Bodybuilders… and my little brother

Just back from a busy weekend in Nottingham to see the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation’s National finals. What an amazing experience, to mingle with dozens of huge oiled and tanned characters arriving and awaiting their turn for various classes of competition, before heading into the packed Royal Theatre at Nottingham to see them line up on stage. It was a whole new world to watch, with men of every shape and size, aging from juniors to over 50s, in weight catagories right up to 100kg. Music pumped over pumping muscles, and around the auditorium family and supporters cried out over each other to support their hunks.  It was a lovely atmosphere to draw in. Funnily only a year ago I was trying to capture dancers at speed, and ever since I’ve relished the challenge of movement, it had been about capturing dynamic gestures with graceful strokes.

Body-builders, it turns out, are a lot harder! Double-biceps, front lats, side chests, back biceps and spreads, and front abs and thighs…. were all key poses for judging.  And then the qualifying athletes performed their own routines, mixing classic poses with more dynamic and theatrical ones ( ancient Greek statues of discus-throwers or warriors). I quickly had to give up on recording specific anatomy and simple lines, instead the challenge was to pin down incredible shapes, and the essences of solid forms in contortion before they twisted and spun into the next shape. This was the ultimate life drawing session, human beings pushed to the physical and mental extreme, and for all their bulk and sweat, they often looked majestic, like I imagine the legendary Spartans did.

Here are some sketches…

various poses for the judges

waiting to take their turn…



throwing amazing shapes

Pose off! all the guys come together for a muscle-fest

So why was I here?

Well, my little (!) brother came First in the Junior class of the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation National finals. He has worked so hard for this over the last year, and last intense months of three-times-a-day gym sessions, strict diet of turkey and protein shakes, as well as dehydrating his body this week to show off every muscle and vein. He beat many others to qualify for the National finals, and this weekend saw off 22 rivals in stages over  two days to claim his title (and tasteful trophy). In-between we watched with bated breath through his own routine to music (awesome choice of DJ Fresh’s ‘Louder’) and then the ‘pose off’, where he and nine other oiled-up young Herculean men free-styled their best poses side-by side. The Moore family were on the edges of their seats as the final six were whittled down, and finally our boy was left standing. We are so, so, proud of him and everything he has achieved, I don’t think there was a dry eye between us. Well done Nic!

double-biceps for the judges to compare each contestant (little bro is first on the left)

Nic gets to show his stuff with his own routine…

…and takes first place!