PHILADELPHIA – The Ivy League is better known for its smarts than for its brawn. But on Nov. 11, a few University of Pennsylvania students with the combination of intelligence and solid physiques will compete in the Ninth Annual Mr. and Ms. Penn bodybuilding competition.
Started in 1994 by assistant women's track coach Tony Tenisci, the Mr. and Ms. Penn competition has become the hot ticket on campus. Used as a fundraiser for the women's track team, the contest typically sells out before the doors open. This year the event will be held at Penn's Annenberg Center.
The contest, open only to Penn students, also serves as an educational opportunity for the participants. Since many of the competitors are novices in this sport, Tenisci, with the help of bodybuilding professionals, directs clinics prior to the show to help prep the participants in a variety of fundamentals, such as diet, workouts and posing.
"This journey that these young people go through is phenomenal to their learning because much of what's learned here is learned through the experience," Tenisci said.
Though bodybuilding may seem like an individual sport, Tenisci encourages the teambuilding that goes on behind stage during these competitions.
"It's not like they go off and do their own thing like a gladiator," Tenisci said. "Each weight group gets very involved in the preparation."
The increasing number of women participants impresses Tenisci.
"The women, who were originally a small group, are very empowered in this," he said. "I'm receiving a tremendous amount of interest from young women who want to be involved."