Which Fitness Show Is Right For You?
Updated: Feb 24
Updated for 2022!
fitness federations explained
Doing the right fitness show is critical to your success.
With so many federations now competing for your attention, figuring out which show(s) you want to compete in can be overwhelming.
There are different types of fitness competition and picking the right one for your goals and personality is crucial. From there you can figure out what kind of everything you need... from cut and style of the bikini, to coaches and all the way through to your posing style and how you will be judged.
The traditional style of fitness show has a traditional style and has it's roots in the sport of bodybuilding. These shows tend to be focused on being sporty rather than commercial...they are very specific on how they want you to pose and present yourself and bikinis are of specific shape and size and tend to be less flamboyant in their decoration. These shows are strictly judged and rigid in their rules, so it's a good idea to read the published rules on their websites and ask for clarification if you are unsure.
National Sport Federations in the UK
The other style of fitness shows are the more pageant styles...with more of a focus on fashion, glamour and the commercial qualities of it's athletes. The show is more glossy and entertaining in it's style and tend to be more inclusive in their approach. They are more freestyle in how you present yourself on stage and less strict in their bikini rules. It's pretty much anything goes so long as you remain feminine and decent in both your attire and your presentation.
National Pageant Fitness Shows in the UK
Hybrid Fitness Shows
As fitness shows become more popular some organisations try to cover both ends of the competing spectrum, incorporating both sporty and pageant style categories within one show.
The great thing about the expansion of the fitness competition industry is that no matter who you are and what your style is there will be a federation, or federations that will suit you.
How to decide
Check out the competitions
It's a really good idea to go along to the shows and get a feel for them, nothing beats first hand experience to see how a show is run and what to expect. You can go and speak to competitors and spectators if you are feeling brave and you can literally check out your future competitors and get a grasp of what you are letting yourself in for.
Failing that Youtube and Social Media has a vast array of content that you can use to research. Each Federation has it's own personality and you might find that one of them fits you perfectly...or it might take a bit of trial and error to figure that out.
Check in with yourself
Standing on a stage in a bikini and heels can be daunting, even if you are a raving extrovert.
Smaller or newer shows are great if you are just starting out and are suffering a bit of nerves and just want to get some experience under your belt before you get serious about competing.
UFE, Fitness Physiques and Gymbodyz are good entry level shows to get you started as the venue's tend to be smaller and less intimidating, but if you love the stage jump right in to one of the major shows and go strut your stuff!
Get your ducks in a Row
Once you have figured out which show you like the most you can start going about the preparation to get you at your competition best.
This will probably include a prep coach, who will cover your exercise training programme and diet, a posing coach with a proven track record in whichever federation(s) you have chosen and a bikini designer (so that's me) that can create a bikini that you love and that fits you properly. Again...it's all about research.
The best way to search for your competition crew are to ask for personal recommendations from athletes you trust and then book an appointment to meet whichever expert you are interested in to see if they are a good fit for you.
Is this your first fitness competition show?
Want to know how much it actually costs to compete in a fitness show? I have a great blog about how much it costs to compete in fitness. Check it out here:
Whichever federation that you choose to compete in make sure you observe the rules closely. All the federations publish their category rules on their website somewhere and it is worth hunting them down to make sure that you are picking a suitable bikini cut for your show and category.
Bikini bottom style and shape is the most important rule to observe, as specific categories have different shape requirements and glute coverage as well as how high or low to wear the front. The aim is always to show off your body to the best it can be, using the bikini shape to accentuate your best qualities, rather than to show off as much flesh as possible...we are athletes here, not strippers!
Check out my next blog to find out all about Bikini cuts style and shape for bodybuilding style fitness shows. This will cover UK federations such as UKBFF, PCA, NABBA, 2 BROS PRO, BNBF etc...
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