I remember the way I felt after my first bodybuilding competition back in 1998. I was one year out of college and looking for a competitive venue to exploit my athletic physique. I had heard about a friend of mine who entered a natural bodybuilding competition that did well. She was my aerobics instructor and I felt that my muscular development was comparable to hers. So, I decided that I should do a competition too.
I prepared and entered the contest and came in dead last. It was a very humbling experience. I was not prepared for the show. I was ignorant about so many key elements of competition. For example, I thought that because I was black, I did not need to tan or use tanning products... wrong J. I didn't take the dieting very seriously because I thought I was lean enough already. At the time, I didn't understand all of the details of being "competition ready". Even later, at my first fitness competition, I was not very prepared. I had a slammin' routine, but I did not score well in the physique round. Again, I did not tan or use any tanning products. My swimsuits were not competition suits but actual swimsuits. My shoes were not competition shoes and did not complement my suit well. My make-up was not stage-make up and I did not know how to pose or present my physique in a competition atmosphere. I realized that I had failed to research and study the sport before preparing to compete. This is probably the most valuable advice I would give someone before entering their first contest. No one wants to waste their time or invest a lot of energy for a big disappointment. Giving it your best is one thing; not being prepared is another. Competitors will learn new lessons and tricks every time they compete, but there is a basic foundation of information that can be learned to make your first contest a great first contest.
Allow me to introduce you to the key elements that need to be studied for a Fitness/Figure competition:
Competition suits/Fitness suits/Shoes
Contest necessities (Bikini bite, etc)
Hair, stage make-up, nails
Fitness Routine (Elements, choreography, music)
Judging and criteria
Articles will follow that will expand of each of these categories. Be sure to keep a journal and prepare to take notes as you learn more about the sport of Fitness/Figure. Develop an event schedule and plan to attend a handful of competitions, expos and seminars. The more you expose yourself to the industry and its environment, the more you will learn about the sport. Attending a competition and observing the "elements in action" will give you a crucial advantage. You may walk away from the experience with new questions, a better perspective and solid motivation... priceless. Knowing what to expect will enhance your formula for success as well as calming those inevitable nerves. Let the journey begin!