What a bikini competition costs in 2021
Updated: Feb 7
Need to know how to budget for a bikini competition? Read on...
Are you a first time competitor, or just researching how much it will cost you to compete in a fitness competition? If you have answered yes to either of these questions then you have come to the right place.
This article will give you an overall look at what you will need to pay for, and how much to expect to pay for it and where you can save money.
Straight out of the gate : fitness competitions are not cheap. Even before you get to show day there is the prep, an average of which is 16-24 weeks. During this time you will be paying for the gym, a specialized diet and dietary supplements so you can achieve that stage ready figure.
For the purposes of this article I have not included the resources needed to support the training such as diet, supplements, gym membership etc because prices vary so much. I have focused on the products and services required specifically for the competition itself.
To find out information on something specific you can jump to each section:
To help you with budgeting for your competition I have included a checklist you can download and keep so you can keep track of your expenses.
Fitness competitions have been exploding in popularity over the last five years. The rewards for winning can be high...both personally and professionally... but to compete in fitness requires a high level of commitment of time, energy and money. Of the women I surveyed for the data in this article 66% of women had little to no idea how much money it would cost them to compete when they got started.
So here is my summary infographic for some of the information I learned from my research.
Read on to learn more...
Prepping yourself will definitely save you money, but if you are a serious athlete with your eyes on a prize you will need an army of niche experts.
These will include:
A Prep Coach specializes in competition preparation rather than long term health and fitness, it is their job to guide you safely through the preparation process and most will give you an individualized plan and adjust it as appropriate . They will assess your health, look at what you want to achieve and plan your diet, nutrition and exercise regime to meet those goals over a prescribed timescale. Whether you are coached online or in person it usually requires regular check-in's to assess progress. Prep coach's fee's vary greatly, and you can find both in-person and online prep coach's...so do your research to find your best fit within budget.
The posing coach's role is to get you looking confident and at home on stage, even if you are nervous as hell. They will teach you how to walk, pose and use transitions to effortlessly glide around the stage in heels as if you were born to it. They will also help you bring out your own unique style to your stage presence.
The poses can be very specific in certain federations so it is really worth it finding a posing coach who is fluent in all federation styles or someone who specialises in the particular style of the show you are entering into.
You can save money here, should you wish, by attending a posing camp. Many federations hold their own posing camps so you can drill down on their style of walking and posing and are an absolute must if you can't stretch to hiring a posing coach and practice, practice, practice.
The mainstay of your stage look is the bikini. This is another area in which you can make savings, but be sure to select the correct style of bikini for your federation and category which I go into in more depth elsewhere in my blog.
There are now many bikini makers in this specialist niche and prices vary greatly from £200 - £900 depending on the designer and how much crystal is on the bikini. An average bikini will cost in the region of £300 for standard designs, with custom designs and fittings usually costing a little more. Of course you can also buy a bikini second hand, there are plenty of facebook groups that you can find bikinis and other stage accessories and it is always worth contacting bikini companies to see if they have any left over stock from a previous season they are willing to discount.
Your bikini designer's job is to make you sparkle on stage. You can choose a bikini online or get one made bespoke and unique to you. The most important thing about selecting your bikini is that it is the correct cut for your category, size, body shape and federation and that the designer or company will re-size it near show day.
The overall amount of money that each competitor spends varied greatly. It depends on which federation you compete in, how far you need to travel to compete and which services you choose to employ to get show ready. I found that an average spend on things specifically for one show, competing in one category with one bikini was £1300.
It is certainly the case that you can spend a great deal more than the average, especially if you have themewear costume and eveningwear to take into consideration. That could easily add an extra £300 - £1000 plus for costumes as well as the additional category fee's.
I found that even ladies who were on a tight budget and saved money doing things themselves spent at least £500 getting ready for show day.
This section covers unavoidable show expenses.
To compete in any federation you must register. Many of the larger competitions, especially those affiliated to international judging bodies, also require that you are a member of the governing federation to compete.
How much you need to pay in fees to the federations is not always clear and straightforward, but (after some digging and form filling) here is the latest information as published on the internet today.
The fees in the table above are how much it costs to compete in one category. To register for more than one category at the same competition there may be further charges to take into consideration. You can register online to any of the federations, I have included links to all of their websites at the bottom of the article.
The fitness model style federations, such as Pure Elite and WBFF tended to cost the most money, with all their costume changes and backstage services coming in higher than the more sport orientated federations.
WBFF was the show that was the most expensive to compete in overall. They do one show in the UK for the entire year and costs a staggering $345 to register to compete.
Trophies have been lost with a streaky, misapplied or incorrect colour tan so this is not worth skipping to save some money.
Professional tanning is available for most shows, either the services are provided by affiliate company's or you can book your own. Make sure you book a competition tan specialist as a standard tan is not appropriate and you may not be allowed on stage. Similarly there is a lot of variation in preferred tan colour across the federations, so if you are not using in-house tanning services it is worth doing the research to get it right.
Some federations even insist that you only use the tanning company affiliated to them so they can ensure consistency across all athletes.
Prices vary depending on which tanning company, federation and show location so double check with your specific federation services to get the right one booked (federation links at the foot of this article.)
Travel and Accommodation
Don't forget to factor travel and accommodation costs into your competition budget.
Your travel costs will vary greatly depending on how far you live from your show and how you plan to get there. You can save money by carpooling and sharing rooms with other competitors or spectators that you know but don't leave it to the last minute as hotels near the venue's get booked up fast.
This section focuses on things that are absolutely necessary, but if you do enough research and have the skills and time you can shop around to find a bargain or do it yourself.
* Average spend on show essentials was £675.
This includes bikini, make-up and hair services, shoes and jewellery*
Show essentials make you look tip top on the day, so you can step on stage in total confidence.
Ranked from highest to lowest priced item for show glamour...
The highest price item on the list of things to buy exclusively for the show is the bikini. Bikini prices vary greatly, but a good rule of thumb is that the more bling and crystal on the bikini the more expensive it will be. Online bikini shops tend to be a cheaper option than having one specially made.
Think sleek cover model when you think of how you should wear your hair for fitness. Hair is usually worn down and flowing and away from the face and body. Adding hair extensions gives you volume and lift.
Most make-up artists and sometimes the tanning companies also provide hairdressing services so if you want a stress free life on show day you should book these well in advance.
Doing your own hair and make-up is one of the places where money can be saved if you feel comfortable doing so, but like everything else...do your homework. Show make-up tends to be heavier than normal make-up, you don't want it to slide or get rubbed off as you sweat under the hot stage lights. Most of the shows offer affiliated make up and hairdressing services should you require them. Make sure you book these services nice and early as they tend to get filled up way before show date.
Shoes and accessories
Finishing off your stage 'look' are shoes and jewellery, which are usually understated so the judges can focus on the 'whole package'.
The transparent heel is pretty much a standard of all fitness shows, it does a great job of making leg muscles more pronounced and makes your legs look longer.
Do double check the attire rules for your federation as some specify no platform or maximum heel height.
Jewellery again, has a general standard in fitness shows....stick generally to crystal diamante cuffs, simple rings and dangly earrings....all of which you can find for a few quid if you hunt on e-bay.
after show extras
After all your hard work in prep and getting on stage and strutting your stuff you need to get some cracking photo's to celebrate and commemorate!
I know lots of clients who, at the time, didn't want to pay out extra for professional photo's of the show and then regretted that they had only fuzzy mobile shots and video to remember their day.
Many federations no longer allow SLR's into the show so they can sell their own affiliated (sponsored) services so if you do plan to use your friends and family to take video and photos make sure they are good and close to the stage and have a good camera on their device.
research carefully all the services/ professionals you will employ. Check out their prices, location and touch base to make sure you are a good fit before taking them on.
budget for everything, and then check off where you can compromise. Asses your own skills and time, bother your friends, hunt down second hand if you simply don't have the money to go all in on everything.
stick to the plan. "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail" (Benjamin Franklin) says it all.
book services early. Tanning, Hair and make-up and Accommodation are all things you should book asap, leaving it late will mean they could no longer be available to you, leaving you stressed and hunting for solutions when you should be training.
So now you have the lowdown on how much it will cost you to look the part on show day. You know where you can compromise and save money and where you cannot depending on the skills you have as an individual or who you can pool to assist you.
For some people doing a fitness show is a one off thing, uniquely satisfying as a moment of achievement....but for some it is the start of an exciting rabbit hole of crystal bikinis and trophies.
Whichever one you turn out to be, I hope you have a great time in fitness.
To help you with budgeting for your competition I have included a checklist you can download. Use it to keep track of your expenses and plan your budget.
All facts and figures were compiled by Chrissie Nicholson using a questionnaire and first
I would love to know of your show experience, and to keep this research as fresh and up to date as possible. If you would like to lend your knowledge and experience click the button below.
Online information sources: