So You Wanna Compete? 4 Things to consider

Since the introduction of the new women's bodybuilding category of bikini class in the last few years, more women than ever have been flocking to sign up to compete. Bikini class -- or sometimes also known as fitness model class -- offers women an option to compete without having to pack on so much muscle. Previously, figure was the least muscular category for women. The new class is more appealing to more women.

Having competed 12 times myself (and winning 9 times, I might subtly mention) and coaching other girls, I know all too well the struggles involved. And the struggle is real, my dear.

Now, competing isn't for everyone. Some will be ill-suited to it, others will just hate it. But if you're considering it, consider it well. I always do encourage anyone who wants to compete to try it. It's a unique experience where you will learn so much, have some fun and push your physical limits.

But even before you test your body's limits there are 4 other aspects you should be aware of and consider well.

1. Be ready for your prep to be all-consuming. I suppose it depends on how serious you want to take it but if you're truly in it to be your best, or to place, be prepared for major sacrifices. Prep for a contest usually lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 months. During this time you should ideally be able to give priority to your prep. For you sake I hope you don't have school finals, very young children or are working 3 jobs. It's not impossible if you do, but it will make things more stressful .

Plus, I also pray you are thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and financially (more on this last point later). Competing can really wreck havoc on even the most stable among us. The lead up may have you struggling with insecurities and doubt. You'll be on a major high on the day of competition. But it's what comes after that most struggle with. Post-competion depression is a real thing and I've seen countless girls go through it. After being in the best shape of your life, the return to ordinary can be a real bummer. Also, the lack of having a goal or something to work towards can make some feel direction-less.

[caption id="attachment_70644" align="alignnone" width="300"]There's a lot of ups and downs before and after this moment. There's a lot of ups and downs before and after this moment.[/caption]

2. Consider your more conservative loved ones. You will be on stage in a itseebitsee bedazzled bikini, plexiglass heels, buckets of fake tan, big hair and blinding diamante accessories. Some people will not get the nuance of what you are doing.

I stand by competing as wholesome and healthy endeavor that can give you confidence and strength that will leak into other areas of your life. It has been an incredibly enriching experience for me. But how will you handle a boyfriend who is racked by jealousy; a mother-in-law that un-friends you on Facebook; a father who refuses to look you in the eye? I've seen all of these things go down. Of course, you probably shouldn't base your decision to compete or not on what others will think. But be aware that you may have to face some of these things.

[caption id="attachment_70643" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Some people won't understand what this is all about. Some people won't understand what this is all about.[/caption]

3. Competing is expensive. Really expensive.

A few expenses you should consider:

- Registration fee: $200 to $400 - Gym membership, personal training, coaching 1000+ - Competition bikini, at least $150 (my last one cost $600) - Competition themewear, at least $150 ( my last one cost over $1000) - Tanning $100 - Supplements $500+ - Hair and make up (I pay $350 per show) - Consider also additional costs if competition is out-of-town, like travel, hotel and food.

[caption id="attachment_70640" align="aligncenter" width="200"]What a $600 Ravish Sands Bikini looks like. It was more awesomely stunning on stage. What a $600 Ravish Sands Bikini looks like. It was more awesomely stunning on stage.[/caption]

Now, it can be done for cheaper if you are smart about it. Personally, it meant a lot to me to bring a top-quality package to the stage, so I throw some money at it. But I was also able to recoup a lot of it by reselling my bikinis and themewear and competing has been good for my business as a personal trainer.

[caption id="attachment_70642" align="aligncenter" width="200"]And this made me feel like an awesome angel. And this made me feel like an awesome angel.[/caption]

Be warned that despite how prestigious winning a competition might be, most do not offer ANY prize money WHAT SO EVER. You get a trophy or a medal, some bragging rights but you'd be lucky to get a tub of protein powder, also. Competitive organisations can be nothing but a money racking scheme that give back so little to competitors.

4. Consider the organization you compete with. Don't just sign up with the first organisation you hear about. There are scores of them out there and some will be a better fit for you than others. Some organisations might prize a certain look, while other go for something else.Look at a organizations top stars and decide if they are a role model to you. Some organisations encourage you to have fun and be yourself on stage. Others will assign you a number, give you 15 seconds and corral you like cattle in the line-up.

I think many newbies get sucked into to competing with the biggest, flashiest, organisations. This might work for you, or you might just be paying too much and fall between the cracks.

I have to give credit where it's due. Having done the rounds, the only organization I will now compete with is SAF (Serious About Fitness). I would describe SAF as a boutique organisation that's on the up and up and destined for great things. Currently, they only have shows in Toronto and Ottawa but the shows are top-notch, a lot of fun and SAF gives so much back: There's prize money, photoshoots, prizes and real promotion for their top athletes. Check them out:

If competing with SAF isn't geographically possible for you, try seek out another organization that offers something similar.

I hope this helps.

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