I was recently asked what advice I would give to someone who is interested in competing in a fitness, figure, or bikini contest. Since I’ve only been in one competition, I am no expert by any means, but I’m always happy to share my opinion!
1. Pick your coach:
Whether you decide to use an online service or an in-person coach, it will be EXTREMELY helpful to have someone guide you through this journey! For me, I was so glad to be part of Cathy Savage Fitness when I competed for the first time. My coach was able to help calm my nerves, motivate me to continue, and give me some insider advice that I never would have found on my own. Make sure your coach is familiar with helping to build the physique you are seeking for your competition, whether that’s a figure physique or a bikini physique. They will know what to tweak with your diet and exercise to give you the look you are going after!
Here are some resources you might want to look into:
2. Decide on your goal:
Once you have a coach, he or she will assess your current physique and will be able to give you an idea of how long you’ll need to train to be ready for a show. If your coach thinks you can be ready in 12 weeks, then find a show happening in 12 weeks and register for it, baby!! Once you’ve paid your registration dues, there’s no turning back
Maybe your long-term goal is to compete, but your short-term goal is to improve your leg strength, or to be able to do unassisted pull-ups, or to run a 5k. That’s great! Plan out those mini goals and work towards them, while keeping your long-term goal of competing in mind. It’s OK if it takes a year to be ready for your show; you gotta start somewhere!
3. Pick your federation:
Again, this is something your coach can help you with. You don’t have to be “married” to one federation, but you’ll want to pick the federation that seems right for you. I chose the Fitness New England show for my first competition (part of the Fitness Universe federation) because I felt it wasn’t overly sexy and it seemed like it would be a fun experience for a first-timer. And I was right! Choose a federation and show that you feel will be the right fit for your personality and experience level.
Here are a couple of federations you can look into to get you started:
4. Buy your suit!
OK, so you’ve registered for the competition and you’ve started your training – now BUY YOUR SUIT ASAP!!! And I’m serious, as SOON as possible! I ordered my suit at the beginning of February and received it the week before my show at the end of April – talk about nerve wracking!!
The category you are competing in will have specifics as far as what kind of suit you should wear. I competed in the bikini category, so my suit was a typical bikini style. I “blinged” it out myself to save some money. Suits can range in price from the hundreds to thousands of dollars, so you’ll want to find a quality suit that’s within your budget.
If you have some weight to lose, you can tell the suit designer how much you are planning to lose, and they should be able to design with your end physique in mind.
Also, there are resources where you can rent or buy used suits. I know that may seem weird, but they are so darn pricey that it’s a really good idea. And in my next life, I’m coming back as a figure suit designer so I can make some serious $$!
5. Get a support system:
Don’t go in on this alone! Whether it’s a family member, a spouse, a friend, or a workout buddy, find someone who you can talk to about your fitness journey. I’m telling you, it’s ALL you will want to talk about once you’re involved in your training. I tend to be a pretty laid back person, but I was eating, sleeping, and breathing my competition prep for weeks! Fortunately my husband is da bomb dot com and didn’t get too annoyed with hearing me endlessly drone on about my training regimen, my diet, my food prep, etc. etc.
…..OR, start a blog!! Document your journey – it will be so fun to look back on all you accomplished along the way! Plus you’ll connect with blog friends, who are the best kind of support <3
6. Check-in regularly:
I checked in with my coach Brooke every week for the 12 week s leading up to my competition. It kept me honest and it was great to look back and see the changes week to week in my physique from my check in photos.
7. Don’t beat yourself up:
Don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in this whole experience. I know, easier said than done. But there will be times when you slip up. You might miss a workout or eat half a jar of almond butter (ha!) or not put 100% into your cardio. It’s.OK.I.promise. Just get back on that horse and keep progressing towards the finish line.
I remember when I first started training, I was really doubting the whole process. I felt flabby and weak and just bleh and truthfully didn’t think I was going to be ready in time. That’s when Melissa from Curly Girl Fit Life said, “I don’t know how the magic happens, but it does. Somehow everything comes together at the last minute.” And she was totally right! And that leads me to my last tip:
8. Smile and have fun!
OK, here’s the only reason I can possibly fathom that I ended up placing in the top 10 at my first competition…because about 2 seconds before I walked out on that stage, I had a realization: “I’m here to have fun!! I put the work in, I’m here, and now it’s time to enjoy the ride!” I stepped out on the stage in those clear heels and had a fabulous time, and I guess maybe the judges saw how much fun I was having, too.
After all the hard work and sweat and tears you’ve poured into your training, smile and be proud of your transformation. Those judges and that audience will read it on your face and will see the confidence behind your smile. You earned that time on stage so work it, baby!!
I hope this post is a help to anyone thinking of competing. If you are, let me know what your plans are…I’d love to cheer you on!!