AP PHOTOS: Israeli bodybuilders compete in annual flex-off

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant exercises backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant exercises backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants get ready backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv,

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants get ready backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv,

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant flexes for the judges during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Av

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant flexes for the judges during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Av

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants have their body painted backstage  during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competiti

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants have their body painted backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competiti

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant has his body painted backstage  during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant has his body painted backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants get ready backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv,

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants get ready backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv,

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv, Israel. In

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv, Israel. In

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants participate in the final round during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition i

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant exercises backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, a contestant exercises backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition in Tel Aviv

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, contestants wait for their performance backstage during the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competi

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, Or Magdasi of Tel Aviv, holds his trophy after winning the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competit

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 photo, Or Magdasi of Tel Aviv, holds his trophy after winning the National Amateur Body Builders' Association competit

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Dozens of glistening competitors took the stage for an annual body building and fitness competition in Tel Aviv last week. But behind the scenes, machismo made way for cooperation.

Just short of 80 contestants participated in 14 categories at this year's Israel's National Amateur Body Builders' Association competition.

Backstage, the mood was one of camaraderie. In the run up to the flex-off, Jews and Arabs, male and female, young and old from around the country, worked together ahead of the big show.

"There is no politics whatsoever in the sport," said Yoni Hanna, president of the Israeli chapter of the National Amateur Body Builders' Association.

Exhausted from weeks of strict dieting and last-minute exertions, the muscle-bound athletes primped, painted and prepped before taking the stage. Some waited over eight hours for their chance to strut their stuff before the panel of judges.

This year's men's winner, 25-year-old Or Magdasi of Tel Aviv, beamed, veins bulging, as he lifted his trophy. Isabell Svatovich was awarded her second consecutive championship in the competition.

Magdasi will get a shot at representing Israel at the 2019 Mr. Universe competition in the United Kingdom.

Hanna, also a former Mr. Israel, says there has been growing interest in fitness and body building in Israel in recent years, and that turnout at this year's competition far exceeded expectations.

___

Follow Oded Balilty on Twitter: https://twitter.com/obalilty and on Instagram: https://instagram.com/odedbalilty .