It’s a common fad nowadays to enter these “fitness” competitions, which are ACTUALLY far from anything about being “fit.”
These are more like “beauty pageants with muscle” and they don’t have an actual “fitness” component.
Unlike other “sports,” there is not a start or a finish line. It is judged, and sometimes poorly, by an unqualified panel of 5-9 judges who “pick their ideal” in terms of each category.
This insane world of judgments and acceptance is not for the faint of heart. In fact, many SHOULD NOT BE ON STAGE AT ALL.
I have been in this crazy world for over twenty years, and thankfully, I got out alive. I have rescued others who have also fallen prey to terrible coaching methods, insane low-calorie diets, and unbelievable fitness workout scheduling, causing competitors to virtually live in the gym. Many have rebounded so badly in terms of their mindset and mental attitudes, it’s still a big hole we are climbing out of.
I put together a list of 10 different reasons, or categories of people I don’t believe should step on stage. This is my opinion, and we are all allowed those. And this is based on seeing the outcomes of people in each of these categories doing shows and seeing the insane chaos that can happen POST-SHOW after the dust settles.
1) History of Eating Disorders – Now, this could be a past or present issue – if you struggle with a disorder now, a show isn’t going to CURE you. I once was told by someone that competing ‘cured her’ from decades of eating disorders. However, in reality, it just ‘put a Band-aid on it.’ It made it okay to diet to extreme calorie deprivation, made it okay to excessively exercise, and made it okay to take drugs in order to stay lean.
If you have had disorders in the past, do not do shows. It is a slippery slope! I had one client who was in years and years of counselling to get her eating disorder just remotely under control (if you have had an eating disorder you know there is no cure, you will have it for life – you merely learn to control situations and control the outcomes). When my client did the competition with another coach, she rebounded so badly that she ended up in an inpatient hospital program for her disorder, and it has taken almost a decade to crawl back out of that hole competing put her in. Nothing about being judged on stage in a bikini, where you have spent 4 months depriving yourself of calories and food, in order to attain a super low body fat percentage for a split second only to gain back the weight, makes this a good idea. Nothing about needing to be judged on your external appearance would serve even the most rehabbed eating disorder patient well.
2) History of Anxiety, Depression – If you are bi-polar, or on meds to keep a balance in terms of your mental health… I don’t recommend the stage. Find another hobby. Judges are there to tell you things that are wrong with you. You are on stage in front of hundreds of people and are usually on low calories which can increase anxiety and mood disorders. I once had a client who didn’t realize she had an anxiety disorder prep for a show, and come stage day it was time for her to step on stage in the am and she did… she ran off stage only to never return for the night show. She broke into insane sweat and panic attacks. The lights and eye contact from judges threw her into a spiral of knowing the stage was too much of an addition to her already underlying anxiety. If you are imbalanced mentally, throwing in insane overtraining, and lower calories, or even just a small calorie deficit will not support you in your journey to find that mental balance.
3) Hormones/Thyroid/ Adrenal Imbalances – STAY OFF THE STAGE. As aging women we hit phases of our lives like peri-menopause and even full menopause. If you PUSH your body to achieve low body fat percentages when it is naturally trying to balance out in terms of estrogen, progesterone, and all of the hormones that make our world go round… we may be setting up a recipe for disaster. One of my clients in her 50’s once couldn’t see any changes to her body on the way to stage, no matter what we did. Thankfully, I know hormones, and not to force them… so we knew it was time to pack it in. It was time to find balance, and ‘hang up the heels.’ Why test your body and throw it into even more chaos when the natural tick-tock of life is already going to throw it for a loop without any exterior coaxing? When I see categories like masters (over 40) and grandmasters (over 45), I get very scared. I already know as aging women we are being dealt a whole slew of health changes. Now toss training for stage in there and it’s adding fuel to the hot flash fire!
4) You are broke or have limited money – Competing is a lot of $$$. I get sick to my stomach when I see single moms barely able to put food on the table for their kids and then decide to enter a show. Sure, I am all for “doing something for yourself,” but competing is a luxury- it is not a necessity. Go-fund me pages should not be what get you to stage. Buying a $1000 suit instead of proper food for your kids is ridiculous. Be fit, look good, feel good, but the stage should not exist in your life if you find yourself unable to pay your other bills. It is costly!!!!! Like $2000 without cost of food and coaching for most shows. Suit, tan, make up, hair, entry, membership, tickets, hotel, travel. If you don’t have money – WAIT ‘til you do!
5) You have more than 20lbs to lose – If you have a lot of weight to lose, then GET INTO SHAPE FIRST. Picking a show and needing to lose large amounts of weight in a short period of time, means you aren’t addressing previous bad habits-the bad habits that got that extra weight on you in the first place. You are merely extreme dieting to get the weight off fast for a set date, only to surely see that weight and TONS MORE pack back on after. If you have lots to lose, DO NOT DO A SHOW. Any coach who wants money will take it from you and promise to get you to stage at all costs… but will it be the healthy way, will it be long-term loss, or will it be a recipe for disaster? — Trust me-it will be the last one!
6) You have less than 1 year experience LIFTING WEIGHTS. I see this so often. People sign up for shows and THEN start going to the gym. They think it will motivate them to work out. Or they work out for 3 months, and think they are ready for a show. Sure, there are tons of categories depending on your muscle size and definition… BUT…. ALL OF THEM REQUIRE EXTENSIVE WEIGHT ROOM TIME! So if you are a newbie, keep logging those workouts… keep working hard… and KEEP COMPETING ON HOLD ‘TIL YOU PUT IN THAT TIME IN THE WEIGHT ROOM!
7) Competing is someone else’s idea – I often have ladies come to me and say “so and so said I should do a show”. If it wasn’t your idea then I ask you – IS THIS REALLY SOMETHING YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT? If someone told you should jump off a bridge, would you do it? When I decided to compete back in 1996 — yikes… I had already put in 2 years in the gym and another 4 years of being an insane aerobics class junkie. I had followed around the bodybuilders with my little notepad and absorbed as much free advice as they would give me. I would get every magazine of every workout, competition and exercise and learn as much as I can. I knew every name of every pro. I knew every placing of every show. I was PASSIONATE ABOUT IT. I never competed because someone told me to. I did it because it was in my blood; I knew the ins and outs of it and wanted to try it!
8) Your main goal is to win, or win a pro card, or be famous – This one irks me. It is a judged sport. I was a judge myself for some time. I now sit at shows and see people not place where they should. This happens at every single show. I see bad calls, I see weird judgements. To go into something leaving the outcome in the hands of a panel of unqualified people is insane. IF YOU COMPETE FOR YOU – AND TO BE YOUR BEST THEN GO FOR IT, but if you think you are going to be famous then ask a few pros how much money they make from their pro cards – and they will tell you BEING A PRO COSTS THEM MONEY! No one is a famous fitness model…. no one! It is a myth. When you are “sponsored” you get a tub of free protein in exchange for endless hours you demo for them for free or minimum wage. This is not a reason to compete, and if it is your reason, FIND ANOTHER HOBBY!!
9) Competing to be a part of a “team” or to find “friends” – Sit down for this one. You joined a team; it got super warm and fuzzy as your new coach told you that you are a part of their community. Then you realized EVERYONE IS IN THIS INDUSTRY FOR THEMSELVES. I have watched people be nicey-nicey to someone and turn around and put a dagger in their backs as they walked away – time and time again. I have been in this industry for over twenty years and still only have about a handful of people I would trust with my dog, or allow in my circle. It’s sad – but true!!!! If you are looking for friends, or a team, pick a different sport!!!! There is no “I” in TEAM — and competing is a ME-ME-ME hobby. You know Tonya Harding? Well most of the fitness world is just like her back in the days before the Olympics. They will skate around smiling at you and pretend to be your teammate, but then when you turn around, they slash your thigh with a club and take you out without any warning! Then turn around and pretend they weren’t involved and are pure and your best friend. COMPETING IS AN INDIVIDUAL HOBBY – and a SELF ABSORBED ONE AT THAT!
10) History of yo-yo dieting, fads, quick-fixes, diet hopping all the trends – Jumping from trend to trend, starting and quitting all of the craziness then jumping to the competition stage is just another EXTREME WITH EMPTY PROMISES AND HARSH REBOUNDS. If you find yourself doing paleo, then keto, then intermittent fasting, then buying some juice, then a cleanse, then hey, look a secret potion… you are a BANDWAGON JUMPER and competing is a costly one to jump on….. Don’t do it.
There you have it! Really makes competing sound like it’s for everyone, right?
It can be good for some. I even have a handful of clients that competing does work for. But I have helped over 300 people to stage, and out of that 300, about 10 of them should actually do it. And I was the selective coach. To this day I spend time on half my roster of clients FIXING DAMAGE DONE BY OTHER COACHES. These coaches took on anyone!!! You went to pay, but then there was no screening in place. The numbers were the most important!!! One coach actually markets themselves on being able “to put ANYONE on stage”. BUT IS IT SMART? Is it THE BEST IDEA FOR THE CLIENT? Or does it pad their team to be the biggest one up there?
If you are looking for a coach to help you be your REAL-LIFE LEAN…. I am your coach!!!! Does this mean we can’t do a show? Nope…. maybe we can. But we have some work to do before to make sure that COMPETING IS SERVING YOU TO BE YOUR BEST INTERNALLY. DOES COMPETING FIT WITH YOUR REAL-LIFE? Or maybe it’s a better idea to book a costly trip and diet to look good in your bikini instead?? Or maybe prep to do a photo shoot? Or maybe it’s better to just FEEL GOOD INSIDE and forget so much about the exterior?
Stay real everyone! xoxox