Bronzed muscles, sequins and poses jostled for the judges' attention in a bid to qualify for this year's national competition.
The 2013 Top of the South Classic body building competition saw 34 contestants from around the country baring all to a crowd of 300 in Nelson at the Theatre Royal on Saturday.
Classes in the competition, run by the National Amateur Body Building Association and the World Fitness Federation, ranged from physique women, figure women, physique men, athlete men to novices, glamour models and open classes.
David Lowe, Paula Fernley, Nate Williams and Nicola Bailey won overall prizes for their respective categories.
Nelson's Mr Lowe said today he was "pretty stoked" to win the overall athlete, figure category. He was surprised at the result because the level of competition was high and he thought "the other guys were way better".
Area event organiser Mark Anderson said it was one of the best competitions he had seen.
"There was a great sense of camaraderie backstage between the contestants. It's really getting better and better every year."
All contestants were required to complete a 90-second routine and set of poses before the judges.
Mr Anderson said the presentation required a huge amount of practice and physical preparation.
It could also be a costly business, he said. Despite the scant nature of the costumes, prices ranged from $200 to $1000.
"You aim to try and accentuate the physique as best as possible; usually there are quite a lot of sequins. It's about making the body look as best as possible," he said.
Tanning was vital for competitions of this nature, he said.
"You don't want to look washed out on stage. The darker you are under the lights, the better your muscle definition will be."
For $100, contestants will apply two coats of base tanning liquid lotion a day before performing. Contestants will then apply a top coat over the body the day of the competition, he said.
"We don't use sun beds anymore and, of course, it's a lot safer, now."
"But you can't skimp on the presentation. A bad tan and a poor suit can cost you the competition."
The four overall winners will compete for this year's national competition which will be held in Auckland on October 5.
From there a team will be chosen to compete in the Universe competition in Britain.
- The Nelson Mail
Does Nelson deserve to be classed as a city?Related story: (See story)