Months of preparation, strict dieting and hard training all count this weekend as the INBA (International Natural Body Building Association) Brisbane Classic hosted at the Sleeman Sports Complex takes place.

While thousands flock to compete this weekend, the risks and benefits associated with the sport are in question.

Annisa Belonogoff, a competitor this weekend, has been competing in the extreme sport since 2013.

Anissa working up a sweat.
Anissa working up a sweat.

“I was very overweight as a teenager, battling weight, doing all the diets you could possibly do – then someone suggested to me a bikini fitness competition.”

Annisa knows the challenges of bodybuilding but believes the benefits are worth it.

“It’s such a big journey to try and do these competitions because you’re not only pushing and changing yourself physically – but your mentality changes, you can accomplish something, so for me to jump on stage it means that I’ve achieved a goal regardless of the outcome.”

It’s not a bed of roses after competition is finished, post competition-depression is a serious issue for some extreme sportsmen and women.

Women fitness posing
Women fitness posing

“…After you’ve achieved such a massive goal that mentally and physically your lifestyle has changed – sometimes we can’t understand a big let down afterwards, trying to get back on the horse for some people is a big struggle,” Annisa says.

Tracie Connor, a qualified nutritionist and public speaker, believes long term there can be a lot of risks associated with bodybuilding.

“I think that many body builders would realise it’s very strenuous on the body in terms of having to stick to a diet like that it’s not always going to be easy in everyday life.

“But, in terms of organ damage and any other major physical damage something longer than a three month restrictive period would be looked at as a bit of a danger zone anywhere where we’re restricting diets the immune system could be at stake, certain sleep disrupted – it’s really about the body builders looking after themselves while they’re on a restrictive diet,” Tracie said.

The latest World Anti-Doping Agency report on doping violations has ranked Australia 7th worst in the world, of the 49 violations Australia was cited for, nine were in bodybuilding.

“Our hormonal system, our endocryn system, is very fundamental in harmonising how our body works. When we’re subjecting our bodies to substances that will disrupt our hormones or trick our body – every action has a reaction. While they might find It beneficial to help them gain that muscle mass it certainly can be hindering them in other ways.”

Despite the risks, the INBA competition has increased 20 per cent over five years, the Queensland president of INBA, Jason Woodforth believes competitors serve as inspirations.

Jason beaming with excitement before the competition begins
Jason beaming with excitement before the competition begins

“People are wanting to better themselves, they see other people in great shape and they want a bit of that…people get on stage once and all of a sudden they bring 10 more people with them because they felt so good about it,” Jason said.

Jason cheerfully compares competition day to a wedding.

“It’s the end of a journey, it’s lights, cameras, actions, nerves and emotions on the day are just fantastic.”