HARKER HEIGHTS — Sporting wide smiles and confidence, about 60 bodybuilders strutted, posed and flexed as bass-heavy music bumped across the auditorium.
Harker Heights High School hosted the inaugural National Physique Committee Phantom Warrior Classic on Sunday.
Event organizer Shauna Anduze said sponsor Crossfit would donate 10 percent of ticket sales — $300 — to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that helps injured Afghanistan and Iraq veterans rehabilitate and reintegrate in civilian life.
Anduze also organized a 50/50 raffle for the nonprofit ABLE Foundation, which helps pay for handicapped people to participate in competitive bodybuilding competitions.
She estimated 550 to 600 spectators came throughout the day.
Grouped by gender and weight, contestants divided into categories of bodybuilding, fitness, figure, physique and bikini, and displayed 90-second flex routines.
“(The competition) is based on symmetry, conditioning, overall appearance,” Anduze said. “They judge on many criteria.”
Judges look for different attributes in different categories, Anduze said. For instance, judges reward wide shoulders and slim waists for figure contestants.
Judges commend upper body tone and development for physique contestants.
“They don’t want somebody who’s going to portray themselves as a bodybuilder,” she said. “They want someone who’s lean, athletic-looking, graceful and a little bit of attitude on stage.”
Physique contestant Andy Silva, 28, found bodybuilding after a tough break-up two years ago, and has consistently trained since.
“Unfortunately, it was an ex that also had a child, and we spent a life together for about two years or so,” he said. “When they both exited my life, it left me with a lot of time, a lot of resentment, a lot of heartache, so I buried myself in the gym in the beginning. ... When I look back on it now, I can reflect on it and say, ‘That’s a good thing. My life improved because of that.’ ... It’s been phenomenal, and I wouldn’t change the history now for anything.”
He cut weight for his second competition by eating fresh, unprocessed foods like sweet potatoes, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, fish and turkey, he said.
“Once you actually get started in that lifestyle and eating healthier, you feel a big change in your body.”
Retired nine-year Army medic Tricia Null competed in the bikini category.
“I had my son in March, and I started working out again. And I didn’t really have a goal,” she said. “So I decided to give myself a goal, and I wanted to compete at that point. I actually wanted to compete in fitness, but I don’t have the muscle composition yet.”
Teen physique competitor Michael Minjarez, 18, said walking on stage for the first time was nerve-wracking.
“I was up there by myself,” he said. “You break a sweat, definitely. I was never good at talking in front of people. I was never good about being the center of attention.”
But Minjarez wasn’t taking the competition too seriously.
“I had a blast going on stage,” he said. “We’re all thirsty, we’re all hungry. It’s definitely fun for not only me to go through it, but to see everybody else go through it with me. It makes it a lot easier.”