Fit And Feminine!

Tips for training for fitness competitions and for designing an awesome fitness routine.
As a first year competitor, I still have much to observe and learn. Nevertheless, I may have a few suggestions for those getting started in fitness. After competing in three Fitness America Pageant Regional qualifiers, I have made several (hopefully helpful) notes on training and fitness routines.

TRAINING

First off, most of you who are considering fitness competitions probably have much of the training and workout down. Keep a variety!

1) Cross training is beneficial because it helps you avoid burn out of certain body parts and boredom. If you have access to a swimming pool, this is fun and gentle on the joints. After a working a fitness routing on a wooden floor, those bones can start to ache from the pounding. Hiking, biking, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, tennis... whatever you enjoy. Keep the cardio going!

2) Weight training is excellent if you don't have a lot of muscle definition. If your body bulks quickly (most people's do not), keep the weight down and focus more on higher repetitions. When working shoulders, I do a 10-count very slowly with only five-pound weights. However, I have met fitness competitors who don't use weights at all (other than their body weight). Remember that the focus of fitness competition is to be in shape, but also reflect elegance and femininity.

3) Physical training such as sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, dips, chin-ups and other traditional military drills are beneficial for the entire body. Three to four sets of 20 - 25 reps normally can be an effective amount. Don't forget your back needs strengthening as well. Legs lifts, while hanging on a bar stretch your back and build all parts of the abdomen. Start with your knees bent and do 3 sets of 10. Once that becomes easy, see if you can lift your toes to the bar with your legs straight. Another version is the "L" hang. You hang on the bar with your legs straight out. Hold this for 10 - 15 seconds for three sets.

4) Tricks, tumbling, dance, flexibility and strength moves. Spend at least three times a week practicing and perfecting skills you plan on putting in a fitness routine. Whatever your background is, you can definitely show your versatility here. I have coached gymnastics for neary thirteen years. There are all sorts of skills that can be learned to show your agility without having a gymnastics background. Yoga, karate and many popular activities of today's world can be incorporated into a routine. It may seem odd, but remember the 80's and popular break dancing? Several stunts in today's fitness routines happen to fall under this liberal technique. Since there is no code of points or rulebooks suggesting what is required, experiment with push-ups, balance moves, presses, etc... just about anything goes.

ROUTINE

1) Watch other fitness routines to have an understanding of what is expected before beginning your choreography (or have your choreographer watch).

2) Choose a theme for your routine. Costume and music most certainly assist in enticing the audience and judges! This is an excellent opportunity to reflect your personality, creativity and style. An old cliche, "Accentuate the positive." For instance, if you don't have a lot of dance experience, choose music that won't require grace, but perhaps something fast in tempo, pounding, and quick to show your stamina and endurance. Also, make sure your music is in the required time period.

3) Don't choose moves, tricks, and skills that you are frightened of. When competing, you may already be nervous, by throwing a skill you aren't confident with can be dangerous. Keep the routine clean. Do what you can as dynamically as possible and then work your way up to difficult moves. For instance, if you have a fear of tumbling, don't try to incorporate it instantly into your routine. There are powerful routines that don't have extreme tumbling skills. There are a dozen different ways to do a cartwheel and make it look complicated! (One-arm cartwheels with a turn out or a twist afterwards, dive-cartwheels, and so forth.)

4) Have Fun! If you don't enjoy performing, change the routine so you do! It is a form of entertainment! Use expressions that capture the audience. For example, smile but also make eye-contact (that is if you can see the audience behind the glaring, bright stage lights). However, some people prefer to block the audience out and pretend they are just practicing. I guess I am a HAM!

CONCLUSION

I was once told to not give advice because what happens if your advice is WRONG? That is why these are merely suggestions. I did take first place at a regional qualifier in Los Angeles, but it was my third show. It wasn't until I had several chances at the "trial and error" realm did I find what worked for me. In addition, if you are like me, you are extremely busy with two jobs. As a high school English teacher and a coordinator and coach of a gymnastics program, I found I was not making time for reading literature concerning the fitness world. Once I started competing, I figured out a little and learned who the fitness celebrities are. I must admit, I was a bit embarrassed of my ignorance. Read and study what works for you!

Best Wishes!