by Scott Shetler
In 2013 a group of vegan physique athletes (bodybuilders, figure and physique competitors) who competed together at the 2013 Naturally Fit Super Show in Austin, TX to show the world what could be accomplished by following a cruelty-free diet. They only represented 10% of the competition, but came away with 40% of the awards. In addition to winning numerous 1st place and overall awards a few of their athletes even won their pro-cards!
2014 saw Team Plantbuilt heading back to Austin, TX to compete in the Naturally Fit Games, and they were even bigger, and badder with almost 3x the team members! 21 of the members were competing in bodybuilding and various physique competitions, 6 were competing in powerlifting, and 4 were competing in CF.
We ran a fundraising campaign a couple of months before going to Texas. Granted one of the reasons we compete together as Team Plantbuilt is to show people that you can accomplish health, fitness, and athletic goals while following a compassionate lifestyle, but above and beyond that we do what we do to support animal welfare. Our fundraiser was put together through Indiegogo and the plans were to donate the money we made to vegan non-profits, vegan-outreach, and most importantly animal sanctuaries specifically Pigs Peace, Edgar’s Mission, For the Animals, and Our Hen House.
Our fundraiser was a huge success and when it was all said and done, with all the effort from the 31 members of Team Plantbuilt, we had raised over $40,000.00! We could not have accomplished that in such a short time without the entire team’s dedicated effort and the support of our family and friends. Thank you all for supporting us in our efforts!
After the fundraiser was over we had a few weeks left before our meet up for the Naturally Fit Games in Austin, TX. We continued to do PR work for our team and all began peaking our individual training cycles for the competition.
After getting to Austin, the team met up in the middle of the week before the actual competition that was scheduled for Saturday, July 26. We spent the days prior to the competition having team meetings, doing photo shoots with two amazing photographers Melissa Schwartz and Donovan Jenkins, and interviews with vegan dietitian, Matt Ruscigno and his partner Sasha Perry who are doing a great series of documentaries on vegan athletes for their project called Strongest Hearts, which you can check out here: https://www.strongesthearts.org/.
The location of the official team events was at our teammate Chad Byers training center, Beyond Fit. Over the two days of team meetings we received all the amazing donations from our sponsors, including: Vega, Health Force / Warrior Force, Plantfusion, Vegan Proteins, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, Upton’s Naturals, Clean Machine, and more.
Saturday, July 26 was the day of the Naturally Fit Games. This was a huge fitness expo and competition with events ranging from bodybuilding and various physique competitions, to CF, powerlifting, MMA, jiu jitsu, weightlifting, roller derby and more.
Plantbuilt had athletes competing in the physique events, powerlifting, and CF. For many it was their first time competing. To say that Plantbuilt did well would be a complete understatement. The CF event was huge and extremely competitive. The powerlifting event had 125 lifters competing in different events. The bodybuilding and physique competitions had a huge turnout as well, but it seemed like Plantbuilt just kept winning!
By the end of the day the results looked like this:
CF – Wodapalooza
Amber Sperling – 2nd place women’s Rx
Carolyn Napier – 5th place women’s Rx
Ed Bauer – 12th place men’s Rx
Billy Prusinowski – 13th place men’s Rx
Powerlifting – USPA Simply Fit Championships
Sara Russert – 2nd place women’s open 123lb. class, and set Washington State records for squat, bench press, and deadlift; and an American record in the bench press
Kelly Colobella – 1st place women’s sub-masters 198lb. class, and set Utah State records for squat, bench press, and deadlift
Crystal Moulton – 1st place women’s open 148lb. class, and set Utah State records for squat, bench press, and deadlift
Mike Wolf – 1st place men’s open 242lb. class, bench press only
Jason Morris – 3rd place men’s open 198lb. class
Scott Shetler – 1st place men’s sub-masters 198lb. class, deadlift only
Bodybuilding / Physique / Figure / Model / Bikini / Transformation
Austin Barbisch – 2nd place men’s masters physique, 1st place men’s masters bodybuilding
Chad Byers – 2nd place men’s open physique
Christian Garcia – 3rd place men’s novice bodybuilding lightweight division
Giacomo Marchese – 4th place men’s open bodybuilding middleweight division
Dani Taylor – 1st place open figure tall division
Athena Iglesias – 2nd place novice bikini short division
Jehina Malik, IFBB PRO – did not compete
Korin Sutton, PRO – 1st place men’s open bodybuilding light-heavyweight division
Torre Washington, PRO – did not compete
Will Tucker, PRO – 2nd place men’s masters bodybuilding, 4th place men’s open bodybuilding lightweight division
Robert Cheeke – 6th place men’s open physique
Derek Tresize – 1st place men’s open physique *qualified for pro card!
Erin Fergus – 1st place open fit body, 1st place open women’s bodybuilding
Elana Priesman – 4th place in the transformation competition
Mindy Collette – 2nd place fit model search
Samantha Shorkey – 1st place open bikini tall division, and overall open bikini champion *qualified for pro card!
Ashlee Harrison – 1st place novice figure short, overall novice figure champion
Melissa Hauser – 2nd place open figure short division
Pam Kalstad, PRO – 4th place figure
Sally Andersen – 1st place novice figure tall division
Tiffany Burich – 3rd place open figure tall division, 3rd place open fit body
We wrapped up a long day of grueling competition at the Austin Convention Center by hitting Arlo’s Vegan Food Truck on the way back to the hotel to pick up a massive pile of plant-based burgers and fries to take back along with all of our trophies for our post-competition celebration. These were easily the best vegan burgers I’ve ever had! If you’re in Austin you need to make it a point to stop at Arlo’s Food Truck, you won’t be disappointed!
On Sunday we all headed back over to Chad’s gym, Beyond Fit, for our team after-party which started out with a vegan barbeque catered by BBQ Revolution. The food was amazing! After the lunch we were treated to a private performance by Stic.man from Dead Prez! Stic came out to Austin with his wife Afya, and son Itwella to hang out with the Plantbuilt crew at the expo on Saturday and donated a private performance and meet and greet for Team Plantbuilt and our family and friends who attended the after-party.
After the amazing food and performance, the team headed over to Austin’s kick ass vegan ice cream shop, Sweet Ritual for dessert. This was a great way to unwind and wrap up a long and busy week.
Finally Monday morning rolled around, and just like all good things the 2014 Team Plantbuilt event sadly came to an end. Way too much other cool and fun stuff happened this week, as would be expected when you put 31 like minded vegan athletes all working toward the same goal together for five days.
Bonds were formed, friendships were made, and team camaraderie was built. There was the infamous Giacomo pizza incident, the powerlifters having fun with forbidden foods at the bodybuilder’s expense, the Jason / Mike / Austin ammonia cap experiment, the knuckle bumps, the conversations, the pep-talks, the support, the chalky hand slaps on the back after the announcer said “the bar is loaded”, the selecting of the attempts, the personal records, the missed lifts, the weigh-ins, the spray tans, the asparagus-TONS of asparagus, the posing practice, Robert’s George W. impression, the Sara vs. Stic push-up challenge, the Scott vs. Austin posedown in the middle of sweet ritual, the numerous trips to Whole Foods, the powerlifters finding out what Sasha really thought of them, the post-weigh in donuts, Matt sleeping in the laundry room, the smiles, the tears, the hugs, the plans to get together at future events, and something about a junk sock.
Above and beyond all of this our teammate Austin Barbisch, after winning his bodybuilding division, summed it up best, “We don’t do this for ourselves, we do this for the animals who have no voice of their own.”
After everything was said and done one thing is certain, Plantbuilt will be back in Austin for the 2015 Naturally Fit Games; bigger, leaner, stronger, and ready to show the world that the only thing we kill is the stage.