The finest bodies in Lincolnshire came to Spalding on Saturday for a bodybuilding version of Last Man (and woman) Standing.
Mr Lincolnshire 2017 found a new home at South Holland Centre where nearly 40 of the fittest, firmest and most fat-free physiques paraded in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.
Joint organisers Vernon Guy, Luke Harrison and Scott Miller, co-owners of Heroes Gym in Pinchbeck, took a calculated risk in moving the event down the A17 and A116 from Sleaford to Spalding.
Vernon said: “We thought it was going to be better to move Mr Lincolnshire to Spalding because we know a lot of people in town and South Holland Centre has good acoustics.
“We don’t really do this for financial reasons but because it would be good for Spalding and for our business.
“For us, it’s been fantastic and the auditorium was packed when the guys and girls from Spalding were on stage.
Everything has worked really smoothly, South Holland Centre has really taken it on board and this is something good for the townVernon Guy, Heroes Gym, Pinchbeck
“Everything has worked really smoothly, South Holland Centre has really taken it on board and this is something good for the town.”
The history of bodybuilding can be traced back to the time of silent movies, the birth of Sherlock Holmes in literature and the invention of boxing through the Queensbury Rules.
Its advancement as a serious sport owes its origins to German strongman Eugen Sandow who is now known as “the father of modern bodybuilding”.
Vernon said: “When people understand what goes on in bodybuilding, they will see that it’s about men and women who push their bodies to the ultimate extreme.
“Like it or not, they almost starve themselves by not having any fat in their bodies and I’m so proud of the lads and girls from Heroes Gym who have put their all into it, including those who have done Mr Lincolnshire before.”
Joe Sharman, an ex-Army Lance Corporal from Spalding, celebrated his 25th year in bodybuilding by winning the Open Tall class on Saturday.
Now working as a personal trainer, Joe said: “It all started when I was in the Army where somebody called me ‘skinny’ and I didn’t like it.
“So I decided to buff myself up in the gym and I’ve been doing that it ever since.
“You have to go on a very restrictive diet for 12 to 16 weeks when you increase your cardio training and eat meals like boiled chicken and steamed fish, with most of the other work done in the weights room.
“I remember doing my first bodybuilding competition in 1992 when I came second, so I’m extremely proud to have Mr Lincolnshire in Spalding this year.”
Andy Williams’ catchy 1967 hit about love at first sight can be applied to the growth of women bodybuilders.
Vaiva Sharman followed her husband Joe into the sport three years ago after she was unhappy with her look and came away with the Best Presentation prize at Mr Lincolnshire 2017.
Combining a job in the food industry with her passion for fitness, Vaiva said: “It gives me such a buzz to hear the crowd shout out your name and that’s why I keep doing it.
“Three years ago, I was a size 16 so I started running and joined gym classes because I wanted to change my body shape.
“Joe showed me how to lift weights and, last year, I competed at Mr Lincolnshire for the first time.
“There weren’t many ladies then but I did more shows after that and I met so many ladies who knew how hard each of us worked.
“It was so friendly and, when I got nervous, they helped me to relax and just enjoy it.
“For me and Joe, it’s like we’re part of a big bodybuilding family where you go to the gym, work hard, go to the competitions and show people how hard you’ve trained.”