A boom in bodybuilding on Prince Edward Island has allowed athletes to compete in their home province for the first time in 20 years tonight.
The Prince Edward Island Fitness and Physique Association is hosting the provincial championship at the P.E.I. Brewing Company to a full house.
Josh Rioux, president of the association, said the turnout has been overwhelming even for the pre-judging event held Saturday morning.
"At any show I've ever been to, usually prejudging is very low key. There's usually not much of an audience," he said. "It was really, really awesome for the athletes to come out on stage and not see any empty chairs. To be able to see so much interest for something that hasn't existed on P.E.I., it's been 20 years since there was a show here, it's really cool."
The event sees competitors face off in four classes; bikini, figure physique and bodybuilding championships.
The bodybuilders will also be competing to represent their province on a national stage. Depending on placements at the event, competitors can qualify for nationals.
Rioux said that having a competition in the province is a welcome change, with P.E.I. athletes previously having to go to New Brunswick in hopes of qualifying for the national competition.
"On one side of things you have all these travel expenses plus you're competing against a whole province you shouldn't have to go up against," he said. "And now that we have our own show, it's fair for New Brunswick as well because they don't have people coming over and taking their placings.
"This just puts us on an even playing field so we're on par with the rest of Canada."
Part of the momentum of bodybuilding on P.E.I. has been due to Samantha Rioux gaining her professional bodybuilding title at an International competition in Pittsburgh last year.
"We don't have a whole lot of pros in Canada anyway so to bring that back to the Island in the same year we're starting the association... I think really helped add to the whole movement," said Josh Rioux, who is married to Samantha.
Samantha, who is head judge for the event, will also be representing P.E.I. at the Toronto Pro Supershow on May 30.
International Federation of Bodybuilding pro Santana Anderson is the emcee for the evening. Anderson and fellow IFBB pro Leah Johnson will also be guest posing at the event.
The association will also be honouring Summerside resident Ernie Heckbert, 82, with a LIfetime Achievement Award. Heckbert has been statistically given the Canadian title as the oldest bodybuilder in Canada and has been pumping iron for more than 60 years.
Winners from Saturday's competition will be available at The Guardian's online edition Sunday.