Outside of the rigorous dieting and training, navigating your way through your first bikini fitness competition can be confusing, overwhelming and stressful. If you don’t have someone guiding you, you can get lost in it all quickly and then end up freaking out on the day of the competition because you weren’t fully prepared. Trust me, I know better than anyone; just ask my best friend/hair stylist/makeup artist/therapist/posing coach/therapist... Yes, I meant to say therapist twice! The day of my first show I was a complete wreak and she quickly had to become all of those things and more. I’m a very thorough woman and thought that I had done all of my research however the day of my first show I found out quickly that there were several pieces of the puzzle that I had missed and no one told me about.
Here is an extensive list of the things that I feel every first time bikini fitness competitor should know before stepping on stage. I wish I had this information before my first show!
Step 1 - Find The Right Coach
I can’t stress this enough, hire a reputable coach. You’re going to want someone with experience training bikini competitors to guide you and support you through this entire process. Since this is your first show I recommend hiring someone local to you. I tried the online coaching with some of the top coaches in the industry but found that because it was all so new to me, I needed that one on one training and guidance. A local coach can be more involved in all aspects of your training, meal plan adjustments and posing. They will be able to monitor your progress closely on a daily basis, assess and adjust as needed to get you where you need to be. Your coach will become your closest friend and biggest supporter throughout this journey since you’ll be spending most of your time in the gym. You’re going to need someone to help motivate you, teach you how to control your nerves and be in your corner the day of your show. To find a good coach start by searching Google: Bikini fitness contest preparation (City, State) or Fitness competitor preparation coach (City, State). I would also ask some of your fitness friends online (who you know have competed and done well) who they have used or would recommend.
Step 2 - Pick Your Show
Consult with your coach and do some research on all of the organizations and upcoming shows to determine which organization and show would be best suited for you. This is a website which lists most of the current organizations: http://www.naturalbodybuildingevents.com/orgs.htm
Each organization is different and the judging of the shows is totally subjective. I suggest researching photos of the previous year’s winners in the show you would like to do and get a good idea of what body types the judges are looking for. For instance if you have a harder, more muscular body you’re not going to want to compete in a show where the judges favor the softer look.
Step 3 - Budget/Expenses
Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, I suggest you sit down and budget out your next 12 weeks of competition prep, you’ll thank me later. Budgeting on the front end will relieve you of any financial worries during the process. Create a spreadsheet and list all of the key (high dollar) things that you will need for the show. In the first column list all of the following:
- Coach – 12 week prep, Trainer or Nutritionist (You may have just one person helping you, or you may have all three)
- Posing Coach
- Posing Clinic
- Organization Registration Card
- Show Entry Fee
- Competition Bikini
- Competition Heels
- Competition Jewelry
- Bikini Bite
- Weekly Meals
- Weekly Water Jugs
- Hair Color and Cut
- Professional Spray Tan
- Professional Hair
- Professional Makeup
- Travel to Show
- Money for Show Photographer
Make your second column your monthly expenses and the third column your overall cost. You can find out the cost of each by doing a little research online and consulting with your coach. Make sure you’re able to commit 100% before diving in. Nothing is worse than getting half way through competition prep and find out that you can’t afford to keep going.
Step 4 - Avoid Stress By Getting Organized Now
If you’re stressed out during your contest prep it can slow down your progress and actually cause you to put on more weight. Stress has tons of nasty side effects like causing you to loose concentration, mental focus and coordination. It slows your recovery time down and worst of all, it alters the way fat is deposited due to your cortisol levels being elevated. The competition preparation process is already hard enough as it is so if there is a way to eliminate any potential stresses in the beginning, the more enjoyable the process will be for you.
So now you’ve selected your coach, set a competition date and finished your budget. Now it’s time to create a folder and get all of your shows information printed, organized and out of the way.
: You can find your shows information by going to the show/promoter’s webpage. Print off the entry forms, fill them out and send the payment in NOW so you are locked in and can’t back out. TIP: Call the show promoter and ask what type of flooring will be on the stage. Carpet, Wood or Rubberized? This will be extremely valuable to know when practicing your posing routine.
: Most shows will have a host hotel which will offer discounted rates, you’ll want to book your room weeks in advance. Rooms typically sell out quick for these events, I suggest booking your room when you pay for your show.
: Print out a Map to the Venue from your Hotel. If you’re driving, I would suggest driving two days prior to your show. Traveling can cause your legs and ankles to swell and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to showcase that look on stage. If you’re flying, book your plane ticket and rental car early so you can get good rates. I would suggest flying in two or three days early, just in case you have any flight delays or cancellations.
Book Your Tan
: Book your tan when you pay for your competition to ensure you get a good time slot. A deep, flawless tan is a must for the stage. The lights are extremely bright on stage and will wash you out if you aren’t dark enough, so the darker you are the better. Plus the darker you are, the more defined your muscles look.
You don’t want to step on stage with a streaky or even worse, a GREEN tan. Two of the things the judges will be scoring you on is skin tone and complexion, therefore they will mark you down for a bad tan. I suggest booking with the show’s recommended tanning service, as they became that way for a reason! PS. The judges also highly recommend getting sprayed with the show’s tanning service.
The benefit to using the shows tanning service and staying at the host hotel is that the tanning service is usually set up the day before your competition at the host hotel. You’ll be able to walk out of your room and right to the tanning area. They will apply your first two-three coats the day before your competition and if more color is needed they will be set up backstage at the show to apply additional coats in the morning and before finals if any touch ups are needed. They will also usually offer free glazing and bikini bite back stage right before you go on stage. If you book with someone outside of the show you may not get these extra services. Prepping for your tan is a must, to ensure that you get the best tan possible. Liquid Sun Rayz has a great preparation guide
online that I use every time I get spray tanned.
Book Your Hair and Makeup
: You’re representing the best version of yourself on stage and want to look the part. Book an appointment with your hair stylist for color and a cut about a week out from your show. Your hair always looks its best when it’s fresh! If you have the money for it, I would book a facial a week prior to your show to ensure your face has a youthful glow. Buy crest white strips and start whitening your teeth a month out from your show as well.
Stage makeup is completely different than everyday makeup or even photo shoot makeup, so if you hire someone who has never done it before it will show on stage. Stage makeup is supposed to be dramatic and enhance your natural beauty. You might feel like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show at first, but don't freak out, when you’re onstage it will look perfect under the lights. I advise booking with the show recommended makeup artist. Book your appointment now, so you can get a good time slot the day of your show.
Styling stage hair is also much different than styling someone’s hair for a photo shoot or wedding, so make sure you are hiring someone that has experience in styling hair for fitness competitions. The goal is to look as healthy and natural as possible on stage which means your hair is thick, shiny and flows naturally. No up-do’s, wear it either straight or wavy and with a TON of volume. Most girls wear extensions to get the full look, however, make sure that your extensions match your hair perfectly if you wear them. The stage lights will bring out the color differentiation if they aren’t exact. This is another thing that I would be safe about, and schedule with the show recommended hair stylist.
Book Your Nail Appointment
: Everything counts when you’re on stage, including your nails. When selecting your polish color, I would keep it neutral and natural. You don’t want anything distracting and that will take away from your overall physique. Most girls go with a French manicure, it’s classy and has a natural look. Also, don’t get crazy long acrylic nails, it’s just scary and distracting.
Order Your Outfit
: Let’s start with your bikini, this is the fun part! First you need to select a color that is going to go with your personality and also compliment your overall look. Your favorite color might not be the best look for your skin tone under the bright lights on stage. I would pick a suit designer that you like and then order sample swatches in all kinds of colors. Take the swatches somewhere with bright lights, looking in a mirror hold them up to your body and see which looks best against your skin tone and with your hair color. Take pictures and review them later.
Next it’s time to pick out your suit design. Bikini competitors in the NPC and most other organizations are required to compete in a two-piece suit with v-shaped bottoms. Consult with your suit designer on what the best fit would be for your body. Everyone is different and if you’re not sure they will be able to assist you better than anyone else. Due to my figure, I personally go with a scrunch butt - Brazilian cheeky bottom and a standard triangle top, non-sliding (Sewn down in the center).
To bling or not to bling? The question really should be, how much money do you want to put into your suit? If you have enough, I say bling away, however if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. The judges honestly don’t care if you do or don’t bling. Sometimes too much bling can actually be distracting to the judges and take their focus from your body to your suit. My favorite suit designer hands down is Ravish Sands
Some Other Well-Known Designers
(If you’re on a budget, they have really cute inexpensive suits)
: This is the easy one! Your heels need to be clear 4” and higher. Since the judges are sitting about four feet below you when you’re on stage, you probably don’t want to go with platforms. Plus they’re harder to walk in. Remember, keep it classy! You either want heels with or without straps. It all depends on how well you walk in heels. If you’re not so good at it, I would suggest getting heels with straps.
Don’t go crazy with the shoe bling. You don’t want the judges’ attention to be on your feet! Order some comfortable shoe halter inserts for the front part of your heel. I love the Pleaser brand
. These will help keep your feet from sliding through the front of you heels and do wonders for your feet!
If you have the money, order a spare pair of heels. You’re going to be practicing in your heels everyday, so if something were to happen, you have a backup!
A Few Places To Find Clear Heels
: You can have fun with your jewelry but remember, sometimes less is more. I usually go with one ring on each hand, one bracelet and chandelier earrings. I always try to match my jewelry to my bikini connectors. Do not wear bling in your hair and try to tame down the body jewelry.
Glam Competition Jewelry
has the best competition jewelry I’ve seen so far. They have everything you need in one spot, including your bikini bite, robe and the padded foot halter inserts I told you about:
Step 5 - Posing
Practice, practice, practice! You can have the most rocking body on stage but if your presentation is terrible, chances are you’re not going to place as well as the girl next you who has a mediocre physique, but executed her presentation with perfection. I practiced every night after I finished my cardio sessions and worked with two posing coaches to help perfect every detail of my routine. My coaches took photos of each pose and video recorded my entire routine throughout my training so that I could study them and correct any flaws in my routine.
Some of the best advice I have received was to carry myself with confidence and class, as if I were a true princess. You have exactly 10 seconds on stage to showcase all of your hard work and strengths, take advantage of those 10 seconds and make sure you stand out! Take control of the stage by your presence alone. As soon as you walk on stage and step into the judges’ view, they are already assessing you. Back straight, chin up, core tight, booty out, relax your arms, smile big and walk out there like you have already won the show.
Practice your timing, not only in your routine, but also when you’re walking onto the stage. You don’t want to rush to the center, you want to take your time and give the judges a chance to admire you. Try not to stare the judges down when you’re walking on stage and also during your presentation, it makes them uncomfortable. When walking on stage I will usually acknowledge each judge with a brief glance, give them a big smile and then look either at the tops of their heads or out into the crowd. You need to think about the photographer also, if you’re always looking down at the judges then you’re not going to take good photos on stage.
Now it’s time to show them what you’re made of, hold your pose for as long as you can and then move on to the next. Remember, you only have 10 seconds, so make sure you use up every one of those seconds. When performing your transitions, try to do them with grace while keeping your booty high, and do not stomp through your turns. Finish your presentation with a beautiful smile, courtesy, and walk off as beautifully as you walked on. Every second you’re on stage counts. The judges will be assessing you even when you’re on the side lines.
Step 6 - What To Pack
Be prepared for anything. This is my personal list that I check off for each show. Yes, I’m thorough and try not to leave a single thing behind. This is your BIG DAY after all.
- Competition Suit
- Back up Bikini (If you have one)
- Sewing Kit
- Bikini Bite
- Competition Glaze
- Clear Heels
- Back up Heels (If you have them)
- Heel Inserts
- Jewelry: Bracelet, Earrings, Ring(s)
- Flip Flops
- Big Baggy Black Sweat Pants and a Top
- Extensions (If you have them)
- Curling Iron/Flat Iron (Bring both just in case)
- Volume Spray/Dry Shampoo
- Hair Spray
- Shine Oil for Hair
- Hair Clips
- Teasing Comb
- Brush: Round and Straight
- Hair Ties
- Stage Makeup: Bring Dark Foundation and Powders
- Lipstick and Gloss (matching your suit)
- Hand Wipes
- Full-Length Mirror (Walmart has them for $8-$10)
- Hand Held Mirror
- Cash (I always bring $300 just in case)
- Eye Lash Glue
- Extra Eye Lashes
- Dark Towels
- Dark Wash Clothes
- Dark Sheets and Pillow Cases
- Dark Blanket
- Resistance Band
- Phone Charger
- NPC CARD and ID – DON’T FORGET THESE!
- Shower Cap for Tan
- Nail Glue
- Black Silk Robe (I found a really cute one online and had my name embellished with rhinestones on the back)
- Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothbrush, etc...
- Vaseline for your teeth, trust me it works! Apply this to your teeth after lip stick is applied to keep the color off of your teeth and to help you hold that smile on stage
- Exfoliator: Non-scented body wash and baking soda
Bring a pen and a pack of foam cups. You will want to punch a hole in the bottom, hold it under you and pee. This will prevent you from ruining your tan. Take them everywhere with you.
Food and Water
– Um hello... You still need to eat and drink! This will keep you from going too crazy the day after.
Pack a carry-on suitcase to the actual event with a lock to keep all of you things safe. When you get to your hotel room, immediately remove all sheets, pillow cases and comforters, and replace with your own. Remove all towels, wash cloths and bath mats and replace with your own. Don’t sit on the toilet seat after your tan has been applied, you will stain the seat. The hotel will charge you if you ruin any of their things due to your tan.