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Liana Rasa
by Luigi Causi


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Liana in competition.Let's face it. To the untrained eye, the typical female bodybuilder doesn't always look too different from the average, bikini-clad beach babe. It's often just a question of the athlete being slightly more muscular and, naturally, stronger. After all, those endless hours spent in the gym should count for something. There's a difference between fit and skinny, but when was the last time you saw two girls at the beach engage in a weightlifting contest? Then there are the stereotypes. For many people, the negative side of bodybuilding (anabolic steroids and other drugs) has, unfortunately, given the entire sport a bad name. That said, there's a special niche somewhere between the "hardcore" women whose physical development rivals that of the men, and the slender fitness models who could almost pass for beach bunnies. Liana Rasa fits neatly into this appealing in-between category --naturally muscular, athletically graceful, well-defined and unmistakably feminine. You don't get to look this good with the typical Italian girl's diet of coffee, pastries and pasta. Achieving something close to physical perfection takes dedication, willpower and self-confidence --especially when you're a full-time businesswoman and the mother of two teenage boys.

But Italy is not California. While Italians have done exceptionally well in the Iron Lady.Olympics in recent years, and while more Italian women are working out with weights than ever before, relatively few "average" Italians over the age of thirty-five actively excercise on a regular basis. Italian boys seem obsessed with football (soccer), but high school physical education programs still leave much to be desired. In a nation where most adults smoke at least a pack of cigarettes each day, and where most women's idea of exercise consists of riding the elevator from the lobby to the office, Liana belongs to a small but unique sorority.

Among Italians, women's bodybuilding is still viewed as a slightly eccentric pursuit, but Liana's generation of women (she's in her late thirties) is not the first one in Sicily to prefer this kind of activity. It is quite possible that women's bodybuilding was "invented" here. A mosaic in the ancient Roman villa at Piazza Armerina shows women working out with barbells and dumbells almost two thousand years ago.

What is it that makes an already shapely and attractive woman decide not just to get into better shape, but to do it better than anybody else, stepping up onto a stage to compete against twenty other women who've developed their bodies through serious exercise and a demanding diet? Each woman's response is different.

Liana, who owns a gym, explains that while everbody's natural potential is different, "almost any woman can improve her figure through weight training and proper diet. It's just a question of time and dedication."

Her own results are difficult to argue with.

About the Author: Luigi Causi writes about sports related topics. This article was translated from the Italian.

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© 2001 Luigi Causi