Ultimate power: This fitness, figure competition brings bodybuilders to Derby Week – Courier Journal

It was an event that, according to promoter L. Brent Jones, took a lot of phone calls and emails to get a 15-minute interview with Kentucky Derby Festival officials.

And even then, Jones thought he didn’t have a chance to sell them on a bodybuilding and fitness show being a part of Derby Festival events like the mini-marathon and bed races.

“I’m going to tell you right now I’m not in favor of your event being a part of the Kentucky Derby Festival” said the official, according to Jones, who was wearing a business suit to the meeting. “But your application was so good, it was the best I’ve ever received. I’m willing to let you sell (the idea) to me.”

Jones said he told him not to think of it as a bodybuilding show. “Think of it as American Idol and muscles,” Jones said with a smile. “The most fundamental level of entertainment. This is where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno learned their showmanship.” The KDF official then started to understand the concept. A vote by the KDF board gave them a chance to become part of the festival.

Now in it’s 11th year as one of many KDF events, the NPC Derby Championships has become a draw for fitness buffs as well as their families and fans. And this year, about 2,000 people came to watch 300 men and women compete in the bodybuilding and physique competitions at the Kentucky International Convention Center on Saturday. 

Bodybuilding isn’t just for men and women in their 20s or 30s. There are divisions where those 50 and 60 years and older compete. Wearing his white hair braided in a bun, Henryville, Indiana, resident Doug Elmore was there to compete. At 69 years old, he said he’s been involved in bodybuilding nearly all his life.

“It keeps me healthy,” he said. “I’m shooting to keep going in my 70s.”