Setting goals is crucial to the success of your fitness program — it helps prevent stale sessions at the gym and invites a new perspective of food as fuel. As an active individual, your goals likely extend beyond the typical “lose weight” or “flatten my stomach” ambitions. While common goals include running a half marathon, completing an adventure race or dashing through a triathlon, the popularity of fitness competitions has recently increased, leading to more people setting a goal of “stepping onstage.”
There are various categories of fitness competitions. Some of the most popular include bikini and physique for women, and bodybuilding and physique for men. While all the glamorous transformation photos on social media may tempt you to register for an event faster than you can place an order on VitaminShoppe.com, it’s important to educate yourself beforehand and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of competing.
Before you commit to training for a show, ask yourself the following questions.
What is my goal?
There are countless reasons why you might choose to compete. Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau and need extra motivation to recommit to your goals and healthy lifestyle. However, if you’re motivated by someone else’s progress and the desire to have more, do more and be more, you should think twice before you commit to compete.
Attaching your goals to something outside of yourself can lead to disappointment and regression. Focus on self-improvement and assess your success by observing your own, personal progress throughout this particular journey.
Can I afford it?
Gym memberships typically cost between $25 and $80 per month. That’s entirely reasonable and affordable for most individuals. However, when you’re training for a competition, there are many other expenses to take into account. Be sure you can financially support your goal before you end up burnt out and broke.
• Gym membership: $25-$80/month
• Posing coach (individual and group will vary): $30-$60/hour
• Online or local trainer: $350/month or $100/session
• Competition tan: $100-$150
• Competition hair and makeup: $100-$150+
• Competition manicure and pedicure: $20-$60
• Posing suit: $150-$300+
• Competition shoes: $50-$100
• Registration fee: $50-$100
• Federation membership fee: $75-$150
• Food and supplements: Varies
Which federation and division should I compete in?
There are three factors that will have the most impact on which federation and division you should compete in. Research options and ask yourself the following:
• Where does my body type fit best?
• Which federation allows me to show my personality the most?
• What are my future goals in fitness?
What is my post-show plan?
Competing in a show requires a lot of commitment and can greatly impact your credibility as an athlete or fitness professional. However, you shouldn’t expect to land magazine covers or become the next spokesmodel for your favorite supplement brand.
With or without a trophy, competing in a fitness show is a credential that you should be proud of. Use it to connect with other professionals in the industry, building your network and nurturing relationships that will lead to new opportunities. With a positive mindset and proactive thinking, you will avoid the post-show crash that can take place when the stage lights are turned off and a line goes through your bucket list item.
It’s important to remember (and accept) that a competition body is not sustainable over the long term. A lean, fit body is the result of hard work and commitment, but it can be difficult to achieve without extensive discipline and sacrifice.