5 Things No One Mentions about Fitness Competitions.
Growing up, I always maintained a very active lifestyle. Whether it was soccer, softball, dance, basketball or working out- I was always doing something. By 2013, I had been lifting weights for almost 12 years and decided I really wanted to take my fitness to a level I hadn’t known before. I decided to step into the world of fitness competitions.
After prepping for 2 shows and working many fitness events for Quest Nutrition (2013-2015) I feel like it gave me an insiders view on how things really work in the fitness industry. So this is what I wish someone would’ve told me back then before I unknowingly dove into the world of fitness competitions.
Before listing these things I do want to say that- No, I don’t regret competing. I learned a lot about myself and I have met some of the most AMAZING friends in the fitness industry along the way. (Hiiiii friends!!) This is in no way to put down any of their amazing accomplishments and successful careers they’ve made for themselves! Competing is absolutely made for them without a doubt 🙂
But, I’m on the other side of the spectrum and I like to play devils advocate…
So, these are 5 Things no one Mentions about Fitness Competitions.
It costs an arm and a leg to compete. Whether you’re competing in WBFF or NPC they both will cost you a pretty penny. It’s not just the “Day of competition” expenses you need to worry about either, but at least 3 months (12 weeks) prior to that day in expenses too. So know all the fees up front that you will need to pay throughout your entire prep. This is not a cheap sport, or competition. A lot of people are working more than one job to pay for competing, or are still living at home and get assistance from their parents to help pay for their fees.
Keep in mind during Prep you will need funds for:
- Meal plans
- Posing/Routine Coach
- Healthy (Expensive) food
- Photo shoots & more.
(Disclaimer: When you do shoot with a photographer, check their credibility, check what type of photography they do, ask around, read the contract in which you are signing, be aware of your rights, as well as their rights with your pictures. I learned this the hard way!)
The actual Day of the show expenses:
- Stage Bikini, Trunks, etc. -If you’re doing WBFF you will need a SECOND outfit. A Gown, a Tux, or Theme wear depending on your class.
- You’ll need a Tan- which has to be purchased through the federation now. So no more side hustling for your own deals.
- Hair & Makeup- also need to go through specific people the federation recommends as well. (Back then, I did my own.)
- Girls, you’ll also need Heels, Mani & Pedi, and Stage Jewelry.
- You will most likely want to purchase Pictures/Video packages of yourself from their professional photographers .
- Hotel & Flight accommodations will be needed unless you get lucky and happen to live close to a show.
- Oh, and don’t forget about paying to simply compete in the show itself. And not just for that one show, you have to purchase a lovely “Yearly membership fee” on top of that too. Back in 2013 I payed over $300 JUST to register to step on stage.
2. Bye Bye Life:
While on prep, you’re going to miss out on a lot. You’ll be too tired after your daily workout, cardio and typical workload to go out for happy hour with your friends just to sit there and not drink (because you’re on prep) and only smell, but not taste the food (because you’re on prep.) Instead, you’ll decide to stay home, weigh out your 3oz of Tilapia and 4oz of Asparagus, do another 20 minutes of cardio, and call it a day. Just so you can drag your exhausted ass out of bed and do the whole thing over again tomorrow… and for the next 10-16 weeks… because there are no “off days” on prep.
Depending on when your competition show date is, you might miss out on holidays and other special occasions that come once a lifetime. I went to a wedding and didn’t taste cake or drink the Champs (Yikes, I know!) I went wine tasting but couldn’t taste the wine. I went on vacations only to be too tired to actually enjoy myself when I would get there. I missed out on hiking trips (which I love) because burning an extra 500-1000 calories hiking, didn’t mean I got to eat more food during my day.
You end up having just about enough energy to make it through each day, to repeat it all again the next…and the next…
3. Your Self Love doesn’t grow, just because your body shrinks-
You think you’re going to love yourself more when you get to this “ideal” stage weight or this “perfect” size- but you couldn’t be more wrong. When I started prep in 2013 I was 145lbs. The day I went on stage I ended up weighing around 115lbs (I’m 5’5) I had hardly a pinch of fat on my body yet- I had never felt shittier.
Mentally and physically you will be kicked in the ass. I was so “skinny” yet I only saw my flaws and noticed every muscle that wasn’t developed to my desire. You’re working so hard yet it would never feel good enough. You would never feel “Lean enough” or “Full enough.” You’ll obsessively stare at your body and judge yourself. Comparing yourself to other competitors and other fitness professionals who you aspire to look like.
You’ll look great, but won’t see your own greatness. You’ll be shredded, but you won’t feel shredded. So if you compete… compete for the right reasons. If you didn’t truly love yourself before fitness competitions, don’t expect to love yourself more after.
4. Political AF:
Like most things in life, the federations are political. This doesn’t mean that most people who place don’t look amazing and truly deserve it- just that it helps tremendously being “coached” by the right person, or being a member of a certain “team.” Each show, each federation, each city- has its favorites.
For the teams that help sponsor the events… you better believe the judges are going to be noticing their competitors more than “Shelly from Salt Lake” doing her first show and coaching herself. It’s all about marketing and promoting yourself as well as the federation and show you’re competing in. I had a coach flat out tell me that unless I posted more on social media, I wasn’t going to win. It left such a bad taste in my mouth as you would think something you’re spending so much time, energy and money on would be solely judged on your body and stage presence on show day, right? Wrong.
I’ve seen a lot of competitors get there hopes up only to learn they never really had a fair chance at winning.
5. Post Show Blues:
The aftermath of the show is even worse. Mentally, Physically, and Emotionally you’ll be so fucking drained. All the hype and months and months of training, eating perfectly, and missing out on life events are gone after maybe 30 seconds on stage. It’s the craziest mind fuck after it’s all said and done. You’ll be so excited to finally eat, that you’ll practically choke inhaling food like a savage beast.
Were you aware you should “reverse diet” post show? Reverse dieting is a way to slowly add Macros (calories, fats, sugar, carbs) back into your diet to get your body to your ideal macro maintenance level. If you don’t reverse diet post show, you’re looking into a whole other set of issues. Reverse dieting helps your body from holding onto all the surplus calories in a desperate attempt to store them for the next time you may extreme diet again. I gained an easy 10lbs back within a mere few days after my competition. How unhealthy is that. I made myself so sick eating foods I deprived myself of for months. My body went from being too low in body fat and not even having a period for months, to putting half the weight I lost during prep, back on in a matter of days. My metabolism, mind, body and soul were completely shot.
Hindsight 20-20 on Fitness Competitions.
So the real question is… What did I do this all for? Was it worth it?
All I know is post show blues are real my friends, so after show care is just as important as prep for the show itself. Not knowing about these post show pitfalls sent me in a spiral after competing and made me forget why I loved working out in the first place.
I hope this was insightful to those of you who are clueless about competing like I was and also gives a different perspective to the often over glamorized world of Fitness Competitions.
Lots of positive vibes to whoever decides to compete… and also to whoever decides not to.
Comment below and let me know if this was helpful 🙂
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