Whitehorse rockers flex their muscles in Fort St. John

Speed Control must be the fittest band in the territory. Guitarist and vocalist Graeme Peters describes the trio as rockers by night, bodybuilders by day.

Speed Control must be the fittest band in the territory.

Guitarist and vocalist Graeme Peters describes the trio as rockers by night, bodybuilders by day.

“When we started to tour, we noticed it’s kind of hard to stay in shape as a rock ‘n’ roll band if you’re on the road all the time,” said Peters. “So we started working out in gyms and started to get more buff and as a joke we were like, ‘We should enter a bodybuilding competition.’”

What started as a joke, eventually became reality.

The Whitehorse band, which includes Jody Peters on bass and vocals and Ian March on drums, entered the British Columbia Amateur Bodybuilding Association’s Northern Classic in Fort St. John on Saturday.

“That was an experience, that’s for sure,” said Jody. “About a year ago we made the decision, let’s be in a bodybuilding show, and about three months ago the reality set in – holy cow, we only have three months! About five weeks out we really started our super-serious prep.

“It’s a whole different world because everyone is so focused on bringing their best muscle to the show and here comes this rock ‘n’ roll band that’s used to running around on stage. Like, let’s lose some weight, get spray-tanned and run around in a Speedo.

“It was a little crazy but it was a ton of fun and we learned a heck of a lot.”

“We’ve all been super into fitness for the last three or four years, we just decided, why not,” said March. “It was a good experience. If I had to do it again, I totally would, and I learned a lot about fitness and bodybuilding.”

The muscled musicians were represented in two divisions at the Northern Classic.

Graeme placed sixth and brother Jody seventh out of seven competitors in the men’s middleweight division.

“We were definitely not as big as the people who were in it,” said Graeme. “It was our first time … But the other people in that class have been doing this for five or six years and they were all impressed by us in our first year of participating.”

Towering at six-foot five, March would be at a disadvantage in a bodybuilding competition that splits divisions by weight. So he went in a physique category for men above 5’10” and took sixth place out of seven.

“I’m happy with it,” said March. “It’s our first competition, so I didn’t really go into it with any expectations of winning or anything.

“In physique, you kind of just stand there and try to look as good as possible,” he said with a chuckle.

Graeme put his rock ‘n’ roll stage presence to good use. The 32-year-old managed to pull off a second place finish for Best Posing, a segment of the competition done to music.

“I went out and basically did a rock star (routine) with flying Vs and lunging and stuff like that,” said Graeme.

From the sounds of it, Graeme had the most dramatic about-face to get to where he is. Three years ago he was more of a Keith Richards than an Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“For the first couple tours, if we had a day off, I was very content to get a 12-pack of beer, sit around a campfire, play guitar and smoke,” said Graeme. “When Ian and Jody joined the band they had this intervention with me.

“Jody and Ian are fitness guys and I was going to drop them off at the gym. ‘I’ll drop you off, go have a beer and will come back and get you.’ They basically ripped me out of the van and said, ‘You’re going to learn how to work out.’ That was about three years ago.”

A year later things got knocked up a notch thanks to a late-night infomercial. Jody’s wife, Bethany, bought the P90X – or “Power 90 Extreme” – work out videos, which sparked an interest in bodybuilding.

Then a year ago the band did some research to find where the closest competition would be and, bingo, there was one a short 16-hour drive away in Fort St. John.

“We were all joking we were going to register and then we did it,” said Graeme. “We paid the money and then looked at each other and went, ‘Uh oh, now we have to do it.’

“So for the last six weeks we’ve been shredding our bodies and eating healthy. We got down to minimal body-fat percentages, put on our Speedos, got spray tanned and went into the Fort St. John bodybuilding competition. It was awesome.”

The rockers didn’t have a coach or nutritionist while they trained, but they did get some help from the territory. They bagged a bison while hunting, “so we had really good protein,” and Riverdale gym Peak Fitness gave them free memberships.

“Peak Fitness is an amazing gym. They actually gave us free memberships there because they know, as aspiring musicians, money is always tight,” said Graeme. “A free membership at a local gym is a big help and they are very supportive of us.”

As if being musicians and bodybuilders was not enough, they are also educators. In addition to touring seven months a year, Speed Control performs history of rock ‘n’ roll shows called “Rags to RAWK” at schools during the winter. They also host rock ‘n’ roll kids camps, which they will be doing across the country this summer, including one in Whitehorse next month.

“It’s kind of a triple threat thing,” said Graeme. “We’re educators, rock stars and now we’re bodybuilders, I guess.”

The band, whose sound has been compared to Nirvana and early The Police, are currently finishing up their third album that they plan to release this fall.

If you would like to hear Speed Control flex some musical muscle, they have some upcoming Yukon dates. They are playing Arts in the Park in Whitehorse’s Lepage Park the evening of June 3, and The Pit in Dawson City June 5 and 6. More information can be found on their website at speedcontrol.ca.

“We were competitive; we had nothing to be ashamed of,” said Graeme. “We were right there in the running. I think that speaks for our work ethic.

“We know more about it now so we’re in it to win it now. We’re doing this again. I’ve already been to the gym a couple times this week trying new workouts and pushing my body to the extreme.”

“Everyone was super nice,” added Jody. “I find people doing bodybuilding have the reputation of being a mean meathead in the corner grunting, but everyone was really nice, really welcoming.”

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