The art of muscles, tendons

Barbara Lawlor

Local resident Michael Robillard will be on stage this weekend. He is not acting. He is not singing. He is not competing in any kind of team sport. Robillard is heading to the Colorado Rocky Mountain Championship for bodybuilders.
He will be clenching muscles all over his body, showing their sculptured flow from limb to limb, across his torso and from his shoulders to his rib cage to his six-pack. He will be sprayed with gold makeup and wear a tiny bathing suit. He will be trying to keep his face relaxed while every bit of his strength goes into pushing the muscles to their max. He will be competing against other bodybuilders who will be lined up with him, doing the same poses.
Robillard, 46, has won numerous bodybuilding titles including first place in the 2007 Northern Colorado Bodybuilding, Form and Figure Championship and two first places in 2010. After taking a break he is back in the saddle again, ready to demonstrate what a finely tuned body can look like.
It all began with Oksana in San Antonio, Texas. Robillard was 16 years old and wanted a date with Oksana, but in high school it was the big, muscular jock guys who got all the dates, so he began to work out and soon working his body became habit.
After high school, Robillard attended Baylor University where he studied economics and eventually became a process consultant with a commercial software company. At 33, he realized he was putting on some substantial muscle and looked into competition. His first step was visiting Frank Zane, Mr. America, Mr. World and three-time Olympian champion bodybuilder in California.
“We went to a San Diego gym located in a basement where he kept his trophies. We worked out all weekend and at the end of it he took a picture and told me I should be competing.”
Zane also told Robillard to pay attention to his diet and to work harder and be more consistent. When he isn’t about to compete, Robillard works four to five days a week. When he is competing, he is in the gymnasium seven days a week.
His first competition was the Tennessee State Competition in front of the National Physique Committee. “I was nervous. I even asked how I could get it out of it. I had to wear these tiny trunks posing and looking happy, so I practiced by going to the YMCA. It was very uncomfortable. I had to ignore the stares and rude comments as a rehearsal for the stage.”
Robillard got over his stage fright and three years later as he looked in the mirror he saw that his shoulders had shape and that the transition was beginning. After years of work, his muscle formations began sticking out even with a shirt on. When a guy told him he could see the muscles moving down his back, he amped up the workouts.
In his work-related travels, he became uncomfortable with the stares he received from strangers. Eight years ago, Robillard and his wife, Julie, son Aaron and daughter Willow moved to Nederland where he began training at the 8240 health club. “Here, we’re all just here. In Nederland I don’t stick out. I am doing something right.”
After Robillard won two first places two years ago, he didn’t feel like competing again, but now he is at his peak. The competition on Saturday is his first. He will be accompanied by his family. When he first began competing, he imagined the place would be filled with young people and girlfriends, and was surprised to find it was more of a family event, wives and children supporting their husband or their dad.
When Robillard arrives he will enroll in the 46 to 50 age category. There are usually about 10 athletes competing against each other. They all have mandatory poses: front and back double biceps; front and back lat spread; side triceps shape striated and side chest as well as muscular variations of abdomen and thighs.
Each pose is ranked and counted and the competitor is placed in a class. In the evening, the public watches these poses set to music. Later all the first place winners compete for the overall championship.
Robillard said that winning is the extra prize and the frosting on the cake. The places are all relative. A first-place win sometimes is not as satisfying as a fifth-place win when the competition is top notch. Often it depends on who shows up and on who you stand next to. The prize is a trophy or qualifying for the next event.
Robillard is emphatic about never becoming a professional. He said the pros inevitably go to the steroids and the drugs. Its use is rampant in professional bodybuilding. He believes in eating well and living a healthy lifestyle. He is grateful for the Fitness Place at the Nederland Community Center and said he was surprised at the quality of the equipment.
“I like hanging out with the local people and talking to those who go there for rehab.”
Robillard tells people interested in bodybuilding that they must have internal motivation, a healthy diet and not to waste money on supplements. He tells locals to make good use of the gym that is available to them.
“After all, where else can you join in a basketball game, lift weights and then go to a movie, all in one place?”