Through The Eyes Of A Judge: An Interview With Two Fitness Judges!

In this article we will cover everything from, who the judges are, what their roles are within the Fitness Industry and How long have they been judging?
It's the undying question on every competitors mind. "The Judges" Who are they? What is their area of expertise? What will they be looking for? In this article we will cover everything from, who the judges are, what their roles are within the Fitness Industry and How long have they been judging?

There are many different federations out there. As no one person is alike, it leaves the opportunity to select the federation that best suits your physique and what you are looking to get from the experience.

I interviewed two amazing women for this story and I selected them based on their present roles in the Fitness Industry. Both are greatly respected and well known within the competitive world. They are Cathy Savage and an anonoymous judge.


The Interview

[ Q ] How long have you been in the Fitness Industry?

    C.S: I have been involved in the Industry since 1989, almost at the inception of Competitive Fitness... Yes, I'm that old!

[ Q ] What is your role in the Fitness Industry today?

    C.S: My role is that of a coach/choreographer for Fitness, figure/bikini competitors as well as Bodybuilders. My company is for full service contest preparation.

[ Q ] Cathy is also a fitness columnist and mom.

    A: Has a Masters in Physical Education and Exercise Science. She also has an extensive background in competitive gymnastics and dance. She has competed in over 14 shows and has been judging since 1999.

[ Q ] What qualifies one to be a judge for a Fitness/Bodybuilding or Figure Show?

    C.S: In my opinion, you should only be a judge if you have stepped onstage before, or if you have a unique specialty that coincides with the show that you are judging, such as dance or gymnastics.

    A: The Fitness America Pageant has established a set of rules regarding their judging panels and judging criteria. The judging criteria as well as the criteria for the events are clearly stated and accessible to any competitor or spectator.


    From the 2002 Fitness America Contest.

    The judges are selected on the basis of their expertise in areas such as; gymnastics, cheer, dance, fitness, entertainment, fashion and the media. The panels for the Fitness/bikini America pageants will never include bodybuilders or bodybuilding trainers.

" I think in addition to taking the courses and test judging that all judges should have spent time on stage themselves. "

Merry Christine Fitness Competitor / Fashion Designer

[ Q ] What will a judge be looking for in an FAP event, as far as the way a competitor should come in looking?

    C.S: For an FAP event, the judges are looking for a fit, healthy physique that does not appear overdieted or overtrained. Contrary to what others may think, the FAP likes muscle as long as the competitor isn't overly lean. Some may think that an FAP event is a beauty pageant, but their definition of beauty simply means a "healthy Image."

    A: When judging a Fitness/bikini America Pageant, the panel will work from a very specific set of event criteria. The contest has three rounds of competition. Routine, swimsuit and Interview. The routine round is worth 40% of a competitor's score and the judges will specifically be looking for execution, performance, appearance and creativity.

    The FAP states: ""The Judges will analyze body shape, tone, symmetry, complexion, poise, presentation and overall appearance." Also, they will be looking for Fit, toned, feminine physiques that display proper conditioning." They also go on to state... extreme definition and excessive muscular development will be penalized."

    The interview round is worth the remaining 20% of a competitor's score and is judged on speaking ability, sincerity and composure. contestants will respond to a fitness related question, clearly, concisely and in an intelligent manner.

    For Bikini, the competition also consists of 3 rounds. The bikini round is worth 40%, where they will be looking for overall appearance, body conditioning and facial beauty. The same rules apply here as did in Fitness swimsuit with the exception of facial beauty. The themeswear is 40% and is based upon stage presentation, overall appearance and costume selection. Contestants are asked to show off their modeling abilities and creative costuming in this round.

    The interview round is worth the remaining 20% of their score and is judged on the same criteria as the Fitness interview.

[ Q ] What happens in the event of a tie?

    C.S: In the event of a tie, many things can happen, a score could be dropped in one category or the head judges score would be added.

[ Q ] Do you feel that judges should come into the panel not knowing any of the contestants, if so, why?

    C.S: I feel that as long as someone has integrity, then it's OK. This industry is so small that it's almost impossible to have a judge who is qualified, who does not know a few of the competitors in some form. It is the role of the head judge to make sure that each judges score is in line and appropriate.

" I do feel the judging is mostly fair, and complicated for the judge. There are times where not only it happens, but it is sadly obvious. "

Merry Christine Fitness Competitor / Fashion Designer

[ Q ] What are some of the things that would constitute a contestant being marked down for?

    C.S: Girls who lack poise and confidence. A competitor can have a great physique, but if her walking and posing are not polished, she will not score well. I find that the girls who have the most confidence score very high!


    If you need to improve your poise or confidence, watch any of Kelly Ryan's routines!

    " I have to say for me, honestly, I feel I have been judged fairly. Only a couple of times I scratched my head and tried to figure out why someone beat me. "

    Merry Christine Fitness Competitor / Fashion Designer

    A: The panel has clearly established criteria for each event. If a competitor does not meet that specific criteria as compared to the other competitors on the stage, they will receive a lower score.

[ Q ] If a fitness competitor is supposed to be judged on a different criteria during the swimsuit round in comparison to the bikini competitor, how can it be fair for one to crossover and vice-versa?

    C.S: It should seem that one girl would be judged in two different ways, but this isn't always the case. I firmly feel that the judges score on the "total package," as opposed to the leanness issue. the fitness criteria typically looks for the more athletic look, where in the bikini America is looking more for the "model type." I feel that the Bikini America is very new and within the next few seasons, the distinctions will be made more clear.

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So You Wanna Be A Fitness Model?