Deciding to compete in a figure, fitness or bodybuilding competition is a fabulous goal to have but can also be overwhelming a little scary at times.
As a female, not only do you have to be dedicated to stick with a stringent diet, cardio program and weight training regime, you also have to present yourself to a panel of judges who are not only critiquing you on your physique, but your presentation, style and femininity as well.
I personally am a tomboy at heart and had no experience or interest in makeup, hair, heels etc. Basically anything that was "girlie" I shied away from. I felt more comfortable riding horses, lifting weights, and expressing my athleticism than trying to walk sexy in four inch heels!
I have had to slowly learn and teach myself about how to be more feminine, how to apply makeup and those darn eyelashes without them ending up on my eyebrow instead of my eyelash, how to style my hair without it looking like I am Shirley Temple and going to the prom, how to walk feminine and sexy in heals, how to smile without grimacing - (yes I am still working on that one) and how to hold myself poised with a beautiful smile even though my muscles may be cramping and my face is twitching!
Trust me, if I can do it, so can you, but the journey to get there takes time, dedication, thinking outside of the box and sometimes a little money to help create the total package of a winner on stage.
I personally have been coached by the best in the industry, Mike Davies, www.mikedaviesfitness.com, and have also had makeup lessons, hair lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons, you name it, to help create a winning look on stage. None of these things come naturally to me but I have the drive and determination to do whatever it takes to make myself the best competitor that I can be and if it comes down to who catches the judges eye most, I want it to be me and I will do whatever it takes to edge out my competitors and to do that, you have to do the "little things" right.
I am going to give you certain tips and pieces of advice that I have learned from Mike and through my own experiences, to help prepare yourself to compete on stage. These are things that are done outside of the gym - things that may be awkward, embarrassing, and you may even despise them.
Ultimately, these tips will help you carry yourself across that stage with a polished, "look at me, I'm fabulous and hot," attitude that will catch the judges attention and will hopefully lead to better placings and more recognition from the panel of judges.
Remember, it is the little things that, if done right, add up to a complete and professional package on stage. Paying extra attention to details such as hair, makeup, suits and stage presence can ultimately separate you from the other competitors and who knows, it may make the difference between playing to place or playing to WIN!
Contest Prep Tips
The Posing Suit:
One of the most important aspects of competing is having the right suit that flatters your particular physique. My suggestion to you is to take your time to try on as many suits as you can to determine what color, cut and style looks best on your body.
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Ginger Redeker At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.
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Each suit designer has his or her own particular flair in making suits and each will fit your physique differently. Pay special attention to fit as you do not want your suit to large or too small as that will detract from your physique. Also be careful of the colors that you choose to wear onstage.
Be aware that the color you choose will look different - usually lighter on stage under the bright lights. One other thing to consider is that the color of the suit should compliment your skin tone, eye and hair color and also your tanning product.
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What colors work for Asian or African Americans, won't necessarily mean that they will work for a blonde, blue eyed Caucasian. So again, try on the suits, even have a friend take pictures of you in the suits. Take front, back and side shots of yourself in the suits and then compare the colors, style and fit.
Think of your body as the canvas and the suit as the paint that will compliment your hard work and dedication that you put forth in the weeks leading up to the show.
Makeup & Accessories:
Now that you have chosen the perfect suit, you can move on to picking out makeup and accessories. I personally like to use Mac eye shadow and eye liner, glow mineral eyebrow pencils, bronzer, lip liner and lipstick, Bare Essentials lip gloss in neutral, Revlon 16 hour liquid eyeliner, L'Oreal waterproof mascara, and for base foundation I really love the Era Face in #7 & #9 by Classified Cosmetics.
These are just a few of my favorite products and trust me, I've tried out a lot of different products to find out what works the best for me and is the easiest for me to use.
Some tips that I have for you concerning makeup is to look for products that have dark pigments and have tons of staying power because you don't want your makeup melting off your face under the hot stage lights because trust me, you will be sweating!
You don't necessarily have to spend a fortune in makeup but it is wise to purchase quality products that blend easily and go on well. Oftentimes females that compete in figure, fitness or bodybuilding competitions may not have the interest or knowledge on how to properly apply makeup, eyelashes, or choose appropriate accessories.
My suggestion to you is to go to a Mac, Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder, Lancome, etc. makeup counter and set up a session with the makeup artist on staff to test out colors and makeup techniques. Usually these makeup sessions are free so take advantage of the free advice and tips!
When you go to a makeup sessions, it is helpful to bring in your suits that you will be wearing and I even suggest going in with a portion of your arm tanned with the product you will be using onstage so that the makeup artist can match the foundation to the color of your skin with the tanning product on.
Have the makeup artist show you how to properly apply the products that she or he is using on you so that you feel comfortable in applying them on yourself. Ask questions and don't be hesitant to let the makeup artist know if you do not like a certain shade or application. Just be aware that the makeup needs to be very dark and dramatic and you may feel uncomfortable with it being so dark but understand that under the stage lights, your makeup and colors will be washed out and will look normal under the bright lights.
Okay so you have your suits and makeup, now we have to work with a hairstyle that is flattering to your face and is sexy, cute and stylish. Don't make the same mistake I made at my first competition and show up the day of the show with Shirley Temple ringlets because I didn't know a thing about styling hair—heck, my hair was lucky if it had seen the bristled side of a brush and was not in a ponytail!
A common hair mistake that I seen competitors doing is going for the prom "updo." This look isn't so bad if you are a bodybuilder and want to showcase your back development but for a figure or fitness competitor, it is a little over the top.
As far as hair style goes, you want to aim for what I call the Victoria Secret models' sexy voluptuous hair that has body, volume and shine. Your hair style can be seductively wavy, big beautiful loose curls, or sleek and straight. Again, choose the style you are most comfortable with and one that you like.
My suggestion to you is to spend time with a hair stylist and pay for a wash and blowout and watch how the stylist works with your hair and ask questions about the products being used; your questions should include; what conditioner and shampoo is being used, gels, creams, glosses, hair spray that was applied to get the desired look, down to the brushes, rollers, and even the direction the hair is being brushed and tweaked while being styled.
Again, you are paying for a service so make the most of your money and get a lesson in hair styling that you feel comfortable replicating on your own on show day!
Final Check & Presentation Skills:
Suit... check, makeup... check, hair... check. What is left? Well, how about your presentation on stage? How is your walk or can you even walk in those darn heels? Can you smile? Can you hold your gut in while lightly flexing your muscle and go through the quarter turns?
My suggestion to you is to get with a seasoned competitor or trainer, I personally recommend Mike Davies who is my trainer and coach, who knows the mandatory poses. Important: practice, practice, practice!
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Practice like you are at a mock show as you can never get enough practice on going through quarter turns and develop your own sense of style and signature look on stage that will tastefully set you apart from the other competitors.
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This is what Mike Davies does with his clients who are prepping for a show and it really sets his clients apart from the rest of the competitors because he makes them practice the presentation correctly and he gets his girls use to standing in a line-up against other girls with amazing physiques.
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Ginger Redeker At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Ginger Redeker.
You can also get presentation and posing tips from watching old Olympia tapes or even attend a show and watch how the competitors present themselves on stage. Ultimately, I suggest watching and emulating what the top Pros do at the Olympia and Arnold Classic as these are the best of the best and they didn't get to the top by walking like a truck driver in stripper shoes!
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Videotape, Compare & More Practice:
When you are going through your presentation, have someone videotape, watch and take pictures of you practicing and then review them after you are done! Compare the tapes and pictures each time you practice and get a second and third opinion of your presentation.
If you are having problems walking in heels and presenting yourself in front of a crowd, I suggest that you get with a dance teacher or acting instructor who can show you how to gracefully carry yourself in heels and move fluidly with your limbs and can also work with you on facial expressions.
Again I cannot stress the importance of practicing your turns, smile, and walk - they should be second nature to you and should not require a lot of effort or stress and that means practice!
The Big Day
Ultimately, you want to prepare yourself as much as possible before the big show day arrives. You will be stressed out enough as it is without the added stress of trying to get your suit, makeup, and hair just right. Utilize the knowledge from a reputable trainer and have them help you with diet, training and presentation and do your homework outside of the gym starting with practicing your presentation. Practice putting on makeup and those darn eyelashes, play with your hair and just have fun!
Remember, you have taken the time, effort, and energy to get your body physically ready for a show but also as Mike Davies would say, "Do the little things right," so that you can showcase the complete package and who knows, it may be just enough to edge out the other competitors for a higher placing!