Do I Need to Hire a Contest Prep Coach?

15027615_1072758956174822_1231113419248564194_n1So you’ve decided to enter a fitness competition and now your wondering, do I need a coach? Well, while I cannot tell you personally yes or no, I can offer some things to think about which can help you decide.

As a personal trainer and nutrition coach I figured I could do most of my first prep on my own while enlisting the help of friends who had competed before. Well, at about 3 weeks out I started to panic when I realized I really had no idea how to ‘cut’, when to water load, when to deplete, if I was anywhere close to stage ready and so on. Searching online, through my text books and magazines really only left me confused and overwhelmed as the information and advice is extreme and different from source to source. Plus, as you get closer to the actual competition day, things can get a little more stressful and you start to doubt yourself and your progress, making the entire process less enjoyable. So, I did some research and found a prep coach who was willing to help me at only 3 weeks out and I made top 5, qualifying myself for Provincials. Had I been able to do this without him? Most likely not.

So, with that said, unless you have the experience of preparing for a competition or just want to be on stage for the sake of being on stage without caring how you place, I highly recommend you hire a coach. Not only can they help guide you in the process, they can hold you accountable and help prepare you in what to expect on show day.

Some other important things to consider –

You are being judged in a physique competition so having another set of eyes, more so a set that knows what the judges want, is definitely going to be beneficial.

You need to consider your mental well being when prepping for a show. There is a physiological response to being in a caloric deficit for an extended period of time and the lethargy that sets in can cause a lack of mental focus and an emotional drain that can be very difficult. A coach understands this and a great coach will be there for you on those days where you feel like you just cant do it or want to give up.

Diet and supplementation are huge in prepping for a show and because everyone is different, copying a diet you found online or that a friend followed is risky. Proper nutrition before and after a show is crucial. You may believe once the competition is over you can just eat as you wish but this can have negative effects on your body, mental health, metabolism and hormones.

15016179_1070265449757506_6948393755473916777_o

 

So, while the decision is ultimately yours to make, if you are serious about competing and bringing your best package to that stage, it’s pretty obvious, that until you gain the necessary experience, hiring a prep coach is in your best interest. I personally will never compete in a show without a coach, even with my experience and my education in fitness and nutrition as the benefits are far to vast.

Mind Matters – The Mental Aspect of Prepping for a Fitness Competition

indexWhile some may argue, mentally preparing for a fitness competition is probably the most important part of prep. Your mindset from the moment you decide to compete will set you up for success or, unfortunately, failure.

Why are you competing?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself and answer, truthfully. Is it because you want to prove to others you can? Your friends are doing it? While these reasons can play a small part for any competitor, if they are your main reason, you’re off to an erring start.

Now, I cannot tell you what your reasons for competing should be, these will be different for everyone but if not for yourself and your (unique) personal reasons, you may want to reconsider or at least give some more thought into why you want to compete.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Preparing for a competition is much more than just planning out your routine, supplements and nutrition plan. Prepping for a show is an all day, every day event that can last anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months +, depending on the competitor. Planning is crucial and includes everything from meal prep to training time to rest days, all on top of your daily regular routine of work, school, kids etc.

Life is full of distractions and stress, expected and unexpected. How do you plan on handling these situations as they pop up? Not having a plan can have a negative effect on your prep as well as leave you feeling overwhelmed and potentially lead to burnout.

Mental Resilience

is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity”

I’ll be honest in that I went into my first competition thinking I had the mental toughness to see me through my prep at ease. Yeah, I was wrong. While it turns out I did have the mental resilience to see it through, it was only because I refused to give up and took every opportunity as a challenge to learn. Having lived with a mental illness for 15 plus years now (anxiety/panic disorder and depression), I have spent a lot of time learning to master my thoughts and doing so to my benefit, in every aspect of life. I truly believe everyone has the ability to do the same, many just do not know how or think they are already ‘mentally tough’ and until they are in a situation where this toughness is going to be tested, they really have no idea.

The best advice I can give here is if you want to step on that stage with your best package and have a positive experience no matter the outcome, don’t be ignorant to the fact that some days may be really hard. Hell, if they aren’t, you’re not doing it right!

 

Be sure to check out the follow up post Train Your Brain – 7 Strategies for Building Mental Toughness

 

Competition Prep B.C. – Let’s go Shopping!

You’ve decided to compete so now where to find your suit, shorts, jewelry, shoes?? Relax, I’ve got you covered! Here is a list of Canadian retailers that have everything you need for your competition.

suitCompetition Suits

The following shops provide both custom and ready to wear competition bikinis and shorts/trunks. Many of these retailers also carry competition shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

 

Competition Shoes

shoesIf you cannot find what you need from the retailers above, you have the option of shopping for competition shoes in the US. These retailers ship to Canada.

 

Competition Jewelry

glamComplete your look and have some fun shopping for your show bling at these retailers. These shops are in the US so I recommend checking out the stores under Competition Suits first. Sites like Etsy and eBay and stores like Ardene’s and Aldo Accessories are always great options as well.

 

Fitness Competition Prep B.C.- Backstage Etiquette

backstagelogo

When preparing for a fitness competition there are many things to consider such as choosing a show, a suit, planning out your tan, hair and makeup and so on. One thing that may not cross your mind but is just as equally important is backstage etiquette. A lot of work, money and time goes into preparing a show for us athletes so it’s really only fair that we do our part as well to keep things running smoothly and stress free for everyone!

BE KIND!

If I could stress one thing, this would be it. Everyone backstage, from the other athletes to the volunteers are all a little stressed out and anxious to do their best. The volunteers work their butts off for us so be sure to treat them with the respect they deserve, without them we would be a lot more stressed out as we attempted to oil our own backs and glue our suits to our behinds! It’s a long day for all of us but even more so for these volunteers who stay behind to clean up after us while we’re out celebrating with our friends and family.

Every athlete has a story and a background you may know nothing about so don’t be quick to judge or assume. You can only control your own words and actions so keep them kind and avoid gossip or judging other competitors. If someone treats you disrespectfully or is unkind to you just remember that this is most likely their own insecurities talking. Be the bigger person and don’t indulge in such childish behavior.

Clean Up After Yourself

I really shouldn’t have to say this but you’d be surprised at how messy things can get backstage. Garbage and pee cups probably being the two main things people seem to have a difficult time tossing into the trash :/  I have never seen a shortage of garbage cans at a venue so why this happens is beyond me.

Backstage can get pretty chaotic and you can expect to share small quarters with a lot of other competitors so keeping your personal items neat and organized can not only help keep the space uncluttered but can help you avoid losing or misplacing items.

Sportsmanship

Perhaps you don’t place how you expected, this is no excuse to be rude to anyone or throw a fit. How you act both on stage and backstage matters, be an adult and keep yourself together. It’s ok to be upset, its natural, but taking others down to make yourself feel better is just not ok and will speak volumes of your character. Being happy for others is a great feeling and I highly recommend congratulating those who deserve it!

This can go for those who place well too. Being pompous or arrogant because you placed better than others won’t make you any friends and can be hurtful.


Backstage can be a lot of fun and you can create some amazing memories, meet some truly inspiring people and make a lot of new friends. Not everyone is going to be friendly or helpful but I can tell you from my personal experience, many will be and if you go in with a positive attitude and a kind demeanor you’re going to have a much better time 😉

 

 

Fitness Competition Prep – 10 Tips to Save Money

budget

As promised, a follow up to The Cost of Competing in Fitness Competitions with some great tips on how to save yourself some money!

  • Save on your suit – There are a few ways to save on your suit. You can purchase a used suit (most have only been worn once) or buy an off the rack suit or a basic custom suit and bling it yourself! You can purchase wholesale stones (hello eBay) and  glue them to your suit and save quite a bit. A basic custom suit runs about $150 while a custom blinged out suit can add another $100 easy. The more bling, the higher the cost.
  • Save on Hair & Makeup – this one can be tricky and I only suggest using someone other than the official provider IF they have experience. Stage makeup is very different than your every day make up and if not done correctly can be a total disaster. Hair is not as tricky, but again, you want to use someone with experience doing hair if it’s an area you lack in. Hiring or enlisting a friend who has experience in these areas can save you up to $250!
  • Shoes – don’t impulse buy! Shop around online on places like Amazon and eBay and guaranteed you will find yourself a better deal then by purchasing from a shoe store.
  • Jewellery – stores like Ardene’s and Claires have a hue selection of accessories that wont cost you a fortune. Aldo Accessories has beautiful jewelry as well but the prices are a little higher. (I paid $50 for a pair of earrings and a bangle)
  • Hotel – plan for a two night stay if competing out of town. There will be a ‘Host Hotel” where athlete meetings, spray tan, hair and makeup take place however you are not obligated to stay at this hotel. While it does make things easier to stay at the host hotel and most will offer a discount to competing athletes, you can save by booking at a cheaper hotel, I just recommend it be close by.
  • You also have the option of sharing a room with another competitor to help cut costs. If you do not happen to know of anyone else competing, find fellow competitors on Instagram or Facebook and ask! (search the show, ex: #PopeyesFallClassic) While this may sound a little crazy and awkward you may just be surprised at how many other competitors are traveling alone and wouldn’t mind saving on room costs!
  • Food – most of your meals should be prepped anyhow but once the show is over you may want something different or a treat so plan ahead and prep this meal and pack snacks.
  • Mani/Pedi – do it yourself!
  • Supplements – shop online and use coupon codes or stock up on a sale.
  • Shop in Bulk – your meal plan will most likely include eating a lot of the same foods so buy what you can in bulk or again, stock up on a sale for items that wont expire anytime soon.
  • Competition Coaching/Training – you can save big here by hiring an online coach HOWEVER, do your research, ask around and only chose this option if you have experience in the gym! If weightlifting is new to you hire a trainer, even if its just for 6 weeks to learn proper form and technique and how to use the equipment before enlisting an online coach to guide you through prep. Depending on where you are at when you start competition prep, the length of time you will need a coach/trainer will vary. If you have been working out for some time but just need help getting stage ready, 12 weeks is usually enough time.

Things you DO NOT want to skimp on!

  • Nutritional Coaching – as someone who has their fitness nutrition certification I felt pretty confident during my prep doing my own nutrition plan then once I hit 3 weeks out I started to panic because I had never had to deplete or manipulate water and sodium intake and when researching there were so many options I was totally overwhelmed. I hired myself a coach and he guided me gracefully through the last few stages to get me super lean and it was the best decision I ever made. Nutrition is key both during and after prep so unless you have experience here, leave it to someone who does.
  • Stage Tan – while many will tell you that you can save by getting your spray tan done elsewhere or doing it yourself, please let me explain, it’s not that simple. First off, you want to be the right shade and trust me, if you rely on yourself or someone else, you will think you are dark enough and you wont be. Stage tans are ridiculously dark and you do not want to be up there standing out because you are pale (or green) in comparison. The official tan provider is your best option and will also offer free touch ups which will be needed! Did you know that sweating will turn your tan green? Yup. So please, leave it to the pros, they will take care of you 😉

 

 

 

 

The Cost of Competing in Fitness Competitons in B.C.

gold-diamond-dollar-11848827

So you have decided you want to compete in a fitness competition and want a rough idea of what it’s going to cost you to do so. Well, I’ll be in honest in that competing is not cheap, there are ways to save money and we will go over that in another post but first, here are some things to consider when deciding to compete in B.C. and a rough estimate of what they may cost you.

 

 

Membership $100

  • you must register and pay to become a member of the association. To join the BCABBA it will cost you $100

Show Registration $100

  • you will pay $100 to enter a show. If you plan to enter more than one category it will cost you an additional $50

Tanning $150

  • depending on the official provider of tanning/hair & makeup, the spray tan alone will cost you roughly this amount.

Makeup $125

  • again, this is the estimated cost if using the official provider of the show and dependent on who that provider is.

Hair $125

  • same as tanning and makeup, estimate of cost if using the official provider.

NOTE – if you chose to have the official provider do all 3 (tan, makeup & hair) they will offer you a discounted rate bringing your cost down slightly.

Suit $150 +++

  • you can pay as little as $150 for a custom suit with an upwards to well over $1000 depending on what you want and how much you are willing to spend. You can purchase off the rack suits for your show but make certain they fit the rules for your category.

Shoes $40+

  • if you are competing in bikini or figure you will need heels! cost depends on where you buy and the style you choose. I was able to get mine on sale for $65 which isn’t bad considering I can wear them for my future shows.

Jewelry $25+

  • again, depending where you shop and what you buy. The basics are bracelets and earrings. I purchased my bracelet and earrings from Aldo Accessories (great selection) for $50.

Those are definitely the musts, however the list does not end here. There are many other things to consider when competing and the prices will vary depending on many different factors.

  • training
  • nutritional coaching
  • posing coach
  • supplements
  • meals (although these can be simple as you may eat a lot of the same things, it can add up)
  • travel costs, hotel, gas, food etc
  • manicure/pedicure
  • hair removal for show day (waxing)
  • haircut/color/style
  • hair extensions
  • bikini bite (suit glue)
  • photography
  • show tickets for family & friends

So, as you can see, competing is not cheap, it is however, totally worth it!! I will be following up with a post on How to Save Money When Competing so be sure to check back for that. 😉