Early Icon of Female Muscularity, Pioneer of Girls’s Bodybuilding Lisa Lyon Passes Away


Lyon broke obstacles for ladies’s physiques.

Within the Seventies, many ladies had been nonetheless reluctant to carry weights on account of its affiliation with closely muscled physiques. However in 1979, together with her win on the very first Worldwide Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB) ladies’s bodybuilding contest — the World Professional Bodybuilding Championship — Lisa Lyon helped to supply a template for muscular, aesthetic, self-empowered ladies.

Whereas that inaugural competitors was Lyon’s solely look on a aggressive stage, she would go on to attract consideration together with her physique in mainstream tv and film retailers, in addition to modeling for inventive photographers together with Helmut Newton and Robert Mapplethorpe. Sadly, on Sept. 8, 2023, Lyon died of most cancers at age 70.

Bodybuilder Lisa Lyon posing on stage
Credit score: Nice Physiques / YouTube


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After her preliminary foray into bodybuilding, Lyon authored a e book to information ladies towards weight coaching — “Lisa Lyon’s Physique Magic” — earlier than transitioning into non-athletic shows of her bodily prowess. She was featured in a number of comparatively low price range movies earlier than changing into a constant muse to artists, most notably the controversial American artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

Within the early Eighties, Mapplethorpe took greater than 100 black and white images showcasing Lyons’ eye-catching physique. His work introduced her then-uncommon muscularity in quite a lot of dramatic, generally provocative, poses. The gathering of artwork culminated in a broadcast e book, “Woman, Lisa Lyon.”

Lyon’s hanging determine additionally impressed comedian e book author and artist Frank Miller in 1981 to create the athletic and formidable character Elektra. A local Californian and common of bodybuilding hub Gold’s Gym, Lyon finally struck up a friendship with bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Bodybuilding Lisa Lyon flexing arm and shoulder muscles wearing dress
Credit score: Don Giannatti / YouTube


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For her achievements in serving to to deliver myth-busting consideration to the advantages of weight coaching for ladies whereas redefining the idea of feminine muscularity, Lyon was inducted into the IFBB Corridor of Fame in 2000. In a brief video documentary launched in 1987, “Lisa Lyon: A Portrait of Energy,” she described her strategy to coaching as a driver of aesthetic exhibition.

“… After I go into the fitness center, I’ve all the time outlined myself as an artist. I’m speaking about redefining my very own physique and my very own picture. Not only for myself, however as an artwork and product. As one thing that I’ll then current, aesthetically, to the general public. In order that’s my idea of resculpting my physique, of making a completely totally different picture of lady.

What I would love for individuals to do once they see me posing on stage is to say, ‘What planet did that come from? What sort of animal is that?’ To transcend their concept of what a lady is, past their definition of what a human is. To make them query, by means of my work, their very own ideas of themselves, their very own limitations of the flesh.

When you’ve got this type of physique the place you’re capable of do what you need, the place you’re capable of be extra sensual, the place you’re extra succesful, you’re capable of change into a greater survival machine redefining your self as an animal on this planet. And on the identical time, to current a really classical aesthetic. To simply current one thing that I contemplate is gorgeous.”

As per an announcement from Lyon’s household, donations could also be made to the Lisa Lyon Fund at StandUpToCancer.org/LisaLyon, which advantages most cancers analysis and therapy.

Featured Picture: @this_is_bodybuilding / Instagram

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