Hello No Joke Lifestyle Nation! My name is Jack Lazarus and like many of you out there reading this, I am a competitive NATURAL bodybuilder, contest prep coach, as well as a judge for the Natural Muscle Association. I was fortunate enough to meet Nitro at the NMA Can/Am and be given an opportunity to write an article about what it is like to be a judge, as well as reach out to you, the competitors, and give you an inside look at the mind of a judge. So to start, please allow me to tell you a little about myself and my credentials that got me to the judges table.
To start I am a personal trainer. I have been a trainer since I was 18 years old back in 2007. I’ve been fortunate enough to be working in this industry for 10 years. I studied Exercise and Sports Science as well as taken nutrition classes in college as well as multiple certifications ranging from kids training, Olympic weight lifting, and even gymnastics, but my passion has always been bodybuilding. I picked up Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding at 17 and was changed forever. I competed in my first show at 21 years old at the Natural Muscle Association’s Can/Am; to judge it 6 years later was truly an honor and competed again at 23 through a natural organization in Canada called IDFA. My contest history is not very extensive, however, I did place in the top two in my class both times. What landed me at the judges table isn’t my personal contest history though, it was actually my coaching. In October of 2015 I prepped and placed two athletes, a bodybuilder as well as a men’s physique athlete in the Natural Muscle’s fall show known as The Olympus. Both were first timers and both placed highly, with the bodybuilder actually taking the novice overall title! After that I was approached by NMA’S promoter/CEO Jerry Marsala about judging for the Can/Am and the rest is history!
Going from competitor, to coach, to judge, was a very surreal transition. I was more nervous to judge than I ever was putting on my posing trunks, mostly because I didn’t want to take away anyone’s feeling of accomplishment. It's not easy going out on that stage and presenting that hard earned muscle and physique, but the rush and feeling of accomplishment is what makes it all worth it. The honest truth is this: I loved sitting at that table and being able to voice my input. The question on the Can/Am poster is, “Who will be the best of the best?” and my decisions aided in the outcome of the show. Was it easy? Did all the judges agree? Absolutely not! Every judge has their own opinion of what represents the ideal competitor for each category and no two people will ever truly think the same way, which is why we vote, delegate, and discuss our decisions to reason out the placing of each competitor.
Competitors, if you want my advice in just a few words it is this: Show up conditioned and be able to pose. Big muscles are important but if you can't show it in a pose or you’re still not hard enough for you to show it, you won’t place as well as you could have. The biggest guy doesn’t always win and neither does the most ripped, if you can’t hold a pose or pose well -just remember that. Thank you for reading and good luck in your next show, as of now I will be judging for the Natural Muscle Association within the Buffalo area for the foreseeable future. If you have any questions, need advice about your current prep, your posing or anything bodybuilding related, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get out there and continue living that natty, NoJokeLifestyle!