, which is what the "I" in IDFA means. That’s an amazing accomplishment for an organization which started in 2005 with just one event.

Shaun Campbell and Desmona Cole with Bernard Issogola Amaya

The IDFA is also spreading its influence in other ways that are unique. It has a number of initiatives in the works, but the one I can tell you about right now involves a new clothing line that the IDFA is going to debut at its IDFA Novice Classic competition in Toronto on May 15. The association has many styles of shirts for men and women in distinctive but attractive colors, and it also has other things available like tote bags that can be handy for carrying stuff around. The items were designed by Desmona Cole, an accomplished graphic artist, who is one of the IDFA’s founders and currently serves as vice president.

Of course, this new clothing is going to be marketed to fitness enthusiasts, but the IDFA will also be presenting the items into the mainstream for people who are active and want nice clothing to complement their lifestyle. IDFA president Shaun Campbell got the idea after he realized how popular some of the new shirt designs that debuted in 2009 were when he started seeing people around town wearing the shirts, even though they obviously weren’t bodybuilders or figure competitors. One day, Shaun sent me a picture he found on Facebook of a skateboarder in Western Canada who was wearing an IDFA shirt.

Shaun and Desmona are currently preparing a marketing campaign for these new items and I’m particularly excited because I shot the photos for it. Most of the shots feature IDFA fitness model winner Jennifer Lambert Foster, who is also a member of the SAF Elite group of fitness models. Jennifer is featured in our "Hot Shots" section this month. Jennifer is a fit girl, obviously, but the photos weren’t created to show off her physique the way you would see her in a fitness magazine. Instead, they’re the kind of thing that you might see in Rolling Stone or Spin. I'd show you them if I could, but the IDFA has sworn me to secrecy until the launch on May 15. Wait and see!

Without a doubt, the IDFA is the fastest-growing and most progressive physique organization in Canada. It's holding more events than ever this year (a new event has been added in Ottawa for 2010, bringing the total number of annual contests to eight), the quality of its shows is constantly improving, and it's attracting competitors from faraway countries. Its bodybuilding base is obviously expanding, but so will its presence in the mainstream if this new clothing line takes off. The IDFA is everywhere and we’re happy to watch the organization grow!

. . . Doug Schneider, Publisher

Doug Schneider is the publisher and chief photographer for SeriousAboutMuscle.com.