One-on-One with Corey Swiergosz Contest Promoter of the 2018 Vancouver Island Showdown
Q. You seem to live and breathe all things bodybuilding and fitness. As a national level Men’s Physique competitor, what made you get into promoting contests rather than competing?
A. When I was competing in shows myself, I would notice things that I thought could be done better. Instead of complaining about it, I decided to step on the other side of the stage and promote my own show. Combining my experience as an athlete with my experience promoting concerts when I lived in northern Ontario, I saw many opportunities to improve the quality of a show, increase athlete satisfaction, and provide better value for spectators and sponsors. So I presented a business plan on how I’d like to promote a show in Victoria with plans to have tons of sponsors, spectators, prizes, top-level guest posers, a quality venue, and a show that started on time and ran smoothly throughout the day. As they say, the rest is history!
Q. What was the first show you promoted and what was the experience like?
A. The first show I promoted was the Victoria Cup in August of 2015, which was the first time in over 20 years that a bodybuilding contest was successful in Victoria. Oddly, the most nerve-wracking part of the weekend was patiently waiting for Jose Raymond who runs on his own schedule! Sitting at the airport in Victoria, I was sweating buckets that he had gotten turned away at customs, as everyone else on the flight had picked up their luggage and left. He eventually came strolling out of the customs gates and I think I asked him if he had stopped to have dinner with the pilot after landing!
Q. What was it like to have Jose Raymond as the guest poser at your show? Any funny stories fans would enjoy hearing?
A. If you've ever had the opportunity to meet Jose you know he's got a big personality with a heavy Boston ascent. Working with him you have to take a more laidback approach and know that what needs to get done will get done. He won’t get worked up over anything and time doesn't really matter to him. He shows to whatever you need him for, make a couple jokes, and everything would be fine in minutes. A lot of people forget that Paulo Almedia, who had just gotten his IFBB pro status, also joined him on stage as a special guest poser and the two of them set the place on fire. There was an incredible amount of muscle on that stage and it really opened the eyes of everyone in the room about the different dynamics in bodybuilding. It gave many people a great appreciation for the 212 division as Jose has a very hard, mature, grainy, and thick physique, which was contrasted against Paulo who carried about 40-50 more pounds than he did. It was the classic case of a younger mass monster versus a veteran athlete like Jose. It was definitely a prime showcasing of bodybuilding talent.
With Jose, you always have a number of funny stories to share. The best took place in BHDQ 24 Gym between the morning and the night show as Jose was getting in his workout before guest posing in the evening. A competitor in the show came up to him and asked if he had any Cialis!? Jose chuckled at the guy and said, “What do you need that for, you'll end up with an erection on stage.” I guess this athlete ignored his comment and found some Cialis to make sure he got the best pump before stepping on stage. As the night show carries on, it’s his turn to get on stage, and as he turned to the crowd after hitting a rear double bicep, he was standing at attention for everyone to see! I saw Jose standing at the side of the stage, and I thought he was going to go into cardiac arrest from laughing so hard.
Q. What made you decide to choose Regan Grimes as your guest poser for the upcoming Vancouver Island Showdown?
A. When picking guest posers, I like to support athletes that are Canadian and just breaking into the industry. Regan is one of the bright stars in Canadian bodybuilding and I’m proud to help him build his name on the west coast. When we brought him out for the VanCity Showdown in 2016, it was actually his first time visiting the west coast. He put on an incredible show for the crowd there, and I know he’ll do the same in Victoria – a place he’s never been. Not only does he have a phenomenal physique, but he's a great poser and friendly with the athletes and spectators. One of the nicest guys in the industry, if you ask me.
Q. You switched from promoting under the BCABBA sanctioning to promoting under the Canadian Physique Alliance (CPA). What was your major reason for this change and how have you found it so far with the CPA?
A. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the people of the BCABBA – they gave me my start as an athlete as well as a promoter. The decision of switching to the CPA definitely wasn't an easy one and I consulted with a number of athletes, trainers, and other promoters. From my meetings that I had in the fall of 2017, I had a gut feeling that the industry was heading in the direction of the CPA. We all grow up reading the magazines and watching videos of the top IFBB Pro's on stage like Phil Heath, Jeremy Buendia, Chris Bumstead, Flex Lewis, Oksana Grishina, Nicole Wilkins, and Ashley Kaltwasser, all of whom are IFBB Pros. Giving athletes a path to one day have the opportunity to compete for a potential IFBB Pro card is something that really sealed the deal for me.
Q. The Vancouver Island Showdown is an Open Regional contest, what does that mean exactly and what does it qualify you for?
A. As an Open Regional contest this event allows you to compete with all athletes across Canada regardless of their background or history in the sport. By competing in this event, athletes will be qualified to compete in a Pro Qualifier event in 2017. Events take place at the Toronto Pro SuperShow in June, the Vancouver Pro Show in July, and the Canadian National Pro Qualifier in October.
Q. What would you tell athletes to look out for when choosing a show to compete in?
A. When choosing a show to compete in, I personally believe an athlete needs to ask themselves what they want to get out of a show. Each athlete goes into a show for different reasons, and values different aspects of the experience, but at a base level, here are some things I would tell athletes to consider:
Geography: Competing in your hometown is something that’s rare, not all athletes get this opportunity and when you move up in the ranks competing at home becomes much more limited. It’s also a great cost savings.
Family and friends: Competing isn't only about your final placing, it should also be about the people who you share that moment with. Having your friends and family around will make your experience that much more special and give you better memories to look back on later on in life.
Professionalism: How professional is the promoter, organization, staff, and volunteers? All of these people are important in putting on a good show and you want to be seen in the best light possible to show off your hard earned physique. Everything from poster design, websites, stage design, venue, lighting, sounds, etc.
Qualification: Whatever path you select for your fitness/bodybuilding journey, you'll want to make sure that the event will qualify you for the path that you'd like to take in the industry.
Your physique: Each organization and category has a different standard for the type of athlete that they will be awarding top prizes to. You will want to evaluate your own physique and find an organization that offers a category which fits with your current physique.
Q. What prizes will you be offering winners at your show this year?
A. We will be offering all overall winners of the open classes a Pro Qualifier Prize Package that will include two night hotel stay, entry fees for a 2018 Pro Qualifier Show, $100 gas gift card, and spray tan provided by Absolute Touch. We are paying it forward by helping these athletes cover the cost of competing in the upcoming Vancouver or Toronto competition in pursuit of their dreams. We will also have a number of prizes available from our sponsors for top placing’s. Prizes range from supplements, gym memberships, oil changes, and even teeth whitening! As an added touch this year, we have beautiful custom medals for the top 5 athletes in each category. These medals have been custom designed for this event and we know the athletes will be proud to receive these medals as a marker of their hard work.
Q. Is it true that all overall winners at The Vancouver Island Showdown will be published in Muscle Insider?
A. YES! This is an added bonus for all overall athletes in the show as they will get published in an upcoming magazine of Muscle Insider. Scott Welch and I have worked incredibly hard on a partnership that would see both Influential Sports Inc. and Muscle Insider come together to offer athletes this amazing media coverage and publicity before, during, and after the show.
Q. Tell us what fans have to look forward to at the venue?
A. The McPherson Playhouse is one of the most beautiful venues to host a bodybuilding show I have ever seen. It was built in 1914 for the performing arts, and the feeling you get inside the red and gold theatre is like stepping back in time. There is no bad seat in the house as the sight lines are great from both the main level as well as the balcony in this 772-seat venue. We will have an action-packed day of novice and open athletes competing with pre-judging starting 10 a.m. and the finals at 5 p.m. Throughout both shows there will be a number of sponsor booths in the lobby that will be sampling, selling, and offering promotions on their products. To date, we've confirmed a number of great sponsors including Fuel Supplements, Aloyd Fitness Equipment, Ceuticore Nutrition, 9 Rounds Kickbox Fitness, Absolute Touch, Mr. Lube, Iron Works, Mutant Supplements, PharmaFreak, Perfect Sports, Kersten Orthodontics, and Fatso Hybrid Peanut Butter, just to name a few.
Q. How do you decide who the judges for your contest will be?
A. Judges are selected by the CPA and handled through the head judge for the event - Ron Hache. Ron will select his judging panel and will be making the trip out from Ontario to oversee the show. The promoter has no part in the judging of the show or judge selection.
If athletes want photo packages, who will be taking these and where can I go to buy a package?
A. Rommel Ramirez from Ramirez Creative is the official front of stage photographer, and photo packages can be purchased in advance from his website: http://ramirezcreative.com/stage-photos-and-videos.html Additionally, Kelsey Goodwin from KGood Photo will be offering back stage glamour photo shoots, which can be pre-purchased by athletes from her website: http://kgoodphoto.com Photography packages can also be purchased at the Athletes Meeting the night before the competition.
Q. Who is the official tanning company taking care of that and how can competitors book their tan?
A. Absolute Touch is the official tanning company for the event. They have over a decade of experience with competition tanning across Canada, and they will be the only company tanning in the host hotel and at the event on show day. For more information and to book their services, athletes can visit: https://absolutetouch.ca
Q. Many people know you as a contest promoter and competitor but don’t know that you’re also a national sales manager for Kaizen Canada which is one of the top sports supplement companies. How has this experience made you a better CPA contest promoter?
A. From the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to bed, the fitness industry is truly all I think about. As the national sales manager for Kaizen Canada, it's allowed me to see all levels of this sport and understand what really matters to each person along the process. Having a transparent view of the manufacturers, distributors, brands, and consumers, I'm able to create an environment in which the athletes, spectators, and sponsors can all be happy with the outcome. In addition to that, it gives me the opportunity to travel the world and experience numerous tradeshows and expos. I take the best elements of all of them and infuse them into the regional shows that I'm promoting.
Q. Does a contest promoter have any influence over the judging of their event?
A. Not at all! The CPA handles all of the judging and awarding of placing’s. It's my job to provide a stage for the judging to take place on and the prizes for the athletes they select. I stay on the athlete’s side of the stage and leave the judging to the experts. CPA has a fair and transparent judging system that’s standardized nationwide so that athletes are judged fairy no matter where they’re located or how big or small a show is.
Q. What do you enjoy most about promoting contests?
A. For me, promoting a show is a celebration and a coming together of great people for one common goal of showcasing the sport we all love. I have a great team of people who work with me to put on these events and we all share the same goal of giving the athletes the best stage to compete on and to give spectators value for their admittance.
Q. There are many CPA shows happening in the Vancouver lower mainland including the Vancity Showdown which you’re promoting this fall. How have you found the Vancouver Island community has responded to having your show back in Victoria again?
A. The fitness community on the island has always been very supportive of everything that I've brought to the island. They’re extremely excited to have a local show back on the island. This is something that they've wanted and you'll see come show day how big the community on the island has grown since our last event in 2015.
Q. What else will be different this year versus the first show you did in Victoria in 2015?
A. Looking back now three years later, I know how my team and I have grown, and the quality of show we put on is even better than before. I think the athletes will really feel the local and corporate support before, during, and after the show. There are some amazing prizes to be claimed this year! The partnership with Muscle Insider has created this incredible opportunity for all overall winners to have a spot in an upcoming Muscle Insider issue, something many amateur athletes dream of.
Q. Where can athletes and sponsors go to find out more information about the 2018 Vancouver Island Showdown?