Obtaining a muscular body takes a lot of work – or at least it used to, according to Dominick Dibetta, promoter of the Central California Bodybuilding Physique and Bikini Championship.

“The bodybuilding culture has changed tremendously since I started. Everyone wants a microwave solution and an easy way to win contests so they resort to anabolic steroids,” Dibetta said. “In other words, they cheat their body to faster results, which has been giving the sport a bad name.”

According to Dibetta, using the “microwave” approach ends up ruining your health, and in some instances, causes you to die at an early age.

Dibetta, who was born in Italy and came to the U.S. at the age of 11, started lifting weights in eighth grade and won numerous state competitions, including Mr. California, Mr. San Joaquin Valley and Mr. Ironman, and went on to be a contestant for Mr. America three times and placed 10th.

“Some of the misconceptions about bodybuilding are that if you stop working out, your muscle will turn into fat, that you will be so musclebound that you can’t even scratch your back or that your muscles will be too tight that you can’t move,” Dibetta said. “The truth is that when you work out, you actually have more flexibility.”

Ilsa Gustafson, a 26-year-old production engineer and bodybuilder, said that the biggest misconception is that all bodybuilders take performance-enhancing drugs.

“This is not true,” Gustafson said. “There are plenty of natural bodybuilding organizations that screen for drug use and drugs are not necessary to compete.”

Gustafson, a natural bodybuilder, has been competing in the bikini division of bodybuilding for almost two years now. Gustafson said the challenge of bodybuilding is all mental and the key to being successful is remembering your “why” and focusing on your goals.

Dibetta’s recommendations include: joining a gym to gain access to a variety of equipment and starting to work out your entire body three days a week with 10 reps for each exercise using light weights. That, combined with good nutrition that includes protein, vegetables and fruits.

“If you do it the right way, it can give you a great body and help you maintain good health throughout your life,” Dibetta said.

Dibetta entered his last show when he was 60 years old. Now 71, the former gym owner said he has more time to promote and put on bodybuilding competitions like the sixth annual Central California Bodybuilding Physique and Bikini Championship on March 17 in the East Bakersfield High School auditorium. The competition is a steroid-free natural bodybuilding competition promoted by Dibetta and put on by the International Natural Bodybuilding Association.

“Bodybuilders are judged on posing ability, muscle size, symmetry and definition, along with presentation,” Dibetta said.

The competition, which is open to both men and women, starts at 9 a.m. for prejudging and drug testing with the evening show beginning at 6 p.m. This year, the competition will also host entertainment from dance schools and karate demonstrations.

For more information on how to be a contestant or a sponsor, contact Dibetta at 978-0150. 

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