By Frank Hoffmann
The inaugural Phil Heath Classic took place this weekend at the Bayou Music Center in Houston, Texas, and it was a great success. In addition to being an NPC national bodybuilding qualifier, this event also included a guest posing appearance by none other than the show’s namesake, and judging by the pics from Saturday night, he will be tough to beat in Vegas this year. Phil Heath joins the likes of Ronnie Coleman, Dexter Jackson, Branch Warren and Jay Cutler as having their legendary names attached to an NPC promotion. Some may argue that this is just a marketing ploy to sell more tickets and capitalize on the popularity of past and present Olympia champions. While I totally agree with this notion, I see it as a good thing and something necessary for the sport.
The sport of bodybuilding needs all of the help it can when it comes to reaching a wider audience and inspiring the next generation of bodybuilders who may just be starting out. Every other professional sports league uses its star athletes to promote their sport by targeting untapped markets and focusing their efforts at the grassroots level. This is necessary to ensure a growing fan base and to foster new talent. So why should bodybuilding be any different? Every year each of these NPC national qualifiers are getting bigger, more popular and more competitive thanks to bodybuilding’s biggest names being associated with them. It’s these amateur shows that feed the IFBB system with the quality athletes needed to keep the sport alive as the veterans start contemplating retirement. I’m sure that Phil, Jay, Ronnie, Dex and Branch feel honored to give back to the sport that has given them so much. After all, they were themselves at one point mere NPC competitors still waiting to turn pro.
Frank Hoffmann is a former NCAA and Professional CFL football player from Toronto, whose passion for health and fitness stems from his years as a personal trainer. Frank works as a freelance fitness and lifestyle writer while holding down a nine to five job and believes having a full-time job is no excuse to not be fit. Check out his fitness blog at Nine2Fit.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter at @Nine2Fit.