Fun and Fitness: Show off your stuff at an OPA event

The weekend of November 17 saw Centennial Hall play host to yet another Ontario Physique Association event. The OPA is Ontario's governing organization for bodybuilding, fitness, figure and bikini events. If your ultimate goal is to become a Canadian Professional or an International Professional, then you have to make your way through the OPA ranks first.

With 14 events being run in Ontario every year, the OPA is by far the largest organization of its kind offered in Canada. For many competitors, this is their chance for a moment in the spotlight and more importantly, it is their chance to land a sponsorship with the country's leading magazine and supplement industries. However, like many sought-after professions, the chances of making it big in such a populated and popular community of athletes are few and far between.

New to the mix of events in the last few years is the Men's Physique category. For the longest time, it was the women who had the only opportunity to showcase the finely toned aesthetics they worked so hard for. Men who stay away from the more bulky bodybuilding aspect of the sport now have the opportunity to display their more sleek bodies in attempts to earn a podium placement.

Other events in the OPA welcome competitors of all ages, shapes and sizes, from Men's Juniors to Men's Heavyweight to Women's Heavyweight to Women's Short Class and beyond. There are also the Natural OPA events, which were started recently by International Federation of BodyBuilders pro Stephanie Worsfold in an attempt to allow avid anti-drug use believers to strut their stuff in a fair fashion.

This year saw the return of my close friend Jose Campos Reales in the Men's Bodybuilding Lightweight Division. After six years off from competition and a very focused and determined return, he reclaimed his title and is now aiming to move up the leveling ranks to compete at the Nationals.

Tickets to OPA events range between $20 and $60, depending on whether you only want to attend the morning pre-judging or if you want to also watch the evening show where the competitors actually go through their fitness and posing returns before being placed accordingly. There are also giveaways, professional guest appearances and question-and-answer seminars where up-and-coming competitors and guests can pick the pros' brains.

Ontario is arguably the bodybuilding "mecca" of Canada. As the years go by, more people are being health-conscious, and many even take it to the next level and prepare for the OPA stage. Chances are, you have a few friends who have competed at one point or another and have been to a show yourself. If you haven't, and you are looking for something new and exciting to attend, don't hesitate to check it out. You'll get a taste for the quirky fitness community, and maybe you'll even get inspired in the process.