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The Gulf Coast Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships entertain and inspire

Another Gulf Coast Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship has come and gone. While the venue and many of the faces may have been different from last year, one thing that didn’t change was the wide variety of people who stepped out on the stage at Mariner High School last night.

Natasha Julian, 28, of Palm Beach Gardens competed in Bikini.
Alan Hughes
Bikini competitor Lusana Diaz was one of the many stories at the 2012 Gulf Coast Bodybuilding and Figure Championships.
Alan Hughes

On one end of the scale was 18 year old Lehigh resident Brittany Allen. Last week she graduated from Riverdale High School and last night she competed in her first show. At the other end was 76 year old Charles Johnson of Port Charlotte. This was hardly his first show, but the retired Army first sergeant made his return to the stage just seven months ago, after a thirty-five year absence.

First time competitor Kurt Keller decided to enter the physique category just three days ago. The 25 year old Naples resident was talked into competing by a friend who was already registered. Others like Maria Farmer of Cape Coral had competed before but were trying a new category. Farmer had previously competed in the figure class but opted for bikini this year.

While many were from Southwest Florida, other parts of the state were represented too. Katrina Van Orsdel travelled from Miami to compete for the first time and Natasha Julian came from Palm Beach Gardens for her second show. Rashetta German travelled the farthest of any competitors that this writer talked to, coming from Tallahassee to compete in her eighth show.

While some like Chris DeHanas of Fort Myers took home big trophies to show there win, others notched a win simply by being able to compete. Nine months ago, 21 year old Naples resident Mitch West was laying in a hospital bed after a motorcycle accident that resulted in two fractured vertebrae and both his lungs collapsing. Last night he walked out on stage for his first show.

There were first-timers like 24 year old Darryl Clements and veterans like 48 year old Guy Lameo, a veteran of nine shows. Kahrhon Bajlanpour wore a big wig and sunglasses to add some fun to his routine while Lusana Diaz worked on the details of her posing over and over while waiting for her turn on stage.

Just like the other years, the Fitness Examiner didn’t spend a lot of time concerned with who took home what trophy. The interesting part is the people, their dedication and the path they took to get to the contest.

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