Gym owners sweep the board in contests

First published in News by

TWO betrothed bodybuilders are officially among the best in the world following a frantic few weeks of competition.

New Mr England and Mr UK Barny Du Plessis lives with fiancee and fellow athlete Josie Keck in Lower Stratton. They own the Phoenix Gymnasium in Greenbridge Road.

Shelves there groan with the couple’s trophies. Most have been won by Barny, 38, during a bodybuilding career – he and Josie prefer the term ‘physical sculpture’ – of 20 years.

A sizeable number, though, belong to Josie, 39, a former Mars executive who began training in 2004 and was crowned the UK’s Strongest Woman in 2010.

Both compete in amateur categories, Barny as a heavyweight and Josie in a women’s discipline called physique, which emphasises body shape as well as muscle definition.

A recent international odyssey of competition saw Josie take eighth place in the Miss Physique category at the International Federation of Bodybuilders Arnold Classic in Madrid – the world championship.

Barny, meanwhile, entered seven competitions between September 7 and November 24, adding more accolades to his own collection.

“I’ve managed to stay in condition and hold muscle mass for all this time,” he said. “It’s a difficult thing to do because when you’re running on empty your body shuts down.”

Josie said: “He’s been like a robot – I’ve been having to feed him!”

Barny took first place in the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation West Midlands Championship in September, then 13th place in the Madrid international between October 12 and 14, and fourth in the IFBB/UKBFF British Championship on October 20 and 21.

That left him feeling he deserved better, and he resolved to compete in another federation, the National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association which is the organisation behind Mr Universe.

On October 28 he became NABBA’s Mr England, and five days later he took sixth place in his class in the NABBA Universe competition, which attracted a field from 33 countries.

The following day, Barny took first place in the National Athletic Committee’s Mr UK, and 20 days after that was placed sixth in the world at the NAC Universe competition in Hamburg, which attracted athletes from 35 countries.

The couple have their sights set on further competition, and Josie has also begun boxing, but they are as committed as ever to their gym. Its website is www.phoenix-gymnasium.co.uk.

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