Name: Dayna Tappan
Weight: 126 lbs
Occupation: NPC national-level Bikini competitor, fitness model, and personal trainer
It's almost here, right around the corner: competition season. This spring, thousands of bikini, figure, fitness, physique, and bodybuilding competitors will have finished their prep. Their moment in the stage lights will have arrived, and they'll be ready to showcase months of hard work, planning, and dedication.
What about you? Maybe you've been hitting the gym every day and surfing the web for fitness inspiration and news. And maybe that information has piqued your curiosity. Maybe you're even thinking about signing up for a competition. Good for you! Just don't dive in too quickly.
I've been in the competition business for a while now. Before you make the decision to compete, I want to share five truths that you absolutely must know.
Ask For Help
Don't just sign up for a show, train by yourself, and hope for the best. Whether you hire a coach, join a team, or ask an experienced friend, get feedback from someone who has been in the trenches.
As a first-time competitor, I thought scanning the pictures on the Internet and reading federation articles would prepare me. I was wrong. I just didn't have a clear picture of what the judges were looking for.
Now, I don't believe that you have to pay someone thousands of dollars in order for the judges to notice you. However, it's definitely better to have someone in your corner! The same goes for your hair, makeup, and tan: You can always do these things yourself, but having some help can take a load of stress off your shoulders. The quality of your hair, makeup, and tan also make a big difference in how you place, so don't leave them up to chance!
You may have a good idea about how to eat and train, but it's always a good idea to check with someone who's more experienced. They can save you from making small mistakes that add up to something bigger.
Accept The Challenges
Some folks complain so much about competing that you would think they were told to do it at gunpoint. If that describes you, remember that you signed up for this challenge voluntarily. Before you yak on social media about how much you hate tilapia and spinach, remind yourself that anything worth achieving won't be easy. But I'm telling you, you can do it.
Sure, you'll be at parties where everyone else will be enjoying a cocktail. Yes, there will be birthday parties at which you won't be able to have a piece of chocolate cake. And there will be some mornings where everyone else will be sleeping while you're grinding it out in the gym. Accept that these challenges will come your way and prepare your mind to overcome them. Your mental toughness will be your best weapon.
Bring The Whole Package
I did poorly in my first few competitions, so I started looking at the big picture. I had always spent the time in the gym, but I never took the time to do much practice in those clear heels in front of my mirror. Sometimes the girl that takes first place may not have the best abs—she just paid more attention to detail.
Your body can look great, but you also need to be able to perform and show your absolute best with hundreds of people in front of you and hot stage lights shining in your eyes. Practice your posing and your stage personality over and over. Make them second nature. This will ensure that the judges are focused on your presentation, not on how uncomfortable you look!
Do It For Yourself
Your choice to compete should be personal. Don't sign up just because someone says, "Oh my gosh, you should totally do a show!" Your decision and your motivation must come from within. If your heart isn't in it, you shouldn't even compete.
To have a positive experience, you need to commit. You can't question or doubt yourself. Make the decision to train consistently, eat like a competitor, and then follow it through!
Find The Value
You've been waiting months for this very moment. It's time to stride onstage. So get out there and have fun!
No matter where you place, competing is a reward in itself. I've placed first and last. Neither placing has stopped me from entering another show. Your goals for competition day should be to meet new people, have a blast, eat a killer cheat meal after the show, and just be proud of what you've accomplished.
After you've competed, you might rush to sign up for your next show. You might decide that one show is enough. Either way, you've taken a risk and fought hard to achieve a goal. That's worth celebrating!