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Turning amateurs into stars

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Most people often see bodybuilders and models on television and in Hollywood films. They may not, however, realize that regular, non-famous people right here in Indianapolis can become healthier and happier while developing the physique of their dreams and becoming an athletic champion.

Anyone who is devoted to fitness or would like fun motivation to take control of their physical health is invited to come to the NPC (National Physique Committee) Natural Circle City Championships on Sept. 8 at the Madame Walker Theatre Center, 617 Indiana Ave.

Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and participants will be showcased in a pre-judging segment until 4 p.m., when the finals are scheduled to take place. Tickets are $10 for the pre-judging segment and $20 for finals.

Athletes and models will have a chance to display the results of their hard work and compete for honors in categories such as men’s and women’s bodybuilding, men’s and women’s physique, teen bodybuilding, and bikini.

Those who are competing are advised to arrive early, and non-competitors who would simply like to view the contestants to see if the sport is right for them are encouraged to come around 5 p.m. for special evening presentations.

“These events are always a ton of fun,” said Jennifer Dale, who, along with her husband Jesse, is a professional fitness trainer helping to promote the event. “After you do one show you kind of get bit by the bug and want to do it again and again. It is something that keeps you in shape, but it is also enjoyable.”

Organizers have also offered novice categories for beginners and first-time competitors, and people of all ages are invited to participate.

“Our youngest competitor is 19, and we have a 65-year-old in the women’s bodybuilding competition,” Dale said.

The NPC, which was established in 1982 and is now the world’s largest organization for amateur body builders, holds competitions in several states. The Circle City Championships is a local event that will help participants prepare for the NPC Natural Indiana state event next April.

Bodybuilding, which first received general recognition as a professional sport at the turn of the last century, has enjoyed an increase in popularity in recent years.

“A lot of people really enjoy pushing their body and taking it to an elite level and seeing what they are actually capable of doing,” Dale said. “A very small amount of people have the tenacity to stick through it. So when the athletes can see the results of their hard work, and go on stage with the support of their family, friends and co-workers, it’s amazing, whether they come in first place or last place.”

Many competitors participate in bodybuilding events as members of teams. Jesse and Jennifer Dale, who provide services as personal trainers, oversee a local team of about 30 instructors and amateur athletes, some of whom were once overweight, that compete in events around the region.

The collective, known as the SETT (Scientific Exercise Training) Team, train under a fitness regimen the Dales developed after more than 15 years in the industry.

Ed Nunn, an African-American bodybuilder from Anderson, Ind., is among a growing number of minority competitors. He began in 2007 and has won respectable national championship rankings.

“I love bodybuilding because it’s a 24-7 sport,” Nunn said in a recent interview. “You have to give it 100 percent and never give up or stop fighting for what you want, because the hard work is very rewarding.”

Dale noted that even with the recent economic downturn fitness centers, programs and teams continue to have plenty of participants.

“Whether people are unemployed or employed or dealing with stressful times in their family, they can come to the gym and sweat on it,” Dale said. “They like having the control over how far to push themselves. I think it sets a positive trend for people to focus on being healthy and taking control of how they look and feel.”

For more information visit walktertheater.com, npcindiana.org, sett2win.com or call (317) 538-9662.

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