BY JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer, New Jersey Paper
NORTH BRUNSWICK – Quarter turn. Double bicep. Relax. Quarter turn. Lat spread. Relax. Quarter turn. Side chest of your choice. Relax. Quarter turn. Side tricep. Relax. Favorite most muscular position. Pose down music.
Such simple instructions had much larger implications as a bodybuilding show, held by the North Brunswick Township High School Raider Robotix team on Saturday, raised over $2,000 to put toward the team’s expense account in hopes of traveling to Hawaii next year for a robotics competition.
The National Gym Association-sanctioned competition featured 25 amateur and professional bodybuilders competing at the Tier One Novice Class, Tier Three and Pro Qualifier levels. Kyle Poulsen, 22, of Piscataway, was a crowd favorite, placing first in the novice lightweight category during his first professional show.
“This was a local show. I was able to do it after being done with school now. It’s easier to concentrate now that school is over. It’s fun and there are good guys in the show,” said the former wrestler and current criminal justice/communication double major at Rutgers University.
Poulsen wakes up and does 100 pushups and situps before eating every two to three hours and lifting weights at the gym five times a week. He said time management has helped him succeed in bodybuilding and college.
“The same thing with school and bodybuilding, if you surround yourself with the right people and have a good support structure, then you can pretty much have the same things to be successful,” he said.
Stephanie Alicandro, one of three female competitors in the show, said that success in female bodybuilding relies on muscle tone, overall symmetry, proportionality, smooth and natural movements and a graceful smile. The 26-year-old U.S. Air Force member of eight years started bodybuilding about a year ago, influenced by the military to uphold proper physical fitness.
As a 5-foot-8 woman, she placed first in the tall category for women 5 feet 4 inches and taller. Out of the three shows she has competed in thus far, this was her first title.
“I love being up there, I love trying to better my body and be in the best health I can be. It’s a lot of fun. We all get together and make some good friends,” she said, suggesting that anyone interested in bodybuilding should hire a personal trainer and nutritionist.
Larry Cureton, a six-time world and international kickboxing champion and two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship quarterfinalist, made a special guest appearance at the show. The 47-year-old firefighter from Jersey City started doing karate when he was 14 years old and looked for different challenges as he grew older, eventually learning how to box and kickbox. His personal routine once began at 5 a.m., waking up to do roadwork, eat, weight train, eat, rest, box, eat, rest and then kickbox four days a week.
“Discipline and hard work can get you whatever you want,” he said. “I like the sport because it’s a sport where it takes a lot of discipline. It’s an individualized sport where what you put in is what you get out. Being around healthy people keeps you healthy minded.”
Since retiring in 2000, he has remained involved in the sport as a photographer for NPC Bodybuilding, although he focuses more now on motivational speaking and writing poetry. His first book, titled “A Life Experience: A Man’s View,” was published in March 2005, geared toward kids who love to listen to rap but sometimes ignore the message.
“If I’m talking the language, they listen. You take out the music and all they hear are the words,” he said.
The 6-foot-1, 290-pound former competitor approaches the subjects of drugs, peer pressure, individuality, violence and respect through his poems, hoping to teach children using his own real-life experiences. A poet since the age of 12, he is currently working on his second book for young women, since he grew up in a house of females and learned to “keep his eyes and ears open and his mouth closed.
“Knowledge means nothing if you don’t pass it on. If you don’t pass it on, nobody knows you have it,” he said.
There was also a health and figure expo featuring representatives from several area nonprofits, businesses and government agencies.
Although the robotix team didn’t seem too eager to sign up for next year’s competition, they said they were able to make connections between bodybuilding, which was an idea brainstormed by the students, to building robotic machines.
“We’re bringing together two completely different parts of society. It let’s us raise money and let’s the bodybuilders compete so we feed off of each other in that way,” Alexa Stott said.
“They build their bodies, we build our robots,” Kristian Calhoun added.
During the 2007 season, the team won the New Jersey regional and placed second in the Connecticut regional. They also received the General Motors Industrial Design Award and the Web Site Excellence Award. In 2006, Team 25 placed second in the world during nationals and were honored with the Chairman’s and Woody Flowers awards. They are also featured in the latest publication of “FIRST Robotix: Behind the Design” and have a rookie card designed by the publisher.
Their next fundraiser will be a car wash on June 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace Church on Route 130. A recreational soap-box derby will be held in New Brunswick on June 8, 9 and 10. Lego Camp will be hosted at the high school from July 9 to 27 for students entering grades six through nine. Brunswick Eruption 6, the Raider Robotix yearly robotics competition, will be held Nov. 3 at the high school.
For more information, contact Bev Stott at (732) 297-4933 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the team itself can be found at www.raiderrobotix.org.