So you want to do a fitness/physique competition- things to consider before doing so.
There is no doubt that the fitness industry has grown dramatically over the years. In particular, the growing trend of female and male competitive fitness (more commonly known as bodybuilding). According to the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB), there are now over 2,000 shows and events worldwide every year; in addition, bodybuilding.com’s women’s vertical reportedly saw growth of over 150% last year. The sport itself — and its desired body types — has continued to change over time.
It has been exhilarating for a passionate natural bodybuilder like myself to see this sport grow and flourish, however, I still hold a strong belief that there are certain things that a potential competitor really needs to consider before thinking of beginning a contest preparation or stepping on stage. The decision to prepare for your first can be an extremely rewarding journey as long as you are aware of the realities and plan ahead for these.
What’s motivating you to compete?
Before you commit yourself to a long contest preparation and the demands of such, its important to really consider why you are choosing to compete in the first place. Is it to fit into the “trend” because “everyone is doing it” or because you want to get on stage to prove something, because those aren’t the reasons that are going to lead you down the path of a fulfilling contest preparation and experience. Competing will be a complete lifestyle change and you will have to embrace it 110%. You have to consider the diet restrictions, workouts, mindset, and impact it will have on your current lifestyle.
Are you currently in a healthy place physically / mentally / emotionally to take on a preparation?
You should be in the spot to take on the challenge of the contest preparation physically as it is a major component. However, the mental and emotional well being of competitors is often over-looked. This can lead to negative self-esteem issues and negative food relationships if not approached and managed the right way. Often competitors already have bad relationships with food, disordered eating, and bad self-image. The pressures of prep may heighten these problems so its important to recognize this before and especially let your coach know.
What’s the Goal at the End?
When deciding to compete you should know why you want to compete, but also what you are aiming to achieve as a result of competing. Bodybuilding is a subjective sport and I have often seen many competitors finding it extremely difficult to accept negative feedback and constructive criticism from the judges. After months of hard work and dedication, you have to be prepared to accept that you may not have what they were looking for. Rather, be content that you know you did everything you could to bring your best package to stage.
Are you financially ready to compete?
This is not a cheap sport, especially for women competitors. Plan out a budget beforehand and analyze whether it is financially responsible for you to embark on this journey. Look at all costs: coaching, weekly food costs, organization memberships, registration fees, suit/shoes/jewelry, tan, hair/makeup, travel, etc.
Finding a coach that is best for YOU…
It is important as a first-time competitor to have the help of a professional to make sure you are making the right moves for your body as well as mind and emotional well-being. Take the time to look into different coaches, interview them on their approaches, knowledge, experience, and belief in getting someone stage ready. It is also important is to ask them about their post-show guidance – too often competitors are left to go back to their “normal life” without any coaching and it leads to metabolic issues and feelings of complete regression.