First, training for a competition is not only extremely taxing on your body, but also on your social life! During competition season, I typically average from 3 to 4 hours in the gym per day. This may seem like a lot, but believe me you will need it. Between your weight training, cardio sessions, routine training, flexibility training and component training, you will be hard pressed to spend less time than that per day in the gym if your goal is to do well in your show.
I break my training up and train 5 days per week with weights, 4 days per week on routine, 3 days per week on components and fit my cardio and flexibility training before or after specific training. Aside from the time factor, you will also be adhering to a strict meal plan for several months. Hopefully you have very understanding friends who will support you in your endeavors to build your best physique, but at times you may need to separate yourself from them and not include yourself in their activities. This can be a lonely proposition, but well worth it when you walk away pleased with your performance at your show or better yet, with a trophy! Now let's talk a about the monetary expenses of fitness competing:
Unless you have a home gym or have free access to a recreational center with the necessary workout equipment, you will need to check out your local gym and sign up for a membership. Depending on the gym you join and type of membership you choose, the cost per month can range from as low as $20 per month to $100+ per month.
Most gyms have fairly flexible requirements on the type of clothes members can wear. I have seen everything from blue jeans to thong spandex outfits (not pretty, by the way). I would recommend wearing whatever you are most comfortable in. Personally I prefer to workout in clothes that slightly show off my physique but are not too revealing. I like to "feel and look the part" so to speak so I choose to wear athletic fitted workout clothes the majority of time rather than just sloppy shorts or sweats.
If you are new to training or unsure of which method to use, you may decide to enlist the help of a personal trainer to help you learn the most effective ways to achieve your specific goals. This expense ranges from reasonable to very expensive depending on the trainer or coach you choose.
Choreographer or Gymnastics Coach
Unless you feel comfortable choreographing your own routine, you will probably need to hire a choreographer to help you incorporate dance moves, gymnastics and the mandatory strength moves into an entertaining, crowd-pleasing routine. Although it is not mandatory, the majority of fitness competitors these days are incorporating tumbling in their routines.
You may want to enroll in gymnastics classes or hire a gymnastics coach for help in this area if you want to have a more technical, flashy routine. Generally choreographers and gymnastics coaches charge per hour and the range is quite broad depending on their background and experience.
It is HIGHLY recommended that you have your routine spliced by a professional DJ. The last thing you want to do is have choppy music distract the judges from your awesome routine and hard-earned physique. A professional DJ will have the necessary equipment to make the transitions and tempo of your music sound smooth and clean. Again, there is typically a charge per hour rate for this service dependent on the background and experience of the DJ.
Unless you don't have a problem with eating canned tuna or chicken breasts multiple times throughout the day, EVERY day, you will probably want to invest in high quality supplements.
I have used several different kinds, but the most effective have been from AST Sports Science. High quality, convenient protein in the form of their VP2 protein powder and NyTro Pro40 meal replacements have been the key to my success of sticking to a structured nutrition plan.
Not only are they super-convenient and great tasting, but they are designed to provide you with the right amount of necessary nutrients to effectively build muscle and support your training. You will probably also want to choose a fat burner supplement, such as AST Sports Science, Dymetadrine Extreme to give you an extra energy boost and rev up your metabolism. A current product price list is available on the shopping section of this website here.
After all of your hard work training for months on end, you will want to be sure that you have chosen the right fitness and physique suits for your big show. You will want to have these custom made to your specifications by a professional. You can go to their store in Richmond, CA or mail order through Bodybuilding.com, click here! A current price list of their suits and fitness outfits are available on the site.
You will also need clear high heel shoes for your physique rounds and dance sneakers or tennis shoes for your fitness round. I prefer higher heels, so I go with 5" clear shoes with NO platform. These are the most flattering and will not distract from your physique. You can usually find these (although it might take a little searching) from department stores such as Nordstrom's or Macy's.
You can also usually find these online at exotic shoe websites if you do a search for "clear high heels." Depending on where you purchase them, you can pay anywhere from $50 on up for your heels. You can locate your dance sneakers at local dance stores in your area. I prefer Bloch dance sneakers, but other companies such as Capezio also make them. These generally will run you around $70-80 per pair.
Contest Entry Fees
For each show you enter, you will be required to pay the entry fee and to have a current National Physique Committee (NPC). Entry fees are typically around $40-50 and annual membership in the NPC is currently $60.
Unless your contest is local and you are able to drive to it the morning of the pre-judging, then you will have to consider travel expenses including airfare and hotel. These, of course are dependent on the location and length of your show and the type of accommodation you require.
Best of luck!! I hope this information is helpful to you. Feel free to email me with any questions you have along your journey.