Which show is right for you?
One of the most important things you need to figure out when you want to compete is which show is right for you. There are so many different types of fitness competition that 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.
There are two distinct styles of competition, the oldest is 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 streamlined in their decoration. These shows tend to be more strictly judged, more rigid in their rules and a bit elitist in their disposition.
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.
More recently there are newer federations who have a foot in each style of competition with both styles of show being recognised. The rules tend to be more freestyle in terms of posing and bikini style for model categories and the expectations are more rigid for the bodybuilding categories. 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.
Here is my quick breakdown of which federations fit into which categories. Blue are federations that are sporty and pink are the more pageant ones with purple being federations that have aspects of both.
Before you decide which federation(s) you would like to compete in it's a really good idea to go along to the shows and get a feel for them, failing that go and search for them on you-tube and see what the crack is. They all have their 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.
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 Gymbodz 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!
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.
Why federations are important to your bikini choices
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...