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Figure And Bikini Website

Save Your Pennies! The Cost of Competing

Save Your Pennies! The Cost of Competing


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You have been working your tail off in the gym, getting up at 4 a.m. to fit in an extra session of cardio, cycling your carbs, and giving up the cream in your coffee. You’ve got your eyes on the prize – getting up on stage for your first figure competition. But while you’re planning out your 12-14 week competition preparation diet and training plan, don’t forget to think about a savings plan, too. Competing is an expensive hobby.

I just heard from another friend who is disappointed that she will not be able to compete in an upcoming figure show she was training for. The showstopper? Not illness or injury but…money.

So how much does it cost to compete? I’ve put in a range of expenses here based on my experience. The cost of different services will vary from region to region. But four months in front of your show is not too soon to start thinking about scheduling and paying for the fees and services involved in a figure or bikini show.

You can probably cut costs by doing a lot of these things yourself – stoning your own suit, applying your own tanning solution, doing your own hair and make up, designing your own diet and training program.

Personally, I outsource as much as possible.

The biggest expense you will incur is that of a trainer or coach to develop a training and nutrition program designed to get you stage ready. Ideally this person will be knowledgeable about figure and bikini contests. They should also pay attention to your personal needs, strengths, style and your body’s responsiveness to your plan. Total cost for 12 weeks of competition prep services - $500 - $1,000.

Or, you can easily craft your own diet and training program pretty inexpensively with my Bikini Competition EBook and Meal Planning Tool.

But don’t cut too many corners because this stuff is REALLY important. Figure and bikini competitors are judged on their overall presentation. Yes, the color of your suit, the evenness and depth of your skin color, even the polish on your toes will have an impact on your placing in the show. Further, taking care of all these details during the final days before the show can place a lot of stress on an already stressed body.

You probably already have a standing order with your favorite online supplier of protein powder, so I won’t count that. But during show prep, I spent about another $250 on vitamins and supplements beyond my multivitamin and fish oil.

The next significant expense, is your posing suit. These blinged out bikinis are made by suit designers who specialize in gluing those teeny tiny Swarovski crystals onto a teeny tiny piece of fabric! A brand new, custom-made suit by an experienced designer will cost from $500 up to $1,000. However, I have had great luck purchasing a used posing suit and using ebay to get a new suit on clearance from a well known suit designer. You can budget $300 - $400 and still get a great looking suit.

In addition to your suit, you can expect to pay $45 - $90 for shoes and $50 and up for jewelry (unless you already have 5-inch stripper heels and a set of crystal bling in your closet).

A mistake I almost made when prepping for my first show was not to enroll in some posing classes. Standing there looking pretty might not seem too hard to pick up, but there are mandatory poses for both figure and bikini (they differ) and a proper way to stand to emphasize your hard earned physique. For my second show, I signed up for some private posing coaching with a IFBB figure pro, and she gave me pointers that were specific to my physique and strengths. Let me tell you, it made a huge difference in my presentation. Find someone who knows what the judges are looking for to advise you. Cost: $75 – 150 depending on whether you do a group workshop or individual sessions.

OK, so the week before the show I spent more time and money at the salon than I did before my wedding 19 years ago! Waxing, exfoliating, facial, manicure, pedicure, hair color. My total bill was close to $500. Since I have no experience with stage make-up, I hired someone to do my make-up on the morning of the contest for $50. I also hired a hairstylist who put extensions in my hair. Total cost $120.

Tanning. To self-goop or not? I strongly advise outsourcing this very important part of stage prep. The tanning products used by bodybuilding, figure and bikini competitors are messy and they stain. It is really important that you get your color right – you need to be dark enough and have an even tone. When using gloves or a sponge, it is really easy to get uneven color, leave streaks, or have drips appear down your skin. This can have an effect on your stage presentation and ultimate placing. Many state and all national shows offer on-site spray tan services. This is definitely worth the money ($75 on average). It is fast and easy. The professionals will make sure that your color is applied correctly and will offer touch ups before you hit the stage for the morning and evening shows.

The show itself. Don’t forget to consider this: each show has both entry fees and the requirement to hold a current membership card with the national sponsoring federation. If you plan to enter more than one class (e.g. Novice, Masters, Open), you must pay an entry fee for each. Entry fees are $30 - $50 per class for local amateur shows and an NPC card costs $90.

I am sure you want your family there cheering you on! Remember that everyone will need to have a ticket – for BOTH the morning pre-judging and the evening finals. At $15 - $25 for prejudging and $25 - $40 for finals, this can quickly add up. There are no discounts for children or seniors!

You are in the best shape of your life. You have sculpted a physique that represents week of hard work and, let’s face it, looks really hot! Since it is impossible to maintain contest condition year-round (there is a reason they call it “peaking”!), you might want to record this day for posterity. Sometimes the show’s promoter will have a professional photographer back stage to shoot some quick pro pics. Getting a few professional retouched photos on disc can cost $50-75. Or you might want to schedule your own private photo shoot at a cost of $150 - $300.

Finally, if you are doing a show out-of-town you will, of course, incur travel expenses. I traveled from New Jersey to Texas for my first competition. This show had a check-in and competitors meeting the night before the show. Since air travel can cause imbalances to fluid levels, it is inadvisable to fly the day before you plan to step on stage. So count on at least three nights hotel costs for an out-of-town show. You’ll want to be sure you get a room with a refrigerator and microwave, so no Motel 6! Remember to bring extra linens or you could find yourself incurring extra charges for staining all the hotel’s towels and sheets!

I think that about covers it. Let me get out my calculator. Oh, nevermind. If I really add up everything I spent in preparation for the two figure contests I participated in, I might just question my sanity. I hope this helps you set your budget and start saving for a stress-free competition experience!

Author: Elaine Morales

Member Comments

Great article. I'm keeping track of my expenses. I also think that the futher out one has to prepare (like me), themore it costs (more suppliments, more whey, etc). Thanks so much.

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