Body building among women has taken a very long time to catch on, and part of the delay has been that bodybuilding, until about forty years ago, was considered the domain of men. Until the 1980s, in fact, there were no professional body building women, and women who entertained the idea of strength training had their sexual orientation questioned.
But over the past two decades, women have been taking an increasingly prominent role in the sport of body building, and professional body building women have more opportunities to compete than ever before. The rising awareness of the importance of personal fitness which swept over the Baby Boomers as they approached middle age saw health clubs and fitness centers opening, it seemed, on every other block, and their managements understood that a woman’s money was just as good as a man’s.
Females who wanted to sculpt their bodies through weight training were not only welcome in those gyms; they were invited to participate in classes on body building for women. Some of them proved to be excellent pupils, and the professional bodybuilding women’s circuit was on its way.
“Pumping Iron II”
The rise of body building among women was the subject of the 1985 documentary “Pumping Iron II”, a sequel of sorts to 1977’s “Pumping Iron” which featured a very young Arnold Schwarzenegger before the Terminator was a gleam in a scriptwriter’s eye. “Pumping Iron II” focused on a group of body building women preparing for competition at the 1983 Caesar’s World Cup.
The Caesar’s World Cup, however, was a body building women’s competition staged specifically for the movie; the competition was open to both amateur and professional body building women–which violated the International Federation of Body Building’s rules–and one of the film’s screenwriters was also one of the competition’s judges, even though he had never before seen a body building women’s contest.
In spite of all its quirks, “Pumping Iron II” managed to bring female bodybuilding into the public’s consciousness, and its body building women began to be appreciated for the world-class athletes that they were.
The body building women competitive circuit is still growing and gaining a bigger and bigger following. It is not yet as recognized as the men’s body building circuit, but that is to be expected, because it has been around for a much shorter time. In another three decades, it may very well have caught up!
From the success of this documentary, much recognition and respect was accorded to the female practitioners who have labored in the shadow of their more popular male counterparts for far too long.
Today, the body building women professional circuit continues to grow and gain in popularity. While it has not achieved the same level of popularity as the men’s circuit, it has strongly gained popularity to a degree far greater than what existed three decades ago. Hopefully, this growth will continue and the world of body building women professional circuit will thrive and prosper.