What It Took To Go Back And Do It All Again.
So, here I am sitting on a plane bound for what will be the first competition of my second season as a fitness competitor. The Fitness South Beach Pageant is usually limited to 20 women, so it takes the approval of the Fitness America committee or an outstanding placing at Nationals to be included in the event. Needless to say, I'm honored to be included this year. You could definitely say that after last year's goal setting and accomplishments, I am bit by the competition bug! Not so much to be #1 or wear the crown in these events, but by the challenge it will take to reset my standards and keep reaching new heights.
You never think about the decision you are going to have to make after the first big show is over - "Am I going to put myself through this again?" Sometimes, you think, is it all worth it? How can I get better and maybe capture the judges' attention. What can I do differently? What should I do differently?
For me, the decision to continue was made, before I got home, the day after Nationals last year. I was in the car on the way back to San Diego when it hit me - Superman! Then it was over. My decision was made. By the time I got home that night, I had design ideas for the basic costume, fifteen or so songs in mind to go with the theme, and what strength moves I might want to include in my routine already mapped out. That's the competition bug - no rest for the weary!
By the end of December, my costume was almost finished, my swimsuit was altered, my music was done, I designed my prop, and the routine was over half choreographed. And I hadn't even talked to Fitness America about doing the South Beach competition yet! With my placing at Nationals, I was going to be asked to submit videotape of my new routine for approval. This is when the stress begins to build. Obviously, the committee isn't going to approve everyone that submits a tape, and with the routine still in its rough-draft stages, would they know how much I'd be putting into it over the next few months to get ready for this event? At some point after they contacted me to let me know that I was on board to do the competition, it dawned on me. Regardless of what my Nationals placing was, someone at Fitness America had noticed me and was willing to give me a shot. Just four days prior to the taping, I pulled my left hip flexor so bad that I couldn't hold any of my strength moves off the ground! I submitted a letter with my videotape explaining the situation. Thankfully they saw something in me that gave them enough confidence to invite me to this exclusive pageant; they somehow knew that I would show the necessary improvements it would take to compete with the talented athletes they were looking forward to having there.
Over the next two months, there was a lot to do: choreography, polish, building my prop, finishing my costume, improving my diet, etc... since I do almost all of my preparations on my own I worked diligently to get things done. Remember that I am a mom and wife with a career and aspirations of someday being considered a great fitness competitor. So finding time in my schedule isn't always easy, but with support from my husband and family and a very irregular pattern of sleep, I somehow manage to do it.
For a while, I really focused on my tumbling skills so I would appear smoother and quicker during my routine. I have to say that I admire competitors with competitive cheerleading in their background, because tumbling on hardwood floors just doesn't cut it for me, especially as I've gotten older. It seems much harder on the joints to get the bounce and rebound you need. I also made sure to videotape my practices so that I could make changes and monitor my improvements. Things were getting cleaner and more solid. That is, until one Friday night, five weeks out from competition... while a friend videotaped, I attempted to do my routine "full-out". The problem was that it had been a very long day on very little sleep.
During my final press-hold, my left thumb gave way under my body weight and I dislocated my knuckle at the palm. My first reaction to the pain was to put immediate pressure on my hand, which caused it to "pop" back into place. It still hurt so much, I wondered if it might be broken. Great five weeks to competition and I am faced with another decision! I decided to stay away from putting any pressure on it for two weeks while the swelling went down. Thank goodness for epsom salt! During the third week, I began to attempt my strength moves again but had to adjust my hand placement to take some of the pressure off that particular thumb. My diet was on track, my costume was ready, my prop was finished, and the only thing left to do was practice this routine "full-out" again.
Ten days out from competition, I finally did the whole routine with minor pain in my thumb and several modifications and it looks like I am going to make it. I pack, make plans for my family to survive while I'm away, set my focus on enjoying myself, and look forward to the challenge. So, now, here I am sitting on a plane bound for what will be the first competition of my second season as a fitness competitor...
I'm happy to help anyone in need of motivation and support; contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read Tiffany Ripple's 2002 South Beach report for TONS OF PICTURES of Rebecca, Tiffany and the rest of the competitors! Click HERE!