Friday, February 11, 2011
COLLEGE CLUBHOUSE: The Bod-Off
It's Friday, the world's most celebrated day of the week. It marks the end of a strenuous string of work days and offers hope and an escape from the harshness of reality. People are just happier on Fridays- whether you're looking forward to a fun-filled weekend or anticipating a relaxing night of unwinding on the couch, it's a day that has people everywhere thinking "T.G.I.F."
During the winter months in my college team's clubhouse, Friday meant another thing: Bod-Off.
The Bod-Off became a sacred institution at my school- a weekly team event that took place in the locker room immediately following our Friday lifts.
The Bod-Off tradition began as a result of some good-natured ribbing about which player had the worst body on the team. When the two most popular choices each refused to believe it was them, the debate was on. Naturally, there was only one way to settle the argument: the two must battle it out in a head-to-head flex-off.
Ahh, such humble beginnings.
What started off as an impromptu comparison of physiques eventually evolved into a full out extravaganza. Challenges, music, props, themes, specialty matches- our clubhouse turned into the setting of a WWF main event every Friday morning, before the rest of campus had even gotten out of bed.
As you can imagine, it took no time for us to change the format from whose body is worse to whose body is better- although, at times we did pay tribute to our origins and mix in a Bad Body Battle.
As ridiculous, and perhaps homoerotic, as it may sound, the Bod-Off became a major event for our team. During the dark winter months when no baseball is being played, it's easy to become complacent with your workouts and sleep walk through a mundane routine.
Bod-Offs gave a spark to our team's winter lifts. It's an event that brought us together, gave us a common interest, and instilled a sense of competition that carried over into our daily lifts and runs- an intensity level that some may not naturally attain at 6:00 AM.
Our team had a general meathead mentality in the weight room as it was, but on Fridays- things got serious. The two guys competing were pushing their limits and going as hard as they possibly could to ensure every muscle in their body was bulging come showtime. The rest of the team followed suit and got after it just as hard, looking to motivate their teammates and match their intensity, knowing full well a Bod-Off may loom in their own future.
Lifts ended at 7:30 AM, and the Bod-Off would begin around 15 minutes afterward. Guys would grab a shake and get settled into their seats in the locker room, making sure to get a good view of the "Stage."
For some reason, the lights in our clubhouse could never be turned totally off- there was always this one light that shined no matter what. Located conveniently in the middle of the room, this became our spotlight, offering a great blend of shadows and dim light that could make any average sized male look like an extra from 300. We had our own built-in airbrushing system- thank you for not fixing that light, maintenance staff!
After everyone gets settled in, it's time to start the show.
There is an emcee for every event, and he begins by asking the crowd if there are any challenges for next week. Some one will raise their hand, stand up, and challenge someone to next week's Bod-off.
People generally challenge someone of a similar body type- but there have been plenty of themed matchups, as well. We've seen best friends, personal rivals, pitchers vs. hitters, and even brother vs. brother go toe to toe for the title of Better Bod. We've had tag team events, triangle matches, and who can forget our annual Freshmen Battle Royale? Every week, we added a new and different chapter to the history of the Bod-Off, and everyone was looking to make their mark.
Once the challenge was accepted and the stage was set for next week, the crowd was going crazy and it was time to start the match.
Bod-off introductions took on a life of their own for these events. This was the emcee's opportunity to poke fun at the these two guys with absolutely no shame. Nothing was held back in these presentations, and, much like Kangaroo Court, the emcee was able to be as cruel and merciless as he wanted to be without consequence- as long as it was funny, the crowd loved it and the guys being introduced knew it was just part of the show.
The flexers stayed in the bathroom, often getting in extra pushups, until they heard their name called. When announced, they made their way to the stage one by one, accompanied by the blasting of their own walkout music.
Once they're both on stage, it's down to business. Each flexer has 30 seconds to show the crowd what they're made of, flexing and trying to highlight their strong areas as much as they can. Energy level is critical- you need to work the crowd and bring some excitement. Presentation is huge, as well- I've seen many a bod-off won by the underdog simply due to imagination and creativity. Bathrobes, European bathing suits, baby oil, the green mankini from Borat- we've seen it all.
After they've each had their 30 seconds, the crowd tributes Dance 360- remember that awful show?- and starts chanting "Head to Head! Head to Head!" The next half-minute is an all out battle, with the flexers matching muscle groups and exchanging finishing moves.
When that's complete, it's time to name a winner. Now there is no exact science here- I mean, is there any perfect way to judge who has a better body? Yes, there is.
Noise meter. Boom, the crowd doesn't lie. The emcee gets in one last shot at the flexers and then asks the crowd to make some noise for each. He then channels his inner "I Dream of Jeannie," and folds his arms in front of him. The top one reacts like the hand of a clock, moving up and down in relation to crowd noise- and with those precise calculations, the noise meter grants a champion.
The emcee announces the winner and holds his arm high. Last week's winner then hands him the Bod-Off Belt, to which his name will be added alongside those of past champions.
Music starts blasting again and the zombies who just rolled out of bed for their team's 8:00 AM lift walk past our clubhouse door wondering what the hell kind of rave is going on inside. As the rest of campus sleeps, our team is kicking off the start to a great weekend.
Say what you want about Bod-Offs. Sure, they're juvenile and vain- but that's how any locker room is. Our team rallied around this Friday morning tradition, and the best part is that every one bought into it. There were no cynics on the outside afraid to participate or being judgmental of what was going on- we were a team, and what we were doing didn't have to make sense, as long as we did it together and had some fun.
Bod-Offs became a weekly staple in our locker room, and even made their way outside the confines of the clubhouse to a few team parties and road trips.
It was a proud tradition for our team. It kept us competitive, made us focused during our lifts, brought us together as a unit, and produced countless great moments.
It's Friday. Do we have any challenges?