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Jamaica Amateur Body Building and Fitness Association (JABBFA) President Audrey Allwood is pleased with what she says is a new outlook on women’s fitness physique locally, and how more women are now embracing bodybuilding.

This year’s staging of Jabba’s National Championships saw 53 women competing, more than double the 26 who completed two years ago. Allwood, a former bodybuilder herself, told The Gleaner that creating new categories for women, allowed for a change in the perception that the sport is just for women many would describe as masculine in appearance.

“In my time when I used to compete, especially overseas, the girls were very, very muscular,” she said.

“Women were more muscular than now. They were trying to change that. That is why they came in with the Body Fitness category. It’s in-between bodybuilding and bikini fitness.

“A change is there. It’s no longer just that women were bodybuilders, like when I was one. Even now, bodybuilding isn’t really called bodybuilding anymore for women, it’s called “Women’s Physique”. The ladies pose a lot different now. The women do a lot more flaring in their poses.” 


Kristen McGregor, a 100 and 200m sprinter and rugby union player-turned-bodybuilder won the Best Figure category at the Championships. She said that she was always known as a tomboy but said she was pleasantly surprised at the reaction she received when she went on stage.

“One of the judges said to me, ‘Number 74, I’ll never forget you,’” she said. “The grace on the stage was totally different. I will never forget all that.

“My coach couldn’t recognize me. My coach who has been there with me all three weeks was like ‘Where is McGregor?!’

“After all that make-up and the weave and the heels (I looked completely different).”

But Allwood said that having muscles has now become what she describes as “sexy” to many women because they have realized that there are various feminine muscular body types.

“It is a very feminine thing,” Allwood said. “If you notice now where the world is going in fitness, everyone wants to look good, everyone wants muscles. I remember when I used to train, nobody wanted muscles. The women were like ‘No, I can’t lift up a 10lb dumbbell, I will get too tough,” she joked.

“Nowadays, everybody wants to lift this heavy weight because they want that muscle because the muscles look so good now.”

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