As the Arnold Worldwide Tour proceeds, so does our journey traveling along with IFBB pro and 6 Pack ambassador Ryall Graber. Catch up on the origin of her global summer plans, as well as her first stop at the Arnold Classic in Columbus. In the third part of our series, we get a peek into Ryall's exciting third-place finish at the Arnold Classic in Australia!
Pro fitness, short for professional fitness, is new to the Australian division of the Arnold Classic. Pro figure, pro bodybuilding, and pro bikini were all represented last year, and Australia was already home to a thriving amateur fitness scene, but this was the country's first pro fitness competition ever, which Ryall found to be a great addition to the finals.
As for Australia, Ryall's first visit to this singular country was everything she could have hoped for and more. "The quality of the food, even in the standard grocery stores, was amazing," Ryall said. She even tried a local protein source: kangaroo! She found it to be a bit gamey, and not at all like beef, but quite lean and nutritious. With such plentiful access to organic produce and fish markets – and her Renee Tote to cart it all around – staying on nutritional track proved to be an especially refreshing breeze.
For Ryall, the importance of being present, conscious, and appreciative is a large part of the reason she embarked on this global fitness adventure to begin with. But taking the time to reflect on her experiences – as well as capturing them in photos and sharing her story with the world – is also important to her.
Even those who are familiar with the Arnold Classic and bodybuilding may not know exactly what goes into a pro fitness routine, much like the newly-introduced Australian crowd. The pro fitness competition typically consists of two rounds: a physique round where athletes' bodies are scored and a routine composed of a two-minute performance. The routine must contain five compulsory skills decided by the Arnold committee; each performer puts their own unique spin on it through choosing an overarching theme, simply wearing a costume, and/or employing the particular skill sets honed by their individual backgrounds – cheerleading, dance, or, in Ryall's case, gymnastics.
"It was an awesome show. The crowd was on fire."
"It's essentially two minutes of back-to-back movement," Ryall said. "Imagine standing still and doing bodyweight squats for two minutes. That's a long time. It's intense. We're doing push-ups, tumbling, hand balancing. At the end of my routine, I do a one-arm, one-leg push-up." The challenge is to actually have the necessary strength and endurance to get through the experience; in addition, however, Ryall also stressed the performance aspect, which can be more or less extravagant, depending on each performer's background. "The dancers, for example, are amazing performers on the tour," Ryall elaborated. "We all bring different aspects. Our personalities shine through in our routines to make each one completely different." The friendships made and developed through pursuing professional fitness and performing at the Arnold is easily one of the overall highlights for Ryall. "All of the women are fiercely competitive and there to win, but a really strong camaraderie naturally develops because we've all been doing this together for years," Ryall explained. She points to the palpable sense of respect when they all get together, a mixture of attitudes: may the best competitor win, but may everyone also have the best performance they've ever had.
"It's like a gymnastics routine on Red Bull."
The ability to inspire, motivate, and connect with not just other women performing, but also women, men, and even children all over the world, makes this opportunity even more incredible for Ryall. "Thanks to the IFBB and the Arnold, we're in the midst of a fitness revolution. It's so exciting to be a part of this as an individual athlete, because it's greater than just the competition," Ryall added.
"It feels like we're a team even though this is an individual sport, and I love that."
Want even more of Ryall's infectious enthusiasm for fitness and nutrition in your life? We're not surprised. Check her out on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and her website! Don't forget to come back for part four, where we'll get to hear all about Ryall's performance in beautiful Brazil!
"I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing – that's the coolest part of all of this. I don't know how long it's going to last, but I'm enjoying every second."