I wasn’t able to attend the first IDFA show of the season held at the beginning of May in Calgary because I was out of the country. I heard that it was the best one they’ve had there yet. But I was able to attend the second event of the season, the Natural Novice Classic, held May 15 at the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre in Toronto. Shaun Campbell, president and founder of the IDFA, is very proud of the Natural Novice because, traditionally, it’s always been one of the organization’s most exciting events – it’s open to first-time competitors as well as those who may have competed before, but didn’t place high and feel like they might need another competition before they hit the big leagues. As a result, there’s tremendous excitement not just for the competitors, but for the friends and family members there to cheer them on, often for the very first time.
Over 75 men and women presented themselves at registration for this event, making this year's Natural Novice the biggest one ever. What's more, the quality was so high overall that you’d be hard-pressed to guess that many of these competitors are new to the scene.
I thought this year’s Natural Novice was a knockout event not just because of the overall quality and quantity of competitors, but because of three other things that stood out to me. First, the theater they held the event in is gorgeous, which is a hallmark of the IDFA since they pride themselves on putting on first-class competitions in fitting facilities. This is in sharp contrast to the many contests I’ve been to put on by other organizations that are held in dingy auditoriums, or sometimes even high school gyms. The Natural Novice might be a "beginner" show, but it was held in facilities suitable for a pro.
The Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre in Toronto.
The next thing had to do with how much excitement there was inside the auditorium and outside in the lobby. The event sold out about two weeks before the show date so, obviously, the auditorium was packed. But so, too, was the lobby where plenty of vendors lined the tables and the overflow crowd hung out while the show inside was going on. During intermission, the IDFA also had two autograph signings to showcase its stars. One was by Jennifer Lambert Foster, a successful fitness model and an IDFA champion who is now the image of the IDFA’s new Apparel line of clothing. The other signing was by IDFA pro Erik Alstrup, a feature writer at SeriousAboutMuscle.com and one of the most impressive natural competitors on the scene today. Having champions like these and showcasing them at IDFA events is another reason this relatively new organization is developing such a strong following.
Alstrup and Lambert break from signing and entice the crowd with giveaways!
Finally, the competition itself was very exciting, right down to the posedown for the overall men’s bodybuilding title. The three men being judged at the end were Denis LeBlanc, George Jaroszenko and Darek Peszt, who won the lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight classes respectively. All men are from Ontario, Canada. I favored Darek Peszt who had very wide shoulders, a small waist, and excellent definition, but was a little weak in the legs. The judges picked Denis LeBlanc to be the overall winner. Denis wasn’t quite as ripped as Darek, and his shoulders and waist weren't as impressive, but he had better overall proportions and stronger leg development. All in all, it was a good decision and the crowd seemed to agree.
Peszt congratulates LeBlanc on his win.
The IDFA’s next two events are on July 10 in Montreal and July 17 in Toronto. These are the Montreal Classic and the International Championships. I will be there covering both events, and from what IDFA president Shaun Campbell tells me, he anticipates that the July 17 International Championships show in Toronto will be even larger than the May 15 show, and with even more excitement because it will feature the IDFA’s first pro show of the season that will see the best of the best on the stage. IDFA pro Erik Alstrup has already committed to competing in it. Will reigning IDFA Pro Universe winner Dickens Lambert be there too? Time will tell – the competitive season is only starting.
. . . Doug Schneider, Publisher
Doug Schneider is the publisher and chief photographer for SeriousAboutMuscle.com.